Closed For Spiritual Maintenance

Sep 01, 2021
Photograph by Derick McKinney

Out with the old, tired ways of resisting, pushing back, forcing — and breathing in new, kinder, gentler, more expansive ways of being and doing life and biz

Farewell August. Welcome September. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about change and letting go — not only of seasons, but ways of being and navigating life (especially restaurant life). There is the sweetest, softest calm that embraces you when you release your grip and hold on lightly, do your best, smile — and trust. 

First off, before she is gone, I want to declare that I LOVED THIS SUMMER. 

She wasn’t her usual self (but who is). I didn’t do all the traditional fun summer things I did in years past, but I got in a few swims, I sat on my deck listening to the small stream below and breathing in the fresh air, the sounds of the birds, the scent of summer. I don’t have any grand vacations to report, but I did find a great deal of peace of mind in the stillness I created. #priceless 

And I’m actually realizing how very much we need that (which sounds quite obvious, but isn’t often implemented). Despite how we may try to dance around or avoid this — how we care for ourselves shows up everywhere; our relationships, jobs, overall sense of wellbeing and even on our plates. Yes, our plates. 

It helped me remember the core mission of the cafe — to provide organic, vegan love on every plate that nourishes not only our bodies, but our spirits. I care where the food is sourced, how it was grown, how it is handled when it arrives in our hands and how it lands on our plates. It all matters. 

I stand by that belief that our energy seeps into all that we do and create. It is felt, it is contagious, and it is powerful.

And in the spirit of that, I decided to do something that felt quite radical: I decided to close the restaurant for a week of vacation for everyone even though we are in the midst of arguably the busiest season. GASP…I know! 

Yep. Closed for spiritual maintenance. 

I think I’m growing up, even in my business. In summers past, I would never have considered taking “time outs” let alone time off between May and the end of September. Late spring, I’d go straight into ramp-up mode, hustling and bustling, and move right into all systems full steam ahead until the leaves fell from the trees in Fall. There was nothing in between and this routine was non-negotiable in my mind. Somehow I held onto this belief that summer operated on one setting; action-packed, energy-pumping adrenaline, at least in the restaurant biz. But life is negotiable, flexible, fluid...and as I have figured out…negotiable. 

In recent weeks, as I’ve contemplated my annual post summer vacation to the beach with my daughter, I started to think about my beloved staff who has shown up tirelessly this past year, and especially now during this very hectic time in our small town. They’ve always rallied around me, covered shifts and helped me get away, guarding this precious time for me. And they began to do the same this year, but something hit me. Why couldn’t we all take off a collective, well-deserved week? 

Something shifted in me this summer.

Despite the crowds, the staff shortages, my need to work more, ready to jump into various roles, product delays and a string of extremely hot days — I knew we would be OK no matter what. I let go of the way I always did things and the expectations that I held about what it should all look like. And the moment I started practicing this, I freed myself…truly. 

We’ve all had to navigate our lives in new ways this past year. All we can do is show up the best we know how. This new way of being almost became a game with me. When I shared this with my team, they too started to embrace this “come what may” attitude. We’ll show up. We’ll see what happens. We’ll figure it out. We’ll do the best we can.

What an awesome way to approach life! On days we were extremely busy, we just told customers the truth and they too enfolded into playing along with us. Collectively we all let go of resistance. We simply can’t control all outcomes anyway, there were things I couldn’t fix…so I stopped trying to. I no longer try to get blood from of a stone, but I might make stone soup (vegan of course!).

So, it’s official: we are closing from Tuesday September 7th thru Wednesday September 15th — back in action on Thursday September 16th.

Hopefully, I will be sun-kissed, reenergized and have made my way through the books piling up on my nightstand calling to me. May my staff feel nurtured, supported, rested and deeply appreciated. And even better, may you taste this goodness and love on your plates in the café upon our return. 

Remember to create spaces for your self-care. Ask yourself what you need and then make it happen. This beautiful gift will permeate all that you do. Imagine a world where we each did our part to care for ourselves, the planet and each other. Hmmmm. That sounds pretty good to me.

Blessings friends!

— Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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