I have to start off by thanking everyone who read and commented through email or on social media about last week’s post: 5 Things I Learned About Resistance to Change. That it touched some of you enough that you reached out was more than I expected when I posted it. But that it did resonate with you, tells me that we could all use a little more vulnerability in our lives and maybe a little more facing the things that hold us back.
I told you I would post some of the things I am doing to combat my resistance to change, to combat my fears, so, if you’re still interested, keep reading… All of what you’ll read below is personal. It’s personal changes I’m making in order to fix and define Lissa Matthews and the Lissa Matthews brand.
One of the big questions in this arena of fear that I’ve successfully cultivated has been ‘Yes, and…?’
I’m losing readers. Yes, and…?
I’m losing respect and credibility. Yes, and…?
I’m scared I’ll fail. Yes, and…?
See a pattern here? There are many other statements I’ve made over the years to foster the fears and fill my own personal arena. But the big different between then and now, is my addition to the statement. “Yes, and…?”
Yes, and… is asking So, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to change things? What actions can you take, will you take to get your ass out of that broken down arena and into a brand spankin’ new stadium? For a long time my response was ‘Fuck if I know.’ That, I’m happy to report is no longer my mindset.
And that is the first thing I’m doing…
Change in Mindset… This had to come from me. From inside. When I was ready. I know my faults. I know my weaknesses. I’m learning about the things that hold me back. I’m learning about my limiting thoughts and how they’ve helped me remain stagnant. All of the things on this list are difficult, but changing mindset encompasses all of them and more, and therefore I think, is the most challenging.
Living in a state of fear, of resistance, of scarcity, of lack kept me hunched and curled up inside, shriveled and small, full of blame, envy, poor pitiful me, and stressed. And the saddest and scariest part of it was that I was content there. I was comfortable there. How fucked up is that? Seriously? That was my comfort zone. And being there, nothing ever changed. I was this… person that I didn’t like. I was bitter and scared. And I counted myself out. I. COUNTED. MYSELF. OUT. And that shit sucks. When you grow up fearing letting people in, fearing hurt, fearing abandonment, fearing trying, fearing failure, fearing what others thought, fearing being different, fearing finding out who you really are… Your comfort zone is fear, is lack, is dread, is the belief that you’re never going to get beyond and have the life you have only dared to dream about in small increments.
Well, I sure as hell wasn’t getting anywhere that way… But I had to be ready. No one could tell me to change. No one could tell me to let it go. I had to make the decision. I had to make the choice. I had to decide that Okay, I’m done with this. I’m done being mediocre and broke on the inside and in my bank account and in my heart and soul. I’m done. Yes, a push is good and a push is what I got, but I still had to be open to it. I still had to be ready to receive what changing my mindset from lack and fear and limiting thoughts and resistance would do for me.This year, 2018, I made the choice! I took the push and let it shove me over the edge and into change, into embracing whole-heartedly what was on the other side. I’m still doing it, still moving in, still setting up shop in this new mindset of Abundance. It’s a wide open space full of light and color. Sometimes it’s scary and I want to retreat back to where I came from. I had several days in a row like that this week and I was able to realize and SEE that I was miserable that way. Oh. My. God. I was able to look in the mirror at myself and say “I don’t like this. I don’t want to be this way again. It’s awful.” And I put on what I call my Badass 2018 playlist in Spotify and shake myself out of it, dance myself out of it. Because while there are hard days and bad days and less than productive days and days where I am not sure I’m making any progress at all, I am still in this light and open and colorful space where there’s support and learning and growth and creative thoughts and ideas and passion happening, where changes propel me forward and I see and feel the good and I can employ a phrase I read recently in Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass… “This is good because…”
The abundance mindset isn’t necessarily about money, though, yes, that, too. But it’s more an abundance of creativity, empowerment, strength, love, friendship, connection, laughter, focus, desire, beauty, kindness, openness, giving, receiving… And when I embrace these things, this mindset, I feel it, I experience it. I become the person I could have been all along had I not lived 40something years in fear.
