Archive of ‘HolyCrap’ category

JUMP

My husband has this uncanny ability to face fear right in the face and march right through it.
I have an uncanny ability to cry during This is Us.

When he decided to open his own business a year and a half ago, I decided it would be my job to help him. I worked tirelessly, day and night, for weeks getting his licenses and insurance policies and payroll set up. The problem was that I hadn’t ever done anything like this before, so not only was I incredibly stressed out, I was terrified.

Terr. I. Fied.
Three words.

If what Bear was doing, starting this business, didn’t work…there was no safety net. There was no back-up plan. There was absolutely nothing guaranteeing that I was doing any of this right or that it would work.
My stress levels got so high that I literally lost my hair. A third of my hair.

And every time I looked at him, sitting over on the couch with a movie playing and his laptop in his lap, I felt incredibly resentful. He didn’t look scared. He didn’t look stressed. He didn’t even look tired. And I couldn’t understand why I was the ONLY ONE freaking out…

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t even look like he’s going to make it…

Now, as I embark on my OWN major risk-taking experiences for the first time in my entire life, I can look back and see what he was doing. He was doing what every great guru and business coach says to do: he created a vision, made a plan, and executed without acknowledging the possibility of failure. Because he simply didn’t need to deal with failure until he’d failed. And nothing, yet, was failing. He grew faster than people suggested he should, not to prove them wrong (though that his a great motivator), but because he knew exactly what he was doing. He envisioned all of it long before it happened, so while we were all feeling surprised and rushed, he’d had it all planned out well in advance.
Granted, my husband’s brain is very, very, very different from mine. I think about steps. Linear steps. I think about the map, the order of operations, and all the possible outcomes. He thinks about all of that and more, all at the same time, with attachment to none of it. So I am most definitely not comparing the two of us. But what I am starting to realize is that making moves, any moves, leads to massive chain reactions. Making no moves leads to a very safe, predictable life. And that can be nice. But if my 10-years-in-the-future self looked at me right now and told me either to move or stay put, what do you think she would say? And how disappointed do you think she would be if I chose to stay in the same place and put the pressure on her to make the moves?

I don’t like change. I don’t like instability. I don’t like not knowing whether or not something is going to work. But as Mike Dooley says, when you put a new address into a GPS and you start driving, you literally don’t know if it worked until you arrive at your final destination, and not a moment sooner.

I have a few opportunities in 2018. One of them is to publish my first book with Hay House publishing (which will happen). There are others, too. And so I’m trying to be like my husband: see the vision, make the plan, and execute without paying much attention to the end results until I get there. I get waves of deep-stomach anxiety a few times a day. I feel angry that I’m even being given these opportunities because it means I have to grow out of my comfort zone (and I like it in here). But guess what? This all fell in my lap. It landed and I can literally choose to move it over and walk away if I want to. And I want to. But the truest part of me want to see what happens. So I’ll keep moving and it if all goes to shit, I’ll start a GoFundMe for my mortgage.

The Affair

On our way home from Thanksgiving with family, I got a text from one of my closest friends asking me to come over. It’s unlike her, as she’s not really the touchy-feely type who likes visitors. She’s more the, “If there’s a problem, let’s solve it. I’ve got notepaper and shovels,” type of friend. I told her I could come over after we got back into town and that’s when she dropped the bomb…
She’d just learned her husband had been having an affair.
I gasped so loudly that Bear repeated, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” in the truck as he drove, and I couldn’t seem to get words out fast enough. The rest of our three hour drive was filled with silence and a bunch of “Oh my God” and “What the fuck?!”
This wasn’t the couple from whom you’d expect this news. This wasn’t the day on which you’d expect this news. (Is there a proper day?) This was completely blindsiding. And if I felt blindsided, I couldn’t imagine how my friend felt.

I immediately started feeling my divorce PTSD kick in. I was never cheated on, myself, but I know all too well the massive implosion that happens when you get those divorce papers in the mail or, that very specific moment when you realize that you’re definitely getting divorced. Me? I was sitting in our kitchen in the house we bought together at about noon on a Wednesday, and a weird little voice spoke in my head and said, “There is no coming back from this. You’re going to get divorced and move out.” It could have been my dad speaking, who died almost 30 years ago now. It could have been God, but it didn’t sound like the one I usually talk to. Whoever it was sent a MASSIVE rush of fear, anxiety, anger, and acceptance all at once through my body. It was the turning point: the moment that I stopped praying I could fix the things we’d both done to screw it all up and, instead, started walking through the war zone that was my life to get to my new life.

