Metaphorically Brave

Even my coffee cup is dripping sweat. It’s a wool-heavy 97° in the shade, and the entire tray of ice cubes I plinked into my espresso have melted away. I see metaphor in this, but my four-year-old has started teetering out of her bedroom each day with a cheery “Good morning, I’m MELTING, can you put extra ice in my coffee?” so perhaps it’s time I found a new metaphor.

This coffee cup was a gift earlier this year from a soul sister who instinctively knows my brainwaves and heartbeats, and the message she painted on it could be my motto for the year if I could come to accept the poetry of it beneath the film of sweat. See, this prompt to muse, awake, and do brave things has taken on a very practical significance over the last couple of months. As the Emerson quote goes, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory,” but there is no such thing as a mere ounce of action when two work-from-home parents start pulling together a side business from scratch.

Rather, there is 1 a.m. and then 2 a.m. and then 3 a.m. for the fourteenth night in a row. There are heads pressed against desks, and it could be frustration or it could be prayer or it might just be good old-fashioned exhaustion. There is a mind-numbing amount of research, more study than I ever put into university midterms (and that was pre-motherhood!). There are a dozen moments in any given day when I catch myself reading over legal fine-print or double-checking prices or wading through PHP with a child hanging off each arm and think Who am I kidding?

Bootstrapping is like training for a marathon while you’re running it. It’s ridiculous and exhilarating and as emotional stabilizing as Tourette’s. It’s an enthusiastic brainstorm one moment followed by an overwhelmed slump the next, and hope has to take over in the absence of any guarantees. I know that some of you have gone through this too, so correct me if I’m wrong, but starting up a side business doesn’t feel brave so much as it feels… well, sweaty. We’re doing it though—ridiculous, spastic hope and all—and despite the exhaustion and constant perspective-swings, it’s been kind of fun. Especially this:

(Did you check out the site? We built it, Dan and I, mostly during late-late nights after our usual work was done and the girls in bed. By the grace of God, it does not appear to include any bleary references to will.i.am interviews or those hallucinatory kids’ shows that air after midnight.)

While we’re rooting on these gorgeous local olive wood sets to provide a new stream of income, I’m most excited to be sharing regular posts about the Italian style of home entertaining that has so influenced the structure of our days. (I rewrote that last sentence several times so it wouldn’t sound like our lives revolve around happy hour, which it doesn’t, except to the extent that we’re building a business around it and taste-testing twenty cocktails in one day, and I should probably stop explaining now.) Part of what we love so much about life here is the priority Italians place on sitting around a table together, investing in relationships and enjoying foods and drinks that are brilliant works of art in themselves, and both Dan and I are looking forward to passing along that tradition through Aperitì.

We slipped out for a two-day getaway at our favorite campground last week, and as I stood with a giddily nervous Sophie-girl at the edge of the pond, I reminded her what I believe about bravery—that it’s doing something even though it scares you. This child, who has never once agreed to enter a body of water deeper than her bikini bottom, dipped her toe in the pond, recoiled several feet, sat down, inched forward, adjusted her collection of floaties, peeked in the water, shut her eyes, opened them, shut them again, and finally, breathlessly, plunged in. I suppose that’s not too different from my own mental process this summer, and even though it might sound overly dramatic to call opening a small online store and accompanying blog brave, this might be just the new metaphor I need.


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  1. Oh girl, it IS brave! HUGELY brave!!! Good for you. 🙂 My guy and I are also building a side business with our goats, though it’s rather on hold a bit while we sort through the blizzard of paperwork that is my Aussie visa. And it is scary and daunting and thrilling and wonderful and it is so small to be such a big thing, but it IS a big thing. 🙂 Wishing you cooler temps and lots of ice as I huddle under my blanket and guzzle hot coffee to warm my bones. 🙂

  2. i love and miss you.

  3. Bethany! This is a BEAUTIFUL site, and endeavor. Congratulations! I haven’t looked at everything yet, but it looks so, so wonderful. All that work, late at night paid off. I hope it keeps paying off for years to come!

  4. Krista – All that–scary and daunting and thrilling and wonderful and so small but so big–YES! Thanks so much!

    Rain – What I wouldn’t give for another coffee date. GAH.

    Megsie – Thanks so much! It’s such a great feeling to finally be sharing it with the world.

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