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Asilomar Beach, Monterey

I don’t get away from my shop walls very often, and most of the time that’s ok; I have a constant circulation of fascinating people, foods, stories, and projects floating through my doors on any given day, enough to keep a girl busy for a lifetime! But every now and then, I like to plan a solo working vacation (and by vacation I mean 36 hours outside of the Santa Barbara bubble), and this weekend was just such an event.

Vintners Spring Festival: River View Park, Buellton

Vintners Spring Festival: River View Park, Buellton

It began under the monsoon-like wind and rain at the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Festival on Saturday, 100+ wineries and food vendors all huddled (puddled?) over their wares in sopping heaps, muddied boots and spattered slickers masking well-known friends and fellow vendors. Luckily the skies gave way to fluorescent sunshine and electric blue skies by mid-afternoon and the rest of the day passed in a whirlwind of muted reds and crisp whites as I manned the Isabella Gourmet Foods table, slinging samples of Vegan Cinnies, Sweet Lisi’s Vegan Doughnuts, and Pacific Pickleworks Brussizzel Sprouts and Unbeetables, next to the Cebada Vineyard table.

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Bixby Bridge

By 6pm, I had wound my way to Carrillo Highway (colloquially known as “the 1”) and started the craggy ascent up to the Monterey Peninsula, where the following morning I would run the 9-Miler portion of the Big Sur International Marathon. Having made Southern California my home for the last 10 years, I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first road trip north of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Meaning I had never heard the caucaphony the elephant seals that line the beach by the hundreds, never seen the flat, straight freeways give way to the meandering roads of Big Sur, the white caps hurtling themselves against the craggy rocks with reckless abandon, and never felt the rolling jolt in my stomach as I crossed Bixby Bridge, peering cautiously into the foggy abyss below.

After a day of such sensory overload, I feel into a short and deep sleep in my Airbnb abode in the Monterey neighborhood of Seaside, still waking before my alarm to make my way through the chilly mountain air down to the start line in Carmel. Maybe it was the change in air pressure, or the familiar smell of lush deciduous trees and sea air, reminiscent of my Cape Cod home and in such stark contrast to the foliage and scents of Santa Barbara, but I felt a deep sense of peace and absence of usual pre-race jitters. I spent the next hour clumsily trying to affix my race number to my shirt with safety pins, and quietly sipping on a mint green tea while I took in the crowd. Most runners had arrived with at least one fellow teammate in tow, yet it somehow felt right for me to be alone.

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Pre-race with my Boston hat in ode to the Marathon

The race itself proved to be one of the best I’ve ever experienced – between the scenery of Point Lobos State Reserve, the perfect sunny mid-60s temperatures, and the uplifting serenade of no less than 6 bands along the way, I felt right at home in the rolling hills and coastal terrain, finishing a cool 90 minutes from my start time. Feeling bolstered by the crowds and the “Big Sur to Boston” Finishers Tent, celebrating those industrious individuals who had completed both marathons in the span of 6 days and 3,000 miles, I shoveled a few cookies and bananas into my belly and took off for a yoga class at Yoga Center of Carmel, tucked away in a tiny cottage on a side street in quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea, hoping I could trick my muscles into forgetting their 9-mile workout before they realized what had happened.

Practicing yoga between the white-washed and sun-splashed walls of the studio was such an enjoyable contrast to my usual dimly lit yoga classes at Divinitree in Santa Barbara and sparked a quick “this-is-your-life” flashback through all the yoga studios I had called home over the last 13 years. Feeling pretty accomplished for 11:30am on a Sunday, I took a ungodly long shower back at my Airbnb and took off again for Carmel Valley, where I was directed to Earthbound Farms, an organic farm and store boasting collections of herb, fruit, vegetable, and flower beds nestled on a small plot of land between the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. It was a kick to see some of my favorite Isabella vendors represented hundreds of miles away, and after way too many photos documenting the cozy store and a few wary looks from the store clerk, I took my curried cauliflower, carrot ginger soup, and chocolate peanut butter bite to the the adorable Herb Garden out back and spent a blissful hour or so taking in the scents of Lemon Verbena, Mint Leaves, and Chives while surrounded by pink roses and flying creatures flitting to and fro.

