Painting my main floor brought me to tears. But it also brought me an important epiphany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloom where you’re planted, they say.

My family is planted right now in the sweetest little flowerpot of a house. It’s adorable, charming, and lovely…but it’s also three sizes too small for our brood.  (We are QUITE the brood, don’t you know.) We’re busting out its seams, so we’ve been on the hunt for the next home…but we were met unexpectedly with a series of unfortunate events to rival the literary tales, complete with an evil Count Olaf character. (Someday I’ll tell you the whole story. Right now it’s still too raw.)

So instead, we are loving the one we’re with.

We’re loving on this sweet house SO HARD.

We’ve hung paintings. We always put flowers on our table. We bought all the plants in the land and put them in cheerful pots out front and made a little oasis out back. We queen swept all our extra clutter to open up as much space as we possibly could. And then, the piece de resistance— with the blessing of the owner, we decided to paint the main floor of our rental.

Oh joy!!! I love to paint!!!

Picking the paint color, though, oh boy. This was big time marital negotiation. We both wanted a pale shade of gray, but do you know HOW MANY shades of gray there are in this world???

Much. Agonizing. Was. Had. SO MANY PAINT CHIPS.

When it came down to our two final choices, Nick let me pick because he is the best of husbands. He generously allowed that I probably had a more finely honed sense of color than him. I didn’t say so out loud, but I secretly agreed with him. Not to brag, but you know those Pantone tests where they test your acuity at seeing nuances in color? Well, I once got a perfect score on one of those, and I’ve carried that knowledge in my pocket for years. Modestly, don’t you know. Like my color genius was my ace in the hole. So I quietly, humbly, did a little victory dance because I KNEW that in the end we had the perfect hue. Perfect, I tell you! Cool enough to work with the dark floors, light enough to open up the space.

And then it was time!

Time to paint!

As my sister once, said, “It’ll be fun, she said! It’ll be easy, she said!”

If you’ve ever painted, you are chortling at me right now, reader.

As well you should.

The worst part of painting is prepping. APPROXIMATELY FORTY HOURS OF TAPING LATER… ok, I exaggerate, it was more like three.

Ohhhh, I was so excited! At last!!!

We commenced painting. I love love LOVE painting things. I go into this sort of a trance state. It makes me deeply happy.

Except this time…this time, something was off. The paint wasn’t drying the right color. It didn’t look gray so much as…. no. It couldn’t be. I shuddered, shook off my paranoia, and continued painting. It would be fine when it dried, I just knew it.

Eight hours after we began, my husband Nick and I looked at each other. It was 10:30 at night. Our arms ached. All our furniture was in a pile in the living room. We had painted the whole damn thing.

I should have been elated. But I felt a little sick.

“Well, babe?” he said. “We did a great job painting our house this nice shade of lavender.”

Funny joke, right?

But I burst into tears. Big snotty hiccuping tears.

“It IS lavender,” I wailed.

And indeed, the perfect shade of gray beautifully covering our walls did have a…shall we say…. distinctly lavender TINGE to it.

And I cried like the world was ending. “I— can’t— even— pick— a FUCKING PAINT COLOR,” I sobbed.

Now this intense flood of tears might seem like a princessy overreaction on my part. But reader, it has been a season of Trying And Failing. Of Things Not Working. Of Everything I Touch Turns To Shit Before My Very Eyes.

This was just thing # 765 that I had tried to do that hadn’t turned out the way I had hoped.

And in that moment, I wasn’t resilient. I wasn’t hopeful. I wasn’t positive. Nope. I bawled my freaking eyes out.

From trying to get an agent for my book, to finding the perfect home for our family and being turned away for mysterious and hurtful reasons, to launching a new class to try to take some time off to get more writing done, to the daunting task of parenting five ever-morphing humans, this has been a year of constant failure. It’s been a year when I’ve felt like every step forward ended in two bags of concrete falling on my head. It’s made me wonder whether I’m even supposed to be a writer and a coach at all. I’ve thought a lot about how maybe I could go get a nice fulfilling job selling used cars.  Because I’d be so good at it, obviously.

So painting our house was just one more thing I’d failed at. I WASN’T EVEN GOOD AT PICKING COLORS. My Pantone glory dream was SMASHED! Reader, what was left for me?

In the morning, the paint looked more like the beautiful gray it was supposed to be. (Around 5pm in the evenings, though, it still reveals its inner aubergine yearnings.)

