Have you ever asked yourself how you actually got here? This place where you’re at?
The last year we’ve been working hard towards some incredible goals together with our marriage, learning how to work side by side from home, elements like healing from our pasts and working towards just being better human beings. We both believe it’s healthy to be honest about where you came from so that you stay humble when you get to where you’re going. Let’s take you on a bit of a blast from the past.
Just over five years ago we were both working full time jobs and living in an upstairs suite of a house beside our crazy, lazy and less than ideal landlord. We had just moved in together and we had what we had. Life was less than glamorous, but it was our life. With two weeks off together over the holidays, we had decided to spend that cold winter break cuddled up in the living room watching movies. One single movie was the twist of fate that changed the direction of the rest of our lives. We watched a documentary based on the food industry in the western world which turned into two solid weeks of watching every single documentary known to man at that time… about food.
I wish we’d written down the names, especially the one that I had to ask Colin to pause before I walked into the kitchen, sat down at the table and cried. I felt defeated, betrayed; I couldn’t wrap my head around the quality of food I’d been putting on the table everyday for us. I thought we were eating so well and it turned out we were not even close. We threw the baby out with the bathwater and completely started over. Everything we had that was processed basically went in the trash and the first thing we substituted was sugar. Ironically, I had just purchased a new 1kg bag of white, bleached, refined sugar a few days prior to this documentary marathon. I couldn’t even find it in my heart to donate the sugar because I didn’t want anyone to use it at all. (In fact, we carried that same bag of sugar around from house to house with us when we moved until finally we threw it away years later! No joke.)
We replaced items like refined sugars, with raw, unpasteurized honey, apple sauce (and I hate cooked apples, so this wasn’t an easy transition, but a healthier one!), organic sugar cane molasses for rare baking occasions and that sparked many other changes in our home as well.
We spent days, weeks and months afterwards making lists of nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies required every single day in order to function properly. Then, we took each of these and made lists of the super foods that contained these ever important ingredients and started revamping what we would now know as our shopping list. Foods we’d never considered before became a part of our usual diet. Spices we’d never even heard of were now in the pantry in bulk. We bought large glass cylinder shaped containers and filled them with dried beans, legumes and peas.
The more we continued to learn about GMO’s as well as the long lists of pesticides and herbicides used in the farming and agriculture industry, the more determined we both were to continue cleaning up our food practices.
Two things started happening:
All of this just from eating better quality food. Which meant that all of the food we’d been eating for our entire lives up until then was crap. What does Maya Angelou say? When you know better, do better?
We dove off the deep end with our food. We were angry. Generally speaking there are two emotions that inspire all of us to take fierce action: Love and Hate. When something makes you so mad that you blow up your life because of it, obviously in this case a good “blow up your life”, you know you’re in it for the long haul. We have learned to appreciate our food on such incredible levels and don’t take the knowledge we’ve accumulated for granted. However, this was painfully tricky for us for so long. I hated cooking but the alternative was hire a chef (ha!) or eat processed foods. Since neither were happening, I had to learn not only how to cook but also from scratch.
It’s become something we both enjoy doing together. It was hard, very hard. Sometimes it would take hours to just prep food for soups or pasta dishes. Sometimes making food from scratch took more out of me than the grocery shopping to purchase everything we needed. Eventually though, after a lot of heavy lifting on the back end, it became so easy that it is now second nature to us. We can make pizza dough from scratch in minutes without thinking about it. Completely clean (and also vegan!), simple, minimal ingredients and perfect every single time.
The lessons that Christmas staycation taught us are endless. We learn new things even still, five years later. We make adjustments and move forward always doing the best we can. The most important lesson is that you are never done and you can always do better. Start with one thing, one step and then check it off the list.
For a long time starting this business of ours was confusing, impossible and there were many days where one (or both) of us was ready to throw in the towel. Marketing is hard. Sales is hard. Working from home? Guess what, hard! What kicks us back into our usual passionate, driven and focused selves is that either we can build our own damn dreams or we can quit and go and help someone else build theirs. Doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it?
Lazy Sundays are a thing of the past in our house. We used to watch movies all day, order pizza and stay snuggled up in bed with our beagle, Jorja. Although we’re both still in our pyjamas and Jorja is snuggled up in my lap, we’re both working either on our hobbies, our business or both. Days like today and most other Sundays we’re building on belief. There is quiet contemplation, soft sounds of music flowing from Colin’s fingers through his guitar and Jorja’s rumbling snores. It’s a day to slowly reflect on the week’s work and a day to ready for the coming week as well. Sundays are for building belief and restoring value, in case we lost any along the way.
