So I spend a lot of time writing about my feelings (free therapy, people…what’s not to love…I’ve actually thought about developing an online program on this very topic, as I find it SO valuable. Anyone interested?).
But I also do practical work, y’know, and here’s one thing I’ve been working on: I just revamped the About page on this website.
It never occurred to me to do this. I wrote an About page that was, as one would expect, about Fern: how we got started, who my teammates are, what we stand for, etc. Then I read this article from Danny Iny, whose newsletter has taught me a lot about marketing: What Makes a Great About Page?, and I discovered I was totally missing the point.
I rewrote my About page accordingly, and while I’ll still tinker with it, I’m happy with how much stronger and more effective it feels. So if you have a website and you’re not sure your About page does its job, check his article out and let me know what you think!
Now it’s time for me to get back to doing research….which I’m trying to accomplish while my toddler sits in my lap feeding me pretend “sweet dawa” from a “spoon” that is actually a piece of wood torn off a basket…she says, “do you feel better, Mama?” Why yes, my darling, I do. Because I love being able to balance working with momming--building a work-at-home lifestyle that allows me to be with her is one of the smartest things I ever did. (Maybe that should go in my About page too?)
I hope you enjoy the article. Happy Friday ladies, let’s all be and do our best today!
My three-year-old loves Toy Story, so when I think of a 'source of power,' I admit it, Zurg comes to mind....if you don't have small children, ignore this reference.
My point is sources of power, and how we give ours away. I've been fighting (and that verb is so telling in itself) to collect a past-due payment, and at times I am beside myself with the rage, panic, and frustration. Furious that someone with whom I’ve had a long-term relationship is suddenly balking about paying me. Today I was so worked up, I had to get up and walk around the room, more than once, till I was sick of my self for how much of my energy this is taking.
I'm giving away my power to this. To the fear—what if they never pay me? To the anger—how dare they! we have a deal! To the anxiety—what if I lose my home? (It actually happened to me, a year ago, so it's not such a random fear anymore.) And I'm EXHAUSTED with it.
As I wrote last week, this fight to be paid has been good in that it galvanized me to take action and start generating other work options. But in the meantime, my own emotions are wearing me out. Energy I could be using to package new products and generate new leads, I am pouring into fretting and lamenting and raging instead. Giving speeches in my head, where I always phrase everything perfectly, and the other person grovels and rues the error of their ways. Time-wasters like that.
But I can't actually control what happens. I did my part; I did my work. If the other person doesn't do their part and pay me, what am I going to do? Ultimately, I can do NOTHING. That's part of what panics me.
But what if the doing nothing IS the source of my power?
So this afternoon, when I was so upset, I went outside with my daughter, and we fed the chickens and sat in the sun, and every time I thought of that annoying money issue, I reminded myself, ALL MY NEEDS ARE MET. And I decided to deal with this situation, not in rage, but in deep love—the love that I need right now. I will lavish that love on myself and the people from whom I’m trying to collect this money. When I go to panic place, I will do whatever it takes to refocus myself on the work at hand so that nothing takes me away from generating new clients who WILL pay me. Bottom line: I will not fight for this money anymore. I will gently, lovingly pursue it instead.
I'm a woman in business, after all, so I've decided to run my business like a woman. This is the choice I’ve made for myself: from now on, love and kindness are my source of power.
P.S. A few hours after I wrote this, I got paid in full ;)
This morning I had a meltdown. It was seven a.m. and I stood in my kitchen, sobbing, because someone who owes me money has been delaying for weeks and I am so sick of begging to be paid.
Anyone relate to that? ;)
Of course, it’s not really about the money. Rather, it touched on one of my pain points—the fear that I don’t offer anything of value. When I work for someone, and they don’t pay me, part of me is wondering how to pay the rent, but another part is thinking, “oh my god, of course they won’t pay me, why would they? I’m no good at what I do. I don’t deserve to get paid for it. I will probably die in a dumpster, alone.”
This fear is one of my gremlins—one minute I’m a confident, creative professional with endless ideas and energy, and the next I this gremlin starts whispering my deepest fears.
I suspect everyone has these gremlin fears voices. We just keep them secret and hidden, because everyone else seems to have their crap together and we don’t want to be seen as the only person on the planet who doesn’t. So we’re all comparing ourselves to each other, and we’re all feeling like we fall short, and we’re all thinking we’re the only one!
