A couple weeks ago Jon Acuff (New York Times best selling author of “Quitter”, “Stuff Christians Like” and “Start”) tweeted:
“Adventurers wanted. 24 People. Email me your name, address & phone number. I’m deleting this post in 17 hours”
(or something close, shoulda got a screenshot). So I sent him my info and shortly received an e-mail stating I was “in”. There are over 1,000 people worldwide that are participating in the START experiment and our 24 day adventure starts on Monday, July 15. Acuff said a machete and passport might be necessary so I got mine ready just in case.
In preparation for this whole ordeal my husband, Harmony, and I listened to Acuff’s book “Start: Punch Fear in the Face. Escape Average. Do work that matters.” while we drove from Chicago to LaCrosse, WI to visit family for the 4th of July. We were both inspired to start something new. Additionally, I decided to share some of my thoughts about START in my blog.
In order to START something significant, you have to learn how to deal with the lies that fear & doubt whisper in your ear. In my next few blogs, I’m going to unveil some of the fear & doubt dragons I had to slay & some important lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Why don’t I just go ahead and start with the most shallow excuse that I struggled with when starting my book series…
“Children’s book authors & performers are not cool”
When I first started to dream about my book series & corresponding songs, I imagined I’d end up like a party clown at a toddlers birthday party. I’d roll up in my polka dot van wearing polka dot pants, giant shoes and false face. I’d proceed to pull out my acoustic guitar that, naturally, I would have covered with smiley face stickers, and sing the hokey-est versions of every nursery rhyme Mother Goose honked out of her bird brain.
I imagined my son’s friends someday asking him what his parents do for a living and he’d respond by turning his head, covering his mouth and muttering an embarrassed, “My mom is a (cough) children’s book author and performer (cough).”
You see, from 2003-2008ish I performed as a singer songwriter, traveling from coffee shop to bar to church doing my thing. Then I was in a rock band, doing an occasional festival and *almost* opening for John Mayer (long story). Meanwhile, several of my friends *actually* made it big in the music industry. So, I imagined my successful friends talking about me in hushed tones at parties, “Can you believe that Amaryah sings children’s songs now? …Ha! It’s too bad she couldn’t get her act together enough to succeed at her solo career!”
I basically thought I was going from this:
The thought of dressing funny & singing for kids was a serious downgrade… well, at least my imagined version was BUT there were a couple things I didn’t consider:
1. I’m in good company!
Kindie music (cool music for kids) is a real thing. A big thing. Some very cool bands like The Killers, Weezer and Hot, Hot Heat line up to make guest appearances on Yo Gabba Gabba. The Kindie scene has become the main gig of artists like Lisa Loeb, The Verve Pipe and They Might Be Giants. And if you don’t know who Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes are… you should!
2. Kids think I’m pretty darn cool (until they’re at least 8)
Kids don’t have baggage & inhibitions like adults. They dance, laugh, giggle and jump for joy without abandon. They LOVE music. They’re not cynical. They don’t think a good melody is not hipster enough and if you show up with a guitar and play & sing, they’ll think you are cool until they’re at least 8!
3. Being a successful author/singer is better than being an average anything else
‘Nuff said. But seriously… who would hate? People who haven’t escaped average… that’s who! (By the way, my definition of success has morphed over the years… it now looks like earning a living doing something I love).
4. There’s FINALLY a use for all my disjointed skills!
When I was 8, I started piano lessons. In high school, I took graphic design and web design classes. My 10th grade English teacher inspired me to write poetry. That same year I started taking guitar lessons. In college, I dated a guy who taught me how to use Photoshop. Later in college, a friend taught me how to edit photos for fashion magazines. I made websites for bands. I interned with a record company. I had the best songwriting professor anyone could hope for! My music theory teachers stretched my limits. My college poetry professor cheered me on. My husband, one of the best songwriters I’ve ever known/heard, helped me perfect songs. I worked a stressful job running group music therapy sessions. I nannied two cute boys. I worked a fun job teaching music in private lessons & classes. All of these random things have converged for the perfect storm. NOTHING is wasted.
5. I was made to do this!
I have no doubt now. I have never been more excited to work in my life. I LOVE writing books. I love teaching kids to read & love music. I could be a small fish in a big sea of aspiring singer-songwriters but instead I get to charter new territory! I’m STARTing something new, challenging and adventurous!
What are YOUR fears? How can you dispel them? Go write them down and hit them with the TRUTH! …and then go buy Jon Acuff’s “Start” because he says it all best anyway!
Check out my near post about fear: “4 Ways to Fight the Fear “I’m Too Poor“