An Interview with Patti Pitcher, Isabella Co-founder

Janet: If you could spend an entire afternoon with an author, who would it be and why?

Patti: Actually, I would rather read what authors have to say and spend a long focused day with this yoga teacher I met once -- the one in the current Isabella "Dear Friends" letter. His life had brought him down to the bottom and then he had the courage to rise back up. Now his life is devoted to simple but powerful things: taking care of himself through his own yoga practice, serving others by being a yoga teacher and being present in the dailiness of his life and his relationships. I think it would be fascinating to have a morning-long private lesson with him and then eat lunch and hear as much of his story as he is willing to share. And then I would love to spend the afternoon on a walk or something, just being with him, knowing that he is a person whose life has severely challenged him and that he has chosen to face his pain and transform it. I find him really inspiring and would love to know more about him. I would rather spend time with someone who is busy living life, rather than writing about it. I love to spend time with people who make the entirety of their daily lives a spiritual practice.

Janet: What is your greatest simple pleasure?

Patti: A hot bath on a cold day with sweet smelling lavender essential oil and total quiet. The latter being hard to come by at my house. And if I can't have quiet, a cup of tea by the wood stove and a moment with nothing else to do.

Janet: What is the most unusual thing you have ever done more than once?

Patti: Well, when I was in college, I went on this three-month semester in the Rockies. (I was good at arranging to have fun and calling it school!) We backpacked, rockclimbed, went ski packing (is that a word?), horsepacking, and spelunking (caving) for three straight months. The whole experience was magnificent but the one thing that stands out in my mind was the caving. We had our choice of two caves. One had a long rappel into total darkness. I don't know how long the drop was but our ropes were barely long enough to cover the drop. Once down, a whole new world opened up before our eyes. The other cave had a 1/4 mile crawl (slither?) on your belly through this body-high slit so tight you couldn't turn your head from side to side. The entire crawl was at least one half an hour of schooching on your stomach, moving forward inch by inch. Most days we were allowed to choose which cave we wanted to go in, and day after day I chose the one with the tunnel entrance. Both caves were gorgeous once you were moving around in them, but somehow I was fascinated by that tunnel entrance. The entire time I was crawling through it I was terrified, sure the earth was going to shift and crush me. But something in that crawl was a challenge to my soul. I must have done that crawl more than 15 times before all was said and done. To this day, almost 25 years later, I can still feel myself in that tunnel, the walls all around me, rocks poking me at every turn, my heart beating, and my mind struggling to overcome my tremendous fear. And then the sense of complete satisfaction at the end of the tunnel and the sense of true dread knowing I had to crawl back through that space to get out of the cave. Those weeks of caving were some of the most empowering moments of my life.

Janet: If you could only order one Isabella item from the current catalog, what would it be and why?

Patti: A Pashmina shawl because it is so soft.

Janet: What is your favorite quote?

Patti: "Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it and touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial or a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find the Earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it, that is all." Fra Giovanni, circa the mid 16th or 17th century.

Janet: Tell me about a hidden talent of yours that few know about.

Patti: I make baskets, herbal salves, lotions and remedies, I talk to fairies and plants, and I cut hair.

Janet: How many pets do you have?

Patti: Are you sure you want the answer to this? 28 hens, 2 roosters, 2 horses (1 sweet mare named Josie, and 1 wild horse named Sunny, "borrowed" from a friend), 2 goats, 1 Buddha cat (the wisest being on Earth), 2 rowdy sister cats, 1 kitten who looks like Santa Claus, 1 ram, 3 pregnant ewes, 1 lamb, and 1 decrepit, old, smelly dog that we adore.

Janet: What is your wish for the world?

Patti: That each person could fill their hearts with compassion both for those they meet and for their own lives, their pain, their weaknesses; because if we could see ourselves and others through eyes of compassion, the world would become a much kinder, saner place.

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