Well, here’s my news flash from the day: I’m scared. I worry constantly that my contributions are not valuable. That there is something wrong with me. That my business will fail, that other people will say, “that’s stupid. No one would pay money for what you do.” I regularly have to silence my gremlins and speak gentle truth to myself instead: You’re good enough, Anena! The world needs what you offer! You deserve to succeed!
So this morning my gremlin got the best of me. Then I sat down at my desk and wrote myself a list of commitments. I commit to generating a varied income that means I will no longer be dependent on one client at a time. I commit to bringing my gifts to birth no matter the obstacles. I commit to my greatness!
Then I called and made a meeting with the potential business partner I’ve been meaning to call. I didn’t have time to go meet with him, but I did it anyway—because once you’ve reached the point of sobbing in the kitchen at seven a.m., you know you have to do SOMEthing!! We had a fantastic meeting, found several areas of great synergy, roughed in a timeline for bringing some new service programs into the community, and voila—gone were my blues! I am excited again, enthusiastic: I DO have something to offer. By myself, I often struggle, but working with others, we can create so much more—and now I have a new goal to pursue that is exactly the sort of product I’ve wished to develop, and partners to support me in the areas where I’m weak.
So I don’t mind having had a meltdown, because it’s what forced me to finally take action. Which, I’m sure, was the entire point. And I wonder how many other challenges in my life I could also transform by taking that gremlin-voice and doing whatever it tells me I am the least able to do?
My little girl turns three this month, and I was planning to get her a kitten. This plan has morphed into getting a dog, and let’s be honest, it’s not really for her anymore—it’s for Mum. I’m the one who will be taking care of it anyway, right?
I joined a Nairobi dog adoption group on Facebook, and last night I saw a great dog posted there. He seemed like a lovely boy—a good age, a good size, and that all-important characteristic: good with kids. I messaged back and forth with the owner, and learned two things I wasn’t crazy about: he’s a high-energy dog who needs to run a lot, and he’s a “good security dog,” meaning he barks when people arrive. For my quiet toddler, I’d prefer a mellow dog to a rowdy one, and for my multiple-family community, I’d prefer a dog who doesn’t irritate my neighbors (and terrify their guests) by barking every time anyone arrives.
Still, Jem’s birthday is next week, and a good family dog is a good family dog, so in the end I told the owner I’d like to meet him.
This morning in the shower I was thinking about marriage. Having just ended an engagement, I’m keenly aware of something I’d never articulated about myself before: I really am someone who wants to mate for life. After my divorce and subsequent move to Kenya years ago, I enjoyed dating around Nairobi—until a year and a half with a man I adored made it clear that my heart is happiest in a committed, secure love relationship, and now I really can’t be bothered with anything else. But man, identifying someone I can stick with for life, that intimidates me right now—I was so sure my ex was my life partner, and once I stopped being sure, I ignored those signs for a long time because I wanted him to be. I wanted the stability and I wanted the love. How can I be sure, next time, whether this is a guy I can commit to for life or just my desperation for security?
Suddenly I thought of that dog. A great dog, I have no doubt—but I don’t want a high-energy dog, I don’t want a barker. In that instant, I recognized my pattern—that I want something, and then I grab the first thing that resembles it and make it be the thing I wanted. This is called SETTLING. Pushing a square peg in a round hole, as they say. I have done that my entire life, with jobs, with men, even with pets! I have such a panicked relationship to wanting, I would rather settle for something that resembles what I want than keep waiting—yet that settling only perpetuates the cycle of wanting in the end!
So I messaged the lady and told her, thank you, but this isn’t the right dog for me. That felt GOOD. Even though it’s just a dog, saying no felt like a powerful stand for myself: I am not going to be a person who settles for “close, but not close enough” any more!
Now I’m looking for the other areas in my life where I can apply this new awareness. What shortcuts am I taking in my business, what ways am I pretending that I have the results I want when actually I’m settling for less? I’ve recently been offered several opportunities that promise good money but aren’t work that I want. I’ve decided to adopt a new way of being in my professional life too, where I no longer settle for ‘good enough’ and block my own availability to do the work that is my calling.
Wanting is uncomfortable for me. But I’ve decided I’d rather make peace with wanting something and wait for it to come along, than keep pretending something less-than is good enough for me.
Yeah, I don't actually blog anymore....
I used to blog all the time, but it was really TMI, so I finally wised up and took it down. Now I just write about life-and-business stuff, and even that is inconsistent. So lately I decided to cheat and post my newsletters here too. (You can join the newsletter list on the Home page.)