Business: Networking and Social Media

There are things you are “supposed” to do to promote a business like the one I’m trying to get started here.

Part of that is to “be authentic” (pretty sure I’ve got that down – you guys see the good and the bad!).

And you’ve got to be “present” in social media on a regular basis – I’m probably a little too real there, but not really . . . pushy enough on the selling.

Having “mastermind” and/or support groups with others walking a similar path is supposed to help (when we’re not all comparing ourselves to each other!)

But there’s a problem with that sometimes.

First, I’m part of a couple of great smaller groups – my little masterminds (3 people each!) I love! One has been somewhat dormant, but when we do post stuff there, or talk, it’s good. In the beginning we had a couple of telephone conversations/meetings that really spurred us to get some stuff done.

But the somewhat larger groups. . . .

There’s supposed to be talking about what we’re doing in our businesses, yes, but asking for help, giving help and inspiration, TALKING to each other. . . .

And after a fairly short period of time, two that started out really, really well turned into advertisements for trying to sell to each other. In particular, two or three people that offer great services started spamming several groups at once.

It totally ruined the atmosphere.

So many of us stopped posting because of it.

Recently, a couple of people, including me, have tried to revive the groups in the spirit of which they were intended. And it’s failing.  I know one left in a huff because she felt she was being chastised. Others are just not even looking. Something I posted earlier today only had 3 views out of 79 people who are members.

I posted this in the group that I thought would get the most feedback. Three of these groups are somewhat nested in each other. Group 1 has 700 member, subgroup 2 has 79, subgroup 3 has 51. Everyone in subgroups 2 and 3 are in group 1 and some overlap between 2 & 3. So, I don’t want to post the same thing in all three places – that’s spammy and self-serving, even if I’m not selling anything.

And then there’s Group 4, which is totally separate, but still has a couple dozen overlapping people – so, again, I don’t want to keep posting it in different places.

But I thought more than 3 people would see it where I posted.

And they probably will, eventually. I’m probably overreacting – I do that sometimes, but I’m not the only one that thinks this happens.

Recently, another leader in the spiritual/self-help business community started another of these groups with the stated intention that it be for “authentically” connecting – which is GREAT. But there’s already over 400 people.

I’m afraid that this will start out gangbusters, and then it will die – again.

Maybe not – this woman has a large following and does good stuff, and it appears she wants to moderate the group. If there continues to be moderation, it might be good.

I think that’s the problem with the other groups – not enough moderation.

But why do we do that? We’re supposed to be supporting each other. To SOME extent that means talking about our services, but it should be so much more than that. Talking about:

  • How to find our target audience?
  • Sales techniques that don’t feel spammy, or too salesy?
  • What to do when X isn’t working?
  • Do we need support to get something going? Encouragement not to give up?
  • Help with pricing?
  • Feedback on our offerings? 
  • Testing our offerings out with each other?
Why did it turn into trying to sell to each other?
Where did the support go?
Today, during a nap, I had a dream that I really felt was about trying to build this business.
Last week, I was offered an opportunity that might end up helping me grow rapidly.
Taking advantage of the opportunity is a great risk, and I was really wishy-washy about it.
But earlier this year, saying, “Yes,” to a few things got me some well-timed help and information.
While I’m not making nearly enough money to live on, I have made moves to actually DO stuff, which I had not done in several years previous. 
This help and info got me moving – taking action – which is something I had been scared to do.
So, I spent several days consciously thinking about this opportunity.
And yesterday, I spent a great deal of time in meditation, unsure if I was making the right decision.
I still did not really reach a strong decision. 
But today, I took a nap, and I had this dream.  . . . and this is what I posted to this support group:
photo by cosmic dustbunny
As part of the dream, I was going to go skinny-dipping in this beautiful lake. As I got close to the shore, the  edge of the lake wasn’t nearly as nice as it looked from a distance, but that wasn’t going to stop me. 

I got undressed and started to go into the water. I expected it to be cool, but it was colder than I expected. Still not going to stop me, though. 

I start wading out. The rocks under the shallow water go from being smooth to pointy, cutting into my feet, and the water still isn’t deep enough to actually swim. But I keep going.

