Happy “We should celebrate LOVE everyday” weekend

Well folks, it’s “Valentine’s Day” weekend. For some, a weekend filled with over the top gestures – roses, chocolates, wine, bubble baths, expensive jewelry… It has always seemed so odd to me. It’s like…someone one day said, “Hey guys? You want to make February 14th the day where we cram a bunch of lovey dovey shit into the agenda to prove how much we love someone??” …hold on! Now we can also rub it in everyone’s faces on social media! UGH

Kinda like when Santa brings one kid a Playstation, and another a pair of shitty socks. SMH. We all know people who both love and despise this holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cynic. Love is sweet and may we all feel it in many ways. May we all be able to find it from within, as well as with others. We should focus on making those we care for feel important…cherished…LOVED… now THAT is something we ALL should be doing on a daily basis. Through kind words… through small gestures… through random acts of kindness; listening, encouraging, lifting up…showing up – THAT’s what LOVE is all about! There is nothing better than feeling like you are not alone in this crazy world.

Someone in our village, maybe a few people, leaves these rocks…these little random acts of kindness around for others to discover. Beautiful hand painted rocks with hearts and words of encouragement…just because. I’ve found three so far. The one above on a table I had for sale outside the shop, another on my window sill that said PEACE, and one in the flower bed by the Fire Station. I didn’t even go and pick it up. Just seeing it from afar was enough for me. I kept the first…this heart. It’s in my car so I see it daily as a reminder of the good in the world. I left the others so they could be discovered and hopefully lift a few spirits.

Imagine how much love we could all spread with purposeful, authentic, yet simple random acts of kindness? A friend of mine made a post on Facebook recently that really resonated. “Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery – Joyce Brothers. So very true, and the friend who shared it really walks the walk. Think about it…the act of simply LISTENING may not seem like much to you, but it sure can be a lifeline for someone truly struggling. It may just lead someone back to a better path. It may save a life.

I came across a book “The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember”. Man…he was wise beyond his years. There I found a common thread about the importance of LISTENING.

In one post, he wrote “The purpose of life is to listen – to yourself, to your neighbor, to your world and to God and, when the time comes, to respond in as helpful a way as you can find…from within and without.”

Later, he wrote “More and more I’ve come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another. Whether the other be an adult or a child, our engagement in listening to who that person is can often be our greatest gift. Whether that person is speaking or playing or dancing, building or singing or painting, if we care, we can listen.

As you go into each day, think about how you can show yourself and others Love, Respect, and Kindness. It may be just by simply listening.

The YEAR of January is in the books…

Geezy Wheezy… 2020 wasn’t enough?? January 2021 blew through the doors and yelled “HOLD MY BEER!” I don’t know about you, but with the looming one year mark of the Pandemic, kids still remote learning, and oh let’s not forget the INSURRECTION… AHHHHHHH…these are ODD TIMES folks.

I’ve broken my record in posting TWICE in one month/year…hell, it’s usually twice in a FEW YEARS if I’m being honest. I assume I will be receiving a trophy. I’m making attempts to carve out time to post more. This will mean laundry may not be folded. When we went into the original lockdown last March (it still sounds very Hunger Games to me), it was quite the transition to keep a brick and mortar afloat for 13 weeks without the use of said brick and mortar. We survived by slinging goods on Instagram and Facebook, and making porch deliveries. It was hard work, but with the help of family and friends and friends kids, we came through and have had a really strong year. For this I am beyond thankful.

I worked on launching an online shop, and for the past 6 months have been 80% there. I just haven’t had the time to really investigate how to do it right. Customer service, order tracking, inventory, storage, packing, mailing…AAHHHHHHH. This May will be my TENTH ANNIVERSARY. Seems like just yesterday and seems like a million years all at the same time. I still love what I do. I have made so many connections…friendships through the shop. Ohh how I wish I would have kept a journal of all of the crazy stories. The Day of the Ferret… the guy who took ‘shrooms and Sangria during Jazz Fest and flooded my bathroom as he hallucinated…too many to name.

