We’re suddenly halfway through January and I want to take a moment to look at the year we just left behind before moving forward into what’s next.
In April of 2022 I wrote:
“I thought 2021 was an earthquake in therms of how it broke my life to pieces and reorganised it. But so far in 2022, I’ve pretty much seen what’s left burn to the ground.”
Yeah … 2022 was a wild year for me. It was hard in a way that had me on my knees, screaming at God, more than once.
The year started slow, with me recovering from another round of burnout. I was trying to find my feet with a brand new diagnosis of autism and adhd, as well as with the brand new reality of being a single mother, of separating from the love of my life after 19 years together.
Workwise, I was prepping to open registration for The Creative Doer again, when my accountant got in touch. She said, I’m sorry Anna, I really should have caught this sooner, but your business is in trouble.
I’d racked up a small debt while on sick leave. Now it turned out, due to rules that apply to the kind of corporation I run, that I needed to restore it much faster than I’d thought.
I still wasn’t overly worried. I’d launched The Creative Doer many times before and I counted on it to be enough. But for reasons unknown – the state of the world, some general post-pandemic exhaustion, big changes in the online learning sphere – the launch brought in less than usual.
I didn’t exactly freak out. I just felt deflated.
I had about a month to bring in a fairly big number. I’d done it before, brought in money fast, under pressure, but this time I was already tired. I felt like I didn’t have any hustle left in me.
For a few days, I sat with the possibility of just letting the business tank. To just let it go. It felt like the only doable thing. Maybe it was time?
Until I learnt that the rights to my work belonged to my business, not me. The rights to my book, to the brand The Creative Doer, all of it. If my business tanked, I’d lose those rights too.
That’s when I completely freaked out.
To lose the rights to my heart’s work, ten years of my life. It just wasn’t an option.
I panicked in a way I hadn’t in a very long time, the fear made so much worse by the fact that I had to face it alone, without the support of my ex who had, as it turned out, swiftly gone on to date other people.
It was such a perfect storm of heartbreak, exhaustion and fear. Thoughts spiraling – what if I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage, I’d lose my house. The kids had just begun to settle in after all the changes, the thought of having to uproot them again was more than I could bear. (This might have been when the screaming at God happened.)
And then I got to work.
The following month is a blur. I did what I knew I needed to do, I asked for help. I asked you, I asked everyone for ideas, for support, for help sharing my work. I created new offerings and sold them, I opened old offerings and sold them too. A few of my darling Creative Doers created a GoFundMe page and brought in some money that way. I gave interviews and showed up everywhere anyone would have me.
I tried to communicate as honestly and clearly as possible about what happened as it happened and was met with so much love and support in return. My heart was cracked open over and over again. (I’m still processing the ways this changed me.)
When the time for the deadline came around, I had made it. I had brought in the money with $40 to spare.
I sort of collapsed afterwards. The relief that I’d managed to keep the rights to my work was enormous, as was my gratitude for all the support I’d received, but I also felt weary and lost after this massive push. For the first time I seriously considered, maybe I didn’t have it in me to run a business anymore?
I spent the summer delivering on the offers I’d sold, trying to recuperate and understand what my next steps would be. I felt no joy at the thought of continuing like before and I knew that this meant something had to change.
I applied for a couple of jobs, looked at the possibility of going back to school to get a different degree. But I felt no clear guidance and nothing really led anywhere.
There was just this sense of waiting, of needing to stay in the not knowing a while longer. Which I know is always part of any big change but damn, it’s challening! To trust that something will be shown, in time.
In late August, I wrote in my journal: What would if feel like to close The Creative Doer?
And once I’d asked that question, I knew the answer. It would feel like relief. It would feel light. It would feel like making space for something else that needs to be born, that I don’t even know what it is yet.
I had all the rational reasons to stay with this big, established, successful thing I’d built.
But once I knew, I knew. It was decided. I opened the doors one last time and let in a bunch of wonderful creatives. And knowing it was the last time, I felt so much love and energy at the thought of holding this space for another 6 months.
I still didn’t know what would come instead. The only thing I felt certain of was that I didn’t want to do it alone.
And then my friend Lise Loensmann got in touch. And we started bouncing ideas, spinning thoughts and dreams into something quite new. It felt exciting and juicy. And a little bit scary.
And that’s how you know, isn’t it? That’s how you know you’re on to something.
WILDER is about choosing aliveness, about orienting towards what’s true and alive for us, even when it doesn’t make rational sense or looks good from the outside. For me, choosing to create WILDER was in itself a step towards aliveness.
Choosing to let go of The Creative Doer was a step towards aliveness.
Allowing myself to change when change was calling was a step towards aliveness.
Risking disappointing people in order to be true to my heart was a step towards aliveness
Risking failure – creating something brand new, going for it without even knowing if people want it – was a step towards aliveness.
Trusting myself so deeply was and will always be a step towards aliveness.
Leaving this year behind, that’s what I bring with me. A renewed trust in myself and in the guidance that always leads me where I need to go (though not always where I want to go).
How it will all turn out? I don’t know yet.
To be continued.