Color and Well-Being

A while back a customer wrote us and thanked us for our beautiful clothes and how it helped her ease hard times she had fallen onto.

That made us realize how important it can be how we look at the world and how we can change our mind by changing how we present ourselves to the world.

You know the old grouch and how he looks – grey, hunched and with contempt for everything around him burned into the lines of his face. If you sometimes feell like that, what can you do to dig yourself out of that hole?

Color in a grey world

Color in a grey world

First thing would be to lift up your head and straighen your shoulders, then a look into the mirror and picture what you would want to see to make you feel better – or even good!

Getting rid of that grey would definitely be helpful, right? Even if it might feel wrong initially to wear something happy when you feel down, it does help!

The principle at work here is ‘fake it until you make it.’ You have to take just a little step out of your feeling down and handle the situation – a tiny, little bit – from the outside.

You can, so to speak, bootstrap yourself out of any negativity and into a feeling of …. YEAH!!

Buying Lifestock on Behalf of JustZen’s Customers

Yes, you read that right – JustZen bought some livestock.

A Cow

A Goat

and some Chicks

How did this come about?

A few years ago JustZen started to offer free hairbands in exchange for a donation – any donation – towards a group of foster children JustZen supports around the world in developing countries. These donations were to fund some extra boost for the holidays.

This was such a successful action that it became permanent. Now, any donation wins the donor an entry to a raffle for a free mudmee tie-dye. The drawing for the free item happens when the donations reach two hundred dollars.

Just in time for the holidays that happened again. But this time it was possible to actually decide that these extra donations would go and thinking this over, what would do the greatest good, it was decided that it’s a cow for milk, a goat for the other kind of milk and chicks to grow up and lay eggs.

Thus – JustZen bought livestock on behalf of their customers.

The drawing for the free item will happen in a few day and the cycle will start over – and we will see how fast the $200-goal can be reached now.


Tie-Dye and Hair

There was an opportunity to close the loop!

Tie-dye is, to some degree, synonymous with hippies. But what other characteristic is unavoidable connected with hippies? Long hair, of course!

And here we are at the musical ‘Hair’ – a musical icon for the hippie era. Your’s truly, growing up in the 70s certainly had the album  (on vinyl – remember those big 30cm black disks with grooves on them which stored the music?) as well as long hair to know what it was like.

And I even met and became friends with the guy who played the main role in the German stage production – so – I am connected!

Now, that we are running, with a type of tie-dye we often call tie-dye 2.0, we connect with quite a few hippies of those days.

Last week we got an order from Pat for a hoodie and a shirt with the question if we can manage to get this out in time to be worn at a stage production of – – – HAIR!

Certainly we made that happen – we just had to, and Pat promised to send pictures. Pat reported that the show has been excellent and that pictures were coming – and – today – we got one – she and her granddaughter at the San Francisco state show of Hair.

Thanks, Pat!

And this picture also goes into our ‘customer gallery’ – in case you don’t know – once we have filled up a gallery with 50 images, we have a raffle for all those who are in that gallery.

UPDATE: Pat sent another picture from her phone…

Nomad Artists

I can imagine that many artists like nothing better than creating their art without being bothered to do anything else. The ideas situation is that connoisseurs of their art come to them with a pocket full of money and leave most of that with the artist when they leave.

Unfortunately this ideal situation is often no met in the so-called real world. Artists often have to find those who appreciate what they create, and some have decided to become nomads to accomplish to do just that.

At JustZen we have taken a two-pronged approach to show you what we have to offer: There is, one, the JustZen website with the potential reach of the whole world, but also, two, to reach out and physically go out and meet people. Yours truly has mostly taken job number one, and Gigi has become the nomad to travel.

Once in a while this author is allowed to leave the keyboard and go out and see the world as well. This was the case when Mammoth Lake had its Festival of the Arts this just past labor day. It was decided that this long trip and the hotel was not to be wasted for only one person and one purpose, but that webmaster and junior staff would go as well and that the trip would be expanded a bit to see the sights.

The setting of the festival was in a beautiful wooded park and nomadic artists from all over the area congregated. These nomads are a not so very big group of special people and after a few years of traveling to diverse art festivals and shows, the faces you see become familiar, and friendships develop.

Setting up starts the big buzz, people are busy preparing for the show and putting their best foot forward – then the day or days of the actual fair with lots of talking, demonstrating and selling.

