by David Howitt
To the typical “left-brain” thinker, my wife, Heather, would not be considered the type to build, let alone sell, a successful business. She does not have an advanced business degree, and she doesn’t access her analytical, business side as much as she does her creative side. When she began to develop Oregon Chai, I still believed the path to abundance was one of hard work, of being smarter, faster, or better, so I was, shamelessly, one of the people who didn’t believe in her. Heather proved all of us nonbelievers wrong. She created Oregon Chai from the perspective of a pure mind filled with wonder. She was impervious to the word can’t. She was going to succeed at building her business, and she knew her vision to be absolutely true.
Heather is one of my greatest teachers when it comes to the principles of trust and surrender. At first, I thought she was out of her damn mind when the spark ignited within her and she said to me one day, “I want to start a chai company, David.” I was immediately annoyed. At the time, we had student loans piling up, I was just finishing law school and did not yet have a job, she didn’t have a job, and we needed to start looking for work and saving for a house. So when it sounded like she wanted to have a hobby that would look something like owning a company, I told her it wasn’t happening. I flat out did not support her. She ignored me.
It’s important to note this occurred about one year prior to my getting a job at the law firm and two years prior to the night my eyes fell on the Preparation H. When Heather began brewing chai, I was not living my dharma. I was still stuck in the abyss, and so any spark of ingenuity that did not fit into my known world of possibility was out of the question. Thinking back on it now, I shudder to consider that, had she listened to me, we may not have experienced the great fortune we did nor would we have enhanced the lives of millions of consumers worldwide with her tasty brew.
I couldn’t stop Heather, but I did not back off on making snide remarks or patronizing and undermining her. I would say things like, “Why don’t you do what the rest of the world does and use your degree to get a job?” Enraged, sometimes I would plead with her to stop spending the little income we had on cinnamon, clove, honey, and milk. She would just tune me out and carry on. After about a year of this, I got the job from hell. You can imagine how this escalated my anger and resentment of her pursuit. The more I hated life because of the bottomless chasm I lived in during the day, the more I resented her and her sweet, hot tea when I’d get home at night. There were countless days when I would walk through the door at 10 pm feeling like ulcers were bleeding right out of me, ridden with exhaustion, and completely drained of every ounce of life. Heather would start complaining about how a batch of chai didn’t work out that day or that the tea she was trying to source went up in price. I’m not sure why or how she would put up with me when a typical response to that would sound something like, “I’m fucking exhausted, Heather. I’ve been busting my ass all day billing hours and you’re here telling me how your little tea idea isn’t tracking? Fuck! This is not what we’re supposed to be doing right now. We’re both supposed to be working like everyone else—going to the office, doing the grind, so we can live the American dream!”
She would respond sweetly, still focused on her hope and intention, saying, “I don’t believe that, David. The people trying this love it, and they want more. I can’t stop. I won’t stop.”
Others who were living in their abyss also thought she was crazy. They would ask about her business plan, her addressable market size, her competitors, her P&L, and five-year strategy. She would respond by telling them she didn’t know, but she did know that people everywhere were going to think chai was amazing. She visualized people drinking her product and enjoying it in the same way she did. She visualized them experiencing nirvana by way of a creamy beverage infused with vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and honey. It was a heartcentered birthing of a product that stemmed from her commitment to brewing the perfect cup. It was never about how much money it was going to make or what our margins would be. She always stayed focused on the passion.
We all have the drive to share our gifts, despite our egos telling us it is safer to remain hidden in the familiar comfort zone of an average life. We are all made of cosmic elements that make us destined to mature and transform. The hero archetype lives within all of us, and it brings with it the potential power to shine and surpass our wildest dreams. This innate birthright to become a source of light in our world is possible for everyone. It is manifested in our lives, sometimes when we do not even expect it, in places such as our businesses. As Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” Discovering our purpose, loving what we do, and then going out and sharing our gifts with others is what will heal the world.
Heather was in a place of trust and surrender, in a place of living her bliss and sharing her gift with the world. She was operating from her heart and staying true to her passion despite it looking completely impractical and like a waste of time and money to me. I am not proud of those first two years, but I am grateful for her being one of my greatest teachers. Trust and manifestation have always come so easily to her, and by her example, I learned to implement these tools in my life.
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