Happy Day 2 of the Detox Your Life Challenge!
If you want to know why I started the Detox Your Life Challenge, click here!
How did yesterday go? Did you notice any negative patterns in your speech, times when you discouraged yourself, or missed opportunities for a pep talk? Since I am certified in emotional intelligence and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, I don’t struggle with a lack of pep talk or negative words. Where I struggle is where many creatives struggle – the dreaming of your potential and the fear of the future. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Last night was a late work night. I was awake until around 4:30 A.M. trying to catch US business hours as we prepare to go into launch season for my publishing company. In between working my ass off, I started dreaming about the author business and platform classes I am creating for #HappyWriting, which I am opening on June first. #HappyWriting is a rebrand of Bookworks University, which was a side-shoot of the ill-fated French Press Bookworks.
FPBW started as a unique book publisher that allowed authors to tell me exactly what they wanted as far as editing, marketing, interior design, cover design, and help. The less the author wanted, the higher the royalty (up to 85% if all they wanted was copyright, ISBN, distribution, and a paycheck). Sounds like a great idea – partnership under author control – but, well, it wasn’t. For many reasons, and through many trials, it was apparent that authors want and need the same thing and can often get distracted by those dolla dolla bills.
And, it was apparent that despite having contracts where the authors selected exactly what they wanted, including no marketing, their own covers, and out of house editing, and even if we gave them a dedicated marketing executive that they chose to never contact, or to never use our trainings, or open our tracked emails, or use our Slack channels, or utilize the 300 custom tweets I wrote and timed into a HootSuite spreadsheet that all they had to do was upload with one click, or to fix their website issues over the course of six months that I wrote out in a report for why their website won’t retain traffic, that at the end of the day if they failed it would always be our fault. And when it comes to my brand, business, and names, I am not okay with putting that into someone else’s hands.
But lets sidetrack and talk about that real quick, because authors, some of you need a wake up call. Let’s say it honestly. Let’s be real with each other about the toxic attitudes going on in author circles that are leading to many authors not reaching success. I wrote someone 300 tweets after analyzing their traffic and best times for clicks, RTs, and shares. All they had to do was upgrade to HootSuite Pro for $9.99 a month and one click bulk upload their social media every thirty days. Their answer was they couldn’t afford it, but still wanted me to run their social media because of some personal problems. They essentially told me as their publisher (on a contract that stated they didn’t want extra marketing help) that I’m not worth $9.99 a month to them. Um, #ByeFelicia.
I did find some true gems in that author pile and kept them after we consolidated to Pen Name Publishing, dropped the problems, and moved into a more community oriented hybrid publishing model, I decided to turn French Press Bookworks into an author services marketplace. My idea was to create an Etsy style marketplace that was just for self-published authors. We rebranded, rebuilt, spent a shit-ton of money on plug-ins and website design, and marketplace security software, only to have the brand still be associated with publishing and get slammed as a hidden vanity press, or in one forum, how Pen Name Publishing covertly charges its authors for our services. It was heartbreaking because I split the two companies completely apart with no association, but we just couldn’t get FPBW rebranded.
However, in the meantime, I had taken all of the courses I built for my authors and created Bookworks University. I wanted to train my authors while also offering my amazing classes to authors everywhere. But, again, we were under the French Press Bookworks shadow of that dastardly publishing disaster. Now, if someone was cold and callous, the FPBW model could be amazing. But I didn’t want to be a quantity publisher without a heart, only chasing the money, not caring about how my authors were doing – not just selling, but DOING. Community, relationships, and teamwork are very important to me.
Because I am also an author, it was very difficult for me to figuratively shit on someone’s dreams over a contract. This meant I spent a lot of time doing ridiculous tasks and fixing people’s problems for free – you know, being a businesswoman. But, when you’re working your ass off for people with no accountability or self-acceptance, who send you bold faced lies to emotionally manipulate you (and even try to go behind your back and access your company’s online distribution accounts), it gets exhausting. Don’t even get me started on the time I sent out multiple boxes of books to an author who signed for them through FedEx and claimed to never get them. I resent them with a smile on my face and the benefit of the doubt.
Hang in there, I am getting somewhere with this that is directly related to this challenge.
I love what I do. I love my authors, I love working on books, I love the team members that make the Pen Name Publishing books happen, I love creating courses, I love coaching authors who are struggling, and I love working one on one with authors.
But, French Press Bookworks was toxic. And, like many toxic areas in our life, we try to convince ourselves that it isn’t, that we can fix it, that we just need to do xxx differently, and that it’s okay if it is sucking all of the life force out of our bodies because we will be a failure if we do not turn it around. We exhaust ourselves on toxic connections, connections that bleed us dry and steal our enthusiasm. We bend rules and bend over backwards for people or things that take advantage of situations and project their short comings on you, only resulting in magnifying your own short comings. It is a vicious cycle and one we refuse to notice.
