Taking Risks and Doing the Scary Things

This week I celebrate the 4th anniversary of leaving my day job. That’s 4+ years of constantly trying to play bigger. It’s just as exhilarating and exhausting as it sounds.

At Ali Edwards’s Story Camp event recently, she opened the workshop with writing exercises including a letter to our younger self.

I don’t have a lot of ‘regrets,’ per se, but there are certainly things I would have chosen differently if I had the chance now. Things like recognizing what I’m good at earlier in life, or learning not to care so much about other people’s opinions. There are a lot of mindset evolutions that I would have liked to have had at different stages of my life.

But the main advice I kept coming back to over and over in this letter to my younger self was “Do the scary thing.”

It makes me sad to think about it now … how many things I missed out on because too scared. How many opportunities I talked myself out of because even just dealing with the awesomeness was too overwhelming. I could name a bunch of examples, big and small. All the times that I played small and safe and avoided the possibility of failure by also avoiding the possibility of success and adventure.

I mean … I have a Masters degree in English. One of the most useless ways I could have spent those years and those thousands of dollars? Why? A few reasons, but also because I was hiding in grad school, not ready or willing to decide what I really wanted to do with my life.

I don’t know when I finally recognized that I was sabotaging myself in this way. But I do know that in 2013 I chose BRAVE for my One Little Word as a way to help train myself to make braver choices.

To do the scary thing.

All that year I consciously tried to always make the BRAVE choice. When I was given a set of options, what was the brave choice? When I was in a situation, how would a brave person react?

That’s the year that I finally quit my day job. That’s the year I went camping for the first time in decades. That’s the year I wrote a couple books and I launched a big course and I declared myself an expert in something.

Since then, BRAVE has migrated from my One Little Word to one of my Core Desired Feelings. because it is still — now four years later — something I struggle with. It is still a conscious decision. It is still a deliberate, thoughtful rebelling against my natural instincts.

I still have to make myself do scary things.

It does get easier. It doesn’t get less scary, but overcoming the fear gets easier with more practice. So I have been deliberately seeking out scary things and big overwhelming opportunities. If nothing else, then to just practice overcoming the fear.

Sometimes the scary thing is applying for a month-long writers’ residency. Sometimes it’s just going to a meet-up on a Sunday night where I don’t know anyone. Sometimes the scary thing is letting myself be emotionally vulnerable.

This week, do something for me, please? When you’re faced with a choice try to make the brave choice. Don’t assume what ‘should’ be done, question the safe choice.

Do the scary thing.

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Get yourself in trouble

So it turns out, what makes for good novels also makes for an interesting and fulfilling life.

The basic (basic) rule of writing novels is to give your characters obstacles. Your characters have to experience conflict. They need obstacles to overcome. They need inner turmoil to wrestle with. Act 1: you get them up a tree. Act 2: you throw rocks at them in the tree. Act 3: you let them get down. If they’re not having at least some kind of a hard time, it’s going to be a boring book.

So when you get those obstacles in your own life? Be grateful for them. Those trying times are going to be the bits of your life you remember. The parts that you look back on and think, ‘Yep, that’s when I realized that I can do this.’ When you put yourself way out of your comfort zone you are forced to deal, forced to come up with answers that you didn’t have before. That is when you will find you.

Get yourself in trouble. Take risks. Be BRAVEIt’s taken me a long time to come around to this way of thinking. I chose Brave as my One Little Word a couple years ago, because that is not my natural inclination. Most of my life I have been generally risk-averse, talking myself out of things that might even have a tiny chance to fail. Taking safe, responsible choices and (honestly) living a pretty average life.

And I realized that mind set wasn’t helping me.

I want to be more than average. I want to be better than that.

Instead, once I started paying attention, all of my best decisions were brave and potentially very very risky. Quitting a day job, dropping several thousand dollars on a writing weekend, moving to Virginia… I don’t have a long history of brave decisions in my life, but I am committed to making more.

Honestly, the fact that I moved coast-to-coast, totally alone except with 2 cats makes me feel so tough. So strong. So proud. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am so so glad I did it.

