a softening

soft stuff som

Lately, there isn’t much to talk about except my business. So my apologies for going full-on Capricorn here.

Last week, what looked like more work coming my way was the complete opposite. What was great about this was that last week, I found this group of writers and found a lot of support and advice for my client quandary.

The advice went along with my gut feelings: it’s time to move on.

Including with that situation, I’ve taken two other leaps of faith–joining another writing platform and a mastermind group.

Investing in my business while it seems everything else is going to shit–it’s scary, but it’s necessary.

One message that has been showing up over and over, in my own daily tarot readings that I post on twitter and just in things I’ve read–it’s being true to myself.

Currently, that message seems to be about knowing my worth–and not compromising to get it.

And that can be extremely hard to form when circumstances are trying to shape your own self-concept. And the past few months have been an invitation to push back on those circumstantial messages.


I said this in my monthly post for my $10+/month patrons on Patreon, and elsewhere here on this blog–that if circumstances aren’t shifting, there’s something greater being worked.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly rough, mainly because other work that I thought was coming through this month didn’t come. A client decided that the work available was below my rate and not worth my time or money. Then I did a maybe unnecessary backbend to do the work. But I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t be a precedent for my rates.

Summertime is slow, and I wanted to help us both out.

But the work had already been assigned. Oof. I could have used that work! And I was using that promise of work as a way to stop myself from freaking out. Now it seemed like my freakout was warranted.

I have been spending my time prospecting, but that process probably needs refinement–just because the results suck. Maybe my expectations are way too high.

It’s also a process that requires, upfront, a lot of time and effort. It also takes time for my efforts to show any fruition.

And I don’t feel like I have any time left. And trying to effectively communicate that frustration with time, and the lack of it, was really hard to do last week.


Last week, I had a conversation with my biz coach which made me feel misunderstood.

If you haven’t gotten a sense of who I am already, I’ll just tell you that I am an emotionally intense person. I’ve come into acceptance that this is who I am, for better and for worse.

I’ve known this coach for a few weeks, but I’m starting to get the sense that because they are from the coaching realm, they are also in the realm of performative positivity. I can’t really express the darker sides of owning a business without popping back up and being positive about it.

I felt judged. And I felt like I needed to hide this large part of myself in the future.

Yet there’s no time to hide who I am, either. It’s a conundrum. I do think intimacy requires trust, and there are levels. From that conversation, I learned that she wasn’t properly prepared to deal with my emotions–which aren’t freak or strange. It is par for the course to be emotional about your work as a business owner.

I’m grateful for their presence in their life, but that convo requires a boundary and opacity adjustment.

And thankfully, I’ve found others who can take on those weary woes and provide support and tips on changing my mindset without excusing the rather stark circumstances I’m in.


And those circumstances…last week, with all the disappointment and with feeling unseen, but also finding great support at the same time…I’ve had to accept that even though I’m doing the best I can, things still aren’t going my way, like psychology Rick Hanson talks about accepting difficulty.

But these undone things are not who I am.

I didn’t know that I took a certain deep pride in being able to take care of myself. And, I still am taking care. It just involves me putting out more fires, quelling the insistent voices that want things from me.

I’ve talked about how humbling it’s been for the past six years to live here in Florida. But last week, I really felt like I had been made low.

I’ve never been this pathetic in my life.

I asked for a lot of help in grad school, with many mostly unsuccessful fundraisers–and I got over my pride with that. Grad school was and has been impoverishing–although I have no regrets.

It’s more that I have always felt above all of this happening to me.

Being this helpless happens to other people, but not to me.

But no–this has happened to me, over and over. Four years ago this month was when I became homeless and was wandering around the city for a month, and finally the trauma of that manifested into high anxiety, sadness, and shame last week.

I don’t know if you could call it PTSD, but I could call it a very painful reminder of how precariously placed I feel.

I have never really had time to process that. For a while, my mom was wiring me money so I could be in Airbnb every few days until a couple I went to church with decided to let me stay with them for a month.

