Why I’m closing up shop

Be True To You Notebook via Liv Lane

Holy wow. The path of least resistance really does exist. And mine has an art shop with a sign in the window: closed till further notice.

That’s right, friends; I’m closing the Etsy shop that has been my labor of love for the past five years. This would have sounded like failure to me five years ago; today, it sounds like freedom.

I still LOVE creating in my studio, but my worklife has shifted in ways I couldn’t have imagined back then. In 2010, I kept my intuitive skills under wraps and tightly sealed with duct tape. Calling myself an artist was scary, but calling myself an intuitive was out of the question. To have thought one day people would be booking sessions with me months in advance? Ridiculous!

I realize now that I needed that experience – of honoring the artist in me and letting words and art flow through me each day – to begin accepting and revealing the other messages coming through. It’s no coincidence that during the first two years of trying to make it as an artist, I started seeing more, hearing more, feeling more, receiving more.

While creating the art came easy, the business of being an artist did not.

I’d spend hours prepping booths for art fairs and events only to make half of what I paid to be there. I was thrilled when stores would ask to display my wares, but dreaded restocking their product each month only to receive a tiny commission check. I kept selling out of my necklaces online, but hated making them (I even hired an assistant to do it for me).

Eventually, as I gained the courage to publicly offer the intuitive and inspirational work that felt almost effortless for me, I began to scale back on the elements of my art biz that felt so hard. I stopped making things I didn’t like making. I stopped displaying my wares at stores and events. I stopped making art that I thought others would like, and settled on a sweet and simple style that I liked.

Art became my side business, not my main business, and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. And that worked for quite a while.

This is my year to FEEL GOOD in every way. via LivLane.comAs 2014 came to a close, I chose a new word of the year to be my guiding light in 2015: serenity. I committed to being present enough in my life to notice when something doesn’t feel good and do what it takes to shift into what does feel good. As I looked at all of the goodness on my plate for this year, one thing kept nagging at me: would the logistics of keeping my Etsy shop running feel more like a burden than a blessing?

I shut it down for a week over the holidays, intending to re-open in early January. But one week turned into two, and two turned into six, and not having the pressure of shipping and restocking cards and gifts felt so good. All I missed was creating the art. So I turned the divinely-inspired guidance I email weekly to subscribers into free printable art. No shipping, no strings, and a beautiful response.

It became crystal clear: I can be an artist without an art shop. Hello, path of least resistance. 

Path of least resistance quote, via LivLane.com

So here’s the deal. I have re-opened the shop for just a few days. I announced this first to my newsletter subscribers yesterday, and they nearly (and awesomely) cleared me out! So I’ve added a few popular items in very limited quantities – and a couple of new ones (like the journal above) that I literally forgot I had created! Shop to your heart’s content; the store will close Sunday (unless it sells out before) and use the coupon code DIVINE at checkout to get 20% off your order.

I suspect that I’ll occasionally – maybe twice a year? – host a surprise pop-up shop of cards and gifts, but we’ll see what happens. I am so grateful to all who have embraced me on this creative adventure and helped me honor and delight my inner artist. Thank you for being so awesome.

Note: For free weekly printable art and updates on my work, subscribe to Divine Interventions here.

how to change what you don’t want

Tell me what you want....The Universe (and the #SpiceGirls) via livlane.com

The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked as a telemarketer selling water softeners. Actually, my job was to convince the people I called that if they didn’t get their water tested soon, they would regret it for the rest of their lives. Lovely. They would often agree to a free consultation, during which the “expert” would show them their terrifying test results…and then try to sell them a new water softener. I hated every second of that job, but it taught me lots about what I didn’t want out of life.

That experience came rushing back to me when Jonathan Fields posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

“We spend so much time working out what we want. But there’s also so much power in knowing what we don’t.”

Jonathan’s right: that awareness is a powerful thing. Why? Because knowing what we don’t want helps us clarify what we do want.