So, that’s one thing I am doing. I am changing my mindset. I am changing how I see myself and my world and my work. It’s unlike anything I’ve imagined it could be. But that’s not all, folks…
Attitude of Gratitude… This isn’t as easy as maybe it should be. It’s not as natural as it definitely should be. I have to be mindful. I sometimes have to force it…at first. But once I get started, things roll off my tongue. My kids. Food in the pantry. The $7 royalty check that came in the mail when I have $30 to my name and I won’t see another royalty check until the 29th. Coffee in the fridge. Books to read. Good friends. Family who loves me. Racing season. My health. Myself. My life. My ability to tell a story. That you guys read last weeks blog and allowed it to touch you. Music. People reaching out to me, offering to help me, to help teach me, to help guide me. For the life I want and deserve. For everything. I. AM. GRATEFUL! Gratitude for and in everything. At various times of the day. This makes me feel incredible. And as I said, it should be easy to say thank you, but… it’s not. It’s life changing when living in gratitude, when being grateful rather than down trodden and harsh and oh woe is me brightens up the mental and emotional spaces. Being grateful has opened my eyes, has started softening me, making me a gentler and kinder and more genuine person.
Routine… I work for myself. I am self-employed. At least, I played at it (ch-ch-ch-changes). I didn’t have to have a routine. I could do my job whenever, wherever. I was home all day. Please, feel free to call bullshit with me. Because that’s what it all is, what it all was… Bullshit. So, I have a routine now and there are changes to this daily and working toward getting comfortable with those changes is a work in progress and one I’ll share with you if you want. But for the purpose of this post, I now have a routine. I need the routine. I need the structure and focus of the routine. Built into it is time to myself, time for work, time for household things, time for rest, time for reading, time for sleep.
I’ve never, ever been a morning person. However, that is a lie. I’ve never been a 5am-5:30am-6:30am-7am and beyond morning person. I used to think I was a night person, and while I did some great work between 1am and 3am, that was a lie, as well. For the last… 9 months to a year, I’ve had a lot of mornings that I’d wake up, and I mean be wide awake, at 4:30am. I’d look at the clock and think to myself, Nope. No way in hell am I getting my ass out of bed at 4:30am. It would usually take about 30min for me to force myself back to sleep and when the alarm roused me at 6am, I was groggy, grumpy, irritated, and just not very nice. A few weeks ago, I woke up at 4:30am again, and this time I was like, what the hell, I’ll get up. I’ll try this. They say the most successful people get up early and get their day started, I’ll give it a shot. I’m awake. And I know I’ll be bitchy if I stay in bed until the alarm goes off. I was surprised. Completely and totally surprised. I felt incredible. I felt amazing. I felt…dare I say it, Productive. I got started on some work. I had coffee. I had a quiet house. I turned on YouTube and did some yoga. I did some more work. And when I heard people moving around upstairs, I went up to take a shower and came back down to deal with chores and cats. Then, I got back to work.
For the first time in a long, long, LONG time, I was productive. I was moving in the right direction. It has been life-changing. There’s that word again. Change. Do you see it? I’m embracing changes. I’m making changes. I fought the changes and that fight got me NOWHERE.
My day starts at 4:30am. Even on weekends. Naps are incorporated into my day, sometimes. But I will tell you this… On the days at 4:30am is NOT realized, I feel like shit. I’m grumpy, groggy, stressed, frustrated, bitchy, irritated, short with everyone, scattered and unfocused, sleepy, and unproductive.
Learning what works for me is truly mind-blowing. A routine… I needed a routine and I now have one.
Forgiveness… Forgiving others is easier. Forgiving myself is… Well, the truth of the matter is, it’s fucking hard. Forgiving myself for not living up to my own expectations and carrying around the ‘well, I didn’t do it today and yesterday was a bust, too. Might as well not even try tomorrow or the next day. I’ll try against next week.’ I’ve done this on diets and with writing and with housework and with…well, pretty much everything at one time or other. Forgiving myself for how I have treated someone. Forgiving myself for how I have treated myself, for how harsh I’ve been to myself. Forgiving myself for not meeting my goals for the day, for not getting up on time, for curling up in the chair and watching movies all day. Forgiving myself for my attitudes of jealousy and envy and blame. Forgiving myself and letting it all go… Pulling it all up from the soles of my feet to the top of my head and pushing it all out. Easing the burden on my heart, my soul, my mind. The harder I hold it in. The harder it is to let go. The darker and harder I become. But when I do forgive myself and let go? I can pick up and move on lighter, easier. I can see clearer. I can be kinder to myself and in how I talk about and see myself. And that, my friends, also goes back to that whole change in mindset thing.
