Four Hurricanes & Record Forest Fires Derailed My Start-up

An unexpected path to regenerative mindset

2020 was a whopper of a year for everyone

We all have our stories of what we lost, gained, noticed, changed. For me, 2020 brought the death of my mother the same day WHO declared a global pandemic. I became caregiver for my widower father who had had two strokes as 2019 ended. My eyes and heart were blown open with scenes and reality of racial and social injustice that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. It brought me into reflection and continued dismantling of stereo types and bias.

Amidst all this, 2020 brought the conception and building of a new service organization. Centered on meaning, the new business would support individuals and groups to grow meaning in their lives through awareness, community and practices.

Ultimately, this new business didn’t get off the ground (although meaningful living remains in focus). To my surprise, extreme weather intervened.

Dangerous, off-the-chart air quality cause first delay

I had assemble a remote team to bring the service business to life with content and concepts I had proven during a decade of helping clients bring more life into their days and work. To that, my start-up team would add their expertise and elbow grease. 

Within 2 weeks, the first weather disruption impacted our plan. 

It started with life-threatening air quality caused by record-setting forest fires in Oregon. The air quality index was literally off the chart with days of PM2.5 levels above 500.  My start-up’s creative director had just moved to a remote coastal location in Oregon. For nearly two weeks, dangerous air quality prevented him from leaving his home to access internet service. 

It was a delay, and we carried on. 

A few weeks later, torrential rain and flooding hit my designer’s home and office in Mexico. Within weeks a hurricane struck land causing more destruction. He and his team permanently closed their business due to this climate damage.

When I hired a new contracted design resource in Seattle, I thought I’d escape more weather disaster disruptions. I was wrong.

My new designer based in Seattle got called away to an urgent job documenting devastation from hurricane Eta and Iota in Guatemala.

The final blow came less than a month later. My tech team in Philippines recommended a designer they had worked with successfully. Again I amped up the enthusiasm to make progress with this new resource. Alas, our second meeting was disrupted by a typhoon, the southern-hemisphere term equivalent to hurricane.

Swapping out 4 elements for the 4 hurricanes

Hurricane #4 was the final blow for me and the start-up. The message was clear that creating this new business was not my path despite my clear call to create more meaning.

I did the least obvious thing – closed my computer and started a garden.

3 picture - Radish, Yellow beet and blueberries

I call it my YouTube garden (in reflection of dozens of hours of how-to videos that guided my progress). I ripped out 9 bushes to create space in my tiny yard. I fondly say that I live on half a postage stamp, the tiny triangle-shaped lot of a single-family home in Seattle, WA.

Daily for several months I dug in the dirt, moved materials, built raised garden beds, learned about gardening, planted and grew seedlings indoors and sowed seeds directly in the soil.

I was creating life. I worked in partnership with Mother Nature, or more accurately, I was assisting Mother Nature as she clearly had the lead. Of course, she knew the way. Daily, I made myself a cup of ceremonial cacao, sustainably and equitably sourced from Guatemala, and meditated to be guided by indigenous wisdom, to be returned to the great intelligence of earth, fire, water and air.

Watch Kiss the Ground, the movie to learn how regenerative agriculture and reviving soil life creates a positive chain reaction by building health and life on farms and in our food system and communities.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ~Rumi

Regeneration means putting life at the center of every action and choice

That’s when regeneration formally entered my world – via social media. I’m so grateful that I stumbled upon an Instagram Live conversation about Kiss the Ground’s soil health course. Almost immediately, I enrolled in the course. It was the perfect springboard to jump into the regenerative movement.

I learned of the systems, results and potential of healing our soil and met wonderful people who care about the same things I care about.

Now, my view and engagement with the regenerative movement constantly grows beyond the soil. Cliché as it may sound, it is all connected. How we feed people. Take care of the earth. Heal and rebuild traumatized communities. Regeneration is central to restoring life in healthcare methods, economies, for social justice, communities, relationships and more.

With the lens of regeneration, everything is about life. Are we creating life or destroying life? Adopting a regenerative mindset makes the choices very clear. It’s not a simple or easy path. It is doable.

Today, my professional and personal work converge with regeneration. Professionally, I am a strategist, adviser and coach. I pair critical thinking and complex problem solving with expertise in organizational design and human development. To that I add personal passion for health and wellness, nutrition, nature and social justice. All of what I’ve done and lived up to now, brings me to this hopeful movement of regeneration.

Humbly, I am returning to and honoring indigenous wisdom for healing, renewal and vitality of individuals, communities and Earth. Whether tending to tomatoes in the garden, hiking in the mountains, helping a friend or client create wellbeing, or devising strategic plans for a global NGO or corporation, regeneration is the path ahead for my life and contribution.

Our paths now intersect – yours and mine. We are in the business of growing and supporting life. We are in the business of water, biodiversity, soil, human health, social justice. We are creating a new future through regeneration today.

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