Unraveling the Root

I haven’t talked much about genealogy lately, it’s been shuffled to the backburner a bit as I tackled other projects. I think I got shy after I had a piece published with the National Archives at the beginning of winter, talking about the research I did to find out what happened to my great, great grandfather after he gave my great grandmother (and her siblings) up for adoption in 1916. It was a big undertaking, and there’s a mystery remaining in that branch that I revisit every few weeks.

Over the weekend we wandered down through Olmstead and Dodge counties, where some of the family roots lie. We didn’t do anything specific, it was just an initial spring voyage, but with the release of the 1950 census, I am definitely itching for more deep research, in the field this year, something we weren’t able to do last summer. Just a few weeks ago we spent time at the Pioneer Room in Hastings, and it made me excited to visit places where my family comes from, since there’s no real history of us here. Maybe we’ll change that, leave some kind of legacy behind. Who knows. We were led there by Rylan’s love of architecture and history, and after a late night digging into local historic houses, we headed in for answers and the seeds of another summer project, studying the beautiful buildings we are surrounded by.

As I ran out of my own family mysteries to solve (there’s still Hattie – but my grandma has been chasing Hattie for longer than I’ve been alive), I’ve been excited to pursue other local history, and I’m so glad that my kids share that passion with me and are willing to indulge my roadtrips through history – but I am also really looking forward to building friendships and discovering connections with other adults.

I’m offering a beginners genealogy workshop later this month – if you’re curious about how to begin, or overwhelmed with how to get anywhere, I would love to help guide you in the right direction.

The Void

I think that the worst part of this depression is that it caught me off guard. Life was so great, and then it wasn’t.

Despite applying all of my tools, despite showing up through it and trusting – it has me in its grips, and I just want to surrender, I want to stop trying to hold my life together, and let it all fall apart. It wants to SO BADLY, why must I fight? Why do I have to fight for faith in what never seems to fight for me? This is the story of my life. I bend myself in unnatural ways to prove myself to someone who will never see me or have faith in me.

I’m angry at the sky, but my anger is not as big as my desire to not. There is the part of me still aware of the life – but there is the weight of no longer caring. I want to want it, but I want not. I want nothing. Logically I understand this is how depression works, numbing the mind so it no longer has to feel the longing or the joy of the spirit. I cannot want it because in recognizing that I had it, and that I genuinely don’t know how to get out of this, the pain is too much.

I’m not asking for advice, or offers for help. The help that I need is not something that is available, and quite honestly it is a burden when people offer what is not helpful to make themselves feel better. I appreciate that people care and want to be of service – but it is exhausting performing the role of the graciously suffering. I have to help myself, and I will, just as soon as the magical & inaccessible switch flips in its on good time, on its own damn schedule. Until then – I will keep showing up, keep laughing, keep using the tools – and hope that soon I will want again, before my life is once again ashes.

I just don’t want to be silent. What I really want is to scream my soul directly out of my body, and then bring it back in again, refreshed and ready to love living. But this is not the ghost town, and we do not conduct our civil selves in such a way – so I’ll post this blog post that nobody will read, and go about the business of existing.

The Void

There is a point, where spring is scratching at the door, that the cold of winter no longer just hurts my tender, not-meant-for-Minnesota flesh. Instead it becomes a vaccuum within me, an ache so deep that I can barely move.

There have been times in my life that I’ve craved fruit, or meat, something my body is telling me it needs desperately, and I’ve cried for the urgency of the need for specific sustenance. This is how I feel at the edge of winter, my dried-out skin feels so confining, I feel like that one chick from Dr. Who – moisturize me. But it’s not my skin, at all – it’s my soulbits. I want the freedom to step into the night and hear bugs. I need to drive with the windows down, sink into a river, I need to breathe air that doesn’t instantly initiate postnasal drip.

Please come to here, spring. Before I crack.

