I am writing you this letter from the back seat of a bus headed from Calgary to Edmonton after two weeks on the road.
Today is, somehow, my 40th birthday.
The day was spent in a workshop helping folks to wrestle with what marketing might mean for their particular businesses. In the room there were people who were: working in government, raising beef and goats, making mittens from recycled sweaters, managing farmer’s markets, starting a biodynamic farm, making beef jerkey, developing an Alberta based egg processing plant, making herbal skin care products, doing therapeutic touch, making pepper jelly and mocassins & beaded things.
It was a room awash with a kind-hearted down-to-earthness and no small amount of unexpressed terror about how they were going to make it all work.
It’s a good way to spend a day. You try to bring something worthy of everyone’s time.
I found my way to Calgary from the warmer and milder climes of Vancouver where the photo above was taken just this past Sunday while visiting my niece who is now halfway through her second year. I have become the uncle in the photos I look back at from my own childhood. And one day I will, with any luck at all, become my beautiful and kind grandfather who died this August in the presence of his family. My niece has just come from the unseen world and he’s just returned to it. I’m somewhere in the middle now of it all now.
What that all means is that, for the past 40 years I have been on the receiving end of this outrageous gift of life. Every day of my life, things have died so that I might live and I am hearing the call more clearly that the rest of my life is about feeding that which has fed me for so long. The same thing which fed my grandfather and feeds my niece now is tied about me and I am tied to it. The whispering of the world is lifting my eyes to the crater of this modern world and asking me to plant and bring some beauty here so that it might yet become a place worth coming from. God knows it’s not now.
I suppose that, for the first half of our lives, many of us are ruled by a sort of childish selfishness ruled by ‘what’s in it for me?’ and ‘how much can I get?’ and, if we are lucky, we wake up from that. As Rumi put it,
“The way of love is not a subtle argument
The doorway is devastation
Birds make great sky circles of their freedom
How do they learn?
They fall, and falling
They’re given wings.”
And so it has been with me. A devastating past two years full of the unwanted blessings of hard things that shatter the too small pot of the sunflower of gratitude and asks us to climb the scrap heap of all our regrets, reconsider the wasted years and weave something worthy with the red thread of losswe’ve been handed by life. Humility is when you realize you are human. Humiliation is when others realize that for you. This past two years is a basket made of both of those things.
This year has also been full of beauty.
I discovered that I have a historical doppleganger by the name of DH Lawrence (pictured here) who’s poetry I’m looking forward to digging into over this winter. I hope you find your own as well.
I released my book The Niching Nest into the world. Hosted Stephen Jenkinson in Edmonton. Help lead the third annual Nova Scotia Gaels’ Jamin Nova Scotia. I was able to be with my grandfather throughout his dying time.
And now I’m able to sit here and write you this letter and share three small gifts with you.
Gift #1: 50% Off
I’d like to offer you 50% off anything in my store. Just use the code BDAY50. It’s good til midnight on November 7th.
Gift #2: My Other Blog.
You may or may not know, but I have another blog I write called Healing from Whiteness which explores the wonderings around what it is to be a person of European descent in North America at this particular moment in history. I’ve been writing more for it recently and will be writing much more over the coming months.
Gift #3: 500 Memes.
One of the fringe benefits of my spending too much time on Facebook is that I find a lot of wonderful memes. Here are 500 of my favourite, most inspiring, heartwarming and evocative memes.
Thank you so much for being on my email list in a world full of email lists to be on. Thank you for reading this email in an inbox almost certainly full of worthy and important things to read. Thank you for supporting my work and for the work that you do in your homes and communities. May you be guided and supported in this coming year, may you and yours be held and protected, may all of the apple seeds of goodness you have planted in the lives of others be returned to you as ciders, pies and sauces having grown, been picked and mixed together with the gifts of others. May the mercies gather at your door and bring warmth to it. May all of those you come from and all of those to come after you be blessed by the good fortune of having known you for a while. May we continue to know each other for a while yet. May the roads of life and good fortune bring us together a few more times in person before our turn here is over.
Life. How did we get so lucky be inside it?
p.s. Thank you again to everyone who help contribute to my Farmers’ Market Marketing Series (note: turn your volume off or down as there’s a video that autoplays in one of the blogs – it’s a good video but the noise can be a bit jarring if you’re not ready for it).
p.p.s. Next year you’ll also see a shift in how I deal with affiliate relationships with my colleagues. There have already been hints on it from my last email about Ryan’s Double Your Money and Your Time Off program. I think you’ll like what I’ve come to.
p.p.p.s. What’s coming next for me:
Within the next two months, I should have The Niching Spiral Homestudy course available. It will be a 90 day program to help you figure out a workable niche. Thirty minutes a day, five days a week for three months.
Once that’s out, you’ll be likely seeing a new ebook or product from me each month honing in on some particular facet of the work I do (e.g. Hubs, Point of View, Island A and B, Parties as Marketing, PWYC thoughts). There are so many that are incredibly close to being done.
And, of course, the official Marketing for Hippies bookstore book is very close to being started.
I am hopeful that my work might be useful to you in navigating the rough roads of right livelihood. Dear god, we need you and others like you to make a go of it. We need people to show that there’s some other way forward than to continue to be a cog in the machine destroying us all.
But mostly, the coming months will see me taking space for myself to recover from the deep burnout of the past two years. I’m moving into a quiet winter. I wish the same for you too.