there will be no divorce.

therewillbenodivorce

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.)

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PS. The title of this post comes from the song of the same name by The Mountain Goats.

The years that are not about business (and the years that follow).

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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.

Coffee Break: 9.16.15

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Autumn anxiety is real. Yeppp. I’m looking forward to autumn this year, but it would be a different story if I was back in NH.

Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen If I Ask New Acquaintances to Get Coffee. Life in a new city!

10 things emotionally intelligent people do not do. Reading this made me contemplate how much progress I’ve made in this area the last several years, and how much room there is for improvement.

“I had waited too long to remove the stain. The stain had set in. Oh my favorite shirt. That’s when it came to me: our hearts are like this too.” – We wait too long to remove the stain

How I learned to not hate exercise by Gala Darling – I’m currently on this journey and LOVING working out with a personal trainer.

“Self-development isn’t silly. It’s not self-absorbed. Figuring out who you are, what you want, and how you’re going to get it is just pretty damn sensible. It’s an investment in every other area of your life.” – Self-development isn’t selfish

Hilarious. Especially tickled by #6.

If you need permission…

permission

My trainer* and I are sitting on the floor of her gym while she explains a new technique to me. Internally, I’m asking her to reassure me that I can do this. To tell me that I have what it takes.

I want her to see in me something that I don’t — that I’m afraid to look for.

I want her permission to be great.

That’s been a theme for me this summer. I’ve hired all of the professionals I should have hired years ago, partially because those things needed to be done, but also in an effort to feel ‘legit’.

I caught myself doing this, of course, that day at the gym. But then a voice within me asked, “Why does she get to decide? Why does that validation need to come from her?” (All of my inner voices are kind of fed up with my bullshit.)

It occurred to me then that she will only ever think that I am great if I show her that I am, and that’s true in every area of my life. In all the ways I don’t show up because I’m afraid of being judged or rejected, of messing up and being exposed as an imperfect person.

Instead, I sit quietly on the edge of everything I have the potential to be and wait for… what? For the fear to dissipate, for this to require less vulnerability, for someone to take me by the hand and drag me there… Maybe just for someone else to give me their approval. To check some box that says, “Yes, you’ve qualified. You may proceed.” (No such box exists, of course.)

If you can relate, come sit next to me. I’ll tell you what I most need to hear right now.

Show up. Be seen. Do great things. Brag about your achievements. Teach what you already know. Flounder publicly and own it. Connect with other humans by being human.

(If you’re waiting for permission, this is it.)

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* I recently hired a personal trainer. Pretend this makes me hip or fancy or something. Really it just means I’m too lazy to move my body without paying someone a lot of cash to hold me accountable. (Glad we cleared that up.)

lately… {east coast summer}

100days49

reading: Gather the People — Sarah Bray has been hugely influential to me as a small business owner (I worked for her years ago, and she taught me so much about running a business with integrity & heart), and I think this is one of the best things she’s ever done.

wearing: Tunics & skinny jeans, pretty much all the time on this visit to NH. Still digging Rockstars from Old Navy (though my favorite jeans are a pair I got from StitchFix). I also finally embraced the chambray trend, but I can’t decide if I dig it on me. I’ll post a photo sometime and you can all weigh in.

smitten with: Summer weather here in NH. I’m missing out on a pretty intense heat wave in PDX and I’m not sad about it. It’s alternately been sunny & 80ish here, or rainy + thunderstorms – both are pretty dreamy to me.

indulging in: lots of time with NH friends – movies, cocktails, coffee dates, hiking.

creating: a whole new vision for my business. Big things are coming this summer.

listening to: Tegan & Sara. On a super kick lately. No particular album, but I did create this playlist of a few of my favorites.

bragging about: setting up payroll. Not having to worry about setting money aside for taxes is making. my. life.

looking forward to: heading back to Portland in a few days, as bittersweet as that is. WDS is next week, and while I’m not attending (except for one class with Theresa Reed), I’m looking forward to being in town for the action & seeing friends, including Michelle.

Coffee Break: The 1st of July

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Happy July! Yayyy, new month!

Walk around feeling like a leaf. Lovely post – especially love the poem at the end.

Plants I haven’t Killed Yet – As another new green thumb, I thought this was really cute. (My plants are back in Portland, probably slowly dying as we speak.)

“In many ways, marketing as a listener is about (creating and) holding space. When you market as a listener, you’re creating a container for others experiences.” – Tara Gentile’s brilliant advice on marketing when you’d rather be listening. I seriously need to read and re-read this on a weekly basis.