Close Looking with Cal

A bit ago Callie brought me a rock and we were talking about it, talking about the details of it – a simple observation practice called close looking. While doing this, we got into a debate about the color of it – she said it was grey, and I felt pretty sure it was blue-green. So I asked if she wanted to find the color and see if we could draw it. I had been in the middle of work, so I had adobe programs up and running, and had her grab my surface pens so we could doodle.

Since covid forced so many people home, and unexpectedly into the role of homeschooling mom, I’ve had a lot of people ask how I do it, what my days look like, how I juggle. We don’t officially “begin” our “homeschool year” (we are always learning, and tend to do big projects in the summer when the world is available and not frozen) until next week, but even then, while I am continuously striving for systems and routines that work well, this is what a lot of days shape up to be. Stopping what I’m doing to look close, to discuss, explore, and connect. It’s not perfect, some days I’m overly focused on work, sometimes I am too into a topic that they have no interest in exploring. Even 8 years into this journey, we are still practicing, and evolving, through our learning together as a family.

And, of course – playing. When we were done with the rock, and had settled on the color being green-blue-grey, I turned Callie loose and we played with the photoshop tools. I’m forever amazed by how quickly kids catch on to everything tech. She was breezing through those tools with such ease. I am forever grateful to get these moments with my kids, to get to see them learning and figuring things out, and figuring it all out by their side.

Move Aside, Wes Anderson. Fairfield Porter has entered.

I know, I know. How predictably hipster of me to love Wes Anderson.

I’m thinking tonight about …well, as always, a ton of shit that isn’t related but gets woven together in my spaz brain. Just picture me waving my hands in the air, gaping like a drowning fish, trying to find the words to explain why thinking styles, wealth distribution and the myth of the meritocracy, compositional design theory, and life rafts all go together. Not so much a lack of words, I suppose, as complete and cohesive sentences. Shut up brain.

Anyway. I just wandered over to Wikipedia and clicked random article a few times, hoping for a little mindless inspiration to turn into something. I ended up on the article for Fairfield Porter, and let me tell you what – when I saw that first example of his work, alongside the rattling off of his prestigious family, I. Was. Pissed. BANANAS DUCT TAPED TO WALLS. NFT ART. TAYLOR SWIFT. EVERYTHING MEANS NOTHING. Merit? Merit is meaningless if money and a well-connected family allows you to step over people with actual talent who are working their tails off. Mind you, that ain’t me, but man I’m mad for those folks, probably. In theory.

Cause this? This is horrible! Don’t try to convince me otherwise with some pretentious bullshit. If your art takes that many words to justify it, it’s bad. IT’S BAD.

Fairfield Porter's painting 'Under the Elms', 1971 - 1972.jpg

Fucking Fairfield Porter and his Hahvahd education, his architect-poet parents, his delightfully WASPy name, and his terrible, terrible art. He is everything wrong with the world. I can envision the smug smiles and cashmere cardigans that call this shit art. On Great Spruce Head Island. In Maine.

So then, of course, I wanted to feed my bratty envy entirely valid rage and feel superior about my own shitty art skills. So I turned to my trusty friend, Google, always there to validate whatever feelings I want to believe in.

And wouldn’t you fucking know.

Please don’t make me admit it.

Dammit all. I just wanted to be mad, but no, of course not. Instead I get eyes like saucers and a racing heart, taking in aaaaallll of that gorgeous, no-words-required-art.

So then I just wanted to talk about it, show someone the pretties, but my brain wandered away to obvi-wes places – and it brought me to a new frustration. Before making my way to Wikipedia, and Sir Porter of Great Spruce Head, I had been researching compositional design theory – and, even for a master of the Google-fu, I was having a hard time finding precisely what I was after.

