It’s early morning, still dark with the land outside not yet in silhouette. In this moment, things look much the same as they did a year ago; the light from my laptop screen glowing in the dark, the mug of coffee in my hand, the emails awaiting me, the hustle about to begin. In fact, in many ways, things look much the same as they have for many years; a new venture with risks, waters I can’t seem to stop jumping into. Before long, the sky will begin to lighten, illuminating the still-foreign landscape we now call home and the ways in which everything has changed.
Morning chaos has taken on a new meaning and time. The kids we feed are not just human—the goats, the horses, the chickens, the dogs and the cat. Once mouths and bellies both human and animal are full, lunches get packed, people get loaded up, and the kids are delivered to a tiny country school. Then, finally, the house is quiet.
As I go about doing what I do, meeting with clients, coaching them through the familiar ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, analyzing marketing strategies, advising on everything from operations to culture, the goats bleat, the dogs bark, the bald eagles swoop, and the swans trumpet their arrival ahead of the massive flocks of snow geese. So much to learn, so much we didn't know.
We are discovering there is a lot we didn’t know. Like the fact that our Arabian gelding, Boogie, needs a turnout coat and if he doesn't have one, you'll be heading out to the pasture at 4 a.m. in pouring down rain to provide him shelter, to warm him with your own body heat with friction from your hands, with anything that can provide relief and calm his frayed nerves. Or that in the country, neighbors drop by to trade our orchard apples for their field-grown corn. I didn’t know how worried I would be hauling a 1,000-pound horse inside a trailer for the first time, continually having my nine year old daughter telling me to breathe and trust whether or not I am going to be able to stop in time. And the cougars, the beautiful cougars, and the fear of their sleek bodies creeping through the pasture gets us running every time we consider the thought...now I know.
The more I immerse myself in the discomfort that comes with unfamiliarity, the more I am reminded of the unfamiliar terrain my clients traverse on their daily journey to living their dream of entrepreneurship. It’s good to be reminded of the learning curve and the isolation of it, to experience it again in a new way, to feel once more the things our small band of clients feel. It was incredibly lonely and scary starting my first small business, or being out numbered by franchisees, sitting on my first investors board pretending like I had a clue, or growing up with my front row seat as both my parents struggled and persevered in their businesses, too, their loneliness and isolation was palpable. That intimate knowledge of it, when your spouse or partner can't understand, your employees can't see your worry, and your best friend has no clue what you shoulder, is what gave birth to the Kinship. To create a sense of privacy and empathy, drive when you have none left, and support when you can't burden your family again with your ideas or questions. It’s easy sometimes to look back with the soft-focused lens of time and remember learning as being less harrowing than it often is. Business has become my warm blanket.
My full-time reminder is immersing myself in the dream we dreamt up one night laying in bed; and now I am in my uncomfortable place wondering if I have ruined my children's lives by distancing them from their precious childhood friends, or stressing out my marriage as we bicker about what needs to be fixed first, or holidays with Skype calls instead of family dinners. It is in my character to wager risk, to make a move no one really understands, and like most dreams, the pursuit is terrifying. It’s good to remember how risk taught me to be stronger, to tap into myself, to trust my instincts. And it’s unspeakably good to feel that inner sense of wild resurging, the one we all have but tame and separate ourselves from for all those reasons we do. I can use this discomfort, my adventure is no different than theirs. It is an expression of what I want, who I want to be, what I want to create and contribute. This fear is no different than the fear of taking out a small business loan, the fear of signing a contract, the fear of hiring employees, the fear of each new step and push toward the big dream. The fear and the exhilaration, my venture and their ventures..they’e the same. This is what the Kinship was built for.
It's past five o’clock and the kids have been home for a while, I hit pause on one kind of work to dive into another. It is time to repeat the rituals of feeding, then there are eggs to collect, dahlia tubers to put to bed, fences to mend, stalls to clean, chores that will keep us busy for as long as we let them. Homework, bedtime, social media posts, emails. A new routine married with the old.
I often go out and look at the stars at night, shimmering across the sky made of black ink. The coyotes will howl their eerie songs. The barn owl will screech, a sound so loud you half expect that ink-sky to split open and fall upon you, blanketing you in stardust and infinity. It doesn’t, of course, but it’s awe-inspiring to be somewhere where even for a moment, you think that it could.