Earthbound Farms Shop

Earthbound Farms Shop

Armed with new product ideas for my shop, I meandered a few more miles down the road to Garland Ranch Regional Park, a stunning expanse of hiking trails of varying lengths that can be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle for the more strenuous adventurer or the more casual wanderer. I took the middle ground and found myself once again enjoying a piece of natural solitude that seemed to define the entire peninsula. Even the novelty of running water, so starkly absent from the Santa Barbara trails, added their own quietude and I sat for many minutes pondering a bed of pond water covered with algae, looking more like a lush green carpet, and watched mesmerized as the sticks and stones I tossed sunk under the surface with barely a disruption in the mossy terrain.

That evening brought with it high winds and I braced myself against them as long as I could at Carmel Beach before trekking uphill to the narrow streets lined with a strange and wonderful amalgamation of chalet-style shops and charming B & Bs, arriving on the doorstep of La Bicicletta, a self-proclaimed French/Italian-style bistro with a simple farm-fresh menu. Though absolutely packed on a Sunday night, it managed to retain a degree of charm and quaintness and given the crowds, I found myself with a good deal of time to assess the clientele over the top of my book: Post-marathon runners still in their logo’d windbreakers, young day-trippers hoping to score a last-minute table sans reservation, and power couples doing double duty between business meeting and date night over their cheese and charcuterie platters. I settled into a glass of French Rose and a beet and burrata salad, growing hungrier by the minute as my vegetable pizza took nearly an hour to arrive. I made quick work of it when it did, tucking in like the hungry post-runner I was, and waddled only mildly uncomfortably full down the hill to the car by the beach.

Lover's Point in Pacific Grove; Location of Adventures by the Sea

Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove; Location of Adventures by the Sea

The following morning, still riding the adrenaline high of the prior day’s activities, I kept the momentum going by renting a bike from Adventures by the Sea, tucked into a stone cavern on the beach at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove. From there, it was a wind-ridden ride down the coast passed Asilomar Beach where the fine, white sands spilling onto the blacktop reminded me of the Cape once again, and past the famed Pebble Beach of golf legend, where deer grazed in broad daylight on impossibly perfect greens. Once I turned and pedaled back up the coast, I made it to the Monterey Aquarium on Cannery Row and took in the jellyfish and the sea otters (my new favorite creatures!) alongside the swarms of schoolchildren (as much a spectacle as the exhibits, to be honest).

I finally found my energy fading from the past 24 hours of go-go-go, but couldn’t bring myself to take off on the long 5-hour drive back down the 1 without a cup (ok 2 cups) of clam chowder from Old Fisherman’s Wharf and a plethora of produce from the Pacific Grove Farmer’s Market in tow. I left town that day as I do after many of my trips – reflective, inspired, and deeply grateful for the beautiful moments that surround me at any given moment. I thought back to the morning after my race; looking out the unfamiliar bathroom window into the garden beyond was like momentarily living someone else’s life. But then there were my “birthday roses” from back home and I immediately became myself again, connecting to memories that were uniquely my own. Each of the 121 square panes of the glass window were like potential parallel lives I could have led, or be leading, at any given moment over the course of my 31 years. And maybe I am slowly living them, one by one, from moment-to-moment.

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The Dark Side of Food Journaling

IMG_0119For years, in my late teens and early twenties, I kept meticulous food journals, enough to easily fill a few neatly lined bookshelves. From a distance, they would probably appear to be interesting novels or even recipe books, some spiral-bound, some fully stitched together, a bright array of spines awash in curly cues and cerulean blues, their chipper appearance belying their monotonous contents.

Like everything I record to this day, the lists of my daily food intake quickly evolved into their own secret language, colors, dots, and stars denoting a complicated key of meanings that only I could interpret. At one particularly low point, a column of numbers next to the foods determined the grams of fat in each food; the goal column sum was zero. When my anorexic and orthorexic behaviors progressed to bulimia, the yellow-highlighted items represented the foods I had consumed and then promptly purged. Eventually the food journals became less a record of my food and instead took on a life of their own, anonymous voices judging every morsel that passed my lips.

Once I began to examine my eating disorder and its psychological underpinnings, it became clear that food journaling was a purge in and of itself, a way to relieve myself of the tension I built around eating, which in turn reflected my aversion to the tension of life itself. When I started to do serious work on myself to heal, I found I could judge how many untapped feelings were free falling through my body, based on my urges to jot down the list of foods I had consumed since breakfast. To this day, I still find grocery store receipts, old credit card statements, and discarded envelopes with impromptu food lists scrawled on the back and in the margins. Most of the time, these lists would be tossed in the garbage immediately after writing them, as if I could just as quickly and easily erase the thoughts and feelings that sparked their penning in the first place.

