July 28, 2023

I Swim in the Power of the Banks


A ridiculous title, isn't it?

When my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, this was on repeat. Not in my head. It was in my gut. I am only retaining remnants of the dream. A smoky bookstore, a monk (who may have been my bald UPS guy in a brown robe), a pair of amazing brown linen overalls, and this—I swim in the power of the banks—which he offered me on the palm of his hand and I took it.

I've been experimenting this entire week with early mornings. I recently interviewed BC author Ace Baker for my podcast and he told me he wakes at 4:30 a.m. every day. I was at once inspired and mortified. As a true blood night owl, early mornings are the seed of evil. And yet, something about the way he described the quiet and the productivity spoke to me.

On the heels of our 10th annual barn party (read: late nights and excessive extroverting) I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. Baker may hold the Ace at 4:30, but I am a Queen (or maybe a Joker?) and I can't bring myself to stray that far from my nature.

Here are the benefits as I see them:

  • I gain daylight, which translates into productivity
  • I suddenly have a need and desire for breakfast, which means I'm eating three meals a day rather than lunch, supper, and an embarrassing amount of snacks
  • I am primed to fall asleep quickly and then I sleep deeply
  • Routine makes space for rest, rest makes space for dreams

Monday was okay. Tuesday was a little tougher. Wednesday, I almost convinced myself to go back to sleep. Thursday was okay. Today I was groggy and disoriented (but that was probably the UPS guy who stuck a psalm in my belly).

I've had a few dreams that have stayed with me through the years, but I'm not normally one to read too much into them. I often write them off as the overactive workings of a writer's brain. But in the spring, I edited Inger Kenobi's book (UK author, life coach, super human/beautiful soul) and she described a dream in which Margaret Atwood appeared to her, propelling her writing forward. 

I also brought three horses with me.” I looked outside the window and there they were, three shiny, beautiful horses. “They are allowed to run free,” Margaret Atwood continued, “because their names are Wisdom, Creativity, and Humour.”Everything, All the Time, Is Constantly Up to Me: the journal of an aspiring writer, Inger D. Kenobi

Her retelling of the dream was powerful and compelling. And left me feeling deep envy for her connection with a universe that would tell her what she needed to hear in order to take another step forward.

So I asked for the same.

And this is what I got.

I swim in the power of the banks.


It felt profound. It feels profound, the way it is rattling through my body, and I haven't done much today except allow its repetition to bring some meaning.

It has been 573 days since I launched into my publishing business full time, and while I've never felt like I am drowning, I have often felt like I am on the cusp of overwhelm. The water is up to my neck, sometimes the current is so strong my feet are lifting from the riverbed and I'm pushed forward, putting all my energy into keeping my head above water. Sometimes the rapids trip me. Sometimes I wish I had a motorboat so I can skip this part. Little fish dart about me while big fish watch me from the mud. I am being baptized into entrepreneurship without water wings.

And yet, rising up on either side of me and the river are tall banks, firm against erosion, holding me in the river, guiding my path, not allowing me to emerge, but offering an outcropping every so often where I can stop and rest for a moment. The banks hold me. The water is not the power. The banks are.

This river is taking me somewhere and the banks will protect me along the way.

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July 1, 2022

After 150 Days, I'm Still Here

Here I am. Six months into this self-employment journey. Twenty-six weeks since I could rely on a steady pay cheque. 150 days since I've had someone telling me what to do.

It's been hard. It's been exhausting. It's been worth it.

My desk is NEVER actually this clean. 😏
I am still 100% confident that I did the right thing. Yes, I almost burst into tears in the middle of the Walmart meat aisle because groceries are expensive and I'M SELF EMPLOYED but the riches I've gained by betting on myself are priceless.

I'm still scared. But I'm stubbornly confident and that's why I'm going to make this keep working for me.

There's an episode of The Office where Oscar tells Michael that most people who start a business go five years before they can afford to pay themselves a salary. 

"Most new businesses, they don't make a profit 'til at least two years. And then your margins will be razor thin. Best case scenario, you don't cut yourself a salary for at least five years. Can you go five years without a salary, Michael?"

Aaron Shure was thinking about people like me when he wrote that episode, weaving in a cautionary tale for those of us with stars in our eyes - the divers who refuse to wade first - the dreamers who stand before the man and say, "You have no idea how high I can fly."

Before you start worrying about me, I have been able to replace the income I lost by leaving my job. But like Oscar says, margins are "razor thin" and there is no excess for my big plans. Yet.

