I spoke in a previous post about taking you with me on my every day adventures (which there have not been many).
Well, I finally have another “adventure” I am embarking on. And I’m taking you with me. It begins the same way my adventure to Bali began. Being utterly terrified of what I am about to do.
I knew how that story would end though. I have no idea how this story is going to end, and that scares me even more. But just like my travels, I cannot keep living my life paralyzed with fear. That is not living. I cannot let the possibility of failure keep me from even trying, because that would be the ultimate failure- never trying.
Since I’ve been back from my trip, I have been processing my experience and assimilating the life lessons.
One of the biggest lessons I learned, or rather got honest with myself about, was my discontent with life in California.
I already didn’t want to leave Bali. I know I am meant to be there for a longer period of time, and I know I will be going back. What made it even more painful to leave, was knowing that I did not want to come back to California. That was beyond evident to me even when I first arrived in Bali. In fact, I have not truly wanted to be in California since I moved back here thirteen years ago. But I kept trying to make a life for myself here. And it kept never working.
I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I am beyond grateful for having been born and raised here. It will always be a home base for me. But at this point, I cannot wait to get out of here!
I know I want to go back to Bali, but there are so many other places I want to go too. Places I’ve never been before, and places I know and love. One of the places I know and love the most is Seattle.
The happiest time in my life was when I lived in Seattle in the early 2000’s. When I left there, my life fell apart, and all these years I have been too scared and ashamed to move back. Plus, I am not so naïve to think that it would all be exactly the same as when I was there before. I am nowhere near the same person I was back then. And I know Seattle isn’t the same as it was back then either. But there are elements that I think are integral to that city that will probably never change. And like I said, not trying is a worse failure than trying and having it not work.
So I finally got honest with myself about wanting to leave California and go back to Seattle.
And I made a decision. I decided that I will move to Seattle in June, spend the summer there, and in October go back to Bali for six months. That’s about as far as that plan goes for now.
There’s only one problem. I’m broke as fuck. I think language is powerful and I normally don’t like to use the word “broke” (I will never have a problem with the word “fuck”), but in order to get the point across let’s call a spade a spade…. I’m broke. I was broke before I went to Bali, and it was miraculous that I was able to make that trip happen. I went out of season, when airline tickets were at their lowest, and once you are there everything is so damn cheap! I got clever and resourceful with my finances and managed to make it work.
I’ve been really private about how I’ve been generating income for the past couple of years. I’ve wanted to keep the focus on my personal growth work and my writing. But my personal growth work is based on getting down to the truth in all things, and if I’m going to take you on this journey with me, I have to bring my truth. So here’s a bunch of truth…
I’ve been embarrassed about how I generate income. I’m a pet sitter. It’s not that big of a deal and not really something to be embarrassed about. I get paid to play and cuddle with cute animals, and for the most part my time belongs to me, which is invaluable.
The money is shit though. I pay my bills, but barely, and that’s about all I have money for. It doesn’t help that I live in one of the most expensive places in the country.
The only way I am able to do the work I do is because I don’t have rent to pay. When my dad died a couple of years ago, I put my belongings in storage and moved in with my mom to help her through the devastating transition. But my family is toxic and abusive, and living at home in my thirties is yet another thing I’ve been embarrassed about.
I was working at a restaurant when I made that transition. I’ve worked in many restaurants and bars in my life, but this one was by far the most stressful, with the most abusive clientele. And it got to be too intense as I was mourning the death of my father, so I quit.
I had wanted to teach meditation for a long time, and forces seemed to be aligning for that to start happening. So I started teaching. But I was struggling, for many reasons, and I ended up giving up. I’ve gone back and forth about whether I was giving up because it truly didn’t feel right, or because I was letting fear win. There are a lot of variables in the situation, but ultimately I think the answer is a little of both. I may get back into teaching meditation again at some point, but right now, while I’m in California, that is not where my focus is.
The pet sitting just sort of happened on its own, and when it started gaining momentum I decided to go with it. Pet sitting has given me a lot of time and space to focus on writing, and to incrementally get out of my mom’s house without feeling too much guilt about leaving her on her own.
And that brings me to where I am now.
When I came back from Bali, I returned to dreadfully low bank balances. And like I said, the pet sitting generates minimal income. Have I mentioned I live in one of the most expensive places in the country? How the hell am I going to get to Seattle and Bali and hopefully many other places in between, when I have no money?
I’m already working on trying to generate income through my writing- I’ve been doing the starving artist thing for too long now (and I don’t care what anyone says, being a starving artist does not mean you have more integrity. It sucks.)
Now I want to build a career that will generate enough income to live, write, and travel anywhere in the world?
That calls upon three of my biggest passions- writing, entrepreneurship, and, even though I’m a travel newbie, travel.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I’ve always been an “idea person.” I’ve just never known anything about doing any of it. I’ve been studying entrepreneurship for years, usually with an emphasis on personal growth, but over the past few years my focus has shifted.
I think I will always be passionate about personal growth, but I have grown a bit bored and frustrated with the personal growth industry- at least right now (though I’m hoping my enthusiasm will be reignited one of these days).
