On June 3rd 2012, I sent out an email to the 600 women who have taken our CONFIDENCE weekend workshop over the last five years.
This is what I wrote;
Last December, I wrote a blog post about going to the fallow fields. I felt like it was time to clear the field, clear my heart, clear our current projects, and spend some time underground. I felt this intense pull to be in the dark and give time and space for new life to grow. Sometimes, when we are so busy with all that we have on our plate, we can’t create new life–we can’t even hear new ideas because of all the demands we are already surrounded by. It was incredibly scary to clear my plate, and I felt like I was failing others in doing it. But having done this for some time, I know those are common voices that want to keep us from spending time in the dark. It’s hard to look at a cleared field and have no idea of what you are supposed to plant, wondering if the “longer” you take on deciding will be defeating you.
But again, timing is every thing and time seems to be faithful.
The biggest step was to put the SOAR! Scholarship on hold. That was the most painful. But I know in my heart I don’t ever want to do programs because “we’ve always done them”. No. I want our work and efforts to always have fresh life.
In the midst of clearing the fields and allowing my heart to stay fallow, all of you met me underground. I saw your faces. I thought about all the weekend CONFIDENCE workshops we’ve done. The conversations I’ve had with you. The emails you’ve sent me. And slowly, a vision started building inside me of how to help you sustain your confidence. Once I knew this was the direction to pursue, ideas started to take root. For almost nine months, Brian and I have been tending these ideas that are like baby shoots, and we feel like it’s finally time to share them with you. It’s as if the baby shoots are ready to leave our garden and hopefully grow in yours! This is what the Fallow Fields looked like two months ago. The clear picture of new life, blue skies, water to the thirsty ground, gave me such hope to keep pushing forward and not leave the dark until I found my answers.
Brian and I have some big opportunities coming, and we know this means we will not be able to do the number of CONFIDENCE Workshops we’ve done for the past five years. But I have a PASSION for CONFIDENCE to continue growing in women, especially moms around the world. I want to take what we’ve built in the Me Ra Koh brand and bring a shift to the business model by training and mentoring YOU to teach and empower other moms. If you have a heart for teaching and empowering moms, I want you to think about this.
My vision is to empowers moms with their cameras on a global level. Why? I believe our cultural, our moms, are in need of a reason to pause and enjoy “this” moment with the ones we love. As digital photography and technology only grow in speed, we need to carve space to exhale and build dreams we carry inside. Our children are looking to us for a role model in how to someday build a dream. Moms are powerful in how they influence their children and surrounding community. But when they don’t feel empowered or realize they have a creative voice, they often feel lost in the day to day grind. Here is part of our forming mission for the Certification program;
IGNITE the creative voice in women
EMPOWER women them through transparent teaching, authentic teaching and mentoring*
HEAL our students’ insecurities by healing ourselves and eventually the world*
ACKNOWLEDGE our students’ voices
CELEBRATE their stories
SHOOT from the heart
TRANSFORM the culture of motherhood one mom at a time*
As you read these mission statements, did your heart respond? Do you carry a similar vision? I’m looking for hearts that are passionate about these same things and want to join Brian and I.
The above mission statements were refined into our Seven Core Values (each one with an * was refined since the original email I sent).
After this email was sent out, CONFIDENCE graduates were given the opportunity to apply to become part of our first cohort of teachers. Brian and I knew we wanted this to be a three year commitment, yes–three years. We were setting out to invest in these teachers in a way we had never done with anyone else–three years would be the minimum commitment we would ask for in return. I also raised the barrier to entry by asking for several personal essays and videos as part of the application process, to see who was serious, ready and able to commit three years to our mission.
Several applications came in and were narrowed down to fourteen women from all over the country. The vision is global, but we decided to start with the US. The next step: these fourteen women fly to our home in August and embark on their intensive teacher training with me and Brian.