The water is about knee deep when I come to a drop off, where the lake suddenly gets a lot deeper. Suddenly, the water isn’t clear any more – it’s dark, almost black. Something moves under the water, and I can’t see what it was.

Now, I am suddenly fearful. If the water is this cold in the shallows, it MUST be even colder in the deep part. And I can’t see what’s in the water. What if there are dangerous animals? I really WANT to go swimming but I’m so scared, I freeze and just stand there for a minute, and then turn back. I’m mad at myself for turning back, but tell myself I will go get someone to come in with me, it wouldn’t be so scary then.

The dream morphed into something else then, in the way of dreams, but damn, if that and the disappointment I felt when waking up isn’t a CLEAR message to keep going, I don’t know what would be.

So, it’s scary, I don’t know where it leads, what’s under the water or where to go next, but damn if I don’t need to jump in and see.




So, I think I need to take the opportunity – if it’s still on the table.

Is it really your intuition guiding you? Maybe it’s fear

What if that voice that’s whispering to you isn’t your inner wisdom but your inner fear, a Dragon, a Monster?

This happened to me last week.

See, despite all the problems and failures I’ve had, people think of me as “strong”. And I have to admit that I like that people think that about me.

I think of me as “strong”, even though I know my weaknesses.

This is hard because I want to talk about something without giving too many details, but I’m going to try.

Something was happening last week that felt like an old pattern, something I did not want to deal with.

I started to feel/hear “Walk away, walk away, WALK AWAY!!”

I was already starting to mourn the ending, even though I hadn’t walked away yet. Gathering the strength to do so was in itself a grieving process.

I was certain that my “inner wisdom” or intuition or whatever was telling me this was doomed to be a failure. I mean absolutely, positively certain. I was journaling about it, I was working myself up into an emotional cyclone over it. I was unable to concentrate long enough to do paid-for readings (which is unprofessional as hell).

And then something popped up in my inbox that made me shift gears.

First of all, I’m in complete inbox overwhelm lately. During the telesummit a few months ago, I had signed up for dozens of email lists and haven’t had the energy to trim them down yet. Most days I don’t read any of the emails I get, or I just glance through. Some days one or two jump out at me and say, “Read/watch/listen”, whichever is appropriate.

And one day, Christine Arylo’s Love Letter jumped out at me. I don’t know why. I hadn’t looked at her stuff in months (if you don’t know Christine, she’s built her business and reputation around self-love. She’s a bit quirky and funny. Check her out at Madly In Love With Me!)

Something in there reminded me of one of The Four Agreements – Don’t Assume. [As an aside, remind me to tell you guys about working with Don Miguel Ruiz before he became famous.]

Assuming goes two ways. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feeling and assuming that they know what you are thinking and feeling.

And that’s what I had been doing. I had been taking something personally that really didn’t have anything to do with me.

I was also expecting someone else to know – at a distance! – how I was feeling and pursue me to force me to tell him/her how I was feeling.

And that is not fair in so many ways.

The Voice, the one now SCREAMING, “Walk Away, WALK AWAY, WALK AWAY!” was doing all that assuming.

So, I watched Christine’s video again and sat down to compose an email.

I didn’t even know what to say or how to express what I was feeling.

But I did the best I could with it.

It was cathartic; I even cried while writing it.

I felt immensely better for writing and sending it.

I didn’t get an immediate response. I didn’t expect an immediate response.

But the longer I waited for a response, the more the Voice started up again. “See, told ya so!” it was now saying.

I was feeling panicked.

What if. . . .

What if I opened up to the wrong person at the wrong time?

What if I made myself vulnerable and received nothing in return?

Why wasn’t I listening to my intuition?

Could I handle being hurt again?

But, in my best times, I have been able to say, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Push through the fear, do what you’re scared of. Yes, there’s potential for it to go wrong, to be hurt, to fail, but how do you know if you don’t try?

And then . . .  I got a response.

It was appropriate, kind, thoughtful, and genuine.

The fear bubble burst.

The Voice was gone.

That Voice was the voice of fear, NOT my intuition.