2021…Hopes and Fears…and soon CHEERS

Woooo…To say 2020 was a doozy is a monumental understatement. It was a clusterf*ck…a nightmare…and possibly a blessing for so many reasons. There is the obvious: the neverending Pandemic and the illness, loss of life, feelings of isolation, fear, exhaustion, and anger that coincides. Throw in a side order of social justice crisis, a smather of political divide with extra fake news and divisiveness, and what you got there is a true shit sandwich.

Friends and family once united in Love and Respect have found themselves fractured in Anger and Hate. It has been a year of loss, of change, and of uncertainty. All the while, we try to continue life as normal as possible. A new normal…an everchanging normal. In hopes that our actions now will get us closer to a more “normal normal”. Kids at home for school has been a tough one. Jobs lost and jobs shifted to being home based have caused even more adjustments. Carving out time and space for sanity and focus is tough on any and everyone. But we try. We TRY to continue the best we can; we shift when things aren’t working, and we lean on others to help fill the gaps and for a little giggle in all of this insanity.

That’s right. It’s OK to giggle. It’s OK to embrace the change. It’s OK to hope and dream and plan and make the best of what we have/are going through. “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit”… has been a tough one to live by. 2020 and the current 2021 has reminded me that it’s ok to throw a fit here and there, but then we have to pull up our boot straps and try to make the world a calmer, richer (not money rich…), nurturing place for all to cohabitate. If you have the opportunity, read a book, work on a puzzle, learn chess, and carve out quality time for family. It may be through FaceTime or through a window, but it’s something. Things may still suck…I mean TRULY SUCK due to illness, loss of job, financial insecurity, along with all of the other unknowns. I’m trying to focus on the day to day, and by setting short term goals, it’s a little less overwhelming. Your goal may be just to get up and out of bed; to shower, return a phone call…That’s OK.

In the meantime, I hope you all stay safe and sane in this crazy little space called life. It takes a Village. Thankful for mine.

OH… Hey There!

Well, it’s been another minute since I’ve posted. I have every intent, but it’s how I roll…Not much has happened in the last year right? Oh wait…we’re still in the Pandemic of 2020, and civil unrest is more prevalent than any other time in my 51 trips around the Sun. Over the past presidential cycle, America feels more divided than ever.

It’s A LOT to take in… A LOT to think about…to worry about. It feels like rock bottom at times when you turn on the news, but hopefully WE as a nation can recover. We have to…what other choice do we have? I know that I personally have opened my heart…opened my ears…and opened my mind up to the reality that I am pretty damn fortunate to have been born into the privleges that come along with having white skin. I have taken it for granted, lived in a bubble, and it’s time to sit back and listen. Sit back and learn…sit back and reflect…and most importantly…to stand up and act. I WILL make changes and stand up against racism when I see it…when I unknowingly contribute to it…so that the society we live in is equitable for ALL. One person can’t fix the world, but I sure as shit will be part of the solution and not the problem. IT TAKES A VILLAGE.

What have we been up to?

The lockdown seemed like it would never end. Overnight, some ten plus weeks ago, I found myself closing up my little brick and mortar and realizing changes would need to be made to keep afloat. I quickly took to Facebook and Instagram and sold my wares. With the help of friends and family and the Williams boys, we delivered close to 200 orders during that time period. I began working with a web designer to help build an online shop, which is SO CLOSE to being launched. Stay tuned for that!

I can’t begin to thank those who have supported small businesses since this has all began. We’ve been fortunate to have moved on to Phase III (geez that still sounds so SCI-FI) and have reopened this past week. With new safety protocols in place, we are doing our best to be safe for everyone who enters our door. Masks are required, sanitizer is aplenty, and social distancing is key.

NO SHOES NO SHIRT NO MASK NO GATHER & COLLECT

We’ve opened back up, stocked the shelves with new items, with a shit ton more on the way. We hope you will stop in and say hello! We’ve missed you.

HAPPY OCTOBERMAS!