I'm in the grinding hustle. I'm building my cathedral brick by brick and it's all sweat and blood right now. It's thrilling and exciting and fulfilling and I know that once the walls are built and the gates swing open, I'll look down from the highest peak (because I can fly, remember) and know that these hard days were worth it.

Truth is, I'm actually six years into this business, having started it as a little side hustle back in 2016, so I can absolutely vouch for everything Oscar said - though he probably should have gone into a little more detail and revealed that "paying yourself a salary" doesn't mean you're suddenly making $84K - it means you're keeping the lights on.

On January 1, 2022, I don't remember thinking about where I would be six months down the line expect that I would still be chasing after what I want: growing this dream inch by inch... even though some days it feels like millimeter by millimeter.

I had some real worries:

  1. That I would get bored with myself.
  2. That I would realize how lonely working alone was and decide I couldn't take it.
  3. That I wouldn't be able to secure new clients and make enough money to keep the doors open.
  4. That my computer would die before I could afford a new one.
  5. That the industry would make a dramatic shift after COVID and I wouldn't know how to keep up.
  6. That the hustle and grind would kill my passion.
  7. That I wouldn't be bold enough to get loud about my work.
  8. That things would start to feel stagnant.
  9. That I wouldn't actually be happy.

I'm pleased to report that so far, all these worries were just silly things the devil on my shoulder was whispering in my ear to make me doubt myself.

I enjoy my own company to a point that might actually be problematic. I don't mind long hours without people - they prime me to be pleased to see my family when I finally close the Chicken House door and return to the house. I've been more available to my kids and my husband because I have so few distractions throughout the day that I'm actually knocking things off the list instead of constantly falling behind. Sure, I'll still work the odd evening and weekend, but it's nothing like before I left my day-job. I still feel like my days are incredibly full but they are full in the way I have designed them - they are full to serve me so I can serve others.

I know I've grown since January. I've learned a lot and am committed to keep on learning and asking questions. I am getting bolder at reaching into new territory, I am being unapologetic about who I want to be, I feel excited to go to work every morning.

Before the pandemic, I 'went to the office' four days a week. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Towards the end of 2019 I began each morning in the bathtub watching Netflix after everyone left for school. I'd stew through a couple episodes of something (probably The Office) until the water started to get cool and then I'd rush to get ready and drive to work for 10. I would arrive frazzled and annoyed and deeply dissatisfied. I remember wondering if I was depressed as I sat on the side of the tub, waiting for it to fill. Who starts their days like that? I felt like a zombie.

In March 2020 I was given the gift of working from home and that changed everything. I rediscovered a sparkle of myself. I started pouring into personal projects. I stopped filling the tub each morning. I liked how the challenge of COVID forced creative thinking at my job again and then realized that not everyone there felt the same way. I started planning my escape and I haven't looked back.

Now it's not unusual for me to be at my desk by 8:05. I love the rhythm of making the coffee and getting dressed while it brews. I love walking through the dew-soaked grass to my little office sanctuary where I feel like I am actually doing some good in the world. I feel like I am fulfilling a purpose. I feel like I am setting an example of good work ethic for my children. I feel like I am more completely myself than I've ever been allowed to be. I feel incredibly privileged and lucky to have family and friends that support me and I KNOW if I can keep pushing forward, I will reach the goals I've set for myself.

I still have so much to learn and I have some big plans in the works. One of the beautiful things about this life is that things are constantly in motion. The plans I have today may not be where I end up in another 150 days but I'm excited for the journey and open to whatever opportunity comes my way. ❤️

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February 1, 2022

What I've Learned After One Month of Self-Employment

People leave secure jobs for many reasons. My experience is no different; but rather than list them all (and that list would be long), I will tell you the one that matters most: I was uninspired.

Showing up to a job that doesn't move you or challenge you or encourage growth or empower you to do better is not a job; it's a chore. I gave almost two decades (my entire adult life!) to one place. Throughout those years there were indeed times that I was inspired, but it wasn't sustained and I couldn't give anything more when I knew I could show up to serve in other ways and in other spaces that didn't make me feel like my soul was dying.

It has now been an entire month of being self-employed. A few people have reached out to ask if I miss my old 'chore'. No, I don't.

Do I miss knowing there's a guaranteed pay cheque coming? Sure. Do I miss the human connection I got to make with some of my co-workers? Okay, a little bit. Do I miss the gossip? Yeah... that was kind of fun.

But do I miss invisibility? No. Do I miss the commute? No. Do I miss serving a database of over 500 people and being acknowledged by four? No. Do I miss the ghost who lived in the basement? No.