We started adding a single slip of paper to a large mason jar at the end of each day as a way to be present and grateful on a regular basis. Colin also loves the idea of documenting our lives so, besides our blog, this was a good way to do that. We’ve already forgotten this daily exercise, OH… at least five times and it’s only the middle of January. However, the routine will come and it will soon be something that is just scheduled into our day like anything else. What it does is teaches us that no matter where we are, something good happened today. There is something to be grateful for. That’s what keeps us going on the really, really difficult days.
Some days are hard. Belief wears thin. Patience is tested. Hearts can be heavy.
Just because something is simple does not automatically mean it is easy. This is hard work, being an entrepreneur and working for yourself. The days are long and often they just blend into the next.
Where is it that belief comes from that it can be such a fleeting emotion. When you have it there is an endlessness about it and then in the blink of an eye you’re left desperately searching for it again. That’s the truth about belief in anything, I think. We’re all tested to some degree in the areas of our lives where growth and pursuit are involved. Marriage, career, personal development, relationships, hobbies, etc. We have both come to understand the ebb and flow of belief; that belief will return, we just sometimes have to hold on and find ways to ground ourselves in the ‘in between’ time. A car can’t get very far running on empty!
Luckily, we have a few things in our lives that we can be grateful for
It is from gratitude that belief is ultimately restored.
Over the summer last year we were looking through house designs on Pinterest trying to see if we could find the exact image of what we’d been visioning for our dream home. We each had clear thoughts of what specific parts of the house looked like, but obviously no way to show each other what we’d come up with since neither of us mastered anything more than stick figure drawings.
After spending years and months and weeks in the past searching for just the right fit we both said, “THERE!”. There it was, this house that looked nothing like we’d imagined but was everything we wanted and more. It was just right there and we both knew it the second it came into focus.
We envisioned a small walkway that separated two sides of the home; one for entertaining and another for living in. The house still had the picturesque-ness of the A-Frame/cabin style but with a modern twist that I think we both craved a teeny tiny bit of. What was most important when we first saw this image was that we had planned a gathering in our home within minutes and had already built LIFE into what this photo was showing us. We could already imagine us living our lives in this house. It was our Dream Home.
So last night we stopped adding photos of the outside of homes to our Dream Home board on our Pinterest account. Our Dream Home has a face.
The next step is one we are so excited to be ready for. We found a site quite similar to Pinterest called Houzz that was recommended to us from a vendor at the Home And Garden Show in Calgary, AB a couple of years ago. It’s similar to Pinterest in that you select photos to add to different boards you can categorize and what not. How it differs, though, is that you can actually find companies or manufacturers who sell each of the items you’re looking for and you actually become invested in the intricate details that give character and personality to the bigger picture. For instance, one of the light fixtures we were looking at a while ago that we have saved in our Houzz account popped up today when we signed in to let us know that the seller has put this item on sale. How cool is that?
If we all took life in these stepping stones, think of the dreams we’d actually get to live out? Does Pinterest seem silly to you? Take a few days, weeks, months and think of one thing you really have to dream real big for and take our Pinterest challenge the way we did. Look at everything. Poor a glass of wine with your spouse and sit on the couch together. Search, “Dream House”. Put your plan on a dream board and let it actually transform into the realness it CAN be if only you let it.
Sometimes you can’t even see the next stone until you take the next step. The good news is you can always turn around but you won’t, because you’re not going that way.
I couldn’t even finish reading this blog post to Colin without breaking down in sobs. In fact, I had to take a break for about a minute and try again. I waited all afternoon for some conclusion to just come to me and then the one that did seal the deal came from a far more emotional place than I thought this blog would evoke from me. Hence, Read ’em and Weep.
One of our favourite ways to learn and grow together as a couple and to better ourselves as entrepreneurs is to read. We have purchased plenty of books, especially since starting our business together in September of 2015. Colin enjoys watching videos of his mentors and consumes a lot of content this way as well as through audiobooks and podcasts. Tonia prefers a book in hand to leaf through. So we compromise.
After our work days dwindle down and dinner has been made, we serve up some herbal teas, snuggle up on the couch with our beagle, Jorja and read a book together. Before this became part of our routine it was a way to fill time on a long road trip for business. However, now it has become a part of our ‘you and me’ time that we feel has been so important to our marriage. If we’re consistently growing together this way, exploring new ideas and discussing them, we’re also learning one another’s perspective.
