Welcome! This site contains work samples, client information and business philosophy of Megan Riley, owner of M R et cetera, LLC. If you're looking for M R Gardens, our edible landscaping, garden coaching and plant nursery business, see www.mrgardens.net.

Change—Uncovering the next direction

Megan Riley, Owner of M R et cetera LLC, touches on upcoming changes—to her business and possibly all businesses.

It's the winter/spring of 2018 at the time of writing this article, and I’m helping the WNC AgOptions coordinator transition away from using M R et cetera services to produce the program’s mini-web articles and press releases. We’re discussing a new schedule so that the AgOptions website keeps its quality without M R et cetera's extra support during the program’s busy season. Since 2008, I’ve written descriptions of the awarded projects, as listed here for 2017 grantees. I thoroughly enjoyed the work, especially because I got to know about the innovations in farming in western North Carolina. However, other parts of my business have grown to the point that they need my focus.

It breaks my heart to part ways when the coordinator reminds me how valuable my services have been—she uses segments of the articles not only in media relations throughout the year, but also in reporting to the funder. The recipients’ farms also get an extra PR boost, and other farmers can learn about new farming methods and strategies by reading the website. I truly believe in the importance of mission-driven organizations telling their story in a compelling, clear way, so I am leaving the option open to return to this kind of work in the future.
M R Gardens passive solar greenhouse
The majority of my communications work for the last seven years has been for M R Gardens. That includes press releases that led to articles in the Asheville Citizen Times, Laurel of Asheville and Mountain Xpress online and in the print edition. I also wrote a series of articles for WNC Woman Magazine about edible landscaping, as well as secured a loan with Natural Capital Investment Fund with a business plan that I compiled. On top of designing landscapes, garden coaching and operating the plant nursery, I’ve also been maintaining the website, eNewsletters, online store; working with graphic designers to produce signs, brochures and flyers; and trying to keep at least some social media presence. (Most M R Gardens customers are not frequent social media users and find us via old-fashioned road signs). I think the communications has helped the business create a firm foundation in the community, and could go many directions based on this footing.

Unexpectedly, another business idea—outside the realm of M R Gardens but vaguely related—has formed. InnerSynastry: Harmonics of the soul—which helps in balancing all aspects of ourselves through sounds of the celestial cycles. As I explored astrology as a hobby, I discovered I have a unique ability to help people untie metaphorical knots in their inner selves by playing recordings of planet frequencies. This may seem completely out in left field (unless you spend a lot of time with me and you realize I’m out in left field a lot, even if I always get back to home base before I actually swing the bat). Funny enough, it’s right in line with what I’ve been thinking ever since I decided to expand my services to mission-driven (or in the M R style, “Mission Rich”) businesses rather than just non-profits.

This conversation is a long one, which I do hope to write about someday, but I’ll start here: I suspect that the personality traits that currently lead to success will soon be changing, and are already changing for some of us in a big way. It’s important that leaders in the community, even business leaders, be more in touch with their intuitive and receptive side, without detracting from their active and driven side. They have a perfect balance between humility and confidence, as well as self-preservation and compassion for the needs of the collective. As a result, we often need to uncover parts of ourselves that have long been buried as a result of them not being suitably respected in our culture, and that often means going through a pretty deep healing process. If we don’t initiate the transformation, then often an event happens so that we’re forced to.

An astrological sound session is just one method of many for those on a healing journey, but a very intriguing and unique one. There seems to be something here, so I’m exploring it. My hope is that if we're proactive in exploring the inner realm through sound—praying for "grace and ease" while we do—then life will deliver us less jarring upsets to teach us the lessons that we need to learn. 

The M R et cetera website (which I've taken offline until I have time to rethink it, but here's the former home page) stayed pretty much the same since we established it in 2010, even though my thoughts about turning ideas into reality have been evolving. (We completed it just when static websites created with Dreamweaver started going out of style, and websites that can more easily be changed by the user were just becoming popular.) I listed on the “Ideas to Action” page the structures clients need to have to see projects come to fruit. On that list were a "proper structure, thoughtful management, the right players, a realistic timeline, thorough records and reports," among other components. That was based on my experience with helping organizations with firm footing in the previous years.

I do still feel these structures are important to mature (or even adolescent) organizations. However, until I started M R Gardens, I did not realize that there is a whole other aspect to a start-up business, especially one that is future-oriented and dependent on creating value for a customer base that is only just emerging. Sometimes you have to go with your gut and follow your intuition, taking step by step without the full picture of how it's going to work realistically. That may not be a good approach if you’re investing a lot of money, but it could be if you’re starting small and the work you’re doing adds value to your life in ways other than monetary. In our changing climate, businesses are forming that first started as hobbies but are now valued enough by a large enough audience that they can integrate into society.

Again, this is only just the beginning of the conversation. I could go on, and will someday, once I am certain that my insights are indeed aligned with our current reality. But if any of what I’ve said here rings true to your experience at all, and you’re trying to get something off the ground but are finding old methods of business aren’t well suited for you, I hope you’ll check out InnerSynastry, and just see where it takes you. There may be aspects of yourself that need attention so a new balanced self can emerge.