I am afraid to be out on my own. It's terrifying to think that my success relies on my showing up for myself, because showing up is hard. It is work. 

But it's not a chore.

I have found a way to focus my passion for igniting creative fires in others into a full time publishing career. No, it's not paying all the bills yet, but it is replacing the income I gave up, and that's enough motivation to find me sitting at my desk each and every day.

I made a couple commitments to myself when I decided to launch off on my own:

  1. I will not sleep in even though there's no boss to mark my punctuality.
  2. I will take a lunch break.
  3. I will allow (most) evenings to be consumed by family and not by work.
  4. I will keep my weekends work-free.
  5. I will be unapologetic and loud in my pursuit of the life I want to create.
  6. I will say no to the projects that don't move me.

3 and 4 have been the hardest challenges for me. I have worked on some weekends and I have spent some evenings pouring over manuscripts—but despite that, I feel like I am showing up for my family much more now than I ever was before. Balancing a day job and my publishing side-hustle meant that nearly every evening and weekend was packed full of projects. I was on the road to burn-out. Letting the thing go that was holding me back from the life I really wanted was the powerful step I needed to take in claiming control over my whole world.


So, what have I learned after one month of self-employment?

I've learned that my work is sacred, boundaries are essential, systems change everything, I am a brand, you have to spend money to make money, I keep showing up because I know my why, funnels matter, and my voice is not free.

Let me unpack those things a little bit...

My work is sacred

I am showing up to something that matters. It matters to me and it matters to the people I am serving. It has validated my existence in a way that makes me excited to wake up in the morning. I don't have to go to work; I get to. I get to be a change-maker. I get to light people up. I get the read between the lines and draw out the thing that someone doesn't have words for. I get to make dreams come true. I get to tap into the creative energies that make me most truly myself and see that mirrored in others who trust me to guide them on their journeys.

Boundaries are essential

When I said I wasn't going to work evenings and weekends I didn't understand that my work is sacred. It took going back on that promise to myself and then asking why I didn't feel guilty. Work CAN be soul-feeding. Sabbath matters but it doesn’t have to fit any mould but the one you need in the moment.

I do take breaks when I need them and I do make a point of having at least a 24 hour period when I don't step into my office.

Systems change everything

I am a strategic thinker. I like to envision the end goal and then work backwards, marking the steps I'll need to take to reach that goal. Last summer (when I made the decision I was going to leave my day job at the end of the year) I began building systems that would help me keep on track. 

  • I have a calendar system so I can see my whole year in one large view.  
  • I have a monthly system which helps me gauge how many new projects or clients I have space to take on.
  • I have a weekly system which focuses in on immediate deadlines (and a weekly meal plan so I don't have to spend mental energy on that each night - I'm not very consistent at that one yet, but at least I have the system in place and am working towards making it part of my routine).
  • I have a daily system that breaks that weekly one down into even more detail.
  • I have a financial tracker that lets me know how far off target I am on a daily basis based on the net income I have to make in order to replace the job I left.

I need lists to keep me on track—to know what I've completed and to know what is still to come. Having everything laid out systematically frees my brain from trying to juggle and remember. It means I'm not missing deadlines and it means I'm showing up organized for my clients so I can serve them best.

Tracking finances is SO important. There is nothing that lights a fire like a zero income day and in January, I had 14/31 of those. But I also had other days of 300%, 400% even 700% above what I needed. Being able to see that in real time keeps me on my toes and always pushing.

I am a brand

One of my priorities in this new lifestyle I've chosen is to carve out intentional time for reading. For the last four or five years my reading time has been limited to submissions. I did very little reading for pleasure because I was pulled too thin between all the things I had to accomplish. Now I make a point to start every day with my coffee and a non-fiction book that will inform my business in some way. And when I take my lunch break, you'll often find me at the table with a fiction novel that I am reading for (*gasp) pleasure. (I'm currently re-reading Interview with the Vampire for the gajillionth time and it's holding up as one of my all time favourite pieces of art.) Such a simple addition to my life, but it's really having a positive impact on me.

My morning read has currently been You Are a Brand by Catherine Caputa. It's teaching me the importance of establishing a personal brand and it has encouraged me to zero in on my approach, being much more vocal about my journey on social media as a method of building trust. And now, new potential clients are coming to me not just because I am a publisher looking for submissions, but because they already feel like they know me. I've named authenticity as one of the core values of my business. Showing up raw and giving a glimpse inside my world—both the things I am celebrating and the things that I'm struggling with—has opened some doors that would have remained closed otherwise.  