Many years later in my private nutrition practice, I did not encourage my clients to keep food journals, preferring to teach them methods of intuitive eating. I found that recording a list of foods, particularly for individuals who may also have underlying weight and body image issues, can quickly dissolve into a dictatorial list of reference, a harsh reminder of everything you “should” and “should not” have eaten as opposed to a quick overview of the nutrients your body was calling for that day.

It is a challenging concept for most adults to accept: That we are born with innate hunger and satiety cues that let us know when to begin eating and when to stop, assuming we present our bodies with a wide variety of foods and nutrients (and yes, that includes chocolate cake in addition to kale salad!). Over time, and often beginning at a very early age, our environments begin to erode our internal hunger cues, forcing us to rely on mercurial external references for how much and how often to eat. This can take on many different faces, and can be as innocuous as parents encouraging children to take, “three more bites” of food or forcing them to clean their plates when they have already voiced being full. It can look like extreme restrictions imposed by parents on so-called “bad foods” like chips or cookies, and yes, it can look like keeping a food journal to inform intake, rather than relying on internal cues.

What I did frequently ask of my clients was to verbally recall their last 24 hours of food intake from memory, and while this is by all accounts a less accurate snapshot, it provided a different kind of information; with the right probing questions, we could suss out which foods clients might be initially blocking out from memory and examine if those “mindless bites” served a useful purpose. This conversation in turn directed clients back to the concept of mindful and intuitive eating, relying on internal sensations and primal cues instead of external cues subject to change.

In short, not everyone is going to develop disordered eating behaviors by using food journaling, and like a 24-hour recall, a brief 3-day use of food journaling could provide a quick aha-moment for an individual or Dietitian regarding deficiencies or excessive calories in day-to-day eating habits. But for the sake of returning to our innate ability to determine what our bodies need to function optimally, food journals may not be the gold standard.

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Sundays

IMG_1937No alarm, hazy drifting in and out of somnolent repose, cats languishing, rising and reclining with each ray of sunlight shimmying through the blinds, New York Times, toast and eggs and tea and other warm foods that time forbids on a weekday. Doughnuts too, like those after church at the Chatham Bakery in my youth, powdery, sticky, oozing sweet.

Sundays are safe, with high, invisible yet impenetrable walls, blocking out mundane realities and hypnotizing routines.  A day when everyone is human for a few languishing hours. No defining roles, no agendas to direct time or place. Sundays are creative – ideas, scribbles, musings jotted down in the margins of the Times and the edge of the napkin under the “Gould Hill Farms” coffee mug.

Sundays are for long things: brunches, hikes, books, naps and sunbathing sessions by a pool. Even the animals know Sundays. They move with a slower syncopation, if at all, and contemplate the potted plants and the air like that of a museum goer taking in a Klimpt or a Kahlo, in all their resplendent beauty and depth. No emails of note pass through on Sundays; even the automated computer programs know to avoid attempts at human engagement.

Sundays are still. Sometimes even intentional movements seem coordinated by hidden marionette strings. Sundays are clean, bedsheets stripped and tossed into the hamper, and rosy-smelling linens, soft yet crisp from the wash, replacing worn, creased ones lined with granola crumbs, elastic hair bands, and cat hair.

Sundays are reclusive. People might not know you exist on a Sunday, except that the blinds are open just enough to suggest life.

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The Price of Small Business

GRANADA BOOKSTORE_02Just in the last month, I have seen multiple articles making their way across my social media and local news outlets highlighting small, struggling brick and mortar shops, including Sojourner Cafe and Granada Bookstore, in downtown Santa Barbara that are asking for the community’s help to raise funds to keep the shops running. As a relatively new local gourmet food shop owner myself who opened around the same time as Granda Bookstore, and just down the street from both stores, I immediately empathized with their respective plights and felt compelled to fund, partner, and rally for their longevity.

However, I was just as struck by the comments under the online articles, the vast majority of them expressing negativity toward the shops for reaching out for “hand outs” in what was surely ‘meant to be’ – a failing business that needed to learn some sort of life lesson by closing its doors after only a year and a half, leaving similar stores in town to serve their customers.

