I hate writing. Seriously, I hate writing. I have gone through great lengths to not write. Ever since I was about 24 years old I hated writing. I had a boss that always told me I couldn't write. It was actually quite a surprise to me because before that I always did write. She would send me to writing classes and harp on the idea that I couldn't write. When I went for my MBA I took extra classes to avoid writing a thesis. Now over 25 years later I'm crippled by the thought of writing a 25,000 word dissertation and so I have not completed my doctorate work.
So why did I join this challenge? Because I need to write! Writing is an important part of thinking. I've learned through the beginning steps of writing my dissertation that writing allows one to think differently. Writing allows one's mind to explore other possibilities that just thinking alone will not do. I've also learned that I'm not a bad writer. I write like a I speak so my style might be different but it doesn't make me bad. My boss many years back did me a huge disservice by not recognizing I can write, it just wasn't her style of writing.
If you look at the first post in this blog it was 12/8/2016 when I vowed to start a blog because I knew how important it was both for my business and for establishing myself as an expert in my field. Now I'm really doing it! It's time. So, I'm taking on the challenge Paul Taubman has put in front of me and I will write a blog post each day this month to get in the habit of writing. I hope you will follow me and comment when you can. I'm a big believer that if you change your mindset, you change your reality. So, going forward.... I AM A WRITER!
If you'd like to join the ULTIMATE BLOG CHALLENGE click on the link and start your journey as well. https://UltimateBlogChallenge.com.
Founder/ Executive Director
The Natural Life Business Partnership
Before you publish your book, figure out what you want being a published author to mean to you. Then build your author platform with your post-published future in mind.There’s a monthly writer’s club in my area called the Liar’s Club, probably because it was started by fiction writers. It is quite a large group featuring writers from all genres, many of whom are published, just like me. Some are self-published, others are traditionally published, and some have done both — because there are a lot of good reasons to self-publish.
Two important reasons self-publishing is valuable are 1) being an author of a book can help open doors; and 2) it allows you to create a platform for yourself, a springboard to launch your career, whether it be for writing assignments, being seen and sought as an expert on a topic, or a variety of other things.
Who do you want to be?Being able to say you’re a published author is a big deal, but before you publish your book, you need to explore what you want being a “published author” to mean. What I mean is, if you are looking to launch a career — whether it’s writing or something else — by self-publishing a book, you have an opportunity to “create yourself” through your book’s content, your platform, and your bio.
If you are self-publishing, you’ll probably be doing all the marketing, which means you get to create your own image. This can start in the pre-launch phase of publishing your book. So the question is, “Who do you want to be?”
Your author bio gives you a platform and you get to decide what your extended author’s platform will be. By extended I mean that, aside from your book, what are you promoting about yourself? It could be beliefs about management or life, personal philosophies, business knowledge, or even the direction you want your career to go.
The book I wrote is a memoir about the practice of spiritual journaling and how it helped me during an uncertain transition from corporate America into a solo massage practice. As I was writing the book, I was also meditating with a sangha (Buddhist community) and being asked to lead the group in the founder’s absence. That gave me the confidence to search for and become an instructor of meditation with another organization. At the same time, I began teaching spiritual journaling.
As a result, I decided my platform would be that I am a teacher of holistic practices and meditation, including spiritual journaling and channeling creativity that comes from gratitude. “Teacher” is a broad enough term to include writing as well as speaking, so that’s also part of my platform.
Not sure what your platform would be? Ask yourself, “What is my area of expertise?” For example, if you write historical fiction and have expertise in wars of the twentieth century, maybe you want to make that proclamation. If you are an author of a cookbook and a registered dietitian with a knack for making quick, healthy meals and can help working moms who want to change their family’s eating habits, make that your platform.
Before my book launched, I was already teaching holistic practices that have helped me to lead a simpler life. Now I’m doing even more of it. It’s because I set it up that way. Currently, I teach classes to students who are in front of me, and soon I will offer an online course as independent study. This happened because I knew that to create these types of opportunities, I had to put myself “out there.”