8 things everyone should do before 8am. Confession: I tend to drag my feet in the morning. It’s a huge time suck. I’m going to try this.

“The solution is not to build a bigger wall. The solution is figuring out how to build a society in which we don’t need a bigger wall.” The internet is some trippy shit… is maybe my favorite thing Ash has ever written.

LSD, a $20,000 Investment, and the Perfect Breakup – Such courage & vulnerability here. (I’m a sucker for a healthy/amicable breakup story. I just dig them.)

A long but amusing & important read: The Procrastination Matrix.

Note, kinda related to the above link: I’ve decided to end my 100 Days of Blogging challenge this Saturday, at day 50. I’ll write more about the why & what I’ve learned on Saturday, but I’m mentioning it now so that it doesn’t seem like a rash decision.

#onebravetruth: My bliss looks like this

This week’s #onebravetruth prompt:

My bliss looks like this:

Sunday morning coffeeshop dates with my husband. Evenings spent laughing with dear friends. Fierce hugs. Deep conversations. Instant connections. Progress. Summer days. My silly pup. Iced lattes. Hard cider. Perpetual homesickness (and the joy of having people to miss). The feeling of home, and finding that within myself. The questions that don’t have answers. Love, love, love.


See mine and share yours on Instagram, with the hashtag #onebravetruth.

A soft nudge: This weekly prompt is an invitation to share, and is open to everyone. I truly value each and every contrbution. I’d be delighted for you to join this week.

Coffee Break: June 24th

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A few things I’ve enjoyed around the web this week…

The day after the longest day of the year – beautiful writing from Amanda Palmer on the death of her best friend. Do not read this at work or in public.

10 Things to Look Forward to on the Other Side of Busyness – Getting there. Getting there.

This guy ate only food “for women” for two weeks. Amusing, sure, but also kind of sad. (Spoiler: Most of that stuff is not actually food.) “… Because if you replace full meals with Special K you’ll essentially starve, which is definitely one way to lose weight.”

How to Become an Ally to the Black Community. I am typically silent about painful topics like racism and these events (most recently, the Charleston shootings) on social media. It’s not because I don’t care, obviously. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said a lot more eloquently than I can say it. But, I am aware that looking away because it hurts my heart is an egregious abuse of my privilege and absolutely the wrong thing to do. It should hurt. We should all be feeling it, and talking about it, and identifying the ways that we’re part of the problem, and then immediately cutting that shit out.

And, along the same vein: This is my house. “I don’t have to tell you that Nazi’s are bad and mass murderers are fuckheads and that racism is bullshit and suicide should be avoided and rape is shitty and water is wet and cats will scratch you if given enough time. This is all common sense. If I have to say this out loud for you to get those things then you are in the wrong place.”

Shifting gears to something a little more light-hearted, two weeks of status updates from your vague friends on Facebook made me chuckle.

And, finally, a special offer! My friend Allie recently launched the Love your Website e-course, offering a DIY-approach to crafting a strategic online space. She was also sweet enough to offer a discount code for me to share with you — if you’d like to give it a shot, you can use the code sixteenjuly for $30 off.

lately… {junebug}

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reading: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. This is R.T.’s favorite book, and I’ve somehow made it four years into our relationship without reading it. I’m remedying that now, and I keep asking him to re-read certain stories so that we can talk about them. It’s pretty sweet, actually.

wearing: This tunic from Modcloth. Oh my word. I love it so much. (I just ordered two more.)

smitten with: camping! How did I make it 31 years without having this experience?

indulging in: Tiny pockets of fun amidst my insane work schedule this month. Nickel arcade, Jurassic World, the rose gardens, stand-up comedy, my little camping trip, drinks with friends.

creating: Weekly spreads in my Filofax. I really want to get back to art journaling and Project Life, but since time is limited, I’m getting joy out of the process of laying out my week every Sunday, and making little notes + additions throughout the week.

listening to: Bon Iver’s cover of I can’t make you love me. It’s on a playlist I’ve been listening to a lot, and I just really love it.

bragging about: Officially incorporating! My little biz and I are not legally the same entity anymore! This is only exciting to me, but man, it is really exciting. (I’m earning an actual paycheck again! That’s kind of rad.)

looking forward to: SEEING RANDALL! (Or, as you know him, R.T.) I fly back to NH on Thursday! I’ll be there until July 8th, soaking up some east coast summer & adventuring in the Whites. Yes.