That charity came at a cost, though–they basically pushed me into an abusive situation with a fellow church member.

And then I ended up here–in stable housing on going on four years. I never thought this would be an accomplishment, but it is.

And not to be super dramatic, but I’m trapped here without a car (but thank goodness for Lyft). So that means no real social interaction offline, or even a chance to say–screw freelancing, I’m going back to work.

I really am doing the best I can, even if I don’t like the results. And that’s especially tough to swallow during Virgo season, that wants to find the best or most efficient way to do things.

But then those expectations, for the best, start to be almost unattainable…


As someone who is entirely too hard on herself, I have to remind myself that I don’t live in a vacuum, that even if my mindset is jacked up on doom, the environment I live in–my house, my city, my state, and my country–all play a key role in how I can see opportunities from the challenges I face.

In particular, how we see individuals with money vs. how we see corporations with money are entirely different. Corporations are officially seen as people thanks to our kinda screwy SCOTUS, but they aren’t seen as morally corruptible like people are.

If you’re broke in America, then it’s your fault. You’re lazy, unproductive, and spend your money on the wrong things. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying taxes into a system that isn’t completely serving you (and a lot of this depends on the state you reside in). You’re just not working hard enough.

But if you’re a corporation who gets a myriad of tax breaks from the state and federal government, hide money in offshore bank accounts, pay workers poorly while give C-Suite executives golden parachutes, then you’re serving your stakeholders. Good job!

In America, poverty and debt are moral failings, even if the game has been rigged in your favor or against you.

So with that in mind, how can I keep beating myself up for doing my darnedest to support myself?

Something has to give here. And something has.


There’s a softening that’s happening inside of me and towards myself.

It’s not even that I have high expectations of myself (I still do). It’s that I can’t even clear a bar of self-sufficiency right now.

And in Capricorn terms, that makes me feel pretty useless especially to myself. And that’s even without capitalism incessantly whispering lies in my ear that I’m not productive, or valuable, enough.

So who is this person emerging…the one who can’t pay all her bills, the one who struggles and sees lights of hope flicker on and off on the horizon?

Going even deeper–I thought I had overcome my perfectionism, a perfectionism so deep and layered, it was a part of my everyday life.

So OK: I wasn’t publicly crying over test grades in junior high (this only happened once but you know how bad it must be for a double Capricorn to cry in public).

In high school, I gave up trying to be perfect scholastically in general because I knew others would excel despite my best efforts.

In college, I learned to compete with myself because again–someone would always be smarter

I’m doing good enough and it’s still great! Hallelujah!

I really thought that my adult life didn’t involve the crippling perfectionism. But here it was, still wrapped around me like a kudzu vine.

But I still was used to having all the right answers for everything. And that goes back to wanting to feel useful.

Even still–that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone, to put on myself, even if money is tight and I’ve been used to being great at everything.

Don’t I deserve some grace? Some understanding? Some love? A break? Wouldn’t I offer the same to someone who is in my shoes?

Even within my work this summer, I’ve noticed places where I was missing the mark. It felt foreign–to miss things, to be wrong. And of course, stress is probably adding to it, but I’m so used to not missing the mark.

I’ve performed under immense pressure for most of my life and it not affect my work. And this year, that era is ending. I can feel how fragile and susceptible I am.

Whether it’s a cumulative effect of being in survival mode, or just a place in my life that is calling me to identify with inner riches…I can’t keep doing things the way I’ve done for the past 40 years.

Maybe my whole life is a coping mechanism…


There’s so many trite things I can say about learning from mistakes, but one thing I’ve missed from being “so above it all,” was the freedom to be a fully human being.

Again, it’s hard for me to separate myself from the world I live in. If you’re not a rich, straight cis white man, the freedom to be fully human becomes limited. And maybe this is something I picked up on as a kid and internalized.

But even within restrictive cultures, within restricted finances, within restricted spaces…there’s still space to free myself from the expectations that I have to have it all together.