So many things in both the content and tone of these comments struck me as ill-informed and potentially dangerous to small businesses at large. Let’s start with the fact that the very nature of a small business is just that – to be small. They are generally locally run and meant to serve the immediate surrounding community in a very specific way. This means that most entrepreneurs who start such shops are doing so on a shoestring – most banks won’t risk their resources on a new business with no established track record, and so such businesses rely on culling together funds piecemeal – from savings, friends, family, a second and third job, and yes, sometimes crowdfunding, as Granada Bookstore (and myself) have done. A few years down the road, once business is well underway, the stores generally become eligible for larger bank loans to help finance the future of the business.

But the middle ground, between years 1 and 3 generally, are a gray area, the “sink or swim” years that put not only the finances but the mental and emotional integrity, of a small business owner, to the ultimate test. Instead of lamb-basting local businesses’ requests for help during these interim years, it would behoove the entire community to rally on their behalf and give it the push they need to press beyond, into the years of profit. If each of us spent just $100 more a year on local businesses instead of chain stores, it would put an additional $3 million year into our economy and create thousands of jobs each year.

Second, the idea that there are already “similar” stores that can serve local customers, therefore negating the need for keeping these businesses running, is the absolute antithesis of American capitalism and free market economies. There is ALWAYS enough business to go around (see Starbucks on every corner, intermingled with local favorites like French Press, Coffee Cat, and Handlebar), and fosters healthy competition to boot. The concept of one type of local store per town is absolutely ludicrous on a practical, intellectual, and moral level.

There is no doubt that the age of technology is quickly making brick and mortar shops appear less vital to the economy, but the passive and blind acceptance of this notion is an even greater threat to our individual livelihoods and yes, the future of our society as we know it. When so-called ‘mom and pop shops’ close, I hope it’s because Mom and Pop are tired. They’ve worked for decades to serve their customers with the highest degree of integrity, and often at the expense of their personal lives, and are ready to focus on themselves and their families. I would never wish for such a shop to close for lack of community support, particularly if it’s proved to be such an invested supporter of the community as Granda Bookstore and Sojourner have.

As a final note, I hear customers grumble from time to time about the higher prices in some of these locally run shops, and I think it’s important to add a note of explanation to put the prices in perspective. First, there is certainly no obligation to pay the higher price if it’s not within a customer’s budget and if they feel satisfied with the quality and moral underpinnings of a national brand product. But if shopping local, at least some of the time, trumps the lowest possible price, keep this well-thought article by organic popcorn producer (and Isabella Gourmet Foods vendor) Quinn Popcorn in mind: http://www.quinnpopcorn.com/2011/06/cogs-isnt-my-bff-repost/.

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Into the Unknown, Indiegogo, and Beyond

IMG_5364I just realized that I’m writing this on Friday the 13th – never a bad day in my book, but perhaps it sets the stage as more of a harbinger for my post.

In less than 2 months, on May 8th, my baby Isabella Gourmet Foods will celebrate 2 years in business. This is an absolutely surreal milestone for me to consider. It honestly feels more like 3 years, as that’s when the shop began to coalesce, prior to the doors swinging open to the public.

As all of you who have run small businesses (and had real babies!) know, it is a labor of love, blood, sweat, and tears (and more tears) with a little crazy mixed in for good measure! Running a retail shop in Santa Barbara has exposed every insecurity, heightened every anxiety, and tested every boundary I’ve ever had. Most small businesses begin to turn a profit between years 3 and 5, and until then, gritting your teeth, hanging on, getting creative, and asking for help when needed seem to the most prudent measures.

As I write this, Isabella Gourmet Foods is anxiously waiting to hear re: the approval of an SBA Loan, signaling a potentially significant turning point for the future of the business. We’re also in the middle of our Indiegogo Campaign, following a more grand-scale but unsuccessful Kickstarter Campaign last year, to raise funds for a freezer to expand our inventory lines. You can read more about that, share, and support the Campaign here.

I have taken every proactive measure in the meantime, opening Cebada Wine Tasting Room upstairs, sponsoring this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival, participating in all our fantastic community foodie events (this Spring, look for us at Sama Sama’s Hunt & Gather, Bacara’s Food & Wine Weekend, the Santa Barbara County Vitners Festival, and the Santa Barbara Aerial Dance Centre’s Belline performance), and donating my time and product wherever I can to support local, including 1st Thursday events, Women’s Economic Venture events, and local Meetup Groups.

