Are you feeling lost and overwhelmed with all that is going on?
Has the never-ending state of uncertainty taken a toll on your work and left you feeling stuck and frozen?
With so much change, the dreams and aspirations you had at the beginning of the year may feel like another lifetime ago, and you may be looking at your passions and your work and saying,
What the HECK do I do now?
Our entire world has shifted, and I imagine some days you feel inspired and others you may just be staring at your computer, canvas, or page feeling so lost. All the while your To Do List has probably grown exponentially, because you feel so unclear as to what will actually work now.
Where do you put your focus?
What should you do first?
Will people still care?
Does your voice even matter?
And how do you even reach your audience right now?
I imagine the isolation and distancing that has been created this year has taken a toll on your heart and your confidence.
I imagine you would love for someone to just HELP you and offer some guidance, because when you look at all you need to do, it just leaves you overwhelmed.
And if you can be clear about one thing, you know that’s not helping.
So, what will?
I looked down at the text from my Aunt and smiled,
What would you like for a housewarming gift?
We had just moved into our dream home, and when my husband and I put our heads together, the answer was really obvious.
A bird bath.
In our last home, it was the first time either of us had a bird feeder up in our own home, and it had brought endless joy watching the birds congregate daily.
We did have a bird bath at our last home, but it was plastic, flimsy, and in truth, I was not good with keeping it up. I barely cleaned it, and when I did, was pretty grossed out by the quick accumulation of dirt and grime. So I left it for over a week, and the water evaporated quickly.
I wasn’t taking care of the bath for the birds, and clearly wasn’t ready to.
But, now as we stared at our beautiful back yard, we both felt we wanted to have not only a bird bath, but a nice one.
So, I reached out to the bird experts in my life, my parents, and they shared the bird bath they have, which actually has a heating unit so you can use it all year round.
“The birds will LOVE you for this bath. Although, you will need to clean it about every 2-3 days.”
I think all I heard was how much the birds would love it, and left the frequency of care with skepticism, deciding the bird bath would probably be ok with weekly cleaning.
Because it would be me taking care of the bird bath.
When the bird bath arrived, it was like a crazy puzzle. The instructions seemed so straight forward, and yet, it took my husband and I forever to actually put all the pieces together! But, we stuck with it, and soon were staring at the completed form.
So, the next question was,
Where to put it?
We both agreed on this open spot in the yard that we could see from all the windows and have an easy view of the bird bath from the porch.
We were both so excited! I filled it up, and we went to bed, eager for the next day to watch the birds splashing with joy at this new place made just for them.
And the next day came, and I watched with anticipation.
And nothing happened.
Nor the next day
Or the next….
A week turned into two weeks, and I just emptied the water, and refilled.
Why weren’t they coming?
Did they see it?
The birds were gleefully enjoying the feeders just feet away, but completely avoided the bath.
Why wasn’t it working?
I checked in with my father, who said,
“Well, birds usually like the safety of a bush or tree nearby. You can always move the bath and see if they come then.”
I looked out at the back yard, and logically saw we could move the bath closer to the trees, but when I checked in with myself, what I heard was,
Give it time.
So I did. I emptied the water again and waited.
And then, a few weeks later, I was on the porch and my breath stopped in my throat, because there on the bird bath was a BIRD. One lone Catbird stood on the ridge, looking the bath over. He hopped in, took a drink and flew off.
And my heart burst with hope.
And over the next week, the Catbird came back.
And the next week, a Blue Jay came for a drink.
And the next a Grackle tested the water.
And the House Finches started to wade.
And before I knew it, I was watching birds bathe and drink every day in the bath. Broods of fledglings took over the back yard, and squawked with delight as they exploded waves of water throughout their whole bodies in the hot sun.
And the bath needed cleaning and changing of the water every couple of days. Some days with the really high heat, I had to fill it up after only one day.
But, as I scrubbed the bath, I realized something had shifted.
I actually wanted to do this.
I was so overcome with joy at seeing the birds happy, I was willing to take care of the bath and attend to it regularly.
Maybe this wasn’t just about perfect placement.
I was attending to the birds and their needs, willingly, and they were showing up in greater numbers every day.
Much like a partnership.