Getting the phone call that someone I knew well and trusted implicitly had cheated on my friend made me wonder, “Do you not realize that it’s not just your spouse you affect with your behavior?” I started feeling angry that he hadn’t once thought about how it would all affect his friends and family, not just his wife.
Of course, being the ever-inquisitive one looking for the other side of the coin, I started googling. I wanted to find out why people do this.
As we all kinda already know, I found a million articles to suggest there is no one reason why something like this happens. There are opinions, well-researched books and articles, and a handful of podcasts (all of which I listened to) on the subject. The through-line amidst it all is that the reason never really matters. The way both people handle it afterwards is what matters. And there’s no right way to handle it, either! So by the end of my 5-day crusade to understand why this was happening to two people I cared for so much, I came to the rock-bottom conclusion that there is nothing to understand. There is only picking up and choosing how to move forward through the war zone to get to the next life. As Esthere Perrel, a famed infidelity researcher, said, “This marriage is over. Now you get to decide if you’re going to start a second one together or not.”

I quietly mourned all week, for my friend and for my first marriage. It seems whenever my divorce PTSD gets triggered, I have to mourn it all all over again. I am in such a better place, such a stronger marriage than I was 5 years ago, and yet I still struggle to love and accept that I didn’t end up with the picture-perfect life I’d so hoped for.
The more I let go of the “picture-perfect” though, the more I figure out that there isn’t really ever such thing. Sure, you can experience it for a while, but life has a way of happening. Stability and stasis aren’t the norm. Change and growth and constant updating are the norm. And the sooner you can get used to that, the easier it is to be happy even when things aren’t picture-perfect.

Were you ever shocked by someone you knew who was having an affair? How’d you handle it? Did you say something? Did you try and save the friendship?

Big hugs to my friend if she’s reading. Keep pushing forward. I’ve got a notebook and two shovels.

No More Excuses

If you didn’t read last night’s blog, might I suggest you click here and read it…

I didn’t look over the email from Trina. I avoided it like the plague. Publishing my book now was too much, too fast. Unfortunately, though, I forgot to program Trina’s number into my phone, so when she called again a few days later, I accidentally picked up…

“Erin? Hey, It’s Trina! Did you get a chance to go over that email?”
“Yeah, hey Trina! I did!”

I hadn’t. I lied.

“Great! Are you ready to do this?”
“Welp, here’s the thing, Trina…” Somewhere between my fear and being completely uninformed (because I hadn’t read the email), I decided it would be a good idea to get really bitchy. “I understand you say you ‘want my book’, but I also understand you want me to pay to publish it. The whole point of the authors’ workshop was the opportunity to be given an advance and be PAID to write and publish my book. It’s feeling very sinister the fact that I paid all this money to go to a workshop and now you’re calling me and asking me for more money.”
It was quiet for almost 5 minutes, or possibly 7 seconds, before Trina replied…
“Listen, Erin. I’m from New York. You want me to shoot straight? I’ll shoot straight. If you send your book proposal to a publisher, it’ll get thrown away. If an agent sends your book to a publisher, you’ve got a 1 in 3,000 shot of getting published and a 1 in 1,000 of even landing that agent in the first place….
The writers’ workshop participants have the option to participate in a contest to get published without an agent. There were 300 people in the workshop. A third of them will actually finish their book proposals. So that’s a 1 in 100 shot next April, after which it will take 2 years before your book is even available and you have no creative control of any of it.
Publishing your own book through Hay House means we’ll edit and design your book the way you envisioned it. It means you own the rights forever and it means you get to decide when to publish. And, as you read in my email, I’m offering you a huge discount because I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I know a Hay House book when I see one.”

Oh. Super-should have read that email.

“The book isn’t ready yet, Trina,” I said.
“That’s fine. But I’m not offering you this discount forever. If you wait until the contest in April and you aren’t chosen, I’m not offering you a discount to publish then. I’m offering it now. And if you win the contest in April? Then that’s just a cherry on top. You can still go that route because you still own your book.”

For those of you who don’t know, I used to work in the publishing world. I used to TELL people those stats and figures. I used to explain to them why it’s so important they own the rights to their books and how publishing on your own doesn’t mean selling your books out of your car. The irony is that I already knew everything Trina told me. Maybe I forgot. Maybe I didn’t want to know it. Maybe I was terrified that it’s finally time to apply everything I know.

Trina interrupted my train of thought. “Erin, I’m going to get your book into every book retailer in the world. I’m going to have press releases sent to over 70 outlets when your book is ready. I’m going to get you on radio shows and TV shows and while I can’t guarantee any of this will make a difference in your life, it sure could. Why don’t you take the weekend to think about it and I’ll call you on Monday?”
“Ok, Trina. Thanks.”

I hung up the phone feeling really stupid.

I’ve prayed to finish my book, get it published, and speak on the topics therein. I’ve prayed for years that my writing would finally be my job. The chance for all that to happen was just on the phone and I couldn’t possibly believe that it was really meant for me.

