Happy February! I have some things from the internet for you.
“You are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.
And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.“
— To anyone who thinks they’re falling behind by Jamie Varon (who is totally brilliant – I’ve been swooning over her writing a lot recently.)
Yesterday, Jessica wrote on Body Image and Business, and I love her for it. I gained quite a lot of weight after starting my business, and I’ve only lost (most of) it this past year — also by finally making self-care a priority (which is super hard to do when you’re in startup mode). It’s troubling, the extent to which feeling uncomfortable in your body impacts everything else. (By the way, Jessica is super adorable and seems so at home in herself with her bright pink hair – just goes to show you that we all tend to be a little too hard on ourselves, huh?)
Related: Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3 — as much as I hate to admit it, this is true for me. My current 3 are work, fitness, friends. No idea what I’ll do when my husband and I live together again. He counts as family, right? Or can I hack the system and count him as a friend? Plus I’ll probably need to sleep more often when I’m not living like a pseudo-single lady and running myself ragged. ADULTING IS HARD GUYS.
Entrepreneurship is hard. To really drive that point home: The Mental Cost of Owning a Business
I really enjoyed Lovingly know your Hell No and have since been contemplating It’s hip to be sober (which Mary Beth linked to within her post).
R.T. and I have been talking about the allocation of funds throughout our relationship, and how it’s important to “buy experiences” (even though we wish we were better about squirreling our money away). I appreciated Live Broke in a Big City – life is short, right?
To end on a super light note — 23 times D.W. was the realest bitch who ever lived. This cracked me up. (I have a lot of younger siblings and had to watch a lot of PBS far past an age when I appreciated it… Arthur was the only show that was still tolerable after age 7.)
Hey! Today is the first anniversary of the day I moved to Portland! That’s pretty crazy. Thanks for following along with this journey.
I’m just about to hit the one-year mark of leaving New Hampshire to embark on this Portland experiment. It’s been a year of non-stop stretching, transformation, growth, discomfort. A year of both agony and elation even more than most years. I’ve shared really openly about the challenges of this year — which you know very well if we’re friends on Facebook.
There’s one more story that I want to share, though, before I close this chapter and begin my second year here.
I left a year ago because I wasn’t happy in my marriage, and I’ve spent this year exploring what that meant.
To be more accurate, I wasn’t happy with my life as a whole, and that oozed over into being unhappy with my marriage — but I had no way of knowing that at the time. That was the point, actually: I needed some space (apparently 3,000 miles) to figure out where my unhappiness came from, and where it ended.
The truth is, lot of it was me. A lot of it was boredom and stagnation. A lot of it was (is!) my own inability to accept love as an imperfect person. Some of it, though, was a disconnect between my husband and I, and what we wanted, and where our lives were headed.
It was, of course, a really uncomfortable place to spend the better part of a year. I’m a chronic over-sharer (I love that about me!) but the potential end of your relationship isn’t something you navigate publicly.
The issues were almost entirely mine. I struggled quietly for awhile, only sharing my surface-level concerns with him occasionally. Eventually, though, I realized that I was struggling alone with what should have been a shared issue. (This was before I read Conscious Uncoupling, but it’s a concept Katherine Woodward Thomas talks about in her book, which I highly recommend.)
So, one ordinary Tuesday — via text message, of all things — I admitted to him that I was close to asking for a divorce, and I asked him to help me deal with that.
I expected him to hate me. I know that I would have been angry and defensive and hurt. Instead, he said, “Let’s work on this. We are not finished yet.”
I got really honest with him. Over the course of that week, we spent about twenty hours on video chat. Talking. Crying. I felt really hopeless. I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t cut out for long-term commitment. I thought it was too late to fix things.
Then, one night he said off-handedly, “I’ll still visit you in Portland. You’ll still be my best friend.”
In that moment, all of the guilt and resistance and sadness and fear that I’d been carrying crumbled around me. There he was, basically being slapped in the face with all of my failures as a person and a partner, saying that he’d love me even if I left him.
That changed everything. I remembered that we were on the same team, and what that meant. I decided that, if he could love me as I left him, it wasn’t so crazy for me to ask him to love me while I struggled with being a restless and imperfect partner. We could do the work. He was right — we weren’t finished yet.
For us, it wasn’t just that we were capable of conscious uncoupling — it was that we were capable of getting through this tough stuff. We could hold hands and intentionally tromp through the muck together.
Even though it was my muck. Even though it sucked that I had to ask that of him.
I imagine it’s close to impossible to be in that situation without feeling guilt and shame, but I worked really hard at reframing that. I remembered a slightly-older-but-much-wiser friend telling me in my twenties that she started every day asking herself if the life she had with her partner was worth the effort, and that every morning so far, it had been. I was startled by that at the time, but I understand now.
Being committed (to our partners, to ourselves, to our businesses and jobs and families) isn’t a choice we make once. We want to believe it is. We want that day — the white dress photo opp party day — to be the day. But it isn’t. It’s not the first day we make that commitment and it’s certainly not the last.
There’s power in that — in choosing to do the work, even when it’s messy and hard. In acknowledging that it will be imperfect far more often than it’s easy. In recognizing that there is always more to be done — there’s always some amount of rounding up.
