If Anyone Has Told You Following Your Dreams Is Easy- They Lied
The purpose of this post is not to complain. It serves a few purposes, actually. One, it allows me to vent... just a little. (It's stressful keeping all that stuff inside!) Two, it gives me a "looking back" point. When I conquer these roadblocks (and I will!) I can look back and remind myself of where I came from. And three, when you hear about people chasing their dreams or reaching for their big goals, you either only hear about the successes or you hear about the failures.
I have decided to present the journey. The good, bad and the ugly. This is real. It's what's happening in my life. And let me tell you, it is testing me down to my fiber.
I consider myself to be a successful author. I have five solid books under my belt, a loyal, amazing, growing following. I will never run out of things to write about or projects to complete and I am beginning to become more known in the "expert" arena in the relationship and teenage motivation fields. I am proud of my accomplishments.
But contentment has never really been my friend, for long. It's good for me to to have an opportunity to "be still" for a bit, but after a while, I get antsy and need to stretch or I become lazy... and need to MAKE myself stretch.
The majority of my income has been designed so I can create and earn from anywhere (coaching is on google hangouts, my books can be purchased on-line, my e-courses will be available soon on-line, I can write, communicate and dream from anywhere! )so, I've steadily been working up to this adventure, but sometimes, I want to be face to face with people. And in my past, workshops and camps, and seminars were always my favorite thing to do! I love making learning fun. I love meeting people and being able to help them immediately. And I love seeing "the lightbulb" go off when they realize something I have introduced that can ultimately change their life.
My first book in the Leading With Love series Love Begins With You had just been released in November, and I had just revamped a full-day workshop into a shorter more time-friendly four-hour workshop. (The Leading With Love Workshop)
The plan was to present these workshops and promote the books and be able to get out and meet the people, support local businesses, share some love and happiness and see the country.
Brilliant, right? And if things would just have cooperated and did as I wanted, I would be having no issue. Lol.
Nothing has gone as planned...
On the very first day, I didn't get more than an hour away before I had to pull over. The camper was swaying SO hard, it almost pulled me off the road. The problem: The hitch was not level to the truck. Got that fixed, and back on the road.
Next problem: The wind was blowing SO hard, the camper still swayed but there was nothing I could do about it other than just keep moving forward. I white-knuckled that steering wheel for the next ten hours.
Next problem: My drive was SO slow that I got to the "campground" after midnight and didn't know where my site was. The temps had dropped to the 30s and we had no heat, no electric. I pulled over at a construction site to try and sleep for a few hours in the camper, but it was so, so cold that we just got back up and waited for the office to open.
Next problem: Suffering from lack of sleep, sore muscles, hunger and just wanting to get settled, it turns out the "campground" was mostly a mobile home park with a few RVs thrown in the mix. They didn't have a bath house, and the streets were so steep that I scraped the back end of the camper at every turn. (Ended up doing some damage to the camper itself!) I had to decline staying there and find another REAL campground.
Next problem: (Mind you, I'm still not even two full days into this adventure!) I need to find a way to tell my fancy-schmancy GPS system that I am towing a thirty foot camper!! On the way to the other campground, it took me through the historic downtown district!! And while I would have appreciated this any other time, I AM TOWING A 30' CAMPER!!! Then, (yes, I know this is getting hard to believe!) THEN, there was an accident and I had to be re-routed. A 15 minute drive ended up taking 48 minutes.
I did make it to the other campground, got hooked- up, took a shower and a nap, and all was well.
Next problem: I had to cancel the workshop in Birmingham, AL because of lack of attendance. (Silly me, didn't realize that I was competing with a major drinking holiday... St. Patrick's Day)
Good news: Sold some books, met some great people, had some new sign-ups for the newsletter thanks to the book signing events... Yay!
