Relief at Release

I breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as I ordered the first dozen author copies of my first book, Unleash, Unlearn, and Enliven: Seven Micro-Practices to Engage Your Somatic Wisdom. I get to buy at printing cost plus shipping from Amazon.

Is there some shameless self-promotion in this post? Yea you betcha, as we say in Minnesota.

I’m choosing to include not just the Amazon link as I encourage potential readers to buy the book, but also links at Bookshop.org, which supports Indie booksellers. I also include Barnes and Noble, because I truly miss hanging out in their bookstore/coffee shop as I did for many hours (days, weeks, months) back when I was finishing my masters thesis in 2006. I’m giving some love to Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. It is owned by author Louise Erdrich. I first read Love Medicine back in college I think. If you have never read Erdrich’s work, stop now and order a book by her. Any book. Don’t even read my book. Seriously, your money is better spent on her work if you haven’t read any of it yet.

My deepest hope for my first book is that it feels like nourishment and support to those who are bicultural and/or neurodiverse, with ADHD, or those with sensitive nervous systems who want to love those parts of themselves they often hide in the shadows. There is much love contained in it, and much hard-won wisdom. And I know it’s not for everyone, but I hope it helps my peeps feel less alone.

We live in an incredible time when we can spread the messages we wish to convey without the same gatekeepers who used to “control the store” so to speak. While I deeply respect the work of the traditional publishing world, I also know that the leadership there is overwhelmingly White and male. In recent years, many independent publishers have been established that cater to a more diverse reader base. And now as self-publisher, I get to join that list in a tiny way.

If you want to take a listen to the guided somatic awareness practice from Sound Cloud, it might make a nice 5 minute body-based meditation as a break from your day. I will someday have an audio book version of the entire book produced, perhaps. One project at a time. Spring has me thinking about podcasts to further spread the micro-practices, but I’ve got a little prep to do before that.

Hope your creative work is fruitful and satisfying in 2022!

Cheers,

Cristy

Is your brain (also) a drama queen?

Yesterday my brain decided to have a tantrum about “all the work” it would take to send the files to my cover designer and finalize my cover text, etc.

This will TAKE TOO LONG, it screamed.

What if you make a mistake? it wondered

What if the book is not worthy of the cover art? it speculated.

So instead of doing this task like I planned yesterday, I felt myself digging into a familiar cave of podcasts, audio books and other forms of distraction to avoid facing the task.

My brain did let me make my plan for the following day. Thank you, brain.

This morning I got up with my head less foggy. I used my prime hours (the 2 hours after waking, when I’m most clear, after my coffee, and before my breakfast) to get the files uploaded to the shared drive for the cover designer. I told her my back cover copy is 95% complete and that I’ll get a final edit to her by end of day.

Was the task worthy of all this drama? It took me only about an hour and 5 minutes to get this stuff done when I put my phone and other distractions away.

That’s how it goes. I’m ONTO YOU, drama queen brain. You can’t fool me. I know you’re trying to protect me from embarrassment about making mistakes. I appreciate that. I’m going to make my plan, and then stick to it, one step at a time. That’s how everything important gets done. I love you, but I won’t always listen to you.

Love,

Cristy

Photo Credit Link: Stephen Andrews (Pexels)

Shipped draft to my editor

Whew!

Even though my manuscript draft likely needs substantial developmental edits, it felt great to ship it out today.

About two weeks ago I got a strong impulse to find an editor. A couple of friends had volunteered to read the draft, but I realized after I had a few friends read the introduction the first time, that I really needed to have someone with experience to help me edit. I got great feedback, but it was not detailed enough to make decisions on the overall book.

About 15 years ago I finished the draft of my master’s thesis. It was only 40 pages, and it nearly killed me to write! I sometimes tell the story that it cost me my first marriage, my home and my job. But that’s probably an exaggeration. Just my marriage and my home then… 😉

This time around the book will likely be 110-130 pages. All in all, it’s a short book. But still, the number of decisions it takes to complete a project like this felt overwhelming to me. So I decided I would hire someone to professionally edit given that I am self publishing this time. Even if it costs me something, I want to spare my reader too much wandering from the main point.

So I posted a little ad on LinkedIn on September 10th for a freelance editor and in 2 hours I had 8 applications! Only two of the prospects actually read the posting carefully enough to see that I asked them to email me if they were interested. She reached out to ask about the budget and I told her I have no idea what I’m doing. But her quote (per word per round of editing) sounded very reasonable!

We decided on a small test project (an article for LinkedIn on the Shapes We Ask of Our Bodies) and I sent her $50 via Venmo for some accountability on that project. She gave me a wonderful edit and quick turnaround on that one. I was so happy, I Venmo’d about half of what I expected the next edit to cost me just to give myself the accountability to get it done by a week later.

So now my self-imposed deadline has been met. I expect I will also work with her on a second edit for line and copy editing and possibly a third for the proofread as well.

My relief is palpable. Nobody has read the entire thing, but I am confident that with her compassionate surgery on this project, it will turn out so much better.

Question to you: If you write books, do you work with an editor? Why or why not? And how did you find them?

Cheers,

Cristy

P.S. If you want to work with someone for an article or book edit, check out Kay Grey’s website. It may have been her amazing shot of her bookshelves that sold me… anyone that reads that much and has already improved my work is a great find. I just hope she doesn’t find the book-length project to be too scattered. I want to be worthy of the editor’s time!

