Sometimes we speak truths that we only know once we hear the words leave our lips. It was one of those moments. The other day, on the back couch in the late afternoon sun. A warm support on the other end of the phone.
“I want to blog and I want it to be fun!”
I’m so sick of the rules. Of content marketing. Of online business. Of monetizing.
Of trying to position myself as an expert.
I’m going to write whatever I want. And it’s going to be fun.
This space is for my own self-expression. That’s why I bought parrishwilson.com YEARS ago… knowing that one day I would create for the simple purpose of creating. Because that’s how I feel pulled to show up in the world.
Sometimes. And sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I want to read, advocate, parent, binge Netflix, drink beer, walk in the sun, laugh, love. And all those wonderful things give me interesting ideas and stories to write about. So how about that. I’ll just write.
No more coaching. No more editing. No more positioning myself as someone who knows so much about writing. I just want to write, free of the pressures that come with trying to make an income from it. I want to be a student of writing rather than a teacher. I want to write for the simple sake of writing.
No more shoulds.
No more thoughts to the expectations of others.
I just want to show up to the page and play.
I just want to have some fun.
The thing about writing a memoir is it’s intense in a way that other writing isn’t (though all writing can be, and often is intense) but with a memoir you’re re-living everything important in your life – your old pains, hopes, relationships…
The drama. The tears. The celebrations.
You’re taking everything that happened over the course of your life and revisiting it in a concentrated amount of time – processing each memory again as you look for the bigger story. It’s emotionally overwhelming. It’s actually physically exhausting.
That’s the thing about writing a memoir.
For the last three days I’ve been reading my old journals, taking notes on the biggest moments, the consistent patterns, the overarching dreams. Some entries in my journal are beautiful, inspiring, they make me proud to be me. But most of them are filled with hurt. I always tended to write more when I was struggling. Writing was like therapy for me so it’s no wonder the hard times show up more in my journals than the easy ones.
For example, my first REAL relationship – the 2 years of love and companionship I shared with an amazing man – not in the books. The break up is. But the love? Not there. Unless I’m missing a journal, I apparently determined the goodness wasn’t interesting enough for creative expression.
So instead I read about the heartache.
The depression and anxiety.
Oh, I’ve read it all this weekend… I feel like I’ve been through an emotional hurricane, with every bit of self-doubt and hatred revisited. It all feels so incredibly heavy.
And I’m not just reading these journals, I am doing so to find a story in there to share with you. To find my story. Of how I got from there to here. Point A to point B.
Hurt girl to wise woman.
I’m searching for the line, for the path that I walked… I need to figure out how it all goes together. How did things start so bad and end so well? How did they get so much better at one point, to just fall apart completely the next? What held the story together? What held me together?
There was no moment in time when everything changed, though I tried to make that happen on many occasions. There was just a slow and steady growth as step-by-step, I found myself. And reliving this, along with the pain, brings me the most peace and gratitude I believe I have ever felt. Somehow I made it through and created a life that I love, that is everything I always wanted.
The thing about writing a memoir is… you feel everything at once and that gives you the understanding to finally see the truth. I got myself from there to here, point A to point B, hurt girl to wise woman. I became my own heroine and now I’m writing my heroine’s story.
A few months ago I got my first angry email from someone on my email list. And it hurt. Not surprising. Things like that hurt. No matter how thick your skin, when someone attacks you, you feel it.
I felt it.
Your last email reads like marketing waffle thinly veiled as pseudo “genuine” expression and “meaningful” existential preponderances. One or the other would be fine, but mixing them together makes for a vile, untrustworthy concoction….
Yep. That’s what showed up in my inbox.
Thankfully I have wonderful, wise women in the online space who I can turn to, and to them I went. With great love and kindness they told me to ignore it, to even celebrate it as proof that I’ve “arrived”.
So I could have just dismissed it. I could have done what they said and ignored it.
But I didn’t.
Because her words meant something to me. She had pushed a button, one that I realize now, was waiting to be pushed.
