You may have noticed that I’ve been especially quiet for a while. I thought I’d check in and let you know some of what’s been going on.
At the end of August, Angela and I were rear-ended while we were sitting at a stop light. While it didn’t damage our vehicle that much, it did considerable damage to our bodies. We’re both seeing a lot of medical practitioners, to the tune of four appointments or so a week. We’ve retained a lawyer who’s advised us to keep quiet about it on social media until we’ve reached a settlement, so I haven’t said much about it publicly since. (We still haven’t settled, so I’m not heeding his counsel here.)
Being in constant pain and being distracted by all the appointments have put an obvious damper on my capacity. My pain levels tend to be in the 4-6 range, depending on what I’m doing and how much I try to do, so it hasn’t been enough to have me crying from the bed in despair, but it’s enough that it’s like having a chatty friend with you everywhere you go. You can do what you’d normally do, but you just have to work around the noise the chatty friend is going to add to anything you do.
What’s been particularly frustrating is that it’s been harder to get into a creative zone after the accident, both because of the latent pain and because I can’t sit down for more than 30 or so minutes without my chatty friend getting especially loud. Finding Flow has been a search unlike anything I’ve had in the past – I’m used to being frustrated by the lack of available time for me to do my thing, but being limited by energy and attention rather than time is a much more novel thing for me.
While being unable to create as much as normal would be disappointing and frustrating at any period for me, the accident came at a really inopportune time when it comes to me writing the book. I was getting momentum going after ditching the old book concept for the one that people actually want to read and I’m ready to write. There were enough creative projects internal to the business that I was geared up to do, as well. I originally struggled and flailed against my temporary limitations, but after a certain period, I just accepted that I’d be going through a fallow creative period while I was recovering, since I really didn’t have my normal choice of recovering or plowing through; the plow was left in the barn because the ox couldn’t pull it.
Were my business purely predicated on what I create now, we’d be in much worse trouble. Though I’ve had a hard time writing, I’ve had no problems coaching. It’s easy for me to get into the zone and I’m mostly booked with great clients, many of which I’m working with intensively, so we get in a groove and stay in the groove. Granted, I haven’t been able to do as many per week as normal, but that’s okay because I was already downscaling how much I was coaching so I could make room for the book.
In full transparency, this period would’ve been easier to manage had I done the true, hard work on our product funnel in 2012 so that the products were either selling themselves or that they could be sold with a little push that I could do within my energetic limits. There are two, near-completed products that were two weeks from being done when the accident happened. Our current line of products sell well, but they don’t provide enough relevant revenue to replace everything else that we do; the downside of developing multiple revenue streams is that if you don’t build them fast enough or make them robust enough, no single stream can cover your break-even. To be clear, this is only a problem during the build-up phase of such a business or when you don’t prioritize flushing out your streams.
Little External Movement But Lots of Internal Movement
Creative people never truly go fallow; something is always growing under the surface.
I’ve been intentionally quiet throughout the past few months to press some limits. I’ve been less present on Social Media to see what effect it has on me, the business, and our network. I’ve let go of things I’ve always done to see if they actually needed to be done. I haven’t written a newsletter since October or November. I’ve delegated things I never would’ve let go of before to see if they’re something I actually need to do.
Over the holiday break, I did the unfathomable thing of shutting email, social media, and business activities down completely. I didn’t check email for 17 days and disappeared almost completely from Social Media. I said “Oh well” to scheduled internal deadlines like getting the free planners out on schedule. I didn’t write anything save for some journaling. I let active clients know I’d be unavailable and I honored that boundary, as hard as it was. (I love working with our clients!)
The theme of the first few days of my staycation was “conscious not-doing” – I had to actively not-do a lot of things. I had to be less conscious about it toward the middle, but near the end of the break I had to be more conscious about it than at the beginning. The trick was to not enter the field of work, so I simply didn’t open my laptop during that period. (I may write more about this later.)
Needless to say, the last four months’ exploration has yielded a lot of gems, insights, and lessons-learned that I’ll share in one way or the other in the ensuing months. I’m not sure how or when they’ll come out because I don’t have a timeline on my recovery.
As an aside, this has been the third “hard” 4th quarter in a row. Last year about this time, we shared the Reset series about Angela’s mental breakdown, reset, and reintegration. I’m hoping – and planning for – an easier, less-intense 4th quarter this year AND who knows what fortune lies underneath misfortune and what misfortune lies underneath fortune?
No Promises or Outcomes
Historically, when I’ve gone quiet, it’s been because I’ve been developing something, so (some) people have come to anticipate me coming back up with something awesome. I’m still consciously not-doing a lot of things, two of which are doing more talking than walking and making unrealistic plans, goals, and promises. It’s not that I’m not working on things – if I’m breathing, something is in the works, despite my intentions – but that I don’t how or when it’ll all manifest. I’m (mostly) okay with that.
If you happen to see more reflective, evaluative, or narrative pieces here and elsewhere, you now know the backstory. If you don’t see anything, you now know the back story. If you see me trying different things, you now know the backstory. If I’m not “on top of things” in ways that I have been in the past, you now know why.
I’ve been (externally) fallow, not forlorn. The light is always on, even if you don’t see it.