The leaves are about to show you how beautiful it is to let things go. – Unknown
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I’ve hesitated to write about my experience in selling a company—one I grew over many years with my heart and soul. I’ve rewritten these sentences and subsequently deleted them a dozen times. It’s hard to put into words because letting go of something, even for meaningful objectives and outcomes, is painful, and I could never capture the full story here. But, today, PowerSheets Launch Day, deserves an attempt.
God led me to step away from entrepreneurship for specific and clear reasons, some of which I’m just beginning to see the fruit of—and some of which I may not see in my lifetime. Even with God’s constant reminders of “why” over the last year though, the grief of letting go remains.
It’s not easy to let go of something that was so much a part of me.
You see, Cultivate What Matters was a reflection of my whole heart: my love of connection, life-giving words, transformation, the colors in my garden (the growing ground for so much of what God has taught me), and living numbered days. I loved the joy, the metamorphosis in people’s lives, and the power of little-by-little steps that really did add up. I loved that I got to fail and learn (peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we). I loved helping people find healthy habits and discover that the small things really are the big things. I loved creating meaningful tools that guided me and many of you to focus on what is good, true, and lovely. I loved making beautiful things and watching my co-workers use their God-given gifts!
While there were daily challenges that refined me, that’s what cultivating does. It tills up the old and makes room for the new. Challenges change us for the better and make us more fruitful over time. It all grew me. Letting go of Cultivate meant letting go of living out my gifts in the ways I’d known for so long. It felt like a death. It was. In those early days, weeks, and months after Cultivate was acquired, I couldn’t bring myself to wear color, see flowers, or write about goals without pangs of grief. I couldn’t look at my shelves lined with Write the Word journals or see products with my handwriting.
God mercifully aligned those early weeks with the season of pulling all the plants out of our garden for winter. What a time it was: all this change and the loss of my dad in the same few weeks. The garden was a picture of life: it was time to let the ground lie fallow and step away from everything I knew to be “me.” I needed time to process and heal. I needed to hear from the Lord about my identity.
Who was I without this part of my life I knew for so many years?
Choosing a new path, or making a choice that requires great faith, is almost never easy. Maybe it’s hard to imagine living differently in your current circumstances. Maybe it’s a lingering decision that needs to be made or a lifestyle change for your health. Maybe it’s the new pursuit you’ve considered or a season of life that needs closing.
Or maybe you’re literally considering selling a business. Perhaps it seems impossible to find the right buyer – someone who will do things the way you would do them or someone who will understand your business at all. Maybe you’re worried you’ll disappoint people – many people – if you move forward. Maybe it’s hard to imagine what life would be like if you did find a fit. (Often, we’re more afraid of success than failure.)
Whatever it is specifically for you, what if doing the hard thing, taking a risk, or stepping into the unknown will change everything? What if giving something up will open space for something else—even if you have no idea what that is right now? That was me. I didn’t know what would come next. I just knew God wanted me to lay it down at His feet and trust Him.
As we’ve long known and explored together, something has to die before something new can grow.
Before a seed can sprout, it is placed in the ground. There in the dark, surrounded by the mess of the dirt, it begins soaking up nutrients that will eventually help it to sprout. The sprout breaks through the hard outer shell, leaves its protective covering behind, and presses through the dirt toward the light.
So, let’s talk about the box.
There are often encounters with grief that grow me—that bring my need for the Lord into the light. Since I no longer work at Cultivate, one of those was seeing the PowerSheets for the first time this year just a few weeks early, alongside affiliates and friends of the brand. The box arrived in the mail, and I couldn’t bring myself to go near it, much less open it.
It’s just paper, you say. Yes, and so are birth certificates and death certificates. In between my own birth and final days has been this book of dreams. To open the box was, in a way, to accept that they had moved on without me — which I realize was my bittersweet hope that they would. It’s hard to love and let go, but this is grief.
And so I let it sit by the front door for days. I’ve learned this year to listen to my body and give myself time to process, and I did, but the time came: I needed to open the box. I was going to see Emily for our bi-weekly walk, and wanted to be able to encourage her in all she had poured into the pages alongside the new Cultivate team for the first time without me.