We Defy Definition

Hello Friends,

I hope you are well and are enjoying some New Year’s Eve peace and joy. As we bring this year to a close I know many of us are hoping that 2021 brings a little more lightness and brightness than 2020.

As someone who treasures time alone or in small groups, this was a year of relative freedom for me. While being released from a job can be stressful for many, I was grateful to have solid savings and unemployment funds to tide me over during the transition to my next venture.

I began a team coaching certification program in September at The Medici Group, which I will complete in February 2021. I enjoyed teaching yoga online through Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studios. I provided personal coaching services to a few 1:1 clients, and I had lots of time for my favorite things: reading books, writing and snuggling on the couch with my hubby, with no pressure to be social.

I co-taught yoga sessions like “De-Stress for the Holidays” (available free on YouTube) with yoga sisters Amy Klous and Krista Steinbach, and connected with other wellbeing professionals at Ikigai Lab. I worked with my lovely coach, Stephanie, founder of Our Natural Wisdom. And I re-discovered my sense of purpose and mastery that led to me leaving a corporate position in 2018 to pursue my own endeavors.

One day, upon being asked (once again) for a bio prior to a presentation I was about to give, I threw up my hands in despair. Why do people keep wanting me to define myself based on my past? Seriously, it is an existential and also a practical question. I prefer to define myself based on my vision for the future. So I wondered if I might create community and offerings around embracing everyone’s gifts, not defining people based on roles, job titles or diagnoses. 

As someone with variable attention (which I do not consider a deficit, as a diagnosis might suggest) I struggle to BE just one thing. I enjoy so many things, and my creativity is enhanced by my ability to see the connections between things. And while I am “mexi-minnesotana,” it is only ONE aspect of my personality, not the totality of me.

And I know this is true of YOU also! You are not just a mother, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a caregiver, an employee. You are a multi-dimensional, beautiful human being! Can we all take a moment to celebrate that? Okay, now carry on with your day. 🙂

While I know my business will evolve over time, for now I plan to write, speak and advocate for those of us that refuse to be tamed and tethered by the terms others use to define us. We will together Unleash, Unlearn, and Enliven. The world needs us, and it is time to step out of the shadows and be our full selves.

Grateful for the supportive community here that has actively championed my contributions here for 3+ years. Much love to you all!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

Quiet places (and my noisy mind)

I transport myself to a quiet place in nature, not necessarily truly quiet, but a place that calms my mind. Listening to the sound of flowing water, my nervous system feels immediately soothed.

I have often had a “noisy” mind, a busy mind, an exuberant and thoughtful (also thought-full) mind. I have been rewarded for this in many ways. And this over-active mind is also a source of suffering all too often.

Learning to calm myself through yoga, running or dance and through journaling, has helped to slow the racing thoughts. I sometimes forget these practices, like anyone, when my mind becomes triggered by a painful thought. At those times, I feel myself bracing and going into “defense” mode, constricting and pushing back.

A video of my favorite quiet place in nature (in Schroeder, MN).

When I can take a breath or two and recognize that I’m not actually under attack by anything physical, and I’m responding to a painful thought or belief, I can allow my emotional response without reacting.

I keep training myself to do this, and re-training myself. It’s a lifelong journey, it seems. And maybe that’s what it means to be human, this acknowledgement of unhealed wounds that need tending and self-compassion. We may realize intellectually that they are no longer threats, and yet they still activate a primal place within our nervous system.

When they trigger fear or sadness or another painful emotion, there is a cascade of “stories” that usually follows (for me). And then that feedback loop can lead to even more painful thoughts. I bring myself back again to my physical sensations, my senses both internal and external, and re-ground myself.

The noisy mind is still there. And now I access a place where the “watcher” can lovingly and compassionately see the pattern, and offer comfort. Nothing has gone wrong. This is what minds do, generate thoughts like bubbles in a stream. They are not necessarily true, particularly the painful ones.

Stepping back, I access that bubbling stream knowing all is well. A bit of distance, a bit of perspective, and the noisy mind calms itself.

Be well, dear readers.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Half a century

What does it take for a marriage to last 50 years?

I have asked a few people that, and what I usually hear is this:

Patience. Lots and lots of patience. Also, the ability to let go of the need to be right about everything.

I think it was Frida Kahlo’s father who told her that the secret to a good marriage is a short memory.

50 year cakes and flowers

Ten years ago (in 2010) I met the man who would become my husband in 2017. He proposed in 2015. It took me many years of therapy, personal coaching, spiritual growth and a leap of faith for me to enter back into such a contract for a second time.

I read books like “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation” by Rebecca Traister and “Committed: A Love Story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The first time around, I had known I could get out of it. That marriage was borne of familial rebellion and personal stubbornness.

The second time around, I waited to be sure I could outlast my tendency to get bored and move on every 4-8 years. I already knew living with other people (anyone really) can be difficult for me. Solitude is precious. Personal space is one of my highest values. It’s why the era of COVID-19 has held blessings in disguise for me. I realized this reflects a lot of privilege. It also reflects the personal choice I made not to become a parent.

My parents love my sister and me fiercely and protectively. Their division of labor is not what I would choose, but it seems to work for them. They taught my sister and me that all people are worthy of respect. They contributed to their community in so many ways, especially to their students and neighbors. They focused their attention on us, our educations and our futures. We have never doubted their commitment to us. I am forever grateful for those gifts.

Half a century. I am in awe. Grateful.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com