During the three months I worked at that telemarketing firm, I was one of five women – all decades older than me – who sat in a tiny, windowless room, hunched over our little desks with phones and phone books (yes, children, we used phone books to find people’s numbers). The boss would collect our appointment sheets and count them out loud, so everyone knew who had booked the most appointments each day. I wasn’t sure why but I usually booked more than anyone. This routinely resulted in so many dirty looks and loud sighs from the other women that I intentionally started to work slower and sound less excited on the phone, hoping someone else would book more appointments and spare me their resentment. At break time, we’d go outside – gasping for fresh air, craving sunlight – and the four other women would huddle together six feet from the building to smoke. I, meanwhile, would walk the tree-lined neighborhood streets, thinking about how much my job sucked.

Though it wasn’t my intention, the list of grievances I was making in my head actually helped me see what I wanted out of life. As I walked those sidewalks day after day, I started to change those don’ts into desires. I imagined the opposite of those things I hated, envisioning a workplace where I felt valued, supported, and excited to be there.

Can you see how this might work in your own less-than-awesome situations? Here are some examples of how I was transforming what I didn’t want into seeing what I did want…

turn what you don't want into what you DO want, via livlane.com

If you’re in a situation with a lot of “don’t wants” attached to it, flip your view and imagine the opposite. Envisioning something better and believing it’s possible is your entry ramp to positive change.

 

do what you love…then leave it behind

every ending is a new beginning; art by liv laneI got sideswiped by grief yesterday. As I was readying the virtual classroom for my next (and last) blogging ecourse, a wave of sadness washed over me. The heavy whirling started in my belly, got caught in my throat, and put fiery tears in my eyes. It felt like…mourning. And it totally caught me by surprise.

Today marks the last first day of How To Build a Blog You Truly Love. I announced recently that this will be the last time I’ll run this course because I’m making room for new adventures. But I’ve been so focused on enjoying this final run and looking forward to new things that I forgot to allow space for grieving the loss of something I love.

I remember this kind of grief catching me by surprise seven years ago, when I left the media company I had launched and grown. I was so excited to spread my wings and leave the corporate grind behind. But a couple of days after leaving, I found myself feeling sad and a little lost, missing the place I’d put so much energy into over the years. It wasn’t that I regretted my decision to leave, but I realized that, in order to keep it together emotionally, I’d only focused on the things I was relieved to be detaching from. I had tap danced around the things I loved about my work, worried that the thought of missing them might reel me back in and convince me to stay.

Same thing with the blogging ecourse. I’ve been so focused on getting this last course up and running that I hadn’t allowed myself to also see how much I’ll miss it. Truth is, this class means so much to me. It was my saving grace at a time when it felt like everything else was falling apart. It gave me a new sense of purpose. It gave me a new revenue stream (a total Godsend after most of my projects fell out from underneath me). It gave me a new platform to help women find their own inner sparks – artfully, intuitively and joyfully.

As I was working on class content yesterday, I felt so fulfilled and excited for the next group of women about to be part of this journey – but sad that it was the last time I’d be combing through these lessons and sharing these insights. Though I’ll continue to teach other courses, there’s nothing like your first one – and seeing how far it’s come, how far I’ve come, how far so many past participants have come makes me wistful. But hanging on to everything I love makes it awfully hard to move forward.

To teach this final edition with total joy and to feel fully present for all these wonder women who have signed up, it was important for me to (finally) honor how sad I’ll be to see it go. But every ending is a new beginning. I will lead this class one more time with a deep sense of gratitude and awe for the gift it’s been in my life – and then dive into the deep end of my next chapter.

*****

Blogging ecourse - BBTL 2013 - click for detailsNote: Want to join us? How To Build a Blog You Truly Love runs through Oct. 25th. You can register at any point during that time frame (though sooner is better) in order to be part of the online community, get my interactive guidance and receive a 350+ page PDF of all the content and contributions from 18 superstar bloggers including Kelly Rae Roberts, Andrea Scher, SARK, Maggie of Gussy Sews, Aimee of Artsyville, Amanda of Kind Over Matter and more! Here’s what we’re covering these next six weeks:

Week One: Defining Your Purpose + Passions Prepare to stretch yourself this first week, as you dig deep into the purpose of your blog. Lots of soul-stirring self-reflection!