But how do you tell the difference? The Voice of fear was so strong – so much stronger than the gentle pull in the opposite direction.

Christine’s video resonated so strongly with me at exactly the right moment – that was intuition guiding me to what I needed to hear.

That voice, that guide is so quiet and gentle most of the time, it’s hard to recognize it at times.

Photo from Unprofound.com

Before you act on something, especially if it’s a negative something, or makes you panicked, stop for a moment. Breathe. Ask, “Does this act serve my highest good? Will this help me feel more fulfilled/loved/helpful/relieved or will this just hurt?”

Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life, toxic people, people who only hurt you even if it’s under the guise of helping you. Be clear about why you are doing that if you do. Make sure that it’s not based on a million what-ifs (assumptions) that haven’t even happened yet.

Be kind to yourself – ask for what you need. After all, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t move out of your comfort zone.

As I was in the middle of writing this, my new friend and Wild Sister Marylin over at Soft Thistle posted about asking for help and being vulnerable. 🙂 Same wavelength, lady!

Fear of moving forward

Here I am, once again, feeling stuck.

Last night was the last class of my student-teaching seminar.

I turned in all my assignments. The last one isn’t graded yet, but I’ve got an A right now. If I totally screwed it up, I suppose it could drop to a B, but that’s unlikely.

I still have to finish two Teaching Performance Assessments (TPA), a CPR class and pay $70 to the state for processing fees.

That’s it.

Problem is, I’ve had the material to finish up the TPAs for a year and a half. There are four of them, and two had to be done before student teaching and the other two were supposed to happen during student teaching.

I have the materials.

But the things are stupid and long and repetitive.

I can’t work on it for long without wanting to throw my computer across the room.

Of course, that’s not really the limiting factor.

I’ve done lots of stupid, long, and repetitive things in my life; who hasn’t?

File:The Scream.jpg
The Scream – Edvard Munch
(Yes, I feel like this: complete existential angst)

The limiting factor is fear.

The closer I get, the more scared I am.

I still haven’t gotten the letters of recommendation and/or introduction from my mentor teachers.

Why?

Because I’m embarrassed I haven’t asked for them yet. I should have done so in January 2012.

I’ve been told that because I’m finishing up the requirements and it will only be a matter of weeks until I get the credential, I can start applying for jobs.

Except I really can’t without the letters of recommendation.

Sooo, I have to get them. I’ve planned to do so several times in the last few months. But I’ve never actually done it.

I know that I will feel a lot better once I do.

But still, I stall.

I’m terrified of interviewing for a teaching job.

I know it’s because it’s new, and because I’m not completely certain this is something I can do.

I keep realizing that other people at my stage know so much more about the hiring process, about résumés for education, about what they are supposed to do. I never invited the principal to watch me when I was student-teaching. I didn’t know I was supposed to. Others knew they were supposed to. How?

And I’m in a position now where I have to get a job, NOW. It doesn’t matter what it is – I just need to be able to bring in at least $1000/mo through August to be able to pay the bills. And I keep putting it off.

I’m scared into immobility; gone “tharn”.

I have been here before – this is one of the ways I create a crisis, over and over again.

I’m aware of that.

And I still do it.

This is annoying as well as scary.

And I know how much better it will be once it’s all done and over with.

After all, I agonized about graduating from my university so much I forgot to put in my application, and never walked in the ceremony.

Isn’t this exactly the same thing?

It’s just a little bit more work. Just a bit.

And then something I’ve been working towards for almost 11 years now will be done.

Don’t I deserve that?

There’s also a thing where once I’ve got the credential, I’ll get two months of job search assistance from the V.A. Voc Rehab people, including $725/mo for those two months, money I could really use.

Actions for the next week:

1. Finalize and turn in TPA 3.
2. Find $$ for the CPR class and preliminary teaching credential application. This money will be refunded by the VA, but I need to come up with it first.
3. After my tire is replaced, get my butt to the school I did my student teaching in to get the letters of recommendation.
4. Apply for . . .how many? Minimum of 2? temp agency and/or tutoring center jobs.

Must.Take.Action.NOW.

(Please sign up for my newsletter. As I start expanding my offerings, I will offer freebies and discounts through the newsletter!)

