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How My Life Changed When I Started Writing My Book

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I’ve been quiet online for the past 15 months. Very quiet. Not because I don’t have anything to talk about (I have more to say than ever). It’s because I’ve been reserving my energy for a very special incubation period behind closed doors. An internal journey to heaven and hell and everything in between. I’ve been writing a book.

I’m one of those people that used to say, “I’ll write a book… one day.” As a young 20-something, I thought I had all the time in the world to write my book. Surely the time wasn’t now; I needed to grow my career, support myself in the country’s most expensive city and invest in my new marriage. I needed to build a blog audience and take more writing classes and put in my 10,000 hours before I could call myself an author (or an aspiring one).

That all changed one day in August 2014 when a family member invited me to lunch to “talk about an opportunity.” The last thing I expected was for her to confront me about turning my blog into a book, and offering mentorship to get me started.

“Write a book? Now?” I almost spit up my iced tea.

“Yes, now,” she smiled from across the table. “You’re ready.”

“I don’t even know where I would start.”

“I’ll help you. Baby steps.”

And so I’ve been on this journey, one baby step at a time. I’m proud to announce that the entire book is WRITTEN and I am 80% through editing the second draft. This baby is REAL and it is HAPPENING. It’s been a wild ride of newfound energy, heart opening, self-doubt, fun, frustration, boredom and ecstasy (more on this later). In a nutshell, my life has completely changed since I committed myself to writing this book. Here’s how.

It feels like I’m coming alive again.

I never knew how much energy I’d been missing until it rushed back to me. Where I had once felt overworked and lethargic, I began feeling huge bursts of energy during my writing sessions. It’s like my body was screaming YES PLEASE, MORE PLEASE! YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT! This energy was accompanied by a sense of contentment and well being that burned right through my heart. It’s like I was falling back in step with my authentic rhythm, or like my soul was coming into healthy alignment with my actions. There were other good feelings, too:

  • Feeling less scattered and anxious about the future
  • Looking forward to doing something meaningful (instead of wondering what I’m supposed to be doing)
  • More wholehearted focus toward one clear goal
  • More excitement about what’s coming next
  • More sense of “flow” and getting lost in the moment
  • Deeper connection with my true self

I’m bolder in how I show up in the world.

For a couple years I’d been criticizing myself for not being more confident and self assured. I chalked it up to be a personal problem that needed years of therapy or medication or The Secret to fix. Turns out, all I needed to do was start honoring my true voice. As soon as I started incubating my little soul endeavor in private, I noticed that my outward life changed too. I’m not saying I’ve magically transformed into an extrovert or a Tony Robbins, but I’ve definitely found more empowerment and boldness to be myself. Some things I’ve noticed:

  • More trust in myself and more fire to speak up
  • Less pressure to find “big success” in other parts of my life
  • Motivation to take care of the temple: waking up early, eating better, exercising more, drinking less
  • More to offer to the people in my life

Once I step away from my morning writing session, the most important thing to me is already done, so what happens out in the world doesn’t matter so much. And that frees me up to receive more happiness and spontaneity in other parts of my life. It’s like a secret weapon that’s always with me — my sword of truth.

It seems the universe is meeting me halfway.

Passion is sticky. The more I talk about my excitement for this book, the more positive vibes come my way. At first, I worried that investing so much time in my book would suck energy from other parts of my life (especially my business). Turns out that in the year I did the least marketing and intentional outreach, I made the most money. I got my highest paying writing job this year. New clients fell in my lap, some of them from across the world. I received a raving review that kept me smiling for days. My dinner conversations with friends became more vibrant and genuine. Why? Because I have been feeling more alive and showing up more boldly in the world! And it seems that when I take a tiny step in the direction of my dreams, the universe meets me halfway.

What will happen with my book? Will a major publishing house pick it up, will people read it, will anyone like it? It doesn’t matter. I’ve already gotten back tenfold what I put into it. Every morning that I sit down to spend my hour with the book, I’m showing up for myself. I’m investing in my heart and my creative voice. I’m beating resistance and listening to that silent, steady drive inside of me: WRITE. And it feels damn good.

Spring Special: 8 Week Coaching for Creatives

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And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -Anaïs Nin

It’s the first day of spring: time for new growth.

Everything comes to life this time of year: wildflowers, baby animals, bright new ideas. Do you have a seedling dream that wants to stretch toward the sun, reach deep into rich soil and bloom something magical? If you have a tight little flower bud within that’s ready to open, I have something to help.

Is your big dream ripe for the taking?

My new TRUE NORTH program is designed for creatives and entrepreneurs who want to SAY, CREATE or INVENT something big and share it with the world. In honor of longer days and warmer skies, I’m adding a little sweetener to help you switch gears from “thinking about” to “taking action” toward your big important soul dream. From dormant to flowering, in other words.