Week Two: Creating a Space That Feels Like Home The look of your blog says so much; we’ll explore the design of your blog and how it reflects your personality and purpose. So many fun little details many bloggers don’t think about!

Week Three: Crafting Authentic Content + Staying Inspired Ever worry that you’ll run out of topics? Ever wonder how much is too much to share? Or if you can swear on your blog? Ever felt like you’re not always writing from the heart? We’ll address all of that and more. And we’re all going to step out of our comfort zones, writing and sharing brave posts in a class link-up (one of my favorite parts of this course!).

Week Four: Building Community + Boosting Readership You get to make friends this week. Lots of them! We’ll explore the importance of building your ideal community of readers and supporters – and how to do it. We’re getting the scoop from four bloggers who know a thing or two about building awesome online communities.

Week Five: Promoting Yourself With Love I’ve got lots to say on this topic, having worked both in PR and broadcasting for many years. If you have a hard time shouting your own name from the rooftops, you’re not alone – but you can promote yourself and your blog without feeling like a used car salesman. Promise! Excited to show you how.

Week Six: Blogging for Business + Growing Your Brand I believe every blog is like a mini-business with a brand you need to create and maintain. We can make it totally fun to do – and even explore ways your blog can become a revenue stream for you.

why i fell into a puddle of tears last night…and a free printable for you

in the right place at the right time - free printable via livlane.com

Well, this will go down as a week that gave me plenty of reminders that the best laid plans are usually those I didn’t make and couldn’t predict. Just like John Lennon whispered to his son Sean in Beautiful Boy:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

I was so touched by all your support after Tuesday’s post about our change in plans for Tru, with him not going to kindergarten this year. That day, with his big brother off at school, Tru seemed a little low on energy. By evening, he felt warm. By yesterday morning, he was weepy and groggy – complaining of a tummy ache. All he wanted was for me to be by his side, rubbing his back, soothing him with cold washcloths. I love those moments, actually, when I feel like my presence is healing, when my kiddos feel better just having their mama nearby.

The only thing? I had planned to be running errands and packing my suitcase. 

See, this morning I was supposed to board a plane to Santa Fe with my mom and Nana for a girls’ weekend. My mom treated us to this trip, to one of our favorite places, knowing it will likely be our last; my grandma is 89 and was recently diagnosed with cancer. (Sigh. Hard to put that in writing.) I’ve been soooo looking forward to it, knowing it would be a meaningful trip.

But by 6pm last night, Tru’s fever spiked to 104.6, even after having Tylenol, and he could barely move. Hello, panic. Looong story short, we spent the evening at Urgent Care and narrowly escaped hospitalization. Around midnight, back at home, I was on the phone with the airline, trying to get out of my morning flight and bummed that if I postponed, I’d have to pay the difference between what our tickets cost and what they cost now (hundreds of dollars). I didn’t know if I should go at all.

Friends, I crumpled into an exhausted pile of tears. 

I wanted so much for something to just go as planned, for all to be well, that I couldn’t see straight. I let myself cry. It felt really good. And then I went to bed, trusting that I’d know what to do in the morning and that everything would work itself out. It was all I had. And it worked.

Tru’s fever broke. He woke me at 5:30am to say, “I’m just fine, mom!” and then crawled into bed between us. Still, I wanted to monitor him for a while. I called to postpone my flight and, by some miracle, the airline charged me only a $50 change fee and waived the extra cost of a ticket for a later flight. So I’m going to Santa Fe tonight, friends, and leaving behind a boy on the mend who’s excited to help drop me off at the airport later.

My best decision was to trust in a better outcome than I could have imagined for myself. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans – and I’m feeling pretty grateful for that.