Next problem: Advertising and marketing.... I'm really not very good at that so I like to hire out for those things. Lesson learned: Figure out ALL the rules and learn the process myself first before handing the responsibility off to someone else. I was trying to cut corners and assumed that anyone I hired would have my best interest at heart. I somehow got myself blocked from using Facebook ads because some of the guidelines were not being followed. My fault. I should have known what the guidelines were and I should have taken more interest in what was being done on my behalf. I lost a lot of money and have gotten zero return. But that's not the worst part... however.
Facebook marketing was my main source of promoting because it can specifically target my location and the audience that would most benefit from my books and services. And now I have none of that. No marketing, no promotions. I have had to cancel another workshop.
Good news: I am heading into "home turf". I have a large following in both Arkansas, and Missouri, where I am from, and hopefully I can salvage some of the events scheduled for the cities in those states.
And that pretty much brings us up to date...
I am using this "extra" time to do some renovations on the camper, to try and distribute the weight a little better so it won't sway as much when I get over 55mph. (So frustrating!!) And fix the back end and making it a little more suited for me.
I am sad because I am not teaching or even writing at the moment, and since I get myself into this funk, I barely go out and see the sights- the things that I set out on this adventure to do. Write, teach, explore then write about it.
I am completely caught up in the business side of things- looking for new ways to promote, create a new income stream if I can't teach, social media postings, and pleading with Facebook for another chance... And now I have to take the time to learn the things I was farming out: email automation, landing pages, links, adwords, amazon ranking, upselling, SEO, photoshop... yuk, yuk, yuk! I just want to create! (Okay, that was a little extra whiny... sorry 'bout that!)
I apologize for the length and I'll try to update more often to keep them concise, but I guess this is really the first time I've had a chance to communicate with you. I've been battered around a bit... but I shall bolster and keep moving forward. I'm not giving up just yet...
I guess this post does a fourth thing as well, it allows you to come in and share my world with me. And while I mention my struggles, I am not looking for you to "fix" anything, but your prayers and words of encouragement do help and feed me and keep me moving forward. And while these are my dreams that I am chasing, I am so excited that you have taken an interest and decided to tag along. The good, the bad the ugly... and when we meet you can reflect with me... ("Remember that time when... I was really worried for you...." or "just look how far you've come.")
Thank you for hanging with me!
Until next time... hopefully a happier post...
Things I've Learned from Beaufort, S.C.
I relocated to Beaufort, SC in December 2014. My goal was to escape the cold winters of the Midwest and get closer to my beloved ocean. The plan was to stay there for a year, write a book and then start on my tour…
That is far from what happened.
I ended up moving closer to the ocean to St. Helena Island. I was surrounded by beautiful live oaks with their signature Spanish moss clinging to them for that familiar, haunting visual. Everywhere I went, I crossed water. Palm trees were plentiful. The smell of the ocean skimmed along the warm breezes….
It is such a beautiful place.
I published two books while there. Daddy’s Girl and Love Begins With You. My daughter and I opened and closed a business. I expanded my online community and made lots of new loving, supportive, lasting friendships. I loved living there, but…
My dreams still called to me.
It ended up being two years and four months until I was ready to chase down my dreams. I could see me landing at the island permanently, if such a thing were to happen. But for now, I have such a wanderlust that just can’t be ignored any longer.
That being said, here are some of the valuable memories that I take along with me…
,1. They are not swamps. They are marshes. Do not confuse the two, the locals do not like it.
This was my first experience with marshlands and I come away with a sort of awe at their entire existence. They are an eco-system all of their own. They fill and empty with the ebb and flow of the ocean. The tall grasses sway in the breeze at low tide and are swallowed up at high tide. The fish and dolphins all participate with the moon’s rotation, and came in closer when it was safe and headed to deeper waters when it was not. The crabs and oysters popped up to the surface when the water dissipated thinking that they would be safe in the thick, nutrient-rich “pluff mud”, but they were mistaken… (Blue Crab and Oysters are considered a mainstay for the residents!) Early in the morning as the sun comes up it lights up the scene of sea grass that looks like it goes on for miles and miles. In the dark of night, with the moon SO huge its light bounces off the water and you can hear the popping a gurgling of unseen crustacean life. The scenery literally changes before your eyes.
