Today marks THREE YEARS since I started my journey at Darling Boutique, and a year and a half as the sole owner. And today, reflecting on this boss babe life, all I can think about is how this is exactly what I was created for. I'm living out my purpose every day. (And I still can't believe it most days.) And while I may not know what the next three years will look like, I do know this: align yourself with your purpose, and the path will become clear.
Remembering Why I Started
Last year, on this very same anniversary, I wrote about my "why" - why I started this journey, and how God prepared me for it from birth (I went back to toddler pictures, you should probably check it out if you missed it.) In re-reading that post, and reflecting on this past year, I am struck by the growth from where I started - and where I find myself now - 3 years later.
In my post last year, my phrase for 2017 was "Stay Anchored."
"Stay anchored in Hope. Stay anchored in Community. Stay anchored in Love. Stay anchored in Truth. Feel the weight. Dive deeper. Though waves crash overhead, and the stormy winds rage, in the depths you will find true Rest, Safety, Love. Courage is founded in the depths, and tested in the waves." - Me, from my post on March 1, 2017
For 2018, my phrase is this: Stay Aligned.
Keep Listening, Dreaming, Growing. Last year, it was about staying anchored as I took on the shop as sole owner - SO different than being co-owner, as I quickly learned. This year, it's about alignment... with the vision, purpose, dreams, goals, and hopes.
Alignment > Hustle
"When you find your purpose, your gift, the reason you’ve come into this human existence. When you are in alignment with your calling. When you have something incredible to give and you step into the truth of who you are… it’s no longer about the hustle. The ones who need your message will show up, and no matter how nervous I am, I know that my gift is needed.” – @hayleymichelleandrews
When I saw these words a few weeks back on Instagram, I was like "YES, AMEN, PREACH." At the start of 2018, I felt off my game with the whole #bossbabe thing, consumed by big picture business decisions and goals, and micro mess-ups in the day-to-day to-do’s. But there’s also been a deep realignment happening, God-driven reminders of my purpose, and Darling's purpose, of where to place my trust and hope, and where to cast my fears. I realized that "doing your best" doesn't mean working yourself to exhaustion.
Part of that alignment has been stepping out with Boss Babes Cville - a group I founded Summer of 2017 in hopes of building community among the boss babes of Charlottesville - and to combat my own isolation in the solo business owner life.
I recently partnered up with an amazing boss babe, Jessica Dang Norby, to run the group, and the momentum has been exhilarating. And the aligning has been deeply enriching, affirming my place not just as a boss babe, but as a community-builder and supporter of WOMEN.
It's still crazy weird to think that I'm any sort of leader at all. But when you start having interviews describe you as a leader of a female business community, you start to let that sink in, to believe that it's part of your purpose, and start aligning yourself with it. Surround yourself with the people who align with your purpose - like the many amazing boss babes in your community. You aren't meant to do it alone. We're co-leading one another. That's the beauty of community!
(On that note, go watch this super fun interview with a local University publication, The Pioneer, about being a female business owner!)
So here’s to admitting when the small business owner thing is just plain hard and you need gratuitous amounts of dance breaks to shake it off, to recognizing when you’re off our game and discerning why, and to constantly realigning ourself with your purpose.
Stop the hustle. Align. Then live in your purpose. Your gift is unique. And needed.
Wisdom for What's Next
Three years ago, when I was making the decision to quit my full time job with Albemarle County Schools as Web Curator and pursue Darling full time, equally terrified and excited about this huge leap of faith, I remember having this transformational conversation with my dad on the phone. It went something like this:
Dad: "How are you feeling about the decision?"
Me: “In my head, everything is spinning and there are so many unknowns and dots I haven’t connected yet or things I need to figure out... (ramble on for five minutes straight)... but in my heart, when I really think and sit about Darling, I’m filled with peace and joy about this step.”
Dad: “If your head was totally clear during a huge decision/life change like this, if you had no doubts or questions and everything was a-okay in your head but your heart was a mess, filled with doubts, I’d be concerned. Listen to your heart closely. The things of the head will be sorted out with time.”
I think about this conversation and his wisdom every time I'm making decisions now - especially with the business. I sit, I pray, I quiet my head, and I listen closely to my heart.
There are still so many unknowns, doubts, endless to-do's that swarm inside my head, sometimes keeping me up at night or pulling me away from being present during the day. But that's why they call it "a leap of a faith," I think - because sometimes you have to just jump off the cliff, or across the ocean, in trust - and in peace, knowing you've been equipped with what you will need for the leap - and the landing.
This I know: my heart is still at peace. When I think about the shop, clearing my head of the noise and stopping the spinning thoughts, when I listen closely to my heart, I am consumed by Peace and Joy and a deep worth, value, and vision that comes solely from God. Oh, how I pray to linger in that peace and joy all day, every day.
Every day, I sit beside this scripture behind the counter at Darling:
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything." Philippians 4:5-6
Knowing His hand is on the past, the now, and the future of my life and this shop gives me an unspeakable Peace. It quiets everything else. It aligns me. And it drives me forward.
So here's to staying aligned in 2018 - in YEAR 4 of this Darling adventure.