Broken - ChocoVivo


Posted by PATRICIA Tsai on

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. 

Patricia Tsai
Owner and Founder, ChocoVivo

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  • Thank you for that beautifully written uplifting expression. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. I’m so sorry about the break in. I will be in later today to pick up a Father’s Day gift. Please don’t leave the neighborhood!!

    Lauren Ehrenfeld on
  • I am so sorry to hear this! We used to live down the street from ChocoVivo, before we sold our house and took to the road to explore the continent in an Airstream three years ago. What a lovely little business You have created. To think that you are at the effect of the societal changes we are all living is just unfair. Why must people be so small, so petty? We will never know, and I can see that you are asking all the right questions. Maybe a break is a good thing. Maybe it’s not. I know you’ll figure it out. Your path will reveal itself. Good luck and godspeed.

    Susan Henry on
  • I’m so sorry about your store.
    I will be saving this email to reflect back on. Very well written/said!

    Sheila V. on
  • Ms. Tsai!

    Bless you and thank you for your tender, beautifully written words.

    From some tough old guys who knew what they were talking about, the following words might just offer you some hope:

    “When you are going through hell, keep going.”
    —attributed to Sir Winston Churchill at the end of World War II

    “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
    —Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell To Arms,” 1929

    Thank you for daring to dream yourself into a gem-of-a gathering place so beautiful that I’ll betcha that even this poor, sick soul who came in to hurt you felt the power of its—your—beauty.

    Please keep on going and delight in the strength that you’ll feel as you dance through the broken places. Quite the adventure in chocolate, indeed.

    May you and yours find the fun in finding the fix,
    Susie Duff

    Susie on
  • Through all this pain came an incredibly moving piece that Should resonate with all of us. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story and shame on the sad soul who needed to break in to your shop. Forge on with what obviously sparks more joy in your life.

    Carol Beitcher on
  • Thank goodness neither you nor your employees were hurt. My you continue to grace the world of chocolate.

    Lee Scott Theisen on
  • Patricia, I’m heartbroken for you and Chocovivo. I and your many customer friends, new and old, are grateful you’re not giving up through all this tragedy. Entrepreneurs like you embody the best of the human spirit, and I hope we can help sustain you through these difficult times with our support and virtual hugs!

    Margaret on
  • I haven’t been inside your store in a few years. But for some reason I decided to click on your email and it brought me here and your writing REALLY moved me. Your SITUATION moves me. I’m glad you’re choosing to stay a while longer and I can’t wait to drop in again and get some of your magical cacao. I’m overdue.

    stew herrera on
  • You are a Rockstar Patricia !!
    We LOVE you and your amazing product !!
    I will always support you 🤛🏽💦🐬🙌🙏🌊❤️💖❤️you are a Powerful Ninja !! Remember that !!

    constantia tielbeke on
  • My Dearest Patricia ♥
    I love you beyond words. You, your joyful spirit, healing chocolates and your safe space have been a haven for me for YEARS. I’m heartbroken to read what happened, but so inspired (as usual), by you and your dedication to being your authentic self. We, your customers, no, YOUR FAMILY, will be here to help you navigate through these crazy times we’re all facing. God knows that you have been there for me during challenging times, so it’s my honor to return the favor.
    Kerri (and my niece Averie)

    Kerri Webb on

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