As I sit in my studio and write, the apples fall. I listen to each soft thud as one-by-one, they land on the ground. Over and over this staccato symphony of release. On my deck, and around the tree, hundreds of shiny marbles, a field of plenty. In the loft I cook Apple Sauce with cinnamon and nutmeg; Apple crumble with homemade granola and fresh-picked blackberries. Sometimes I walk out onto the deck and pluck one straight from the tree. The seeds are still white on many. How ripe is ripe?
Truth be told I’ve been enjoying a daily apple for weeks, even before they started their gradual descent.I like them when they are crunchy, tart.
In the book of Genesis, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, otherwise known as the tree of knowledge. However the story goes that Eve, spurred on by the serpent, ate the forbidden fruit, and then gave it to Adam to eat. Of course we all know what happened next…the two of them were banished from the Garden of Eden.
This week I have started to teach a course called Heartrepreneurs. It is a 2-month group mentoring program for women who want to start their own businesses, turning their passions into income.
In some ways it feels as if I am eating the forbidden fruit. Although more businesses are started by women now than ever before, there is still a lot of doubt and hesitation when women decide to become entrepreneurs. There are so many things to consider when starting a business. Although there is a lot of excitement in the offering of what we love to others, there is also a lot of vulnerability. Often what is overlooked in business courses and guides is how to take care of ourselves as we move out into the world with our gifts and passions. Starting a business takes a tremendous amount of courage, perseverance, and support. You try one thing and if it doesn’t work, you try something else. You need to be flexible, willing to learn, make mistakes and open up to being the rookie at a whole lot of new skills.
My journey to entrepreneurhsip has been long and meandering. Over the past 20 years I have alternated between self- employment and doing contract work for schools and organizations. I have started a business several times over the past two decades. In 1994, I bought the book The Medicine Woman’s Guide to Being in Business for Yourself. Written by Carol Bridges, the author and creator of the Medicine Woman Tarot Deck, Bridges’ book helped me translate the technical aspects of business development into a language I understood. It helped me to acknowledge my skills and vision for my work as a writer and facilitator. I led women’s workshops on our cycles and gatherings for the pagan Sabbats. I called it “Passion of Being Woman,” and used creative movement, writing, visualization and spiritual teachings to open the women to their physical and emotional wholeness.
After 6 months I let it go, mostly because I found it exhausting to be the teacher, administrator, curriculum developer and marketer. Although I was working hard, the money wasn’t coming in, and I had a lot of doubt about what I was doing. I remember the negative thoughts swimming in my head as I put up posters around the Vancouver neighbourhoods of Kitsilano and Kerrisdale. I also remember how much fear and anxiety I felt before, and after teaching each class.
A few years later I self-published my first book of poetry and once again started to market myself as a writer and teacher. I took some business courses through the Vancouver Art Alliance and Youth Employment Services. That stint lasted for four years until I was hired as a full-time facilitator in violence prevention education.
Two years ago, As I was writing my thesis on my practice of Loving Inquiry, a creative and contemplative approach to relationships with self and others, I started to talk to a coach about what I would do post-PhD. I knew I didn’t want to leave Salt Spring, nor get a job as a professor teaching courses on subjects that weren’t my passion. I hoped to become a full-time writer, teacher and consultant. As I began to develop and market my services after graduation, I enrolled in more business development courses including a half year program for artists at Emily Carr University and a five-week program for all entrepreneurs, at Royal Roads University. Each of these programs has further honed my skills and understanding.
As I offer the heartrepreneurs program this fall, I draw on my 17 years of learning and experience as an entrepreneur and professional educator and artist. I also draw from my study, research and practice of Loving Inquiry, which includes many years of commitment to mindfulness practice.
I now have the awareness and wisdom to honour and appreciate my fears and doubts as they surface. Their presence tells me that I am doing something edgey and new. I accept I am in a process of learning and growing, expanding into the beauty and power of my life purpose.
It is such a joy to be able to do what I love and offer the fruits of my journey to others. May you taste the joy of your passion and allow it to ripen into service for others.