The Suitcase Entrepreneur - 30 Day Blog Challenge
I'm sitting here with a 30 minute timer going, forcing myself to sit and write...even if I'm not feeling very clever, even if I don't know where to begin, and even questioning why the hell I'm doing this. I listened to an interview on NPR a couple of weeks ago with a writer (I can't remember who it was) who was talking about how her father (also a famous writer - can't remember his name either) became incredible at his craft because he put in the time. Every. Single. Day. He would sit at his typewriter from 10am to 1pm and then again from 2pm to 5pm every day without fail. And he would type. Over half of it would go in the trash, but there would always be a few sentences, maybe even a paragraph, of the good stuff, of prose so succulent, poignant, so fresh that it made all those hours with his ass in the chair worth it. Just for those amazing words strung together to make an amazing moment of observation and thought.
So that's kind of what I'm hoping for with this blog challenge. I'm committing some "ass in the chair" time with the hope that somehow I'll end up with a few nuggets of Kansas girl wisdom that will unwittingly flow from my fingers on to this blog.
Writing has always been an incredible catharsis and creative outlet for me and over the past few years I've gotten away from it. Now it seems like my most creative writing decisions involve how to sign off in an email. And we all know I should just stop right there and NOT get creative at all when it comes to emails. I'm the only one who thinks I'm clever. ;)
Aside from getting my writing mojo back, I've also started this blog challenge to help me do a little soul searching to align what I want in my business with my ideal life, to figure out what other projects I might want to pursue, and hopefully better how I can actually bring some good into this world with the unique talents and knowledge I have. This has been my year of self-reflection, self-evaluation, self-improvement, and general self-stuff. So this last month is going to focus on how all that self-stuff fits with my professional stuff and "what kind of life do I want to have" stuff. And don't worry. It's not at all lost on me that all this "self" talk sounds vaguely like "selfish" talk. Narcissism at its worst? Perhaps. But I also know that it's hard to give of yourself when you're struggling with where you are, what you can contribute, and how to get where you want to go.
How The New Dorothy Began
But getting to the other end of a journey typically requires that you understand how you ended up here in the first place. So let's take a look at how this blog and the whole "New Dorothy" thing got started. Clearly, I blame study abroad since that's my jam and first professional love. In May of 2005, I found myself on another trans-Atlantic flight headed to England to take a course on British Higher Education and start a graduate internship at the University of Hull in Yorkshire/Humberside. I had been advising college students on study abroad for a year at that point and told them all to start a blog - something I wished I had done or had availability to when I had studied abroad in college. So with my own graduate study abroad experience starting up, I figured I should practice what I was preaching and start up a shiny new blog myself. Except it wasn't called The New Dorothy (that would come later). It started as Brooklyn's Beanery (I have no idea why - I think it had something to do with my love for coffee - who knows) and one of my first posts was a detailed account of getting "pissed" (as the British would say) at a colleague's "Ann Summers" party (think X-rated Victoria's Secret)...and my boss and the entire office thinking it was "Awesome!" that I'd let loose my first weekend in town. [What they didn't know was that I had rarely ever had alcohol at that point in my life and kept drinking the wine they were pouring me for fear of being ridiculed and labeled a prude. Oops. I guess I traded in the prude label for the lush label...something I couldn't shake the rest of the summer. But it was all in good fun.] And so began my summer of study abroad shenanigan documentation and general cultural observations.
Let's make no mistake. I've always been a terrible blogger. Terrible. As in, I don't follow any of the rules about consistency or frequency. (Which is another reason I wanted to do this blog challenge. It's my way of forcing myself to write). But while I'm the crappiest blogger around, becoming a real-life, full-time professional blogger has been a dream of mine for years. Yeah I know. It doesn't make any sense and leaves me scratching my head in confusion. Seriously. I've wanted to be a professional blogger since I found out there was such a thing back in 2006. (I may have been a little slow to figure this out...but once I did, I started cyber-stalking some of the most successful bloggers in industries like social media, home improvement/DIY, entrepreneurship, career coaching, life coaching, education, business, marketing, etc.) I was like a little kid from the 1980s, staring into the shop windows around Christmas, lusting after "insert crazy popular toy of the moment here," praying to god and to all that is holy to please have Santa deliver it to me at Christmas. Blogging seemed so perfect. And it spoke to my introvert ways, my very wordy nature, and my desire for an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that seemed to be constantly sprouting up in my head. Turns out blogging is actual hard work and not just a place for random musings from a random girl in England. Or is it...? ;)
So I started the silly Brooklyn's Beanery with the hope of documenting my experience in England and to make sure my mom could check in on me and make sure I was alive (I was really bad about emailing and calling). After that summer, I had various spurts of blogging activity, but nothing too groundbreaking and it was all just an exercise in documenting my life. Not exactly a page turner.
