What Makes You Come Alive

September 21st, 2014 | Rachel

Only a three month lag between posts this time. Progress?

As expected, life is crazy. I’m neck deep in my campaign for city council, with a thousand houses left to canvass and the public forums coming up in two weeks. A majority of voters here vote by absentee ballot, so most of my campaigning [and fundraising] has to be done before the ballots arrive in early October.

On the business front, change is coming. Our food truck, which should have been here at the beginning of the summer, is finally nearing completion. We just added a new member to the team, and there will have to be even more hires made and employees trained after the truck arrives. Even though progress is slower than I would prefer, it is still amazing to watch an idea come to life and grow into something tangible.

These words, attributed to a writer named Dr. Howard Thurman, come to mind often:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Although I have been feeling the weight of all of the recent stress and responsibility — and having a Want To Do List that is far lengthier than my Can Feasibly Do list — at the core of it all, there is an excited and satisfied feeling of being alive.

I never would have believed I’d last this long after investing most of my life savings into starting a business and burning through the rest as we worked full time to reach the point of profitability. The truck delay has been quite an obstacle, since it has always been the cornerstone of our business model, and yet we’ve managed to make do and struggle through the instability and uncertainty.

I can see why being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. But for some people, myself included, the challenge and risk is invigorating. Our human capacity to create and build is far greater than any of us realize. That’s why I think it is better that I didn’t know what my path as a start up business owner was going to look like. You can gather as much information as possible, assess the risks and carefully plan, but you’ll never know the unforeseen challenges until they hit you. When that happens, you have to dig down and find the resolve to keep moving forward.

Running for city council has similarly been a transformative and affirming experience. This is something I’ve known I wanted to do since I was 10 years old. It is one of the most compelling reasons I had to move to a smaller community where I could realistically get involved with my local government.

Three months after I moved to Sonoma, I emailed the mayor to ask how I could get on this path. Six months later, after I moved inside the city limit and became eligible to run, I began what has become an extensive network of meetings to meet as many community leaders as possible to learn about this city and the people in it. I’ve met with everyone from the city manager to the public works director, leaders from a number of nonprofit organizations, business owners, school officials, local experts on discrete issues, and many people who just have a heightened interest in and concern for the community.

In addition to paving the way for an educated and supported political campaign, these one-on-one meetings, as well as nine months of attending city council meetings and public forums, have given me a glance behind the green curtain to see how all of the wheels are turning to create a living and breathing city. It’s fascinating.

It’s also inspiring, not just because I find it all so interesting and want to be a part of it, but also because I am seeing so many ways people are making meaningful contributions to the community by pursuing the things that make them come alive. History. Birds. Cookies. Kids. Baseball. Tomatoes. I hesitate to even begin listing the possibilities because I could never stop.

Follow me out on an optimistic limb for just a second and imagine what a community would look like if everyone was doing something that excited them. Pretty spectacular, right?

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