“Melanie, you’re empty. Admit it,” my friend, Jaime said to me on the phone in mid-November.
I sighed. Hot tears welled up behind my eyes. “I hate being empty. That sounds so terrible.” But after the Autumn I had of huge chunks of my life being unceremoniously swept out the door whether I liked it or not, I really was empty. I knew it, and now I was being called on it.
And after busting my ass for an entire year carrying out a business plan that included leading nine, three-day live events and dozens of workshops all over the Bay area and was really more appropriate for a whole team (rather than just lil’ ol’ me and my part-time trade assistant), not only was I empty, I was exhausted.
And because so much of the plan I carried out felt out of alignment with my integrity but I did it anyway because I was trying to follow all the business advice that was given to me (and for which I paid a LOT of money), all the while watching several friends dive into a pits of debt and unfulfilled promises from their corners of the coaching industry, we might as well add bitter, disillusioned, and resentful to the list of what I was feeling.
Needless to say, this was not the best place from which to envision my next, brilliant step, or to create something show-stoppingly inspirational. The only thing this state of being was the best place for was watching Netflix all day while eating more carbs in one week than I had allowed myself all year, and feeling like a worthless piece of shit who was just dragging everybody in my life down. (Been there?)
Or as Jaime more eloquently put it on the phone that day, “You can’t create from empty. You need to let yourself fill up first, then create your next move when you’re naturally ready to spill out.”
And just then, I realized something:
Lack of action is not the same thing as rest.
Spinning my mental wheels about my business doesn’t constitute as a “break” just because I’m not actually carrying anything out. Mental self-flagellation doesn’t count as “rest” just because I do it in a bathrobe (at 2pm).
So on November 11th, 2015, Jaime challenged me to a game. “30 days of non-production, rest, and receiving.” I was to close the door to my office and not enter it for 30 days. No creating new products, no blogging, no scheduling or leading workshops, no trying to figure out how the business was going to make money, no work.
The first difficult task was even accepting this support from her. Why would someone want to help me like this? The game is now over, Jaime held up her end by joyfully and consistently checking in with me each day and holding space for whatever came up, and I still don’t totally understand what motivated this act of generosity. But I’m grateful for it.
The second difficult task was receiving from my husband. Throughout this past year, every time I lost my mind after a piece of the-very-expensive-business-plan-that-was-supposed-to-work-but-didn’t fell apart and I would rant and rave about wanting to “quit forever,” he would gently say, “Baby, I’m good. I have a steady paycheck.” And every time, I ignored him.
Short but relevant tangent: I have always made more money than my partners. Always. I liked this because it helped me feel powerful and like I didn’t need to rely on any man to “take care of me.” (Ick.) When I met Omar, I also made more money than him. Perfect. But then as strategies that once worked in my business stopped working, things shifted and now he made more. I found this highly uncomfortable.
For this game to work, it required swallowing my pride and asking, “Soooo, when you say ‘Baby I’m good,’ what do you mean by that, exactly?”
“I mean that I think you’re brilliant and have no doubt that you’ll come up with something amazing as your next step, and if you need some space to figure out what that is without worrying about money for a little while, I can cover us.”
I squirmed in my seat.
“We’re married now. That’s normal,” he said. (People keep telling me this. Apparently some married couples even share a bank account. WTF??)
Of course there was a secret desire to take him up on this, I’d be crazy not to, right? But there was also guilt. Part of me felt like if not every struggling female entrepreneur had the same option to have someone else “cover her” for a little while then I shouldn’t have it either.
This is the part of the story where I realize that I had been equating feminism with struggle my whole life. Oops.
Fast forward to the end of the 30-day game. (Yes, I fucking DID it, bitches.) This is the email I wrote to Jaime:Hi Jaime,
Ok I want to check in and share all that’s been coming up for me after this challenge. I am so glad I took this time - all of it, rather than cutting it short - to let myself rest and receive. I had no idea just how atrophied my receiving muscles were and how challenging this would be! Actually, they're more like weak, not atrophied, because I don't think I ever strengthened them before now. This is my first trip to the receiving gym! Haha!
Every day during this challenge I have heard the same voice, "You're not contributing to this household. You're a burden on Omar. You're dragging this marriage down. You're a fraud because your business is no longer making good money. You're lazy because you're just lying around, not doing anything to remedy it. Blah blah blah."
Over and over and over. The same tape, every day, several times every hour. In the beginning I spent a lot of energy either fighting against it ("No I'm not! I'm totally worthy and he loves me and I will get back on my feet in business soon!"), or dejectedly hanging my head and believing it ("You're right. I suck. I should just give up and hide away and not burden anyone else with my presence.")
But now it's like, I've been hearing it so much, so often, that I kind of tune it out. I mean, I still hear it, but it's like white noise. I don't really care to fight against it, but I don't believe it either. I'm pretty much just like, "Yeah ok, I hear you," and then I go ahead and do whatever I was doing anyway.
This feels like a huge deal!
And now I'm reaping the benefits, because my Wild Woman Summit is this weekend and I've never been this relaxed about it. All three times I ran a Summit last year, the entire month leading up to it, and especially the final week, was fraught with anxiety, dread, piles of work, and fear. This time, because I have been forcing myself to stay out of my office, off of my computer, and out of my over-thinking mind, I haven't done a damn thing to prepare.
And that's just fine.
I have no attachment to making money at this Summit. Not even a single dollar. I just want to show up, be present with the women, and see what comes through.
All if this is coupled with the recent shift in thinking that I mentioned came to me at my friends’ New Year's Day potluck. We were setting intentions and I realized, for the first time since starting this business three years ago, I don't have a desire to set a financial goal for the year. I just don't feel motivated by money right now. I'm absolutely open to it and would love more to come in, but not if it means way over-extending myself or plodding along fulfilling a business plan that doesn't really inspire me anymore.
I'm way more motivated by simply sharing my message. By writing for the sheer joy I get from it. By showing up authentically and sharing what is true for me in each moment, and seeing that inspire other women to do the same. If they pay me money for this inspiration, great. If not, no problem. Money can come from lots of places.
So, if I'm not motivated by money or even really trying to make a profit, it doesn't even feel like I'm running a business. It feels like I'm sharing my voice, and perhaps starting a movement. This feels REALLY light and spacious!
So once again, thank you for encouraging me to do this challenge. It might just be the most important thing I've done (or not done, really) for myself and my business. Ever.
With love and gratitude,
1. The Wild Woman Summit was the most fun, relaxing one I’ve led yet, and also the last. I came home feeling filled up and inspired, like I had been on retreat as well. And I got two, new, awesome clients that I can’t wait to work with!
2. I’m feeling so lit up by my new shift in thinking of Professional Wild Woman as a movement rather than a business. I created a Professional Wild Woman Tribe Facebook page just this Monday, with all the women who have ever worked with me in any capacity, or even just expressed interest in this wild woman work. In its first day, it FILLED with interaction, enthusiasm, support, inspiration, and connection. And no money is being exchanged whatsoever, and no programs are being promoted, and no one is trying to get anything from anyone other than love and heartfelt connection. My heart is bursting!!!
3. If you, my dedicated blog reader, want in on this Facebook Tribe, just click here to join. Let the movement of awake, alive, radiant women living from their wildness begin!
What type of wild woman are you?
Hello! I'm Melanie Munir, founder of Professional Wild Woman - a women's empowerment business dedicated to helping women who are tired of feeling either "too much" or "not enough" to connect to their inner wildness so they can create work that allows them the fullest expression of their unique voice. Welcome!