Back to school has always been an exciting time for me. As a kid, I loved the organizational binders, the smell of new books, their crisp bindings and pages, and stiff loafers that gave me blisters. Those old-school memories are neat and tidy just like the breakfast my mother had waiting for me downstairs, the lunch bag she packed every morning and the schedules that moved us from classroom to classroom nurturing me every day, every semester, every year.
College was similarly tidy but more demanding - running from classes, the library, field hockey and lacrosse, my job in the art history department, sweaty keg parties, Dynasty and 99 cent beers. Finding a job after college was relatively easy – the market wasn’t against college grads and my school loan was manageable - $91.11. I will always remember that monthly payment and the booklet that went along with my $18,000 salary. For years, I dreamed every booklet page was a stub noting that every payment was made and I could finally afford dry-cleaning, dinners out, or something special like a new pair of skis and a lift ticket.
I’d say I was lucky. Even with school loans life was neat and tidy for a long time and if it wasn’t, I was too happy being happy to notice any kinks. I just kept working, working out, and loving my friends. Everything was pretty well balanced, until it… wasn’t. The scales didn’t tip all at once. Themis’ back was no longer straight, but I took no notice, never stopped to consider, and just kept plugging away and pushing ahead, never really paying attention. I could argue that even Themis was blind-folded but my argument would fall short: she was not blind, just impartial and that’s a very different thing.
As I grew further away from school and deeper into Adulthood, things just started piling up on one side, not so much because I wasn’t paying attention but because I didn’t really know how to pay attention. I need to repeat that: I didn’t know how to pay attention, at least to that kind of stuff. Safe to say that by the time I was in my thirties I had yet to develop the analytical skills required to understand how our biology and well-being are directly impacted by the choices we make. I wasn't paying attention to why things were piling up and how the choices about how much I worked, how late I stayed up, what I ate, what I drank were all connected to the balance of the scales.
It took nothing short of a huge tragedy – the stillbirth of my first child at 40 weeks – to bring me – eventually - to the place, where after an agonizing struggle I could finally stop, look at my life, take a breath and figure out how to make the next right choice, how to pay attention to how things add up, how to recognize when balance is gained, and lost, and regained and hard won.
Sigh. It was a long and rocky road to self-awareness. And if you’re in the back seat wondering “are we there, yet?” No. This journey is foreverrrr, so try to enjoy it as best you can even when it’s difficult and heart-wrenching.
It’s not for the first time that things are not so neat and tidy. My life has been shifting a lot over these past few years...but whose hasn’t?! The only difference is that this time around, I have taken what I have learned and put it to good use, to good juice...
Instead of jumping into a new job, I jumped into juice, and molded myself into slooow gear, which btw, is anything but low gear. It takes a lot of commitment and focus to slow down in order to breathe through fear and judgement. It’s all a bit exhausting - but in a beautiful, liberating way. It takes a lot of courage and faith to surrender to the benevolent forces at work, freeing yourself of dark forces – your own and others - and seeing them for what they are and nothing more. It’s then that those benevolent forces, those invisible miracles, shine a light on all that is truly working in your life. As those shiny bits of Light pile up, they straighten and strengthen Themis’ spine and despite the constant weight of the scales, we regain balance. Once again.
However you personally define bright forces, they are a source of balance, the line running between Darkness and Light, Reason and Emotion, Fear and Courage - the energy that enables us to see all sides of our lives, and keeps us from slipping into practices that are not so…benevolent to ourselves and others.
So now that it’s back to school a lot of people ask me – “what’s next?” “What are you going to do with your business?”
It’s taken me a while to find the answer – [two summers, in fact. Remember I’ve been in slow gear]. After the first summer in the field at the Lyme Farmers’ market and then the past six months at White Gate Farm, I finally know my answer…
Making juice for others was never about trying to make a little company into something big that could bottle it up and push it out the door on a massive scale. It’s never been about fast juice or a quick fix, and I have never wanted to run a bottled juice company because I feared that running the business would overwhelm the experience, and that I would lose the dialogue, the connection I had with the incredible people who find their juicy way to my juice stand every week.
Starting The Lyme Juice Company was never about making money - though admittedly that would have been nice. I realize, in hindsight that it was about making Meaning, taking the time to stop and pay attention and do my best to make sense out of my life and how I ended up juicing in a field filled with organic farmers and how their hard work and intelligence could be transformed into a liquid - a brightly colored, amazingly delicious, aroma-therapeutic message about Self-Care and Self-Love. Juice is just one of a million mindful choices we can make to strengthen self-awareness. I chose Juice. Or it chose me. and so it was that Juice became my practice and through my practice of making juice for others I grew in to a new life, the rhythm of service, and the vibration of a community.
I wasn’t the farmer, but I was taking my cue from their roots. As I was growing roots of my own, I met the most amazing people, strangers who became friends who, whether they knew it or not, were teachers, angels, mentors and guides helping me piece together my spirit and put my life back on to a steady track, straightened and strengthened, closer to the balance of Themis' scales.
For me, Juice is the Glue that takes the broken pieces and fits them together. It is nothing short of the way Love and Spirit weave a way through the ether, filling the spaces in between, carrying us all, our hearts and minds and bodies, reminding us that we are all one and we are all connected.
When people ask me what will I do now - I know the answer: I am going to keep working on the balance in my life. Now that it's back to school for my son, it's back to work for me as a communications consultant. Lyme Juice will continue its mission to work with local farmers bringing juice and its simple message of Self-Care out in to the community, popping up throughout the year at schools, senior homes, community events and private parties.
This past Saturday was my last day juicing at White Gate Farm. I will really miss being there, and it is from the bottom to the top of my juicy heart to yours, that I am writing to let you know how grateful and full of thanks I am for all the beautiful and kind “Juicy Peeps” who sat at the bar and enjoyed some fresh-pressed juice with me, straight from the heart of Lyme, CT and its amazing farmers.
It is with HUGE gratitude that I am sending out an extra-special thanks to Pauline Lord for inviting The Lyme Juice Company to grow roots on her beautiful White Gate Farm alongside the many beautiful things grown there by her strong and talented and caring team – Kent, Fred, Paco, Cory, Lesley, Amelia, Ramone, Laura, Wesley, Matt and David and Sophie too. It has been both a pleasure and an honor for my son Allott and I to work alongside this amazing crew and to move from winter, into spring, through summer, and to this day when the season now shifts to back-to-school. And the really good news is that it’s all feeling a bit more neat 'n tidy, just the way back-to-school should be.
I love you all. Please stay in touch. xxxGGG
ABOUT WHITE GATE FARM White Gate Farm specializes in fresh organic produce, poultry, eggs, and flowers. Situated in Southeastern Connecticut on 100 acres of lovely New England landscape, it is a great destination for shopping at our farm stand, visiting the animals and seeing a small family farm that above all values the health of its customers and the environment.