And one of my very favorite wastes of time was watching it happen…
2. And speaking of “locals”, you may be hard-pressed to find one!
It seemed like most everyone was from somewhere else! The magic of Beaufort has enchanted hundreds of thousands of visitors to become residents, much to the local’s dismay. Even the “tourists” that have called Beaufort home for decades still concede that they were transplanted from somewhere else. The Beaufort, SC birth certificate is a coveted thing…
3. The locals set the pace for the entire region. It ain’t called the “Slow Country” for nothin’!
When you get to the Low Country of Beaufort, better be prepared to drop it down a gear. No one is in a hurry to go anywhere or do anything. “They’ll get there, when they get there.” It’s felt in every area of the town. The restaurants, the retail establishments, hospitals, and the driving… oh, don’t even get me started on the driving!! You can spot a “Yankee” a mile away because they have a faster pace. They move with a sense of urgency. Low Country folk just don’t see a reason for wasting all that extra energy.
But if you give in to it, and slow down to their pace, even for just a moment, you’ll always find a ready smile and an open willingness to share a story or two about the rich history of the area. Southern hospitality is alive and well… as long as you don’t mind waiting for it.
4. Sand gnats don’t sound to ferocious, but their bite is mighty!!
These tiny little bugs are the undoing of the entire Low Country. They are sometimes called No-See-Ums because the only way you know they are around is 1) You hear people slapping themselves in terror. 2) You feel chunks of skin being ripped. Or 3) You are suddenly blinded by a swarm of tiny black dots going straight for the eye-balls or up the nose while the others attack your flesh. No joke. These are some serious little devils. And it seems that they can withstand almost every form of defense with the exception of a breeze! I have the battle wounds to prove it! Oh, and not only do they itch… they itch for WEEKS!! I don’t know how much toxic venom they inject but it sure is potent…
5. You’d better like seafood and be able to live without proper Chinese food or BBQ.
I was raised in the Midwest. Our idea of fish was Mrs. Paul’s. It came from a box, battered and in rectangular stick shapes. But in Beaufort, they catch it and throw it on a plate! I was able to find a few things that I could palate, but… not the oysters. Which, along with shrimp and crab, is a mainstay there. They have festivals dedicated to the smoking, steaming, searing, basting, boiling, frying, sautéing, and raw dining of as many pounds as possible. Right out of a Forest Gump scene. What’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Seafood. Me? I’m missing a steak…
6. The United States Marine Corp has a boot camp and base in Beaufort.
I am always in support of our military personnel, and it was an absolute honor to be able to work so close with and become a part of some of the finest Marines and Navy men and women to be found anywhere! You can’t live there for any length of time and not feel pride and presence of our military! (And just a short distance away, in GA, I was able to work with the Army and Air Force personnel as well!) I am so grateful to those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for my freedom. I will never not be thankful to them.
Many of the permanent residents, had actually served in the Marine Corp and were stationed in Beaufort. Again, the magic worked on them and when it was time, they returned to the Low Country to make it their home.
7. Hurricanes… Not a fan.
Well, I can scratch “Surviving a Hurricane” off my bucket list. Hurricane Matthew blew through Beaufort and my little island and all along the coast with vigor! Yes, I did evacuate- they didn’t have to tell me twice! But I saw the massive amount of damage that it left behind. Homes torn in two. Docks ripped from their moorings. Cars completely flooded out. Boats sent miles and miles away, torn to pieces. Businesses lost. Beautiful live oaks that had survived for hundreds of years finally met their undoing.
It was tragedy after tragedy. But what could have easily caused the entire area to fold and give in, I also saw communities come together. Workers putting in long hours to get the electric on, clean water flowing, and debris removed from the streets. Many selfless hours of neighbor helping neighbor; residents feeding and serving each other. Getting people back into their homes as quickly as possible.