The same way conflict makes for a good novel, I welcome the harder parts of my life because they will help me grow.

So say yes to that speaking engagement, or invest that money in manufacturing your new stamp line. Even risk being vulnerable with a new friend …

These last couple years when I have consciously tried to be more brave have been the most rewarding. Every day I feel more and more like ME.

Go get yourself in trouble. Take a risk. F*ck up and find your own way.

P.S. I love Kam’s From a Beginner series for regular examples of taking small risks and regularly getting out of her comfort zone.


Book Review: Uncertainty

As part of my attempt to stay BRAVE, I read Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

I enjoyed this book – but it is definitely ‘light’ reading for me. Kind of a feel good, encouraging, don’t really have to think that much self-help book. The subtitle – Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance – is promising, but I expected the actual content of the book to more clearly show how to do it.

I guess I just have a very picky editor with high standards inside me that is hard to please. I mean, how many times in a 195-page book do you need to tell me what we’re “going to” be discussing? Just get on with it!

That said, there were some great takeaways:

Like this quote about living with uncertainty:

“One of the single greatest determinants of high-level success as an innovator or creator in any realm is the ability to manage and at times even seek out sustained high levels of uncertainty, bundled lovingly with risk of loss and exposure to criticism” (10).

As last was my YEAR OF BRAVE I’m still really trying (trying) to be more comfortable with uncertainty. Some of my brave choices have been incredibly nerve-wracking. I’m a planner by nature so having any kind of unknowns in my future is totally new to me.

I’m working on it. I don’t know about “sustained high levels of uncertainty,” but I’m getting there.

Another great idea Fields suggests is the power of ‘certainty anchors’: “A certainty anchor is a practice or process that adds something known and reliable to your life when you may otherwise feel you’re spinning off in a million different directions” (46).

For example, I heard Judd Apatow say in an interview that he will go to Gap and just by 12 polo shirts in various colors so he doesn’t have to think about it. Or, Fields uses examples from novelist CJ Lyons or blogger Darren Rowse who both structure their work and daily routines to be anchors in their life.

In my own life, I realize that this is why my husband and I pretty much eat the same thing all the time. In the summer we almost only eat salad. I don’t have to think too much when I go to the store. I don’t have to find new recipes or plan time to experiment. I buy vegetables, wash them, throw them in a bowl with whatever protein is on sale that week and we’re done. (In the winter I have about 4 soup/stew/chili recipes that I make over and over and over).

I think the longest chapter is actually about meditation, which is a little too much for me. Personally. I know plenty of smart, successful people swear by it but I am just not ready and reading about it in the middle of a work/business/self-helpy kind of book just seemed out of place.

I still think you should read Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields. At least once. Especially if you have any intention of carving out a creative life for yourself.

P.S. A year ago today is when BUILD ecourse launched!


still taking BRAVE steps

Even though my “Year of BRAVE” is technically over, I still want to consciously make BRAVE steps. All the time.

Ali has talked about this with her own One Little Words – words from previous years stick with her. I am 100% finding that to be true. It’s hard to shake a whole year of developing a new habit and mindset. Especially when it has all worked out so brilliantly!

Making the brave choice is ALWAYS in the forefront of my mind. Always. Is it braver to say yes to an opportunity to expand my reach or to say no because of opportunity cost? Is it braver to attend a social function (because I’m an introvert) or to stay home and work on my novel (where I want to move my career)? These are the kind of questions I (repeatedly) filter through my BRAVE One Little Word AND now my NURTURE One Little Word.

For example … In the last couple months I:

  • filed the paperwork necessary to dissolved my photography business
  • filed the paperwork necessary to create my small online media business that will serve as the umbrella for several smaller sites.
  • spent money to join a group of writers (more on this later this month)
  • committed to writing a short story for an anthology (even though I haven’t written a short story since about… 2004).
  • registered a new URL for an author site (more on this and the above as I have news)
  • asked people to unsubscribe from an email list
  • braved Lowe’s by myself, looking like an idiot, trying to explain what I needed for a plumbing project even though I didn’t really know

…. and probably more little things here and there that I am not remembering because being BRAVE is so much more part of my life than it was a year ago.

