encouragement

Growing Pains

I cannot believe how difficult it is to actually write this. I’ve had a post screaming in my  head for days now. Like a loud, beautiful piece of music that won’t go away until I DO something about it. So here I am and you know what I hear in my head? Nothing. Silence.

Whatever. I’m doing this anyway.

When I started writing and posting on my blog last year, my intention was to build something from which I could eventually figure out a way to monetize. I was in love with the idea of minimalism. I read stories from other minimalists who made money from writing about getting rid of their junk and I thought “Hey, I can do that. I love writing and I love getting rid of stuff.” Instant, easy, awesomness, right?

The more I wrote, the more I wanted people to read (and like and comment on) what I wrote. I needed that daily dopamine fix. I sacrificed sleep and time with “real” people in my life to get that little rush of feel good. My WordPress app on my phone became my lifeline to how many people had actually read and decided to follow my blog. As the readership increased, so did the time I spent on my blog and reading other blogs.

Looking back I see it now: I had become a blog junkie.

Then something happened that I could never have predicted. Ever. In a million fear-filled years of my life.

First, I took this set of pictures for The Closet Countdown project:

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This is where my life ended and began with a rather innocent thought. Something deep inside me bubbled to the surface. Ancient. Powerful. Dangerous. Here goes…I thought that I actually looked pretty in these pictures. I felt pretty. For two whole seconds I tasted that freedom that only comes from self-love and fearless living. I even attempted to write about it here  in a post about the morning after The Closet Countdown ended. Then Nancy (please go check out her awesome blog My Year[s] of Sweat if you haven’t already) posted a comment pointing out how I had grown in confidence since I started my little experiment.

A perfect spiritual storm poured down. It broke me. And inside I began to walk a new road.

It was beautiful and horrible all at the same time. Beautiful because I needed to begin to learn to like myself. Horrible because I was so afraid…

Writing and posting and commenting and responding to comments began to seem distasteful in a way that I could not explain. So I gave myself permission to quit. I used my time to dig deep. To learn to say loving things to myself. To forgive. To dream. To love. I found so many beautiful things hiding under a lifetime of fear and self-loathing.

The result has been nothing short of amazing. I will tell you more about it. But not today. Maybe not even tomorrow. But I will. Not because I feel like I have to. But because I want to.

I make no promises about this blog . I can’t afford to right now. That means I may not even respond to your wonderful comments. I may not read or follow your blog – even if you read or follow mine. However, I do promise to send sunshine your way. I’m not doing this to make money. I’m doing this to increase the light in the world. Simple but true.

If you are still reading, I am most grateful. It is not quite the rush that it once was but it adds joy to my day to know that someone read and enjoyed what I wrote. I’m fascinated by the connection we make as writer to reader…

Here is my sunshine for you today:

I wish you warm, beautiful light. The kind that fills your heart and makes you want to make the world a better place. I wish this for you with my whole heart…

Love and Light,

Ginny

Minimalism. Hard Work. Big Rewards.

Work is love made visible. – Kahlil Gibran

Though my outside circumstances are pretty rough, I’m in a great place internally. A big part of that is because I’m working very hard at being a better person. I honestly flinch to write that. Work hard? At being kind and caring and honest and sincere? Aren’t we supposed to just “be” those things naturally? If we are, I’m screwed.

Enter minimalism. As I began the action of reducing my things, I learned early that it is not an easy process. It’s taking a long time because I don’t want to just throw it all away. I’m a curious person. I want to explore why I hold on to things and why I feel the need to let go. Minimalism has become much more about the internal work than the external process of eliminating stuff.

I feel like I’m finding important pieces of myself buried beneath my collection of clothes and old beliefs. Pieces I told myself that were worthless because I had to “work” to make them shine.

The process fascinates me. I examine an old toy. Then I examine the belief that rich people are all assholes. Odds and ends I’ve collected on my journey so far. A lot of it is a bunch of crap. There are days when it’s not fun to decide what to do with a box of baby clothes or my scraps of religion.

But it is worth it. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to like myself. What a treasure to find on my quest for simplicity.

A few days ago, I remembered an interview with Kris Carr I’d seen years ago. She is a fabulous woman. Please check out her documentary titled Crazy Sexy Cancer. She is a survivor and an inspiration to many. She said something that stayed with me and as I grow into my new identity as a person with less baggage, I’m ready to embrace those words. Please watch the video below to hear her response when asked how she stays so positive (the answer is within the first twenty seconds of this clip).

I’m ready to work hard at being a better person. I’m ready to let go of my belief that the good stuff in life comes easy and without effort. So far, all the good stuff in my life has come because I’ve worked for it. All the miles under my feet. All the love in my life. All the joy in my heart. All the light in my soul. Yes, they are gifts but if I don’t nurture them and work to make them grow, then they are as worthless as I once believed I was…

Thank you dear reader. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. As you read these words, know that I wish great things for you, my fellow traveler along my simplicity quest. I’m honored that you would walk with me.

Shine on,

G

Inspiration: The Happiness Advantage

I saw this video for the first time less than a year ago. I was sitting at my desk at my old job, knowing that the small company we had worked so hard to build for two years was self-destructing right before my eyes. Sadness owned my soul.