Having a Plan… This list is in no particular order. All things on it are important and necessary for me to turn my life and my writing career around so I can start going in the right direction, which is UP!
This having a plan thing has become crucial to what I want to do. I want to write. I want to publish. I want old readers back and I want a slew of new readers. I want to touch and move and inspire people with my words. I have always loved to write. Since I was a kid. I loved to make up stories and tell them and live in them. They were my escape from the parts of my real life that were shit. And stories are an escape for a lot of others, too. But I didn’t know how to achieve what I wanted. Oh sure, I had a general idea. But, not a complete and whole idea. And I definitely didn’t have a plan for how to put said idea into practice.
Talk to most authors, bloggers, creatives of all sorts, business people of all sorts and they’ll tell you they have a plan. It might just be loosely written on a cocktail napkin. Or it may be very detailed and span many pages and be bound in leather. But there’s a plan. I didn’t have a plan. Ever. I wanted to write the book and submit the book and move on to the next one. That was the extent of my planning. I didn’t plan series and I didn’t plan long term WTF are you going to do if something goes wrong in publishing… I didn’t pay attention close enough and I didn’t plan. And I lost.
Back in December, I decided I was going to have a plan going into the new year. I was going to figure this shit out. I was going to dig myself out of the fucked up mess I was in and I was going to make it. I had already broken it. As I said before, there was and is nowhere else to go but UP. I have to make it. Will the Lissa Matthews brand shift and sway a bit more before I get it all figured out? Yes. There is no doubt in my mind about that. How it will shift and sway, I don’t know. You’ll have to stay tuned for that in the coming months.
The plan for me is loose. It’s been written and re-written and then, re-written, yet again. It has publishing dates for re-releases and new releases. It has exactly how many books I want to write new this year. It has pre-order dates.
I have a loose blog plan. Blog twice a week.
Something I heard a couple of years back is the word FOCUS. I shared this with y’all back then, but I’ll share it again now.
Writing is one course.
Blogging is one course.
Newsletter building is one course.
Social media is one course.
Marketing is one course.
All these can be broken down even more, broken down into much smaller, much more focused detail. But for this post, that’s a general idea.
It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight or incorporate exercise or switch from sugary coffee to coffee no sugar, etc… Focusing on one shift at a time until you succeed, allows that shift to stick when you move on to the other next shift in behavior you need to make. Some people can tackle it all at once and it work. Most of us, can’t. We get discouraged when we bite off more than we can chew, when we make all the shifts at once and the results aren’t immediate. We give up.
Building what I want from Lissa Matthews will take singular focus. Building what I want from my personal life will take the same singular focus. Working with them in concert will help align them.
So, I have a publishing plan.
I have a blogging plan. This 5 Things post is a weekly thing. I’m focusing on it. Making sure it’s on the blog every week.
My focus is consistency. Being consistent with releases and publishing 5 Things on the blog once a week.
And I have to say, y’all… I have never, since I started pursuing writing, felt more alive and more positive and more determined than I have in the last 6 weeks. I’m shifting, I’m changing, I’m moving forward. Having a plan is going to get me where I want to go. Having a road map, however loose it is, is going to help me get to my ultimate destination.
Which leads me back to the beginning of this post. “Yes, and…?”
All these fears I’ve struggled with on an hourly basis for YEARS: Fear of the unknown, of failure, of success, of discomfort, of loss… Beating myself up while remaining stagnant and scared… My answers to “Yes, and…?” A change in mindset, giving into a routine, forgiveness, creating a plan, and learning to be grateful… There are more, of course. And if you want to know what else I’m doing to shift from downtrodden and lacking hope to I’m a total BADASS and I’ve got this, let me know.
Thank you again for listening… Being vulnerable is not easy. Sharing yourself at your lowest points is not easy. Admitting you screwed up and are the one to blame is not easy. Changing is not easy… But change and growth is necessary if we are to break out whatever corner our fears have forced us into.