Last year I spent a lot of time thinking and weighing options and really trying to figure out what works best for me. This year the decision-making is getting easier, but still scary as hell. I’m coming up on a year of being 95% self-employed and I still love it. Even though we have *far* less money than before. Even though I *still* only see Andrew an hour or 2 every other day.

Are you trying to take a BRAVE step? Trick your brain. Tell yourself it’s only temporary and you can always change things back.

Some of these ALSO fall under my NURTURE One Little Word. I’ll write about that soon!

What BRAVE steps have you taken lately?


On letting go of a past dream

Wedding portraits at Terrenea ResortThis month has been about finalizing some big changes.

I have finally been BRAVE enough to do that thing that I’ve been thinking about for about 2 years.

I dissolved my photography business. Officially official. The state of CA has my paperwork and the bank has closed my account and the only think I have left to do is take down my site and close my email account.

My emotions have completely swung the whole gamut over the last couple years, fighting with myself, talking myself into it, admitting things about myself that I have only recently discovered. It would have been fascinating to watch if it wasn’t happening for me. As it is, I’m glad I’m through it all.

I think that I am a good (enough) photographer. I think that I am a good (enough) businessperson. I live in SoCal where there are plenty of people who have money to pay for wedding photographs. I genuinely love weddings. I genuinely love documentary-style photography and I think everyone should have fantastic wedding photos that they love. I am still proud of the work that I’ve done for couples since 2008.

All of that said – being a professional wedding photographer is not for me.

There are a lot of reasons. Big reasons and little reasons. Tiny preferences, practicalities and discoveries about my personality. Being a professional photographer is A LOT OF WORK …. so it had better be work you definitely want to do.

And it’s not for me. Not for the rest of my life.

It took me awhile to get here, but I am looking forward to ending this phase of my life and having more focus to move forward into the next one.

I’m really really excited about it!

If you are also letting go of a past dream….

  • Allow yourself time to mourn. I’ve been thinking about this decision for at least 2 years. At least.
  • Be realistic about why. Know if you could have done better. Know if you made poor decisions. Know if it is just that your goals have changed. You’re not a failure – you’re just a different person than you were when you formed that dream.
  • Jump into your next dream. Take as much time as you need, but be BRAVE and keep moving forward.

 Be BRAVE. Fail big. Fail often.

P.S. Thanks Maggie for these shots of me working!


Goals and intentions in 2014

Team Schubert 2013

So in love with this travel partner of mine


I love the fresh start of a new year.

Of course, that also pertains to the fresh start of a new season or a blank notebook. I just am a planner (plain and simple). One of my favorite things is getting a new travel guidebook so I can PLAN our vacation! The beginnings of things (like 2014) just allow me to dream and plan and plan.

Because I know that about myself, I want to be deliberate in looking back at the past year and appreciating what I have accomplished, revisiting what I have learned and not just rushing past in my desire to plan plan plan. It’s easy to just remember the hard parts, but let’s look at what worked too.

In 2013 I:

Looking back ….

Choosing BRAVE as my One Little Word (combined with signing up for Ali’s class) absolutely changed my life. That word acted as a mantra for me. It also held me to a sort of accountability, since I was publicly committed. This time last year ….. I was not NEARLY as brave. I didn’t have my one big big ecourse (which does a lot of things for me) and I still was afraid to take the chance and leave my day job.

The BUILD ecourse did better than I had even hoped for and everyone that I’ve heard from LOVES it. I mean, even the free email series is a hit. So glad I finally finally finished that (I’ve been thinking about building that ecourse for years)

I’ve been looking into options and weighing pros and cons and I signed up with Passionfruit in August to manage my sidebar ads. Not because I think I will become a powerhouse media point, I don’t actually think advertising will be a huge source of income. But more because I want to diversify income streams and open up the option to smaller blogs who are trying to grow. I’m finding fewer and fewer blogs that A) offering reasonably-priced ads and B ) offer a reasonable ROI.