Isabella Gourmet Foods can also be found on 2 local food tours, Taste Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Tasting Tours, and frequently partners with local hotels, including The Canary Hotel and Hotel Milo. I am currently in the middle of re-vamping our grab-and-go lunch program, with the help of our local farm-to-table restauranteurs, and re-instituting the sale of cold-pressed juices.

Finally, with the institution of new artisan products on our shelves everyday, including more fresh fare like Sweet Lisi’s Vegan Doughnuts and Bread Srsly Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread, I am committed to keeping up with the demands of our customers in our ever-changing local food climate.

I don’t often write such transparent updates, but in the spirit of realizing that we’re all essentially in the same boat, and that I do this business for the community first and foremost, it feels authentic to do so now.

Please continue to bear with me as I take every measure to keep Isabella Gourmet Foods with our community and moving forward, and thank you in advance (and to some in retrospect), for all of your unyielding patience and generous support, whether through Indiegogo, word-of-mouth, social media hype, referrals, or simply being a customer or a vendor – the ultimate support!

I will continue to keep you abreast of the journey…

With love and gratitude,

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When Tolerance Isn’t Enough

I'd Rather Walk This Way

Original artwork by Ali Rybczyk

Perhaps this post would have been better suited for the week of Valentine’s Day, but I think it hits on more universal phenomena that extends beyond painted hearts and sticky chocolate-truffled fingers.

I often recount a story I read somewhere years ago, of a granddaughter celebrating a significant wedding anniversary of her grandparents, to much fanfare from family and friends. In the midst of the merriment, she knelt next to her grandmother’s chair and asked her the age-old question of “How?”- How were they able to stay together in a seemingly happy relationship for so many years, given our divorce culture? And the grandmother dropped her chin conspiratorially and replied in the sage way that the elderly often do: “Before your grandfather and I married, I made a list of all the things I was willing to put up with in order to marry him, of all the daily banalities and sources of contention I would overlook to make this man my partner forever.” The granddaughter leaned forward eagerly. “And what was on the list?” she asked, ready to unlock the mystery of long-term marital bliss. The grandmother smiled, a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she glanced over at her husband enjoying the throngs of well-wishers surrounding his chair. “Well, I never actually kept the list. If there was ever a hard copy, it was lost among the piles of wedding gift wrapping and honeymoon packing that first year. But every time he did something that made me crazy I just said to myself, ‘Thank God it was on the list!’.”

This clever anecdote came back to me over the weekend as I unexpectedly sat at a workshop to honor Black History Month in Ojai, listening to a speaker share his own story of tolerance, albeit under much more severe circumstances, in memory of his now-deceased father, who brutally beat him daily in his childhood. His take on tolerance was a far cry from the aged grandmother, though not in the direction you might assume. His essential message was that tolerance was not nearly enough when it came to persevering and thriving in this lifetime. Instead, he spoke of the need for absolute forgiveness and acceptance as the only means to live a just, moral, and ultimately peaceful life, free from hate, anger, fear, and misunderstanding.

In holding up these two scenarios, however far apart in circumstance, it got me thinking about the parallel concepts of tolerance and acceptance, and what to what degree these practices really do foster healthy relationships and in what circumstances they can actually cause more harm than good. By tolerating someone, we’re automatically acknowledging that we don’t agree with the subject’s actions or words or beliefs, or in some cases, with the subject simply by means of their existence (otherwise we would use the word ‘agree’). Tolerance really doesn’t imply any sort of benevolence (in fact it can imply the opposite, like when I sit in my apartment and wish ill will toward my neighbor’s yappy dogs for the 285th night in a row), though we speak about it as though, by tolerating something or someone, we’re the peacekeeper, the picture of morality. Would I be more tolerant if I refrained from wishing the dogs harm, but still said nothing? If the grandmother merely tolerated her husband’s offensive behaviors, would they still be such a celebrated pair? Would their marriage have been as happy and healthy? Likely not.