Once the last visitor to the show has left, the festival is over and a very unusual mix of feelings and emotions spreads throughout the grounds of the show. You can feel excitement of some who had a very good show, some with not so good mood who wished they had done better but overall there is a feeling of comradery and togetherness. Yet there is also a bit of a feeling of emptiness and loss, as it’s all done now and this shared experience is over.

Cars a brought in, replacing the crowd of visitors and all the pieces of art that did not find a new owner are packed up.

Some of the artists are amazingly fast with their break-down and so the festival site clears out more and more. Some, with more elaborate displays, need a lot more time to pack up, disassembling displays and folding down canopies.

Gigi with all her many items from mudmee hoodies to hairbands is often one of the late completions but this time junior staff was there to help and here we see that the canopy is already packed up – one of the last items to get into the nomad’s wagon – while other artists are still packing.

Packing has become an art in itself, a honed skill over many festivals, to efficiently and effectively stow everything in a vehicle as small as possible. Here are the last items to fit into the last crevices of the wagon.

The next day was ‘reward’ day. Yosemite is less than an hour drive away from Mammoth Lakes and it was the destination. First was a stop at Mono Lake and then it was into the park – and a beautiful park it is.

But in the next picture you can see that Gigi just has to have a task – here she made sure that these two rocks remained separated. The author was not quite sure why that was important, but it was something that Gigi thought was necessary. Also notice that Gigi does not wear Mudmee Tie-dye all the time.

Before you may go back to your scheduled activities, one more visual impression from one of the most amazing lakes at Yosemite at over nine thousand feet elevation showing yours truly and the junior staff.

Since getting back from that trip we have been busy again and added plenty of new buddha bags to the web site – over 70 to be exact – so, if you have been waiting for the right one to come up on site – it’s time to take a look.

Gigi went onto her biggest trip ever and is – a the time of this writing – September 24 – in Idaho. Last week in Boise and this week at the Thousand Springs Festival of the Arts in Wendell. Her booth number is 18 – in case you are in that neck of the woods.

I spend my 4th of July learning Manga

What a great 4th of July I had this year!

I did not go to no parade, I did not have any BBQ, as a matter of fact, I had hardly anything to eat all day.


Because I was very productive and dug myself deep into Anime and Manga. By the way, Anime simply means ‘cartoon’ in Japanese, but here in the west we usually understand this term to represent this very specific kind of cartoon, many love.

I can’t say that I was a ‘fan’ of anime, but I always liked it as you can tell looking at an early attempt to create some…

OK, I admit, that’s real-life anime, not real anime.

But today I tried some real anime, even though with some twist.

Pretty cool, huh?

Yard Sale Frenzy

(reprint of an email sent out to our mailing list on memorial weekend)

Hope you are enjoying the long weekend!

Hi and hello – it’s Merlin from JustZen – today with a little report about the traditional yard and garage sale frenzy we experience here in our little mountain cummunity – the home of the JustZen coporate head quarter (I like to say that ‘coporate head quarter’ thingy because that makes our little tie-dye enterprize look so important.)  😉

Every year, on the long memorial weekend, the natives of our little community get into a frenzy – garages and storage spaces are emtied into the drive way. And the amazing situation is that the surrounding communities know about it!

Where you normally see the occasional car driving through a residsential street, now you have a traffic jam of predetors on the prowl for loot – the crap-hound is on the loose.

Sometimes you find some really good deal. On our first experience of this frenzy two years ago, for example, we found an 18 speed mountain bike for our son, Zen, for 15 bucks. Another 30 or 40 to fix minor things and he was all set, so that he never had to ask his parents to drive him somewhere again. (That, by the way, was withful thinking only.)

This year it was different for our son – he wanted to participate in the frenzy in an active role. He collected things, he could let go, over the last few month, got up really early on the first day of the frenzy and was ready for the crap-hounds.

It did not quite work as well as hoped for but at the end of the second day he off-loaded some of his ‘stuff’ and is some 20 bucks richer.

One interesting and comforting lesson we all learned: I encouraged him to believe in the honesty of potential customers and he set up a self service yard sale. The problem was that he was absolutely itching to go around and find good deals also, so he could not remain in his own yard all the time to watch his ‘stuff.’ Obviously he first wanted to hire me to sit and be his sales person while he was on the prowl.

I was not too eager to do that so we came up with the solution that he made a sign with the prices and a note to go up to the door and pay when they found something – and that worked great!