Fear and uncertainty

Today is a bad day.

I want to be completely myself here, and lately most of my posts have been very positive and forward-looking.

Today. .  .I’m just not feeling that way.

I put my gym membership on a 6 month hold today, and that’s a huge bummer.

But I had to.

Because if the $30.89 automatic payment went through next week, it would bounce.

I may have to have C pay for her own phone bill next week, too. Because I can’t afford $25.

I hate being here.

I’ve been here before. (My friends from That Other Place know too well how often I’ve been here, and have helped me again and again.)

And it’s back.

That knot in my stomach that never goes away.

The fear that interferes with everything I do.

It seeps away enjoyment of everything.

It creates an endless loop of negative thoughts, and takes away all my energy.

Just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t all that worried that I wasn’t working. I thought by the time I did hit this point, I’d be working. Or at least have a couple more tutoring clients.

Tutoring

And one of the reasons I can’t pay the $25 phone bill is because yesterday I paid for a tutoring lead.

There’s this service that gives me leads from time to time. And I had been paying a low monthly subscription to respond to as many of the leads as I get. I didn’t mind because one hour with one client more than made up for the cost.

Last month they changed the business model. And now, I have to buy “credits” and use the credits to respond to the leads. Again, it’s cheap enough where one hour with one client is enough to make up for the expense.

I responded to a few leads, but got no response.

I think I know why, but it’s disheartening.

My rates are more than most of the other independent tutors. But I know I’m worth it, and I’ve had people pay those rates.

Over the years, I raised my rates slowly. I increased them when my qualifications increased, or when I was so busy I couldn’t keep up with all the clients. I grandfathered old clients into old rates, but had new clients pay new rates.

But, now I’m not getting any new clients.

I *hate* that I’ve got one client paying the current rate, but if I want another client, I may have to lower it. I don’t want to lower it.

And I’m tired.

The last year or so, I’ve been tired of tutoring.

I love my kids. I love working with them.

But I hate the driving, the nervousness about knowing if a client cancels, I’ll be scrambling for money, the selling myself.

Dear gods, I hate selling myself.

I’ve ignored my tutoring blog.

I’ve stopped researching techniques to help my kids see math in a different way.

I stopped aggressively advertising for clients.

Looking for work

There are things I need to do to increase my chances of getting a job.

Actually applying would help a lot. 😛 (I did put in applications today for jobs at tutoring centers).

I still need to go and talk to my mentor teachers and get letters of recommendation from them, so I can finish my applications for subbing.

I need to revamp my resumé. I had a resumé writer create one for me last year, after asking her if she could do education resumés. She assured me she could.

Except it’s not right.

A business resumé is expected to be one page, and only contains certain things, yada yada. 

Education resumés are different. For one thing, I’ve been told at least two pages.

On a business resumé it would be ridiculous to put that I used to teach CPR classes in the Navy. On an education resumé, looking for my first teaching job, I need to include it.

Silly little things like that. 

And I’ve been avoiding doing it. Because. . . 

I’m scared.


I am so fucking scared right now.

Scared to talk to my mentor teachers about letters of recommendation because I feel like I screwed up so badly in student teaching. (And I owe one of them $50). 

Scared to apply for teaching jobs because I’m not sure I can handle it. Scared even to start subbing.

What if. . . 

What if I’ve done all this work, and I can’t do the job? What if I’ve done all this and no one will hire me, because all the time I’ve been not working or doing something other than education in the last 10 years makes “them” think I’m not serious about teaching? 

What if I have an emotional breakdown on the job? In front of teenagers?

What if.  . . .. what if my therapist was right in 2004, and I really should be on disability instead of working? [That’s the scariest thought of all, and I haven’t actually vocalized (or written) it until now.]

