Sitting at the Newark airport enjoying a glass of wine and warm olives, welcoming the New Year a bit early, as I wait for the next leg of my journey that will take me to Kolkata again for the next 4 months. I wait with hope and anticipation of what this next season will bring. I hope to be a bridge and activator for what’s next, a link to what was and what is becoming in 2019.
The last year has been so layered and complex. Still I will try and name a few of the steps that marked the way. I marked 2 years living full time back in the USA in May and what I think is the beginning of a new normal. I have continued to take steps to help Sari Bari “become” without me…to stand on it own feet with the responsibilities that come with a nearly 13 years of freedom and opportunity. I made several visits to India including one emergency visit and traveled to trade shows and the IJM Liberate event to build the brand (you will now finds us in more than 60 small boutiques around the country). My favorite was the work we did to re-brand Sari Bari and make it new once again, bring a fresh modern bohemian look to help us reach a larger market and tell the story of freedom in new places!
2018 was very much about the growing pains and struggles of the old becoming new. This has always been the theme of Sari Bari and it runs through everything. Always. There have been the sorrows of deaths and pruning that makes the soil rich and the plants ready for growth again. This is theme that I feel I have lived over and over and over again. Life. Death. Life. Death. Life. I remind myself that it is like the seasons, there is a season for new life and there is a season for death and both are essential. Still I find myself shocked by the deaths and surprised by the new life that comes afterwards.
This year Sari Bari lost a founding staff member, Upendra and Kyle Scott moved on in November (Sari Bari USA first and only Executive Director). We also lost a beloved sister who took her own life and husbands and friends along the way. We lost women who went back to the sex trade. It was a hard year of losses.
We lost the amazing Laure and Danelle who have done fulfillment for Sari Bari for the last 4 plus years so we could make a move to Fort Wayne. We lost our wholesale coordinator, Alison. The losses felt hard and they also felt like they were creating space for something new. We were being pruned in 2018 so we could grow again.
So in 2018, I have given myself in service of the change, in service of the losses, in service of the empty spaces. I spent the summer building out SBUSA with new staff and literally building out the new Sari Bari USA office in Fort Wayne which now features our first ever storefront retail space. I have been cleaner, painter and stylist. I was Human Resources as I interviewed numerous candidates for project manager and Executive Director and in partnership with the SBUSA board hired both; along with new fulfillment and marketing staff. I traveled to India in June on demand to be there Tuesday (it was Friday) and acted as an anchor in a season of chaos and loss. And I spent the last 6 weeks in Kolkata still acting as that bridge to whatever is next including a new partnership with Polished Pearl, developing wedding veil manufacture. I feel like 2018 has been a year of filling the empty spaces and stepping in where ever needed a hand. I am thankful I could and I am thankful that behind me comes a team to step into those spaces in 2019!
This past summer the Sari Bari team in India began a new journey with the next generation really taking leadership. The team in India is finding its feet with not single leader over 30 and the SBUSA team has welcomed a Executive director, new fulfillment, sales and marketing staff. We are once again becoming new and there is fresh vision and energy pressing us into 2019.
As I prepare for 2019, I have named my year “making room”. Instead of stepping into spaces, I hope to step out, and make room for the next generation, the new leaders who will do it different and maybe even better (I sure do hope they do!!). “Making room” extends beyond the professional to the personal , though i am not exactly sure what it will mean, I will wait for it, look for it and live as one who creates spaces instead of one who fills them. I hope to “make room” to finish “the book” and “be” and “create” and take a hot second to dream big dreams again. I hope to make room even as I prepare to be bridge in India for the next 4 months—it’s a “both/and all” the way.
I am thankful that God is the god who “makes room” for us and makes room for the those who have no room at the inn. I am thankful that we continue to see lives being made new at Sari Bari and I look forward to seeing 40 more women find freedom this year through Sari Bari. If you made it this far in the email, thank you for making room for me! Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a What’s App (574-306-6829) and may your 2019 be full of the space and graciousness of the God who see’s you!