After taking a year off from writing essays and podcasting, I'm back!
The reason why I took a year off is because I knew that I was deep in a transition phase with my business. And when you run a solo business, meaning that you are the wearer of all the hats, there is a finite amount of time and energy. And so you will have to make, I had to make, strategic decisions about where you put that time and energy.
I know there are business coaches who will say that this is the wrong approach. That one should focus instead on growing so that they can hire a team, and therefore expand the amount of time and energy that the business has.
There are other coaches who might not recommend growing a team of employees necessarily, but who would still disagree with me and say, no, the most important thing is consistency. So no matter how finite the time and energy, keep producing and eventually you will reap the rewards because consistency is the key to those rewards.
These approaches aren't wrong. They're just not what is aligned with my personality and also my strengths. After 23 years of being self-employed, I’ve tried on a lot of the approaches that people advocate for. Through that process a few things that I have found are that I, first of all, really like being either a totally solo business (just me doing all the things), or I like what Jenny Blake of Free Time calls a “delightfully tiny team”.
Other people will find a lot of joy and fulfillment in hiring, managing and growing a larger team, but I'm just not that person. That's not a part of my dream for my work life.
And consistency for sure is super important. But I am not awesome at it. And that is okay!
Since I was a little kid, my core way of relating to anything has been as a curious creative. In high school. My stereotype identity was the artsy girl. And then I went to college at RISD and became an art school girl. My point is, I’m an artist at heart Which means I love to make things and I love to learn things. And so, sometimes in the spirit of that being just what's true to me I will diverge from a path, return to a path, and loop-de-loop around a path.
I am going to talk more about that in this episode,as it relates to all of us in the self-employed life, but first, back to the strategic decision to pause this podcast and a brief history- or as brief as I can make it anyway- of me and my work life. Because I actually never did a proper introduction when I started these essays and the podcast last year.
Allow myself to introduce myself apologies to those who are either too young or just not interested and they missed my Austin Powers reference. I know the grammar was incorrect there!)
In 2009, I was relocating my Rolfing practice for the third time in its nine year history. I had practiced in Napa, California for three years, and then Brooklyn, New York for six and was moving to New Haven, Connecticut to be closer to family as I raised my young son.
In those nine years and two relocations, I had learned a lot, true trial-by-fire style, about how to grow a practice from the ground up. In both Napa and in Brooklyn, and then again in new Haven, I didn't have any connections before starting a practice there. And this time the stakes were higher because I was a single mom and I had a two year old to support. I had to put to use what I had learned about practice building, and rocket power it.
At the time, and remember this is 2009, I decided to do that in public on a blog. I'm still pro blog (look I’m writing one right now!), so I don't think blogs are only for the aughts, but blogs were still very big back then.
The blog was called The Well Practice and it helped other healing arts providers with practice building. It did this really in the spirit of me chronicling getting everything up and running in new Haven; How I was going about practice building in an area where I was brand new. (I didn't know anyone except for my parents). That means the blog was like show and tell: This is what I'm trying, follow along, and let's see how it goes! I was just being really public about my own process, as opposed to selling a system or approach. It was much more exploratory and about inviting people to come along if they wanted to.
I will do another essay on what I actually did back then to grow my practice, I promise, but long story short, I had a full practice very quickly- within a couple of months. And I had also met a lot of really great people in healing arts, in New Haven, who, at this point in 2023, are lifelong friends.
After that experience, I did create a class and a group coaching program alongside my Rolfing practice called Practice Abundance about practice building. I ran that for a bunch of years, I got to meet a lot of lovely people in the healing arts all over the world. I got to be featured cool places like the book The $100 Startup, and in the magazine Psychology Today and speak at some conferences in Europe and in the United States. It was really great!
But at that time, anything related to marketing was all about these very exciting shiny new tools, that were going to bring so much good to humanity, called social media. And at the time I, mistakenly it turns out, thought that for me to continue in Practice Abundance I would wind up chained to teaching people about marketing with social media, and I knew I didn't want to do that. So I closed Practice Abundance.
I focused on my. Rolfing practice and then, because I'm a creative, I started what was essentially an art project; Meaning it didn't have income attached to it. It was my first podcast called Liberated Body, and years later it was retitled Liberated Being (I’ll explain why soon).
That show was really about our wondrous bodies. It mostly wound up being for other practitioners, mostly in manual and movement therapies. I was interviewing superstars in manual and movement therapy, people doing really interesting research, and also people in somatic mindfulness and self-healing transformation work.
I ran that podcast for many years. And what I learned is: I. Love. Podcasting! Talking to interesting people and learning things is paradise for me. So I started another art project podcast, (meaning there wasn't income attached to it) called Bliss and Grit with my bestie Vanessa Scotto.
That was a different kind of show. It wasn't interview-based (although we did do a handful of interviews), it was really more of a conversational show between friends about where we were at on what we were calling an embodied transformational path. Basically we dished about our own stuff while also inquiring into what it means to be human. Small questions like that!
