When I ventured into starting my first company (a therapeutic riding center in Las Vegas) back in 2007, I was navigating uncharted waters for sure. Though I had been involved and working in the equine industry for some time, and had years of training and experience in working with individuals with varying abilities, I had no experience with starting a business. I was open to any and all advice and guidance I could get my hands on.
When I think back to what was most helpful though, it was a piece of advice I received from Shannon Knapp of Horse Sense of the Carolinas. It had nothing to do with logistics or legal matters. This advice addressed my mindset. It was what made it possible to keep going after I encountered what would be many challenges and obstacles on my road to serving those who needed it most with help from my equine companions. Her advice was to start an Undespair File.
At the time, mine was a literal file folder which I still to this day drop in any notes of encouragement, gratitude, and well wishes I receive which help to shine a light on my path when it gets too dark to see clearly. I now also have a more updated version of my Undespair File which I drag and drop screenshots, emails, and the like.
In the beginning, my folder was filled mostly with notes from my mom. I still have the first fax transaction I ever made from my new office to ensure I knew how to work the machine.
I added notes from parents who I’m sure have no idea just how much a single line of gratitude meant to me, and continues to carry me through rough spots.
But there was one note I found particularly touching because it was written by one of my students who had no intention of me ever reading it. In fact, her mom quietly passed it to me when I picked her up for a lesson one day. She had a school assignment to write about her most memorable teacher. And she chose me. Me. That still stirs in me such honor.
Let’s pause here to acknowledge a teenager’s flair for expressive and dramatic language. Particularly the phrase “beat it into me”, which I will translate for you to “would not allow the request to be met, or conversation to continue until I expressed either affable civility and/or gratitude”. There is this other bit about “not to wear my heart on my sleeve” which I will speak to in another post. I say wear that heart out proudly on your sleeve! Even when it needs to be patched back on at times. But the big message here is that this is a beautiful reminder that you never know what encouraging words, simple note, smile, or hug someone will find strength in. We all have the power to affect eternity.
I encourage everyone to start their own Undespair File today! You don’t need to be on the verge of a major life transition and you don’t need to be beginning a new path to need a little Undespair. Look, life is hard. But along the way we meet so many beautiful souls who make it all worthwhile. Holding onto these reminders and being able to tap into the good in the world when I need it most has been absolutely essential for me to persevere, and I want you to be able to access all the good in your world too! You can consider this your first bit of Undespair from me, to YOU…
What will you put in your Undespair File? What encouraging words can you send to someone who is struggling? Here are a few actionable steps you can take today to fill the world with hope. Now and in the future.
With love & support for your journey,