The next morning our son had to solve another problem – his dad – me – had worked very late and was still sleeping when the frenzy started and Zen also wanted to prowl – in other words, dad was not available to accept any payments. So Zen came up with the idea to just have a big box with a slot where buyers could leave their money for stuff they wanted.

And it worked! When hunger finally drove me out of bed, there was money in the box – not much, but enough to convince us, people in general are cool and honest.

Pity that Gigi missed the frenzy but she is at a show up in central California, at the Strawberry Festival in Arroyo Grande (Booth# A 31) – so skilful, how I weaved in this bit of information, yes? But should you be up there and plan to go only to see her, check with me first please. As I write this, late at night between Saturday and Sunday, it is not quite clear if she will still be there on Sunday. Normally at shows of more than one day, the participants just close up the booth and security is provided to watch. But in Arroyo Grande the city made everybody tear down and put up the display again in the morning. Gigi might not want to do this – it’s too tough.

So I thought that instead I will offer free shipping to everybody in the area up there. But hold on, that would not be fair to everybody who is not in Central CA – – – OK, free shipping for everybody for this long weekend  <grin>.

Peace-Up and Cheers,


PS: to get free shipping this weekend please use the rebate code prs88708 on checkout.

PPS: I really have to go to bed now, so excuse any spelling errors still in this email – – good night!

Sushi and the Art of Dressing Correctly

Yours truly did not always appreciate the type of clothing that now makes up a bigger part of his life. Quite the opposite, I have to admit. In fact, clothing was hardly on my mind and did not warrant any consideration. ‘Dressed for the occasion’ was not something I had in my vocabulary.

Let me tell you a little story of my first encounter with the idea of dressing appropriately. It has not directly to do with sushi but let me get back to that later – first a bit of background.

Those were the seventies and I was just at the age where you question everybody and everything. One of the things that was questioned was the necessity of a haircut, in other words, I had long, very long hair, and the other one was the type of clothing that my parents would have approved of, in other words, I wore the non-conformist uniform, blue jeans and a t-shirt. OK, OK, so I probably was a hippie.

It was the last year of high school, in Germany that would be grade 13, and we went on a field trip to the (then divided) Berlin. It sure was an interesting experience. First crossing the border into East Germany. East German border patrol entering the train and asking everybody “Papers pleease,” intimidating all of us despite our intention not to be intimidated by this type of GeStaPo. Then a few hours of travel through ‘enemy’ territory and finally another border crossing into the island of capitalism within the eastern block – West Berlin! A city that had money pumped in by the west to create a real eye sore within it’s surrounding communist empire. We loved it!

After settling in at the youth hostel on ‘Kurt Schuhmacher Square’ we started to explore the city. A whole week to see museums, visit East Berlin on a one day visa (Berliners called the fee for the visa ‘admission’) and experiencing everything this city had to offer.

And now I finally come to the point of this story. One of these experiences was a visit at a Japanese restaurant. Japanese presence in Germany was very thin at that time. To my knowledge there were only two Japanese restaurants in all of Germany, one in Düsseldorf, and the other one in Berlin. A few of us decided to spend a bigger part of our allowance on a Japanese meal.

We were in for a treat. With the presence of Japanese culture so rare, the few places that represented Japan in Germany were very authentic. Entering this restaurant at the Europa Center in the very center of West Berlin was like entering a different world. Fortunately the personnel did speak German but beside that we were in Japan. The waitresses even wore traditional kimonos.

Right there my lesson started. Entering this new world in our non-conformist uniforms of jeans and t-shirts made me feel uncomfortable. At that time I was able to suppress that feeling but just the fact that I still remember this after many decades shows you the intensity of the lesson and how much effort it took to suppress the discomfort of not fitting in.

I have to say that the staff of this restaurant was very accommodating. No remark, not even a disapproving glance at this bunch of misfits. We were treated with the utmost hospitality and this was the place where I was taught how to handle chop sticks properly for the rest of my life.

The lesson that I learned was to honor a host by adhering to his culture as much as possible. Just to forget for a moment my own point of view, however rebellious and righteous it might be. All will feel more comfortable. That does not need to mean that I have to forget the reason for my rebellion, but from this level of comfort the assessment who the target of the rebellion should be can be done with a much clearer view.

After this I certainly still wore my non-conformist uniform most of the time, but I was able to don shirt and tie when it was appropriate.

