When I started ChocoVivo 15 years ago, it was a thought, an idea, as I like to say, naïve thinking. It was a moment after 9/11 that I sat on my bed thinking, what am I doing with my life and I’m only in my 20s. This is what I have to look forward to after four grueling years getting an Ivy League education? With that, I had to follow the undercurrent that was forming so I went on this unusual adventure to find the meaning of Chocolate to me.
This week, ChocoVivo was broken into. Glass door shattered upon arrival. Five cops in front of ChocoVivo telling me to “Stay Back! He might be in there!”. As most of you know me, I rolled my eyes thinking, I don’t think anyone is there in broad day light and you’ve been here for at least 20 minutes. But I get the protocol and the eventual snail response and paperwork. Quite a bit was stolen. Nothing to dimiss and move past it like stealing some paperclips from the supply room. Hindsight is always there to tell you that you should have done this.
I examined the camera footage several times. The way he moved was eerie, calculated, and he seemed comfortable. I’ve probably spoken to the “customer” before helping him make his chocolate purchase.
I reflect upon the last few months, like many, with roller coaster emotions, existential questions, and of course the meaning of it all. Do we, do I, have the will to keep going? Or was this meant to be the last tipping point to finally be in that van to drive along the Pacific Ocean and stare out with no responsibility, no time, retire to the cacao plantation and just wander and be. Be like a customer. Enjoy the experience. No pressure. Because, right now corporate is looking greener and prettier from the other side of the broken glass.
I’ve been told, ChocoVivo is a living thing. I birthed this. This is my child. As my therapist says, “Don’t kill the baby. There are many possibilities.” I looked at her with exasperation and said, “I’m tired.”
Why anyone would break into a small woman, minority-owned chocolate shop is beyond me. We are not a chain. We are not big business. (Probably easier if we were because we would have a better insurance policy.) We have a mission. We have a connection. We try to just provide some happiness with chocolate and the historical context that chocolate is more than just a 99 cent candy bar.
As I was alone in the shop the next day, the words of gratitude came thru my head. Tears welling up as I resisted, but allowed that to fall upon me and fully accept it. To surrender to the fate of what will happen in this lifetime, but to be fully present and grateful of everything and everyone that has come to me to make me laugh, exasperate me, put a smile on my face and teach me something. Because this is only one dimension of life we will live, and it will end shortly. Although it seems like forever. The words that softly go thru my mind is to “Surrender and be grateful. It will come.” Psalm 30: 11- 12 that comes up during my Christian youth days in Oklahoma as we turn this corner and pick up the pieces and move thru the uncertain times that lay ahead: He’s turned my mourning into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows. And I can’t stay silent, I must sing for His joy has come.”
I share what happen, because for the last few months, our customers have been extremely supportive, and I’m grateful. It has kept us afloat as I renegotiate our rent and figure out next steps. I’ve been hanging on like most everyone thinking and also enjoying the slow pace. Being in an awkward position, but also being twisted in many emotions.
We will continue to keep our limited store hours Thursday thru Sunday until something changes. We are shifting our focus on creating Experiences at Home and building our content thru our online store. We thank you for your continued support and patience. So we wait until I can take the first group to the plantation because it’s like being a kid in wonder, having no limitations, no preconceived notions, no expectations. I can only wait to walk the dirt path again and see the multicolor cacao pods, smell the crisp blue air, listen to the eagles and monkeys, the rustling of the leaves and seeing the midges on the ground pollinating the cacao trees, and feeling the moist air touch the face. Until then, we will continue to hear the dumpsters coming in to collect our trash, cars driving by, and picking up the pieces of broken glass until one by one, it’s a beautiful image of what Mother Nature and God is teaching us
Be well and safe. Let the tears flow with joy and continue to support your local business. That's how we can get thru this time. Change is coming. Spread the message.
Owner and Founder, ChocoVivo