I was told yesterday and have been told many times since Pink Buttercream Frosting that when people thing of me as a writer the things that come to mind have been cupcakes, BDSM, and emotion. It’s only been recently that the BDSM was dropped and honestly, that’s fine with me. I used to want to be an author of erotic BDSM romance, but that was dashed on the rocks by several scathing, mean, less than constructive reviews. My books are not the only ones to have received them and haven’t been the last.
And yes, that was years ago.
And yes, as an author, I’m supposed to look beyond that and keep plugging along. But I was new to all this. My publisher, Samhain Publishing knew what they were doing. Why would they publish a book that was so wrong? My writing of BDSM came from a base of knowledge and personal research that other writers of BDSM do not and will never have. It is more than the act and it is more than the command of a voice. To me. That’s the important part to remember. To. Me.
So, after Pink Buttercream Frosting and after Sweet Caroline and Cracklin’ Rosie, I changed. My writing changed. I was told ‘you don’t write that the way they want it’, ‘but that’s not what you write’, ‘you shouldn’t try to write that’…
Now, when people think about my writing, it is cupcakes still, thank you, and emotion. I can write emotion. I have felt every inch of emotional range since I began in this business from despair to elation and everything in between. I have made friends and lost them. I have had some wonderful editors and some…not. I have cried and laughed and if I can say anything at all about the experiences, I can say that I have grown a lot.
You must be wondering what all this has to do with Passionate Sprinkles Books, huh? In a long-winded, round about way, it has a lot to do with it. Just bare with me…
I had to come up with an imprint name for my self-published print books when I started the print process on The Cupcake Cowboy. I wanted something that I would use more than once, and I didn’t want to have to go back and use something different later. Many self-published authors have created imprint names and publisher names for their titles and I’ve been wracking my brain for about a year for something that fit me.
Whey my friend mentioned yesterday that when she thinks of me, she thinks cupcakes and emotion, I thought about all the times people have said that to me in the last few years, and I started toying and playing with words to see what I could come up with.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Passionate means: having, showing, or expressing strong emotions or beliefs; expressing or relating to strong sexual or romantic feelings
Sprinkles…well, who doesn’t like sprinkles on their cupcakes, right? Or on top of a mound of whipped cream with a long-stemmed cherry? Rainbow Nonpareils (the small, sugar pellets), chocolate or rainbow jimmie sprinkles… There are even sprinkles of cinnamon on my lattes. I could coarsely grind coffee beans and use them as sprinkles (with a little coarse sugar, too). Sprinkles are sweet, decorative, pretty… Sprinkles are the extra measure…
Books would be self-explanatory 😉
What was come up with, and what I’ve passed by several other friends, was Passionate Sprinkles Books. They’ve loved it. So, this is going to be on the print books that I self-publish. It’s not sexy, but, it’s reflective.
And I know there are some readers who want to know if I will ever write in the same vein as Pink Buttercream Frosting again and all I can say is, Maybe.
My daughter’s favorite phrases lately are, “I’m not interested” and “I’m not impressed”. Different things, situations, and people evoke these different thoughts and sayings with her. If it’s something she doesn’t like, it doesn’t interest her. If it’s a person or something hyped up, she’s not interested.
She’s always been a go her own way type. Sure, there’ve been times she’s fallen in line with what popular, or what someone else likes it wants, but eventually, she makes her way back to being her own person.
I’ve always admired that about her. Yes, she’s been home schooled mostly, but she’s been in public schools too. She wasn’t impressed or interested in the cliques, in the sluts, in the users and posers, in the backbiting, in the drama. She had a few friends to choose from and she chose wrong, she paid the price, and she’s learned.
But being your own person is terribly lonely. There’s no fitting in, no following the trends, no popularity. It feels as though people forget you exist after a while. There’s a lot of silence and a lot of doubt that sinks in from time to time. You begin to wonder, “what’s wrong with me?”
In all actuality though, the answer is nothing. But it’s no easier for a near 20 year old to realize that, than it is for a near 43 year old to do so.
I mentioned on Twitter this morning that it’s like being on an island. You feel cut off when there are so many collaborations, so many outings, so many conversations going on and you’re not part of any of them. You’re alone in a sea of peers and strangers.
There’s not much to do in situations. Rejection is no fun when you try to mix and mingle. Being left behind is no picnic either. You miss friends but they’ve moved on or moved backward, and you just can’t go there. You miss laughter, conversation, connection, but what’s the price?
