Defining Legacy

In April, my business celebrates its 6th official birthday.

I started taking on some side development work and projects for friends 7 or 8 months prior to making the big leap away from my non-profit job and into working for myself. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

In the past 6 years, I have grown and learned so much. You have to if you want your business to be successful.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Things go wrong, team members make mistakes, there are misunderstandings and problems that creep up unexpected along the way. But there’s a lot that goes right too.

For the past year, I’ve been thinking about ways to share the knowledge I’ve collected with other business owners. I’d like others to have an advantage I didn’t have, to have a collective of people to support and encourage them, to use what I’ve learned to help others.

I find myself wondering what my legacy is going to be.

I don’t have a neatly packaged answer to the question of legacy yet. Some people leave a company a behind, some people leave children. Others leave works of arts or books or a poem. Mother Teresa taught us compassion, Maya Angelou taught us about courage, Mary Oliver gave us little snippets that reminded us to find the wonder in the world.

What will my legacy be? What will the lessons of my life lead me to share?

It’s beyond business how-to’s for me. It goes deeper. All I have ever done has been in the name of freedom, of figuring out what freedom looks like and feels like. So many of us are not free. So many of us are but cannot see it.

So maybe I start there, with simply finding the common themes that have guided me forward for years…

A Daydream

Someday, I want to own a home with an epic door knocker — the type that is so perfectly unusual it makes you question if you’ll be stepping into another world on the other side of it.

I want door knobs and keyholes that look like intricate puzzles, waiting not only a key but a password or secret knock for it to work properly.

The garden in the back will be heavy with time, for there it slows and speeds up and slows down again, until you lose all sense of what hour it is and what you’re supposed to be doing.

There are no “supposed to”s or “should”s allowed within the house, only dancing and indulging in your senses. The kitchen transforms at different hours of the day from bakery to cafĂ© to gourmet kitchen. Dinners always have candlelight. Afternoon tea involves a stack of books and laughter. Breakfast can be eaten at any hour, particularly if it’s some variety of french toast or pancakes.

And yet, the interior is surprising unassuming and modern in its simplicity. You are more likely to get lost in art or a sunbeam than in the cushions of an old sofa or amongst decorative objects. The rooms feel both a blank canvas and a warm inviting place for solace and entertaining and dreaming.

Someday…

Good vs. Perfect

Hello, my name is Brandi and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I was a good student growing up — the type that gets A’s on tests and papers and goes above and beyond on projects. In 9th grade, we were tasked in history to write a section of a chapter on one of the topics we were studying. While most of the kids in my class, gathered their papers in those plastic covers that made everything seem more formal and professional, I spent time building a mock textbook from foam board, created a cover, and glued my chapter in it. I could feel the glares.

I probably got a little too drunk on 100s on tests with extra bonus points, papers marked with A+ and the praise from teachers. As long as I kept being perfect — or at least near perfect — I would be fine.

But perfection is not the reality of life.

It dragged me down for years, the pressure to do everything exactly right, to please people, to adjust and change and shape myself to make other people happy. I wanted approval, I wanted praise, I wanted to know I was good and kind and beautiful and worth something.

In the past 4 years, I’ve given up the perfectionist and discovered a deep sense of connection and self-compassion. Because in business, nothing goes perfectly. You learn from every stumble and mishap and project. You grow. And suddenly, you realize that it’s not about getting it perfect, but letting it change you. It’s about the expansion and the deeper discovery of truths that shift you closer to you.

You realize that it’s about good rather than perfect.

In his podcast, Rob Bell elaborates on the difference between good and perfect so eloquently. In Genesis, God made the world good, not perfect. There is no growth in perfection, but there is growth and story and love in good. It is dynamic and changing, rather than stagnant and fixed.

I choose to embrace growth and evolution and story. I choose to embrace my beautiful and imperfect self. I choose to embrace and love others in their beauty and imperfection. It is good and it is miraculous.

Walking the Path

I’ve been thinking a lot about paths recently. It lingered on my mind when I woke yesterday, how things twist and turn and find yourself somewhere you never expected to be.

School made life seem so easy. In high school, the path was clear: go to college, get a job, meet a boy, fall in love, marry.

Things aren’t that smooth.

I went to college with a double major in mind, graduated with only one in hand, but was positive that career path wasn’t for me.

I’ve felt like a pinball since then, moving from job to job, from major to major to graduate school, from city to city. With each university program or new job, I thought the path would finally show itself, that something would finally click.

Then I abandoned the path completely and started a business. In two years, I’ve learned there is no real path, no certain direction to move in. There is only the path we forge for ourselves, the world we create around us.

This is what live is. This is what vulnerability is — admitting we don’t entirely know what we’re doing but promising ourselves that we’re going to do it boldly, that we’re going to stop defining ourselves in single terms or job titles, that we’re going to dare greatly, fall, and rise strong.

Come, traveller, and walk with me.

Photo from BrenĂ© Brown — go pick up her new book, Rising Strong. It’s crazy inspiration at your fingertips.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.