Friends. Cut that shit out. Find the sharpest pair of scissors you can find, slice the chains and hit refresh. If something is draining your energy and removing all slivers of hope from an area of your life that you love, baby, it’s not love.
By the time I realized FPBW was NEVER going to happen, I was almost ready to also give up on Pen Name Publishing. The vendors who were coming to apply for the French Press Bookworks marketplace were negative, condescending, some were actually worried about working with authors because they “feared the lack of responsibility with creatives”. (True story.) This is a case closed example of how negativity BREEDS negativity. My attitude towards FPBW was beyond negative at this point. My attitude seeped through and attracted what I didn’t want, because I focused on what I didn’t want. I couldn’t even talk about it positively when people asked about what I was creating – I just didn’t care. I would shrug and say, “Oh, well, it’s something like a marketplace for authors.”
Where is the zest in that? Where is the passion? The fire? The enthusiasm? It was on a plane to Timbuktu and drunk on mojitos, friends, and I was in my office wondering when it was going to schedule that return ticket.
The day I made the decision to just say, “Fuck it,” was the best day of my life. I took my classes, rebranded them to #HappyWriting/Happy Writing Co., refreshed Pen Name Publishing, and life is a sweet candy store of perfectly flavored macaroons. I made #HappyWriting bright and energetic. It’s full of passion and personality, and when I open it up to work on it, I am filled with hope, excitement, and love for the project.
This came to me on a day that I just needed a break. My husband was working in Angola, I was stuck with myself and too many conversations about what needed to be done, and I did what I had to do. I logged out. I turned my internet off. I took my dog and went to a coffee shop, I ordered a watermelon salad, and then I drank two cappuccinos. I watched the people moving around me, and then I asked myself, “What part of your life needs to be refreshed? What can you ctrl+alt+delete?”
All roads pointed to French Press Bookworks. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t dwell on the thousands of dollars I lost. I didn’t blame any of the downfalls or frustrating moments. I didn’t try to find another way to make it work. I just hit refresh.
Today’s challenge is to refresh. It doesn’t have to be something as drastic as cutting down a business. Today’s challenge is simple – learn to recognize when you need to hit refresh. Learn to listen to your body and mind when it is telling you that something is just not working.
I now refresh myself every morning and every night.
I wake up and complete a round of Pranayamic breathing. I learned various techniques in a yoga class to push out Carbon Dioxide, to energize and awaken both spheres of your brain, and to center your thoughts. I do three rounds of Surya Namaskar to stretch myself out and let my body feel good and welcomed. I walk Ramona for at least 2 km depending on the current heat index and where the sun is (she can burn her little paws on the hot concrete way too easy). When we get back inside, I do another round of Surya Namaskar to relax, drink a big glass of water, and then set aside what I want to achieve for the day while the coffee is steeping in the french press.
I end the night with Ramona on a walk. She does her business and chases frogs while I listen to inspiration entrepreneurial interviews and podcasts. I come back, drink a large glass of water to help flush the day. I listen to some solfeggio frequencies – I’m not sure if they actually work or not, but I do believe in the placebo effect. If it’s the placebo or the frequencies, I feel relaxed. And, I ask myself if there was anything from the day that I can improve upon tomorrow.
During the day, if I need to refresh or am becoming frustrated, I will jump rope, do some kettle bell swings, or practice my favorite yoga position – corpse pose. Okay, it isn’t my favorite, but anyone can do it. Just lay on the floor and relax.
I took FPBW down a dark hole of destruction by not being able to relax, refresh, and renew. And, it was a very expensive lesson in entrepreneurship, leadership, passion, trusting my gut, personal accountability on my end, and working with the accountability of others.
And it was important to tell this tale because the need to refresh can come to anyone. It can come in any aspect of your life, and I could have told it from a variety of aspects – chilling on friendships, cutting family ties, scaling back on hobbies, or learning how to not please other people.
Yesterday, if you noticed a strong pattern of when, where, or why you speak negatively to yourself, take today and see how you can refresh that area.
I’m not telling you to quit your job, but maybe find a quiet space to recenter. Bring in a pretty flower. Have a hard discussion with a co-worker or a boss who undervalues or undermines you. I’m not telling you to cut relationships, but recognize where they aren’t servicing you and take a step back to form a plan.
What I am telling you to drink a large glass of water to refresh your body, take a walk to refresh your frustrations, learn to breath to refresh your circulatory track, and learn to give your brain a hug.
Also published on Medium.