Updated: Nov 20, 2019
There's moments in life when we're introduced to a whole new realm of understanding that we had no previous exposure to before. And oftentimes when we're exposed to such enlightenment, we vigorously want others to feel this sense of "all-knowing" as well. To be able to comprehend the knowledge, to be able to articulate it, and ultimately transfer it to other people is a thrilling endeavor. Not only transfer new information, but actually excite people with wonders of the world that are unfamiliar to them. For me, this concept really evolved and transcended once I started working here at Geology Rocks! and Minerals. It was here I discovered the immense power of knowledge, and the thrilling joy of passing it on.
When I began working at Geology Rocks! and Minerals, my knowledge of rocks and crystals was extremely limited. I had lived in Arizona for 10 years, but unfortunately was not taught about the geologically rich environment I was living in. The most exposure I had to minerals growing up was when my mother lived in San Diego on a friend's tourmaline property. I remember when I was first gifted some of the gorgeous pink and green tourmaline from the property. I didn't really have a concept of crystals at the time, I just thought these were beautiful "see-through rocks". Once I got older, I realized their immense significance in the world.
By the age of 18, I was becoming more versed in the natural wonders of the world. I found myself becoming more intrigued by crystals, especially because I kept hearing the word "healing" associated with them. I have always been interested in alternative healing methods, whether it be meditation, acupuncture, yoga, etc. To me, anything in life can be possible whether science has caught up to it yet, or not. If there's a chance to find something unconventional that heals an ailment, I'll take it. During a trip to San Diego to visit my sister, she mentioned that she was also diving more into the realms of alternative healing. As something fun to do, she suggested we go to a crystal shop in Ocean Beach called the Philosopher's Stone. At this point, the only "rock stores" I had been into were the gift shops of the natural history museums in Arizona that always had those fill-a-bag deals with tumbled stones from the area. So, I wasn't really too sure what to expect. It was a cute quaint shop right on the beach. When we first walked into the shop, I found myself drawn to the jewelry.
Remind you, I still didn't understand the true geological or personal significance of the minerals and crystals, I just knew that they looked gorgeous and that I would feel much more connected to nature by wearing an actual stone found in the Earth rather than the fake, plastic imitation ones I was so used to buying from the cheap fast fashion stores. Accompanied next to each stone was a card with the name of the stone or crystal, and what it's believed emotional healing abilities were. I automatically found myself obsessing over the ruby in fuschite. not only for the properties ascribed to it but because of the contrast of colors. I could tell the fuschite was entirely different in composition to the ruby, and it was just mind blowing to me that two different minerals could form so beautifully together. The next crystal to draw my eye was an amethyst geode pendant. Purple has always been one of my favorite colors so the fact that I could wear a crystal that naturally bared this hue was an automatic sale. I left feeling satisfied with my purchases. However, I still didn't feel as fully connected and appreciative of them as I would become in the next few years....
Fast forward to age 20. Due to my background as a nature lover, I found myself applying for a position here at Geology Rocks! and Minerals. My previous occupations weren't aligned with my ethics and social goals, something that I take pride in. Therefore, once I saw a brand new local geology and crystal store open up, I knew I had to apply. At this point in my life, I was craving and yearning for new experiences. I was taking classes at Butte College, so my brain was a constant sponge for knowledge. I knew there was more to the job than just being a retail position. I knew there was not only life skills to be learned here, but an appreciation for the world to be garnished as well. Looking back now, I would have never guessed that my knowledge on the natural world and life skills would accumulate to be this comprehensive, nor would I have guessed that I would have an influential impact on the learning processes of other people.
When I was first met Kasey, the owner of G.R.A.M.S (our abbreviation for the store), his main goal for the store was (and still is) to not only educate people on geology and the natural wonders of the world, but to create lifelong connections with the awesome faces that generously walk through our door each day as well.
To first attempt this, he designed info cards for all of the rocks and minerals in the store. These info cards were much different than I had seen in any previous crystal shop. They were extremely thorough but concise. On the front side of the cards, there's the name of the mineral, its chemical composition, and where it comes from. This is to help people get more familiar with what they're looking at. On the back-side of these info cards were paragraphs that explained what environment the mineral came from, how it was formed, how it was used, and then lastly the metaphysical healing properties believed to be associated with it. These info cards in themselves were like mini geology lessons. I remember the first few months that I began working here, I would pick up every tab card and study them endlessly.
I thought it was so amazing to be able to see the connections between certain minerals, what chemical impurities are to cause the colors that we see, and having an idea of where these minerals could be found. It was like a whole new world to me! *cue the Aladdin soundtrack* I even took a geology course while I was at Butte to get more a scientific basis and understanding of these precious minerals that I was around so often. But to be quite honest, I've learned more about chemistry and earth science working here at G.R.A.M.S than I ever did in my actual science classes.
Educating people is a daunting task, especially in a learning setting such as classroom. The difficulty comes with being relatable. It has to be something that resonates with people, otherwise they won't see the point in retaining the knowledge. I quickly realized that I could recreate the same joy of learning new information of the world around me through rocks, for the very same customers that walked through the shop's door. I knew, that with this position, I could make it FUN for people to learn about science and our planet. I could take away the association of a boring classroom to science and instead replace it with a colorful perspective on it all. Instead of these just being "dirty old rocks", I wanted to show people that they were holding a piece of history in itself. It's like time that was crystallized for future generations to analyze, study, and ultimately appreciate. I wanted people to see the connections between certain minerals that are found in nature, that are also found in our bodies.
Minerals like manganese, which is responsible for many minerals with a pink/purple hue, and it is also a mineral that our brain needs in trace amounts for neurological function. Or the juicy-looking mineral Apatite, which is a calcium phosphate, the same materials that our teeth and bones are composed of. I wanted people to see all the different industrial and commercial uses for minerals.
In all actuality, I really just wanted to educate people on the holistic connection between everything in our physical world. Nothing in this life is mutually exclusive. Every thing, and every person is connected one way or another.
Every little thing that we do is curated with education in mind. From our Instagram and Facebook captions, blog posts, info cards, to our educator lab kits. Whether you walk through our doors for knowledge on geology or for good vibes, you'll be sure to leave with both.
And possibly with a crystal or two,
as well ;)
So here we are, 2 years and some change later. If I had a dollar for every time a customer said "wow, I didn't know that!" or "thanks for teaching me all of that!" I could probably afford a trip to Hawaii and back. But instead, and arguably more valuable, I receive the gratification that I opened another human's mind to something they had no clue or background knowledge of -- over and over again. That in itself is more meaningful than anything materialistic or of monetary value. To have customers regularly come back and thank me for opening their eyes to the world of geology is incredibly heartwarming. I've always looked up to professors and teachers, and the fact that I find myself somewhat embodying the role of a mini-educator in tandem with my actual job, is thrilling in itself. It makes me yearn for creative ways to open people's minds further to the complex beauties of our planet. We're all students of life in one way or another, and acknowledging that is what drives me to help everyone in their life-long learning pursuit.
But for now, I can sit back and relish on the last 2 years of progress that I've accomplished so far while I gear up for my next big steps in life. If you ever have the chance to educate someone or if you have the ability to open one's mind, DO IT *in my best Shia Labeouf voice* The power of knowledge is one that goes unmatched, and the joy of passing it on, the ability to break the barrier of one's comprehension... well that is a thrill that is unique to itself, almost indescribable, and I am infinitely grateful to work for a business that made that all possible.
I hope you all enjoyed my lengthy read, and I truly hope that it inspires you to be a beacon of enlightenment as well. It's what the world truly needs.
❤ - Jen "the girl with the nice nails"