In the world of self-publishing, this means I need to take advantage of promotions that get my book into reader’s hands. For me, this meant some post-launch spending that got me read and rated (repeatedly at five out of five stars), and even one request to be interviewed for a magazine. Because I knew what I wanted my platform to be, I was comfortable asking the interviewer how she got into freelance writing, which led to a recommendation to her senior editor. As a result, I now write articles, squarely in my wheelhouse, for an international magazine, specifically in the columns of “Body, Mind and Soul,” “A Writer’s Life,” and “Poetry.”
In terms of post-launch spending, I paid for a short subscription to NetGalley through Smith Publicity. I also purchased three reviews through Reader’s Write, so I could have language and a reviewer’s name to include on book cards, a marketing tool used by traditional publishing houses, which I co-designed through a local FastSigns agency.
All of this has augmented my author platform because I have professionally-created materials and reviews that showcase my work. This has led to my speaking at writer’s clubs, women’s groups, and even a book panel at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, sometimes receiving stipends and always getting to showcase my book.
My latest expenditure, supported by the monthly royalties I have received from my book sales, is paying for an advertisement in a magazine geared towards creatives. I’m so excited because I know I’ll reach the right people and that my book will be read (one of the greatest gifts to an author) and will help people.
What’s so terrific about this is that it’s putting me in contact with the people who enjoy spiritual self-help books. This is my genre. This is where I need to be! Helping people find their inner spirit wisdom where simplicity and creativity lives. But this is me — where you need to be is with your own people, on your own platform!
If not, you’ll be trying to push your book to followers on your personal social media accounts. That’s not where your readers are, unless you pick your friends by the books they read. You’ll still be sympathetic when you hear the published author on the panel at your local writer’s club say, “My dad doesn’t like my books.” But you’ll also rally with her as she explains she has a very targeted audience and a platform because she did leg the work. She focused on herself and what she was offering and her audience found her!
About Charter Member and NLBP Writer's Roundtable facilitator Marie Higgins:
Marie Higgins is an author and teacher of holistic practices, including meditation and spiritual journaling. She educates individuals on how holistic practices can lead to a simpler life: a way of life that says spirit first (listen to the heart); take care of self (listen to the body), and give back to the world. Her debut nonfiction piece, Sprouting Spiritual Growth: A Memoir and Guide to Spiritual Journaling, is an inspirational self-help book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble that provides a guide to get to the truth and beauty of simple, everyday living through the tool of spiritual journaling.
One of the questions at the recent NLBP Writer's Roundtable is how do I get started writing. This question is very broad and could take many different follow-up questions to figure out what is the particular issue for the individual. For example, it might be that there is procrastination involved. If that's the case, it might be best with starting out with uncovering the reasons for the procrastination.
But that's not my focus today. My focus today is where do I start if I want to write a major project, like a book, a screenplay, or a blog. I believe that creativity comes after doing the work and the work can take a few different pathways.
1. Work with a life coach or spiritual director to find out where your blocks are happening.
2. Work alone, but within a program. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is a good place to start. I used her ten-week workbook for an entire year completing it 4 times in succession (I had flow afterwards, writing my first book in one month).
3. Get the creative juices flowing by doing some daily writing assignments: A. Journal your thoughts. B. Write poetry or a short story. C. Write letters to the editor of any magazine or newspaper you're reading.
4. Attend workshops or events that relate to your project (poetry readings, writer's conferences, public relations classes, etc.)
5. Do any or all of steps 1 to 4 and then start on your project.
Doing these things has moved me in the direction of becoming a professional writer. I'm not a millionaire yet, but I'm young, give me time.
If you read my blog, you know that last week I attended a Poetry Reading by the current Poet Laureate, Yolanda Wisher. Attending gave me the idea to use one of her methods. She will come up with a topic and write all the descriptors down for that topic. With those words she writes a poem about something that is not the topic. For example, her discriptive words were all about cooking, but her poem was about love. This weekend I used this method and wrote a poem about my grandmother using diamonds as the topic. I'll debut it here and wish you lots of luck with your own writing.
HOPE FOR GRANDMA GEM
Round face and pear shaped,
Quiet yet attractively bright.
She interacts with fellow patients,
The marquis looking on.
Don’t leave yet, for Grandpa’s sake,
Keep your sparkling breath
To cut his ego where you must.
Your words say it just so.
Opposite of a hard-cutting stone
Your belly is untamed now,
Like the best grandmas
Who like their own cooking.