I’m still trying to figure out a good weekly schedule now that I don’t have the day job. Problems include: my part-time job commitment is completely irregular so I could all of a sudden get 2 hours of work to do that I wasn’t planning on. Other problems include the fact that my brain stops working very well about mid-afternoon so I need to get all my writing/blogging/creative work done before that. I still would (obviously) rather have it this way than before. I mark my days by whether or not I have to leave the house and I LOVE it.

My “real” writing (novels) is … fine. Stalled. Not yet the daily habit I want it to be, but part of that is because I have had too many things I am committed to.

On a personal note, since I quit my day job I have allowed myself more time to actually relax, and read for fun. I read almost 80 books in 2013 (many of them close to 1000 pages each). That said, I think I could have read more and I want to.

Looking forward …

2013 was full of action. BRAVE steps. Big leaps. 2014 is going to be more about growing and nurturing what I already have rather than explore any unknown territory. I signed up for Ali’s class again. I could, of course, just re-use the prompts from 2013 but I love Ali and I love the accountability of being part of the class, so I’m all set for the new year. New Pinterest board started and all.

I reviewed my long-term goals that I wrote about 8 months ago … and I still love them all. I want to work toward those small handful of things, all of which involve just continuing and NURTURING what I am already doing. No big changes. No giant leaps. Still small BRAVE choices every day, but no 90-degree turns.

As I said, advertising is not a good income builder. I look at it more as an opportunity for smaller blogs who want some eyeballs. I’ve always thought that sponsoring blogs is a great way to connect with the author, and I will continue to make it an option (if not a priority). I do plan on expanding the options (in post links, highlighted posts, etc) to help out all the smaller blogs I can.

I love Onward and Upward. It has my heart. I’ve been thinking about how I can grow this. Do I want to continue to run annual live workshops? I could compile it all into a book. I could develop it into a monthly membership site? Any thoughts? Preferences?

I want to finish the 1st draft of this second novel and finish a second draft of the first novel (neither have titles yet). And then see where I am. Truthfully, I was just struck with another idea that I think may work better than the one I’m working on. So many choices! I actually really love writing fiction. Who knew? (P.S. My dad knew. He started telling me I could be a writer when I was super young). Like Megan, I want to reread a bunch of the GREAT books, and read more books from my favorite authors. I find I write better and more easily when I’m reading fiction than when I’m reading non-fiction.

I want to further tweak my daily schedule. Optimize, really. I want to try getting up even earlier, NOT checking email right away, and writing for at least 2 hours before I ‘start my day’ and all of my other work.

In general I just want to take care of myself in 2014. Enough water and veggies and exercise (thinking about getting a treadmill because I *die* in the sun). Enough rest to balance all the work. That NURTURE word again.

That’s the plan for now, at least. Who knows what can change in a few months!?

What are your goals and intentions for this new year?


Announcing: be BRAVE ecourse

2013 changed my whole life. I chose BRAVE as my One Little Word and I love it.

It’s when I finally decided to stop playing it safe and responsible and finally started making some BRAVE choices. And I have literally never been happier!

I am so excited to announce my brand new self-paced ecourse:

be brave

Click HERE to register!

I love this ecourse. It’s completely close to my heart. It goes really well with Onward and Upward or the BUILD ecourse, guiding you to do the big work that help you build something amazing. Choosing to be BRAVE time and time again, through all the small choices and the big leaps, has really changed my outlook and shifted my mindset.

But sometimes a little guidance and structure on how to exactly go about starting that is needed.

 I want to help you make more BRAVE choices, take control of your story and change your life.

We’ll start with an INTRO and my story and how my life has been changed since I started focusing on being BRAVE. I may or may not get a little choked up talking about it.

Then we will move to FEAR. Learning to acknowledge and identify it. So then we can ignore it. Fear is a formidable enemy.

The biggest module is ACT. We’ll be reminded why we want to be brave and what the very first step is to start making those brave choices.

And finally a reminder that your BRAVE stories should be recorded, with a few ideas for how to do it.

