Three years ago I got the keys to our Little Lavender Shop, and I can’t help but look around and reflect with profound gratitude on the path and the people that have gotten us here. It boggles my mind that what started as a visit to a lavender farm in San Diego county one Sunday afternoon has ended up here. Or how having a frustratingly hot, dry, south facing slope full of decomposed-granite where Mark and I planted our first lavenders started all of this. When I think about it for a minute, however, that lavender farm visit and the hot, south-facing slope aren’t really where it all started. It really all started with taking chances and saying yes.
I’m not naturally a yes kind of person. In fact, for far too long, I shied away from saying yes to things that were new or different. I must confess that I spent a good part of my early life living in fear – afraid to travel, afraid to explore, afraid to take chances, afraid to interact. I was very introverted, the proverbial wall flower with a very active internal dialogue -- but who stumbled and stuttered through any real interaction, red-faced, sweating. But then I got a job at a local grocery store in the small desert town where I grew up, and though I was scared to death on that first day, I said yes and took that baby step forward, slowly becoming more comfortable in my skin and learning to actually talk to people.
This slowly built my confidence enough that I said yes to a move to San Diego, where I went to college, but struggled for years to balance school and work, afraid to fully commit to school. Then one day, I was offered a grocery management position and had to think long and hard about whether or not this was what I wanted to do with my life. Sure, it was easy, and I was good at it. But was that what I really wanted? The answer to that question was no. Instead, I decided to say yes to full time school. I transferred to a grocery store closer to the university, finally figured out my major, and then met my sweet husband while we were working in the produce department together.
The next few years included more yeses, including an “I do,” and a move to northern California for graduate school, and then an eventual move back to San Diego where I began my English teaching career. There I enjoyed a very comfortable part time teaching gig at a local community college while we raised our children, with all of the joys and challenges that come with it. But then one day I was offered a full time position at a local high school and I had to contemplate another yes. This yes led to challenges unlike anything I’d known, helping me to realize that embracing new, sometimes scary opportunities can lead to experiences that shape a life and a mindset -- like saying yes to international trips with students, saying yes to a summer teaching in South Africa, saying yes to becoming the editor of an education journal, and then finally saying yes to a move to Oregon and becoming a full time lavender farmer. None of those experiences was easy, in fact some were downright scary, but through them I realized that I am resourceful and capable. And that there's a lesson to be learned in every experience.
Once we moved to Oregon however, the yeses hadn’t stopped just yet. When I was presented with the opportunity to open a little shop in this tiny space and work with three dear friends, John, Jeremi, and Zach, I said yes without even hesitating. At this point, I knew a golden opportunity when I saw it.
Once we had the keys though, I started to wonder if this was one of those yeses that wouldn’t work out. We got our keys on March 3, 2020 and then a few weeks later everything shut down. However, I soon realized that this was just one more challenge to overcome, especially since I had the best shop partners a girl could ask for, so we took that time to remodel the shop and slowly open up. I was lucky enough to work with these friends for two years before they struck out on their own. So last spring I was faced with another question that I needed to answer. Was I capable of running this shop and the farm by myself (for the most part)? As it turns out, the answer is yes. It’s not easy, but it’s a privilege that my days are spent working to put something beautiful out into the world, to offer a little comfort in our crazy lives, and to get to know the good people in this little lavender community, both in the shop and online. I’ve been so touched by the kindnesses I get to witness every day – the gifts and cards you buy for each other and the care you provide for yourself. I realize how lucky I am. And I don’t take that for granted. In fact, most mornings, I still wake up and pinch myself, not sure I deserve such good things.
So I guess in the end, what has led me here, living in small town Oregon, living the lavender dream, is the word yes. I recognize that yes isn’t always the correct answer. Sometimes no is the right choice. And believe me, there have been times when in trying not to disappoint, I’ve said yes when the answer should have been no. However, I also believe that we sometimes say no because we are scared, forgetting that we are capable of much more than we realize.
So here’s to saying “yes” – and hoping that there are more opportunities to say yes in the days and years ahead! Bring on the next adventure!
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /writer and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.