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Why I Love Imperfect Action

Though I try, I am never perfect. Sometimes, in my quest for perfection, I wait…and wait and wait…and never act.

An important lesson came to me late last year as I was deciding whether or not to leave my job and follow this dream of entreprenuership. I discovered this amazing business coach named Christine Kane, who teaches specifically to women entreprenuers who work with a purpose. (She calls herself “Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World” – how could I resist?!)

In one of the first emails I received from Christine, she talked about doing things imperfectly – of not waiting for perfection to happen before acting, but acting anyways, imperfectly.

This was a lesson I was meant to hear, because too often I was waiting to know more, or do more, before I’d let myself do what I really wanted to do – which was to start my own business. I realized I would never be “there” unless I started “here,” in my place of imperfection.

Each imperfect action I take is one step closer to my goal. I haven’t yet died from a typo or grammatical error. I haven’t closed down my dream because I’m not there yet.

Every day I work on another goal. Though I have a list a mile long, I don’t let the fact that I’m not yet done stop me from starting, although sometimes that temptation is huge! In many cases, I don’t even know what I need to know to finish. But as I remember imperfect action, I do the first step anyways, knowing that action is the only way to proceed. And amazingly, once I set that intention, the information seems to show up.

Like the day I stopped in the bank to ask about a business account and the manager asked me if I had registered my business. Duh, what? I hadn’t yet learned that part. But the intention was out there and the universe brought me a banker who took the time out of her day to get on the Secretary of State website and help me begin the process. It’s all about starting! Each step leads to the next.

I mention all of this because I’ve often heard people stopping themselves from things they’ve always wanted to try – like gardening – because they didn’t feel like they knew enough yet. Just because you don’t know what to do about squash bugs shouldn’t stop you from planting squash! It just gives you an opportunity, should squash bugs decide to visit, to try out some imperfect action. Maybe you’ll try hand-picking them off. Maybe you’ll get some rotenone from the garden store at the suggestion of a neighbor. Maybe you’ll join a gardening club and meet some really great new friends. It all starts by planting that first seed.

Each action we take, whether imperfect or not, is one step closer to living the life we want to be living.

So at this start of the new year, I encourage you to go ahead and plan that garden, even if you’ve never started a seed in your life. Or begin that new hobby that you know nothing about. Or follow that dream that’s too big to tie down. Action, with all its imperfections, is the only thing that will ever move us forward into our “there.”

Gratitude

Gratitude

I am immersed in a feeling of gratitude.  So many different events, people, and scenarios have come together to allow me to step into this place of creation.  In a way, my whole life has led me to this place.  Those times I was sent out to the garden as a kid to gather scallions for dinner or pick cucumbers off their prickly vines have led me here.  So did the days that I spent up in our willow tree, discovering that climbing barefoot made me much more secure in my footing.   Those pensive looks at my Oma’s beehive, stepping ever so closer to observe, but not willing to give up the fear of their stings, were a part of this path, unclear at the time, but so formative.  My Oma and Opa’s giant garden in Cleveland – their immigrant home – now inner city hood, still holds my memory to those days in the yard growing our dinners.  Those inconsequential things that created what is now my dream hold me in a cradle of thankfulness.

And recently, the amazing experience of working the past 15 years at the Stratford Ecological Center – and the serendipity of my life that even allowed me to be eligible for such a position.  It feels like it has all led to this place, this space in time. 

My website woman, Alice, just happened to have resigned from her own non-profit position to step out on her own as a web designer – and a mutual colleague just happened to share her website at the time that I was about to give up my search and settle for a stranger.  Amazing!  It fills me up like a balloon full of gratitude.  The serendipity of my dear friend Trista sharing her own walk  in entrepreneurship with a mentor, Christine Kane, who teaches specifically to women entrepreneurs with a purpose.  My finding exactly what I needed, when I needed it, is beyond words really and more into the realm of guidance. 

All of my paths, inclinations and preferences have come from the root of this family that I was gifted to be born into.  It just blows me away.  A father who can never give enough of his time and skills to others.  A mother full of creativity and service - who has given her life over on more than 3 occasions to a dying friend.  A sister who, despite insurmountable health obstacles, follows the lessons of Cat Stevens that she inspired in me as a teen and keeps a positive thankful-for-what-I-can-do attitude.  How on earth did I ever earn such blessings?  It fills me to no end with gratitude.

How, after mourning the Native American culture so thoroughly as a teen, did I find a Native elder willing to invite my family into ceremony, living out an inconceivable dream?  My gratitude for this is indescribable.

I also think of the gratitude for those non-human things that have sustained me.  Those actual scallions and cucumbers.  The soil that was my teacher.  The willow tree that was a dear and cherished friend.  The deer that often graces my dinner plate.  Earth itself has been my path, my mentor, and my colleague. 

In all the paths that brought me to where I am today, there were both human and non-human.  As I step away from my position at the Stratford Ecological Center after 15 years, I speak to the place.  And I find solace.  The place doesn’t mourn my loss.  It gives me only good energy and not regret.  It knows it is my time to move on and wishes me well, knowing I am its sister, always.

And so it is as I step into this great unknown of Bring the Farm to You.  I feel its direction and know with clarity that this is my path.  I feel the energy of the Earth and the energy of my connections propelling me forward and I can’t help but to be swept up in a wave of gratitude.  For each and every soul that has shared a kind word, or a word that has allowed me to grow; for the energies that have moved through me like a current, bringing forth more than was ever contained within; for the blessed gift of my very existence in this time and place – I am grateful.

Thank you, whoever you are, for your own energy into this project, however small or large, whether known or unknown – it has been important.  It is with gratitude that I offer to you what has been given to me to share.

Aho!  Namaste!  And Amen to this prayer of gratitude.  Life is a blessing.  I am so full of gratitude to be given this path.  May it grow into something that creates more and more paths of thanksgiving.