Thanks for everyone’s nice comments about my Special Spaces pillows! I really enjoyed being part of such a great team. And, of course, I greatly cherish that comment from Bailey’s mom.
Continuing on with my crazy week, the day after the Special Spaces makeover, I got on a plane to Denver for a much-anticipated business retreat at the Omni Interlocken Resort (I’m seriously going to write them a love letter for their exceptional service). I’ve written before that I’ve been making lots of changes in my writing business as part of my work with my business coach, Darla LeDoux, and the Mastermind program that I’m a part of. This retreat was a chance to gather with the four other members of my group, along with Darla, to share our progress (and get and give feedback), do more planning, and learn new strategies. We also got to take this fabulous hike. Look at those mountains! There may have also been a ride in a limo to a great restaurant in Boulder.
Well, and a massage this morning, followed by a glorious soak in the hot tub and a dip in the pool.
Oh, and how random is this? My sister, Claire—who lives in New Hampshire—just happened to be passing through the Denver airport with her son (my nephew) Pete, this afternoon when I was leaving. They were on their way to hike the second half of some insane 480-mile trail somewhere around Denver. She lives 2,000 miles away from me and I hardly ever get to see her—and her plane just happened to be arriving at the gate directly across from my gate 10 minutes before my plane to Cincinnati left! Do you know how BIG the Denver airport is and the odds of that? Not to mention all the delays she had to experience before getting to Denver to even have us at the airport on the same day at the same time (her coming and me leaving). We knew that morning there was a chance we might see each other, but I never thought all of the pieces would fall into place for a 5-minute visit, but somehow they did. What a sweet little gift.
But seriously, it was 93.37% work (Allen, if you are reading, it was 100% work). Awesome work, actually. When you are working in your business, it’s rare that you get to step back and think deeply and seriously about the direction your business is heading, about your goals, and about how—step by step—you are going to make it happen. And then, you have five other people to hold you accountable and stare you down (lovingly) if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.
I am going to do what I say I’m going to do. That’s a promise.
In fact, I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been working on (soon!). I think I’ve found a sustainable way to bridge my writing business with my involvement in the craft industry. I mean, Sew Retro was one way I did that, and of course, this blog does, too. And I love this space and the book is one of my proudest pieces of work.
But I’ve got even more exciting things in mind for the future.
I must give credit to my friend, Brian, for taking this picture!
Pondering, pondering, pondering . . . (and always with that Ketteler smirk)
I’ve always had ups and downs in my business (which consists of both magazine writing and copywriting). I’m used to this, and I’m okay with it. But 2010 was a doozey.
Let’s see, first, I had the opportunity to write an extremely personal essay for Whole Living. It’s the magazine piece I’m the most proud of (and it actually just won the American Society of Journalists & Authors award for best essay in the personal service category for 2010). Then, Sew Retro was published. The book represented something I had long wanted to do. It was a ton of work, but absolutely wonderful and I couldn’t have been more proud. Then, in September, I had another baby. What, you haven’t seen enough pictures of her? Well, of course you can see another one!
So, 2010 should have been a great year.
But then, everything about my business fell apart. And I mean, fell effing apart.
I lost one client after another, for reasons completely out of my control. Editors got laid off. Freelance budgets dissipated. Projects promised themselves and then scampered away. Checks took forever to come. People I desperately needed to return emails didn’t return emails.
I found myself dipping into the first “only touch in case of emergency” fund in the fall. By the end of the year, I was looking at dipping into the second such fund, and one terrible day in January, I had to. I sobbed (quietly) on the phone with some investment banker I didn't know as I sold bonds from the back-up, back-up investment account. I could hear my husband with the kids downstairs, and in that moment, I felt like a complete and utter failure.
When I started freelancing nine years ago (almost to the day—I was laid off April 2, 2002, and decided to go into business for myself the next day), I always thought it seemed too good to be true. Why was I allowed to do something I loved so much—write—and make a really good living doing it? How were my husband and I allowed to live this charmed life, where he was able to stay home with our kids and I was able to support us by doing something I knew I was meant to do from the time I wrote my first article about Birchwood Drive (my childhood street) when I was eight years old? Surely, someone was going to come knocking on the door any day and tell me the jig was up.
In January of this year, I figured maybe the jig was, in fact, up.
But then, here is what happened. I interviewed a researcher for a story about exercise motivation. It was just one more story, nothing particularly special about it. But something in what she said struck a nerve. It goes like this: we create “possible selves”—the people we see ourselves being in 5, 10, 15 (or however many) years. Regarding weight loss and exercise motivation, researchers have found that the “feared-self”—envisioning yourself overweight, unhealthy, sick, diabetic, unhappy, and unable to do the things you love—is a motivating image for someone to shape up. But you know what else? The “hoped for-self”—where you imagine yourself vibrant, energetic, healthy, active, and doing everything you love—is motivating too. In fact, the hoped for-self is equally as motivating as the feared-self.
So, the researcher went on to explain, if both the negative vision of yourself and the positive vision of yourself are both equally as motivating, why wouldn’t you just choose the positive version?
This was the exact right a-ha moment, exactly when I needed it. Why not just choose the positive? Forget about weight loss. It’s a prescription for anything in life that can have two (or more) possible outcomes. Of course, fear will motivate you. But it may motivate you to make desperate decisions (like working with a publication you know treats writers like crap), which will just keep you in a cycle of fear and desperation (like stewing over the fact that your story wound up being killed/you didn't get paid/the piece turned out to be a nightmare). So why not just see the future you want, and make decisions based on that?
Something about that conversation actually changed a thought process in my head, and it made me realize that I was still in control. I could choose. It was a week or so after that when I met coach Darla LeDoux at a networking event, and a few weeks later, hired her to help me both grow my business and change my mindset. In the midst of all that, I got a huge new custom publishing client, who’s been a delight to work with. I’ve met a ton of new people (some are now clients, some are friends, and some are both) and I just closed one of my best months (March) ever. I don't think any of it is a coincidence. I think I finally stopped thinking the jig would someday be up, and as soon as I did that, it changed the way I thought about everything.
I still have moments when the feared-self pops up. Of course I do. Fear is primal. But I keep choosing the positive, the hoped-for thing. The thing, as Emily Dickinson so brilliantly says, with feathers.
Here’s to good choices and good tomorrows!