And I started questioning things… my actions, my objectives, my trajectory…
I realized that her words upset me so much because she was questioning my integrity. She was doubting my honesty in my writing, accusing me of using emotion to manipulate. She was lumping me in with all the other online business owners who DO use story and vulnerability as marketing tactics.
And the truth was, I had lumped myself in with them too. Somewhere along the way in the last couple years I had started to use my stories to sell. And even though connection and honesty were cornerstones of everything I wrote, my writing had shifted to “marketing” rather than writing for the sake of writing.
So there I was, smacked in the face with the reality that I was using my talent for objective driven content marketing rather than soulful expression, and I was stunned. Even though this strategy has built me a business I love (thank you!), I realized that by taking this path I was playing small. I was shrinking from my purpose.
Because that’s not what I was put on this Earth to do.
And now here I am, these handful of months later, my writing has changed. My objectives have changed. My brand has changed. Now I write for the sake of writing. I share for the sake of sharing. And it feels sooooo good. The words flow with so much more ease. Ideas are ever-present. I am no longer trying to manipulate my creativity, rather I am free to sink into it. To let it be everything… to let it be nothing… to let it be.
I think so many of us do this – we take things we love and try to shift them into something more. There’s always another webinar, podcast or blog post out there telling us to turn our hobbies into businesses, passions into profits. And not that I am stepping away from the model entirely, but I feel like I have given my writing a new freedom – to be what it wants to be, needs to be. To be what it was always meant to be. I’ve stopped shaping it and am instead allowing it to shape me.
Perhaps we are trying too hard to turn our passions, talents and hobbies into income generating activities – at least those of us who are living in this weird-ass online space. I think we all might be a little happier if we allow ourselves to indulge in creativity for the pure purpose of creating, rather than trying to increase our bottom line.
I grew up in a community of creators- artists, sculptors, writers, farmers. Makers. People who were living with their creativity leading the way and no one was trying to reach 6-figures (though I’m sure they wouldn’t have complained if they had). They were choosing a simple life, one where they could indulge in their passions and still pay the bills at the end of the month, perhaps not much more. And they are happy. Their art leads the way, rather than the quest to make more, more, more money.
I know I am now happier, writing to write, bottom line put aside for another time.
Re-configuring my business and perspective to be based on the pull of my spirit rather than the claims of the next 6-figure or 7-figure marketing plan has decreased my stress and increased my joy. Yes, I have bills to pay each month and trips I want to take. My cash flow sheet is an important part of my business. But I won’t minimize my talents or sacrifice my passions anymore because I’m aiming for an external goal that has been set by someone with an MBA whose plan all along was to make the big bucks.
My plan was never to make the big bucks.
My plan was to write.
So I am incredibly grateful for the woman who sent me that vicious piece of hate mail. She really did push a button that was waiting to be pushed, that needed to be pushed. I trust I would have gotten to this place anyway, but sometimes a good kick in the ass helps. Thank you.
I know this will get easier. Once I’m in the flow of writing with my soul leading the way, once I find our rhythm together (because blogging is never just about the writer). Once this happens it will be easier. I will write with confidence. With curiosity.
But today, as I sit to write my first piece with no restrictions, a piece that exists simple to share my life with you, I struggle.
Because where do I start?
Do I start with this morning when my sensitive and spirited boy fixated on something he couldn’t have and I had to focus every ounce of my energy on him, to give him the love and support he needed to make his way out the door to art camp without totally losing it?
Do I start with the oddness of living in my little hometown again, after 9 years away, this time with the reality that we are here to raise our family, the family we thought we would raise on the other side of the country in Vancouver?
Do I start with my gratitude for the changes in my life this past year – to now live without daily body pain, without financial struggles, without depression and loneliness? Do I share with you how beautifully my life has transformed?
Or do I start with how hard I still find it to identity as a “creative”, as a “writer”? That this was always my dream but one that felt so far off, like I would never really get there because the intensity of the fear was just too big to bare?
Where do I start with this? What do I need to write to satisfy my soul today and connect with you?
Today the fear feels deep.
Today I want to turn away from my “potential”.