Part of this is an algorithmic problem, of course – too many people look for the easy answers, driving those results to the top and drowning out the deeper, more complex explorations on a topic. Fair enough. However, whenever I come against such a wall, I am plagued by a mild regret, for not having gone to college. Not really, because I have enough awareness to know that my little girl fantasies of passionate academic debate taking place in classroom, coffee shops, and in an evergreen quad are, at best, a thing of the past, and possibly purely TV-inspired myth. But part of me wishes I had (easier) access to the deeper understanding that seems to be available through university system, than it is for an autodidact with an internet connection. While options like Skillshare exist, most of the classes are pretty shit, people repackaging and regurgitating the same information you find in those first few pages of google search results.

I love design, composition, cinematography, storytelling, music. All of it. I love art, creation, expression. I drink that shit in, it gives me goosebumps. However, loving and understanding are two different things. Laying claim to love, and being able to explain what it is you love, and why…that is an entirely different beast. I do not have that beast, I am beastless. Or, I suppose my beast is undisciplined, unintelligible, and never fully satiated. Maybe if I had saddled it with a 6-figure education, led it into the cage of higher education, I would now be the proud master of a broken beast which I could ride into the glorious, well-composed sunset.

I don’t think it should be that way, is the trouble. I also don’t think it is that way – because most of the people wandering the internet, confused, searching for those easy answers…well, statistically, they have a college education, and they don’t seem to understand anything, either, and especially not in a way that they can speak on with any authority. But why is it so hard to get complete information online, in the Information Age. Why is everything available in memes and nuggets, with very little deep, meaningful discussion happening.

I’ve been preaching since I was a young teen about the potential of the internet for learning, that you could teach yourself damn near anything if you have an internet connection. It’s true, you can – but it’s also lacking. I talk a lot about our experiences with homeschooling, and how the most memorable learning moments were found in connection, and especially the lifeguard who taught us about the ocean on a random weekday afternoon, on an empty beach in Florida. It used to be that you could get deep connection online, in fact when I was an awkward hermit youth, I could only find it online. But now it seems that everyone is so busy having opinions and being authentic that we’ve forgotten how to have real conversations. Like really real, like really hard, not just cozying up to people who spout the same buzzwords in an endless cycle of yas queen. CHALLENGING, dissenting, perspective shifting conversations. It shouldn’t be this way, but should doesn’t measure up to much, and I’m off topic. Always.

So what is it. That’s the question that made me start this bullshit post with too many words because I’m avoiding going to bed. What is it about this art that I love so much, that I want to bring into my own work, that I want to name and study and maybe even talk about??

Haven’t the foggiest. But if I ever manage to figure it out, I want to wrap my life up in it.

Prototyping Life

I’ve always loved the idea of systems and routines. I’ve mentioned before (not that anyone is reading this lol) that I have a history of buying notebooks, planners, books, tools – fully intending to totally transform my life overnight. That’s how it works, right?

For a long time, the systems I tried didn’t work at all – I’d buy all the things, excitedly put things in place, and immediately abandon them. That could mean something like designing a planner, printing it, punching the holes, filling the binder …and then never using it, not one time.

Back before covid chaos, I was using a bullet journal daily – the same basic spread daily. It worked! Until life threw that big, conspiracy-filled wrench into all of our lives. I’ve been talking a lot with my friend about what systems should be, and what we create instead. The systems I’ve used have worked, until they didn’t.

We need systems that work when life falls apart. They don’t work at all if they only work when things are going according to plan, when we are perfect. They need to be simple and streamlined enough that the system itself does not become its own task, onerous and dreaded.

A few months ago, my grandma gave me a plastic box of old, yellowed index cards. I had no idea what to do with them, so I set them in a random place in my house and ignored them, until one day I needed to scribble out a note to myself, and grabbed one. Over the next few weeks, I found myself repeatedly reaching for them any time I needed to write something out. It’s a small amount of space, there’s no commitment, I can doodle, scrawl, scratch out, toss it in the trash, cut it up, stick it on my wall, carry it in my pocket.

These little index cards freed me from the pressure I always felt with a notebook or planner, especially a new planner. Nothing scarier than that first touch of ink to a clean book. It’s against my religion to mar the first page, at all.