I love being an author and I’ve met some wonderful and outstanding people. And there are times I wish for popularity and being wanted in the mix of all that’s going on… But, there are other times I look around, watch the conversations, see where the mentality is and think to myself, “I’m not impressed. I’m not interested.” I’ve been hurt, I’ve done some hurting. Neither of which is a place of pride.
It’s nearly the end of 2013 and it’s the normal time for reflection and a time when we all try to figure out what we’re going to different in the coming year. In this reflection, I’ve thought of all the awesomeness authors I’ve witnessed too.
As as I’ve observed how people treat others, how open and welcoming they are to outsiders, listened to how ‘friends’ treat friends, watched and witnessed how success and bestseller lists change people… Those awesome few authors stand out and if I had to or could emulate and pattern my behavior after anyone, it would be them. Granted, I have a long way to go…
If you’re wondering who they are… Lori Foster, Amanda Usen, Samantha Kane, Delilah Devlin, Dakota Cassidy, Leah Braemel, Selena Illyria… They are their own people. They do their thing. They share about who they are, not just their books. They are open and willing and kind and there if someone needs them, needs advice, needs help, needs a friend. There are a handful of others, but these came to mind immediately… I see how they treat people, other authors, readers. I see how they conduct themselves.
As my daughter has found, there are levels to aspire to and levels to sink down to… It’s a hard lesson to learn at any age, especially when you want to fit in, when you want the friends, when you want the respect. It’s hard for a mom to stand by and watch, to not step in and protect, but these are valuable lessons to learn and that are needed in life.
So, the phone might not ring. Messenger may not chime. Email might not light up. Your name may not be on everyone’s lips. People may forget you or may never have given you the time of day because you don’t project shock and awe or run with the popular kids, authors, guys, jocks, etc… It may even be a very quiet life of home and doing things alone, but… Being you, being me, is interesting and impressive.
I know Tuesday’s are usually the days I tempt you with snippets, however November is the month we generally take to give and be thankful and I thought I’d take the remaining Tuesdays to make a list of things I’m thankful for…
Life. I am thankful for life. There are many who fight for theirs every day due to illness, war, meanness of others, natural disasters. The Philippines are experiencing such a huge loss of life and seeing it in the news, all over the internet, just makes me more and more thankful to be alive.
Freedom. Veteran’s Day was yesterday and I am thankful for the men and women who make it their life’s work to ensure the freedom of others. They sacrifice everything, even their lives, time with their families, to make it so the rest of us can have ours.
Health. I have mine. I am overweight, yes. I like food, yes. I hate exercise, yes. But I’m healthy. The blood work says so. 🙂 I walk, I do yoga and stretch and I do leg lifts and squats and whatever else is possible while I’m cooking. I stand to write about 50% of the time. And I’m not stressing about weight anymore. That’s a big thing. I’m not stressing about much anymore. And I smile.
Family. I have a good one. Good, intelligent, kind-hearted kids. Good husband (he doesn’t wait on me hand and foot, he doesn’t do things unless I ask, he doesn’t even know how to make my coffee, but he goes to work every day and he mows the grass). I have a good and supportive mom. A hard working sister. A brother I’m glad found me. And a grandmother I can’t imagine life without. I have extended family too and family that isn’t family by blood but rather by love and devotion.
Friends. I have a few who I count as friends. I have more acquaintances than I can shake a stick at. I am thankful for them too, but my friends? I don’t know how I’d make it through some days without them. There are the ones who text me at just the right moment. The ones who send me instant messages and emails just to say hello, I’m thinking about you. The ones who know what I’m thinking even before I do and who know me at times better than I know myself. The ones who get my sarcasm and don’t judge me for my addiction to coffee. There are friends I’ve lost and friends who’ve just stopped talking one day and while that makes me sad, I am thankful for the friendship that once existed.
Readers. I am thankful for those who read my books. They may like them. They may hate them. But I am thankful for them all (though I do wish the ones who hated my books would be a little kinder in saying so…). I am thankful that I can make a reader happy with a book. I am thankful for the friendships that have developed with some of my readers. I am thankful for the support, the patience, the understanding, the interaction, the desire for more… Without readers, I would still write, but with them, writing is a lot more fun.
Feel free to use the comments section to say what you may be thankful for today.