"When will be enough for you?"


I had a prominent mental health professional call me out in a business meeting a few weeks ago.

After hearing the story of Skills for Living and the emergence of the Chapman Farm School, he took a breath and asked me a simple, honest, poignant question: 

"When will be enough for you?"

It caught me off guard. 

"Huh?" I said. "What do you mean?" 

He repeated his question.

"When will be enough for you? You have Skills for Living- in two locations. You are a public speaker. You are starting a school. When will be enough for you? When will you be done?"

I respected his question- so I sat with it. When will I be done? Why am I doing this? When will be enough for me?

  • Why did Rob and I sell our happy little house in Quincy and move our kids, ages 6 and 7, to a farm in a completely new place?
  • Why did we choose to dive into debt, leading Rob to swap his role as an at-home dad for a job as a mechanical engineer?
  • Why did I essentially double my workload at a time when Skills for Living could already keep me more than busy? 


Because it's not about me. If I'm being really honest, it was starting to be for a little while... but not anymore. 

A year or so ago, I was able to peek around the professional corner. I could see that I was going to have opportunities to expand my public speaking, probably write a book, maybe even franchise Skills for Living. It seemed logical and easy and incredibly tempting. 

...then a llama farm interrupted everything. 

Never, never did I see myself on a suburban farm. Ever. I am a T-riding, sidewalk-walking, local-coffee-shop-drinking, rock-on-the-front-porch-with-my-neighbors, pay-off-the-mortgage-before-I'm-45, city-living kind of girl. 

That's why I was so profoundly stunned the first time I drove onto the farm. I stopped my minivan and looked at the winding road in front of me... the beautiful barns... the wide open space... and saw the Chapman Farm School flash before me: It would be small in numbers but vast in space. It would be creative and hard-working, joyful and energetic. The students would be bright- each would have a superpower to share. They would be kind and quirkily delightful... and their campus would be incredibly beautiful... because they deserve to learn in a gorgeous setting.  Kids on the South Shore need the Chapman Farm School- and it would be my privilege to help build it for them.

Aspirations of hopping on planes and giving talks around the country vanished in an instant. They were replaced with the simple drive to go deeper with a handful of kids- to get to know them really, really well... and be a part of their journey to a successful adulthood.

So maybe it is a *tiny* bit about me.  In general, when kids make progress at Skills for Living, they leave. I am happy for them, but simultaneously feel a little sad because I don't get to take the long walk with them and see who they grow up to become. I want to do that. 

I've had enough of expansion. I don't want to grow Skills for Living or increase our name recognition.  My desire to become well known in my field has extinguished. I want to dig in, right here on the South Shore, and make a difference for a community of really terrific kids and families... and I want to do it with my own family right by my side. 

So this is it. Enjoying Skills for Living and building Chapman Farm School is my life's work... and it's more than enough for me.