You will get:

Everything in the TRUE NORTH program, including:

  • 8 week curriculum to reach a major milestone in your creative or business dream
  • 6 weekly strategy sessions for customized planning, tools and solutions
  • 2016 Vision Guide
  • Step-by-Step Roadmap
  • Unlimited personalized text message support between sessions

Regular program tuition = $1,495

You pay: $1,295

That’s right, I’m offering all the potent clarifying and kickstarting power of TRUE NORTH at a $200 discount. That’s enough savings to buy a plane ticket, iPhone or warm weather wardrobe. Or you can keep those two crispy bills in the piggy bank and invest them in your bursting-at-the-seams creative or business vision (coming soon).  

Just 3 spots open – get yours by March 31!

The Spring Special has limited availability on a first-come-first-serve basis. Sign up by March 31 to take advantage of this targeted curriculum and hands-on guidance to support your creative or entrepreneurial venture for 2016.

Spring is a special time of year. Let the season’s momentum draw you one baby step outside your comfort zone this month. There’s warm sunshine waiting, I promise.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free 15-minute consultation.

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me: My Quiet & Persistent Dream

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Happy birthday to me! 30th birthday, that is. As a gift to myself, I’m doing something I should have done a long time ago: launching this service.

I’ve heard that one’s 30s are the decade of not giving a $#*&. I’ve also heard that it’s the time to start being yourself. So what better time to share something that’s been on my heart since 2012? I kept this dream secret for four years because it didn’t fit my business plan. It was less flashy, more risky, less profiting and more vulnerable than the boutique marketing agency I had in mind. But the longer I ignored my inkling of a dream, the more pronounced the signs became that something was wrong. Client deals gone awry; mysterious physical ailments; general malaise. I dipped a toe in my secret dream, incorporating pieces of it into work I was already doing. You see, I recognized that most people coming to me for “marketing” really needed something deeper. I just didn’t trust myself enough to say it.

In fact, I spent years putting trust in the wrong place: fear. I believed everything from the voice in my head (your audience can’t afford it, you’re the blind leading the blind, who do you think you are to have fun AND make money, the list goes on). The thoughts were too painful to look in the eye so I shoved my dream deeper into the closet, hoping the dark would snuff it out.

The dream found its way into my life anyway. It snuck under the door, seeped into my subconscious and found dramatic ways to get my attention. I was finally so miserable in my career that I blew it all up, took a year to slow down, practice yoga, do a weeklong silent retreat, and hire my first business coach.

I’ve been working with Zoe Wild over the past six months to clarify my own vision, what’s in the way and how to show up in the world as my authentic self. The changes have been tangible:

  • I went from talking about writing a book for one year to writing the first draft in 30 days
  • I found clarity in my ever-elusive “life purpose” and business vision
  • My mysterious stomach problems went away
  • There are also reports that I look “alive” and “happy” and that my “whole energy has changed.” You decide.

So here we are, my 30th birthday, my quiet and persistent dream. I did a super secret soft launch before the holidays and got great feedback to cater this program to the needs of real people. You may have seen my New Years Special that gave me the chance to work with three amazing creative, smart women to plan their best year yet. In the process, I’ve been through the whole roller coaster of inflated ego and crippling self-doubt and wanting to hide under a rock. Getting on the ground to DO THE WORK gave me an incredible gift: it confirmed that none of this is about me. It’s about the dreams of the people I want to help. Talented, intelligent, creative, industrious people that have so much to offer our world. And I believe every one of those dreams matters.

Here it is: the fruits of my labor. Check out the new service list below and pay special attention to True North Coaching for Creatives.  

 

Kirsten Shaw Service List

Thank you to the mentors, coaches, friends and family that have supported me along the way.

P.S. First book coming soon.

 

 

Your 2016 Vision Guide & Action Plan to Start the Year Right

True-North

Which dreams have you been putting on hold?

Every January it’s the same thing: big time goals, exciting plans and gung-ho resolutions. Sometime around mid-February, these dreams blow up in a flurry of overwhelm and disillusion. Or they slowly fade into the background, lying dormant until the cycle begins all over on December 31st. Either way, your message remains untold and your art remains unmade. Your business remains nothing more than a collection of sticky notes. Until now.

Does this sound like you?

  • You want to take your career, creativity and community to the next level in 2016
  • You’ve secretly been wanting to SAY or MAKE something big
  • Meanwhile 1,000 other things compete for your time and attention
  • You have trouble starting, staying focused or following through
  • You tell yourself you WILL honor your creative or entrepreneurial dreams - one day

Make the one resolution that counts this year.