And then I decided to move to China and teach English. In July 2006, after finishing grad school, I took my first trans-Pacific flight to Beijing and spent the next 8 months teaching at Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai (near Macau in the south). This is when I decided I was going to become this amazing world-famous travel blogger, documenting all the wonderful adventures, interesting food, amazing friends, foreign lands I would discover during my time in Asia. But I needed a new name (not actual content - a name!). My good friend came up with the name "The New Dorothy."
Here's why: I grew up in Kansas and after high school I took off to college and never really looked back. And it seemed everywhere I traveled (even now this happens), once someone discovered I grew up in the homeland of Dorothy Gale, the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy jokes followed. So I had this persona...I figured I should run with it. And I'm not going to lie. I kinda love it. :) So it's staying.
And this leads me back to where this post was supposed to begin: Why did I start this blog and what do I want to get out of the this blogging challenge. [Perhaps I should have started with an outline...but hey, I've clocked 1 hour of "ass in the chair" time and it feels pretty good even if the finished product is a little spastic.] So we know why I started this blog "in the beginning," but why do I want to keep it going now? Let's get into it.
Why I Want To Blog
About six months ago I started my own company (Yoga Travel Tree) and what I've discovered the past several months is that entrepreneurship is amazing...and it really sucks...and it's amazing...and it really sucks... You get the idea. It's the most bipolar and hot-cold relationship you'll ever be in...and some times it feels unhealthy, like an abusive relationship you just can't escape or just don't have the will to leave. And other times you just want to cuddle with it for hours, whispering little sweet-nothings, falling in love all over again.
And since I'm learning so much from this process (and understand a lot about running a business from my other experiences), The New Dorothy seems like a great place to start sharing some of that knowledge and experience with others who might be interested in taking the plunge and falling in love with their own [sometimes abusive] baby. Beyond just general business tales, content and advice, this blog is also rooted in my own story (both success and failures). And my story is defined by my willingness to chart my own course, to follow my own path despite the fear, the adversity, and the naysayers. And just like the original Dorothy had to discover, a lot of us need to be reminded that our success, our deepest desires, the lives we want all rests within us. We've had it all along. We just have to find our own path, our own brick road (any color will due). So I suppose my deepest hope with this blog (the why behind the why, behind the why) is to inspire someone out there who is hesitating at the beginning of the journey, who just needs a little nudge and encouragement to take that first step toward the life they want.
But make no mistake: I've still got my business baby (Yoga Travel Tree) to nurture, grow, and generally make awesome. So much of this content will be about building it in a way that helps me achieve the life I want, with the people I love most in my life, and the adventures I want to seek.
Why A Blog Challenge
Like I said, this blog challenge has a few motives for me. And since I want to be a good blogger, I'll even bullet them for you here. You're welcome. :)
- Ass in the Chair Time - Publicly committing to writing every single day is huge for me and will require me to do something I have never been able to accomplish before.
- Tighten and Tone - I don't have a lot of time. I've got a real business to grow and team to work with...I can't spend 2 hours (like I am now) every day documenting a random stream of consciousness. This process will help me tighten up my own writing process and force me to tone up my writing style (and not subject people to such a litany of words, sentences, etc). Because let's face it, if it can be said in 5 words, I'll say it in 30.
- Put My Thinking Cap On - One of the main reasons I started my own company is that I wanted to have some self-determination when it came to my time, where I worked, who I worked with, and [hopefully] how much income I could earn. This blogging challenging isn't just about blogging. It's also about brainstorming and getting creative about additional revenue streams I can create within my company and other alternative streams I can create outside of Yoga Travel Tree. Developing more income will start to give me more of those other freedoms too.
- Lock and Load - Once I've got the thinking juices flowing, it's time to refine and start creating. Because ideas without action are...well...nothing. And it's time to get it poppin'! Additionally, over the past year, I've spent a lot of time meditating, going to counseling, confiding in friends, and reflecting about the life I really want. I'm at an extremely unique and privileged place in history and geography where I can choose ANY life I want. [And having every choice isn't always a good thing.] But luckily with all that reflection and thinking...I do know the life I want and I know the people I want to share it with. This blog challenge is going to serve as one small step toward achieving that life.
So here we go. See you on the other side...
Image found here from Wonderful_Places on Instagram. Edited by me.