Let’s begin with the Georgia State Fair. We need to start in the land of corn dogs and airbrushed tiger face paint because that fair, and my family, taught me a really important lesson that is helping to shape how I’m approaching myself and Brown Parcel Press in 2020.
The lesson involves my oldest daughter, Emolyn, and what’s known as THE SUPER FUN SLIDE. To set the stage, I’ll give you a brief description of the two main characters of this story:
Character 1: Emolyn is what my husband likes to call a walking hug. She is a tender hearted person whose strength comes in her ability to feel deeply inside her own heart as well as those around her. For example, one night she gave her dad a compliment on the mac n’ cheese he made. Immediately realizing that I was sitting next to her, and that I also sometimes make mac n’ cheese for the family she looked at me and reassured me that “she still loves mine but that she’s just really enjoying dad’s at the minute and that they’re both good, they’re just different.” I told her in no uncertain terms, that “dad’s mac n’ cheese is much better than mom’s and that’s a-ok— everyone is allowed to have different strengths”! Emolyn is a dreamer. She knows the meaning of the word hurry but is only able to move through daily activities like dressing or using the bathroom in first gear, even if she gives it her very best effort to shift to second. She loves imagining characters, other worlds, and melodramas inside those worlds with her sister by her side and a basket full of legos between them. She is not an outdoors girl (yet), and she can be very physically timid. She has never thought, even once, that swinging upside down from the monkey bars could be something “fun” to do, and it took her years to want to “jump down” from the 2 foot high brick wall outside of our local post office. I love every last little freckle on her face and every single quirk in her personality.
Character 2: The Super Fun Slide is exactly what it sounds like, a slide that is SUPER in every sense of the word, and fun. It is also, extremely big, and high, and fast. It is the kind of ride that you have to pay extra for at the state fair, the kind of ‘ride’ that has height limitations and the kind of ride that I thought Emolyn would never be interested in riding at the age of 7 by herself.
Despite all of that build up, the story is pretty simple. After hours of being at the fair, watching pigs race and pigs eat Oreos (in that order), playing some midway games, and going on a few smaller rides, Emolyn piped up that she wanted to do the ‘Super Fun Slide’. Because I had a lot of printing to catch up on that October day, I wasn’t actually with my kids and husband on this outing and since Gillian wasn’t big enough to go down this mega slide alone Emolyn ended up going down this huge slide by herself and had the time of her life.
The reason this moment has stayed with me so powerfully, and why i’m wanting to share it with you is this: this story has a carpe diem aspect to it, but that’s not the big take away from it. To me, the most wonderful element of this story is that Emolyn didn’t wait for someone to encourage her to go down that giant slide— she waited for her own voice to tell her that she was ready, and when it did, she didn’t explain herself she just leaned in and said, “WHEEEEEEE”!
Emolyn didn’t go down that slide because she knew that we would be proud of her for doing it, and she didn’t do it so that her dad would take a video of her, and she could show her friends later. She did it because she was actively living and listening to herself. I have spent a larger part of my life relying on external factors of approval to make me feel proud of myself, or even at times to make me feel that the business was successful. In 2019, I began chipping away at that mentality, and I realized that one of the fun parts of running your own business is that you get to help decide what your metrics for success are. You can decide that your business doesn’t need to look like anybody else’s, and that it’s ok that your cards don’t have witty sayings on them, because you’re not great at making up witty sayings. You can decide that you don’t want to have the most efficient packaging'/ shipping system ever because you really want everyone who opens up one of our packages to feel seen and considered, and that’s just hard to rush through.
In 2020, I hope that we grow in all kinds of ways, but mainly I hope that we’re able to listen to ourselves, lean in, and feel proud of crossing those SUPER FUN SLIDE thresholds in a way that feels right to us! We added a new team member, Katherine, half way through last year. Katherine was a dear friend before she came on board, and we’ve only grown closer since that time. She and mom and I are so excited to keep sharing what we create for you and we promise to pour ourselves into making work that always has connection at its core. Connection isn’t just our word of the year, it’s the thread that keeps us always pushing to work on projects that we put our heart into.