“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.”
― Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War
This month we explored the idea of our businesses as gardens and our community ran with it! Chats and contributors exploded with insight and parallels between entrepreneurship and cultivation. In a landscape that can often seem one size fits all, gardening is the perfect metaphor for building a business that supports and sustains. Evolving, beautiful, functional and inherently personal each of our gardens will look a little different depending on location, climate, investment, and the personality of the gardener. Most importantly to me gardening represents hope.
The concept of business being a lot like gardening has been a defining theme since 2011. That year I built myself a design consulting site with the tag line “Let’s Plant Something Beautiful Together” and a pay-what-you-can option called the Dream Garden. The design process led to the first ebook I made for OMHG: Cultivate Your Creativity. The site and book gave birth to a new seed: Heartweed. Heartweed was going to be a partnership between myself and another entrepreneur to build a digital magazine for creative entrepreneurs that collectively explored the idea of dreams and weeds to “unearth the heart of a creative life”. Life interrupted our plans so we mulched over the idea of Heartweed and left it to germinate. The site is still up and I visit it often to remind myself that some seeds take time to grow and others need to be weeded so that a bigger dream can take root. I won’t lie-sometimes tending our dreams is harder then others and despite my very best intentions some sweet seedlings have been neglected and left to wither. These lost blooms are relationships left untended, ideas started and ignored, projects half completed, emails still unsent. The larger OMHG grows the harder it becomes to caretake all the responsibilities and the more important is has become to learn how to be more mindful about how I am tending it.
Tomorrow is the launch of our OMHG members community and the start of our May Marketing Madness theme. I had planned to write you a post about biz growth but while there is so much joy in my life there are some hard things I have been struggling with that have affected how well I’ve been caring for OMHG. Going by the brave friends who opened their lives to us and the comment, emails, visits, phone calls, Skype chats, letters, posts and chats I’ve had over the last few months- our community has experienced loss, illness, extreme transitions, financial difficulty, grief and sadness recently. It doesn’t matter if you make cards or coach creatives, as entrepreneurs our lives and work often have little separation. Even though we may not talk about it online very often for many of us this is deeply personal work. Being our own bosses is a daily choose your own adventure and sometimes we need a little help along the way. So I wanted to share my thoughts on how I am learning to stop negative seeds before they end up hurting me.
I am a survivor of more then one kind of abuse, as a child and a young adult some dark seeds were planted in the garden of my heart where they took root. Addiction, depression, self harm/hate, and a family history of mental illness are all part of my family tree. I’ve spent years pulling these thorny patches out, planting flowers in the broken places, cultivating loving friends, and willing something beautiful to grow instead. Recently some sadness in my personal life and financial freaking out over Chris getting permanently laid off caused all my broken bits to start sprouting wildly and taking over. It made me realize the work is never done. No matter how loving my little family and community is or how many new flowers I plant-these broken bits are part of me and ignoring them just makes them grow faster. I’ve had a fight or flight response to negativity most of my life I either suit up to battle and make it right or head in another direction. Fighting has gotten me a collection of scars and running just let the negative seeds grow unchecked. I love this community we are building and the life I am creating with all of my heart so my old gardening methods are no longer options.
When I felt myself becoming so overwhelmed that everything started falling behind and the work to be done to get the new OMHG ready seemed impossible I started talking to the friends I’ve made here. I had Skype dates and email pow-wows and late night texts and early morning phone calls- it felt so good to have friends to talk to who could help me stop watering all those I’m-not-good-enough seeds and chart a plan for replacing them with healthier ones. After a Skype date with Colleen Attara I went hunting through my journals and found this reminder to myself that I can write a new story/plant a different garden, it was too perfect not to share:
In one story my inner plucky barefoot grass-stained gamine is hiding in the rubble and debris of my broken heart looking for a paper bag to wear, finding nothing but burnt forests and horses bones. In yet another story she pulls on her army boots to do battle with the dragons. Fighting fire with fire, out past the edge of the world, alone. There is a different story though, the one I hope I am writing, in which she/I stand still in that ruined, empty garden recognizing that it is a hard barren place right now-but in my pocket there are seeds. The only thing I need to do is call out and there will be friends to help with the replanting. The sun will rise, rain and tears will fall. I will tend that sad little patch like my life depends upon it (because it does) watering it with tears and dreams. Healing it with new stories and the helping hands of friends until it blooms. January, 2009
Through OMHG I have found the friends to help make this garden bloom, not just the flowery bits, but the broken places too. And I have found the strength to start writing a new story. My dream for this new site is for it to offer a place where we can all access that kind of support and acceptance. Building our businesses won’t always be easy but having friends to help with the replanting has made all the difference between a thriving garden and a lonely one. Reaching out reminded me of why we built the new website and that while things are hard tomorrow is a new day, a new month, a new adventure and a chance to do things differently. The doors of our new community will open and help us ask for support where we need it and offer it when we can. Our May theme will playfully let us all (myself included!) develop the confidence to market ourselves and our dreams. At our last #OMHG chat Tara Swiger tweeted that “marketing can be as easy as talking to the people who love you”, I am counting on this to be true!
