Cycles of letting go

Hello Friends,

How is your winter going? I am on the eve of letting the email address associated with this domain expire since I have been gradually moving toward a modified portfolio of work.

For the past month knowing that Feb 10th is my deadline so I’ve been unsubscribing regularly. I am conscious how much more work it is to monitor one additional email account. I’ll be back to two main ones, and one I use for a business where I consult from time to time. That feels easier.

Photo taken in Schroeder, MN where the maples show us beautiful rituals of letting go.

As I do this, it’s been kind of nostalgic to walk back through projects and files that I started from 2018 to 2021 marking a period of experimentation with a number of offerings. 2022 feels like a year where I may “land” a bit more and embrace a couple of main areas. At the same time, I am looking for a nice ritual of letting go to mark the occasion. I don’t know about you, but rituals of completion feel important to me.

So often I feel excited to head off into the next big challenge, but then I leave “open containers” along the way. Then they continue to exist in the background, taking up bandwidth like the extra windows we have opened, or those apps we forget to close. It’s no wonder our brains start to feel tired and burdened.

I like rituals involving fire. Safe ones, of course, but I’m considering how to mark this occasion as a burning away of old pressures, identities, obligations. I haven’t decided on how to do that yet, but I’m curious if you do this type of thing to mark the end of a project or effort, and what feels right.

Can you share with me any ideas that you find especially helpful?

Thank you!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

The virtual book party

It seems fitting that yesterday, at the beginning of the Chinese New Year and the celebration of Imbolc (in the Celtic tradition) that my first dozen author copies of my book arrived to my home.

I decided that I wanted my books to “hang out” with other books I’ve enjoyed and authors I love. So while my little writing muse (Willy) was dressed in his tuxedo best, I created a display to celebrate.

Cat sitting in a display with book: Unleash, Unlearn, and Enliven and books by Brene Brown, Martha Beck, Bessel Van Der Kolk, Jenara Nerenberg and Katherine May

While I know I have a long way to go in my author journey, and I’m not at the level of the amazing authors sitting next to my book. But I also know they had to start somewhere, and so did I.

Taking time to celebrate this event felt like the right thing to do. So grateful I got serious in 2021 about getting this process started and finished.

What’s your next big goal? How do you plan to celebrate when you achieve it?

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

Delightful nourishment

Happy 2022, dear friends!

Are you anticipating new projects on the horizon? I am excited to consider a few creative intentions for the year. I’m not one to make resolutions but I see intentions as a helpful guiding compass for any new period of time that feels right.

Typically I set intentions each month, around the new moon, which tends to be an energetic cycle of contemplation for me. This month and year what kept coming forward was a combination of two of the core desired feelings I set as intentions back in July (which is what I think of as the beginning of my “fiscal” year).

Delightful nourishment (in noun form)

Delightfully nourishing (the adverb)

Playing with those terms a bit, I wanted to phrase that in a way that makes sense in a “quantum question” type of format. Here’s my idea:

In what ways can I create assets that are delightfully nourishing for myself, my husband, my clients and my business?

After creating my first book in the past year (though I’m still anxiously awaiting the paperback proof due to me this week) I considered all of the joy and love that went into that creation. While it was difficult at times to keep going, especially during the editing phase, overall the process was delightful nourishment for my soul. For much of the process, I devoted just an hour a day to the project, but as it kept moving forward and taking shape, it was enormously satisfying.

The shadow side of that process is that since late last summer, I’ve noticed slight but steady weight gain. Only about a pound or so per month, but it is a contrast to the first 4 months of the project, when I seemed to have some effortless weight loss. It was though I was being “fed” by my creativity. With my training as a yoga teacher, and my emphasis on somatic wisdom in the book, I feel somewhat sheepish at admitting this, but it feels related.

The pure joy of creating a draft and working with words is delightful nourishment to me. And the process of thinking about how my work will go out into the world, speculating how it will be received is another matter. It seemed to bring up all my past demons with food as a way to dull difficult emotions. It probably didn’t help that the pandemic uncertainty and anxiety about contracts and jobs also came up.

I find the beauty of sunrise to be delightfully nourishing, especially when I take the time to appreciate it.

Rather than chastise myself about this, though, I am bringing self-compassion to my struggle. It can feel so vulnerable to bring our work out into the world. So much so that many people have manuscripts in drawers, and many never share their gifts.

Overeating is never delightful nourishment. It can be subtle and tenacious though. This year I want to turn to forms of spiritual nourishment instead of food, like writing, abhyanga (Ayurvedic oiling), reading delicious literature, walking in nature, drinking in the beauty around me, being present with my loved ones, and creating more books, or maybe a podcast. All of these activities feel delightfully nourishing to me.

What kinds of delightful nourishment are you planning for yourself in 2022?

Finding a Creative Publishing Team

I recently published my first eBook and it felt like such an achievement to me. After taking the time to work through a couple rounds of editing and then thinking through more changes after the Advance Reader Team helped me see where it could be improved, I felt ready to upload to IngramSpark to generate a paper version. Hurrah!

For me, a book isn’t “real” until I can order a paper format. Much as I love how digital products can generate royalties for their authors and creators, until I can hold something in my hands, it feels like a figment of my imagination. I crave the embodiment of something with weight and a cover that I might pick up in a store.

IngramSpark didn’t accept the fact that I didn’t yet have a professionally designed cover to add to my file. File rejected: bummer. I had hoped a “placeholder” cover would suffice could put off the process of locating a designer while I reviewed a bound and printed version.

What was I waiting for? I’d found my editor, Kay Grey, by putting a post in LinkedIn for an editing project. Within hours I got 8-9 applications. But only one person read the post closely and reached out to me to find out more about the budget. I was delighted when after viewing her website we connected and it seemed like a fit. Kay has made the book miles better than it could have been with my own editing.

Why couldn’t I find someone via LinkedIn for the cover design as well? Most professional designers might not work with just a one-week turnaround, I reasoned. But if I found someone who knew upfront that’s what I hoped for, maybe I could find them out there. Indeed within hours I received 8-10 applications again. I closed the post and took a look at the portfolios. One stood out in particular. I reached out. She scheduled a conversation. Turns out we have so many common interests I was delighted. She was able to take the art that I’d commissioned from a friend of mine, and turn it into a cover I really love.

Mock-up of the cover design; slight changes will be in the final version to be released in January.

This was not something I could have generated on Canva. It required an eye for visual art, competence with InDesign and an understanding of my vision for the overall project. And while there are many free tools that exist for eBook covers, I believe a physical book needs a professional to make it shine. So grateful to Natalya, who helped me visualize how this book might appear on my shelf (and hopefully for others) someday.

As authors, we can find the support of editors, artists, and cover designers to focus on our gifts. I have a deep appreciation for beautiful art, but that’s very different from actually making it. As indie authors who publish work ourselves, this can seem daunting at first. But taking it one step at a time, and being patient, it’s not so hard to find collaborators.

I’m already at work on the next book(s), which have been starting to present themselves in my morning freewriting sessions. Grateful to have worked with some amazing professionals that may accompany me on future book journeys if their schedules align.

Where have you found your best collaborators? I am curious to know.

Warm wishes for a lovely solstice or whatever holiday you celebrate.

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)