In the spring of 2003 I quit my last real job. I was an art teacher at a charter school, and I was seriously overwhelmed. I decided that it was now or never, time to see if I could do anything with my art skills. So, I got a job at a farm. The logic was that this was a low-stress part-time job, and I would have plenty of time to explore. The job turned out to be more intrusive to my time than expected, but I stayed for five years. I tapered my hours and finally left completely in 2010, ready to go full time with art! I have written a lot about my experience since, much of it about my difficulties.
I am ready to stop wallowing in what I haven’t done right and to talk about what I can do.
Are you with me?
The thing is, that farm job taught me a lot. A lot about how not to run a business, and a lot about the kindness of small gestures. That small blue vase tells a story I was reminded of recently. I got an email from Jen Louden, who I have followed for years, titled “Join the Ripple Revolution.” That got me. Jen was introducing a new venture from her friend Curt Rosengren called…Ripple Revolution! The idea, in essence, is that every small thing you do, every thought, every action, matters and creates a ripple. I like this line of thought and was reminded of the vase.
Part of my process in growing this year has been to clear my spaces both internally and externally. As the boxes get filled and moved to their next home, I have many choices to make. The tiny vase is a keeper.
When I worked at the farm, we experienced all kinds of people as one does in retail business, even at a farm. One particular day in fall, the busiest season, I was approached by a flustered man in trouble. He was almost out of gas and had miles to go. There were plenty of gas stations nearby. The trouble was he had a diesel truck, and knew he could not make it to the nearest station. He was going to miss an important delivery or something, and despite my boss being frantic at this time of year, I took pity and left my post to help him. I found the person I needed to get him fueled up and never gave it another thought.
Several days later I came to work and was handed a small envelope with this vase in it. Thanks from the man with the diesel truck! He does ceramics as a hobby. I LOVE what this represents. Love it! Small gestures can make a huge difference, and in a job that was most times thankless I had more than one experience like this while there.
I believe in the ripple effect and small gestures, but there are other messages out there too. Tara Sophia Mohr is offering Playing Big. I just attended Tara Gentile’s Art of Earning Live (it was amazing!) in which we learned to embrace earning as a way to create holistic wealth. An attitude toward earning that covers everyone, pays it forward so to speak. Also a play big approach. So, as I think about how to move forward in my work, I am faced with what I saw as conflicting messages. As I looked more deeply I see they are different facets of the same idea.
What if I can do both? Play big AND let the small stuff matter. Isn’t that what we are really talking about in all of this?
Tara Gentile teaches about holistic wealth in the Art of Earning. This means that the more we earn in dollars and physical, mental, and spiritual wealth, the more we have to give.
The Ripple Legacy teaches that there are seven ways we change the world:
- Your work
- Putting your money to work
- Consumption & conservation
- Interactions with people
- Energy / prayer / intentions
Taken together, the six proactive ways of making the world a better place offer a template to explore:
- How am I making a difference in each of these areas?
- How could I make a difference in each of these areas?
- How do I want to make a difference in each of these areas?
In the end it all amounts to the same thing; it is the way we are in every moment that matters. I have been playing small, very small. My cancer has inspired me to step up the game, but my health makes that difficult some days. I am pleased to know that I can embrace making a difference in big and small ways. It is all in the attitude. I have been granted many small and a few big kindnesses since I got sick. I owe it to myself to pay it forward, and that means playing BIG and mattering in small ways.
In what ways can you play bigger with you life and work, and in what ways are you rippling the world? Can you do more?
From the Heart,