Priceless to me,
And a Premier Rose to Grandpa.
Precise artistry fashioned you,
Even the nervous breakdown was by design.
It made you stronger,
Proportioned and polished.
Now a magnificent return to light,
We cried with the marquis.
He thought you unbreakable,
Or at least less than he.
Never again would he say
“Give me some sugar.”
To magma you returned,
Scattered into all colors of the rainbow.
Your scintillation dead,
But memory never forgotten.
I think of you often.
With clarity and color, you wrote words.
You wrote a poem for my mom’s assignment.
I believe you were capable of writing more.
Now I adorn empty pages,
My hope for Grandma Gem.
Submitted by Marie Higgins, author of Sprouting Spirituality,
Charter Member NLBP, and Facilitator of the NLBP Writer's Roundtable.
The gut microbiome, composed of various fungi, viruses, and bacteria, is a vital part of the human host. Taking centre stage, with regard to understanding disease and what causes chronic medical conditions and symptoms, the gut microbiome can play a significant role in the intestinal immune system and inflammation.
Research is being carried out to better understand how changes to the gut microbiome can modulate disease. Epigenetic changes are thought to occur in response to a wide variety of factors, including weight, physical activity, nutrition, and environmental and emotional exposures. The microbiome can affect these factors, and vice-versa. Low-molecular-weight substances produced by the gut microbiota can interact with the cellular environment, affecting the signaling pathways and gene expression that regulate cell death, inflammation, and differentiation. It is nearly impossible to have a discussion on genetics and health and not include the gut microbiome. Understanding the gut microbiome and its interaction with the epigenome and diseases will help physicians to improve disease prevention and treatment.
CLICK HERE to read the full article on Oxford Medicine Online…
Learn more about Aly Cohen, MD, FACR at: http://thesmarthuman.com/our-team/
Are you a holistic practitioner looking for a business group where you're appreciated? Understood? Look no further!
The Natural Life Business Partnership (NLBP) was formed in January 2016 aiming to support holistic professionals by building a collaborative community who work as advisers for each other to build stronger businesses in the industry: “In less than 2 years we have grown more than I could have possibly imagined” says Executive Director, Camille Miller. “It says a lot about how much a group like ours was needed.”
Our unique collaborative community offers business planning workshops, face-to-face networking events, morning coffees, educational webinars, online discussion groups, and many teleconferences. Most recently added is a Side Business Struggles conference call for part-timers looking to transition into full-time healing; a Writer's Roundtable to support publishing authors; and a Medical Practitioner's Business Forum for the growing number of doctors who are leaving large practices and hospitals to start a more natural based practice. NLBP continues to create more special interest groups at the sole direction and needs of the membership.
“We could not have become such a strong, vibrant community without our members continued dedication to the mission and selfless involvement in helping others achieve their goals. We have new business owners as well as experienced and each help the other with what they can” explains Miller
Being a member of NLBP gives you access to so many informative programs and great events year-round. We provide an expanding network of like-minded practitioners to socialize and discuss ideas with. Our goal is to help you grow your natural business and raise the bar of our professionalism in the natural health and wellness community. “Membership pays for itself when you add up all the value but I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not for everyone. This is a group of dedicated professionals who want to work on various aspects of their business and bring credibility to their name. We hold each member to a high standard of professionalism and believe membership signifies a unity in our professional community.”
Membership includes all programming, networking events, mastermind groups, and any services. NLBP does not sell any products or do individual counseling. It is encouraged that all members participate and give back to help other members. To date, Charter membership is only $295/year but will increase on December 1.
Learn more at www.TheNaturalLife.org
Last week I gave a free health seminar entitled “Why Am I Always Tired?” We discussed three fundamentals of good health that can prevent and heal the majority of health issues we all encounter, including fatigue. Your present and long term health depends on all three.
1. Drink enough pure water. Consistently drink half your body weight in ounces of pure water each day. I do not recommend tap water. Instead, drink spring water or filtered water. Using a Brita pitcher with a filter at home is a great place to start. And no, the water in coffee, soda, and other flavored beverages doesn’t count towards your daily intake.