I’m trying to use (maybe too many) words to talk about how this softening is happening. I started to notice it in the past couple of days. I don’t know how to explain it, but I do feel like a different person.

I’m not as interested in surface-level hierarchies of how we view people, of who’s better, smarter, more affluent, more connected. And a lot of times, these are Capricorn concerns…as we climb the mountains of life.

It’s not just that we want praise or recognition. Capricorns want security.

But as my rubric for success continues to change, my rubric for security has to change, too.

There’s a lot falling into arrears, falling away, and I don’t have enough emotional bandwidth to hold it all.

I am not my past due bills. I am not my lack of transportation. I am not my dreams deferred or dashed. I am not the countless rejections and heartaches I’ve received and endured. I am not even the loneliness that I’ve become used to.

I am not all the things I lack.

And I try to think about the other freelancers and solopreneurs that are struggling just like I am right now, on the brink of a new life.

I’m not alone in this.

I’m not alone not only in this business struggle, but just in life in general. When I write these words, I wonder if someone has ever felt these things before, before I was born, before this century or millennium, even before we had words…

I may have a unique life, but I know this isn’t a novel feeling–of inadequacy and soul exhaustion, but continuing on anyway, knowing that circumstances are temporary.

Can I tap into the history of humanity, or even to the consciousness right now, and feel that this isn’t new? That there are others right now, just as human as me, trying their best, failing, and continuing to try, and trying not to take this on as a moral failing…but as a sign that they’re trying?


In the ashes of my hopes and expectations, I stand…looking for places to be grateful.

I work towards being more grateful, because I don’t want to be covered in bitter ashes forever

Gratitude is not a feeling, but a daily practice.

I am grateful right now that I’m not homeless. I am grateful that 22 years ago this month, when I was supposed to go to college and my father’s paranoia prevented me–that I was able to go to the following year and finally finish.

I am grateful that for now, my phone is still on. I am grateful that if and when it turns off, I’ll be eventually to turn it back on.

I am grateful that I will be paid for work later on this month. I am grateful that I’m creating space for better clients to come along.

I am grateful for the little personal pizza that I’ll be heating up in a few minutes for lunch and that I don’t have to eat ramen again (as much as I love it).

I am grateful for all these lessons that have introduced me to someone who could be more unfettered…someone who isn’t all exact angles…someone who can carry greater compassion for herself, and in turn greater compassion for others.

I am grateful that I can keep writing about the same thing over and over and glean more wisdom and grace for myself…and that people like you continue to keep reading.

I am grateful that I’m learning that I am not the things that happen to me. I’m something far more weighty and valuable.

I am a fallible human being, worthy of love, grace, and compassion.

I am person who keeps trying.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

 

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human after all

Well, it’s been a minute.

I owe you, and me, three blog posts.

Today, I finished writing this fantastically long post for my $10+/month patrons on Patreon. It took days, throwing away drafts, revising–what I call real writing. So I’m glad. It’s about some really good things that have happened to me last month, which explains some of my absence.

What I can say about that is holding space for something that may or may never happen is never as good as letting go and opening up space for greater opportunities.

Unfortunately, you get the really bad things that have happened to me story. But there’s still a lot of growth, and it won’t be as down in the mouth as I have been historically.

And, for once, I will make this short.

Last month was really busy with a client doing work I used to do back in the day in my research days.

But since June, I had been consistently screwing up with data fidelity. I’m a recovering perfectionist, but this was becoming an expensive issue for my client and a perplexing situation for me.

I’m used to not only doing a good job–I’m used to excelling. I didn’t go through living in a hypercritical household with two narcissists as parents for nothing.

So when I kept trying to correct this problem, but getting the same result, I was in a state of insanity.

Admittedly, my client threw me in the deep end of their operation, and I thought I was swimming well, with some instruction, but not that much.

I thought I didn’t need it, and I didn’t even know what to ask to solve the problem.

As I started to sinking under continual screw-ups, including one that they didn’t catch for weeks, I realized that this wasn’t entirely my fault. And I’m used to taking on too much blame.