We skipped right from a rainy summer to snowy Halloween!

Man, October flew right by! It’s already November… We are bringing lots of new goods into the shop each day. Stay tuned for pics!

Three years of posting…lost

OK…maybe I haven’t actually posted in three years, three months, and 27 days…but who’s counting? Initially, I couldn’t figure out what website to go to actually post…then about a year and a quarter in, I figured out that it was WordPress. For the life of me, it has taken me another year and a half to figure out the username and password. Eventually, I gave in and 37 seconds later reset the whole damn thing! Here I am, ready to post. Before sharing mesmerizing pictures that will bring tears to your eyes, I will reintroduce myself and recap the last 3 years, 3 months and 27 days…

I spent a good 40 minutes looking through random photos on my laptop and couldn’t find one where I didn’t look like I had been up for 17 hours and not used moisturizer in years. Another 20 minutes and I thought I had figured out how to rotate the picture and find out it rotated back…So this is a picture that represents me…slightly off, partially disheveled, but looking onward and upward (get it, the pic has me looking up…)

My name is Julie Spiller and I have owned Gather & Collect just shy of 8 years, 4 months. Boy have there been some ups and downs over the years, but I still enjoy what I do. Maybe not the storing it all over my garage and basement and living room and dining room and…you get the gist. A lot goes into owning a business. A LOT…A lot of time, effort, money, sweat equity, and HELP. Huge shoutout to the friends and family that make it possible.

Gather & Collect has changed a lot over the years. Where I started out the venture the first three years with a business partner and sweet friend, Jessica Moran, of @jessicamoraninteriors, I assumed the whole shabang back in 2014. Over time, I have shifted focus, shifted products, added in some snark and for better or for worse, some personality.

The tag line is still Gather & Collect…a place of vintage. I still feel that remains true. Vintage means more than just “antiques” or “aged”. To me, it’s a mix of old school, flashbacks, good vibes, memories, yester year… and so much more. My first few years I painted and sold a lot of furniture. To be honest, it became too hard to keep up with. You know when you feel stressed that you sold a few pieces, it’s time to shift gears.

Now I focus on smaller, more manageable goods. This allows me more time to thrift! I offer an eclectic mix of unique, original artwork, pottery, brassware, classic books, lamps, industrial finds, upcycled treasures, global goods…yadayadayada. I have expanded my lines to include local makers, from jewelry to soaps to candles to honey to stationery…the list goes on. The shop offers a curated collection of boho clothing, purses, scarves, ties, linens, wallets…

Maybe two or so years ago, I added “potentially offensives” to lighten the mood during the election and its current aftermath. Patches, pins, stickers, mugs, glasses, inappropriate cards, naughty pencils…political satire. I know my sense of humor may be offensive to some, and I can appreciate that. My intent is pure…to offer a chuckle here and there in hopes that it may lighten things up and you will share kindness with the next stranger you come across in your day.

That’s it…we’re all caught up! I’ll touch base in three or so years! Just kidding…I’m always posting on Instagram and Facebook, but I’m going to make every effort to post here more often. My goal is to offer items for sale online in the next few months (though for me, that may be next year). Thank you for your continued support of our little village, of my little shop, and for the memories you helped create. It really does take a village.

cheers to a life well lived…Julie

My idea of “comfort food”

It’s getting dark at 3:30pm…It’s raining…again.  Fall is a beautiful time of year until the leaves are wet and laying on the lawn waiting to be picked up for the season.  Lot’s of heavy stories in the news to digest.  It’s time for comfort food.  Bowl of macaroni cheese in hand, I survey my surroundings.  Time to make “comfort space”.  It helps getting through the dreary Chicago weather by being able to look around your home and find things that give you a little pep in your step…a little flash of the pearly whites.  Here at Gather & Collect, we hope we are able to help you achieve that goal without breaking the bank.  Stop in.  We’ve scoured the midwest for vintage treasures that will surely help make your house a home.

Cheers to a vintage life well lived.

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