Unexpected Inspiration in Martha’s Vineyard

May 31, 2011

It’s funny how we view the Self Help/Motivational aisle of the bookstore as the section for those hairy legged women who quote excerpts from The Secret and perform chants in those convoluted yoga poses every day at sunrise. We even parody their theories on positive thinking, resigning these types of people as flighty hippies stuck in the era of peace signs, free love and unshaven armpits.

However, as soon as our loved ones suffer hard times or tragedy, the first thing we do is run out to Target or Hallmark to grab a card with some positive words of comfort and encouragement. All of a sudden we feel the need to channel our inner Yogi, delving deep into our peaceful selves in search of the perfect words to help that person (or their bereaved family) get through their hard times. It’s so easy to wait until one of life’s alarm clocks wakes us up from the rat race of our respective lives to show our love, support and encouragement for the people in our lives, and honestly it’s understandable. We all do it. We’re busy. We’re tired. We’ll do it tomorrow. Okay, maybe this weekend. Okay I promise I’ll call on Monday. Then tomorrow comes, followed by Monday. And our good intentions of showing our appreciation for the people we love get lost somewhere between our inbox and our DVR.

When I came upon an unassuming little gift shop called Sanctuary on the strip in Oak Bluffs yesterday, I didn’t really pay it any mind. I think I saw a windchime and some potted plants in the window and wrote it off as the old cat lady store, where you go to find a nice embroidered blanket for Fifi’s bed. However, once I took a peek into the door it was like a magnet of positive energy pulled me inside, beckoning me to take a closer look at the treasures within.

Within the first few minutes I was caught in a frenzy of indecision because I wanted every single thing I saw. So many of the little signs embodied my personal mantra on life and I wanted as many reminders as my Brooklyn apartment could hold. Soon I had a massive pile of little treasures on the counter by the register, teetering on the brink of a “you break it you buy it” disaster and was almost ready to make my purchases when I started noticing gifts that would be perfect for other people. All of a sudden I switched gears, returning many of my things to the shelves and running around the store excitedly picking out gifts with tailored messages for my friends and family:

Just in time for Father’s Day, I bought my Dad this wooden stenciled piece of art that I hope will remind him of the faith that he instilled in me as a child.

For my Mom, who has the family’s green thumb, I bought these lighthearted flower signs that I hope bring a smile to her face as she waters her latest botanical creations.

My Godparents have always been an inspiration to me as a model for that cross-country, long haul everlasting love we all seek. They have a passion for each other that rivals some newlyweds and after 50 years together they still write love notes to each other. They now have a huge family of children and now grandchildren that were all like big brothers and sisters to me growing up. This sign sums up where it all began and I can’t wait to give it to them when I go home in a few weeks!

For my Aunt, who is one of the most thoughtful and giving people I know,  I bought this simple ceramic plate to remind her of how much she means to me not because of the things she does but for who she is. And for my friend who invited me on this trip, I purchased a cute sign that reads “I like to cook with wine, sometimes I put it in the food” as an early housewarming gift that I hope encourages her not to cook more, but to drink more wine because that’s what life is really all about. Wine.

When I asked the store clerk why she and her husband opened the store, her response nearly brought tears to my eyes. She had been “thinking about it” for almost 20 years and once her father passed away she decided to move forward with it. Her story encouraged me in ways she will never understand, and has motivated to continue bringing to life dreams that I have been “thinking about” for quite some time. I hope in writing this story about their lovely store and beautifully warm and welcoming smiles that I’ve done my part in spreading the love they seek to share with an even wider audience. And as outlined in the flap of this wonderful book that I bought  for myself, you don’t need a special occasion to share a message with a loved one:

“Everyday life is laced with special occasions, not just here and there, or now and then – but everywhere and all the time….Feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Be thrilled with you make a new friend. Be swept away if you’ve found new love…. Roll around on the floor with the kids. Look forward to all your birthday mornings. And with every sunrise start your life anew. For it’s true: The more you love life, the more it will love you right back.”

Their items are available on their website and if you plan to hit Martha’s Vineyard this summer, definitely check them out and tell Rita that the girl with the big ‘fro who wouldn’t stop taking pictures sent you there πŸ™‚

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Joan June 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I loved your post on one of my favorite store on the Vineyard. I know the feeling of walking in there and feeling peaceful. It's more than a store, it is a sanctuary πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kristal June 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    That is my favorite store on Martha's Vineyard! I go there and spend hours every visit. The entire island is my inspiration. I love that place!!!

  • Reply Rasheedah Thomas June 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks, Trace, this place looks amazing! Will definitely check it out in August! So glad you had a great time. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Unknown September 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for this!

  • Leave a Reply