I’m telling you this because I didn’t read a lot of these stories last year. I read a lot of happily-ever-after stories, written by a variety of people in a variety of life stages. I love to love the happy Instagram families with beautiful cookware who seem like they must never have an argument resulting in one person sleeping on the couch (let alone moving across the country).
The happy divorce stories were plentiful, too. The “I ended my marriage and I’m free and I’ve found myself and thank god I had the courage to leave” stories. And those are good, important stories.
But neither is my story.
This is my story. I found myself by being unhappy in my marriage and honest about that.
Maybe you’ve never loved someone so much that you felt trapped by that love. Maybe you’ve never looked at your partner and thought, “You fucking astound me, but you also make me want to run away to the woods forever, and I don’t know if I can do this for another day or month or year.”
But I have.
I find it easier to be alone, but so, so much more fulfilling to be in partnership.
So, every day, I begin with a good, hard look, and I think:
No. We are not finished yet.
I’m grateful for that, and for the ability to apply it to all of the other areas of my life, and adjust accordingly.
Discontentedness is a message, and I urge you to listen.
(But I also urge you to do the work.)
PS. The title of this post comes from the song of the same name by The Mountain Goats.
Early morning at the coffeeshop near my house — more accurately, my husband’s house, now — in New Hampshire. Sending the last few invoices of this year & prepping a few things to send over to my bookkeepers, I took a peek at my income for the year to date.
2015 was the first year since launching my business that I didn’t see a growth in revenue. In fact, if you want to be really specific, I made about $17,000 less this year than I did last year.
It was also the first year that I didn’t set a financial goal, so I suppose that follows.
I don’t feel any shame surrounding this.
This year was not about my business.
That’s a difficult thing to own. When the lines between our individual identities and our businesses are so thin, it can be really challenging to make the space to focus on our own needs and our personal journeys. I didn’t, for a long time.
And then, when 2015 hit, I found myself feeling… dissatisfied. I desperately needed to make major changes in just about every area of my life.
I am a firm believer that every few years one needs to shake one’s life through a sieve, like a miner in the Yukon. The gold nuggets remain. The rest falls through like the soft earth it is.” – Amy Poehler (via Mara’s newsletter)
This year, instead of growing my business, I…
… moved across the country. From Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Portland, Oregon. Alone. And then I made Portland my home. I met amazing new friends, got to know the city, and felt myself flourish there. I turned my studio apartment into the sweetest little sanctuary & my favorite place I’ve ever lived.
… traveled. Because my husband stayed in New Hampshire, I traveled across the country about once a month. I generally spent about 6-8 weeks in Portland and then 2-3 weeks in New Hampshire. (Rinse, repeat.)
I also went to San Diego to visit my client & friend Michelle, and to New Orleans for the Being Boss vaca with my friends Elise & Megan of Pixels & Pulp.
… saved my marriage. This is a very personal matter, of course, and I’ve been pretty quiet about it online. A big part of moving was to give the relationship some space, to evaluate whether we were meant to remain life partners, or just business partners and best friends. I’m happy to say that things are in a really good place. You don’t hear those stories a lot (or, at least, I haven’t) — the stories about relationships that almost ended, but came back stronger and in greater alignment. I’m planning to share more on this subject soon, but for now I’ll say that I’m very pleased with our progress and exceptionally grateful for the partner that R.T. continues to be.
… got healthier. I hired a personal trainer, started strength training, and lost 25lbs over the course of the year. I transitioned to a mostly-paleo diet, which has done wonders for both my physical and mental health. Speaking of my mental health, my diagnosis was downgraded from depression to seasonal affective disorder.
… did some of my best work ever. I worked with some really amazing people this year and launched a handful of sites I’m really proud to say I had a hand in. I’ll be profiling some of those clients in the coming months, but in the meantime, these are a few of them: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
And, even though I didn’t grow my business directly, I did lay the foundation for growth in my business. I learned how to delegate the tasks that are not my job. I hired a lawyer, a bookkeeper, an accountant. I incorporated, started using a payroll service, joined a small mastermind, had weekly meetings with a business accountability buddy, and hired consultants to work on my own branding & positioning. There were some big investments of time & money all-around.
2016 will be the year I reap the rewards of all of that foundation-laying.
I genuinely feel like I’ve used this year to become the best possible version of myself. I’m not checking off the “self-improvement” box, of course — there’s always room to keep growing — but compared to how things looked a year ago, I’m an all-around healthier person. And my business is going to be better for it.
Maybe 2015 wasn’t a year of business growth for you, either. Maybe it was an inhale year like mine. Rather than focusing on what you didn’t accomplish, make a list of everything you did achieve. You almost certainly transformed in some major ways. Celebrate that!
If, like me, you’re gearing up for everything 2016 has in store for your business, I have two(!!) special offers for you.
Special offer #1: In early 2016, I’m launching my first ever e-course, Ready to Rebrand. I’ll be launching at a (super affordable!) special beta price, so if you’d like to be one of my first students, get on the list here.
Special offer #2: Did you guys know that, in addition to SixteenJuly, I own a website maintenance business, Website Refinery? R.T. runs it, and he does just the most amazing job. We have a special yearly WordPress maintenance offer available right now: 3 hours of maintenance per month (can be used for code changes, plugin configuration, layout tweaks, content entry, etc), plus core & plugin updates, security monitoring, and weekly off-site backups. It’s a $3,120 value, and you can lock in now for $1997. (Bonus: It’s a tax write-off!) Learn more.