When you expect great and get excellent

Apr 17, 2023

You know that feeling when some place you've dreamed of visiting is even better than you anticipated? That just happened.

Many years ago I attended a retreat for women at a church in Richmond. Glennon Doyle was the keynote before she was even well known. Amazing, as were all the other speakers. One of whom was Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms. 

Becca is an Episcopal priest whose ministry involved founding Thistle Farm 25 years ago, a residential center for women who had been trafficked, abused, addicted. To support their efforts they run a cafe and a store (online option too) where the women create, bake, cook, and work. Last year they earned $12.5 million dollars in sales and donations. This is a thriving business. 

Becca considers herself a farmer, one who provides fertile soil for women to thrive, women who had previously lived in soil absent of all nutrients.

While visiting my daughter in Nashville last week I carved out time to have lunch there. Something I have dreamed about doing for over 6 years. The shop is tiny and perfect and filled with excellence. I delighted in filling my bag and watching my fellow shoppers be welcomed and celebrated and loved. The cafe food was delicious and the joy among the employees was moving. The music they played was filled with my favorites - Patti and Tiff and Nancy...

I literally felt like I was in the perfect place, at the perfect moment, enjoying the perfect experience. 

Once my soup, tea, and scone were served by the most lovely young twenty something I started saying grace and then I just started crying. I cried to think that the woman who just served my food is the age of my daughters and has probably lived a very different life from my daughters. But today she is sober and free and safe. I cried in gratitude. I cried to feel so emotionally full and present. This was far more moving than I had anticipated. I was among excellence, dignified people, a mission that is thriving, and fellow cafe eaters who were laughing and smiling and communing. 

I sat below hundreds of tea cups that each represent a survivor's story. 
There were no paper products. No short cuts were taken.
I ate and sipped from gorgeous pottery. 
The tables were beautifully crafted. 
The furniture was lovely. 
This was a place that pays attention to detail, especially the detail of the dignity of each human they serve, they support, they employee. 

Hospitality and generosity are two of my core values.
To experience both in this setting had a profound impact on me.

The quality of the food, flowers, decor, shop products was nothing short of excellent.
Just like the people who surrounded me.

I left with new jewelry and new books. 
But really I left with a mission to make sure the impact I have in this world creates the warmth and stirring that I felt in that beautiful building. 

I believe strongly in the power of one's surroundings when one is elevating.
If you are feeling stuck and ready to make some changes, be very intentional about the people who surround you, the information you consume, the music you listen to, the food you eat, the tiny touches you can add to your space that create flutters in your heart. 

You do not need one extra dollar to surround yourself with inspiration. 
You just need awareness and to know that you are deeply loved and capable of so very much. 
Your elevation is not just possible, it's inevitable if you place yourself in fertile soil. 

YOU: Elevated launched today.
It is not an accident I just experienced Thistle Farm a few days before today's launch.
I will now try to embody a tiny bit of Becca and consider myself a farmer, an organizer of community, and a hostess. 
I am not providing soil to the malnourished. But I am providing extra nutrients and fertilizer to help short cut their elevation. 

I will continue to dedicate myself to creating opportunities for women to connect, thrive, and experience each others joy and support ... all in the name of elevating.  This is my calling. 

Here's to your elevation. 
Now, I'm off to sip some tea harvested from women who now own their own land, employee hundreds and can send their children to school without worry of uniform expense. 

What can you tweak in your surroundings this week to encourage elevation? 

We rise by lifting others,

P.S. I am not exaggerating when I say their products are excellent - candles, creams, sprays, bath salts, etc... Great for Easter or Mothers Day or just to uplevel your space and remind you of the power you hold to positively impact another's life.

P.P.S Below are the teacups on the ceiling and their motto above a side entrance: Love Heals