2. Get enough quality sleep. Consistently get at least eight hours of sleep per night. And lights out by 10:00 p.m.!
3. Eat the right food. Consistently eat whole foods. Include good quality protein, healthy fat and vegetables of all colors. Consistently strive to avoid sugar and processed foods.
Once you’ve established these three fundamentals, add deep breathing and exercise to your routine and you’re well on your way. Ignoring any of these fundamentals will make other health improvement efforts, such as taking a nutritional supplement, much less effective. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Incremental changes in the short run amount to huge changes over time. I am a testament to this.
What’s your story of transformation going to be?
by Cindy Harrington, CNC, CHS, CINHC, CYT
Center for Nutritional Healing
Before I left my 15 year career in Human Resources I started to create a skills list while also considering what kind of job I could do out of my house. Someone I worked with asked if I had considered massage. He thought I had the temperament for it. Recalling my love of giving and receiving back rubs with my sisters, I wrote touch on my skills list. I also scheduled my first appointment with a professional massage therapist and she worked out of her home. Six months later I was in massage school! That was almost eight years ago.
Massage school prepared me for both the business side and technique side of having a solo practice. What it didn’t prepare me for is how I would feel at networking sessions when there were other massage therapists on hand, or even harder for me to deal with, those who represented one of the many new massage chains. At first I thought that I could not compete and felt less than.
Fortunately my classmates and I had formed a marketing club after graduation. We shared leads and the marketing venues which worked for each of us. We also shared our frustrations. I don’t think I’d have the business I have today without having had this group, and maybe I wouldn’t have my sanity either. At one point someone in this group said, “There’s enough skin to go around.” Well, I got to thinking about that and used it as my mantra. It really changed my outlook! Over these last seven years this concept has come to mean many things to me and I think it can be applied to many types of businesses. Here is what I have learned:
1.) Expect and embrace competition. If you have a good product, chances are that some version of it has already been on the market or will be soon. Instead of being negative about the competition, embrace it! Especially in the service industry, I can’t possibly be of service to every person out there, so just realizing that everyone should have an opportunity to be helped is a great attitude changer.
I was NOT good at embracing the competition in the beginning. Looking back, I think it showed. If someone stood up before me at a networking session and said they managed a spa or that they were a licensed massage therapist themselves, my ego was deflated and the real, genuine me didn’t show through. Now, with a new attitude, what I have to offer shines through!
2.) Know your unique selling points. After all, there is only one you, and what YOU offer is special because it is unique to you. For me, I have several unique characteristics that altogether make my practice a one and only type of practice:
A.) I am interested in medical massage and so after graduation I have taken more coursework in this area and have become more specialized.
B.) I do not rush my clients on or off the table. My studio has one client in it at a time and I allot space before and after the massage to prepare for each specific client, giving more than enough time to discuss their current ailments and to debrief afterwards.
C.) No one else has my hands. This last one is the golden nugget because there are absolutely no other hands exactly like mine. But I can apply this to my blogging business and you can apply it to your business because we can replace the word “hands” with whatever we feel is our greatest asset for our business at hand (brain, heart, honesty, writing skills, etc.).
3.) The right people will come. I attract the most wonderful people as clientele! I don’t think that it is by chance. I think it’s because I can define “right people” and therefore will attract these people. Specifically, I want people who are positive and either already believe in the healing power of massage, or if they’ve never had a massage, they are open to the idea and incorporate massage into their health regime. Translation: Know what a good client is for you. For me, I want regulars who benefit from my practice.
4.) I must do the work. This doesn’t just mean the actual hands on work that is involved when a client is in front of me. It’s the unpaid work time, the time when I do not have a client on my table. For example, it is important that I stay abreast of what’s happening in my industry by reading journals and taking classes that I think will be interesting to me and at the same time beneficial to my clients. It’s also important that I build the right marketing venues for me and that I work hard to keep them current. It means updating my website when I get a new certification or providing relevant information in my newsletters.
5.) If I can’t help someone, I refer them to the right person. I learned this best from a local chiropractor who most often helps his clients, but if he can’t, then after a few sessions of not getting results, he refers his patients for massage, physical therapy, orthopedic appointments or other referrals. In this example, it might be that our income stops at this point, or maybe never even starts, but we have still helped this person and this creates good Karma (I can’t get away from the body-mind-spirit connection anymore)!