The weekend came and went really quickly and my anxiety chilled out quite a bit, especially once I finally read Trina’s email. She was offering me a really huge opportunity…she wasn’t lying. Bear, of course, said do it. “Do it!” he said. “Let’s do this! You were born for this!” Isn’t it funny how we can pray and pray for something, and when the path eventually reveals itself, we don’t immediately jump on it and run?! We’ve lived in the “it’ll never happen” for so long that it’s hard to believe it when it actually does.

That Monday morning, I called Trina before she could call me. In her fact-based tone, with a twinkle of a smile, she asked, “Erin? You ready to do this?”
“Yeah, Trina. I’m ready.”

On Tuesday I signed the contract. And on Wednesday I started writing my book again. A book I hope to have completed by the end of the year. I am officially an author with a publishing contract and a book about to be born. I’m pregnant, kinda.

I’ve been writing this blog for almost 10 years under various domain names. I’ve been writing since I was 15. I absolutely love nothing more than to sit down with a pen and paper or a laptop and write. I want it to be my work. I want it to be my career. And I want it to change my life the way I know it can.

I think it might be starting right now…

 

Excuses. And a phone call.

A little over a year ago, I got really tired of my own excuses. I decided to move. Literally.
I signed up for a HIIT gym membership and started attending 3-5 days per week. And within about 6 months, I felt great. BUT, my leg (the one I broke in 2014) started giving me trouble. So I told my trainers, “My leg is really bothering me.”
I posted on FB about it.
I went to see numerous doctors.
It was almost 3 months before I realized that my leg was the perfect opportunity for me to pick up my habit of excuse-making.

And it is a habit.

Once I started making excuses for my leg, other things got their very own excuses, too.
I can’t write a blog today because XYZ.
I can’t go out Saturday night because XYZ.
I can’t work on my book because XYZ.
They’re infectious little suckers…

So I stopped again. It’s not like my leg suddenly didn’t hurt anymore and I could do box jumps all day. It’s that I stopped speaking my excuses. If I couldn’t do a movement, I modified or I tried to do something else. My leg still hurts. It’s just not a conversation piece in my head as much anymore. No more excuses.

***

I was offered the opportunity to go to a Hay House Writers Conference (Hay House is a publisher) at the beginning of the summer, 2017. The conference was $450, which to me is a big chunk of change. My excuse habit came back in full force. $450 was too much money and I couldn’t afford it.
That’s when I was reminded I have a husband who busts excuses for a living, it seems.
“You’re going,” Bear said.

Oh. Ok.

I put the conference on my credit card and paid it off before the day even arrived (because the money was never really an excuse). And when the day did arrive, it was magical. I was reminded of how strongly I felt about finishing the book I started writing in 2012. It lit a fire.

I’m going to publish my book.

A traditional publishing contract was up for grabs to all 300 writers who attended the conference and all I had to do was write a book proposal (the worst book report in the world) to enter. And I was going to enter. And I was going to WIN!
I got home from the conference and started getting my ducks in a row to enter the contest…when I got a phone call.
From Hay House publishing.


I didn’t know it was from Hay House publishing, though, and so I didn’t answer it. When I checked the message, the woman on the other end said, “Hey Erin! This is Trina from Hay House! I know you were at the Writers Conference and I know you’ve already got a book written. I want to hear a little bit about it and talk to you about your options.”
I didn’t call her back. Because excuses.
I don’t have the book COMPLETELY finished.
She’s probably calling everyone, I’m not special.
I’m definitely not ready to talk about “options.”
But the next day, the Nag Monster in my head wouldn’t leave me alone. I finally called her back. She didn’t answer…
I left a message:
“Hey Trina, it’s Erin Salem. I just wanted to call you back and tell you thank you for calling. I am very excited to enter the contest for a traditional Hay House publishing contract and I think I’m going to win it, so the next time we speak I will be on my way! Thanks again, Erin.”
Who says any of that?

About 5 minutes later, my phone rang again…
What is she calling to thank me for thanking her?!

“Hey Erin, it’s Trina!!”
Trina and I went on to talk for about 10 minutes. I shared my book topic with her and…she liked it. Like, really liked it. She told me she thought I would be a great fit for Hay House. I agreed but I couldn’t really understand what she was getting at.
“Listen, Erin, I work with the authors who publish their own books through Hay House. These are the people who already have a voice and want creative control over their work. Do you know most traditionally published Hay House authors started off by publishing their own books?”
“No, I didn’t know that…”
“Yeah! And you would be shocked what we can do for our self-published authors. I just got off the phone with a guy whose book is being turned into a screenplay!”
“Ok, but, I don’t have a platform or an audience. It’s just me.”
“That’s why you publish THROUGH us, Erin. We send you out all over the world with the Hay House name! We want you to do this. We think this makes more sense for you and we want your book. I’m going to send you some options and I want you to seriously consider taking the steps to publish now instead of waiting to find out if you win a contract next year.”
“Wait. Why? Why me, Trina? I don’t get it. I don’t understand why you’re calling me.”
“Because you’re ready, sweetie. You have the book, you have the voice, you have the ability, and you’ve got a story that we want to sell.”