Distractions

I’ve been distracting myself with the idea of starting a self-help business. I want to, but I also know it will take time to establish. 
For one thing, there are currently only about 25 people reading my blog routinely, and almost all of them are personal friends who aren’t likely to buy this stuff, especially since they are my emotional support. I haven’t been promoting it well enough. Like, I’ll only promote posts I’m really proud of instead of all of them, or I’m not consistent in posting.
I’ve gotten great ideas from listening to the summit stuff, and getting some support in that circle. Trouble is, it’s easy to find rabbit holes to jump down. There’s a total of 33 speakers in the summit. They each have mp3 talks and meditations, free booklets, blogs, email lists, lots of info and inspiration. I’m now getting like 50 emails a day, just from speakers from the summit. And of course, each one of those leads to more and more.  . . . distractions.
And then. .  . there’s M.
He’s been an absolutely delicious distraction. I am still enjoying talking to him every night. And lately there’s also been early morning emails before he goes to work that make me smile.
But I’m thinking about him too much when we’re not talking, and it’s taking up too much of my energy. I know it. I know that I can be obsessive. And I am being obsessive.
It’s certainly not his fault or intention; this is my own pattern, my own brain doing this.
And I also know I can be an all or nothing kind of person (part of the whole bipolar thing). 
So, the temptation is to say, “This is too distracting; I can’t do it any more.” 
I don’t want to do that.
I want to find a way to continue talking without obsessing.
I want to find a middle ground. . . . . . . (I’m really no good at middle of the road.)
photo by Cosmic Dustbunny 🙂
Because, really, if I don’t get working pretty much immediately, the plans we’ve been making to see each other won’t ever happen. If I can’t afford a $25 phone bill, I certainly can’t afford a trip to Vegas (or Portland or wherever else we end up talking about). And I want to meet up with him.
I need to get moving on finding a job.
So I need to stop letting “ooooh, shiny!” distract me (. . .  squirrel!. . . ) from the shit I need to do.
Writing this has helped me focus a bit, for now. 
Going to stare at a pretty picture for a few minutes, and then, off to rework my resumé.


"Love the least"?

Waterheart by ~fission1 found at deviantart

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Diana over at Sincerely, Diana wrote this post about The Race to Love the Least. She talked about a conversation she had with a friend when she first began dating her late husband.

She said that in every relationship, particularly every new relationship, there is a contest between participants.  The goal?  Be the person who loves the least in the relationship. She said that it occurs most obviously and frequently in relationships that are either romantic or on the way to being romantic, but that it happens in all types of relationships.

This has been running around in my mind ever since she posted it.

I think it could be true.

It’s hard to open up, let someone in, trust them.

Especially after you’ve had your heart broken.

And if it’s been broken more than once?

Ooooh, boy.

I know that in a lot of my relationships, I was the one that held back, that loved the least.

I’ve mentioned that part of my younger days were rather. . .  adventurous. There was a time when I didn’t spend a night alone unless I wanted to be alone.

But most of those were not relationships. They were sexual partners.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – sex is a biological need, and I’ve never thought it should be shameful. Having sex was one way I used to deal with my manic energy before I was diagnosed. It may not have been the healthiest way, but it worked for a time.

I somehow found it very easy to keep most men at arms length, to have sex without becoming attached. Of course, I did go through a phase where most of the men I picked to have sex with were ones that I had nothing in common with. That made it easier to keep emotions out of the deal.

While I regret hurting my first husband, I didn’t actually find it all that hard to leave him. That’s because I wasn’t as attached as he was.

But there are problems with being this way, and the biggest one is, how do you let someone in when you’ve spent most of your life keeping people out?

It’s easier, less painful, to “love the least”.

But it’s impossible to find lasting love when you live your life that way.

Oh, I haven’t always been the one to love the least, and I have had my heart broken.

But I can tell that I’ve often acted out of fear instead of love.

Fear of being hurt, fear of offending someone, fear of doing or saying the “wrong” thing to push them away. . . .

I think even some of the times when I’ve been the most giving, it’s been out of fear, thinking something like, “If I can give him everything he wants, then maybe he’ll stay.”

There’s a lot of fear in that thought. And there are times when I’ve suppressed parts of myself because of that fear.

I am strong enough to know that I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want to live in fear.

But that has caused me to do something else.

It’s caused me to push everyone away. If no one gets a chance to get close, then there’s nothing to fear.

I find this interesting because there are some ways in which I’ve always been a “jump in with both feet without looking” kind of person. And there has been at least once when I did that with a relationship.

