Reflections On My 5 Year Blogiversary

Five years ago today, I published my first blog post on what used to be called Let ME Out!! Releasing Your Creative Self. I’ve since shortened the name to Let ME Out!! although most people say to me, “Oh, right! You’re from Let ME Out Creative.” Sometimes I correct them and sometimes I don’t because a) how flattering is it that they even know my blog! and b) letmeout.com was taken so I had to come up with something else. I threw in the word ‘creative’ because that’s a huge part of my brand. Thus, letmeoutcreative.com was born and so, officially, was my journey as a public writer. A writer with a confusing blog name. But a writer, nonetheless.

The support of my readers, and my hot fiery love affair with words have kept me going through the ups and downs of life. There were times I had to step away from my blog or reduce the time I spent here because of Life Stuff, but when I came back I was always welcomed by ‘the page’ and my readers.

Writing started off as my private safety net when I just wrote in a journal, a place I’d land when nowhere else felt comfortable or inviting. When I moved my words onto a public blog, I vowed to maintain my authenticity and vulnerability, and that feat alone has been worth the experience. Writing ‘out loud’ meant choosing my words for an audience, and looking back on the last five years, I learned that choosing ‘real’ sometimes meant choosing ‘scary’ but ALWAYS meant choosing right. If I can say one thing to novice or experienced bloggers, I’d say keep it real. It’s valued by your readers and at the end of the day, no matter what people think about you or your blog, you’ll be able to live with it. You may crawl under your covers in a fetal position to ward off the trolls and their comments, but the next morning you’ll start fresh, and you’ll still be a ‘you’ you can love.

Let ME Out!! has been like the proverbial toe dip in the water. It allowed me to test out my voice in front of a large audience. Kind of like clearing my throat in a microphone while on stage in a darkened theatre. Once the words started flowing, they kept right on going and spilled over into other avenues as well. Meanwhile, I kept defining and redefining what the blog was about, how I could help others with their creative release and authentic-life-building. Eventually I came to the conclusion that this blog was hugely about me building my own authentic life, giving myself permission for my own creativity. It has helped me answer poet Mary Oliver’s all-important call, “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” Because as I’ve written here, I’ve unearthed and discovered those very things – the things I want to do with my time here. This blog has been a gift to me. I truly hope there has been even one time when this blog has also given you something precious.

As on any milestone, it’s important to look ahead. With the last few years being the foundation, my next will be about building and expanding, with your continued support. I promise to only bring you what aligns with the Let ME Out!! community’s values of authenticity, creativity and kindness through this growth.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been working like a little squirrel to secure sponsorships for the #LMOKindness program. This is where I proudly partner with businesses to bring random acts of kindness to deserving members of the community. It’s easy to nominate someone – simply fill out the form telling me why your friend/family member/colleague/etc deserves to be surprised with a little something to make his/her day! I look forward to helping businesses with their community giving intentions and spreading more kindness in this world.

I told myself I’d keep this short and sweet, and now I’m pushing those boundaries a bit, so I’ll sign off here with a huge THANK YOU for reading this and any of the other 456 blog posts. Thank you for ‘liking’ me and my work on Facebook, following me on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribing to get my blog posts straight to your email.

You are awesome.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

 

 

 

Need A Business Idea? Here’s One…

Every night this week as I lay in bed, waiting for my bedroom to cool down enough so I can fall asleep, something creeps up through my abdomen and settles around my heart. At the same time, something flutters in my throat, and reaches my eyes that are wide-open staring at the wall.

I think it might be nervousness. I don’t want to say ‘fear’ because fear is really big, and this shouldn’t be big.

I mean, I’ve birthed 3 babies, drug-free, knowing each time that it would hurt. A lot. And the second and third times, I knew exactly what ‘hurt a lot’ meant. I don’t think I was this nervous for the births as I am for tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m getting a couple of old fillings removed and then refilled. I can’t remember exactly why I have to do this because I stopped listening to the dentist when she explained I would need a follow-up appointment. I haven’t had a follow-up appointment with the dentist since I was like, 9. So, yeah, I guess my fillings are pretty old.

So, here’s what I was thinking last night. I know what I need to help me get through this simple, yet for some reason terrifying, procedure. I need…a dental doula.

Yes, a dental doula.

Someone to hold my hand, someone whose eyes I can stare deep into when the panic sets in. Someone who will know exactly what to say to get me to focus, or to distract me – whatever it is I need at the time.

Imagine dental doula services. I mean, it’s brilliant, right? I’m not the only one who feels uncomfortable with the idea of needles and other machinery jabbing into a very sensitive region. Some people might be happy paying someone for a little emotional support and grounding.