I told Trina I felt like she was trying to sell me something. I told her I didn’t feel ready and I didn’t know why she felt like I was ready. I told Trina this wasn’t the path for me.
Trina is very smart and told me to just think about it, look over the email she was sending to me, and that she’d call me later in the week.

My excuses were as follows:
They didn’t choose me, they just think I can make them money.
I have no audience so this will never work.
My book isn’t even finished.
I’m not ready to finish it.
I don’t know how to finish it.
I’m too busy for this right now.

I didn’t look over the email from Trina. I avoided it like the plague. Publishing my book now was too much, too fast. Unfortunately, though, I forgot to program Trina’s number into my phone, so when she called again a few days later, I accidentally picked up…

Those Neighbors

If you followed along with me on FB, you know I was lucky enough to buy a beautiful home in 2015 AND to meet our incredible neighbors up and down our cul-de-sac street within days of moving in.
You also know that our next door neighbors are…Those Neighbors. Everyone has those neighbors. The ones who do weird stuff like leave desks on the front lawn for weeks at a time or never mow their lawns in lieu of leaving desks on the front lawn for weeks at a time…
These particular Those Neighbors failed to removed a giant, 60′ oak tree prior to the hurricane season here in Florida and when Hurricane Irma came barreling through, she took out the tree and all the power lines as well. Those Neighbors did NOTHING to help the entire neighborhood cut apart and remove the tree (which we did over the course of 3 hours the day after Irma hit) except take pictures. THEY TOOK PICTURES. The massive, gnarly tree stump with shards of tree still attached remains angrily perched in the ground to this day, just as it did over a month ago. Because they’ve done nothing to remove it.

Anyway. Bear was out of town for a job Monday night. He’s out of town a lot, so I did my normal evening routine of locking doors and windows and pushing chairs in front of doors and leaving legos on the floors in front of the windows. (You do this too, right?)
Now, I don’t like to brag, but I typically go to bed at 9:30. While many people function on 6 hours of sleep, I typically function best at 10 hours of sleep, though I usually end up getting around 9 hours.
So at 9:30 I got into bed and turned on a podcast and began to drift off into dreamland, both dogs on the bed with me in the surrogate-husband position. Suddenly I heard…

BOOM.

It sounded as if someone had slammed one of the house doors shut REALLY HARD and the entire house shook.
Charlie, my big old Boxer, barked. Bella, my little old Boxer, whined.

And I turned into a single man Swat Team without ANY of the gear.

I jumped out of bed and immediately begin flipping all the lights on, one room at a time. I check the motion-sensor lights outside on my way to Abe’s room; none of them were on. Abe was asleep and safe. I moved more chairs and legos in front of his window before moving on to the other rooms and doors.
I checked every room, door, and window. I didn’t see anything unusual, but at this point my blood pressure was dangerously high so I double-checked everything. Our house was glowing like it was full of radiation. I searched the house twice more and look out every window 100 times. I even honked my car alarm a few times from the key fob just to let the murderer know I can hear him/her.

I walked back into my room to find that both “guard dogs” were snoring. I texted Bear and told him what was going on. He stayed vigil, reminding me to check the outdoor motion detector lights to see if they’d been tripped (little did he know, I’d checked them 74 times already). I kept my phone right next to me just in case I needed to text him that I was actively being attacked in our bedroom while our dogs slept…
I got out a book and left all the lights in the house on and settled in to never sleep again.

About 5 minutes later…

BOOM.

I fly out of bed and stand in the middle of the room, frozen, arms out, in the “if I suspend all of my other senses I will be able to figure out where this sound is coming from” position.

Boom. The house shakes again.

The dogs looked up at me as if to ask me to stop shaking the house while they try to sleep.

Boom. The house shakes again.

I finally decided to peer our the window one last time to make sure it wasn’t The Hulk, and what do I see glimmering in the moonlight?

AN AXE.

At 10:30 at night, Those Neighbors decided it would be a good time to begin chopping away at what was left of the fallen tree with a full-size axe. With every chop, another giant chunk of the tree fell to the ground and rattled the house.

Mystery solved. I texted Bear and fell asleep within 5 minutes.

