I’m doing some slow, (currently) bumbling work around deconstructing Little Red Tarot and looking at how it can embody feminist, anticapitalist and anti-oppressive principles. It’s taking time. That’s right and good – it’s deep, slow work – but it’s helpful for me to brain-dump from time to time. So this My Business is a Garden tag is where I’m doing that. If you read these pieces, please take them as in-progress ramblings rather than conclusions or statements.
The first post is here: My business is a garden, not a line.
This year, I’m spending a lot of my ‘work time’ visioning.
Going back to the foundations of Little Red Tarot, looking at what works, what doesn’t, and what I can tweak, shed, develop or reinvent.
My business is comprised of a few key elements – a shop, a blog and its community, and two courses – which differ from each other wildly in terms of how they are structured, served and worked in/with. There’s a heck of a lot to reimagine, and all of this is taking place through the lens of intersectional feminism. Looking for and trying out new ways of being in business, of being a human in a community, of being part of an economy, a trade of energy, and how these can be situated within a feminist framework, prioritising equality, love and justice over mindless profit and power for individuals.
My desk is littered with mind-maps, lists, annotated journal entries, poems, postcards, torn-out filofax pages and post-it notes. My digital desktop is a chaos of half-written blog posts, diagrams and the beginnings of emails to collaborators, mentors and friends.
The work is about my business, but it is forcing me to confront the deeply embedded stories I carry about worth, self-worth, showing up, leadership, accountability, social justice, and my relationship with my environment – both tangible and spiritual. Each piece of my business that I break open breaks open a little part of myself, as I unlearn the patterns I’ve received from capitalism and patriarchy.
It’s slow, challenging, intriguing, heartbreaking…and deeply enjoyable.
I have so much to write about the work I’m doing, yet when I sit down to share here on the blog – a practice I value dearly and that has helped me be a more transparent, vulnerable and real business owner in the past – I find myself stuck. Writing is my comfort-zone, a space in which I’ve always found myself able to give shape and meaning to the wonderful, swirling mess in my heart and mind. But this time… agh. The words are slow to come, if they come at all.
There’s so much feeling to do first. And so much that is emerging each week, each day. I know that I have to do this big sifting process to leave me with a few small, valuable jewels with which to craft the next era of my business…but before I can sift, I have to gather everything together.
That’s what the mess on my physical and digital desks is. It’s the stuff coming together, so that soon (hopefully) I can begin to sift.
Among many mentors, I’m currently leaning on the work of feminist business coach Jennifer Armbrust. Jenn’s Proposals for the Feminine Economy in particular is a guiding light in this confusing time. It’s a simple diagram that is essentially a circular list of values that can be embedded into the structure of my business (or of any business) to bring about a more feminist-aligned way of working and being in business.
This morning I sat out in the sunshine and worked through each of Jennifer’s principles, free-writing beneath each one with the feelings, connotations and ideas that came to me as I sat with each word.
At the top of the circle is “Abundance Consciousness”.
Abundance to me is a reciprocal spiritual experience, a trade of energy for energy, in a flow that is ever-present. I show up, and in doing so I am giving of myself. In turn, I am nourished by this, I am witnessed and receive support from tangible and intangible sources. When entire teams or communities show up, nourishment flows laterally, rhizomatically, in web-like networks between people. The reciprocal flow is the trade of my energy for that which I receive; the more I am myself, the more I show up just as I am, the more I am nourished. In this way, there is always enough. When I feel, deep down, that I am enough, that I have something to offer, that I am worthy of nourishment and can find nourishment, I am better able to show up in this world and give more of myself.
It is a feeling/knowing: I have enough. There is enough. I am enough.
Where I see lack in my life, I can act to create solutions – and this creative process itself feels abundant, reminding me of my own resourcefulness. Other things I lack I can find in the community around me. I have goods, skills, resources I can trade with others. Other times I may enquire into the sensation of lack and find it is false.
Abundance can be an economy in itself. Where capitalism is an economy built on scarcity, lack and need, an abundant economy can serve and trade in loving, conscious goods and services, and that trade is a kind of energetic flow, abundance being passed from person to person.
We are talking of abundance as a consciousness, an experience, a spiritual knowing, generated from within – both for individuals and communities and relationships. Does abundance also need to be a tangible reality? Sometimes life is very simply not abundant. Sometimes we do not have what we need, nor the means to create it. Sometimes there is literally not enough money, or time, or space. What is the limit of abundance consciousness here? What role does privilege play in this, how much does my privilege/lack of inform the level of abundance I can experience in relation to others? I get that abundance consciousness is created within ourselves, but how do we consistently feel that when our basic material needs are not met (because of the way society is organised), despite our efforts?
So I’m straddling this space between the inner work of abundance consciousness, and the outer material realities that make it easier for me to experience this consciousness.
And wondering: isn’t talk of ‘cultivating abundance consciousness’ a form of spiritual bypass?
I don’t think so. And I don’t feel so. (Though I see that it absolutely can be and I’ve seen the word ‘abundance’ bandied around in thoughtless ways.)
It is not for me to decide whether or not a materially-poor person feels abundant in their life. It is not for me to measure my own spiritual richness against someone with access to more resources, or less. What can I know about that?
In my currently-immature understanding, I find I’m better able to experience a sense of abundance when it is reflected in my environment. Having a stable home the past nine months has done wonders for my abundance consciousness! So did the moment when I realised my business had moved from scraping by on a shoestring to ‘whoa – this is generating an actual living!’ The blossom on the May trees, the garden filled with swallows, the long hot early summer days and the wildflowers blooming in succession are all offering me very tangible, nature-rooted symbols of abundance.
