Give Yourself Grace

Lately I’ve been following the lovely Kate Northrup, exploring what she has to say through her blog, her podcast, and her best selling book Money: A Love Story. Kate is a vibrant, authentic, successful, and smart entrepreneur, born and raised in Maine. Mother to a toddler of her own, she dedicates her work to helping women in business–and now moms in business–live the lives they dream of. In spite of our disparate backgrounds, much of what she has to say applies beautifully to my life now, and I have been inspired by her over the past few months. Oh, and I also have a huge girl crush on her.

One concept that Kate discusses as a path to “financial freedom” is that of passive income. I have to admit, this idea is totally new to me. I never even thought of it as a possibility in my life. Growing up in a household where all available funds were used for living expenses, investing was not something we did. Nor I am in a position to do much of it now. However, Kate focuses less on investing money and more on investing time and energy on projects that allow you to earn money outside of the traditional hours-worked-equals-dollars-earned mode; projects that earn income even when you aren’t working your butt off on them.

For example, many people create passive income by writing a book. Hmmmm… writing a book. This is something that has crossed my mind before. I mean, obviously I have LOADS of free time to write. And, of course, my book–a memoir, to be exact–would immediately skyrocket to a best seller and provide my family with a modest but comfortable passive income, eliminating any shadow of financial stress as I continue to raise my children, work as a doula, practice yoga, drink coffee with friends, self-reflect, eat chocolate, and otherwise live the live I am meant to lead. Obviously.

Sarcasm aside, I am sitting with the idea. Trying it on for size. There are aspects of my story that I feel compelled to share. My journey as a new mom, as a young breast cancer survivor, as a high-school-teacher-turned-doula. My journey carrying, birthing, and parenting twins. My overarching journey as a recovering perfectionist: learning that I am not perfect (nor meant to be perfect) and learning to love myself passionately and unconditionally just as I am. (This last piece is a work-in-progress.)

And so at 5:30 this morning, coffee in hand and toddler by my side, I opened my chromebook and googled, “How to write a book.” (Hey, you have to start somewhere, right?)

After scrolling briefly through this and that, I settled on “10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book” by Jeff Goins. The list includes practical, tangible tidbits of advice that made me feel like I was ready to write, like, NOW. Decide what the book is about, set a daily word count goal, set a total word count goal, write every day… I can totally do this! And then… number nine:

Embrace failure. As you approach the end of this project, know that this will be hard and you will most certainly mess up. Just be okay with failing, and give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you — the determination to continue, not your elusive standards of perfection.”

Good one, Universe. In one little bullet point about writing a book, Groins captures my major life learning of the past decade: “You will most certainly mess up.”  Let go of “your elusive standards of perfection,” and “just be okay with failing.” But, most importantly, “GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.”

Maybe I am a masochist. Life gets a little comfortable and I think, “Gee, what other project can I take on that is totally new that will inevitably lead to failures, forcing me to come head to head with my own imperfection?” I don’t know though… Maybe Groins’ little piece of advice is a sign–an arrow pointing me towards the next opportunity to exercise resilience and to chase that ever-allusive practice of giving myself some grace.