The client is super smart, the kind of smart that will skip over steps because they assume everyone knows what they know.

Last week, after I screwed up for umpteenth time, we had a terse conversation which I was still so confused why things were still a mess.

I was told that they would be in touch.

It took me two hours of my own time to figure out why things were a mess. It was something that would have taken less than 2 minutes to explain.

I told the client what I had discovered, apologized for the frustration, appreciated their patience and understanding.

I believe that phrase “I appreciate your patience and understanding” is what set them off, because it seemed like this wasn’t a big deal.

The ultimate consequences was hours and hours of work I did had to be redone (this was an error that my client didn’t catch after spending weeks with the data) and that I was constantly pinging people twice.

And that was spelled out in an email in reply to mine, 8 days ago, as if I didn’t know those things. That felt a bit insulting because I had spent the weekend before feeling terrible about the errors because of those very things listed.

I left the email laying there until last night. I knew I needed to sleep on it when I read it, because I felt like the client emotionally vomited all over me.

You’re to blame, you’re to blame, you’re to blame.

But I knew this wasn’t completely true.

I also knew I didn’t want to work with someone who couldn’t rightly see their own fault in the matter, that they were too busy to be bothered to look over my work, that they wanted me to take on more responsibility than I had been trained to take.

I talked to a friend about what to do, and he wisely advised me not to burn bridges–which I was ready to do.

He gently told me about how football (soccer) coaches will bring on some hotshot player for millions of dollars, but then he doesn’t perform. And then that player is sold to another team for less than what they had originally purchased.

I don’t think I’ve ever screwed up, knowingly or unknowingly, for so long and cost people time and money.

But it’s not unusual. It happens all the time, just like that football example. It just doesn’t happen to me–until this summer. First time for everything, right?

And I had been relying on that income to help as I grow my own writing business.

I then talked to my business coach who told me to not even address all the heated emotions.

She told me to offer a solution which I would be paid to create: a standard operation procedure manual (SOP) for what I had to do.

So going back and forth between my friend and my coach, I came up with a pithy email that was sent at midnight last night. I know it was read, but it hasn’t been responded to.

Whether I get a reply or not,  wheter the I know I did the right thing.

  • I took responsibility for my part.
  • I didn’t reply immediately with a blowtorch email.
  • I consulted wise counsel.
  • I offered a solution.

While writing this post, the client emailed their reply. They said thanks for the offer, they were trying to get a report out which has gone through some changes, but it doesn’t make sense to them at this point.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

iTried.

I haven’t worked with that client going on two weeks, and I feel a lot better. And more writing work has started to trickle in.

I feel supported and I feel at peace.

The growth of accepting when I’m wrong, but consistently wrong–it was such a huge, painful growth spurt for me.

And my identity as some perfect android shattered. I couldn’t get myself out of this mess that I had help in creating. I found the limits to my alleged perfection.

I became human last month. And I’m grateful.

I feel emboldened to ask even more questions than usual.

I feel freed, period. I am free to be fallible, to be imperfect, to not ace it at first try.

I’ve always been the reliable one, the smart one, the strong one, the resilient one.

But this summer, I became pretty ordinary. And the humility was so necessary.

Who can live under such pressure to perform flawlessly every day? I thought I thrived under pressure, but not sorta kinda set up to fail pressure.

At the very least, I learned that although I did gain some pleasure from doing work I used to do years ago, I’m much happier writing and reading astrology and tarot.

It was and is so great to have two people in my life support me, take the flamethrower out of my hands, and give me some options that didn’t involve tearing myself or my client down.

I don’t have to villainize myself into a complete failure. I can forgive myself instead.

So now, I think of my inner child who has gotten so much succor and strength from being “the one,” the star, the leader, the brain, the local Old Faithful. But now, she can finally find her rest and comfort in being her full and fallible self.

She doesn’t had to be it all and do it all for anyone, and especially for herself.

 

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support!  💘