Where is my consciousness when these things are not present? Just 18 months ago I found myself in a year-long depressive episode. I didn’t feel that I owned my own life, I didn’t feel I had choices, I didn’t have a home that was really mine. I felt anything but abundant. Yet I am spiritually the same person – growing, of course, but the same person, the same essence.
I have a long way to go.
I’ve seen business owners work from a place of lack consciousness – and for the first years of my business I was often in this space. Not enough time, not enough space, not enough resources, not enough clients. It’s a space that drives us to capitalist behaviours – not least ignoring the very real needs of our bodies, and failing to make heartfelt decisions – and it feels unhealthy, sort of …plastic.
So – how do I imbue my work and business with abundance consciousness?
How do I make it possible for myself and all who are in contact with my work to experience this kind of nourishment? What is ‘enough’ anyway? Where does pricing fit with all of this? And where is the line between ensuring I personally am sustained and nourished by my work, and ensuring it is accessible? What creative methods might I experiment with to allow for both realities?
Some initial ideas:
Fair pay (of course). Not looking to the minimum, but to real compensation for the time and energy people put into Little Red Tarot projects. I don’t barter down the artists whose wares I retail so I can pass on cheaper prices to customers – instead, the prices of goods in my store reflect the price of everybody getting paid fairly – including artists, creators, myself and Hele, our shop assistant. Writers need fair pay for the diverse and brilliant articles they share on the blog. Tango must receive a reliable, nourishing wage for the commitment and growing experience she brings to Little Red Tarot, and that we rely on so much. The price of accessing paid-for parts of my business must allow for this nourishment. Capitalism advocates a race to the bottom, the lowest prices, the lowest wages, with a goal of ever-increasing profits for the very few at the top, but there are other ways, and other forms of nourishment.
Spaciousness. Whilst a quick turnaround is helpful for some types of project, I’m learning to allow much more breathing space for the new branches of my work to take shape. A big project I’m currently working on (an online community space) is growing richer and stronger foundations because I recently decided to slow everything right down and launch far later than I originally planned. The decision feels like a deep breath of air. It honours the energy of the project and allows for organic, soulful growth at its own pace. In allowing this space and time I’m able to really explore the nuances of what I’m creating, I’m able to have meaningful and thoughtful conversations with Tango, and we’re both able to bring this foundational work forth with care and ease. Though on paper less is happening, what is happening is richer, and feels more abundant because it has plenty of space.
Compassionate prioritising. I’ve spent years putting work above all the other things I love in my life. For the best part of five years, Little Red Tarot came above time in nature, exercise, cooking good food, seeing friends, even spending quality downtime with my love. I ended up with shoulder pains I’m still working to undo and a coffee habit that needs attention. It’s easy to become subsumed by a new or young business (or a mature business, I’m sure) – but in doing so, I’ve found I lose that sense of enough-ness, of abundance and flow.
Instead of fitting my life around my business, in the gaps I allow myself between the all-important work, an abundance conscious might look like fitting our businesses around our lives. Personally, I’m finding that it’s uncomfortably difficult to come back to my self in this way, and ask myself: what am I into? What do I love doing? What does my idea life look like? What is abundance, spaciousness, nourishment? I face fears that I’ve almost forgotten who I am in my soul. But I know that she is there, and that through compassionate planning, though abundance consciousness, I am welcoming her back.
After so long over-identifying with Little Red Tarot (in a way I think most new business owners kinda naturally do), it takes a big stretch of consciousness to step out of ‘I am this business and must always be working and serving or it will dry up’ and into ‘this business is something I lovingly create to support myself (and others, all of us) in leading the life I (they, we) love’. I feel like this switch in consciousness is the keystone in a sustainable, abundant-feeling business: it needs to be structured around providing nourishment – to all who connect with it.
Symptoms of abundance consciousness
My experience of abundance consciousness (with or without a matching material reality) is that it produces the following beautiful symptoms: Generosity, Ease, Resourcefulness and Gratitude (…all of which also appear as proposals in Jennifer’s diagram.)
When I feel supported and nourished, when I know in my bones that I have enough, that I am enough, that there is enough time, enough space, enough energy – I’m able to show up more for others, I have a sense of having enough to share. I donate, I sponsor, I volunteer. I take time off to serve friends in need. I care for the plants in my garden. And when our whole communities are nourished, fed, housed, filled with honesty and ease, we can work together, collaborating to transform society. I want my business to be a space where everyone feels they are receiving care and nourishment – readers, customers, students, writers, the team, and I.
Practicing gratitude creates a cycle. When we are consciously grateful for what we have, we feel richer. Cultivating gratitude leads to a greater sense of abundance, which leads to more gratitude. This is a beautiful thing and it works no matter how much or how little we have.
When I know that I am enough, I get creative. I become more aware of the powers I have to shape and change my world. I become more resourceful, I look to what I have available and use these tools to create.
What I’m most excited about is the abundance we create in the margins. I’m specifically excited about a shift of consciousness from lack to abundance when our communities grow stronger, when we give and receive support and care, when we commit to uplifting others alongside ourselves. Queer folks, people of colour, people with disabilities and others who are sidelined in the mainstream, capitalist economy are building new and beautiful spaces where we can be real, where we can expand, where we can give and receive. I want my business and my work to be part of this new economy, this new space of exchange.
I earnestly want to create a space in which the core message is ‘you are enough’. I want the spaces I create to demonstrate abundance through this message, encouraging each visitor or member to experience a sense of abundance, and through this, generosity, resourcefulness, ease and gratitude.
I want wherever possible for Little Red Tarot and the future community to help people feel more abundant. So that each of us will show up more. So that each of us will share more. So that we can keep that joyful economy, that energetic trade flowing.
This, for me, is what abundance looks like – both as a consciousness and as a tangible reality.