I know that there have been times when I have loved deeply and fiercely (even if it’s hard to remember exactly how that feels now).

And I do love. I love my daughter, I love my family (even though they drive me crazy!), I love my imaginary intermaweb friends who have helped me through so much.

But can I stop trying to be the one that loves the least? Can I act from a place of love instead of a place of fear?

I’d like to know how other people overcame this fear of being hurt and let themselves go to love.

Mood swings and food

My mood state has been all over the place in the last few days.

Monday, I was completely manic, doing deep cleaning in the apartment, writing a couple posts plus in my journal.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I was anxious  and alternated between being irritated, optimistic, and crying for no reason.

I barely ate anything at all those three days, which is not at all like me.

I need to get to the gym today, but this is even more volatile than usual for me.

I’ve had Mirena for 11 weeks now, but I haven’t stopped spotting/bleeding the whole time. When it hits 12 weeks, I’m going to contact my doctor, because it’s really annoying. I’m wondering if this is having an effect on my mood? It is hormonal, but one of the reasons I had it put in was that the hormones were supposed to stay local instead of going through my whole system. Also, it was supposed to make my periods LESS annoying.

I meant to go to the gym yesterday and I never made it out of the apartment. Now that my air conditioner is finally working, I don’t want to leave! I need to go today. Lifting may help my mood.

I need to redirect my energy to other things than where they have been. I don’t want to talk about where they have been, because it’s stupid and annoying.

Directing my energy into cleaning on Monday helped a bit, I think. Maybe I can do more of that today.

I also put a profile up on OKCupid. But every time I start talking to someone or look at profiles, I’m rejecting them or just getting scared.

I did it because I thought it might be nice to meet someone now, but I also don’t think I’m ready to meet anyone yet.

For years, I’ve been saying that I’m ok alone, and most of the time, I believe that.

The inner turmoil that I’ve felt since the ex called, though, is what prompted me to set up a profile. I thought if I could meet someone, that might help me push him back into the recesses of my mind. I do not want him cluttering up my mind and screwing with my emotions. I can’t believe I’m still obsessing over it 9 weeks later. He does not deserve this much of me.

But, I don’t think I’m ready to meet someone.

How can I not be ready after this long alone? Am I just that damaged? Or do I need to be actually teaching and feeling secure in my life before I meet someone?

NOT sending a letter

This is sort of a continuation of my last post.

One of the things I don’t like about myself is my capacity for stupid obsessions.
Ever since that phone call, I’ve been obsessing. It wasn’t going away or getting better. In the comments, Monday’s Child suggested that I allow the fantasy to play out.
That sort of made it worse.
Yesterday, it was even worse.
Now, logically I know that this is just a way for my brain to distract me from other things I need to be doing or from the fact that I’ve (almost) failed at something.
I posted on Facebook that I was mad at my “diseased brain”. One of my friends, another math teacher who has been a long-distance mentor, posted about my brain not being diseased. We then had a private chat where I told her some of the background information.
She said all the right things. And I know all those things.
He’s a liar; he’s a manipulator; he’s not worth my time and energy.
I know.
But knowing that doesn’t stop my stupid brain from running the fantasies.
If I squash it during my waking hours, it shows up in my sleeping ones. If I try to consciously redirect it to where I’m beating the crap out of him, it still keeps running back to reunion scenarios. If I don’t find a way to fight this, I know where I’ll end up – depressed and anxious.
Last night, after chatting with JF, I pulled out my affirmation notebook and wrote a few simple positive affirmations to try to clear the psychic decks.
By the time I was done writing three affirmations twenty times each, I felt like writing something else.
I wrote a letter to him.
Six pages.
Wow.
I had no idea I still had six pages of stuff to work out about him. I haven’t written that fluently in years.
It has some bitter-sweet stuff, some anger, some pity, some sadness in it.
But there was a theme through all six pages. His lack of respect for me came through very clearly, maybe more clearly than I’ve seen it before.
When I was done, I felt . . . empty. 
I have no intention of sending this to him. It wasn’t for him. It was for me.
Maybe now I can actually get some work done.