Back in 2013, I bought Jack Canfield's “how to write a bestseller” program and decided that by the end of that year, my bestseller would be complete. LOL! #hownaive #universedoesnotworkthatway
(So take with a grain of salt those "write your memoir in a weekend" retreats. You might find yourself in very painful disappointment from being over-promised and under-delivered.)
Trying Only Takes You So Far
I tried and tried and tried and tried to write my life’s story. I even spent two full summers just writing. One summer I wrote daily, an hour a day. I felt miserable during and after, because I work better in bulk. So the following summer I wrote weekly, in 4 hour time blocks. That felt way better! Both summers left me feeling like: I had fallen off the face of the Earth (isolated, disconnected from friends) and I was molasses climbing uphill during a Siberian winter.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein
So I tried something different. I got a writing buddy, who brings me such joy, who is joy. Our partnership helped me see that discipline alone wouldn't get me "there." It was such a sweet, playful, and lighthearted exchange of joy and discipline. For my entire life, people have loved or asked to study/work near me. Now I see why. Focus is contagious. Masterful discipline is contagious!
Truth Channeled Through Me
A few years later, after a Vipassana silent meditation retreat, I stayed at a charming boutique hotel in Guatemala. I woke up to the most luxurious breakfast, while soaking in the most radiant sunshine, inhaling the freshest of crisp mountain air, sat in the most exquisite garden, merging with the deliciousness of silence (it was super low season with no other guest in sight, score!).
And then, it happened: a tsunami of gratitude washed over me, I had to my spoon down, and race to my room, where I ugly-cried out 86 profound life lessons on freedom onto my tear soaked notebook. Back then, I experienced it as a snot-filled ugly cry. Now, I see: it was my very first "download" of the truth. It came pouring out of me, or rather, through me.
I’ve always been in awe of authors who "downloaded" their entire book. My "86 Lessons in Freedom" could have turned into the equivalent of Jack Canfield's "67 Principles of Success". And it all would have come full circle, in the most epic and elegant of ways, even with Jack Canfield himself writing the forward to my book and the whole thing exploding onto the New York Times bestseller list. LOL! #hownaive #universedoesnotworkthatway
However, this little download was powerful enough for me to see/know its worth and whom it was intended for. So I reached out to my college, where overachievers graduate from, to publish a dozen of those freedom lessons in their alumni newsletter. They did! (It was a huuuuuuge deal because I was raised in a culture of: children are meant to be not seen, not heard, and ideally non existent, and therefore silent.)
Why Would Anyone Read My Book?
I went on to create a gorgeous coffee table book, with 104 Freedom Lessons, with epic photos from the 104 countries I had traveled. I was so proud of the finished product. Like super proud! It was the culmination of everything that I am, and everything that I've learned, and everything that my soul wanted to say.
I showed it to one of my intimates (aka love bestie and soul sister through many lifetimes), who is an expert editor, with 20 years in publishing, and she asked a few poignant questions:
- Why would anyone read/buy this?
- What's the thread weaving the lessons together?
- What's the takeaway, the value-add?
My first thoughts were: 1. I don't know. 2. I don't know. 3. I don't know. Shame started to creep in. My second thoughts were: 1. Well, duh, freedom! 2. Well, duh, freedom! 3. Well, duh, freedom! LOL!
The Challenge in Articulating What you Sell
As a former owner of a web development agency and now a seasoned marketer, I know how the game of Earth School works: you can't put Title: Freedom, Description: Freedom, and expect a NYT bestseller. You have to sell, you have to articulate what you sell.
My superpowers: I can mirror and articulate for my clients what they do, within minutes, with both hands tied behind my back and hung upside down by my ankles (which I'd quite enjoy actually). But for myself, the more I was lost for words, the deeper I spun into a shame spiral, thinking, “If this was my very best work, the almighty culmination of EVERYTHING that I am/learned/know, then it's over. This. Is. Indeed. The. End." Have you ever felt this way, about a creative project, a relationship, a career, etc.?
I wandered around in a smoky haze of shame for months, maybe even years (or what felt like years). When I had had enough, I decided to yank myself out of the haze by boom! closing the book on all this publishing non-sense. I’m done. F*ck you. (Until this day, I'm not sure who I was giving the finger to...)
(Phew. Yeah. Let's take a deep breath together here. There's more, hehehe.)
Stop Wisdom Hoarding
About a year and a half later, I was groovin' and cruisin' with a blog a week, every single week! I didn't miss a beat. It was glorious!! During that same period, when my intimates and I discussed our wisdom hoarding habits (hehehe), something got unlocked within me... which made me decide to release some of those original 86 freedom lessons into the weekly blog groove. I mean, they were already written, might as well share them.
So I sent my editor/publishing friend one sample blog: 14 Lessons on Happiness from Traveling 110 Countries • Part 1. The possibility of another self-induced shame spiral had not even crossed my mind. That's how powerful that "F*ck you, I'm done with publishing!" decision was!
She gifted me with the most touching acknowledgement, of how far I'd come in finding my truest and purest voice and writing style. I cried. So much. Partly out of relief. Partly out of sorrow. I was relieved that what I thought was my best work was actually not my best work. Thank f*ck. And I was saddened that I'll never get to be my best self because there are never ending hoops of fire to jump through...
Maybe It Isn't Ready
Some time later, I reconnected with my first writing buddy. And she told me about the sweetest and most profound “funeral” ceremony that she held for her book. She was choosing motherhood and needed to say goodbye to her unpublished book. This helped me "apologize" to my book, I could have say goodbye much more elegantly, instead of giving it the finger.
Lastly, she added, “Maybe my story isn’t finished. And that’s why my book isn’t finished.” Whoooooom, a deep exhale and wave of acceptance washed over me. That's it!! My story isn't finished, so there's no way my book can be finished!! This acceptance filled my mind, body and soul with such full permission to just live. To live joyfully and allow the book to write itself.
Sure enough, as I kept on living with joy, I stumbled upon “Women Who Run with the Wolves”, drank in every word of this bible, understood the importance of honoring Life's natural birth/death rhythms, and wrote:
- The Hero's Journey... for a Lifestyle Entrepreneur • Part 1/3
- The Heroine's Journey... for a Woman Overachiever • Part 2/3
- The Liberator's Journey... for High Achieving Freedompreneur • Part 3/3
... after which bam! I realized, "It isn't ready!!!" The book, the full story, it isn't ready to be born. 🤯 No amount of trying, bestseller programs, trying, discipline, trying, joy, trying, writing buddy, trying, editor/publishing friends, or trying can overrule that truth. In that instant, all effort dissolved away.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of where the concept of "1,000 Reclamations for Freedom" came from!
1,000 Reclamations for Freedom
💎 Reclaimed a healthy definition of discipline
💎 Reclaimed the key to joy amplification through ultra selectivity of high quality work buddies
💎 Reclaimed the true value of my focus, discipline and drive
💎 Reclaimed from the "Scarcity Monster" my need/right to luxuriate my delicate nature in boutique hotels
💎 Reclaimed my true nature as a channel for truth and freedom
💎 Reclaimed the worth of my words
💎 Reclaimed my tether to the rules of Earth School (without anger, without spiritual bypassing)
💎 Reclaimed the release of all the wisdom I hoarded
💎 Reclaimed my true voice and writing style
💎 Reclaimed the acceptance that my story isn't finished, so my book isn't finished
💎 Reclaimed full permission to just live
💎 Reclaimed the understanding/respect/patience to gestate a book that will birth itself when it is ready