Saturday, March 31, 2018

The 42nd Year is Underway

"Easter is about hope."

That’s what the Australian-accented, boomerang-slinging bunny in Rise of the Guardians says about his holiday.

Easter is about possibility. Redemption. Renewal.

It’s rather fitting that the end of The 41st Year is Easter week. It’s fitting because when I set out to do this last year, I was really looking for renewal.

On my 40th birthday, sitting in a bar in New York City, I wrote, “This all started because Heather said, ‘Forty is a motherfucker,’ and, like most things in my life, I decided to manage my expectations.”

Forty couldn’t fuck with me if I knew what I was doing. If I had a plan. A purpose. A mission.

On the first page of the journal I bought in NYC to track The 41st Year, I wrote, “I know I’ll struggle. I know I’ll focus on the shortfalls and the challenges. I know I’ll be glaringly aware of the misses, the failures, and the face plants.”

So here they are:
I did not visit Papa 40 times. I got to Florence 11 times in the last year. It’s an hour trip and a three-hour commitment. It takes about $20 in gas round trip. I’ve been too broke and too busy. And yet each of those 11 visits filled me with a sense that my Papa appreciates me. Loves me. Is proud of me. So, I’ll try to keep my once-a-month pace and hope that will suffice.

I did not donate 40 articles of clothing or put 40 pages into Hollie’s scrapbook. I didn’t do even one for either of those. I did accept some pieces from my dear friend, Teresa, who has lost weight and gave me the six pairs of pants and four tops that have made my working full time doable these last three months. As for the scrap book, someday I’m sure I’ll wish I had captured every minute with Hollie. For now, though, I’m waiting until she’s interested in helping with the project to really take it on.

I did not submit 40 times. I submitted 27 times but now I have a weekly habit, so that’s a good thing. I feel good about the submissions. I feel like I’m getting used to rejection and that’s part of being a writer.

I did not do 40 runs, in fact I haven’t run at all. Something I regret and something I plan to remedy. Immediately. Let’s roll that goal into next year.

I didn’t get to 40 new places but I did get to 15 including two new cities: Kansas City, Missouri and Toledo, Ohio. It’s hard to travel when you don’t have any money. Some “places” that mattered this year included the Office of Business Opportunity’s Small Business Conference last May at which I was a speaker and the Winter Wheat Literary Festival where I was on faculty. The SCWA’s writers conference in the fall to which I won a scholarship and the Girls Rock! showcase where I saw my daughter play guitar on stage for the first time. I’ll take quality over quantity on that one all day long. We even got to Five Points on St. Patty’s Day which was a big achievement for Hollie and me.

I also wrote in that journal that The 41st Year was meant to provide wins. Easy ways to show progress and success.

“Say you will and then do it. No fear. No excuses. No boundaries.” Reasonable, achievable things on the list.

Categories where I killed it: Blog posts and books by female authors. I read 73 books last year and have read 28 this year so far. Nearly all of them are by women writers. My blog posts were mostly on the SCWA blog, but I also generated content for Clemson Road Consulting, Unapologetically X, and two clients. This blog, The 41st Year, has been neglected. But that’s mostly as a reflection of my glaring awareness of misses, failures, and face plants.

So, it’s Easter and this is about hope. Renewal. It’s about opportunity.

There has been so much opportunity in the last few months, really since I started The 41st Year and started being intentional about pretty much everything. Opportunities are not hiding under bushes waiting to be found like colored eggs. They’re flying past us like dandelion seeds on the wind. I’ve tried to gather them all. Chased them all. Watched them float by and wished they were mine.

Now I’m going to bloom where I’m planted.

This was an important year. A year in which I decided I am the grown-up in the room and it’s up to me to make decisions and take action. A year in which I stopped waiting for others to offer, comply, and play along.

I was so afraid that 40 would be a motherfucker. So, I geared up and took a few practice swings. When they landed, and the resistance gave way, I decided to kick its ass. And what it feels like right now is that I’m just getting started.

It feels like Game On. Bring it, 42nd Year. Show me what you’ve got.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Selling Myself in Bits & Pieces

I’d like to say I haven’t blogged here since November because I’ve been crushing it in the 41st year.

In some ways, I have. Since January, I’ve added three titles to my resume:
  • Project Manager at the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship,
  • Adjunct Instructor in Entrepreneurship at the Darla Moore School of Business, and
  • Co-Host of the radio program Start Something, Columbia.
We’re waiting to hear this month about funding for a new women’s business center in Columbia for which I would be Co-Director.

I’m still Managing Partner of Clemson Road Consulting (formerly known as President of Clemson Road Creative) and I’ve been the Lead Organizer for 1 Million Cups Columbia for about six months.

What do all these titles do for my 41st year goals?

Well, I’ve been adding up live events with conferences, summits, and meetings in support of my new titles. I’ve also been writing dozens of blogs for various outlets. Today I’m sitting down to write out two-dozen thank-you notes to all of those people who wrote us letters of support for our women’s business center grant application.

Where I’m killing it: 40 books by female authors.

In 2017 I read 73 books and so far this year I’ve read 25 books; the majority of these books have been women authors. In fact, I might want to try reading some men in 2018. I definitely need to add more non-fiction to the list but that’s the case every year.

Visiting new places and visiting my Papa are goals that have both suffered from my lack of funds. I’ve been so low on cash that a lot of things (pedicures, wine) have fallen off my regular expenses. I know Papa doesn’t begrudge me the visits but I have always equated driving with freedom and to not be able to travel has been a soul-crushing reality.

The purpose of the 41st year was always to find some measurable things I could do, some ways to spend my time that would equate to impact. I have to say that the work I’m doing these days seems more impactful than anything I was doing before.

I feel like I’m turning a corner. Cresting a wave. Climbing the S curve.

Since last March, I’ve given more workshops, submitted more writing, and applied for more opportunities than I have in the past. I’ve been working my sales plan with three principles: 1) people need to know me, 2) people need to know what I do, and 3) people need to trust I can do it. When we get all three, we earn business.

The business is coming. The future is bright. The 41st year feels like just the beginning.

Angel Kisses and Overwhelming Gratitude

What I usually tell people about Carol Staubach is that she failed statistics in college and she was the smartest woman I’ve ever known. Wh...