Today I want to busy myself with client work and business building, hiding from the demands of my soul – the ones that are urging me to finally show up and be me.
Because isn’t it easier to play small? Isn’t it easier to be “good enough”? Isn’t it easier to do all the other things?
Let me tell ya, there’s a big ass load of clean laundry on the couch that is calling my name right now. Even though I’ve easily ignored it for an entire week, at this moment all I want to do is leave my computer behind and go fold mindlessly. Apparently I just have to try to write something meaningful to fall in love with house chores.
Funny how that happens.
It’s fucking scary to stand up and be yourself.
Here’s the thing, my whole life I’ve had a vision of myself that was crystal clear and fabulous – me as a strong, connected woman; one who was passionate and productive; physically fit and adventurous; a woman full of love and compassion for others, who honoured vulnerability and didn’t fear intimacy. And in this vision, always, I am a writer. A woman who writes important things – pieces that inspire, pieces that ask big questions, pieces that push readers to be their own best versions of themselves. The vision has always guided me, encouraged me forward. Through my darkest moments (and yes there have been many, we’ll get there in future posts I’m sure), I have had faith in this vision. I have trusted it. Trusted it to be the truth. That the only choice I had to make was how long would I wait.
And so my choice is: I will wait no longer.
With fear by my side (because I seriously doubt it will ever go away), I choose to step forward into my true vision of myself. Into the woman I know I am meant to be.
To write with soul.
To press publish.
To speak my truth.
To love deeply.
To dare greatly.
To take big risks.
To play big.
To know that I am worth it. To trust that I am more than capable. To have compassion when I feel like I am not.
So… I guess if I’m really going to do this, be the fabulous me I am meant to be – the passionate, loving, vulnerable me – I should go apologize to my sweetie for being a bitch this morning… sure sounds like something my fabulous self would do, doesn’t it?
This shit ain’t easy. But it’s real.
Because we ALL have days like this…
- Sit down at your desk
2. Check your calendar and confirm it’s time to write
3. Open a blank document
4. Look at the blank page
5. Review your writing plan (if you have one)
6. Decide your writing plan is dumb OR Feel certain that if you had made a writing plan it would have been perfect
7. Look at the blank page
8. Do back and reorganize the document folder
9. Open Facebook
18. Get a glass of water
19. Sit down at your desk
20. Sip water while staring at the blank document
21. Click over to email
22. Click back to document
23. Go make a cup of tea
24. Go to the bathroom
25. Put on some laundry
26. Stare out the window at the back garden that needs work
27. Go back to your desk and stare at the blank document
28. Write 1 crappy sentence.
29. Delete it
30. Remember you made tea
31. Find your now cold tea in the kitchen
32. Put on the kettle to make a new cup of tea (microwaving tea is just wrong)
33. Look in the fridge and put a few things on the grocery list
34. Go back to your desk with your tea and look at that damn blank document
35. Sip your tea while staring at that damn blank document
36. Check Facebook
40. Go take a shower
41. Change the laundry, finding a load of dry clothes in the drier
42. Fold the clothes
43. Make lunch
44. Eat lunch
45. Go back to your desk and open up your email
46. Answer a couple emails, now you’re starting to feel productive
47. Click back over to the blank document
48. Pretend to tap your fingers on the keyboard
49. Open up Facebook
53. Close your laptop
54. Stare out the window at the front garden that needs work
55. Check Instagram
56. Hit the yoga mat/Head out for a walk/Have a dance party
57. Open your laptop
58. Look at the blank document
59. Close your laptop
60. Walk away.
61. Commit to writing tomorrow.
The struggle is real.
And then you finally get a piece written but your 5 year old throws a fit when you’re trying to edit and publish…
The struggle is so very real.
We’ve all been there. We’re rocking away on our goals, aspirations, intentions…. and then life…. happens. We get off track, lose our way, and find ourselves some hours, days, weeks or months later, just trying to get back to the place where it all made sense, where there was a feeling of flow.
If you follow me it’s no secret that I have been a little lost… weeks go by without blog posts. Days go by without Facebook posts.