These are the main points for me, and I am sure there is more good advice out there. If you are new to the business of selling yourself, then you might have more questions than answers. That’s ok because we all have to start somewhere. Either way, please share your own advice, comments or questions, we’d love to hear from you!
About NLBP Charter Member, Marie Higgins
Marie Higgins is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Blogger. She started massage school 8 years ago having had only one experience of massage herself. During the same period she was in school she received spiritual direction and quickly became a believer in the body, mind and spirit connection. In fact, Marie joined NLBP because the members speak the language of those who believe in this connection. Prior to that she worked in Human Resource Management and earned her MBA from St. Louis University (1993).
The blogging Marie does is about her experiences that come as a result of a spiritual journaling practice. She hopes to help others more fully develop their inner spirit wisdom. In 2015 she “broke ground” by setting up a blog site and then, beginning in 2016, shares two posts each week with the goal of getting people to ask God* “what else should I know?”.
More information can be found at CardinalTouch.net about the blog and more information may be found about massage at www.amtamembers.com/mariehiggins.
It’s a New Year! We are always so excited to close one year and move into a new. Clean the slate. Set our goals. Start over. “This year will be better,” we say. But what do we need to do to set up our goals for the upcoming year?
I’m often asked “where do I start?” Well, a great first step is looking back. Look back at where your business came from in the last year. Look back at what didn’t work. These are all pieces of information that you need to consider before setting your new path. For example, if you see that two-thirds of your business is coming from speaking events then in this year’s plan you should be finding ways to increase your speaking engagements which will in turn increase your sales. On the flip side, after evaluating ad responses you discover that a particular ad that you ran all year has not brought in any direct business, it would be prudent to discontinue that ad and try something new.
The next question is, where do you want to go from here? Knowing where you want your business to be in two or five years can give you vision and clarity to setting a timeline of what might be reasonable to accomplish this year for a five year goal. For simplicity say in five years you want to add four items to your product line. Well, this year your goal should be to identify one or two new products and consider testing the market for them. You must also assume not all the products you test will be successful so if you need four in five years you may need to identify more than four to test market.
Make a list of new skills you may want to acquire. For example, learning about business strategy is very important to me. I study successful people and business models. So, I make it a point to read two hours every day. Is learning a new skill for you? Maybe it’s to get your business on social media or start a new blog. Take one thing, one new goal, and add that to your business plan. You can also think through what that new skill will add to your business. Will learning social media or starting a new YouTube account increases your exposure which will in turn increase your sales volume?
If writing a business plan and setting goals seems like a daunting task, just start the first step. Look at the year you just left behind and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and why.
Founder & Executive Director
The Natural Life Business Partnership
I've been struggling with the task of adding a blog to our website for months now. I wanted the blog but the burden of knowing I needed to fill it every week or even every month was a weight I didn't want to bare. You see, writing is a daunting task for me and even though I can speak on many subjects, I can't always write about them.
So here I am at the end of the year working with each of you, our loyal members, thinking through our business strategies for the next 12 months and I didn't even do the things on my own list. So yesterday I started taking those baby steps.... I launched a business discussion group for our members on LinkedIn (go join now!) and today I'm launching our blog. My vision is for members to contribute articles on their work and specialties so everyone can get a better understanding of all the possibilities of healing through natural methods.
I've learned so much in the last 8 months talking to groups and meeting people trying to spread the word of NLBP. I've been so fortunate to meet so many people and learn about the great work being done naturally in so many places. I've learned that we truly don't compete with one another either. We are all trained and gifted so differently that we bring unique talents and insight to our work, which in fact differentiate us even though some many have the same title.
In the coming weeks I hope to add business thoughts to this blog as the subjects come up in discussions. I also hope our members will contribute some great articles on whatever their particular interests may be. If you have an idea you'd like to write about or would like to have a piece to read on please let me know.
I am blessed to be working as the leader of this great group!
Camille L. Miller
NLBP is a national, member-based, professional development organization for the holistic professional or earth-centered business owner. We foster professionalism and growth while providing valuable business support, local networking opportunities and a collaborative professional community. JOIN TODAY!
Membership is the best investment you can make in yourself!
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