Discipline & Joy
“Discipline in its highest notion is not punishment or self-punishment. It is rather something seminal to the self. It is our foundation. It is our architecture. It gives us structure. It allows us to steer our energies and pull our wagon.”
Excerpt from Tim Challies’ blog post “The Joy of Self-Discipline”
“We don’t accomplish much in life apart from self-discipline. Discipline plays an especially important role in life’s difficult or full-out unpleasant tasks, in those things we know we ought to do but struggle to accomplish. We discipline ourselves to get exercise and lose weight. We discipline ourselves to update the family budget on a regular basis. We discipline ourselves to read instead of watch television or to get up early instead of sleep in. In so many areas we rely on discipline to help us complete our most difficult or least favorite tasks.
In general, we discipline ourselves to avoid the negative consequences of a lack of discipline. We know that we will suffer if we don’t exercise, if we don’t manage our finances, if we never crawl out of bed. If these things were pleasant, they wouldn’t require so much effort, right? We don’t need discipline to eat chocolate but to not eat chocolate. Discipline is associated with self-denial and it is not surprising, then, that it tends to have negative connotations.
But sometimes it really just comes down to how we frame it, because discipline is equally important when it comes to life’s pleasant tasks. We don’t just need to discipline ourselves away from unpleasantness but toward joy. Discipline allows us to picture desirable outcomes, to form a plan to get there, to take the necessary steps, and to experience the joys we long for. Discipline is good because discipline delivers joy.”
As I traveled to New Mexico over the holidays on a family road trip, I had the luxury of spending hours mulling over the topic for our annual New Year’s blog post. While themes such as transitioning (with all my children now out of the house) and connectedness (with us all jammed into a car and bantering about) made sense, I kept coming back to a combination of thoughts on discipline and joy.
I remembered one summer evening when my brother and I engaged in a conversation on joy, or, more accurately, how to create joy in your life. My brother, who has a tendency toward declarative statements, emphatically stated that there could be no joy in life without discipline. I argued that it was intention, not discipline, that was the key. He countered that intention is passive, while discipline can actively cultivate a habit of positive thoughts, which in turn leads to a sense of joy. While I generally disagreed with his philosophy, for it felt too regimented, I had to agree with it on some level. I filed it away. Over the years, I have pondered this idea further, and upon much reflection I’ve decided that he was right. And much to my children’s chagrin (especially my eldest) I used the hours crammed into the car to expound on this belief.
I thought Tim Challies captured the essence of this idea in his blog post. I find that my outlook is brighter on the days that I eat healthy meals, get more sleep, commit to my yoga practice or carve out time for a late afternoon coffee with a dear friend. These seemingly simple acts encourage naturally positive thoughts, which in turn lead to a sense of joy.
As I prepared our annual “year in review” I can see that it has been through our discipline that we have experienced tremendous growth. Our commitment to the season of Sunday mornings at the Chicago Botanic Gardens’ farmers market, demos in specialty food stores and hours of recipe testing have led to a deep satisfaction in the products and business we have created, and we now have the additional satisfaction of seeing that our hard work is starting to pay off.
So in this spirit I’m sharing the highlights of our year…
* Two Leadership awards for our employment model
* Becoming a Certified B Corporation
* Attaining Non-GMO certification
* Launching a vegetarian meal kit
* Launching two meal kits with Peapod on the East Coast
* Successfully transitioning to an international virtual office model
* Numerous press articles
* Transitioning all of our online fulfillment to Planet Access Company
* Launching a Zen kit with Packed with Purpose
* Adding a new Zen team member
* Expanding our retail distribution from 3 stores to over 50 stores
* Launching an in-store demo model
* Launching on Amazon
* Participation in a food investment fund
* Adding a new distributor
* Adding a regional broker
* Redesigning our packaging
* Growing our workforce to over 30 adults with developmental challenges
* Teaching three cooking classes to underserved populations
* Organizing a yoga/cooking class benefitting “Blessings in a Backpack”
* Organizing an Autism Awareness Campaign during the month of April
* Organizing a dinner on social enterprise/Conscious Capitalism in May
* Participating in a Congressional Hearing on entrepreneurism in November
And as usual we want to share our deep sense of gratitude to everyone who helped us along the way this past year.
Our Operations Manager, Amy, who after 3 years continues to approach her work with a sense of joy. Our new team member, Melinda, who has shared her joyful nature and helped us secure additional retail stores. Our regular contributor and friend Peggy for her tireless focus to securing both our Non-GMO and B Cert. Our designer, Linda, and photographer, Kerri, who continue to use their creative talents to bring our products to life. Our kitchen cabinet members, who continue to share their wisdom and guidance. Our new investment partner, Spiral Sun Ventures, for helping us move to the next level of growth. Pooja and Andy at B Corp who helped us move through that certification process, and David at SCS Global who helped us receive our Non-GMO certification. Our friends at Woodland Foods (Mark, Melissa and Jerry) who have tirelessly helped us grow. Our packaging partners at Planet Access Company (especially Jackie, Michael, Tim and Greg) who are working on fully integrating all of our products at their warehouse!
Our new friend, Michelle Calcagni, who is helping us craft business decks, dashboard…and all sorts of tools to help have a foundation for growth in the coming year. Joanne Levine has helped us gain national press. Our meal kit partner, Peapod, joined us in supporting Autism Awareness month. And a thank-you to our wholesale partners at large stores such as Whole Food Markets and Plum Market, and specialty stores such as Sunset Foods, Bizios and Hyde Park Produce.
And behind the scenes there are also our friends and family who test recipes, pack/unpack/repack the car with spices, and root for us daily.
So as we settle ourselves in for what appears likely to be another year of growth we are excited to partner with our friend Marcy Kirshenbaum who will help all of us start a year of health and wellness.
Finally, thanks to all of you for your continued support! We are truly grateful that you continue to share your stories and our slow cooking journey!
Happy New Year!
Zen Blog Update
After experimenting with different blog posting dates we have decided to go back to our original date by sharing our Zen recipes/insight on Wednesday. However, we’ve decided to make two important changes. Our first change is that we will be posting recipes 2x each month, not every week. Our second and more exciting change is our new found love of the Instant Pot. With that in mind, Jane will offer “quick cook” Instant Pot conversions when applicable. Some recipes such as Carolina Pulled Pork are much better when cooked over a long period of time. So please share our blog with all of your friends who are Instant Pot devotees.
When discipline is sown, like a good seed, it yields a harvest of things that fulfill and satisfy us–things that make us happy and release peace and joy in our lives.