I wish I could say that we had sushi that night at the Japanese restaurant because then the title of this post would match the content – but I can’t. We had sukiyaki, which impressed us all so much that we had a cook-out at one of our friends’ house a few weeks later to try it ourselves. But I claim my writers latitude of twisting things around a bit to make them fit. In this case I feel that ‘suhi’ in the title works better than ‘sukiyaki.’ We could as well have had suhsi, but I did not even know what that was at the time and I am sure that I was in good company with the vast majority of my fellow Germans, all lacking this education and knowledge.

Now you might wonder what’s the point of all of this. After all I am the master of mudmee tie-dye now, so, how does JustZen’s wearable art fit into all this? Easy, if you go to the opera, don’t wear our clothes, but for everything else – you’ll be fine!


PS: Should you have any doubt that my story is true, you gotta watch this little slide show of vintage photos of our trip to Berlin. There are, unfortunately, no photos of our visit to the Japanese restaurant, but the pictures from the ice rink are just feet away. At that time the ‘Europa Center’ had this ice rink at the ground level and the Japanese restaurant was on the next level up. And who is yours truly? Did I mention that I had pretty long hair?

To all of you who have a mother…

(reprint of the newsletter send out mother’s day weekend 2011)

Happy Mother’s Day – Merlin here with something to say this time…

I know, the subject line is more or less pointless, because, let’s be honest, how many of you don’t have a mother? However I wanted to stress how easily they can be taken for granted when they are certainly not.

I thought about what would be an appropriate picture for today and decided to show you the image that Shelli sent in for our customer gallery.


Don’t you think this is a nice picture for mother’s day – working together with the daughter, to help her becoming proud and confident?

Now let me tell you a bit about my mom, and a little bit of a miracle that happened about and with her. If you are not interested, stop here, I promise there is no other  important information down there…

My mom has passed on long ago, and I am not sad about that, as she had had a good and fulfilled life when she said good-bye after about 80 years.

I can say that I was very lucky with her as she was not only my mom, but also a friend. We did not necessarily love each other all the time (she might have though) but we always had great respect for each other. Funny enough, my respect was firmly established when she told me that I was being kicked out should I not stop being such a disturbance to the family. Yup, the threat of being kicked out did that!

And why? Because that was the biggest display of personal integrity that I could imagine. She sure loved me, but she would not compromise her own reality that the basis for a good family was the security and sanity of that family. And I was spreading unrest during this time of growing up. So despite her love she would kick me out – – obviously it worked – I mended my evil ways and could stay. I then started to contribute to the family instead of bringing turmoil.

And now the bit of a miracle I promised in the beginning. My mom had not always been the oh, so positive and stable person. Just the opposite, until I was 13 or 14, she had actually been controlled, to a big degree, by her fears – that something bad would happen – to the kids, to my dad (who had a dangerous job) and to any or all – nothing in particular.

And then one summer, she had to go away on a trip with my dad for a few weeks while aunt Elsa baby-sat my sister and I.

She came back a totally different person. On her trip, she had met this old lady, a retired nurse, who apparently found just the right words and information mom needed, to get a new slant on life. From that moment on she was a very positive person, seeing no danger around her any more, even in (apparently) negative situations, saw the good that would come out of it.

Sure, she annoyed the pessimists and nay-Sayers, but we considered this a small price to pay. This experience gave me the confidence that instant changes to the positive are possible to such a big extent as to call them miracles.

In this sense, if you are a mother, my deepest respect to you, and if you are not, please say ‘hi’ to your mom from me.

Peace-Up and Cheers,

PS: OK, so I lied above when I said there would be no more important information – I do have some info that I want to pass on – Gigi is at the Sunset Beach Art Festival, close to Huntington Beach in California (Booth# 517corner) this weekend.

The Loss of a Model

Remember, last time I barged into your life, I reported of new snow at the JustZen Corporate Headquarter (what a mouth-full for this little abode!)

Our son, who you know as one of the models on our web site, took me serious and went out for a sun-bath…

I know, I should be watching what I say, but I just tried to make a joke and told him he would not get enough sun, dressed up as he was. And what does this guy do – – he takes me serious…

Was not too bad, we could have just given him a hot bath and he would have thawed, but unfortunately I got distracted by other work and I did not notice that another big storm moved in …

… and we probably have to wait for all this snow to melt until we can get his modeling services again.