(Note: the image above is a free printable for you. I figure I’m probably not the only one who repeatedly needs this reminder! Just click on the image and it will open a PDF file with a 5×7 image.)

i’m taking on facebook {gulp}. will you help me?

facebook business page

You are awesome. And super smart. I know it, you know it…but, apparently, Facebook is not so sure.

I had to start a new Facebook page.

Would you PLEASE like it and share it? Click here. 

As many of you know, I started blogging about everyday beauty in 2006. I would photograph and write about something beautiful every day – and did that for a full year. It healed and transformed me. I called the blog Choosing Beauty and, to support the blog, I named my Facebook “fan” page I’m Choosing Beauty, too. The page has been a great place to share blog posts, inspiring art, beautiful photos, cool projects with nearly 3,000 of you. There’s only one problem:

My business has evolved and Facebook doesn’t care.

A couple of years ago, I decided to fully step into my own light and put everything I do under my own name, Liv Lane. My web site, my blog, my art shop, my social media. Facebook was the only place where I was still labeled as “Choosing Beauty.” But despite my attempts, Facebook refuses to change my page from I’m Choosing Beauty to Liv Lane.  The reason?

“We have determined the name change you requested may be misleading for the people who like the Page.”

Uhhh, friends, they have totally underestimated you. I’m 110% sure you could handle the name change. You KNOW those posts are coming from me, right? Heck, my name is in the header and my face is the profile picture. It seems far more misleading, I told the Facebook gods, that people who are looking for me on Facebook and don’t know about the old Choosing Beauty name can’t find me.

No matter, Facebook said. It stands by its decision. Grrrrr.

So, I’m taking a big risk here.

please help me prove to facebook i can build a new page full of awesome peeps who support me + my work. details at blog.livlane.com. thank you!I’ve created a new business page under my own name, Liv Lane. My goal is to prove to Facebook that you won’t feel misled or confused and will follow me there. This will take some doing – and I need your help. So, if you like what I put into the world, could you “like” the new Facebook page and maybe even tell your friends about it? You can share posts from the page or share via the buttons below. I would be so grateful for the support and for the chance to show Facebook we lightworkers and love-spreaders stick together.

See you on Facebook, friends!

happy first birthday…mama

Last night, as I snuggled in next to Ryder as he read aloud his bedtime story, I studied him carefully, looking for signs of the little boy who graced our lives nearly a decade ago. What happened to me reading to him!? How did his feet get bigger than mine? When did that chipmunk-cheeked toddler turn into a lanky, handsome boy?

And if that much drastic change has happened with him over these past nine years, I thought, just think of the changes in me. I was so lost when he arrived. Sometimes, I still feel bad about the ways depression and PTSD made me so distant and foggy when we were supposed to be bonding. That first year of his life was such a blur, as it is for so many new parents. There is nothing that can prepare us for the physical and emotional highs and lows of those early days. And then, in the blink of an eye, baby’s first birthday arrives with balloons, an adorable face full of cake and loved ones gathering to celebrate the guest of honor. It goes. so. fast.

I will never forget Ryder’s first birthday party, in our old bungalow in south Minneapolis, a crowd of friends and family squished into our tiny dining room. As our friend Sita walked through the front door, her first instinct was not to find the birthday boy, but to reach out to me. Already a seasoned mama of three, she embraced me and said, “You did it! You made it! Happy first birthday, mama!” and I nearly broke down in tears.

New mamas {and papas, too} do deserve and need a pat on the back {better yet, a big embrace} for the huge life shifts they’ve been through. It’s monumental. Life-changing. I’m not sure why it took me this long, but I finally designed a card to honor this milestone. Because every new mama needs a friend like Sita to recognize her triumphant journey.

Learning My Lesson: The Art of Saying No

I recently turned down two big opportunities. One kinda high-profile, one probably quite lucrative. Some folks would probably consider my walking away to be downright craaaazy, but I gotta tell you: it felt soooo good. Yes, I could have done either job, but neither one would have made me happy in the long-term or aligned with the work I’m most passionate about {including this blog}.