After a few weeks of index cards, I noticed that things had fallen into a rhythm and that tempted me, and I followed. I wrote down the “schedule” for my life, I didn’t make it up, it’s what we were doing! Surely it will work, it’s loose, it’s easy. Ha.

Life shifted, as it always does. I panicked briefly, lost sleep, felt like a failure – then I remembered that I am learning, and I can adapt. The first problem was that I was not waking up at my preferred 5am – and this sent my day into a tailspin. I could just adjust my entire day, in theory, based on when I actually got up. However, my brain is a stubborn little shit, and I needed to trick it into feeling like it was supposed to be based on when I rose, that I was not supposed to wake up at 5am religiously.

Enter the Prototype V1

The first adaptation of the system was building the flexible wakeup time into it. I spent about an hour creating a little index card “book,” figuring it all out – I made a slider, so I could pull the tab out and just start my day based on when I woke up. I knew it was a test, so I did it pencil, with tape, sloppily cutting out the pieces that I needed. The shifted schedule was built in, surely this would work! I amuse me.

A few things happened next. First, I started making plans with people, during times that were already spoken for, because every hour was spoken for with the time blocked system. I started falling behind as I tried juggling and bending to make things fit. The system only worked if I closed myself off from the world.

I also found myself getting caught up in one project or another, and struggling big time with transitions. The system could not account for being immersed, for days when I wanted didn’t want to move on. Then there were other days when I had all the energy and motivation, but I had no idea where to focus it – so those loose chunks of time didn’t help, I didn’t know how to fill them, so I would waste my time spinning my wheels instead. I was also keeping too many balls in the air, so I often felt pulled in multiple directions, overwhelmed, and not feeling like I was actually finishing anything.

Analysis

This is an important stage to improving a system. You can’t scrap it, start again, or build on it, without first knowing what is wrong. I took a step back and really pondered what wasn’t working.

  1. Nothing was truly flexible
  2. There was no room for my whims, whether that was lunch with a friend, or wasting my day drawing a lady
  3. It needed something that balanced longer-term, big picture goals with the daily whims, that helped me maintain momentum and direction

From past systems, I knew that it could not be hidden, so it couldn’t be a notebook or digital. More than anything, it needed to be simple, taking only a few minutes to manage, and it should fit into the routines that I do have pretty solidly developed.

The most straight forward solution seemed to be a board, like the morning boards found in classrooms everywhere. I want to stick with my daily index card. It works, it’s adaptable, I don’t feel bad if a day doesn’t need it or allow for it – which was always such a big road bump in past systems, one day could snowball so quickly. I needed a board for the bigger picture items, to keep me on track. I opened illustrator and scribbled out a basic workflow that I needed, let it marinate over night – and today we are here.

Prototype V2

The biggest lesson I’ve taken from the past few months is that I need to stop over-committing to systems (and hobbies, and daydreams) because they seem like they should work. Stop buying all the things, stop investing my time & energy in something untested, or based on what “should be” instead of what actually is. So I grabbed stuff I had on hand, put no effort into making it pretty. Instead I focused on the functionality of the system – does the set up phase work? Can I do this once a month? Yes. It was quick, easy, and enjoyable.

The Breakdown

The Idea File

In my summer bucket list, I mentioned that I need to figure out my ideas system – and I knew that could be stage one of the workflow, a repository of nuggets & threads – places I want to go, things I want write about, art to experiment with, things to research, etc. I pulled out the box of index cards my grandma had given me, the cover broken off, yellowed with age. Perfect, stage one. On my monthly planning day, I can flip through this file and pull anything that catches my eye, things I’d like to prioritize in the month to come. I can jot down ideas anywhere, as I have index cards available – and they can be filed during my normal processing times.

The Monthly Intentions

Once a month, I want to sit down and really focus on my intentions for the month, create a small vision board, and pull together the projects I want to build on. I’d like to cut back on starting new projects (other than client work, of course) in the middle of the month, trusting that I can pick it up in the next month. This is not a hard and fast rule, I know that sometimes I will need to pull a thread immediately, see what unfolds. I want to practice setting things aside until later, however, and keeping focus on the projects I have in progress already.

