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June 12, 2009

This morning I woke up around 3:00 am and was thirsty and hot. After getting a drink of water and peeling off a layer of covers, I expected to quickly fall to sleep.  Unfortunately, it was one of those early mornings that I kept thinking and thinking.  To make this awake-time productive, I pulled out a journal from my nightstand and decided to do some writing and reading of past entries.

Interestingly, I had written a list of goals on June 15, 2008, about what I wanted to have achieved by “next” summer, which is the summer we’re currently sweltering in. Amazingly, I have already achieved 8 of the 11 things on the list! Two of the not-yet-reached goals relate to owning a new home, which probably won’t be happening this summer, but the other one had to do with being paid to write.  So far I’ve been published a few times in a local magazine that doesn’t pay, but it’s still been a proud accomplishment for me, one I hadn’t yet reached a year ago.

Reading the journal reminded me that last year at this time I was working on a book.  It was called Office Supply Art: How to Not Die of Boredom and Lack of Creativity at Your Lame 9 to 5. It was a short, fun book; only about 12,000 words long with lots of pictures of art made from office supplies. I finished it in July and started sending out queries to publishing companies in August. I quickly received one rejection, but a positive one that supported my notion that this book was a funny idea.

However, besides the one “nice” rejection, everything else was a bland, standardized letter about how my book wasn’t what the publishers were looking for.

By the holiday season I had pretty much given up on sending out any more queries, by then I was fully immersed in life coaching and spirituality and just working towards different goals.

Oddly, just 10 days ago, I got a package in the mail; it turned out to be a return of the partial manuscript of Office Supply Art that I’d sent to a publishing house at least six months ago and completely forgotten about. Besides the returned pages of my book project was a short, standardized letter saying why this other publishing company wasn’t interested in it.

I’m not going to lie: even though I’ve moved on to other projects, and didn’t even know I still had a query letter out there, I still felt a little stung when I got the slip from yet another publishing company. But (as usual) I have to point out the good side of this experience: the fact that I even wrote an entire book, sent out query letters, and got rejected is amazing! How many people actually ever write a book and attempt to get it published? I certainly never imagined that I would ever do something like that!

This journey is part of my “Hero’s Saga”, when I try out my new ideas and, quite often, fall flat on my face. But before I could get to that stage, I had to go through a couple of others, and once I leave this stage there’s still one happy place left for me to be.

Each little compartment of our lives, like our relationships, careers, hobbies, etc., go through cycles. We can be in different stages of these cycles in different compartments of our lives. For instance, you might be happily settled into the career of your dreams but be going through a terrible break up of a relationship. Let me take you through the phases.

Stage One: Death and Rebirth

This stage occurs when something causes part of how you identify yourself to be taken away or altered. It could happen with the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or if your house burned down. It can also happen by choice and be something positive, such as choosing to leave one career to go back to school to pursue another.

You may identify yourself as a sister, boyfriend, car salesman, pet owner, lottery winner, or cheese-eater. (Or a combo of these things.) If something causes you lose part of your identity, say, your girlfriend dumps you and now you’re single, part of you has “died”. Now you need to reform your identity as a single person and redefine who you are.

In the Death and Rebirth Stage you may feel frightened, angry, or listless. Now is not the time for sudden moves; it’s time to take care of you and take slow steps forward, remembering that what you’re feeling is normal and it’s okay to not know what the heck is going on. Eventually you’ll be ready to move to square two.

Square Two: Dreaming and Scheming

Now that you’ve mourned the loss that forced you into Death and Rebirth, you are probably ready to start reforming your identity. If you lost your job you might start thinking and dreaming about what your dream career is.

This is an exciting time, one that feels full of amazing possibilities. You may also feel hope for the first time in a while; that you will someday love again, that you can succeed at a new job, or that one day you’ll own an award-winning Daschund.

You’ll probably start to feel creative and want to try new things. You may also notice that along with the excitement comes fear.  Maybe you’re voicing your ideas to others in your life and they’re telling you that your great ideas are actually horrible. Ignore them, they’re just afraid, and fear is contagious. Easier said than done, right?  Don’t give up your dreams. Write them down. Imagine what it would be like to have them come true.  Seek out people who support you. Above all, keep moving foward. Before long you’ll be ready to test-drive your new life and enter square three.

Square Three: The Hero’s Saga

As I mentioned, when I received my umpteenth rejection letter (actually, it was probably my fourth of fifth; it just felt like my umpteenth) I was reminded that the only way I could be rejected in the first place is if I was out there doing something to reach my dreams.

This is a time for goal-setting and failure.  Yup, failure.  You’re going to be trying many new things while you’re in the Hero’s Saga, and not everything is going to work out. I wish I could tell you that because you’re following your heart or your gut things would fall into place perfectly like they do in romantic comedies, but it just ain’t so.

I experience some sort of “failure” almost weekly at this point, and have for the last few months, because that’s the stage I’m in with regards to building my career.  My coaching business has been operating less than a year, and it’s been just over a year since I decided that I also wanted to make writing and blogging part of my job. I wanted to hold a seminar, twice, on living joyfully on a budget; neither time worked out. I wanted to get my book published, so far no luck. I have had a couple other ideas for books that I haven’t followed through on. I have tried to get some columns published with magazines that pay but so far have been rejected. I want to have lots and lots of blog readers and have to try new things every day to draw people in. It is not easy to follow your dream.

Thank goodness it all feels worth it. I’m usually happy when I wake up in the morning. I get excited about new projects all the time. I love talking about my trials and tribulations with other people. I’m sure in no time I’ll be in square four.

Square Four: The Promised Land

This is where we all want to be in all parts of our life all the time. Most of us aren’t though, but we can try!

When you get here you don’t have to work as hard. You’ve followed your dreams, fallen down and gotten back up again many, many times, and now you’re steering a course for success.  Relax, enjoy it, and remember to smell the roses. If something isn’t working, drop it. Keep going with what is working, it’s all you need.

If you’ve had little success before, you might start to get edgy, uncertain that you’ll be able to keep up the momentum. Let it go. Now is the time to share your knowledge, share your wealth, and reassure yourself that you got here on your own merit and that you will always live in abundance.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to getting to square four with my business and career.  But until then, I’m just going to keep going, keep pursuing my joy, and to be grateful for every day.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2009 9:40 am

    What an absolutely beautiful post. I don’t even know what to say I’m so moved and inspired. Best of luck with your book, you definitely deserve it so I believe that eventually you will find a publisher that supports your ideas and vision. Take care, and thank you 🙂

  2. Nan Scarborough permalink
    June 12, 2009 12:16 pm

    Jen, It was good for me to read this entry – reminded me that there really is no such thing as failure…but there are plenty of opportunities to grow!! Thanks for inspiring me to keep putting myself “out there”.


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