I knew pretty darn quick that neither opportunity was a good fit for me. I wasn’t jumping out of my skin with glee. My heart wasn’t doing cartwheels. I didn’t call Brad with an “oh-my-god-you’ll-never-believe-this” moment. The deafening silence within me was my cue to think twice.

It took years to reach this point. It used to be that every time an opportunity crossed my path, I said yes. I didn’t have the heart to say no to people {part of my deeply-rooted talent for people-pleasing!}. Whenever someone asked me to do something within my skill set, I would jump on board. I would do a good job. And, then, instead of feeling fulfilled or purposeful afterwards, I would often feel drained and deflated.

FINALLY, I realized doing stuff I was good at was not the same as doing work I was passionate about. We are all so lucky to be born and raised with many abilities – but we’re blessed with particular gifts and interests that, when given priority, can lead us to our purpose. Now that, my friends, deserves a hearty hell-YES!

 

{P.S. Last week, I talked with Sabrina Ali about the power of saying no and how to say yes to bliss. Honored to be part of her Claim Your Bliss interview series – check it out}

 

 

Learning To Love The Here & Now

Two springs ago, my parents offered to give us some of the overgrown ferns that were spreading through their glorious woods. Awesome! I said I’d be by the next day to pick them up and transplant them into my garden.

I remember that day because we had a downpour – hardly good gardening weather! But my dad went out to the woods anyway, dug up some ferns and carefully loaded them into the back of my car. He was so hopeful that they’d survive and add a little more beauty to our backyard. I can still see him in his soggy baseball cap and fogged-up glasses…and feel him giving me a kiss on the forehead before sending me and the ferns on our way.

That summer, the ferns were not happy. They clearly didn’t like their new surroundings {or maybe the way I planted them} and fought the change like crazy. They browned and curled and shriveled up within a few weeks. I was bummed and figured they were a lost cause.

But to my surprise, the ferns decided to give life another chance. Last spring, they burst into the world with new fervor and grew big and beautiful all summer long. I was so delighted! I imagined the ferns had spent that previous winter consulting each other beneath the frozen soil, going over their options:

“We liked our old woods. We didn’t ask for this change! But…if we keep fighting it, we’ll have no energy to thrive. If we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too. We do have some nice neighbors – hosta, lady slippers, tulips. And that woman seems to really want us to survive. So…let’s give this another shot.”

They did! And they were gorgeous. Now, spring is here again – and the ferns are unfurling in a wondrous way, emerging from their fetal position leaf by leaf. I caught myself thinking I should call my dad to share the good news – then realized I couldn’t and got a lump in my throat.  I didn’t ask for this change, I thought. I liked the way things were – not this new world, without him physically in it.

But as I sat with that precious baby fern, I knew it was whispering its own wisdom to me: “if we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too.” Every fiber of my being knows this to be true – but I needed a reminder from the unfurling ferns. As I sat there on the ground, I knew my dad was right there, too – still kissing me on the forehead and sending me on my way.

The ferns are choosing beauty. I am choosing beauty. And life is good.

How To BE The Change…

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

I love the brilliance of this quote – but I think it’s starting to backfire. Rather than motivating folks to do good and be good, as I’m sure Gandhi intended, I’m afraid it’s actually paralyzing some people.

I can’t believe how many conversations I’ve had lately with people who feel stuck and stressed out about making their mark, serving others in a “big” way and creating a lasting legacy. They all have lists {in their hearts, in their heads, sometimes on paper} of the changes they’d like to see in the world. But the enormity of each problem weighs them down rather than inspiring them to act. And the pressure of doing something big keeps them from starting small.

When Gandhi urged us all to BE the change, he didn’t mean you – or any one person – should take sole responsibility for solving a giant world problem. I believe he wanted us each to help create a better world by being our most authentic, joyful, centered selves.

