Eden and I took a walk down our street to scout for leaves the other day. We were looking for red leaves, yellow leaves, brown leaves. Then we looked for big leaves and teeny-tiny leaves. I showed her wrinkly leaves and waxy, smooth ones, too. Walking with a 2-year old naturally slows you down. There is no rushing a toddler. There’s no hurrying those short little legs.
Strolling with my youngest daughter is all joy. She likes to point out what she sees and hears: a dog barking in the distance, birds calling to one another. She comments on the weather in her baby vocabulary: “it kinah tilly,” (it’s kinda chilly.) She shows me a balloon caught in the trees. This balloon has been stuck there for a month, and we’ve walked past it at least 10 times. She still points it out.
Earlier in the day, Ty and I had been reviewing our numbers. “Reviewing the numbers” is the worst part of business ownership, especially for a creative person. It feels like I’m being called to account for all my shortcomings. What goals haven’t I met this month? What dreams aren’t yet realized? What hasn’t changed at all in the last month, 6 months, even year? It’s a rehash of my failings. We all tend to be better at self-critique than self-celebration.
I’m horribly pragmatic (Ty would say, ‘pessimistic’) about “the numbers.” The worst part of my character is the tendency to constantly compare my business-self with other people’s Instagram-selves. Our business was closed for 4 months of this year. One entire quarter of business. We fully anticipated ‘the numbers’ being down. None of this was a surprise. And yet, the very conversation feels emotional and almost shameful to me.
I’ve heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s true. Women compare their bodies, their clothes, their husbands, their homes, their children, their bank accounts, their hair color, their makeup, their skin. If something can possibly be compared, we will compare it. And in this game, we come up short.
I walk with Eden. She chats and I listen. I watch the leaves drift off the trees and swirl to the ground—these treasures that she and I will pick up, observe and put into our pockets. She finds an acorn and lifts it up to me.
I take the tiny acorn, and a thought settles:
My experience has been like that of a farmer.
Farmers work the land. They put in time and sweat and toil to prepare the ground for seed. They work hard, they plant, they prepare what they can. And then they wait. And pray. Because whether the rain comes or not; whether the sun warms the ground or it doesn’t; whether seeds sprout up or they don’t—these things are not in their control. They plant. That’s all they can do. The rest is up to someone else.
It took me about 15 years to loosen my grip on what cannot be controlled. Think of that! For seventeen years, this has all been out of my control—whether I like it or not. And here we still stand. There’s more: this little one-woman show has grown into a full-fledged letterpress studio on Kingston Pike with nine staff people and a fully operational pressroom… more than I could ask or even imagine. None of it was my grand master plan.
As Eden and I made our way home, I felt a palpable peace. I did not worry. I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t catastrophize. I just breathed in the crisp air and held that little hand next to mine. I make no claims about the future of my business, but I’m confident that in the right hands, an acorn is capable of becoming something much bigger.
In the spirit of encouraging you to enjoy the simple pleasures life offers, I’m giving blog readers a special discount on one of my favorite series of wall prints. You’ll receive 30% off of any (or all!) of these prints when you use the code SLOWGROW at checkout!