The Weekly Goals

On Sundays, during my routine weekly prep time, I can pull the projects out of the monthly section, and into the weekly. This tells me that they are my top areas of focus for the week – so on those days when I have no idea where to focus my energy, it’s already decided.

The Daily Card

This is the one that has the most flexibility, and in observing how things have been going in the past month, I learned a big lesson. I like hyper-focus, I love the feeling when I lose myself to a project, surrender to what shows up. I also realized that even though I felt amazing in that work, there was a growing anxiety as other things were neglected. How can I create space for whims, for indulgence, without that feeling of failure?

Each day, I will feel out what I’m being pulled to do, what I’d love to lose myself in. I’ve been practicing this for the past few days, and it works well so far. Once I know what that thing is, I can think about the other things I want to accomplish that day. Those things come first. This has a double benefit – I move more easily in the other tasks or projects, more focused and relaxed, because it feels good to be choosing them. I also know that I will get to do the other thing later, instead of trying to force myself to stop in the middle, or feeling bad for not being able to.

The daily card (as it has been for a while) will be done during my morning routine, along with my daily tarot spread, reading, and drawing exercises. I can refer to my weekly goals to help me identify my priorities and plan my day.

The Documentation

I want to be sure that I am sharing what I am doing, that I am not just tucking things away to collect dust. So when I complete a project, they move from the weekly section, and into the done & document section – for now, that is blog posts. Eventually, I’d like it to be videos on Tik Tok. I’m working towards that behind the scenes right now. So the documentation is really a second task list of projects I can be working on, like this blog post!

The Accomplishment

Obviously, I just threw this board together, and I have not yet “crossed anything off” – but after I have documented a project, it will move to a final section, that shows me all I have pulled off in the month, so I can analyze, and so I can celebrate.

This is an experiment, it may not work, at all. I can think of a million ways to improve the design of it, make it pretty – the board definitely needs to be bigger. But that is the point of the prototype, it isn’t a final version, it’s not supposed to be perfect, it needs to be functional so I can figure out if it works, and make adjustments based on what does not work. This is concept that can be applied, that I hope to apply, to so many areas of life – focusing first on what actually works, what we actually need, and not on how it looks. I’m not chasing Pinterest perfect, I’m seeking solutions that will help me live my life with more calm, more connection, more freedom to follow my own curiosity.

Because You Can’t Not

I used really struggle with creating things – actually I didn’t. I used to just not create things because I was so afraid. I slowly developed the habit, over the past couple of years…and in the past few months, it’s shifted to the point where I am creating because I can’t help it. Inspiration strikes and I finally feel capable, and my favorite part is when in the past I would have given up and declared it a lost cause, now I keep pushing to see how much further I can go, even knowing it will never be done or perfect. I love reaching a point where I know that I have done the absolutely best I am capable of at this stage, and knowing that soon I will be able to go even further.

This illustration started as a doodle during my morning practice last week – and for no real reason I decided to play with it in illustrator. I have no need for her at this point, and no idea what I will do with her. But she exists, I created her, and I am thrilled.

Allowing for Bliss

Yesterday I was feeling off – and I was tempted to call it a loss, curl up and watch Bones.

Instead, I decided to get in the car, regardless of how I was feeling, and drive to somewhere. I didn’t really care where. I quickly felt better, and we started following curiosity. We made many stops, all unplanned, as things caught our eye – and an amazing day unfolded to meet us.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

We didn’t spend much time here, because I promised Ry there would be no nature on this adventure – he’s a bit burned out after a very full summer. However, we passed by this park we visited once last year and decided to swing in to peek at the beach. On the way in we spotted a fox, Ry’s favorite animal, so that was pretty wonderful. We also strolled over to the bridge to peek at a lily pad blanketed pond, where a blue heron stood among the huge, curling leaves. The beach is so peaceful, and I’m looking forward to going back.

