How to Start a Biz

When I was little, I wanted to be an actress and a writer. But I always knew I would be a teacher. I had a hobby of making worksheets for my little sister and trying to teach her French. I was like that. I saw learning for the sake of learning as a life-long hobby.

Since I left my day job two months ago, I have learned a lot. Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Pursue your passion. If you like doing your biz, then people will like being around you when you’re doing it. Happiness is contagious. People in your sphere feel permission to pursue their passion when you pursue yours. That’s part of life’s purpose: to provide a space for people to be authentic.
  • Have accountability buddies. My buddies are my brother Brendan, my coach Mandy, my biz partner Kelly, my ex-colleague Hal, and my web developer Felicity. My experience hosting the writing weekend in the Adirondacks showed me how awesome and important it was to have empathetic and smart people in my orbit. I could lean on them, admit my doubts, and be encouraged to persevere.
  • Stay social. I need to spend solitary time to blog and to prep for teaching. I imagine every start up can be lonely. So, I am joining some MeetUps, going out to lunch with friends, staying social.
  • Wear jeans. For ten years, I dressed in business clothing almost every single working day. Enough already! I still put on a nice outfit when I teach or go out to lunch, but I am happy that every day is casual Friday.
  • my city block in the morning

    Get up and out. I have to get up and out by 8 am every day. If all I do is walk the kids to the bus stop two blocks away at 7:40 am and come right back home, that’s fine. My other favorite destination is a nearby 7:30 am meditation class. And, of course, I love the little French bistro, Margot Patisserie, for coffee and a croissant. The downside to my early mornings, I wake by 6:20, is that by 10 pm, I am wiped out and crabby and yelling at the kids, “Get to bed!”

I wrote this blog post, inspired by Don Miller’s Storyline. I especially like Miller’s advice to Be Patient. That’s not always easy, but I think it’s always worth it.

It reminds me of Rilke’s advice to:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

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People Like Unfinished Business

Brokenness and rawness are cool. I was reading Don Miller’s book. http://donmilleris.com/

Tom (Hazelwood) suggested I read “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing my Life.” I so loved it. I loved that Miller talked about being a fat kid. I loved that he talked about longing for a woman who did not long for him. About his shame at being a couch potato, about wanting life to be about big adventures. I loved that he admitted his  imperfections, was honest about his struggles. I loved that he talked about his dad’s beer drinking. I loved that he was funny.

I love people’s unfinished and messy business. I like reading blogs where people are working things out — like yesterday’s freshly pressed:

http://theycallmejane.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/al-and-tipper-john-and-jane-were-all-fighting-some-kind-of-battle/

I’ve noticed when I express my struggles on my Facebook status updates — like “I’m so lame I let my kids stay up too late,” or “I’m depressed so I am going to the Met” —  I get lots of feedback, discussion, thumbs up, “likes.” But when I go, “I’m awesome. I invented bike riding in New York City”? Crickets.

So long as you don’t wallow in your negativity. So long as you bring some humor to your struggle. So long as life is lived in “an atmosphere of growth.” That quote’s a paraphrase from “The Happiness Project,” another awesome memoir about trying to keep it together. But I think Gretchen Rubin could’ve been even more honest about her struggle.

Because it’s true, we’ve all got some kind of struggle, not just Tipper and Al.

People identify with lovable losers. With losers who are trying to win. We like the underdog, the schlump, the Don Miller. Maybe we identify. Or maybe we think, ‘At least, I’m not that bad.’ It can be hard to be honest, but it’s a good way to win readers’ hearts.  Maybe, like Miller, it’s a good way to write a bestseller and snatch a movie deal, “Blue Like Jazz,” too. Okay, I’m jealous.