MOVE

About a year and a half ago, I endured one of the most difficult time periods of my life. The week Bear and I got married, he was laid off. He also decided he wanted to start his own business in the construction field (a field he’d worked in for 18 years).
His business began in our living room over the summer. While both boys were home, and I struggled to make the mortgage and ALL the other expenses using just the money I made and our savings, he sat on the couch for 3 months with a laptop we paid for with a credit card. He wrote emails, bid jobs, create and built relationships, and set up lunch meetings with suppliers. On the days that he left the house, I’d stare at the coffee table covered in notepads and pens and pencils and cry.
Why?
Well, because when one loses a loved one or gets divorced, people show up. They bring food and comfort and love to you and cuddle you up in all their kindness to help you feel seen and understood.
When one sits on the edge of losing everything…well, there’s not really a protocol for that. They don’t send checks. They don’t bring cash over. They don’t cuddle you up in their savings accounts. They can’t, and even if they could, it would feel very strange both offering and accepting wire transfers from friends with notes like, “Good luck on the business, hope you don’t lose your house!!”

And so, we sat in what felt like a horrible, lonely, broke bubble for months while he got his business up and running, with no guarantee that it would ever make money.

Except that Bear always guarenteed that it would.
In fact, he never second-guessed his choice to go into business for himself.

It was during this time that I started focusing on prayer and manifestation. I had this idea that if I prayed and I focused and I visualized enough, our woes would come to an end, our bills would be paid, and our life would be comfortable again. Of course, we did not miss a meal and we were never late on a single payment, so it’s possible to say that my little manifestation project worked.

Except that while I was busy manifesting, Bear was busy on that grind.

His very first job started three months after he opened the business and on that faithful Monday morning it was over 100 degrees outside…and Bear woke up with the flu. Being that he was his only employee, he had no choice but to get out there and snot his way through it. He completed the job over the course of three, awful days (luckily the job was at a drug store so he could just walk inside and buy more medicine) and about 45 days later we received our first check. The first slice of income.
But during those 45 days, Bear landed his second, third, and fourth jobs…

And as the jobs rolled in, he rolled out. Everyday. Building. Working. Talking. Shmoozing. In the field. On the laptop. On the phone. He never stopped grinding.

It has come to my attention in the past few weeks that my manifestation project is lovely, but utterly worthless without a grind. You have to have both, faith and movement. One foot in front of the other does nothing without an ultimate goal, and a beautiful vision board is meaningless if you sit at home staring at it while you sip tea and wait on Oprah to call. (That last part may not apply you, but I definitely want Oprah to call.) So I’m taking steps with all those beautiful dreams in mind. And soon, I’ll be able to make some kinda stinking awesome announcements about where my steps are leading me. The Universe and I are singing an amazing duet of “When I move you move (just like that?).” It’s so amazing what happens when you focus, get clear on your dream, and then MOVE.

By the way, Bear’s business is successful beyond even what HE imagined it would be. He’s still grinding every single day, out there, and he’s still dreaming about how much bigger it can be…

The Worst Book Report Ever

I started writing a book 5 years ago. My dear friend was my editor (she’s an actual editor, not like, “I dunno but I did real good in English class.”). I was planning to self-publish it.
As we finished the first draft, I got separated, divorced, and my life blew up.

It seems that now, 4 years later, life has put me back on the writing path. And I’m ready to finish the damn book.

As some top authors said in my writer’s workshop over the weekend, “Writing a book is fun, publishing it is not.” I had such a wonderful time writing this book, and going back through the pages and pages of what felt like old friends this week has been soooo very wonderful. And while I do need to focus on finishing the book…
…I actually have to focus on getting it published first.

You see, in order for a book to be published by a traditional publishing house, you don’t actually need to write the book.
You need to write the book proposal.
That book proposal either goes to a whole bunch of literary agents, one of whom you pray agrees to represent you and submit it on your behalf. OR. You send your book proposal straight to the publishing house if they accept unsolicited titles (most don’t). Once the proposal is accepted, the publishing house can assist in the actual writing of the book. It’s part of the “book deal.”
HOWEVER.
After attending the writer’s workshop this past weekend, I’m eligible to enter a contest. The winner of the contest wins a traditional publishing contract. That means I can send my book proposal WITHOUT a literary agent straight to a publisher who guarantees they’ll read it.

This is a once in a lifetime.

So. What is a book proposal?
It is essentially the single most boring book report you’ve ever written in your entire life. It contains information like your target market, comparable books, and a summary of the topic. It averages about 50 pages of OH MY GOD THIS IS SO BORING. I asked the CEO of the publishing house there at the writer’s workshop, “Are all book proposals this dry and boring?” Without saying yes, he essentially explained that they already have an idea of what kinds of books would fill the gaps within their library, and they’re looking for those books. If they were forced to READ every book that came across their desks, they’d never have time to publish one. When he asked me who my target market was, I answered, “Women who forget to put on a bra before carpool.”
He said, “So, in other words, women with children aged 5-15.”
Oh. Well, yeah. I guess that’s one way to say it. The most boringest way possible. 

