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A quick look back, before moving forwards

I'm not a big self-promoter.

Growing up my older brother took his middle name Emmanuel to heart. He thought because it meant "God be with us" that he was the god, and the "us" should be paying homage to him. That may have worked with a lot of people in his life, but with me, not so much.

It's not that I'm "hiding my light under a bushel", but I think there's a middle ground, where you know your strengths, and are proud of the work that you do, but you let that work speak for you.

One of the things that lives rent free in my head, is my Dad saying, "If you have to tell people you are, you ain't"

Sadly, that doesn't stop a lot of people from crowing about their mediocrity while I've generally kept schtum and kept working. I'm not big on resting on my laurels either. You're only as good as your last miracle, and there's nothing more off-putting than those reliving a storied past. That guy, still recalling his successful Hail Mary pass that won the game in 1982. That may have been great then, but as Janet Jackson asked , "What have you done for me lately."

But in continually working, and developing and creating the next, I really hadn't had a chance to consider my accomplishments over the last year, until I wrote the annual Christmas Catchup letter I insert in our Christmas cards each year. And I have to say, in reviewing my calendar, I was really stunned by everything I did over the last year. To be honest, some of it was a bit of a blur because I was juggling so many things, and between January and June it was hammer and tong, full throttle for months on end.

That taught me a lot about ability and limits, and even if I don't clearly remember all of the prep, the reading, and the tours, I do remember the focus and commitment it took to get it all done. And that was a lesson. I won't soon forget.

So what did I accomplish?

  • Six months of participation in a Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance Study group which I learned a lot about the cooperative movement, (despite some of the participants not being particularly good at cooperating)

  • I prepped and hosted six tours as part of Painted Bride's Wild Foods from Sovereign Lands series, where we talked about wild edible and medicinal plants growing both intentionally and wild in the gardens of our community partners

  • I became a vendor for the Free Library of Philadelphia and hosted a number of tours with several branches of the library

  • I was invited to participate in the filming of a pilot for a show Forage

  • I collaborated with Bartram's Garden and hosted three workshops and a Juneteenth foraging walk with them

  • I hosted tours for Wild Foodies of Philly

  • I hosted a foraging/historical tour of the Centennial district as part of Philly Mural Arts "Getting to Green" campaign

  • i cohosted a salve-making and bee hive tour with Half Mad Honey

  • And I cohosted a deep dive talk about Mugwort at Iglesias Gardens

I list those things less as a "big up to myself" and more of a "Wow, I did all that, on top of my 9-5 that and lived to tell the tale."

Nobody goes into foraging for fame and fortune. For me it's always been some weird compulsion to find out what that plant does, finessing my ID skills, and hopefully sharing a passion, I hope will inspire others.

So before we call time on 2023, I encourage you to review your year, and consider all of the things you've accomplished in the last 12 months. In times of self doubt, nothing provides concrete proof that you can do it, like a historical record that you have done it and sometimes we all need to be reminded that we are capable. It's also important when you're learning a new skill or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, to review how far you've come. In a world that isn't au fait with patience, where so many people give up at the first hurdle, evidence that supports the benefits of study, practice and perseverance, and illustrates how they pay off, may be just what you need to tackle that next project with confidence.

It's not arrogant to take a minute to be proud of what you've done and to be inspired to begin the next phase. Because while it's great to celebrate the holidays, your family traditions, and your faith, it is also wonderful and necessary to celebrate the miracle of you; all that you are right this very minute, as we stand on the cusp of the next big adventure. So take a minute to breathe and to appreciate how far you've come.

And remember although there are rules about excessive celebration, even the NFL understands the need for a little happy dance in the end zone.


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