My passion for entrepreneurship never really went away. I am a naturally creative person, and entrepreneurship is the ultimate creative process (except for life itself). Plus, at this point in my life I am adamant about being in control of my time.
One of the ideas I’ve had for years is starting a T-shirt company. That idea has recently returned to me again, only this time I didn’t dismiss it.
I told my therapist about it and he encouraged me to look into it. So I googled something like “how to start an online T-shirt business,” and started researching.
What I found was that there are enough resources and technology out there that I can create products and build an online store to sell them, without ever having to physically touch any inventory, and with very low upfront costs.
But it would still cost some money, and I started to think of how risky it would be and how little money I already have, and wasn’t sure if it would even be worth it.
June is officially less than six months away. I need to be able to make enough money in less than six months to be able to live and travel (which was the exact amount of time it took me to get to Bali, from the moment I decided). Could this even work?
I’ve already decided to sell off a lot of my stuff I have in storage, in order to make money for the move, but once I’m there I need to make enough to live comfortably.
I went back and forth with the T-shirt idea until I started to notice two things. One was how scared I was by the idea. The other thing I noticed was that whenever I would get swept into anxiety about whether or not it could work, I kept bringing myself back to researching- as in, doing the work. I turned my anxieties into action. And both of these things that I noticed are exactly what I experienced when I planned my trip to Bali- being scared shitless and turning my anxieties into action (which subsequently has severely diminished my overall sense of anxiety).
When I pushed through the fears and anxieties and made my trip to Bali happen, I loved it so much I am moving there! Or at least plan on spending longer chunks of time there.
So when I realized how similar the processes are and how beneficial the results were with the first process, I thought to myself, then you have to do this!
I don’t know how I’m going to do it. And I can’t guarantee that it will have the same beneficial results as my Bali trip did, but if it scares me and gets me to take action, then it’s already worth doing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had an idea like this. Being the idea person that I am, I have had countless business ideas in my life. What I did for many years is get super excited about an idea, map out the whole idea in my head, and then talk it to death before I ever took one step with it.
When I really started to turn my life around, I tried a new approach. I didn’t tell anyone my ideas. I just started working on them. I figured I’d start talking about them when I actually had something to talk about. That seemed to work out well, because all of the people who would discourage, judge, scrutinize, and wait for me to fail, had nothing to work with.
I may not have had discouragement, but I also didn’t have much encouragement either. And, well, I’m still broke.
The thing is, although I want to generate income, I’m not just looking to make money. I don’t want to just build a brand. I want to build a community. I want to build the community that I seek. I don’t have to tell my friends and family about it. But I can share my experiences with you, and build a supportive community, instead of trying to find it someplace it doesn’t exist.
I can’t forget my writing either. Another idea I’ve spent years pushing to “someday,” I have pulled out, dusted off, and added to my endeavor. An idea for a book that I not only think people will benefit from, but also would align well with my T-shirt line and could sell on my store.
As I’m researching all of this and starting to put pieces together, I am realizing how ancient my trusty beast of a computer is. And I am going to need a solid machine for this endeavor. Add that to the list. Get a new computer.
Ok so let’s break it down. Start selling off my belongings. Buy new computer. Design T-shirts. Create an online store. Market, market, market! Write a book. Self-publish it. Market, market, market! Move to Seattle. Perhaps take a few weekends trips elsewhere. Move to Bali. Perhaps take a few weekend trips elsewhere. Do all of this while also writing other pieces. Submit those other pieces to publications. And maybe… perhaps somewhere in there, meet the man of my dreams and begin building a life-partnership together.
And to up the ante of fear factors, I’m going to blog my process.
There you have it. My one year plan. Have I mentioned I’m scared shitless?
If I fail, I fail publically. If I give up, I’ll have to do so publically. If When I make mistakes (because everyone does), I will do them publically. When I am painfully challenged and just want to kick and scream, it will be public.
But my successes will also be public. My milestones and accomplishments will be public. My joys, my lessons, and my growth will be public. And hopefully, whatever I make public will help others on their journeys.
So if I’m going to do this, I have to start somewhere. My first goal is by the end of the month to have my online store launched.
Anne Lamott famously wrote about “shitty first drafts.” And in my research, it has been suggested that it’s better to launch a very basic store while you work out the kinks, instead of waiting until it’s “perfect” to launch. So I can start a shitty first draft of my store, while I write a shitty first draft of my book. Then I can tweak and edit and polish and turn it all into something beautiful.
Here are some of my first action steps. I’ve already purchased a domain. Today I will download a free trial of Adobe Illustrator to try to start playing around with some designs. I will post another item on eBay to sell. And I will contact SCORE to see if I can get connected to a mentor.
Right now I am in the nervous, but excited stage, where that energy drives me. I have learned enough to know that there will be times when I am filled with agonizing and crippling doubt. Those are going to be the hardest times. I just have to keep reminding myself that there will always be what-ifs, but I get to choose which what-ifs I ask myself. As the viral quote (written by a nineteen year old, Erin Hanson) says, “What if I fail? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”