Each module is a video presentation, with several worksheets thrown in, along with a ton of external resources to expand your new BRAVE mentality. And finally we will all share in a private Facebook as a place to be vulnerable, ask for accountability and share our BRAVE moves.

It’s totally self-paced so you can go through the ecourse as many times as you need for the tools and encouragement to make BRAVE choices.

I hope you will join me!

Click HERE to register and get started

These are included in the ecourse as well, but as a fun freebie, download a be brave wallpaper image!

MOBILE (450×563)    |     DESKTOP (2000×1400)

Check out my lockscreen here for an example.

How are you going to be BRAVE this year?

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fail while daring greatly

Teddy Roosevelt


How to be brave

This last year has been amazing …. and I attribute it all to my focus on being BRAVE.

I knew I had a lot of BIG things I wanted to do this year, so when I went about choosing my One Little Word, I went with an action word. A mantra. Something that would get me going and not provide any excuses.

I’m pretty good at talking myself out of things. But publicly committing to BRAVE helped stem that tendency this year.

I’m not saying it was easy – how could it be? I’m saying that for the times that I DID get over my fears and take BRAVE steps, the reward was more than worth the uncomfortable, paralyzing, anxiety-inducing choices I made.

And now, a year later? BRAVE is my One Little Word for LIFE. Yes, I have chosen a new OLW for 2014, but BRAVE will still be my mantra. It will be my measuring stick against which I judge my choices.

In 2014 I’m going to be BRAVE and I’d like to invite you to be as well.

Here’s how to start:

be braveMake a list of the things that remind you to be brave.

This is what I call ‘tricking my brain’ into being logical. This list can be people you want to be proud of you, or end results you’re working toward or what you have been able to accomplish already. Or anything else that tells your brain that being brave is the right decision, even the fear of doing it makes your heart race.

 If you’re afraid of taking the step that will grow your business, remember that you have customers that want to pay you for what you can offer them. If you’re afraid your readers will think you’re a ‘fraud,’ remind yourself of all the people who know you well and love you for who you are.

If you’re afraid you might fail, remind yourself that you probably will at least once and that nothing will ever chance unless you try. If you’re afraid of missing out on something if you commit to something else, remind yourself that nothing is forever and you can always change course if you *really* want to.

And then ACT in spite of the fear. Just do it. Just go. Just jump. You’ve got all your reasons why you should act written right in front of you. It’s always going to be scary and uncomfortable so there’s no use putting your life on hold to hope for something else.

The New Year is coming up soon! How will you meet it? Be ready and willing to be BRAVE and change your life!

I’m working on a mini, self-paced ecourse tentatively titled be BRAVE, to be released January 1! Look for that next week if you want to kickstart your next year in a big way!

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A year of BRAVE

A year of brave

This year I’m going to be BRAVE.

Sometimes BRAVE means doing something brand new, sometimes it means doing that thing you’ve been putting off for months.

Every so often I have been posting about something BRAVE-ish I’ve done recently – to keep myself accountable to actually DO something AND to remind you being brave is not always lion taming and hang-gliding. There’s a lot of little BRAVE things I’ve been doing along the way too.

Making 2013 my YEAR OF BRAVE has been genuinely life-changing for me.


I have been writing beyond by ability.office  002

I had this idea for a novel that I would totally love to read. I’ve been thinking about it for the last year or so, and in (around) October I started writing it.

And I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know if I can do this. I think the concept+execution is beyond my skill level and is slightly too ambitious for me.

I can’t do this, but I’m doing it anyway.

I KNOW this draft is crap, but I’m going to finish it. I KNOW I may have to scrap the whole thing, but I’m going to finish it. I KNOW that this whole project is beyond my writing skill level, but I’m going to finish it.

I don’t know what will happen after I finish this first draft. I may try to revise it. I may just put it aside.

We’ll see. But I’m going to BE BRAVE and finish this first draft. It could be a failure. It could be a “learning experience” …. it could just be the very first baby step of something super awesome. We’ll see.

What BRAVE thing have you done recently?