Monday Musings: Choosing Joy and Gratitude
Good morning friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was spent recovering from a not-so-fun infection and going through all of my receipts and expenses to finish up a belated 2013 tax return. Sounds fun, huh?! (Spoiler alert: it wasn't!) Last night, I was making my to-do list for today and the rest of the week and just started feeling massively overwhelmed. And discouraged. Not discouraged to the point of paralysis, like I wrote about a few months back. Just really tired and not ready to climb another mountain.
But here's the funny thing about the self-publishing process – and actually, most of life's big challenges – there is always another mountain to climb. Just when you think you've finished the hard part, a host of other challenges flood in and it all starts over again. (Which is why you have to celebrate the small victories along the way, rather than waiting for some mystical mountain peak in the future...but that's a whole other post!)
At this point, the book is done. Hooray! But now comes a whole other set of obsacles: distribution, warehousing, order fulfillment, marketing, and PR. And the task of planning book-signing events in 3 cities in the coming months. I'm flooded with questions of: where can I sell the books? Where will I store them (given my 6th floor walk-up is NOT the ideal option)? Large book chains won't sell a self-published book unless you work with a distributor; small independent book stores might, but it requires going door-to-door, book in hand, and you're lucky if they buy a few copies (at a 50-60% discount). I can sell on Amazon (and am working on that), and thankfully they'll handle warehousing and shipment for me for a small price.
I'm also coordinating my 1083 Kickstarter orders – creating recipe cards and getting Yellow Table aprons made, and trying to figure out how many books to ship to Nashville (for big my shipping party!), how many to NYC, and how many to send directly to Amazon. And finally, I'm trying to figure the most affordable mailing rates and packing materials. (Thank goodness for Leann & Dan Brown – the team behind the wildly successful Kickstarter-funded cookbook Good & Cheap. They recently shipped out over 8,000 books and have given me loads of helpful tips!) But just at the point where I feel ready to spend a week catching up on sleep at the beach, I'm getting a crash course in shipping and distribution. It's kind of hilarious. Thank goodness for Brandon: he's a spreadsheet whiz and has created all sorts of crazy charts that make my head hurt even looking at them. Phew!
Lest you think I'm complaining, I'm not. I really and truly am SO grateful that these are the challenges I'm facing, because they are the result of the completion of my book!! I suppose my point in writing this post is three-fold. 1) I always want to be real with y'all. So many of you have walked with me through this whole up and down and crazy journey, and I've never pretended like it's a breeze. Dreams are never easy – they turn your life upside down, but in the best possible way. 2) I'm trying to learn to give myself grace in all of this. I think my discouragement comes from expecting myself to have all of this figured out, and to be totally on top of everything all of the time. Which is IMPOSSIBLE. I'm only human, and I've never done this stuff! So I can only do my best, ask for help, and try and maintain a sense of humor along the way. Which brings me to: 3) Choosing joy. You know, joy, unlike happiness, is not dependent on circumstances. Life can be crumbling all around you, and if your joy is rooted in God, who never changes, then you can experience joy in any and every circumstance. But it's still a choice. Just like practicing gratitude is something you have to decide to do, joy is something you decide to put on, like a favorite pair of shoes.
The red dress I'm wearing in these pictures is one of my favorites. I've had it since college and bought it at an outlet mall, but its bright color always puts me in a good mood. On a day where I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, throwing on that red dress, grabbing a really good coffee, and walking around my neighborhood always puts a smile on my face. This ritual gets me outside my head and points my eyes outward and upward. It's cool and overcast in NYC today, so I won't be wearing this dress, but I'm going to put on a cozy sweater, and my favorite jeans and boots, grab a cup of coffee and go on a walk in a bit. And as I walk, I'm going to take time to look around me and to thank God for all of the goodness I see, and for all of the goodness He has poured into my life. And then when I feel the joy flooding back in, I'll come home, crank up "All About that Bass" and tackle the to-do list. Back off, Monday – you can't get me down!
So here's my challenge for you: If you're feeling overwhelmed with whatever obstacles you are facing today or this week, I want you to write everything that's weighing you down in a big, long list. Then grab a coffee (or a tea, or some warm drink you love!) and take a walk – even 10 minutes. Breathe deeply and start listing the things you're thankful for: health, for your loved ones, for your home, for anything and everything that you've been given. Heck, I even thank God for the obstacles I'm facing! But take this time to choose joy. And then come back, crank up some music that you love and tackle that list. Let me know how it goes...I think you'll find that your Monday will improve by leaps and bounds!
P.S. If you notice the blog is extra-fast today, that's thanks to my amazing husband Brandon! He spent all day yesterday switching the blog to a new server, and tweaking it to make sure it runs super-smoothly and super-fast. I just had to give him a shout-out for his incredibly hard work. :)
(Photos by Nate Poekert)