I loved it instantly. Shawn Achor made me laugh and then he made me cry. (I still smile when I think of his opening story.) I cried because he was talking about happiness and I felt so far from it. At the same time, it gave me hope and made me feel special when I was facing a pretty big “failure”.

In my simplicity quest, I have learned so much already. My happiness does not depend on my current state of minimalism. Minimalism is simply a way of traveling. My happiness doesn’t even depend on my income or my relationships (though I do find that having these two things in check makes my life MUCH easier…). It all depends on the filter I choose to put on my life view.

Shawn Achor’s TEDTalk reminded me of that.

He mentions 5 things that make a huge difference in one’s happiness:

  1. Write down 3 things  for which you are grateful
  2. Journal
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random Acts of Kindness

He says that if you do these five simple things for just 21 days, you can begin to change the way your brain sees the world. That fascinates me. We can change our brains. One connection at a time. Why not start with happiness?

Thank you, dear reader for spending your precious time reading my humble blog. I’m honored that you stopped by. Sincerely. I wish you much happiness on your journey. May your heart remain wide open and grateful. 🙂

Cheers,
G

Bittersweet – This is Me…

20130819-133342.jpgThis image is from Story People. Short clusters of words (sometimes with images) that reach right in, grab my heart, and make me glad to be alive. I’ve read many that resonate with me over the years (I have three prints and a small stack of Brian Andreas books in my home) but this is my favorite for 2013 and possibly forever. Please go to their site and read a few. Then come back here and tell me what you think in the comments section. 🙂

Cheers!!!

How to Make Money Online (psst…it’s not about the money)

20130703-094715.jpgA few weeks ago, I ran a Google search for “how to make money online”. I love writing. LOVE it. I wanted to see if I could find a simple way to make some extra pocket change using my love and my ever-growing skills. I wasn’t searching for way to get rich quick or even get rich by pursuing a career online. Just a project or an idea that would give me some boundaries and help me grow as a writer – and put a little extra in my bank account at the same time. I didn’t find much. But I did find this bit of treasure and I thought I would share it. It’s from Seth Godin’s blog.

How to make money online

  1. The first step is to stop Googling things like, “how to make money online.” Not because you shouldn’t want to make money online, but because the stuff you’re going to find by doing that is going to help you lose money online. Sort of like asking a casino owner how to make money in Vegas…

  2. Don’t pay anyone for simple and proven instructions on how to achieve this goal. In particular, don’t pay anyone to teach you how to write or sell manuals or ebooks about how to make money online.

  3. Get rich slow.

  4. Focus on the scarce resource online: attention. If you try to invent a way to take cheap attention and turn it into cash, you will fail. The attention you want isn’t cheap, it’s difficult to get via SEO and it rarely scales. Instead, figure out how to earn expensive attention.

  5. In addition to attention, focus on trust. Trust is even more scarce than attention.

  6. Don’t worry so much about the ‘online’ part. Instead, figure out how to create value. The online part will take care of itself.

  7. Don’t quit your day job. Start evenings and weekends and figure it out with small failures.

  8. Build a public reputation. A good one, and be sure that you deserve it, and that it will hold up to scrutiny.

  9. Obsessively specialize. No niche is too small if it’s yours.

  10. Connect the disconnected.

  11. Lead.

  12. Build an online legacy that increases in value daily.

  13. Make money offline. If you can figure out how to create value face to face, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to do the same digitally. The web isn’t magic, it’s merely efficient.

  14. Become the best in the world at something that people value. Easier said than done, worth more than you might think.

  15. Hang out with people who aren’t looking for shortcuts. Learn from them.

  16. Fail. Fail often and fail cheaply. This is the very best gift the web has given to people who want to bootstrap their way into a new business.

  17. Make money in the small and then relentlessly scale.

  18. Don’t chase yesterday’s online fad.

  19. Think big, act with intention and don’t get bogged down in personalities. If it’s not on your agenda, why are you wasting time on it?

  20. Learn. Ceaselessly. Learn to code, to write persuasively, to understand new technologies, to bring out the best in your team, to find underused resources and to spot patterns.

  21. This is not a zero sum game. The more you add to your community, the bigger your piece gets.

To read the full article, go here.

It reminded me that I don’t need the extra pocket change as much as I desire to add beauty and light to the world. It’s not about the money. It’s about the big picture and how I can share the strange sunshine I carry with me wherever I go. It’s about who I’ve always wanted to be and deciding that it’s not too late to be that person…and maybe make a living while I do it.

It’s not too late to “make it” as a writer (whatever that may look like). It’s not too late so I must keep writing. Keep searching. Keep my eyes open and my soul free to find just what I want to share with the world. It’s the reason I’m on my quest for simplicity. It’s the reason I get rid of my stuff and focus on minimalism. Simplify. Minimize. For what? To find the beauty that waits inside me.

That’s what I offer you today, dear reader. Don’t give up. Whatever your dream. Whatever your “calling”. Don’t give up on it. And stop Googling “how to make money online”. 😉

Cheers to you and your dreams!