When I got married and it was time to choose an arrangement for my bouquet, I had no idea where to begin. I'm not the girl who likes roses. I mean, they're pretty and all but a little over-stated. Despite my hemming and hawing and mentioning that I kinda like gladiolus, the florist nailed my bouquet.
Since then I haven't gotten much better. I just don't know much about flowers. I know I love bougainvilleas. I know chrysanthemums make me happy. The Texas highways in the spring are my worst distraction. But there was never a flower that made me suck in my breath and get all misty eyed because of the beauty.
That is, until I came face-to-face with a peony.
Before I saw them in the floral section of our local grocery store, I had only heard about them—I'd never actually seen one. The moment it happened, I knew. This is the one—this is my favorite. I want them always.
A few days ago, I texted my business coach and told her these past few weeks have felt like a crash-course in an advanced MBA program. When I started The Story Unfolding, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Workshops and seminars on high-brow literature? Yes. Courses about writing and getting your work out there? Sure.
Owning my own business? Bringing on multiple brilliant coaches to expand the reach?
...hold on just a second. Let me grab my inhaler and some gin & tonic.
In the beginning, I researched my ass off. I worked with a story-consultant who is also a friend and brilliant and worth probably ten times his pay in what it means to build strategy within my brand and social media reach. It helped—within the eight weeks I worked with him my mailing list doubled and I gained deeper clarity on what Story Sessions, a branch of Story Unfolding, meant as a community. Within three months of his coaching I launched Story 201, the Story Sessions' subscription began, we brought on interns and coaches, and in January, the website went live. Somewhere during this time, I began whispering to other people I have a business.
For six months, every single development was built out of necessity.
- Story 101 members wanted a class that went deeper into the technicalities of writing. So I developed Story 201.
- The Facebook page for Story 101 members was getting cluttered with noise and there was a lack of focus within my purpose as well as those staying—so I created the subscription, opening up opportunities for weekly prompts, write-ins and more.
- Subscribers wanted a place to gather off the FB page—where we could offer the public a peek into our community and what we're creating. The blog was born and members gained access to a private page where additional resources, prompts, and inspiration were dropped.
All of it was good—great even. But everything went so fast the research and hours I spent on developing Story Unfolding seemed light years away.
So I dug in.
I came up with core values — rhythm, beauty, depth, luminosity, freedom, belonging and abundance. I drafted a coaching agreement for the brilliant women who are now independent contractors and trained coaches under Story Unfolding. I watched videos and listened to podcasts and read books from CEO's who paved the road before me.
I remembered—and clarified—my why.
It was hard. I fell under resistance and got migraines and stress rashes as a result. I led a retreat for Story Sessions' and came home more exhausted than I've ever been in my entire life only to jump right back into blogging and prompting and meeting the next week.
I fell. A lot.
I bumped into my own fears and learned how to articulate my wants. I took the time and listed out my core desires — golden, rooted, abundance, embodied + sensual, la loba, rhythmic — and refused to flow with anything that went against these and my values.
And eventually, it led me to a confidence I didn't know I possess. There is still much to be done. But I can—and will—do it. Story Unfolding is only just beginning, and after a year of tremendous growth intermingled with plateaus, I can't wait to see where the community will be in a year.
There's no limits to our dreams and what we want if we're willing to put in the work.
2013 was my year of risk. It was the year I jumped and started a business. It was the year I self-published Every Shattered Thing. It was the year I found myself underneath the safe exterior I desperately held onto because of past hurts and mistakes.
So when my word for 2014 revealed itself as soft. I thought maybe the risks were over. At least the big ones. I thought this was the year I learned about who I am really. And it's happened. I'm more embodied, more rooted, more confident than I've been in my entire life.
What I forgot was that learning about yourself—your values, your wants, your desires, your beliefs—this is always a risk.
A few days ago I decided my new found peony obsession would need to be memorialized in ink. I started researching and finding designs I liked and the meanings behind the flower. Fortune is a common theme, as is compassion and bashfulness and love and beauty. But in one description, a word jumped out at me from the page.
I thought about the past few weeks and how crystallized my vision has become for Story Unfolding. I thought about the way the peony petals unfold and risk the falling. And then I realized—unless you risk, unless you sacrifice and say yes or take the time to really dig in to whatever this dream is you have—you're never going to get where you want. It's like my wedding bouquet. I got lucky. The florist made me a pretty arrangement that left me happy. That's not always the case.
Do you know what you want? Can you articulate it?
Even more so, do you have the guts to act on it?
As my business coach responded to one of my many texts about time spent on the perils of creative entrepreneurship— "E, if you never risk you'll never be awesome."
Go ahead. Risking is huge—I get it. Articulating what you want or like or believe is scary. But you can't just stop there. You have to do it. You have to own it. This is what I've learned.
Even peonies keep their beauty in the unfolding.
If you are at all interested in talking more about how I snagged a business coach and who this brilliant mind is, let me know. Bianca Broos has changed the scope of my understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur and from the beginning has believed in me and my crazy-ass dreams. You want her. I promise you do.