creative resistance lessons from a year of self employment

Creative Resistance: What I’ve learned in the last year.

Last week – a week I rather dramatically called ‘Do or Die Week'  – I sent the following email to my list of subscribers on the topic of creative resistance. More specifically, my own creative resistance.

I was in a space that held both deep doubt and fierce faith. It was down to the wire, again, and I finally decided to show up for myself.  The words came pouring out of me in a wild rush, and I sent it because I had a a deep need to not feel alone in this.  I KNEW I couldn't be alone in this.

I was right. When I woke the next morning over 20 messages were waiting in my inbox- and over the next few days the emails continued to come. Deep emails, soul-revealing emails, brave and bold messages of truth that cracked me wide open. In all my years of writing online and sending posts to my subscribers, I have never received a response like this.

When something I write elicits that much feedback, I know I'm on to something. I know that I've somehow touched a collective experience – something universal within the creative journey. And this is always my indicator that there is more to write, more to create, more work to do.  And so – I am sharing that email here, and I am excited to continue this discussion.


Hello Dearest,

I'm writing you this from my newly found co-working space. I've been a self-employed and fully self-supported single mama for a year and a quarter now, working from my dining room table and haunting local coffee shops for more hours than the baristas would likely prefer.

What a hell of a ride it has been. I made it this far – which I know is far more than many. Truth be told though, It's been down to the wire more times than I want to admit.

Down to the wire like deadlines looming and people waiting and non-sufficient funds charges from the bank and steadily increasing credit card debt. Down to the wire like the mad rush from school to cheer practice and hockey tournaments and take out pizza for dinner.

I’ve vacillated between mad hustle, and hard core run and hide. Bounced between fierce determination and even stronger resistance. I’ve been living on and in purpose and doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing, and also lived fully inside of the ‘holy-fuck-i'm-running-out-of-money-i-need-to-make-a-new-thing-now-and-pray-they-want-to-buy-it’.

Most of the time I feel like it's all riding on a wing and a prayer.

Yes – I’m an artist – a multi-passionate creative, a writer and a photographer and a storyteller. But I never wanted to be a walking cliche. Yet here I am, feeling like another starving artist.

It’s not that I dislike the business end of things. Truth be told (and much to my surprise) I love business and marketing. I geek out on it. Ask me to help someone else and I light up. I believe in the magic that happens when we take our passions and offer them to the world in a way that fully supports our lives and the people we love. When it is for someone else, it feels like a scared sort of service.

But when I’m doing it for me – the merging of my own art with the necessity of commerce has been fucking messy. And the more anxiety I feel about making it work – the less I actually create. The requirement that the things I make must make money often shuts down the well of words that I thought would never fail me.

I’ve surrounded myself with walls of my own making – walls that separate me from the work and the gifts which are meant to fuel and sustain me.

I’ve been making it for a year, on the power of words alone. Correction – *almost* making it.

Almost, but not quite.

Though there is always more to know, I have the knowledge and the wisdom to do this. I’ve logged enough years in small business ownership and education, digital and content marketing and automation, and had the opportunity to work with and learn from some seriously incredibly people. I know what I should be doing most of the time, and when I don't I've got a tribe of experts surrounding me that I can call on.

I've got angels upon angels (you know who you are) who come through with both love and concrete help and support, over and over again. I've got a community of brave and wise and deeply intuitive souls who trust me to guide them into the world of words and story. I've got all of you, honoring me by granting me precious space in your inbox and in your day. For all of this I am truly and eternally grateful.

In the end, this isn't a battle to master online marketing, or sales emails or content creation or social media platforms. In the end, this is a journey – as are all journeys, really – deep into myself.

This is about coming face to face with all of my fears and all of my resistance. All of my issues of worthiness and visibility. All of my blocks to money and my inability – thus far – to step fully into the vastness of what could be. My hesitation to not just step onto the stage but to stay there, and not run back into my safe little introvert hermitude as soon as the spotlight shines too brightly.

And so here I am once more. Wedged between the proverbial rock and that terribly uncomfortable hard space. Knowing that this is, as it always is, a dilemma of my own making.

And here I am, committed to doing things differently. To invest financially (even when that investment stretches me far out of my own comfort zone) in the support and expertise that I needed to succeed and in a dedicated space to work from. To stare down the demons and this massive to-do list, and to push through the blocks that have kept me from meaningful creation.

No mistake – this is my week of reckoning. At the end of it must lie a solid amount of work done, content and funnels created with sustainable income potential solidly in place.

Today I arrived at my new co-working ‘office', supplies in hand, quad almond milk latte and freshly blended green smoothie at the ready, intentions clear. Ready to work. I had, as my own teenager daughter suggested – a real no bullshit talk with myself the night before.

I had laid out the work to be done and exactly what was on the line. I had made a tenuous sort of peace and a reluctant surrender to the fact that another corporate job might really be in the cards in upcoming weeks and months. And, with the peace and surrender present and fully felt – I decided I wasn’t going down without one hell of a fight. I set some fierce intentions and committed fully to the path ahead.

And yet this morning I sat there at my new office, and I did nothing meaningful, resistance gripping me so fiercely that I felt my brain begin it’s familiar path of distraction, skittering from one disjointed thread to the next – like the countless open tabs on my web browser.

For an hour and a half I allowed myself to slip into the patterns of distraction and fear that had landed me in exactly this place. And the voices in my head began speaking loudly. And I started listening.

I’m no good at this.
I can’t focus.
I’m not cut out for business.
I lack the drive and the motivation.
There has GOT to be something wrong with my brain.
What am I so damn afraid of?
I’m a fraud. Soon I’ll have to get a job and they’ll all know it.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?

And then, I took a breath. And a drink of water. And I decided that it was time – past time – to do something differently. And I put on my headphones and I found a good playlist. I closed all those open tabs and I reminded myself of why I was there and what needed to be done.

And then…well then I fucking did it.

I got almost everything on my list done, and then when the co-working space closed I drove home, picked up the dog and headed to my friend’s house for our weekly evening co-working date to began again. I didn’t stop till I was done. Done with every last thing I had set out to do that day.

I still don’t know if it will be enough, or if it will work. Maybe I’ll have to get a job. Maybe I won’t. But I’m reminding myself right now that if I’m the one who got me to this place, I’m the one who can get me out. And it all comes down to sitting down, silencing the demons and doing the work.

It comes down to believing in the art. Creating. Dancing with the muse, welcoming her home to play. Breathing into the expansiveness right in front of my face.

It comes down to making the art, dammit.

Wherever you find yourself tonight, and whatever demons are chasing you, whatever you’ve gotten yourself into and whatever resistance has you frozen, I get you. I feel you. And I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to stay there. That no, it won’t be easy – but that moment by moment and day by day, you can move yourself out of where you are, and at least one tiny step closer to where you want to be.

Hell. If I can do it, anyone can.

xo.

J.

PS: Are you in an epic stare down with demons or resistance? Are the negative voices speaking loudly and freezing you in place? Are you ready to get fierce with intention? Are you here to create? Reply and tell me all about it – after all, for all that the journey is solitary, we’re in this together. Let's walk this one hand in hand. All of your emails mean so much to me. I welcome you to continue this conversation on resistance and the voices that try to keep us small. On struggles and blocks around money and income and art.  On the fears and the hold back.  Let's walk this path together.

P.P. S. Within the next few weeks I am planning to create an online conversation where we can all get together via Zoom to continue this conversation in real time. Make sure you subscribe to my email list so I can send you a link to join our tribe live on the call.

Beating creative resistance with action: Lessons learned in my first year of self employment
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