Nicollet Commons Park

Jack has been asking to go to Hot Topic for a while, so we set our sights (and GPS) on Burnsville center. On the way they kids spotted what looked like a little water play area down a hill, and then up the block I saw a store (Ficus & Fig) that called my name – so we pulled around the block to the parking garage and decided to walk around. The little water area turned out to be the amazing Nicollet Commons, which I’ve seen mentioned on Facebook and didn’t seem very impressive – but it was. We had so much fun playing here, and I love that they had quiet music filling the air – we all wish we had something like this closer to us and plan on going back soon. We walked from there up to the “mall” (which felt like a modern, small town main street, similar to some buildings in Stillwater) and it was such a beautiful building. The store is your standard issue gift shop, filled with too many beautiful things that I want and do not need – but I still love wandering though them, taking it all in- and love that my kids always enjoy themselves.

Burnsville Center

Burnsville Center has been dying for a long time – and it always feels eerie, dirty, and depressing. It was no different this time, but I was relaxed and in no rush to get anywhere – so I took the time to take photos (more over on the very dorky liminal spaces project page) and enjoy the vibes that exist only in half-living spaces. We had so much fun, a great meal at Lucky 13, which was full of vintage snapshots. I was super sad to see that F.Y.E. was closed, however, since it is the only mall store I actually like. We’ve enjoyed many fun times in the big arcade at Burnsville Center, as well, and it was very strange to see it empty, still illuminated by black lights.

Finding Delight Anywhere

On the way home we had to stop for gas and drinks – and spotted this train car with Raven graffitied on the side. That’s Jack’s favorite animal (apparently this is a bit of a theme) – so of course I had to force him to stand awkwardly in front of it. I’ll spare him the sharing of those – teenagers lol. But then I asked Callie if she wanted to whip out our old friend Reagan, who has been long-neglected. The results cracked me up.

These are my favorite kind of days – nothing planned, magic everywhere. In addition to all of these adventures – it just seemed that everyone we met had such a wonderful energy to them, I chatted with so many people in passing, and just felt happy. The world felt light.

Free the Niche

Hey You,

For years I’ve been telling you that you need a niche. So why am I here abandoning my super nice niched down niche? 

Because I want to break free. I really hope that triggered a certain scene from Sherlock in your brains, because it did mine. Is Moriarty not the most lovable villain in the history of evil masterminds? 

Anyway, I want my work to reflect all the things that I love to do, and none of the things that I have done because they fit the niche, though they bring me no joy. I want to trust in the Mich Niche – the Mitch Neesh in case you’re wondering how to pronounce either of those words. You’ll mix it up and call me Meesh, I will for sure sometimes say nitch, or nitch-neesh-nitch-whatever, because saying words is hard. 

I am, at my core, a strategist. Finding the outcome I desire (FREEDOM) means looking for the solution to the problem – the problem being a world that believes so fully in the single-focus individual. I’m a multi-passionate meddler, this is why I fell in love with branding! It allows me to support the launch of business after business, and then move on because it’s “ solving the problem” of connecting people to the experiences that satisfy their soulparts. I love the creation process, and the storytelling process, the systemization process – but the actual daily management? Not so much. That’s the juice for other people, my loves, my clients

Wait wait. At my core I am a creative. Creative, strategist, same difference. Strategy demands creative approaches to problems, it asks that you not only think outside of the box, but turn on the box and transform it into a fortress, a rocket ship, a platform on which to do very bad breakdancing. Just kidding I can’t breakdance, I would definitely break something. 


Then there is wonder – and is this the most coriest core of all, the thing that contains and infuses every part of everything else. Creative, strategy – all entwined with such a deep sense of curiosity and wonder that sometimes I moved to tears because the sky is just so blue and the world is just so green and do you see, do you see how they play together? I just want to play in my work – there is nothing as exciting for me as when a client or I have a potentially terrible, potentially genius idea … and we just try it and fail, and try again with brand new lessons in mind. Until something clicks and we have created something magical.  I’m looking at you, Stacey Andon. 