I asked God to settle my heart and slowly let the scissors slice through the bright pink packing tape. Brown paper shifted, and I held my breath as I let my hands reach in to meet them.
Hello, familiar friend. Hello, pages I’ve poured my heart and soul into—and filled with my own messy handwriting, laying down hopes and dreams, and taking a thousand of my own little-by-little steps forward that, over time, led me here.
What a thought. My own PowerSheets guided me through a process of thinking big picture and taking small steps since I created them in 2012—and led me to this place, eventually, of letting go of them.
I let it all sink in momentarily as my hands brushed over the linen cover. I felt the indents of the font and letters that held a million stories.
A turned page after page, and with each, let out a breath of acceptance. I read words penned in prayer, refined over many years, familiar and true:
—Any day can be a fresh start.
—Naming what matters changes everything.
—We can’t do it all and do it all well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters.
—Reflection reaps rewards.
—Legacies start with one small seed.
—Little by little adds up.
—It’s okay to grow slow.
—You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go DO them.
And… it’s okay to let go of a dream.
That dream, I’ve come to see, was fulfilled.
While I no longer work at Cultivate or get the joy of connecting with you through these products and pages, I’m still a cultivator—over here growing good things in new places. Faithfully tending to life and health and little souls.
Sometimes we don’t know how the seeds we plant today will grow tomorrow, much less over a career or a lifetime. I certainly didn’t know I’d be here, ever-encouraged by words I wrote many years ago, today. What a thought. What a gift.
As I walked with Emily this week, I got to tell her what I discovered in this whole unboxing-of-my-soul experience: God makes good things grow out of hard things, and this year’s PowerSheets are the best yet. The changes brought an easy, seamless process that I can’t wait to dig into myself! There are so many new additions and tweaks I love—things I never thought of myself. For me, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to use the PowerSheets with truly fresh eyes, encountering each question without thoughts of changes for next year or launch logistics. It’s a new season of dreaming.
Ari told me this week that he thinks I am in the in-between.
“In between what?!” I protested. He went on: “We have such a limited view. Imagine a pie chart with a tiny little sliver and another slightly-larger-but-still-tiny sliver cut out, both collectively taking up just 1% of the pie. The tiniest sliver is what we know, and the slightly-larger-but-still-super-small piece is what we know we do not know, and the rest is what we don’t know we don’t know.”
Every single step forward in selling a company was a step of faith towards something I did not know. It still feels that way most days as I navigate this second-half-of-life journey. I just knew, deep in my roots, that I was supposed to let go and make room.
I’ll be right there with you this year as you open up your own PowerSheets and uncover what matters most in your season and stage of life—perhaps as you consider letting something go or starting something new. I’ll be writing in full color on my Crocus-covered pages. (Yes, I own nothing purple in my life, but a cover named for the first flower of spring that presses bravely through ice and snow felt apropos for my season of life.)
Soon as the frost will get out of my bed,
From this cold dungeon to free me,
I will peer up with my little bright head,
And all will be joyful to see me.
Then from my heart will young petals diverge,
As rays of the sun from their focus;
I from the darkness of earth shall emerge,
A happy and beautiful Crocus!
Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower,
This little lesson may borrow,
Patient today, through its gloomiest hour,
We come out the brighter tomorrow.
~ Hannah F. Gould
With the Lord’s tender mercy and lovingkindness as our fertilizer, in His perfect ways and seasons, indeed we do.
This last year has been a time of being transformed under the surface. Getting through the one-year anniversary of my dad‘s passing in August was a milestone. I kept imagining what Dad would say to me on that day:
Play. Be creative. The life that is truly life is very real– I’m living it! Go and live like that’s true yourself, Lara. Your gifts and talents matter because they sing to the world to come, taste, and see that the Lord is good!
Friends, I didn’t know what the last year would be like, mingled together with the acute pain of walking my dad home and my health journey. Selling a company you grew from the ground up is an excruciatingly difficult blessing—a journey more complex than I can share in a simple blog post. But, letting go, as it turns out, has many gifts, namely, to get us to trust in something bigger than us.
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