This past weekend, I was in Washington State for Ann Harman's workshop on hydrosol distillation. I wanted to attend this workshop for two reasons.
First, Ann has always been on my list of teachers to study with (and now that I’ve studied with her, I realize what a GREAT decision attending this class was!). Second, I've also been terrified of distillation and told myself this was the year that I’d get over that.
I've held onto this fear for one reason and one reason only: anytime I’ve even assisted the distillation process, I’ve had such intense anxiety about messing something up.
There are lots of things that can go wrong in the process—from a lack of sanitation, which can make your product grow bacteria a lot faster than it might otherwise, to the column getting clogged and causing an explosion, to leaks in the joints … and don't even get me started on what can happen if your propane isn't checked properly.
Hydrosols can be dangerous. But with that, they can also be incredibly powerful.
It's empowering to pick your own plant material and then actually distill it yourself. In my efforts to bring aromatherapy back to the plants, I'm determined to bridge the gap in my own knowledge, so I can use all parts of the plants I grow.
That meant facing my fear and being okay with messing up.
While talking with a friend and colleague, Lola King (of Be Kind Botanicals), before class, she delivered an important message:
Mistakes are great because that's where the lessons are.
Though I could get to this place logically, I realized how much I needed that affirmation in that moment.
Something clicked for me. Suddenly, I wasn't terrified of making mistakes. I was actually excited to make them.
Perfectionism is a tenacious thing. It can parade around in the costume of high standards, but it is really fear in disguise.
I decided it was time for a change in perspective. Instead of being terrified of making mistakes, I began to welcome them. Each day I'd reflect and think, "What mistakes did I make today? What did I learn?"
Over the course of this class, my mistakes included a valve leak, starting a five-liter still on heat that was way too high, overpouring the separatory funnel, and packing the plant material before weighting the still.
Now I'm even more prepared to avoid these mistakes in the future, and I know how to remedy them if they do arise again.
I can't tell you how much fear this simple shift has dissolved when it comes to this process. All that's left is joy.
Now, here’s my question for you:
Is there something that you've been afraid of messing up? Can you welcome mistakes as part of the learning process? Thinking of your last mistake, what lesson did you learn?
I'd love to hear how this shift in perspective can serve you as well. Let me know in the comments below!