I’ve been quietly nursing a deep dark secret that I’ve decided to handle by sharing with all of you. My guess (or hope?) is that it will resonate with many of you. My confession is this: I don’t have a garden, my backyard is a disused (weedy) glorified poop site for my dog and not a productive permaculture paradise, the coffee body scrub that I made for Christmas gifts was decidedly weird, and the closest I get to canning ANYTHING is dicing and freezing some tomatoes and peppers.
There it is. I said it. Let the judgement begin. What the HELL am I doing co-running a business that is all about hands-on re-skilling and homesteading?!
Well first of all I have a lot of other stuff to offer this company and my community, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about debunking the imposter syndrome and “all-or-nothing” attitude that has been keeping me feeling small and somewhat apologetic about my role in this company. I have even collected quite a bit of “evidence” to support this smallness. I read judgement into the reactions of everyone I talk to about Minga and explain that I don’t teach any of our workshops…. Or have a vegetable garden…. Or make my own sausage…. Or have a pantry full of homemade preserves…. I haven’t even TAKEN a course, let alone implemented a single permaculture design principle. I coordinate and support subcontractors who are the subject matter experts who run our workshops. What I read into the faces of the people I’m speaking with is not “wow, what a cool company to be involved with” but instead “hunh...so what right do YOU have to be running this business?” As Brene Brown says; if we go around looking for evidence that we don’t fit or don’t belong, or aren’t good enough, we’ll find it at every turn.
So that’s all pretty sophisticated, paralyzing, self-sabotaging thinking right there. What’s the solution?Just stop it. Understand that not only I, but a whole lot of other people are operating within a system where doing things by hand is not only alarmingly uncommon, but that it takes a real act of principled self-assertion, and EFFORT, to choose producing something yourself, or paying more to buy it from someone who did produce it, over purchasing mass-produced, convenient, cheap stuff. So many of us feel rushed through the day, exhausted, overwhelmed, and unsatisfied. AND we live with a constant stream of messages telling us that if we just buy this gadget or cream or game or superfood, it will solve everything and we will look and feel like the serene gorgeous healthy person in the picture.
Minga isn’t about keeping a scorecard on how many workshops you’ve taken or how many garden beds you have. Minga is about transformational experiences. It's about opening up space for people to connect with each other and slow down around skills that support healthy communities, healthy families, and healthy individuals. Minga is about fun, learning, connection, and empowerment. Minga is about living more intentionally. For some people that might mean sourcing their meat from local farmers and butchering it themselves to make sausage, cured meats, and roasts. For others that means learning to identify edible plants so that they can distinguish things out of the wall of green along the side of a trail. For others it means growing a whole pile of veggies and preserving them in a million different ways and having the satisfaction of eating foods off the shelves of their cellar for the winter, instead of from the grocery store.
So if you are like me and your autopilot points your attention at what you don’t have, or what you don’t do, and judging yourself, I invite you to notice the values that are underlying that judgement. It is actually telling you something valuable about what you care about. Notice what is calling you and what feels meaningful to you. Take a small step towards it and acknowledge it. For me, I am committed to doing SOMETHING with that back yard of mine this year to produce some food. Even if it is just one f***ing carrot that my daughter and I get to dig up together.
The transformation that Minga has brought into my life has been the courage to step into something that I care about instead of working away at a job that didn't feed my soul. I took a leap of faith and now I'm busting my butt to stay afloat, but I love it! My time is more flexible now which means that I can be present for my family in a whole new way. I can be less stressed and feel more in control of my life. I am working on generating income through my house as a daycare provider and an Airbnb and international student host, all of which expand our family's connections and community. I’m also working on letting go of needing to look good, which would have kept me silent about the messiness of my current adventure. But keeping quiet really only serves to keep us in judgement, isolated from each other. So here I am; imperfectly taking imperfect actions towards a life with more meaning and connection, and I am definitely a homesteading wannabe.