Tragedy can sometimes bring out the beauty in people.
It can also bring out the bad in some and, many were surprised by the selfless neighborhood watch of our men and women in blue (not to mention a few gun toting stubborn folk who “were not about to be chased off by no rain storm!”) Also a nod to the military, the hospital doctors and nurses and EMT who stayed behind to take care of business.
I’ve lived through a hurricane. My appreciation for the power of the ocean in a bad mood, will not soon be forgotten.
8. History. Beautifully Preserved History.
If you are a fan of history, real-live history that you can witness for yourself, this place is chock-full of just such a thing! There are forts still standing. The beautiful antebellum homes still preserved and lived in! (Ghosts and all!) Everywhere you look, the old and the new are mushed together in some kind of alternate time warp. Just when you are caught up in the majesty of yesterday, you practically run smack into a Walgreens or a McDonalds. Can’t stop progress, I suppose. Every square inch of this precious landscape is kept preserved while still making room for the ever-spreading expansion of “tourists” that head to this beautiful corner of the world.
I have been away from this amazing collection of islands, history and an eye on tomorrow for just a few days and my heart tugs me back to it. It’s magic has enchanted me too… I miss the ocean breeze, and the scenery. The stars that were so bright and low it looked like you could reach up and pluck them from the sky. I miss the Southern drawl that is unique to the Gullah culture. I miss the great relationships that I formed while I was there. But again, the open road calls to me as well and begs me to see the rest of these beautiful states before I “settle” in one place… if ever.
So, I let go of Beaufort, SC in search of new adventures but a piece of my heart remains to help me find my way back… just in case.
I Need a Job
I have been unemployed now for three whole days…
I had visions of giving up the J.O.B. and spending the afternoons sprawled on the beach… sipping wine and leisurely writing under my big colorful umbrella. That’s not what happened…
I am a self-proclaimed work-aholic. And as much as I feel I have rebelled against it my entire life, I need structure. Structure as to work these hours, eat here, breathe some fresh air here, speak to another human here…
When left to my own devices… it is not healthy.
So, in my last three days, I have not put real clothes on, put on make-up or even brushed my hair. I did leave my morning alarm in place only to have the immense pleasure of turning it off and rolling back over to attempt sleep. If it wasn’t for my dog having to go outside, I wouldn’t have seen the light of day… The sunshine beckons me, but I have so much to do… later, sunshine….
I wake up, make my coffee, and head straight for the computer. My Leading With Love Tour is scheduled to take off in a matter of weeks and there is SO much to do in addition to my regular writing deadlines. So- there I am, in front of my computer all day… all night… nothing and no one to distract me. No job to make me stop and face the world and change gears. So around 8:30- 9:00 at night, I realize that I haven’t eaten anything… all day. So I stuff my face with whatever is available so I can get back to work.
And guess what is in my eyesight…It’s been the gifts everyone has given me from the last days at the job. Cherry Coffee Cake, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate bars, popcorn, Sierra Mist, and… veggie dip. (Luckily I had some broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge… the healthiest thing I had all week.)
I eat until I’m full, and then head back to the computer. I am not very tech savvy so I am struggling with the learning curve of some new marketing techniques. SO much to do. The workaholic in me demands that I conquer this new stuff. So much to do. So much pressure I put on myself.
So at some point in the wee hours of the morning, I drag myself to my bed and smile as I snuggle into the layers of blankets. I think about the things I am grateful for and close my eyes to sleep.
… and then my brain decides to reflect on the days activities, the to-do list for tomorrow (which is technically only hours away), and some really great NEW ideas that I should try…. Right now. And not so gently reminds me that there is still so much to do... with accompanying deadlines...
My alarm goes off and with heavy eyelids and a smile I turn it back off. Roll over, snuggle back in… and my brain says… “You know… I’ve been thinking…”
Structure… not to be underestimated. I’ll work on that tomorrow…