Dear Athena, all that can be said about this year is “wow”. Just wow.
To recap the last year, you bought a cottage in the middle of the woods, survived one of the hardest winters in the last twenty years on record, then quit your job with no security net, published a book, and relaunched your creativity business.
This last year was a reckoning; a choice between someday, and the way it’s always been.
Going back through the last few years of Notes to Self: 38th was about “home” and then you made your own. 37th was about re-discovering your personal north star and recovering your direction after a set of cruel disappointments, 32nd – 36th were all about survival, keeping your chin up and plodding along trying to find joy where you could. Lots of “hang in there” tropes and such. Over and over your told yourself in your notes, “hang in there, your someday will come.”
This year you went off script with a giant, “fuck this broken pattern”. This year you picked a side, yours, then burned your ships, bridges, and maps. Then you put your war paint on, and picked up a pen.
Think back to the day you were lying in the hospital, bleeding out, hooked up for emergency transfusion and you made yourself a deal. “This is not how it ends.” Remember? That was the day the 40th birthday goal was sown, self-sustainable, profitable, and ready to support a new paradigm. You gave yourself eight years to set it up.
Way to cut it down to the wire, sister.
You saw this house last year before you left for Alaska and your 20 year reunion. It was love at first sight. You knew. You knew it then but didn’t realize it, this would be where you’d make your stand. You made the offer the same day, and prepared your schedule for a two-year remodel and long-term sustainability plan to be off-grid and producing small batches of cottage goods. During that window, your plan was to write, build a creative community and re-imagine ways to get your fair-trade publishing house funded.
Ambitious? Why the hell not?
But what you didn’t expect was an immediate set of new house emergencies that drained your savings, and a brutal winter with two car accidents and a scramble to stay afloat. Nor did you expect your job to become an unsafe dance around a toxic leadership structure and a petty set of retaliations.
All the while you kept telling yourself, “Someday. Someday I’ll start my real life when I’m better situated. I’ll focus on my creative work when I’m better prepared and the timing is right.”
But you know better. The timing is never right, and you’re the kind of person to whom circumstances always seem to be never quite situated enough. There will always be an excuse, reason, a cause to put your true desires on hold—and then grow bitter and resentful. It doesn’t need to be that way, but the last decade of notes to self have shown, near misses, almost-there, not-quite-but-close, better luck next time tries.
If someday is just code for never, break the cycle, break the code.
Then you did the math, at the rate you’re able to get writing done, you wouldn’t finish your series until your first social security check came in. You knew you had to make a choice.
Time, time is precious, remember? Remember how fast the drive to the hospital went, how fast you bled out? Remember you gave yourself eight years to complete the goal, and you only have a year left.
You used the “someday” excuse for years. But someday doesn’t just show up, you have to invite it in. You have to be the one who says, someday is today.
The choice had to be made, and it took all of a minute. You took a flying leap toward the future you’ve always wanted, with no net. Way off script. You got tired of feeling like a victim of circumstances and poor leadership. You realized in a blink you’d only be victimizing yourself if you stayed in a dysfunctional paradigm. You realized if you want true leadership and a chance at success, you would have to give it to yourself.
You realized you’ve spent too much of your life waiting for fairness, waiting for a truth to come, waiting to be granted permission to do better for yourself.
Permission granted, Athena.
Someday arrived the minute you handed in your resignation. It arrived the second you knew you were leaving and you had no security plan. Someday made its bold appearance when you decided you were angry enough with the faulty system to rebuild it and make it better for yourself. Someday became a reality when you resolved to find a way to make your own business work now, not when it was better timing, not when it was safer, or smarter, or better situated. Someday stopped being a vague outline in the distance, an excuse.
Someday happened, because you made a choice.
You drove toward an uncertain financial future, and the liberating awareness that you were 100% on your own steam. Three weeks later you were booking clients, workshops and classes, and a week after that your new novel hit the shelves.
Like a whirlwind, you were leagues closer to your plan than you’d ever been before. You put your house, and your healthcare on the line to risk the leap.
Athena, you have 365 days to become self-sustainable according to the goal. You need to be building your body of work, your books, your creativity business, your brand for BQP. You need to get your house prepared for another tough winter. All this you already know and you’re on it; those plans are in action.
Enjoy it. Remember to sit by the creek and soak in the forest sounds. Pause during your morning writing sessions on the deck and be grateful to be in the moment doing what you love.
The beautiful thing about getting older is that you begin to really understand and accept the things you are, and the things you’re not. You can accept that you’re not built to be employed by poor leadership, unjust management, and hierarchy with poor ethical judgement. Just accept that you’re never going to be okay with it, and stop accepting employment offers from such people and organizations. You’ll have more peace when you stop rubbing up against such toxin.
You’re a creative, a high functioning-high output creative. Stop fighting it and just know that whatever you do from this point forward is under that label and banner and there’s liberation and joy in that declaration.
Paint your house weird, bright colors! When you’re done renovating I hope people say, “An artist must have lived here.”
Thank your family, friends, patrons and donors regularly, they made it possible for you to leap. They gave you the courage and support to lunge in the direction of your dream. You are not alone.
Most of all, this year is about writing and creativity. For the next twelve months produce story like you’ve got a chance to really indulge in the wonder of it, because finally you do. Spend this year revving the engine, building the world, stretching the muscles of imagination. You have a safe, uninterrupted place to work for the first time in decades. Have fun with it.
I hope as you sit down to write your 40th note to self, your home is producing farmed fish, fresh honey, eggs, and more. I hope by then you’ll have two new books on the shelf and an option on your series. I hope when you sit down to write next year you’ll say to yourself, “Holy shit, that was unreal in the best possibly way.”
Dear Athena, the hardest part is over, breaking free of fear and pattern. Now comes the fun part; create the life you want, the life you’ll be proud of, the life that will eventually support others, the life that will be your best story. You’re creative enough to make that happen.
Someday is here because you asked it to be so. Make the best of it.
P.S. So you got a few more gray hairs this year, and a few extra stress pounds. You know what’s cool? After all these terrifying leaps and fierce decisions to survive emotionally, mentally, and creatively, you’ve never felt more beautiful. Maybe it brought out the fight in you after years of slumbering, but after this year… beauty doesn’t feel like a dress size or nail polish shade…it feels like resolve.
P.P.S. After 21 years of someday, you should buy that ticket to Scotland this year and go for your 40th birthday. You’ve earned it.