Today’s letter is possibly one of my favorite kinds of these weekly missives.
It’s one of those days where I get to share with you some hard decisions I’ve had to make recently, but I get to come out the other side of it with a new perspective on my life and share that shift with all of you.
These are truly the moments I love the most because I get to show you through my own experiences that while authentic living isn’t always the easiest or the most obvious choice, it is the thing that often leads us to a freer, more enlightened way of being.
So, the plan is to dive way into ALLLL of that this week. But first, a little bit of background…
Last Thursday night, as I sat in front of my computer, eyes bleary from editing yet another course video, nerves pushed to the max preparing to launch Your First E-Course the following morning, Jason approached my desk.
Wondering how and when I was going to finish putting all the pieces in place to make the course launch happen, I could feel myself almost vibrating with anxiety, knowing that each passing minute was one that I couldn’t afford to waste. In response to this heightened sense of tension, I could tell Jason’s stress levels were elevated too, and it was clear in his approach that he was unsure of how to negotiate with me for fear of detonating the bomb.
Calmly he looked into my sleep-deprived eyes and asked, "Do you really think you can get it all done by tomorrow? Why don't you just push the launch until next week."
At first, I’ll be honest, I was ANGRY. I had already used every last drop of my willpower to convince myself that hitting my deadline was still possible, and what I needed was someone to have my back on that, not question my decision. I remember thinking to myself: Pushing the launch is impossible.
I’ve already pushed it by a day, people are expecting it, I don’t want to let anyone down, I don’t want to break the trust I’ve built with my community, I want to prove to myself I can stick to a deadline… the thoughts raced on, each one with more conviction than the last zipping through my head.
In my mind, pushing the deadline was simply not. an. option.
Then, as my defensiveness slowly subsided, I was able to step outside of myself to take a look at what was happening. I was exhausted. The house was a mess. And I was snapping at my partner, the one person that I love and trust and admire more than anyone else. What was I giving up in order to make this launch happen?
That realization was just enough for me to take a moment and, instead of immediately dismissing the pushing of the launch as a non-option, allow my imagination to play out the scenario.
What if I did? Realistically what really would happen? When I gave myself permission to go down that road, it became clear to me that the world would in fact NOT end if I took a few more days to make this course what I knew it could be. People would survive. All of you would not desert me. And I could use it as an opportunity to practice a little more self-kindness — forgiving myself for failing to meet an arbitrary deadline of my own creation.
Turns out that decision was a good one because not only did I get some much needed rest (allowing Jason and everyone else around me to stop walking on eggshells) but the course that will finally be launched tomorrow is heaps better than it would have been had I tried to force it.
Choosing that, though, required entertaining a solution that I was hellbent on avoiding. It required investigating my own hesitations and beliefs in order to see that an “I couldn’t possibly…” was actually a “I’m really scared to…”
And so it got me thinking about other areas of my life where the thing that I need most might be hiding from my vision as a non-option.
Wondering about all of this, I took a break from the course to work on some new art backgrounds for lettering pieces Saturday night. For whatever reason, during this session I was feeling particularly free — smearing oil pastels on top of acrylic paint, swiping my palette knives in patterns I had never dreamt up, combining colors that felt unexpected and surprising.
And that’s when this tiny whisper of a thought came to me: I wish I could do nothing but paint for a whole month.
The thought seemed so silly, so idealistic that I dismissed it just as soon as it popped into my head.
Then, thankfully, (taking note from my previous experience) I probed myself further on the topic.
Why couldn’t I do that? What was holding me back? I’m my own boss, aren’t I? My business has done well enough this year that I’m not in danger of not paying the bills, so what’s stopping me back from taking a month “off” just to create? Once I really started to allow myself to go down the path of this hidden possibility — taking the month of December off just to paint — I realized it wasn’t quite so fantastical after all.
Jason and I are already driving back to Jacksonville, FL to stay there from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I could rent a small studio space or set up a room to myself wherever we’re staying. I could wake up in the morning and let inspiration guide me. I could explore new mediums and processes and really allow my creativity the space it needs to roam. Instead of spending that time racing to get Color Your Soul ready for you all by the first of the year, all the while juggling family and holidays and working remotely, I could rewrite that plan and instead spend the time actually synthesizing my inspiration into a better version of Color Your Soul, despite pushing it back a bit further into the first part of the year.
I considered the things that were holding me back from making that happen: deadlines I had pulled out of thin air. Promises I had made to myself. Arbitrary dates and manufactured pressure.
Once I realized those things were really just constraints of the imagination and restrictions built of fear, my mind started to buy in to the fact that I didn’t have to play by those rules.
Oftentimes we see our options laid out for us as though we were on one of those old game shows. We ask ourselves whether we want to choose the path behind Door #1 or Door #2 or Door #3.
What I’ve learned this week is that there is always a Door #4.
We may not see it because we’re too afraid of what will happen if we choose it, or we simply may not be looking hard enough for it, but it’s always there.
And this time I’ve decided to choose Door #4.
For the entire month of December, I’ll be going on a “creative hiatus.” My sole focus during that month won’t be business growth or 2016 planning; instead it will be unbridled curiosity and creativity. My job will be to create as freely and wildly as I can muster so that you all and this community can benefit from the discoveries of that treasure hunt when I resurface.
That means instead of rushing to launch Color Your Soul in December/January, I’ll push things back by two months so that I can truly do this idea justice. Just as a musician takes time off between albums to live and create an experience things so it can show up in their work, I too want to use the rest of this year to create rather than to keep up.
That’s a path I might not have considered if it weren’t for questioning my own self-imposed boundaries.
How many times in our lives have opportunities been present that we just weren't willing to SEE?
That’s what I hope you’ll take from these stories.
So this week I challenge you to first fill in this blank:
"I couldn’t possibly ______________ ."
Now I want you to investigate that perception. What if you could possibly? What would that look like?
Let your imagination run wild. Break through your own boundaries. And challenge yourself to see the unseeable. To consider the unconsidered.
Hoping that you all will forgive me for pushing the course until tomorrow (though I promise you the content will be well worth it!), and I hope to bring you fascinating field notes from my December creative hiatus, the discoveries of which I promise will show up in Color Your Soul in a big way come February.
Remember, friends, you get to make up the rules to your own life. Now get out there and start living out of bounds.