From there. I started an online somatic mindfulness studio that was called Liberated Being. That’s when the podcast also became Liberated Being. In the studio I was teaching Realization Process, and I had several other really great teachers. (Shout out to Kelly Ann Lynch teaching Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, Laura Banks teaching Compassion Cultivation, Constance Clare Newman teaching Alexander Technique, and another phenomenal Realization Process teacher, Marika Baxter.
So I had these great teachers eventually, but I had started the online studio with me as the only teacher. One month before COVID lockdowns. (Timing!)
Ultimately, what we wound up with was over 200 members who were all over the world, and we were now all living through a global pandemic together. Not to mention several climate catastrophes and a whole lot more.
It was really beautiful, and it was really intense.
And my Rolfing practice, which was still my primary income at that time, disappeared overnight. It had to be shut down by Department of Public Health, because we were in lockdown, right!?
That meant that my baby bird, fledgling studio Liberated Being now had an awful lot of weight on its shoulders. Not only to pay my bills (I’m still a sole earner/sole provider for my son and I), but also to support people through a prolonged and- to use the word that we are all sick of- unprecedented global crisis.
I ran that studio for about two years. And I burned out. Burnout happens. Right? Maybe you've been there too.
Short version: through literally zero fault of any teachers or any studio members, but a hefty dose of me grappling with my own codependency, I had to prioritize my mental health. I just felt like I was holding too much, even though nobody was asking me to hold too much. First I broke up with social media. And then several months later, I also closed the studio.
At this point, I could go back to Rolfing. I was also just resting and recovering. (I had gone through my own health stuff at that time). But. You can't keep a creative down!
So I created a coaching program that was based on Practice Abundance. At that time, those of us in the healing arts were getting back on our feet after the pandemic and grappling with a lot of questions about what that meant. This was called the Healing Arts Business Incubator. It focused on practice building, but also on considerations around how one might one branch out and provide their services in a different business model.
Within that program I was really teaching people how to launch things for themselves: This is how you make your website, this is how you write your website copy to be clear about what you do, this is how you set up your business finance systems and make sure you're earning enough, this is how you create a marketing plan and follow through… So it encompassed really everything about running a tiny service providing business.
At some point I looked and saw the chocolate and the peanut butter just sitting there right next to each other: My degree is in design and that’s one of the things I still love doing. So instead of teaching people how to do all these things for themselves, (when really people in service providing businesses just want to provide what they're trained to do and are not as excited about copywriting and web design and marketing as I am) I opened up Simple Prospering as a done-for-you version of the Healing Arts Business Incubator. In Simple Prospering I provide strategy, branding, web design, copywriting, and cornerstone marketing pieces. And that's still what I do!
So Simple Prospering is still what my business is, but it was at this point about a year ago when I began to get really busy with client work that I decided to, for the time being, table this fledgling podcast and the essays to focus on getting my legs under me doing client work. It was definitely the right decision. I needed all of my energy and attention directed there.
Now I'm back to the podcast, still working with clients doing custom work for them, and I'm also in the midst of creating a middle step between doing everything completely by yourself, and the custom work I do at Simple Prospering.
I'm making that specifically for healing arts providers (they’re my people!). So this time around I'm calling it the Healing Arts Practice Incubator, or HAPI for short. You can check out the coming soon page at healingartspracticeincubator.com.
Other than giving you a proper introduction to me and my work, why talk about all of these twists and turns?
It’s because I want to discuss the Jeremy Bearimy of self-employment. If you are not somebody who has watched the TV show, The Good Place, and you don't know what I'm talking about when I say Jeremy Bearimy, let me explain.
In the show there is a scene where Beings who (no spoilers!) understand the true nature of everything (let’s just leave it at that), are trying to explain to humans how time works. They are explaining that time is not linear, it’s more of a “Jeremy Bearimy”. To illustrate their point, they pull up an image of the words: “Jeremy Bearimy” written in the curviest, loopiest cursive that you can possibly imagine. (If you want a clear visual of that, you can look up The Good Place Jeremy Bearimy).
To explain how time actually works to human beings, they are tracing all of the loop-de-loops in those words, via the cursive writing. Picture all the twists and turns.
I would argue, not for everyone, but for a lot of people, that self-employment is a Jeremy Bearimy as well. It is a nice idea that it's all going to be linear; That we're going to have an idea and then we can just going to push forward. But in reality, if you're paying attention, you're going to be course correcting along the way.
If you're paying attention to your actual strengths and how all those things come together with what your clients actually want and need you're going to encounter your fair share of Jeremy Bearimy twists and turns.
I don't believe in muscling things forward at all costs. For me, particularly in the first two to three years of any new venture, it’s really about deep listening. Deep listening to our clients, but also to ourselves, and then the willingness to be humble enough and also brave enough to course correct when you see the need to.