You have to spend money to make money

I hate this lesson, but I also know it to be one hundred percent true. If I'm not willing to invest in my own business, it's never going to grow. Yes, everything costs money, but most investments will yield more than they cost. I'm still at the penny-pinching stage of this journey and every time I have to spend money—even if it's just for shipping supplies or Sharpies—I feel annoyed and afraid. I am learning to push past this discomfort and trust the reward on the other side.

I'm showing up because I know my WHY

I have a vision and a mission and I'm being pretty loud about it. I have some experience being on a rudderless boat and it is not fun. There's no direction. You're at the mercy of the wind. Not anymore! I am very clear on who I am and what I want and why I want it. To do anything without a why just makes you a wh and that's not even a thing...

If you don't believe in the funnel, you're just holding a megaphone and yelling into an empty room

While away on a two day visioning retreat in January (investing in myself!) (that's where the photo above was taken) I cracked my sales funnel. It was a true light bulb moment (arriving fully formed in one big brain drop to which I exclaimed out loud: HOLY CRAP! paused the marketing training I was participating in, and filled a few sheets of a legal pad with the scribbly plan). That has resulted in an aggressive amount of work as I build it and get it ready to launch next month.

I've been seeing things about 'the funnel' for as long as I've had this little business on the side, but I always thought it was for big-timers who wanted $10K clients.

It's not. It's for me. I need it. It and another one and another one and another one.

Conversion rates are terrifying. 2%? I have a lot of work ahead of me, but bit by bit, brick by brick, I am building the framework for passive income.

My voice is not for free

One of my greatest weaknesses is generosity of time. You may think that's a nice thing, and it is, but it's detrimental if you want to scale your business. It's uncomfortable to ask people to pay me for my time, but it's also weird not to. Everyone is paid for their time. Anyone who has a job shows up in exchange for money—that's how an economy works. 

The first time I charged for my time, I felt like an imposter. The second time was less foreign. The third time seemed almost normal. And when I increased those prices by more than 30% and people still said yes, I realized my hesitancy had nothing to do with the people I wanted to serve, but everything to do with me.

I have to constantly remind myself that I am worth it. And I have to constantly remind myself that the value I have to offer is absolutely worthy of a price tag. My first instinct is still to offer it for free, and there are cases where that is appropriate, but on the whole, I need to keep fighting that instinct and to project my worth so that when someone asks what I charge I can tell them with confidence and know that I deserve it.


Was my first month a success?

  • I don't hate myself.
  • I don't regret leaving my day job.
  • I wanted to sign one new client and I signed two.

So yes. Yes, it was a success. I can't afford to travel three months of the year yet, but that's on my long-tern goal board. 

In 2022 I want twelve new publishing clients. I want ten new mentoring clients. I want 800 people to step through the first level of my funnel. I want to double my social media platform. I want to take four weeks of holiday. That's it. That's all. I have eleven months left to make it happen!

Here we go!



Thinking of publishing a book this year? Come check out Chicken House Press. My coop might be just the place you want to lay your eggs.


Links to the books I've mentioned in this post 👇 (Any sales generated by clicking on these links will put a few ad dollars in my pocket which I get to invest right back into my small business. 😘)

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January 1, 2022

A New Year's Letter to Myself

2021 brought so much change. It opened the door to creating my own space for my business and the push I needed to finally leave my day job and pursue a full time career in publishing. As I sat and reflected on how far the last year has brought me, I began to turn my focus to where this new year will take me. No, it won't be easy. But I am ready. Bring it on 2022. 

I've got big things brewing! Happy New Year to each and every one of you. 🥂🥳 I hope it is a year of focus and growth! 💕 


Video transcript:

 If you want something — if you really want something — you don't let anything stand in your way.

You have to stop asking the questions that make you say no: Do you know how? Have you ever done this before? Are you trained for this? Can you afford it?

You have to break down walls and build new ones.

You have to know your why before you know your how. You have to know your why before the how appears. You have to believe in your why.

You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in magic.

This isn't your destiny. This is your journey.

This is where you get broken. This is where you are rebuilt.

This is where you find yourself and it is where you are reborn.

It's where the reflection of your past differs from your future but informs your path because you've learned so much.

It's grabbing life by the balls.

It's being afraid but trying anyway.

It's failing. It's hurting. It's doubting. It's persevering. It's breaking free.