While I could probably finish my book in about 3 weeks, and have another full round of editing done by the end of the year, I feel like it’s going to take 6 months to slog through a book proposal. It’s SOOOO not my kind of writing. I had the bright idea that perhaps I could call a professional book editor to see if they would write my book proposal for me! I did some research (googling) and ended up on the phone with an adorable woman named Aloha (name changed to protect the innocent) who is about my age and edits the hell out of everything like a total boss. I explained my project and that I’d really like to hand my book proposal over to a professional.
Guess what?
I CAN!!
For a mere $4,000.
<le sigh>

While I could take the leap and hire her today with a credit card, I’d like to give the Universe a second to organize itself into a path that might offer a better opportunity than credit card debt. I’m trusting that the money will make itself available to me so that I have the BEST possible chance of continuing to pursue this dream and GET PUBLISHED!!!

Either way, though? I’m going to do this. I’m going to submit and if this publishing house doesn’t choose me, I’ll continue submitting elsewhere. I’m 36 years old and I will NOT look back in 10 years and wish I would have started 10 years ago. It will not be for nothing. I might not become a published author, but it will lead me somewhere. I can’t wait to find out where.

Also, if you know a professional editor who loves writing book proposals for fun and for free, hook a girl up.

How to Make a Good First Impression

Four years ago, my life exploded. The fall weather gives me anxiety because it FEELS the way it did when my life exploded. The air was crisp and the grass was brown and the heat came on at night in the house.

When I found out that Hay House Publishing Company (the publishing company of my DREAMS) was hosting a writer’s workshop near my home, I was OVERYJOYED and dead-set on going.
When I found out it was in October, I immediately felt sick in my stomach.

Four years ago I lost my first marriage and my friends and my job (with a publishing company, for added irony) all in the course of 3 months. Perhaps worst of all, I lost my motivation to write. And every time I tried to pick it back up, I felt that sick feeling in my stomach like it was October all over again.
So, of course, the Universe offered me the opportunity of a lifetime during the hardest time of year for me.

I didn’t prepare the way I should have, I didn’t practice my elevator pitch or bring writing samples. I did nothing but panic that I would be at a writers’ workshop in October until the day came for me to actually go.
Obviously I felt super prepared.

I got up way too early on morning 1. I showered and put on a cute dress and brushed my hair and put on MAKE UP. Ok?! MAKE UP. My husband literally gave me a pep talk before I walked to the convention center meeting room.
The line was already 10-deep and I arrived an hour early. Within a minute, though, I realized there were two lines: 1 for people WITH their tickets, and 1 for people who still needed their tickets PRINTED.
I didn’t know I could print my ticket because I didn’t check for that option. I checked to make sure I had my laptop and a fresh notebook and a cute dress and comfortable but fancy shoes. Oh and a snack and gum and lip gloss.
I didn’t check about the whole ticket thing…
As soon as I realized the line for people who needed their tickets printed was twice as long as the people with tickets, I started sweating. I whipped out my phone and scrolled through my emails to find the one with my purchase information. I couldn’t scroll and hold my water bottle (Chugs) and my backpack and my coffee, so I set Chugs on the ground in front of me and gently nudge him with my foot as the line slowly inched forward. The email wasn’t there but I remembered my login for their website, so I switched to my browser screen to search there. Inching forward. Pushing Chugs.
Finally, I exhaled when I found my ticket on their website a snagged a screen shot of it just in time to check in. I was awarded my name badge for all my effort, leaned down to pick up Chugs, and proceeded to pour the contents of my coffee onto my left boob.
Sweating began again.
My back was glistening and my cheeks were flushed. I set everything down and ran towards the table near the water dispensers, hoping there would be napkins there.

And then I physically ran into the CEO of Hay House Publishing, Reid Tracey.

Side note: Reid Tracey is 400 feet tall.

I looked up and said, “Excuse me,” refocused, and then realized who it was.
“OH HI,” I shouted with no natural tone at all, in a volume that far exceeded what the situation required.
Winning.
“Hello,” he smiled.
“I just spilled coffee onto my boob…” Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking.
“Are you writing a book?” he asked me.
“What? Oh yes! Yes! I am here for the book. For writing a book!” What are you even saying.
“Great! What’s your book about?”
“Oh it’s, well, there’s one that’s about the, um, so one is my story about pregnancy or, well, not pregnancy but about trying to get pregnant. Well, not TRYING to get pregnant like the actual trying, but then the other one is about being great.” What are you even saying.
“Ok sounds great.”

He walked away. As he should have.

I smashed some napkins I found on the water table into my boob and then realized how ridiculous that looked but I kept doing it. Then, I shit you not, a woman asked me, “Oh, are you lactating?”
“No, no. Just spilled coffee on my boob.”

She walked away, too.

I was off to the BEST start.