So there I am – curiosity, wonder, exploration, all through the filter of creative expression, storytelling, and problem solving. With a dash of wordy rambling. The Mich Niche.

But wait, there’s more. 

Because the kicker is this: a niche is not one damn bit about me. A niche is all about you. It’s about who you are, dear client. The real secret sauce to finding freedom in your work is to understand the people who want exactly what you want to offer. So who are the people who want to show up to play in The Mich Niche?

Well – you have to have the desire to break rules. You might not be a natural rule breaker – you might have a long history of coloring safely within the lines. Now, however, you find yourself suffocating in that confining ticky tacky box. So the first rule of the Mich Niche is that you want to pull a Moriarty – you want to break free

Or, perhaps, you have been breaking rules all over the place and making not much more than messes – in your finances, in your wellness, in your relationships. Often, these are women who have been preached at about hustle mode, and you’re hustling and authenticity-ing yourself into madness but without the anchor of strategy. You’re just throwing shit at the wall, not learning lessons along the way, just becoming more desperate and lost. Damn girl, I feel that shit. You should see my walls. No but really- who paints walls in matte paint and then doesn’t tell me that matte paint doesn’t wipe clean? In an artist’s loft. Fools, that’s who. Security deposit, who? We don’t know her. 

So what else. Who you be? Well, clearly you have a high tolerance for bad jokes – because of all the things I bring to the table, that’s my signature dish. If you got puns, we can have ourselves a productive giggle potluck.

You are chill. You want to feel good in your work, not burned out and confused – and hear me here. Some people thrive in that mode. That’s why so many preach it, and we don’t realize that not every approach works for every person or business. If you’re those people, I am probably not for you. If the hustle harder message is not serving you, you might be my people.

Working smart (that’s strategy, friend) means bringing ease into the game – ease does not mean we aren’t working our butts off, it means we’re working our butts off with such joy that we don’t notice we are doing what other people believe is impossible. 

Whatever you are doing – and that is the niching game I refuse to play, I am not here to tell you what you do. I am done limiting myself to one industry. I’m here to specialize in you, not the what that you do, but how and why you do it. So whatever you are doing, whether you are brewing coffee in a little hipster joint, or teaching women to bend in unnatural ways – you are hellbent on building community, on making people’s days, lives, and worlds just a little better. You want to stand out in, and stand up for, the silly little hopeful world you want to see built. You want to help build that world, through whatever uniquely you spark sets you ablaze. I believe we all have the potential to change the world through our own brand of magic – and look at the world, we need every drop of magic we can summon. This is why you come to me, if you do. I want to help you show your fiery heart to the world, so that your fire acts as a beacon, your own personal bat signal, calling your people in. 

There is this really rough phase between starting and succeeding. I mentioned in an earlier post that we need to stop glorifying the hustle – but that the hustle is a necessary phase. My hustle phase was either 15 months or 32 years, depending on who you ask. It took me a while to learn that there is a place beyond the drown/struggle/hustle cycle, and another good bit of time to figure out how to get there. 

This period of my life looked like all kinds of ugly (and a lot of beautiful, too. We’ll get to that) – I struggled through abusive relationships, homelessness, mental illness, single parenthood, poverty, and just plain being a bitch ass loser. I struggled as I ran businesses that, despite my absolute obsession with business, I couldn’t quite get over the hump. They sustained us, but just barely. I was not hustling – I was only struggling. It wasn’t a business problem, it was a me problem.

Fast forward to January of 2016. I had been struggling hard for a few months. Baling water, slipping under, coming up for deep breaths and a glimpse of the sun – only to feel the water creeping up to my eyes again. I did one little thing, meant to be temporary, meant to be a rope to help me cling to my capsized and holey boat. It turned out to be a brand new boat, with two shiny paddles. Enter Hustle.

