"Then When You Know Better, Do Better"

I adore Maya Angelou. Her books moved me deeply as a young woman and they still line my bookshelves today. Her quote, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better," has stuck with me for a long time.

Yet her quote has been altered over time and even paraphrased by Oprah Winfrey to, "When you know better, you do better." But that's not really what she said. The "then" is really important. Removing it, or ignoring it, unintentionally implies that when we know better we will choose to do better. But, not always. Right?

We can know that we need to do something or handle a situation a particular way but we don't always make that better choice. One part of us may absolutely know it's the best choice to make but another part may be in the lead in that moment. Like a fearful part, a protective part.

Quote by Maya Angelou: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." To me, this says to make the choice. Choose your strongest, clearest, fearless, most courageous or most vulnerable part and allow that to take the lead. Then take the better action. Totally different, right?

Part of my vision for Terra Frma when it was first conceived was that I wanted to provide a better opportunity for people (myself included) to make the better choice of becoming prepared.

Here's why it mattered to me: In spite of knowing that it was pretty smart to do something to prepare my family, I hadn't. And I knew better. We had camping gear I could have inventoried to see what we could use during an emergency, but I didn't. I could have looked into earthquake insurance for our home, but I didn't. The list went on and on. It was ultimately up to me to make a different choice. Because I knew better and it was bothering me.

It was ultimately up to me to make a different choice.

I was definitely trying to do the best I could as a parent, but it wasn't until I was informed of the disaster risks surrounding us that I became annoyed by my lack of follow through. I knew better but I wasn't doing better.

Luckily, I'm trained in seeing such resistances and self-judgements so I took a step back. I asked myself why I was annoyed. The answer was because I hadn't done anything to prepare us. Plus, I was overwhelmed. 

To my great relief, after understanding that I knew better, I also realized how many tiny steps I had already taken. The thing was, they were so quickly met with my own resistance that I felt I hadn't gotten anywhere. All I could see was the lack of progress, forgetting that I'd even tried.

I had actually looked into buying disaster specific gear online but it was crazy expensive. Game over. I had looked into a neighborhood training but no one around me was certified and I had no time to become trained myself. Shoot. I had talked to our neighbors about sharing resources and had even gotten some two-way radios but didn't take the next step of organizing our plan because the research was a mountain of information. I had tried. The resources and experiences just didn't motivate me to keep moving. And that sucked. I thought of Maya Angelou's quote immediately and ... lightbulb!

Neighbors gathered around a wooden table discussing disaster preparation plans

Terra Frma was created because I needed this just as much as my friends, neighbors and community needed it. We all needed help following through. We needed a product. Not downloads from the internet. Not post-apocalyptic bunkers (although some do sound cool). Just one universal product. In our hands.

Here's how I did it. I made the choice to do better by engaging the best parts of me: the fearless entrepreneur, the loving mother, the problem-solver, the compassionate stranger. Some might say it would have been easier to just do the research and preparations than create an entire business and product line. But would it?

It was almost easier for me to approach disaster prep by activating the entrepreneur in me and creating the road map I knew I needed. Instead of going the typical route of printing stacks of paper that I may or may not read, buying expensive gear and relying on only myself to make sure we practiced, I developed an easy-to-use  product that would work for me. I also realized I wasn't the only one having a hard time following through.

Today's process of preparedness is not very inspiring, concise or engaging. I decided to create a process that would take me through preparedness from start to recovery because I knew if I didn't engage in this way, I wasn't going to follow through. 

I found a way to solve the problem by truly learning what I needed (a guide, a practice, something to help my family emotionally should everything go wrong, a recovery plan). I began to learn what I valued (my family, our pets, our home, our sense of wellness). Bonus, I have had the amazingly fulfilling experience of creating the right product from nothing!

Now, just a few short weeks before Terra Frma launches the Grab + Go Box, I'm sitting here writing this to you and beginning my journey through the steps in the box. It was hard to wait all this time but I wanted to know what our customer would experience. My husband even took the lead and just got us earthquake insurance. I just finished going through our camping and outdoor gear and organizing it for a quick departure. We stocked our pantry with extras of what we routinely eat. We're storing water. A lot of it. Next, we're making our various emergency kits.

I'm choosing to do better because I'm ready to. That, to me, is the key to Maya Angelou's quote. I can push myself to do better, but I have to be open. I have to know there's some sort of path I can go down, and at the end is completion. If I'm not feeling very open but need to get a task done, I have to use my courageous, clear, vulnerable self and find a way forward.

Terra Frma Founder and CEO Allison Barnard holding the Terra Frma Guidebook

I have the Terra Frma Guidebook in my hands right now, showing me how to prepare, practice and recover. I know better and now I'm choosing to do better because I'm finally open and ready, with a product in my hands. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope you find an opening too, with or without Terra Frma and do all you can to prepare one small step at a time.

Good luck. I'm wishing you all the best!

Allison