I walked back over to my backpack and Chugs and took a deep breath. Ok. So you spilled coffee on your boob and walked into Reid Tracey as if he were a telephone poll and you were blind and you’re for sure not lactating and everything is going to be fine. You’re going to put on your big girl panties and you’re going to make an impression. You’re going to go after what you want. You can do this. Go in there.
I picked up my stuff and walked into the convention center room. I walked straight to the second row and staked my claim. And then, I turned right around and marched back over to Reid Tracey.
“Can I please have a picture with you?” I asked.
“Sure!” he said.

And I did it. I started my weekend off at the Hay House Writers’ Workshop in Orlando by snagging a picture with Hay House CEO Reid Tracey with a coffee stain on my boob.

Luckily it only got better from there…

Hurricane Irma – Part 1

I think it was Labor Day when most of us became aware that a storm was organizing, but like most storms, no one panicked. If you don’t live in Florida it might seem a little insane not to panic about a hurricane. But the trouble with hurricanes is that we have days and days of warning for a storm that all the well-dressed meteorologists in the world can’t honestly track with any certainty. We’ve had SO many Hurricanes Who Cried Wolf that we’re cynical about Mother Nature.

We Floridians know how to follow the models. There’s the Hurricane Weather Research model, the Euro model, the UK model, The Global Forecast System, and about 12 more. Most Floridians have a favorite (mine’s the Euro) and we compare it to the other models all. day. long. We know when to listen to the newscasters and when not to. For example, when a journalist is standing in a light breeze announcing that he can BARELY stay standing as a plastic bag floats by, we know there’s not much to report yet. And we know if Storm Tracker Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel shows up in our town, it’s time to run for our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday – 7 full days before the hurricane hit.
“Are you going to evacuate?” people ask me.
“I have no idea.”
I really didn’t. Without any clear indication of how strong this storm would be, where it would be, and when it would be…we just didn’t know.

Tuesday –
“YOU NEED TO EVACUATE RIGHT NOW THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING,” shouted concerned people across the rest of the south.
We Floridians have been doing this for a really, really long time. In fact, almost every birthday party I ever had got evacuated because my birthday falls at the peak of hurricane season. We just aren’t used to the entire country having an opinion about when we stay or leave, and calling us idiots if we make a choice others don’t agree with. The last MAJOR set of hurricanes to hit Florida were in 2004 (the last El Nino). Social media was not in our hands 24-7 back then. We listened to the forecasters and the state officials and made the decisions that were best for us. All of a sudden, this year, the entire country became meteorological forecasters and told us to get out or we were fools. “IT’S JUST STUFF! GET OUT!” If one more person said that to me, I was going to change my profile picture to a naked photo of Bea Arthur and throw my phone into the Florida muck.

The trouble with evacuating was two-fold:
1. We’d potentially help clog the only 2 interstates out of Florida, which at the time the people south of us needed far more than we did. They were guaranteed a hit.
2. We’d potentially get stuck in the location we evacuated TO (maybe somewhere near Atlanta) after the storm because all of South Florida would be heading back around the same time. My husband has a local business. He couldn’t afford to be stuck in Atlanta for a week.
Bonus problem 3. We’d potentially evacuate and get stuck on an interstate with no gas and be left to weather the hurricane in a Cadillac SRX.

Of course, if we were under mandatory evacuation, we would be OUT of here. But without the city making that call, it was up to us to make the smartest decision for everyone involved.

We decided the best thing to do would be to stay and invite my mom to come be with us since she lives in South Florida.

Wednesday –
With no real idea as to whether or not the hurricane would make it to North Florida or not, Wednesday is better-safe-than-sorry day. Stock up on water, canned goods, gas, non-perishable foods, batteries, propane, and buckets. Also grab important documents, lift important things up off the ground (in case of flooding), buy extra dog food, and prescriptions. My husband was out of town for work so I was left to do most of this prep by myself. It’s a stressful thing, trying to ensure you’ve got everything you need in case you have to run, stay in one place for days, or die.

I decided to go shopping for hurricane supplies after I dropped my son off at school that morning. When I arrived at the grocery store, I started walking up and down the aisles. I passed the same people three or four times because they, too, were sort of walking around just looking at things.
Should I get diapers? I don’t need them, but what if someone does?
Can I buy eggs right now? How long to hard-boiled eggs last unrefrigerated.
Do I buy paper towels or toilet paper? Do I need both?
Ooo chocolate Teddy Grahams, it’s been so long…
It’s a bizarre feeling knowing you’re mulling over these questions when you could potentially lose everything within a few days or be called to a mandatory evacuation and leave it all behind. So you buy everything you could potentially need and then hope you don’t need any of it but also kinda hope you do so you didn’t just spend $50 on canned goods you’d never eat on a non-hurricane day.

