It’s interesting how the cliché that life is not a destination but a journey resonates with deeper meaning for us from time to time. When one chooses to step off of a well-trodden path (and we have chosen to step off many!) there are turning points when the whole pattern we are ostensibly crafting seems to shift into a totally different focus. In a recent period of reflection we became aware of how making a living and making a life are very different goals, and we are totally into the latter and only hoping to accomplish the former.
I recently dipped my toes back into the world of raw chocolate in a public arena after quite a bit of down time since my decision not to become an online raw chocolate entrepreneur. As I’ve continued to be a raw chocolate fairy over time, people had begun to ask for a workshop on the process so they could learn to satisfy their own desires. Raw Chocolate Level 1 (non-tempered chocolates) finally “popped up” in a friend’s kitchen. She graciously opened her home up to 10 participants and we had a lovely time learning about the journey of raw chocolate together.
The first raw chocolates I ever made were peppermint patties with Emma Zimt during one of my raw chef trainings at the Raw Foundation in Vancouver, so they seemed an obvious place to start. Organic, fair trade, coffee cardamom cacao truffles, inspired by Amy Levin, were the next (more complex) recipe I showed them how to craft. We all agreed that these were the best truffles (raw or not!) any of us had ever tasted. I brought along some raw raspberry ganache tarts made earlier in the week to show the versatility of the recipe. The ganache is the same base for both – just a different flavor and in a totally different form. We indulged in these raw chocolate delights with cups of chaga chai, made from locally harvested chaga. Everyone left happy – at least in part due to the Phenethylamine (PEA) that’s in raw chocolate. PEA is the adrenal-related chemical that is produced in our bodies when we fall in love. This is probably one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection!
Offering a sampling of raw food workshops over the past few months has once again reminded me that I am, and always have been, an educator at heart. I’ve been blessed to educate in a lot of different environments – ranging from leading backcountry voyageur canoe trips, to teaching in university lecture halls, to workshops on mindfulness in hospital and other settings, to being Director of Lifespan Learning in a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I’ve helped people explore a diversity of topics and techniques with great joy and success. What has become ever more clear recently is that I am not a producer or an entrepreneur. Bless those that are! As often as I’m encouraged to make raw chocolate and fermented nut cheeze for sale, even just for the local market, this is simply not my path. I love the creativity involved in making these delicious and nutritious foods and I enjoy the process of designing workshops to help others learn about them and how to make them in their homes. And of course I love the actual facilitation of the workshops where I interact with others, sharing my own journey and learning about theirs. People are always attracted to new learning for such different reasons. That part is just plain fun! But I don’t want to go into business to produce products in sufficient volume to make a living at it. We’re not in the marketplace, we’re in the values place.
Similarly, in creating these recent opportunities to educate about raw food, I have come to realize that I’m also not someone who wants to offer hundreds of raw food workshops stretching out into the foreseeable future and from shore to shore across the continent. I want to create and offer them as long as I find them interesting, and want to continue to step aside from the pressure of “bigger, better, more, more, more”. I have learned that I just don’t have the entrepreneurial gene that sets some folks hearts racing. I just want to be doing what I enjoy in the moment. And the next moment things may change – I may change. Somewhere along the way in this life I’ve picked up an insidious internal message that I’m not “normal”, that I don’t follow through, that I’m a quitter. But that’s not my truth. I’m good at what I’m good at, and that changes.
I am an initiator and a creative designer. In following my own paths it turns out that I have some pretty good ideas that presage where parts of the culture are heading. With an engaging new idea I am highly motivated to act on it. I’ll search out others with similar passions. I’ll search out a course that will help me learn how to make my ideas manifest. I’m good at the practical and kinesthetic parts of learning and teaching new skills. I can see how things flow best. I’m tenacious and persistent. I work from my values and not from the norm. Novelty is motivating.
And I’m really good at supporting people and organizations as they move through transitional times. I’m skilled at and enjoy creating systems and getting them in place so that the work works better. I’m adept at seeing conflicts that have been swept underneath carpets and supporting people in addressing them and moving beyond them. I can be a non-anxious presence throughout this process. I love visioning and re-visioning in collaboration with others. But what I am not is a maintainer. I have mostly held jobs for 2-5 years. My one exception was as faculty with a travelling experiential university program for 10 years. But the nature of that job was that it was entirely different every semester. We were in different regions, with different students & co-faculty, and exploring different social & environmental issues. Everything was always in flux.
I’m also quite determined not to take on too much work anymore. Our Tiny lifestyle allows us to live on less and to spend more time on our life priorities – our relationships with self, others, and the natural world. So I really don’t want to become “big” or “well known”. That has never been my reality. I’ve always just wanted to do what I do really well as best as I can. I’m equally comfortable being seen or unseen in the work I do. And I do realize that it is because I have a certain level of privilege that I can say this.
This Raw Chocolate Level 1 workshop was the final workshop I’ll offer until the fall. Then we’ll see what the winds bring our way. Though the cost of these workshops feels reasonable to me (certainly in comparison to similar ones being offered in larger centers at more than twice the price) I hope to continue to find funding sources that can make them even more accessible to local people. Really, learning to prepare delicious and nutritious food should be free!
And after several requests, I’m also going to spend some time this summer experimenting with putting a workshop or two online and see where that goes. The filming for an online Fermented Nut Cheeze class is done, so all that’s left is the editing, uploading, finding a platform, figuring out a payment process, etc. A lot to learn and a fun summer adventure!