It's falling in love with who you see yourself becoming. It's deciding you're not a shadow; you're a fricking sunbeam and you're ready to ignite the passion that's laid dormant in the souls of the people you meet.

You are strong. You are confident. You are afraid but you don't care.

You are ready. This is your time. You earned this. You built this. You are this. You are going to knock this year flat on its face.

Now go.


Want to see the whole renovation project that resulted in my new workspace? Check it all out HERE.

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April 3, 2021

A New Home For My Small Business?

In 2016, out of frustration over (what I believed to be) the unfair state of the publishing industry and my stubborn confidence in my own abilities, I registered with the government as an official Canadian publisher. Yes, it was a bit of a middle finger to Harper Collins and other members of the BIG FIVE, but it was also a move towards embracing the future I wanted to create for myself.

✔️I wanted full creative control over my own work.

✔️I wanted to be a lighthouse of encouragement for other writers expereiencing the same kind of frustration I was feeling.

✔️I wanted to be my own boss, design my own workday, take on the projects I wanted, and ignore the things I didn't feel passionate about.

2016 feels like a lifetime ago. So much living has happened since then. I've written three books, I launched a Canadian literary arts magazine, I've taken on publishing clients and am now beginning to produce books by other Canadian authors. And now, after five years, I am ready to expand.

When the library dream fell flat like a bird that flew into a window, I had some energy that needed to be directed somewhere new. I spent (wasted) HOURS on realtor.ca looking for alternative buildings or potential storefront rental properties, but nothing matched what I wanted.

When I found a local storefront quietly listed on Facebook marketplace for just $600/month, we zipped into town and pulled up against the curb to jump out of the car and peek in the windows only the discover that it was the size of a closet. Seriously. Not even room for a table, let alone my HUGE dreams of a creative community hub. 

The experience forced me to take honest stock of where I'm at and what I actually have at my disposal.

The main motivation for my search was space. My teeny, tiny home office has produced some MAJOR things over the last five years, but I have outgrown it.

Could I continue forward in my current space? Sure.

I could decide to be content and maintain the status quo.

But you know how they say a goldfish in a bowl will remain small, but if you place that little goldfish into a pond, it will grow?

I am a goldfish.

Perhaps the library fell through because it was an ocean. It forced me to look for a pond.

And I found one. Right on the property I already own.


The 'Chicken House' has always been that extra building down by the apple tree. It collects junk and looks kind of cute, but it's underutilized. It's wasted space.

And I think it's time to change that. 

No, it won't be the community hub I imagine, but it is one step closer, and I'm excited to see the opportunities a new space will open up for me!

Stay tuned. I plan to share the whole journey.

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March 15, 2021

Saying Goodbye: A Eulogy to Orange Brick and Heritage Columns

Early Saturday morning I went to say goodbye. The rapid snow melt left behind a mess of dirt and the landscaping looked like my feelings: a little sad, a little rejected, but hanging on to that promise of springtime.

The sold sign winked at me as I walked around front to snap a picture, and then, like a child clambering onto Santa's lap, I climbed the cement steps and sat down beside the iron railing. I whispered my apology like a wish... it just wasn't meant to be.

 [Don't know what I'm talking about? Catch up HERE.]

The truth is, I'd let go the moment I sent my proposal off to the mayor. I'd put it in the hands of the universe and already decided to trust the outcome.

My realtor told me that nine offers came in. Someone else told me they heard the winning bid was a whopping $100K over asking. Rumours are that a daycare centre is going in.

And I'm... okay. I'm sad that this beautiful piece of literary history won't be used as I envisioned it. I know children aren't going to appreciate the wooden mouldings or the built-in bookshelves, but some little person will likely draw on the wall, so it's kind of like it IS going to the arts...


I want to thank everyone for the support of my vision. I was surprised and delighted by the number of people who reached out with encouragement, who stood behind me, and who petitioned the town council on my behalf. Thank you. The dream isn't dead. Knowing there's so much local support for my idea has lit a fire under me that isn't going to be easily extinguished. So watch out! I am on a mission!

* * *

As I write this, I'm sitting in my tiny office that is currently bursting at the seams. I'm running an online  children's writing workshop in a hour and I barely have room for the little whiteboard I need. I know I'm at a point where I have to find a bigger space because the frustration of getting things done in this closet is hindering my progress. (Please don't misconstrue this as me being ungrateful — I know how privileged I am I have a dedication workspace in my own home!)

So, if you're sitting on a commercial property, or have office/shop space to rent in my locale, we should talk. I am ready.

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