Shots of love

The “Think Small, Buy Local” movement has real legs this Christmas season, if only as illustrated by the hottest-selling item from Edina writer, photographer and artist Lori Anne Yang’s two-year-old company Mammaste: A coffee mug bearing the words of the 13th–century Sufi poet and mystic Rumi, which can also be found emblazoned on Yang’s T-shirts and stationary, and at the heart of the Mammaste business philosophy: “Exhale Only Love.”

“Mammaste has evolved into a company that through its message, products and philanthropy promotes loving the whole world with a mother’s heart and reminds us to see divinity in ourselves and others, every day,” writes Yang on the Mammaste website (www.mammastemama.com). “Mammaste is not affiliated with any particular religion. We believe, as Rumi said; ‘In every religion there is love, yet love has no religion.’ The messages written on Mammaste products resonate unconditional love, rippling it out into the world. It is a love that we believe can change the world.

So far so good, but it took years for Yang herself to get to and embrace her own light. When she was 35 years old, Yang went through a painful divorce and one night was considering ending her life. She was visited in the middle of the night by a vision of a wise woman who implored her to lay down her burden and focus on her own inner joy and strength.

“I literally went from feeling hopeless one night to waking up to a new way of seeing the next morning. Nothing had changed about my somewhat dire life circumstances, as I saw them, save for me, and yet everything was different, lighter,” said Yang, who is now remarried with five children and one grandson.

“As I began to live more and more from this place of renewed perspective, I realized that this message of creating our reality through our own thoughts, words and deeds was not a new concept. It is at the heart of so many sacred teachings and philosophies throughout the ages. It is often linked with the teachings of the golden rule, unconditional love, and believe it or not to the experiences of having those dark nights of the soul which can be as much a part of learning to live in the light as joy is.”

Such lessons in wisdom can be fleeting, so Yang — a naturally open-hearted and open-minded artist — launched Mammaste as a way of holding the words close.

“I began to see that having little reminders around me of what it means to live in an awareness of the power of my perspective really helped,” she said. “Having physical reminders brought my focus back again and again to cultivating an experience of life from the inside out. Soon, I saw that just ‘being’ this way in the world, not lecturing or teaching outright but just living from this new place of viewing the world through a lens of love, affected others in a positive way as well.

“So I thought, ‘Why not make my passion my work?’ Mammaste was created as a vehicle to send these positive messages of love and light out into the world. I see my company, and social media for that matter, as a beautiful tool for these messages and a way of making the world almost like a digital Pangea — a super continent of interconnection through love. Corny? Maybe. But I’m going with it.”

At the moment, Yang is in the process of unveiling her “Be Unreasonable” line, which encourages all to “Be Unreasonably Happy,” “Be Unreasonably Kind,” and “Be Unreasonably Optimistic.” All of which, along with the other Mammaste products, can be ordered and picked up in time for Christmas, that most tricky of emotional times.

“The holidays can be a time when people feel especially vulnerable and overwhelmed by this external hyper-reality of jacked-up expectations around togetherness and what that means, or what that is supposed to look like or feel like,” said Yang. “Whether yours is a time of ‘too much’ family and friends or the emptiness of those people missing in your life at this time of year, I hope my products will provide the same peaceful and comforting message of love and interconnection as is my intention for them all year long. Especially if this is a time of year when we feel most alone, or maybe these messages help others to be better able to send loving kindness out across the table to that friend or relative with the political views that rub us the wrong way.

“Often people send pictures to me of their morning drink in one of my mugs, commenting on how much they love the reminder to ‘love one another’ or to ‘exhale only love,’ or any of the other messages I’ve collected from the four major religions and science about universal love and interconnection. It works for both the giver and receiver, too.”

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at madripple@earthlink.net and www.jimwalshmpls.com