noun ( pl. -ties)
the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone : women bear children and take responsibility for child care.
• the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something : the group has claimed responsibility for a string of murders.
• the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization : we would expect individuals lower down the organization to take on more responsibility.
• (often responsibilities) a thing that one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation : he will take over the responsibilities of overseas director.
• [in sing. ] ( responsibility to/toward) a moral obligation to behave correctly toward or in respect of : individuals have a responsibility to control personal behavior.
In a culture that values youth, beauty, new gadgets, and fast food, the word responsibility can seem scary – or even worse – boring! I have actually found power in the concept of responsibility as it relates to being accountable for my own life.
When I take the definition “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization” I feel compelled to act responsibly, as it indicates freedom of being. Being responsible, I can make my own decisions without anyone’s approval. I take the risk, I get the reward. However, this still may seem like an abstract or “pie in the sky” concept. How could responsibility actually be rewarding?
I have had numerous jobs in the food service industry: bussing tables at a white tablecloth covered hell as an eighteen year old, being a hostess at a “California cuisine” restaurant where the owner regularly fired people for no apparent reason, working in the kitchen for a good friend catering weddings (do NOT come in the kitchen unless you are the event coordinator, we do not need to make you a special meal because of your gluten sensitivity), passing hors d'oeuvres for celebrities and people who would rather pretend you are invisible than say “no thank you” to my small plated treats. Some of these experiences were enjoyable, some down right miserable, but all served a purpose. By taking these jobs, I was able to pay my bills, travel, make independent media, have a flexible schedule, and participate in various creative projects of my choosing. However, I didn’t feel fully empowered because so much of my time was given to others without complete personal fulfillment. I knew that I wouldn’t always be working these jobs, but I didn’t have a “long term plan”.
July of 2013, a friend introduced me to Jessica Koslow of SQIRL, a high-quality, farm-to-table brunch spot in my neighborhood. I needed work and she was hiring. I didn’t think I would be taking yet another restaurant job but my bank account told me I better find something ASAP, and this seemed like a great opportunity. I was able to be a part of a business that was serving the best food, coffee, I could walk to work, and I loved my co-workers! I had been making kombucha and herbal tea blends at home for years, and Jessica allowed me to experiment with some new beverages at SQIRL. I was grateful to put my creativity to work in a culinary setting!
I had a great passion for wellness and natural healing, and I was going in the direction of creating myself as a holistic wellness expert. I had finished a year-long course certifying me as a Health Coach with Institute for Integrative Studies in NYC. I continued blending herbs at home, spreading the word of #herbalalchemy via Instagram and Facebook, starting to invent myself as an Herbal Alchemist – something new and unique to me. To bring the definition of responsibility back into the conversation, “the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something” - I was being accountable to myself for creating a new possibility for work and lifestyle that I felt fulfilled by, and I knew this could transcend the day-to-day work I was in at the moment.
Eventually another chef, Greg Arnold, recruited me to conceive a beverage menu for Mesa Verde, a new plant-based restaurant about to open in Santa Barbara. This was truly a dream job. I was given full reign to invent herbal teas, super-food smoothies, juice recipes, and innovative kombuchas. I started playing around in the kitchen before the restaurant opened, being creative, fully immersed in my art of alchemical beverages! It was very fulfilling.
I knew this wasn’t the end game. People started asking me, “What’s next?!” “Are you opening your own spot?” “Where can I buy your kombuchas?” Starting a storefront or restaurant is a huge responsibility, one with much risk and stress and paperwork involved, and though I considered it, I knew this was not the time. Eventually the concept of Wild Coyotea came into focus: I could make herbal blends, package them beautifully, and sell them in my own online store! I started saving money, working on the blends, taking steps toward this dream. I decided to leave LA, move back to my family’s property in Northern California, and use my resources wisely. Although I was giving up a dynamic lifestyle in Silver Lake, Los Angeles (my favorite neighborhood + city), I knew I would be much more focused and grounded in Sonoma County. These decisions were actually quite easy to make when I realized what it was I wanted. I was taking responsibility for my own life, making plans, taking the steps, knowing it would be a lot of work, but very rewarding to have my own business!
Wild Coyotea is still in its infancy. There will be more herbal teas, more smoking blends, more handmade products in my store to come. There will be more collaborations, tea parties, and eventually I will sell my products in stores. I have my work cut out for me! I wear many hats, am head of all the departments: production, shipping, marketing, newsletter, blog, events, product development, accounting! By taking this on, I have created much work for myself, but also a sense of pride and love and optimism that wouldn’t exist if I was still working for someone else.
Not everyone needs to own a business or even start a big project, but I hope that this will inspire you to be accountable to yourself for your life. Make adjustments to raise the bar of your own fulfillment. Make plans, ask for support, cut back on excessive spending and start a little savings account. Whatever it is, you are the one that gets to choose. Enjoy your life, take on this new year with a heart full of personal responsibility!
With Love + Encouragement,
Califa Coyote Weiss