For a while there I was spinning in circles, just happy to be afloat. Just happy to be in control. Just happy to be dry and hustling. Pretty soon my arms got tired AF and I realized I wasn’t going anywhere. I noticed all of the boats knocking against each other around me, spinning in their circles, not getting anywhere. Every once in a while, I would catch a glimpse of someone floating by, seemingly carefree. Who are those assholes?!? Why are they are lucky?!

I started creepin. Listening in from the corners of Facebook groups I felt I had not one damn bit of business being in – because these were real people. These were people who had shit figured out. They had nice hair and nice clothes and nice families and nice fluffy bank accounts. They even had life insurance, guys. They had wreaths on their front doors, which is like the ultimate fucking indication that Inside This Home, Real Thriving Shit-Together Adults Reside. But I creeped and I started learning about what life can look like. Oooooh my dear was it beautiful and unattainable. 

I was poor from poor people who snuggle up to their poorness and wear it as a badge of honor. We struggle. We are proud of our struggle. We got that gumption man. We are born of sticktoitiveness and something else we won’t call desperation, but it is. We hustle and claw and feastfaminefeast and dream of the day that winning lottery ticket will be ours. This is who I am. I am not the Hamptons and Key West and your $3500 drumming circle on a private beach in Cabo. I am my car out for repo and expired tabs. I am that hot pink electric shut off notice hanging from a crooked doorknob.

But I want to be more.

But I want to be more.
But I want to be more.

BUT. I. AM. MORE.

How that statement began to impact my life was crazy – and scary. I felt I was more but I had no idea how to be more. Money started showing up, more money than I had ever made, so fast I couldn’t even take time to process what was happening. Do you know what happens when you are your poverty and suddenly you’re above the poverty line because people are throwing money at you? Do you know what happens when you go from hoofing it with four kids to the grocery store to stretch your last $20 in food stamps on something to feed everyone for a week….to buying a car for cash, virtually overnight?

You lose your sense of self. Your identity, in fell swoop, is gone. 

I knew I wanted to be more. I could see other people being more. I just couldn’t bridge the gap between who I was and what “more” might look like for me, the perpetually struggling Mich. The fuckup loser that is endearingly broken and flaky and can always be counted on for a good pipedream. This is who I am. So, what is a fuckup loser to do when they double their annual income in six weeks?

Burn it down, bitches.

I’ve always known I was a pro at self-sabotage, but holy damn did I impress myself with my ability to completely screw myself over. First, I spent every dime. Then I drove my business into the ground. Then, I sunk into a depression so deep and dark I didn’t think I would ever climb back out of poverty, or self-loathing, or fuckupitude. 

We’re not going to spend a lot of time on that, maybe another post we’ll dive into the Year of Darkness. Right now…I’ll just say, it sucked, but I committed myself to self care, mindset work, and letting it happen. So I climbed out, inch by inch, day by day, rock by rock. That’s another post, too. 

When I was out, I looked around and realized that somehow…the world had changed, and in that nasty dark hole…I had changed, too. I climbed out more. Comfortable in the fact that maybe I could belong in the keys, or the hamptons, or maybe even the drumming circle on a private beach in cabo. Comfortable with the idea that I could make, and even not spend, 100k a year, or more. Comfortable in thing that had left me a shell shocked and horrified ghost the year before – maybe, just maybe, I could have all of this without struggling. Without hustling every minute to still feel inadequate and undeserving. 

So I came back in 2018, after a full year of my life mortified, hiding in shame and fear. I came back finally ready, equipped with lessons and insight. The first lesson was to abandon hustle. Completely. I would not, for any reason, go back to 80 hour weeks in exchange for 2k months. No sir.

Somehow, the bills are being paid. Debts are being paid. I work fewer than 30 hours a week, with clients that show up and are amazing and push me to do better work than I’ve ever done. We are getting ready to finally get back to a life we have been fighting for over the past 2.5 years…because I gave up the fight. I learned to set my intentions and allow the flow of my intention to carry us toward my desired outcome. 

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