To me, acceptance is the graduate step, the grown-up version of tolerance, because not only are we admitting that we don’t agree with someone or something, but we’re expressing full inclusion of that person into our fold just the same, without a different set of morals governing our behavior toward them. I sometimes hear from friends who have reconciled with their partner after a separation and see a common thread among them: However subconsciously, the individual perceived as the wrong-doer is constantly reminded of his or her indiscretions by the “victim”, whether through passive-aggressive action or direct speech. In today’s terms, there is an asterisk in the relationship. The behavior has been tolerated by definition of the fact that they’ve agreed to get back together, but full acceptance is markedly absent.

And if there’s a mutual agreement between the couple to each operate under a different set of rules in the relationship while it is being rebuilt, that is at least a more authentic representation of what’s occurring. But if one person enters back into the relationship with the belief that they will be living on equal footing with the other, there is often eternal discord. In a scenario like the gentleman speaker, however, the healthiest version of that in adulthood might be intolerance without acceptance; intolerance, implying he has determined his father’s behavior is unacceptable to him and spoken out against it, coupled with “un-acceptance”, implying that he will disengage from the relationship accordingly. It wasn’t clear from the conclusion of the talk which path he took, but unfortunately, I think too many people in abusive or troubled relationships both tolerate AND accept behavior, eroding their own well-being and sense of self in the process.

The next time you enter into a relationship, romantic or otherwise, it might be interesting to consider whether you’re acting under the auspices of tolerance or acceptance, and how each is affecting your happiness (or lack thereof) and that of your partner/friend/family member.

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Do the thing you think you cannot do

IMG_0005I love this title quote by Eleanor Roosevelt because it speaks to the limitless possibility of our intimate, intricate worlds. If all limitations are self-imposed, as the quote suggests, then we are literally fountains of creativity and possibility ready to explode onto the scene, given the right set of circumstances and green lights.

I hear certain words tossed around a lot as reasons we don’t pursue or even fully realize our passions, our biggest goals, our deepest desires, with words like “fear” and “money” and “time” featuring most prominently. But when you look at smaller day-to-day goals we perceive as attainable, like buying the Free People sweater we’ve been coveting or hunting down our lost lost high school love interest on the internet, we will stop at nothing to tear through the red tape. And this is perhaps due in part to the nature of instant gratification: these are goals that can be achieved in a matter of days with tangible, or at least strong positive emotional, results. If we could apply the same tenacity to our biggest dreams, imagine how much more exponentially powerful the tangible and positive emotional results would be!

Perhaps the number one reason we don’t start down this loftier path is a refusal to identify our big goals in the first place (because the act of writing them down in and off itself is a goal!). Without a starting point, it’s impossible to move forward; or rather, the movement will be a much more winding path, full of unnecessary steps, roadblocks, and returns to the starting line. So Step 1: Write down the end goal, or at least voice it out loud, confidently and clearly.

Step 2: Write down or speak the reasons you don’t believe you can achieve that goal (i.e. what is your resistance to success – fear of failing, stepping outside of societal or familial norms, not enough money, no time in your current job to take on another load, and so forth).

Step 3: See quote in this post’s title: You do it anyway. Because if we were to look at the world 100% realistically, according to our admittedly bias assessments of the feasibility of a task, there would be no innovation, no evolution, no movement forward in a world paralyzed by doubt. There is always a way, and it’s likely going to be the most unconventional, least expected path imaginable.

Most often, I find there is immobility because the precursor to creativity and innovation is deep examination of oneself, of one’s past traumas and triumphs, of one’s limiting beliefs and their origins. This is not a quickie inventory. It requires constant awareness, vigilance, and persistency to first identify and then recognize each time you slip into old limiting patterns and consistently renewing your commitment to following the new path you’re setting up for yourself.

When I stumbled upon my current lease space for Isabella Gourmet Foods, I wasn’t remotely prepared to take on the shop on paper; I had an unfinished business plan, no capital, and a murky idea of the retail world based on my Summer boutique job in high school and college. But I also had a notebook filled to the brim with sketches of the shop that I had amassed over the course of 10 years, a circle of friends and mentors who believed in me, a solid history of self-examination and personal growth work, and a burning desire to find a way to open the shop, no matter what. Often times, it’s the frequently overlooked building blocks, not the capstones (they come later), that get you off the ground.

If you’re not quite ready to take even the first step of stating your biggest goals, at least take a moment to acknowledge that the only person holding you back is yourself and ask a freind or trusted advisor to observe what they see as limiting you. If you want something badly enough, there is ALWAYS a way.

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