One of the most constructive ways we have developed content for our teams is through reading and putting together strategies through what we’ve learned. There are times we might read a chapter before we pause to take some notes together and consider the ideas presented in whatever book we happen to be reading. There have also been times where I’ve read one line out loud and closed the book! Have you ever read a one liner that just bowled you over like a freight train with the AHA moment-ness you’ve been searching for? They’re few and far between, but when they happen they are worthy of opening space to fully soak them up.
I wonder if, when we buy our land and build our dream home, we’ll continue to read together outside on our patio overlooking our great big yard. I bet we will. Perhaps though, the stories will have been written by us here that we will be re-reading to remind us of where we’ve been and how we got to where we’re going.
We want to be able to always say yes instead of having to say no.
The reality is we aren’t where we want to be yet. Cue the ever popular ‘whoever said money doesn’t buy you happiness’ didn’t consider the perspective of those who still must cave to the necessity of making enough to just get by. Do you hear the the little voices inside your head that say, “they’re right”? Or do you hear a voice screaming, “NO!”?
How heartbreaking is the thought of closing your eyes so you don’t see the beautiful things you want that are out of your reach? Should the lesson be to walk blind folded? Or should we strive to achieve greatness and reach further for longer?
We were nearing our breaking points when we first met and what’s worse than one person reaching their breaking point?
When you are forced to say no to something that you want because of an obligation to a job or some form of making money in order to live, or maybe even to survive, you are forced into making a sacrifice you didn’t choose. This is where the mindset of being unworthy of a better life has the best chance of taking hold of us. We’re vulnerable to our current situations. That’s when a choice presents itself but we’re often too busy licking our wounds to pay any notice.
After many years of pushing against resistance we realized, just before we were married, that many of the hard or challenging parts of our lives were met with us putting our foot down or digging our heels in. It was more important for us to have the final say than to swim around an obstacle while enjoying the ride downstream. This pinnacle moment changed our lives. We stopped wedding planning, we canceled everything, we re-planned an entire wedding that had taken us nearly 1.5 years to put together and everything fell into place within 5 days. We began to think about other areas in our lives that we’d pushed against something too hard and let it all go.
We made huge changes. We got married (and it was the best two wedding days of our lives!) and then immediately afterwards we started a business together. Six months later we stopped making excuses and finally moved to a place we’d dreamed of moving to when we retired. We stopped swimming (desperately) upstream. We stopped having to say no and we started getting used to saying yes. The water was rising so we got ourselves a boat.
Even in business as we grow there are far more things we have to say no to than the ultimate alternative; the end goal of yes’. What drives and motivates us is grand and will allow us the privilege of never having to say no to something we want ever again. For now we’re going to remember that we’re not saying no, we’re saying soon.
T & C
Many instances in the last few months, I’ve found myself repeating something very close to my heart. Conversation happens around the idea of growing older where sometimes all kinds of perspectives are laid out on the table like a deck of cards. I’ve been listening to many and I hear a lot of the same thing. It’s scary, it’s full of pain and regret, or worse; growing older is something some people just downright don’t want at all.
The idea behind “Everything With A Purpose” is building a lifestyle that is sincere, creative, witty, loyal, clever, flexible, bold, friendly, spontaneous and genuine. If we keep these things in mind, rather than feel as though the grey hairs on our heads or the wrinkles on our faces are signs of a forgotten youth, they’ll become welcome reminders of privilege.
We are lucky to have lived sad moments. If we avoid sadness, we subsequently avoid raw emotions and an opportunity to grow as they help to shape and mold us into an improved version. It’s a chance to become. There are sad moments or difficult moments that we all endure that can be so heart shattering we can’t imagine how we’re ever going to survive and then something miraculous happens. We do.
The grey hairs and wrinkles are not what defines us but shares a story of time already spent and still to come. I intentionally keep my hair cut short, not only because I like it much better but also because it forces me to actually DO my hair. I’m lazy by nature when it comes to my appearance so if my hair is long enough to throw up in what Colin affectionately calls my ‘pineapple’, that’s my look until the next time I get around to having my hair styled again. I spend a good half an hour curling my short locks and notice new and plentiful greys every day, which always make me smile. I am privileged to be here with my grey hairs and I love them.
It is a privilege to grow old that not everyone is afforded. It is with this lesson that our lifestyle and our business revolves around. Our dreams are huge. They’re daring. We want to build an amazing business with the purpose of inspiring others to be able to do the same. We want to spend the rest of our time saying yes more than we have to say no. Everything With A Purpose means we set goals and intentions with plans of execution that we continuously say YES to every single day. It means we don’t say no to ourselves when we feel scared. It means we don’t give up when the going gets tough. It means we say yes.