I scraped together the shreds of my self-respect. It was true that I had broken or failed at an astonishing number of things this past year; more than in the past three years combined. It was true that I was stunningly ill-equipped to deal with the climate and culture here in Alberta, and that the long wait for spring felt like a death march that I wasn’t 100% sure I’d make it through. It was true that instead of writing another book, I poured hours and dollars into the abyss of navigating the immigration system. It was true that my husband has written 6 blog posts in his life and three of them have been picked up by bigger outlets in the past month, while I have written roughly seven million posts in my life and have not one single shred of media interest to show for it. It was true that my jeans were tight and my face was breaking out and the knuckles on my right hand were so swollen with what could only be arthritis that I was going to have to give up wine and gluten for SURE, I just knew it, and life would hardly be worth living then, and also this means I’m officially getting old. Those were facts.

But there was one thing that I could count on. One bedrock of stability that had stayed steady, even through all the crash-and-burn disasters of this past year and the ups and downs in my business. And that is that I always knew I could provide for my family. I had systems in place that gave me clarity to see the valleys coming miles away, and I had safety nets in place that meant that even when something I’d tried to sell totally bombed, we always had more than enough to pay our household bills. I’d created buffers and forecasts and safety nets that gave me total clarity about what was happening with our money.

I tell you this not to brag, but because I lived so many years of my life WITHOUT this clarity. (Did you know that my last job with a steady paycheck was 17 years ago? I was a peon at The Pew Charitable Trusts then, so young and miserable in my nylon pantyhose.) Since then, I’ve been riding the entrepreneurial roller coaster in one form or another. I know the feast-and-famine cycle, and I’ve known scary scary months when I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay my bills. I remember the panic of living that way so vividly— I can taste it in my mouth right this second— and I was flooded with gratitude, suddenly, in my gray-lavender living room, that even in this incredibly hard year I had never had to worry about whether we could pay our bills, or buy Christmas presents, or buy the kids new sneakers.

Just to be clear, this isn’t because we make so much money; it’s because we have brutal clarity about what we do have, and we make ruthless choices about what we’re going to do with it.

And this reminded me! Of something so fundamental to my work! That I had forgotten!

NONE of my coaching programs have come out of ease and triumph. Nope, they all came out of a hideous struggle I’d been through and made it out the other side. I didn’t create The Queen Sweep because I was so organized— it poured straight out of a “oh my god this is so incredibly hard but it turns out that THESE 3 things make a huge difference unlike all the terrible advice out there gosh I should tell everyone I know about this.” And the EFBA mentorship didn’t come about because I felt like a triumphant badass; it was born from a declaration through terrified tears when it became clear that in order to handle the next phase of my life, I would simply HAVE to become stronger and fiercer than I ever wanted to have to be.

And I remembered; ohhhh yes, that’s right!!! This is just my process!!

So in a few years, dear reader, keep your eyes peeled for a class called “How to move from an urban green heaven to the parched prairie suburbs and get married to the love of your life who is undergoing the biggest transition of HIS life and go from one kid to FIVE– without losing your mind.” But I don’t know how to teach that one yet. I’m still figuring it out.

Here’s the one I DO know how to teach. The one I want to share with every single person who’s still caught in that scary, scary place of not knowing where to BEGIN managing their money…because they own a business, or they’re freelance, or they WANT to be once they work up the courage to quit their job. This is the program born directly out of me wanting to shout from the hills, “Stop reading personal finance advice, it won’t work for you, and it’ll just make you feel crazy and ashamed, and of COURSE you haven’t been able to stick to a budget because you don’t know how much is going to come in month to month, and I know, it’s wicked intense, it is, but it can also be the ride of your life if you do THESE six things!” (I get a little excited.)

So. I’ll be teaching a new program in a few weeks. It’s everything I know about money as it applies to entrepreneurs. And next Thursday, I’m teaching a free webinar where I’ll show you my whole money system. Really, the whole thing, because I’m sick of sleazy online marketing peekaboo hype and I bet you are too. Some of you will get what you need just from that webinar; the concepts alone will be the epiphany you were waiting for. Some of you will want to dive into the intensive course with me, where I walk you through setting up the whole system step-by-step.

When it comes to living this life, I don’t have it all figured out. Getting my two-year-old to stay in his crib? NOPE. Exercising on a regular basis? NOPE. Cooking broccoli so it’s perfectly roasted but not charred? NOPE.

But this one thing, managing your money so you have a gorgeous happy peaceful life even when you work for yourself?? THIS ONE I do have figured out. So come join me Thursday, and let’s talk money, honey.

Sign up right here.

And if you ever want me to come help you pick the perfect shade of paint for your living room, just drop me a line; word on the street is that I’m killer at it.

much love,

Anna

P.S. I made a little video where I show you the GIANT STACK of personal finance books I’ve read over the years– that’s right here… or just skip the video and get yourself signed up spit-spot right below:

How to set boundaries when you're a kind, empathic human.

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