Because life has really really been happening in my world.
In October my partner and I decided to move our family across the country to my hometown, leaving the city, mountains and beaches of Vancouver behind. That’s enough to knock someone off track, to fill up many days with to-do’s and fill one’s mental space with a mix of anxiety and excitement.
But at the same time I started to get sick. Every few days I would wake up with a sore throat and what felt like a chest cold. After the October Write Joyfully workshop I lost my voice for 4 days. In November I had to reschedule the workshop because I knew my voice was on the verge again. Week after week I was sick.
And my business quickly got put on the back burner. I was no longer capable of the extra hours in the evenings, or the long weekend days. In fact I could barely get through a standard 6 hour day while my kids were at school. I was resting all the time. But I thought it was just a low immune system paired with little kids bringing home every bug from school and daycare. The curse of every mom with young children, right?
But as it went on and on I knew it had to be something else.
And then quickly, in the matter of a few days and with a weird little turn of events I learned I had an autoimmune disease that causes an abnormal growth of white blood cells in my esophagus (it’s called eosinophilic esophagitis if you’re really curious).
Suddenly so many things made sense – trouble swallowing since I was a kid, heartburn despite eating a ridiculously healthy diet, and the chronic sore throat and “chest cold” I had been experiencing was actually due to acid reflux which is a symptom of the disease.
There’s a sense of peace that arrives when it all makes sense, when you no longer feel like there are so many things wrong with you but in fact it’s just one thing.
And then (at least for me) there’s despair when you hear those words “autoimmune disease”. An autoimmune disease is a life-changer. And despite having had some weird health things in the past, I hadn’t learned my lesson to not Google health conditions. Seriously. Never do that. But of course I did. So there was 2 weeks wasted Googling, and crying.
What I am most grateful for in all of this is my inner knowing and guidance. Early in the new year I had this feeling, this knowing that this year would be a year of health for me, that a big shift was coming, that I would finally heal the inflammation that I knew was in my body. When the diagnosis came I immediately chose natural healers, knowing exactly who I needed to contact – someone I had only heard a bit about but when I spoke with him he told me he had indeed treated many people with my condition successfully.
So despite the fear, it all felt right. Simple even. After so many times of struggling to make diet changes (I’m a big fan of the sweets!) I gave up all temptations with ease. I was so certain that the time had come. That in fact the time was mine. That this is my path. A path to greater health. To deeper connection with myself. To a true integration of my body, mind and soul so that I may flourish. So that I may be everything I am meant to be.
But that’s not exactly what this post is supposed to be about… it’s about how to write when you’re faced with challenges, when your focus must shift from output to self nourishment.
I would love to tell you I wrote a book in the last few months, chronicling the whole experience. I would love to tell you I wrote daily, that I started a personal blog, that the words didn’t stop.
But that didn’t happen.
It’s been hard to write. It’s been hard to make the time, to feel centered and grounded enough for the flow of words to come. And no, I didn’t force myself to sit and write just because I should. There was no forcing myself to do anything during this time.
Instead I wrote whatever I needed to write, whenever it felt good. My journal received most of my thoughts. A few random blogs posts were started. Ideas for different books were sketched out. I didn’t write a lot. And I often felt guilty for that, felt like I was failing. Like I sure as hell wasn’t much of a writing coach if I couldn’t keep myself writing! As the weeks and months passed without consistent writing, the guilt seeped in so deep that I could barely see my way through to the other side, to the side that might have me once again writing and sharing my work.
But here’s what I learned: Sometimes we write, and sometimes we don’t. And any amount, and any style, is perfect. We need not put ourselves down if shit hits the fan and we don’t crank out a heartless, boring blog post week after week. Whatever we write is what we’re meant to write. If we honour that, the words will return. If we choose not to feel guilty, the creativity will rise up again. Giving more attention to loving ourselves, rather than judging ourselves for not being enough – that is what will make the shift.
Last night as I got ready for bed I thought to myself “What if I simply chose not to feel guilty for falling behind in my business?”
And today I wrote.