I remember when I first started my blog back in 2014. It started with just friends and family on a wordpress site, where I shared about my adventures in the city. I was so excited to be writing again, that I put it out there on the enormous internet, and would share on social media.
One person saw it, then two, then 60.
It stayed there for quite some time, until I finally dove into building my own platform as a coach and decided to build my audience, and found my numbers jump to 900.
And as my audience grew globally into the thousands, so did the care I felt FOR the writing and my audience. I set aside time in the morning with no distractions and started to bring something very powerful to each post I wrote,
I deeply wanted to HELP.
I wanted my words to encourage and uplift my readers, and I knew that meant I needed to take care in my words.
I needed to take care of my audience, and was happy to do so, because I was seeing their reaction. They were emailing me back and thanking me. They shared of their wins and the actions they were taking.
Much like the birds in the bath, they were refreshing their hearts and passions. They were drinking clean water and then flying to create their dreams.
And this didn’t happen overnight. It happened over several years. But I placed my words where I knew they needed to be seen and waited, continuing to take care.
So often, we will put out work out to the world and when we hear crickets, we feel so discouraged. It can be easy in that moment to just stop, especially because your work matters so much. I get it! You may feel like your heart is in your words, song, dance, image, or speech.
However, we need to be clear on several things before we put the bird bath up.
First, WHO is your work for?
You are a unique and brilliant light, and your audience reflects that light and shares your values and voice. When you are fully clear on the WHO, it can be so easy to present it and know in your heart WHERE your work needs to go. There are so many platforms out there right now, and they each have different aspects. This isn’t about putting your work everywhere and hoping someone will see it. Get clear, and choose your platforms according to your audience.
Second, do you WANT to share your work?
I think this is really an important question to ask. You may feel you “should” or “have to”. I know I felt that pressure with the bird bath in our old house. It sounded nice, but clearly I was not ready. I was sabotaging any chance of birds regularly coming, because I wasn’t cleaning it. Sharing your work means you are ready to have a CONVERSATION WITH your audience. You actually WANT to hear from them, create for them, and take CARE of the platform and space you are sharing. If you put your work on a blog, but never post, or started a website, but have left it to sit, this is information for you. Things turned around for me with the blog and the bath when there was a clear INTENTION to be of service and be involved. Believe it or not, your audience WANTS to hear from you. That’s a given. The birds wanted to bathe and drink. That’s their NATURE. The shift was in me.
Third, what is your relationship with time?
This has been a BIG place of practice for me. Being a recovering perfectionist, I would become so frustrated when things didn’t happen on the timeline I wanted. I would work so hard, and want to see results right away. And when I didn’t I would lose steam and confidence, and believe my dreams would never come true. But, as the last 8 years have shown me since I lost everything, I have watched my whole life turn around, and each miracle has taken WAY longer than I thought. Yet, they have occurred. I am so grateful for this lesson, because it instilled in me a mindset of practice.
Instead of placing my attention on, “it hasn’t happened yet”, it became about a commitment to building my platform every day, taking the steps towards a life I wanted, and taking action towards my dreams. And I didn’t do this on my own. Every step of the way, I have had help, and will always have a support system. We are stronger together. We have seen time and again proof of “overnight success” that actually took years. Can you place your attention on each day and your intention to help? What you do have in NOW. And it’s the series of NOWS, and the intention you bring to each one that builds your audience. You are caring for the garden, and that takes daily practice.
I remember being so frustrated when I first launched my business at how slow my audience was growing. I watched another coach in the group program I was in literally get an audience of 8,000 in three months. A dear friend said to me,
“You are building a garden with organic soil and special seeds. It takes time. Let it grow.”
And she was right. That daily care brought me to you. And I am so grateful you are here.
So, get clear on what you want.
Know who your audience is, and put your work OUT there.
It may take time, and especially right now, because we are all experiencing varying levels of fear and grief. This may feel like a crazy puzzle at first. That’s ok, it’s all part of the process.
But trust human nature.
Much like the birds, we all have common needs.
We need to drink.
We need to refresh in the heat.
And we are all looking for sweet relief and a moment of joy.
So re-connect to WHY you started your work in the first place, be clear on your intention, and put out the bath.
Care for the platform, and know they are coming.
A sweet partnership that will affirm your life.