Placing our Intention

It has been a good year for LocalHarvest. Over three million different people used the site to find local farms! Buying local is gaining critical mass. We are grateful to all of you for spreading the word about this site. Over 2500 new farms and farmers markets created listings in our national directory this year. Catalog sales were up too, allowing us to breathe easier financially. We integrated street-level maps and made other needed improvements to our mapping software, which makes us very happy. Most gratifying, we received a great deal of encouragement and positive feedback from farmers and people like you who use the site.

It would be so nice to look at all of this with contentment. But as always at this time of year, I am nosing around for what's next. With New Year's approach, I find myself longing for reflection, resolutions, and a concrete plan for the future. I get it bad. It's visceral.

There are a hundred projects I would like LocalHarvest to take on, and a hundred more I would like to do around my house, with my family, and as an individual. The sad truth is that if 2008 is anything like years past, I won't get to many of them. It turns out that the New Year's urge to do more and be more sometimes highlights all that I do not do.

I am terribly distractible. Between keeping up with email, phone calls, and my basic responsibilities (which include caring for a toddler with a penchant for houseplants), the days sometimes pass in a blur. The thing is, I know that if I put my mind to it, I could get important things done and be more kind. And I know the world needs all of us to get important things done and be more kind.

The only way I know how to move in this direction is by being more intentional in my actions. This is my resolution for 2008. For me, nothing much happens without a direct, thoughtful intention. That intent has to be stated in full sentences to myself at the beginning of each day. If not, the baby cries and I get up and run on autopilot all day, never really stopping to be thoughtful. I do not grow or change on autopilot. Worse, I mess things up. I say 'no' when I could have said 'yes.' I forget to say thank you. I fail to think about new possibilities. But I have been experimenting this fall, and I have learned something about myself. If I spend two minutes thinking about what kind of day I want to have and where I want to put my attention, the odds are good that I will actually do it. It is so simple and so reliable. So why don't I always remember to do it?

The pull of distractions is great. There are a thousand sparkling kinds, and they all buffer us from things we would rather not deal with or feel. It takes a lot of will to be thoughtful about what kind of lives we want to live, what work needs to be done, and what kind of people we want to be.

Distraction dissipates our energy; intention harnesses it. That harnessed, thoughtful energy, and its tendency to spread goodness around our lives, is something worthy of our trust and our hope. And it is certainly something worthy of our efforts in the coming New Year.

Back to the December 2007 Newsletter