When I was eight, I wrote a book called Monkey and Me about the adventures I had with my (imaginary) pet monkey. I remember illustrating the chapter pages with these little drawings, and I can still see the one of a tiny jump rope with bright yellow handles. Monkey and I–sorry, Monkey and me–were jumping rope in that chapter. That’s it. 

I don’t recall there being any intrigue or, really, a plot beyond the rope jumping. But hey, we all have to start somewhere, right?

Fast forward to landing my first book deal, which was pinch-me-is-this-actually-real levels of excitement. It felt like, finally, I’ve made it. This is it! I’m a real-deal author now.

I’d assumed that publishing a book = working full-time as a writer. Cue early morning writing sessions in my comfy study-slash-library (the study materializes with the book deal, right?), followed by an inspiring walk around my beautiful, wooded property (also included, maybe?), before finishing the day with a few more hours of feel-good productive writing.

For some people I think that actually is true, which is super cool!

But what I’ve learned in the intervening years, both from my own experience, and from hearing other writers’ stories (like NYT best-selling authors who’ve had to return to day jobs), is that reality often dances to a different tune.

I say this to highlight something I think many of us can relate to:

And that’s those external metrics we’ve invested with the power to signal, yep, this is it–things are totally different now. I’m different now.

Once I get that promotion, find my soulmate, buy the house, [insert goal here], then I’ll be the person I want to be, and maybe even more important to our unconscious drives: and other people will see me as that person.

Then it’ll be real.

Then I’ll be allowed to feel the way I want to feel. To act the way I want to act. To say no without feeling guilty, to be vulnerable without feeling shame.

I’ll be free. I’ll be…me.

The thing is, we’re already ourselves (who else would we be?), and in each moment, we have as much permission to feel free as we’re willing to grant ourselves.

Those external shifts can’t flip that internal switch for us.

They can inspire us to do it, sure, but at the end of the day, it’s just us, standing there in front of the switch. Palms sweaty, heart thudding, choosing freedom over fear. No one and no-thing else can do it for us.

And it’s not that getting a book deal was nothing. It did allow me to write more and actually get paid for it, but as far as covering-all-my-bills money goes, I still have a day job (which, thankfully, I freakin’ love).

For me, it seems the last year has been a near-daily exploration in spotting where I’ve handed a bunch of my power over to false beliefs, like some knight in shining armor that will someday, fingers crossed, save me.

But when I think of the knights of the tarot deck, those archetypes don’t represent people or external forces that will swoop in and fix my shit. They represent the capacity in my own psyche to gather up my scattered energy, galvanize it, and decide where I want to direct my precious time and effort, and–bam!–now I’m off to the races, getting out there and actually doing the thing.

Ceccoli Tarot

I’m not watching the knight from the stands, waving a flower from the risk-free comfort of my seat. I’m feeling the wind in my hair, smelling the clods of earth kicked up by the horse’s hooves, the leather reins shifting in my grip as I learn how tightly to hold on so I don’t fall off.

Of course no one else can do that for me. How could they? Even in the face of the most inspiring, motivational influence, I–and you–we still have to take that external impetus and allow it in, and then we have to do something with it.

And that brings me to what I’ve decided to do.

That switch that toggles between freedom and fear? Well, in recent months, I’ve spotted some of the barriers I’ve erected against allowing my writing to support me financially. There I was, with my hand on the switch, set firmly to fear, wondering why life was “doing this to me.”

Something I’ve wanted to do for years–create a paid newsletter–somehow got shoved to the bottom of my to-do list, again and again and again, even though I love writing these emails. And I mean love it. It’s so fun! They’re the perfect format for me to share not-quite-book-length but more-than-an-Insta-caption topics.

They allow me to connect with people like you, dear reader, whom I might not have the pleasure of interacting with otherwise.

But until now, I’ve been firmly (and unconsciously) preventing them from supporting me financially.

Which is funny because, consciously, I’ve been very intent on figuring out ways to increase my writer’s income. Here, all this time, I had a perfectly good option…and I was refusing to do it out of fear.

Some of the “reasons” fear threw up for why I “can’t” move forward (this is just a partial list, btw):

Fear: I’ll screw it up. I’ll promise something but won’t be able to deliver, and then everyone will hate me. (And like, somehow random people on the street who don’t even know about the newsletter will just intuit I suck and start hating me, too.)

Freedom: I’ve created emails consistently, every New and Full Moon, for who knows how long, and I love doing it. Why would getting paid suddenly make that undoable? (Also, guess what? If I change my mind at some point and need to cancel everyone’s subscriptions, that’s allowed, too. No one’s gonna die.)

Fear: I have to have every single detail figured out for the entire lifespan of the newsletter before I can even think about starting.

Freedom: I can figure out what’s required to set up subscriptions (and actually, I already know how to do that, so ha–there goes that excuse), and if I need to learn additional things later…uh, wait for it…I will.

Fear: What if no one signs up???

Freedom: Then no one signs up. Seriously, that’s it. And then we’ll check in and see how we want to proceed, whether we want to give it more time or not. Either way, see above: no one’s gonna die.

Hang on, here’s the best one:

Fear: I really enjoy writing these emails, so I can’t also get paid for them.

Freedom: Um…sorry, what? (0_0)

So, there we have it. Fear doesn’t know what it’s talking about, and Freedom seems way more fun to hang out with.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more about my premium newsletter, aka The Portal, including deets on the first month’s topic (it’s a good one!) and how you can sign up.

I’ll see you soon.

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