What’s in your ‘mental’ garden?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

It’ springtime here in Carolina and my herb garden and surrounding plants are starting to strut their stuff. While I probably don’t take as much time away from the oven or the keyboard as I should, I do enjoy looking at the plants up close as they begin to transform themselves without the least bit of help from me. Some things we’ve planted have died, while others keep coming back year after year.

We prune things back a bit, move some around from time to time, and sometimes we try new things, giving them room to grow. I’m thinking the same rules should apply to things called ‘ideas’ that we plant in the garden of our mind.

An idea, like a flower or an herb, is really an amazing thing. Some provide wonderful health benefits. Some are just pretty to watch. And some are harmful and should be avoided (i.e. I won’t be growing any poison ivy in my garden). If we expect to have a bountiful garden, then we have to take the time to plant and nurture those ideas that are helpful, and give them room to grow. And when things don’t work out, we have to set aside our fears, take out the pruning shears and get to work.

It is okay for different people to have different types of gardens. I watched an interview recently with Elizabeth Gilbert, the best selling author of the book, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. She spoke of her mother and how she planted a ‘Depression Era’ garden where everything had a purpose and a place. Her garden on the other hand, was one she described as having ‘indefensible beauty’.

Having a business like Anna’s Gourmet Goodies has provided me the opportunity to cultivate my mental garden with all kinds of ideas. (Thankfully, Debbie has learned to tolerate my cultivation habits). Some have worked, while others have wilted, but I try to actively tend to the things I plant.

I was at a networking event the other night and someone asked me about our business, how we were doing in this economy, and what ideas I was working on. It made me think for a moment of Elizabeth’s quote about indefensible beauty.

In our last newsletter, we included a note and a special offer to help us send cookies to raise money for Annalise Pelton as a part of a St. Baldrick’s Event. Some of you responded, and we sent up a large bucket to be auctioned, along with some packages made special with her picture and logo. We posted a photo of her angelic smile on our Facebook page. Priceless.

About a week later, Annalise finally lost her battle with cancer.

The memory of that photo, the idea that maybe, for a brief moment, what we do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies made this little girl smile, is one that I’ll be tending in my mental garden for the rest of my days. I may not always tell this story when someone asks about our business because it is sometimes difficult to share, but you can be sure that it is well rooted in my mental garden.

We’ve been working on some new ideas in the bakery for gluten free products. It’s early in the process, but there is a possibility that we may have a product some day. When my neighbor, who suffers from a severe gluten allergy, tasted the cookie for the first time, it actually brought a tear to her eyes. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had something this good?”

The idea that our cookies make people happy is not some clever marketing idea, it is the foundation of what we do. And when I take time to cultivate new ideas in my mental garden, I’ll do so with the idea of creating indefensible happiness among our customers. Now that’s an idea worth nurturing.

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