How does faith help a new school like Nova go from an idea to a brick and mortar high school?
The first two definitions in the dictionary include: 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
This question has permeated my life at many crossroads. I have been lucky to be filled with faith at times when I had no tangible reason to. This is the story of one such instance and how it fueled my confidence in co-founding Nova High with two other women who have carried their own faith in this project over the last year.
Many years ago, I had a dream. My partner Jesse and I were entrepreneurs. Well, we wanted to be. We talked for years about ideas and businesses we could imagine starting. We had lived in Bellingham, WA, Carbondale, CO, and then Freeport, Maine. The tiny spark we carried across the whole country grew into a flame in Maine. I still don’t know where these sparks come from, but they cannot be ignored.
In Freeport, Maine we both had jobs. I was teaching at the Waldorf school and Jesse was writing grants for a local non-profit. We had narrowed down our ideas to starting a Waldorf-inspired toy store or a juice bar. We loved cold-pressed juice and were both very knowledgeable in the health food space. We had zero business experience. We had no money. We had four kids with our 5th on the way. In all reality, we were the last people who should have been thinking about starting a business.
That didn’t stop us. We did some market research and decided the juice bar would be the smartest choice because there already was a toy store in Freeport, but there was no juice or smoothie shop. Having no competition felt important.
There were two pivotal moments that happened during our planning phase that gave us the green light from the universe to move forward and it had nothing to do with money.
First, we decided to attend a free business 101 class in Portland, Maine. It was meant for people who had an idea and needed support in understanding the steps it takes to start a business. They offered free business mentors and a variety of classes. This was the only class we would ever take there but it was the only one that mattered. That night Jesse and I listened to the other attendees’ ideas and realized we had a really great concept and discovered we could probably pull it off. This was the moment Jesse saw viability in our idea.
Now back to the question of Faith. The second pivotal moment came when intuition and sheer will crashed together to produce a very big wink from the universe. Doing anything new requires some amount of faith. Faith in yourself. Belief that the impossible is possible without having proof that it is. Knowing that what does not yet exist can come into existence even when there is no reason, fact, or knowledge that the idea is even possible. In this instance faith was a deep knowing. The voice inside me was quiet at first but slowly grew louder until it was not only a roar but in fact the universe said your wish is my command.
This is what happened:
I had been scouting empty commercial spaces around Freeport. In the center of town was an obvious location for a potential juice bar, it had previously been a Jamba Juice, however it lacked charm. It didn’t call me. One day I was walking up a side street, a one-way side street and I spotted a small building. It was a Chowder House. It had been there for 20 years or more. The first time I saw it I stood on the sidewalk peering through the window and I knew. I just knew. This was the perfect space for a juice bar. It was just off the main street, which was perfect for the locals, but accessible for the tourists. It was 550 sqft. From the moment I stood there on the street I just knew the Chowder House would go out of business because this was the only space for our business. I wasn't wishing them to go out of business, but I somehow deeply knew this was our location.
I don’t ever remember having such deep faith in anything like that before. You can ask my friends and family. I went home and said it would go out of business, it was the only place in town, and it was our place. I received laughs. I was shrugged at. But I had a deep knowing. Faith.
Well guess what? Within one month, sure enough, there was a for lease sign on the window. It still baffles me today. We toured the building and didn’t end up applying for a lease until four months later, but we got it. We got the lease with no money, no equipment, no business background, and no recipes. We had a name and a dream. We built an entire brick and mortar business from a name and a dream.
We called it Wanderlust Juicery. Our kids and close friends worked tirelessly to help us open the doors to our shop and supported us all along the way. Faith, family, and friends enabled us to be successful through Covid, eventually selling it after moving to Idaho, which allowed us to buy our dream house in Hope, Idaho.
However, it wasn’t just having faith. It wasn’t just having a dream. It was a combination of the two and grit, determination, refusal to fail, time, time, time, more time, and commitment. These are the qualities I bring to the ideas the universe gifts me with. To the sparks. I fan the flame and as the fire grows and the light expands, I hold space for the creation of new things. This is what Nova is, it’s new, it’s full of light, and it is coming. Natalie, Jessica and I have built this school from nothing, from an idea, from hope, from all of our dreams. For the students who need something different, something new. A school where they can be free to think and learn and grow.
So, I say, have faith. And if you can’t find faith it's okay, I promise to hold onto enough faith for us all until you too have a flame that fills the night sky with possibility.
"We must eradicate root and branch any fear and dread in our soul concerning the future that is coming towards us... We must develop composure with regard to all the feelings and sensations we have about the future; we must anticipate with absolute equanimity whatever may be coming towards us, thinking only that whatever it may be will be brought to us by the wisdom-filled guidance of the universe." ~ Rudolf Steiner