Tomorrow I will share all the details about how to join our member community and anxiously await you in the new garden with tea and cupcakes. Everything might not be as perfect as I planned, there are still some barren thorny patches, but we have all the seeds we need to get us started. I’m heading back into the forums to put on the finishing touches, pull together a newsletter for our community mailing list & get all ready for the morning. To every one of you who has encouraged & inspired me by sharing and listening, you have made a bigger difference then I could possibly tell you-thank you! I have the shovel handy if you need a hand turning your compost or digging weeds any day.
I would love if you would share in the comments what tools you use to stop watering negative seeds and if you’ve ever experienced community support to help pull weeds and cut back the brambles!
Jess….love this post. And I loved seeing you during our chat. We pulled up a few weeds during our chat didn’t we Jess?…and planted some Peonies.
You are so real, wise, beautiful and brave. Every single journey has brought you here. And I am so glad because this community means so much to me. And to so many others.
As for me and negative seeds….the universe is screaming at me lately to slow down, meditate and just give my fast moving self a big hug when slowing down seems hard to do. Naps in my hammock, listening to my instinct, not over thinking….all this helps. I am trying really hard to let everyone in my house have their own story and path…just letting them be and focusing on lots of self care. Funny how when I put all my focus on me, everyone breathes easier. I think it gives others permission to do that too. I am learning loads of self care takes care of the negative seeds.
Thank you dear friend, I am so thankful we connected and I have your loveliness in my life! I thought of you when I created the Self Care & Self Love forum in our new community and can’t wait to share ideas for how to be gentle with ourselves there. I find it easier to care for others then myself but I am learning-you & are community are such great teachers! We sure did pull up some weeds during our chat, how did you know peonies are my favourite flower? I’ve always believed they are proof of magic. I am sending you the worlds biggest hugs & will be thinking of you today while I get our virtual home ready for housewarming. Thank you for planting & playing with me here<3
Jess, you are such a gorgeous person, so honest and caring and generous, if I could give you a great big hug, a cup of tea and a slice of cake right now I would.
I’m not great at the negative weeds but I’m trying hard to not let them grow too tall. When I’m feeling down or fed up I try to think of what I would say to a friend who was feeling like that, and then try to make myself listen to myself! I’m one of those good at dishing the advice but never apply it to myself types. Plus, I remind myself of darker times when I was unhappy with my workplace, my boss, the commute to work and know how much better my quality of work life is now. And lastly I try to remember how short life is, that there have been difficult times in the past, and there will be again in the future but right now is the time to find joy in life, right now!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have loved getting to know you through our chats and I wish I could just hop over the Atlantic and come have tea with you-virtual hugs only go so far! “When I’m feeling down or fed up I try to think of what I would say to a friend who was feeling like that” this is such a great lesson and one our community has been so great at reminding me of. What I would want for a friend is the same thing that I also deserve-this can be a really good way of seeing if something is healthy for us too…would we wish it on a friend? Life is so short, we are lucky to have bright sparks like you in the world shining the light (& pulling up weeds). Hugs!
Oh Jess you are a brave and beautiful soul. Sharing the dark stuff (that yes, we all have) lightens the load for us all. I’ve found bringing my negative seeds out into the open with others shrinks them each time, a new approach for me – it takes them away from their secret dark places and somehow they don’t look all so bad in the light. They don’t stop trying to grow of course, but because I then have other people to discuss them with, I get stronger.
I know how important it is to have space for yourself when your natural role is to support (that doesn’t mean I’m very good at doing that yet, sadly, so the Self Care group sounds good!!) It’s a wonderful gift to be able to hold others, and a tiring one. We need to be held as we hold others, and sometimes we need to take a break. xx
…and how fitting that there are bare spots and thorny brambles? Gardens are cultivated over time with loving hands (and sometimes with tears). I can’t tell you how excited we are to be joining this community…it’s the first place that we both feel enthusiastic about, safe in, and hopeful for. You’re doing a beautiful job…thank you from the bottom of my very grateful heart.
Jess-what poetic words. Sharing them with us is a gift given-thank you. Yes, digging up the thorny bramble of my heart and my experiences has led to magical things. During my most difficult times my family was my community. Nurturing them, loving them gave me comfort. Knowing I was making a difference in their lives gave me (GIVES me!) strength of purpose. Moving out of the depths of pain and sadness I hope to extend that love and connection with others-a larger community. Feeling secure and embraced at home helps give me the courage. Much love to you on this grand and glorious day, and I am wishing for you BIG success and a radiant garden full of flowers!
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