We are so much more powerful when we dream and create from a place of joy than from a sense of desperation. I think back to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the heroic stories of everyday Americans who felt pulled to that area, able to help others by doing what they loved, whether rescuing animals or tutoring displaced kids. I think of the phenomenal life coaches and healers I know who derive such joy and fulfillment from the work they do, inspiring change and growth in others. I think of my favorite teachers and how clear it was that, deep down, they loved their work.

Last night, at a pro hockey game, we had the most delightful conversation with a woman who sold us hot dogs. I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be there {I’m not a hockey fan} and Ryder was annoyed that we had to stop at several booths to get all the snacks we needed. But when we got to the hot dog stand, our attitudes changed. The woman who helped us was bubbling over with joy and it was contagious. She asked Ryder about his favorite players, applauded him for his good manners, gleefully told us how much she adores the team, and took care to make sure our order was perfect. She made such an impression on Ryder that he wanted to go back and see her before we left the game!

By making her corner of that great big stadium a happier place, that concession stand worker has managed to be the change she wants to see in the world. Will she make the evening news or receive a gold medal for her kindness? Probably not – and that’s okay.

The mark you leave on the world does not need to be seen by the whole world.

So, put down your long list of problems to solve and just do something you love. Soon, you’ll notice how it magically impacts others. When you’re happy, you feel capable. When you feel capable, you feel empowered. When you feel empowered, you create change in a purposeful, passionate, joyful way. That’s what I think Gandhi wanted all of us to do.

 

A Special Message: That’s Not Funny

on the road to more compassion...

Last week, I attended a meeting with a roomful of parents, all whom have kids with special needs. I didn’t want to be there. Nobody wants to be in that conference room. We’re insanely grateful for the resources and support, but we wish we didn’t need it.

 

Nobody ever starts a family thinking this will be part of the journey. This happens to other families, we tell ourselves. And because of that naiveté, I wasn’t always as compassionate as I should have been towards families walking this crooked path. I’m so embarrassed to admit that there was a time when I’d laugh at friends who used self-deprecating humor like “I’m such a retard!” or “what are you, slow!?” I might have even uttered that stuff myself. I didn’t think about how those wise {or not so wise} cracks furthered the prejudices against special needs kids and adults who cannot help the way they were born.

 

I don’t write a lot here about Truman’s specific needs; I think this was the last time. He is so much more than the labels put on him. I want him to be known for his contagious joy, for his growing brilliance, for his love of people and music and   trees and lights and puppies and babies and books and snuggles. I want you and everyone he meets to know all of this about him. Why? Because people make fun of what and who they don’t know. But they think twice about doing so when they have a relationship with or affection for someone who’s the butt of a joke.

 

I believe connection breeds compassion.

 

If your beloved friends and colleagues come from different ethnic or spiritual backgrounds, you’re less likely to utter a racial or religious slur. If one of your favorite neighbors is lesbian, you’re less likely to criticize something by calling it “gay.” But it’s less likely you have regular interactions with someone who has special needs, which makes these innocents much easier to mock.

 

Last week, someone I know {though not well} posted a Facebook photo of himself with a befuddled, dorky look on his face, standing next to a sign that says “Special Needs Entrance.” When I skimmed the comment section below his picture, each “like” and “LOL” from his Facebook friends felt like daggers to the heart. It angers me to think that, years ago, I might have laughed at that kind of humor. And it saddens me to know that brand of ignorance continues.

 

Some of you might think I need to just relax or lighten up. But that’s not the nature of a mama bear like me. We moms {and dads, too} try to protect our cubs to no end – from cruelty, from prejudice, from harm. I pray Tru will never feel ostracized or ridiculed for being a little different. He is pure sunshine – and I’ll do my best to keep anyone or any joke from dimming his light, directly or indirectly.

 

By virtue of reading this, you are connected to me – and I’m so glad. My hope is that the next time you feel compelled to make fun of a disability or laugh at an insensitive joke, you’ll think of me…and then you’ll think of Tru…and maybe you’ll change your mind. And, in that act of kindness, you’ll change others’ minds, too.