Thursday –
My husband came home from his work trip and brought the generator his business bought earlier in the year for a big job. We were SO lucky to have a generator that would keep our refrigerator running so we wouldn’t have to replace every single condiment.
I filled every container we own with water and put half of them in the freezer and half of them in the fridge.
I washed everything we own. There’s nothing worse than being stuck without power AND no clean underwear.
I charged everything that’s chargeable in our home. Flashlights, backup batteries, portable DVD players, iPads…there’s no telling if we’d need any of it.
I watched a LOT of weather reports. It looked like my city (Jacksonville) would take a hard hit. The other issue is that this storm was the SIZE of the entire STATE. That’s never happened before. Not even CLOSE. So no matter what, we were going to experience some kind of weather, but the reports were suggesting anything from a tropical storm to a Category 2, which on the hurricane scale of 1-5 is a nasty, nasty storm. I’ve survived 2s before, but anything higher and I evacuate.
I also bought more food. I don’t know why.
My mom arrived from South Florida.

Friday –
We moved the vehicles into the warehouse.
I filled the bathtub so we could flush the toilets and wash the dishes with the big buckets my husband bought.
I bought more food. I don’t know why.
I brought in all of our potted plants and outdoor furniture.
I let the dogs run around the neighborhood knowing they’d be stuck inside for a while once the storm was upon on.
I checked the weather reports again. There was still a good chance the storm could pass directly over us and that it could gain strength. It had already begun to devastate the small Virgin Islands and islands near the Bahamas. And I mean it flattened them. Those people had nowhere to go.
After learning that we had until at least Sunday night before the weather made it to us, we decided the best thing to do would be to invite all of our friends over for a Hurricane Party.

Tomorrow, we start with Saturday…

I’m not unlimited.

I just made a huge realization.

HUGE.

Are you ready for this?

I am not unlimited.

Now I shall explain.

When I was 7, my dad died and I felt an immense amount of pressure to be brave (mainly due to all the adults telling me I needed to be brave). My mom and family never asked me to be anything but a 7-year-old but I still felt the need to be the best, or at least way better, to account for the fact that everyone now had to live without my dad.
I grew up with the understanding that I would get good grades, go to college, and have a career. Not unlike most people.
I was an actress and so everyone told me they’d “see me on Broadway.”
I didn’t make it to Broadway so I went back to school, grad school in fact, to get a degree in something I didn’t really care about so I could say I had a masters.
I got married and everyone asked when I’d have a child. I couldn’t get pregnant without the help of fertility treatments and that made me feel like a total loser…until I shared my story on my blog and became a hero again. Hero with a graduate degree.
My marriage didn’t survive, as so many don’t, and I no longer had either of my hands or feet on the ladder to greatness. Then I was in an accident that broke my leg and everyone told me what I hero I was for not giving up or giving in. BACK TO HERO!
(This was weird to me because what was there to give up on? I had a son and people who loved me who were constantly helping me and I had stuff I liked to do. Why would I give up?
Do people often break their legs and give up?
It’s way easier to come near death than to deal with most other life-issues because when you’re injured and incapacitated, everyone shows up to help you and proclaim your greatness.)
Finally, I started amping up my work life and became a Beachbody coach and surrounded myself with what was familiar: people telling me to continue being brave, being a hero with a masters degree, being great. I quickly became a reputable source of health and wellness information and reached the higher levels of Beachbody Coachdom and everyone cheered: “Look at her go! She can do anything!”

Until, one day, it hit me.
I opened up one of my familiar podcasts (you know the ones…full of people telling you that you can be bold, that you can be fearless, that you can have the life of your DREAMS!) and within the first 15 seconds…I stopped it.
Holy shit.
“You have the potential to be UNLIMITED!”
Holy shit.
I don’t want to be unlimited.

I’ll be 36 in a month and…wow.
I don’t want to be unlimited.
I don’t want to be brave or a hero with a masters degree or geared up for greatness.
I don’t want to be scalable or tax exempt or even altogether special.
I just figured out that I want to be…Erin.

I want to work and make money. I want to be a mom and a wife. I want to garden. I want to do things that are fun, like theatre. I want to share my feelings through my blog and social networks and help people to see and love each other a little bit better.
But Lord have mercy, I am tired of trying to figure out the next way that I’m going to be GREAT. No one has ever looked at me and said, “Hey. You’re good, just being you. And you don’t have to do any of this to be good.” Not that this is a very intuitive or natural thing to say, but maybe it should be?
Maybe we all need to look at ourselves every morning and say, “What you’ve done so far today in the past 30 minutes…that’s enough. That’s enough to make you great.” You won’t believe it at first, but you might eventually begin to internalize the fact that not being the best and the greatest and the most important or the most recognized…would be ok?

The process of transformation is not about becoming something that we weren’t. It’s about unveiling what we were the whole time.
– Author William Paul Young

I’m a helper. An employee. A friend. A laugher of laughs.
I’m not unlimited. I don’t need to be.
Just me is enough.

 

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