Part 2 – What could have gone better?
2022 had a lot of lessons for me, and they were not easy.
Automate book launch
I timed the launch of my book, Marketing Yourself, so that it was astrologically advantageous. August 12th was a full moon in Leo, and I had spent the months leading up to that date collaborating with freelancers who were editing the manuscript, designing the interior, and re-designing the cover (for the 3rd time).
I had prepared a large volume of content, for social media and for my newsletter, so I could share all the great endorsements and excerpts and illustrations for everyone to see.
On the day of my book launch, my wife’s grandmother died.
She was in her 90s, and the last week was really difficult. Johanna talks to her mom every day, so she was absorbed with helping her figure out the logistics and ramifications of everything. We set up an altar for Grandma Pat as she was passing, and involved the kids so they could be exposed to the transition of death, and the introduction of having an ancestor as a spiritual guardian.
This event took over the attention of the family, and all that pre-produced content sat on my computer. I didn’t automate the publication of it, or hand it over to my VA to handle, because I just thought I would be on hand during the book launch to do everything. It was time-sensitive, and important, but because I didn’t automate it in advance, I dropped the ball.
No ebook or audiobook
So far, I have given away more books than I have sold. It serves well as an expensive business card, but I didn’t set up any PR or marketing beyond what I produced myself. Other than listing the book on Amazon and Ingram Spark, I have done nothing to get it into bookstores.
The big fail here was the ebook. I have a PDF that looks great (if you’re this deep in my Annual Review, you deserve a copy) but Amazon’s Kindle Reader destroyed all of my illustrations. The .epub version looks fine on my computer, but in a Kindle (which is how many people read books, exclusively) every chapter has a mess of an image that makes the entire book look unprofessional. I took the ebook down after a couple of weeks, after I got a 2-star review.
I meant to find a way to fix it, but it was hard, and complicated, and reviewing the new versions in the Kindle reader was time-consuming and depressing. So for months, there has been no ebook available for purchase, because I haven’t fixed it yet.
I also haven’t recorded the audiobook, because of a lack of time and enthusiasm. My book has been excluded from major distribution channels, and that has suppressed my success.
Reneged on my vacation and fell ill
This was a hard way to end the year. Every few years my autoimmune disorder goes into a relapse that leaves me bedridden for weeks. I had originally planned to take 3 weeks vacation for the holidays, but when I didn’t meet a revenue goal by December, I reneged on that promise to myself – but my body made me keep it anyways. From 21 December to mid-Jan I was unable to work, get out of bed, or keep on any weight.
My first flare was in 2019, and it forced me to completely realign how I related to my life and business. I was preparing to work the Australian corporate speaking circuit, and then had to realign my business so I could work from home with no travel. Then, the pandemic hit, and I had a 3-month head start over everyone else.
I spent a lot of time doing the wrong kind of work
I have decided I will not write the book ‘Playful Productivity.’
I wrote 26,000 words on the manuscript in November, and then I fell ill. The gift of my illness is that it forces me to examine what’s not working in my life, and Playful Productivity was a contrived strategic decision. It’s not a topic I’m passionate about. I just happen to have a modest folder of IP that I could turn into a long-form piece of content that would get me some work.
But it’s not work I love, with people I like, the way I want. While I was bedridden, I realized that writing this book would entrap me into working with corporate employees who don’t like their jobs or their team, forcing them into enthusiasm through games and activities over Zoom that they would resent. I would be pushing uphill to sell new workshops into markets where I don’t have a strong network, with people I don’t particularly like to work with. I was looking at 2 years of effort for mixed results. If there’s one thing that having a chronic illness has taught me, it’s to work smarter, and not harder.
The book I want to write next is called ‘Life Balance.’ It’s about how we can create a healthy relationship with work and rest, with play and with chores, by changing how we prioritize these interlocking parts of our life. I have a lot of lived experience in this area now, and pivoting my message to helping people live more balanced lives – that feels like a better vision for my work, than what I’ve been doing so far.
I got Covid in September, and took no time off
For years I lived in quarantine with my family, because my autoimmune disorder makes illness (and vaccination) particularly hazardous.
I had to live in quarantine during the mandates in New Zealand, when we endured the greatest loss of civil liberties we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. We were unable to enter a cafe, or a doctors office, or a hospital because we made the choice to decline an experimental medical product that does not work.
I kept quiet about my vaccination status, because there is a lot of propaganda out there, and people are very confused about the facts. (Instead of ‘trusting the science,’ they are trusting the TV.) So I stayed in my little house out in the middle of nowhere on the far side of the world, and sheltered with my family through the pandemic.
