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Overhead lights and I have never been on friendly terms. Give me side lights or, even better, CANDLES and I am a happy woman. A friend recently came over to my apartment and remarked on the coziness of the lighting. We went on an enthusiastic pilgrimage from dimmer to dimmer like they were beloved (they are), oohing and aahing at how they simply make life better (they do). Yes, I am THAT excited about lighting. There is a German word: Gemuetlichkeit, which translates loosely to 'that feeling of coziness' and it is something I am intentional about achieving in any environment I am in. It's about aesthetic, yes, but it's also about energy and when that feeling is missing, I am like most people when they haven't had their morning coffee. My brow furrows, I fidget and feel like my skin is crawling; I'm snappy and irritable and anxious.
This week, I found myself in the most UN-gemuetlich environment: a corporate convention.
It was a day-long, big-city, small-business conference, basically sponsored by overhead lighting and sales-y energy, ie: NOT my scene. I went because I legitimately thought it would help to ground my heart-centred approach to this retreat centre project with some education on business - an area in which I still keenly feel my naïveté.
It was a land of fluorescent banners, free pens, and bowls of mints on folding tables. I walked up to booths promising financial assistance where I was told many versions of 'but not for you.' Why, you may ask? In a nutshell, it's because I don't have my own 'skin in the game.'
They were talking $$$ but with each 'no,' I felt more and more compelled for them to consider the inherent value of my actual skin.
See these bags under my eyes from nights awake thinking about everything that needs to happen in order to make this project a reality but then also DOING everything that needs to happen in order to make this project a reality? Even if it's really new to me and really hard? That's my skin. See the way that despite these bags and despite my late-night worry and/or work fests, my skin still glows because I deliberately take the time to have baths in organic oils and homemade face masks because self care is important and I am WORTH IT and I practice what I preach - the foundation my entire business is built on? That's my skin. See the random breakouts caused by wondering how exactly my regular-but-modest pay cheque from my day job will stretch to allow for the expenses of creating a business on this scale not to mention also keeping me fed and housed in a way that is gentle and not based on scrimpy-ness or an energy of lack (cause ain't no one gonna manifest what needs manifesting from THAT place)? That's my skin.
What I absolutely LOVE about this project is its supreme unconventionality. The fated-ness of it from its inception to its continued creation and manifestation today. The win-win nature of the investor model. The way in which it challenges me to adhere to my faith both in myself and in a benevolent something Greater 'like a rhesus monkey', as a dear friend says.
I have been met with such an outpouring of generosity, talent and excitement around this venture - so many synchronicities and offers of assistance and HECK YES-es that it felt so very jarring to experience the opposite.
At the convention, men with corporate swagger wagged fingers at me, taking pleasure in looking down their noses at my Big Idea, which clearly didn't fit their tried-and-true business mould. I'm happy to report I held my own (because I believe in myself and am also an expert on my business model, however unconventional), but also sad to report how I still really let it get to me. I went to the bathroom, which had even uglier lights, if that's possible, sat in the stall and felt shame well up in me. Oh hey, old friend. Anger at being patronized and flicked aside like some little entrepreneurial bug. A feeling of such smallness that had me questioning who exactly I thought I was, trying to build something so big, essentially on my own (albeit with the world's best by my side), on a wing and a prayer and my own imperfect skin.
I did what any sane person would do in such a moment. I called one friend and emailed another. Vented. Outed my shame (gosh, that's hard). Held my face towards the sun. Booked myself a massage and the healing waters of Body Blitz because investing in myself felt like the best intuitive antidote. I 'washed that day right outta my hair and sent it on it's way'. But not without learning something essential to the future of this project: I will be challenged.
There are kernels of truth and helpful takeaways from any reflective interaction, no matter what package they appear in.
I've decided to reach out to those with business minds I trust to go over my plan and idea from top to bottom to gently reflect on where I still need to grow or pivot or consider.
I'm happy to report that the next day I sat across from a beautiful soul (who happens to also be a lawyer) in a Starbucks. I shared my idea and that 'thing' happened - that mutual feeling of excitement of building this idea into reality. We met as strangers and left as friends, both sets of our eyes sparkling with a tear or two over the course of our meeting and sharing dreams. Nurturers, balance of the head and the heart in business and in life is essential, but MAN can you feel it when the heart is there and when it's not. Consider this my promise both to myself and to you - when the next roadblock hits (and I'm sure it will!), I'll dim the lights and continue to believe in miracles.
p.s. For those interested, here is the Nurture: Creative Retreat Centre & Coworking B&B Business Plan. I'm on the lookout for likeminded investors! The Nurture Timeshare Investor Incentive is ideal for those yogis, coaches, business owners, etc. with existing communities who wish to run retreats and have everything looked after so they can look after their tribe. It's elegantly simple. It's win-win. The ROI is compelling. It's got heaps of heart. Check it out - if you or someone you know are a good fit, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't wait to build this with you!