If there’s an unlived life gnawing at your toes and tapping at your chest, it’s time to let that bugger speak. The TRUE NORTH 2016 New Years Special gives you:

  • STRATEGY SESSION: 60 minute one-on-one consultation with yours truly
  • 2016 VISION: Your beautifully clear career, creative and personal goals distilled into one page
  • STEP-BY-STEP ROADMAP: Simple action plan to achieve these goals in the next 12 months

This package gets you 5 focused hours of my magical clarifying process and practical tools for taking action. First, we will spend 90 minutes intimately focused on clarifying, expanding and manifesting your dream. Then I’ll help you create a step-by-step strategy to overcome blocks and move toward your vision come hell or high water. You will be left with clear direction, focus and structure for making the most of 2016.

Get the early bird special before January 15th.

Imagine yourself a year from now looking back on 2016. What will have mattered most? My dream is for you to feel pride and accomplishment that you finally took a stand for your calling and moved in the direction of true north.

Let’s do it together. This is a $495 package and I’m offering it for just $325 through January 15th. Contact me today to secure your spot.

 

A Weekend with Thoreau

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All month I’ve been craving sun - sun to soothe me, sun to bathe me, sun to heal me. But it turns out sun isn’t the only thing that heals. Silence does, too.

The silence is what struck me most about our three nights in Point Arena, hidden in a redwood grove on a private property a few miles inland of the Mendocino coastline. The airbnb rental was aptly dubbed the “Thoreau Cabin” with the headline “Write Your Book.” Sold.

1 cabin entrance

Floor to ceiling was covered in volumes and volumes of journals, giant clipped manuscripts, old classics and short story collections. The husband and wife who owned this cabin were readers. And writers. Which came first? It was hard to tell because for as many books as they had stored away, dog-eared and well-worn, the woman had an equal number of her own published works next to tattered leather-bound journals. Journals containing scrawled notes, pasted quotes, clipped photos.

The journals were movie-like in their nostalgic quality. Like a room of treasure maps that some kids had come upon in an adventure tale, wiping dust from decorative covers to seek some secret of the past. Some clue. Her documents were romantic, they were raw, they were inspiring. They reminded me of the journals I kept when I was younger: a mix of sketches and collages and letters and memories. Back before smartphones and Evernote and Siri - back when everything was preserved in books, or lost forever.

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Today my compulsion to document with pen and paper has been watered down by Instagram and Facebook and texting. Why take the time to keep a leather journal, textured with all the words and images of your life, when I can instantly upload it online and wait for the ‘likes’ to roll in? The art of hand journaling has been lost. The art of handwritten letters and scrap booking is a thing of the past.

There was something powerful about the presence of all those books and all those journals. So much wisdom and knowledge, so many stories and recollections. Sitting in that quiet cabin, with only trees and books as my witness, I felt a deep love of words arising in me. Looking around those shelves I felt in the company of friends. Even completely alone, miles from another living soul (besides my husband sleeping in the lofted bed, and perhaps our blue jay friend outside). The room was silent and it was full at once of the voices of so many talented, interesting, opinionated, fascinating, and genius minds.

2 cabin in woods

I thought of my grandmother and something she had said last time I saw her.

“I can’t tell this to most people, but I just want to sit inside and read all day long.” She was on her knees digging through the bottom of her bookshelf for a title to loan me. “I know I’m supposed to be more active but I’m perfectly content curling up with a book.”

“Me too,” I said. “I’ve been giving myself more time to read lately. For awhile I felt guilty spending hours with a book, but now I’m calling it research. I’m remembering that reading can add a lot to my work.”

“Not just to your work!” she looked up. “Reading adds to your whole life.”

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In the quiet of our cabin after dark, my husband started complaining of boredom but I felt myself coming alive. I luxuriated in the absence of TV and wifi. I was inspired by the void. Lack of noise, lack of distraction, lack of stimulation. The absence of external distractions gave room for my own thoughts to come to the forefront. My own creativity, imagination and curiosity became the stimulation. It felt sacred, it felt true.

I had no idea how much I missed the silence until I had it. At home, I’m tired at the end of the day and easily resigned to watching TV or a movie. It’s easy to check email and get sucked into Instagram. It’s easier to give in to media - the colors and the images and the sounds. They are designed to draw you in and make you forget. Make you forget that within you, there are stories to be told. Curiosities to be fed. Media of your own to create. Imaginations to be explored.

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What’s not easy is to separate yourself from the TV room, to separate yourself from the noise. To remove yourself from the current of technology and sit with the spinning head on your shoulders. Wait for it to settle down, like a dreidel, and then report what you find. It takes incredible dedication to find alone and quiet in the grind of daily life, especially when it’s a city life.

So what did I take away from my weekend in the Thoreau Cabin? Silence. Inspiration. Books. Pen and paper. I want to reawaken my love of journals that are part sketchbook, part scrapbook and part memoir. I want to revive my love affair with books. Books for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I want to remember the beauty of silence. The peaceful void that calms everything else in my life; that smooths out the kinks, that holds the uncertainties. The silence that heals.

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Photos courtesty of Dana Shaw.