Eventually, the mandates ended, and we regained our freedom of movement. My wife and son went to Auckland for a weekend trip to see one of his friends, and they brought Covid back home with them.
It was an inconvenient time for me to get sick; I had my first symptoms when I was teaching a 2-day virtual workshop. The following week, I was scheduled to deliver a new hybrid keynote, where I was virtually speaking to an in-person conference. My calendar was full of coaching calls.
I did not cancel a single event. For two weeks, I worked diligently while enduring the worst flu I had in years. By the time I recovered, I was exhausted, so I decided to skip my monthly meditation ritual.
Stopped monthly moon rituals
Every month, I howl at the full moon. Through my lifelong studies of esoteric and occult literature, I have collected a series of meditation rituals that I perform every month, outside under the full moon.
I started practicing these rituals in 2008 or so, and by the time we moved to Costa Rica in 2011, it had become my monthly spiritual practice. When I recovered from Covid, I decided to skip a month. I don’t often skip months – maybe once a year – so I didn’t feel very badly about it. But in November, I had started bleeding, one of the danger signs that I was going into a flare. Foolishly, I skipped another month, from sheer laziness. By December, I was too weak. In January, the full moon was on my birthday. I had every intention of resuming this important energetic therapy, but by the evening my body was worn out and exhausted.
I missed 4 consecutive full moons, more than I ever have before. The effects on my energetic body have been terrible.
Originally I started working with these meditations as a therapy for epilepsy. By moving large amounts of energy through my spine (down from the cosmos above, into the center of the earth, and back up again) I was able to clear the energetic blockages that caused my seizures. The full moon gave me a regular cadence for performing these rituals every month, always on different days, often in different places, reliably infusing me with awe and wonder.
My rituals are quite involved – chanting in ancient languages, casting spells from the Great White Brotherhood of Light, visualizations of The Middle Pillar, and Wine and Cakes to bring me back down to earth. It only takes about 45 minutes, but I need time to prepare my body with an epsom salts bath, and don my sacred garb, and collect the magickal tools that I use throughout the rituals. During these meditations I often commune with deities and spirits, and it brings me deep personal fulfillment to spend time as a mystic.
I am a fucking wizard.
This shouldn’t be something I hide. Here, in this Annual Review on my blog, this is the first time I am publicly admitting that I have spent much of my life as a practitioner of the magickal arts. I have deep knowledge in this area, after decades of study, but I have been occluding myself so I don’t scare off the normies.
I have been hiding my heart
This is something I realized during my daily Qi Gong practice. I have a daily ritual of movement meditations that comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the few unbroken lineages of healing that was not obliterated by western European men.
Like my personal spiritual practices, I don’t share much about this healing art, because I know people are bigoted and closed minded. I was raised in the American south, surrounded by evangelical Christians, who will famously terrorize anyone who does not share their specific set of beliefs. I have learned how to present a normal face to the world, so I don’t invite the ire of loud fanatics or the disdain of simpletons.
Therein lies my problem. I always hide why means the most to me, so I don’t scare off the normies.
This is partially a trauma response, because I scared off the normies so much in my youth, when I was radical and loud about it. Then, when I became a young professional supporting a family, I found that sharing these sides of myself would directly reduce my ability to earn money. When I shared something I was passionate about, I would lose clients, and my professional network would shrink. My kids once went without shoes for a season because I was too personal in a newsletter.
So I hid my heart. It worked to make me tepid and bland and boring, but serviceable enough to the normies who have become my client base.
Hiding my heart has had consequences for my health. In five element theory, low heart energy is a lack of fire, which leads to an excess of metal energy, which is why I have an inflamed lower intestine and an autoimmune disorder that debilitates me with chronic fatigue and bloody uncomfortable symptoms.
I hide my heart because I have SO MUCH fire in there. Ever since I grew up and got off the streets, I have been afraid to share all my fire, because it is overwhelming for most people. I shine so bright that it is blinding, so I dim myself in the company of others. I have learned that when I am authentically myself, it can cauterize my position in a community.
But now I am on the far edge of the world, I only need a few clients to keep the lights on, and after a decade of wandering, the Huntress Clan is not going to move any more.
2023 is the year I show my heart. The things that matter most to me – my deep spiritual beliefs in the alignment of the stars, my strong scientific conviction that the recent vaccine roll-out was a colossal failure, the wealth of personal growth I have attained from running away from home and living estranged from my biological family – these are things I will no longer hide from the world.