“My prayer for you is that in those moments when you’re reminded just how messy life can be, you embrace it. Pray. Laugh if you can. Cry if you must. And buckle up. Because sometimes, throughout this journey, all you’re surviving on is Mountain Dew and Jesus.”
That’s an excerpt from my recently-published book Cicada Summers that accurately explains how I’m feeling at the moment. Life isn’t messy, though; it’s just busy. And I’m definitely surviving on caffeine and the Almighty right now.
Landmark 12 has always kept me busy. But then, last year, my book was published, and my life became a tornado of book signings and author talks, in addition to my duties at L12. All that to say I let Landmark 12’s sixth anniversary go by without posting my annual celebratory blog. It’s the first time in six years that’s happened. And I’m feeling guilty.
So, to kick off this blog, I want to acknowledge Landmark 12 as one of the reasons my book even came to fruition. This business has shown me that success will eventually follow persistence and that the sting of failure is not permanent. Had it not been for the life-changing experience I’ve had with Landmark 12, I might not have had the courage to pick up a pen and start writing in the first place. That’s what I want to celebrate on L12’s sixth anniversary—the fact that not only is Landmark 12 still surviving and thriving after six years but also that it has been an inspiration for other endeavors.
As with previous years’ blogs, I think it’s important to recap the highlights. But this past year, the highlights don’t just include pro bono workshops, volunteer guest speaker engagements, and an increased number of services/clients. While those are certainly important as I continue to grow my business, when I reflect on 2019, I’m realizing that when it comes to accomplishments, what I learned was even more important than what I did.
With that being said, let’s pour some Mountain Dew and celebrate the biggest take-aways from 2019:
- Leaving my comfort zone is crucial. That doesn’t mean I like it, though. I like my safe, comfortable routine where life is predictable. When I started L12 six years ago, I was definitely trying something new and putting myself out there. But as the development phase of L12 turned into the maintenance phase, life got easier, and I felt safe again. I spent a few years enjoying that safety until it started to feel boring; I wasn’t stretching beyond what was comfortable or allowing myself to discover new capabilities. But the idea of writing and publishing my book terrified me for two reasons: 1) I had no idea what the process would be like, and 2) I was scared everyone would hate it. For that reason, the writing and publishing process took me four years. And while the first few author talks were scary, the support I received from readers was overwhelmingly positive, boosting my confidence to the point where I realized that when I do receive a negative review, it won’t sting as bad knowing that so many other people gained something positive from my work. The awkwardness and fear associated with pushing myself out of my comfort zone were actually growing pains. And I have to keep growing… which will never, ever happen in my safe place. My safe place is where I should go when I need to rest because I’m tired from chasing dreams. And once I’m rejuvenated, it’s time to fly again.
- My support system is invaluable. When I started L12, I was absolutely astonished by the number of people who came to my ribbon-cutting to support me, and the support has continued throughout my professional journey thus far. I was equally amazed by the turnout at every book signing. Some of the most jaw-dropping moments at book signings for me were when former L12 clients came to give me a hug and buy my book, simply because they had a good experience with L12 and want to now support me in something else. To say I’m humbled is an absolute understatement. I can’t express how grateful I am for the people in my life that care enough about me to take time out of their busy days to show me love and encouragement. But their presence isn’t a reflection of me; it’s a reflection of them—The world needs more people with such kind, compassionate hearts. I realize how important it is to stay loyal to those who support me, and in turn, support them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in my own life, making excuses as to why I can’t go to something a friend is hosting and assuming other people will be there to support them. But what I’ve learned is that every hug is remembered; every smile is appreciated. People need love and support, and a community becomes stronger when we remember every person is worth showing up for. It is impossible to succeed in business, or life for that matter, alone.
- I need to slow down and celebrate success. I am notorious for skimming over accomplishments. If I obtain a goal, I never give myself an “attagirl.” I simply move on to the next item on my agenda, sans celebration. I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t think I deserve it, or if it’s because I’m already laser-focused on something else, but whatever the reason, I know I need to be kinder to myself. This past year taught me that I need to take a time-out and consider the significance of an achievement, big or small. This will help prevent burn-out by feeling a sense of victory (even if it’s just coming from within), and it’ll promote self-awareness by learning more about myself and what makes me tick.
- People won’t always understand me (and that’s okay). Both times I REALLY went out on a limb—when creating Landmark 12 and when writing Cicada Summers—people asked me why and looked at me like I was crazy. Why would I want to leave a perfectly good job to start a business that could potentially fail? Why would I spend four years writing a book that might never sell one copy? I get it—I sound nuts. And maybe I am. But when something is on my brain and in my heart, I can’t let it go. I have a nagging feeling until I at least try to accomplish it. And I’d rather try and fail than experience that annoying nagging feeling for the rest of my life. I’ll be honest: Creating things is fun for me. I like figuring it out. I may be scared and complain about it the entire time, but there’s something inside of me that wants to see what else I can do. And that same part of me gets a kick out of knowing some people will never understand me.
In 2019, at times, I was surviving on Mountain Dew and Jesus. And while my faith will always have me relying on the latter, the lessons I learned in 2019 have me leaning less on caffeine and more on courage—The courage that comes from leaving my safe place, relying on my support system, being kinder to myself, and believing in all my crazy dreams. Bring it on, 2020… I got this.
Cheers to six years!