Because I mean, it’s not just the actual procedure that I’m thinking about. What about after? What about when the freezing wears off? I have 3 children, people. It’s never actually quiet or sane around here. Even if my husband is home (which he won’t be until like literally midnight that night), we are still outnumbered.

I need a post-dental doula. Someone to come, handle the children, prepare dinner. Heck, she can even bathe them and kiss them goodnight.

Because I don’t know. I might just need to lie on the couch.

It might sound like I’m being funny, but that’s only partly true. Businesses are born from brilliant people seeing a need and filling the void. Why not this?

(Wait. I should Google to see if this actually already exists. One sec.)

Holy crap. You need to go Google. Now.

I may be a little late to the game, but at least I can feel brilliant.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Stepping Beyond The ‘Solo’ in Solopreneur This Past Weekend

I’m starting this week with a little pep in my step and much of it has to do with a lovely Saturday spent at the library. There was a lot wrapped up in this day: venturing out of my city (and all the way into downtown Vancouver), a backpack full of some of my favourite things (binder, paper, highlighters, post-its, pens, my planner), a full day dedicated to my business and best of all, the company of my friends Salma and Jamie who I’ve met through blogging.

As a mom, I juggle a lot of everyone else’s stuff in my daily grind. My own business is in there, somewhere, but brainstorming sessions also double as showers, writing time is known as the nap-time hustle, and I consult like 5 people’s schedules before committing to a meeting. But this past Saturday was 6 hours of me: the writer and entrepreneur.

As someone who works alone, the highlight of Saturday was sharing space and ideas with two other women whose work and friendship I truly value. As much as I love the fact that I do much of my work alone (barring anything too technical for which I gladly hand over the money – haha!), I also love sharing ideas and expertise with other women. And these women get me. They understand my vision and my roadblocks. They know what I’m faced with in trying to push my dreams out into the world and they also see beyond whatever small way I may be expressing myself, and remind me to get back to who I truly am.

We started the session by sharing our goals for 2016 and then with Jamie’s mantra Do Less, Focus More in mind we helped each other pare down those goals to set ourselves up for more productivity (and sanity). We also identified the time-suckers in our lives and came up with ways to kick them to the curb. The beauty of this process was that each of us is working on something totally different, but we could offer fresh perspective on how to move forward in our businesses.

By the end of the day we each had some concrete ‘next steps’ and now an accountability circle so we can support each other through the process. Some of these next steps go beyond the business and into self-care…because after all, without that, how can we thrive in any area of our lives?

If you’re a solopreneur, I encourage you to grab a couple friends who also work alone (even if you are all doing different things) and set up something like this. I mean, some of us aren’t even used to talking out loud during the day, let alone conversing with another adult who gets all the things we juggle. It really does help to talk things through, listen to suggestions you might not have thought about and know that you have a source of support for this ‘solo’ part of your life.

Once we were done, and I had mentioned food about 10 times, we sauntered down the street  ran in the rain to a restaurant on the next block, had a delicious dinner and caught up as friends. I feel really blessed that even though I choose to work alone, through it I have made some of my most kindred connections. When it’s soulful living you seek, it comes to you no matter what.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you done something like this regularly? Tried it once and it wasn’t for you? Please leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

5 Reasons Why Being Authentic In Business Kicks A$$!

We’re being encouraged all the time to be ‘authentic’ but what does that really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, authentic means ‘real, genuine’ and ‘true to one’s own spirit or character.’ And beautifully stated by Maya Angelou, “Authenticity is simply telling the truth to yourself and others.”

If we combine all that, authenticity is telling the truth about your genuine self, being true to who you really are at your core. In spiritual terms, we call that core your soul. You really don’t get more original than that.

Who you are at your soul level is your truth, and when you live from that place of truth and conviction and character you create a life that is healthy and fulfilled. But making decisions from your soul-state isn’t just about who you hang out with or which type of yoga you prefer or the hobbies you engage in.

[Tweet “Authenticity is invaluable in the business world.”]

Here are 5 reasons why being authentic in business kicks a$$:

1. Nobody else’s grass is greener. Sure, their grass may be green and they’ve got this gorgeous garden – but you feel pretty awesome tending to the garden you WANT to be tending. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re working on something that gives you incredible fulfillment, something that stems from your beliefs and the gifts you bring to the world. You’re filling a need that you want to fill and you’re doing it because you can.

When other people achieve their business goals, you either don’t notice because you’re too busy getting your hustle on, or you do notice and want to celebrate them. You no longer compare yourself to others because…well, you know there’s no comparison. Apples/oranges. That kind of thing. Less time wasted wishing for something you don’t really want, and more time spent connecting with the ideas that are true to your own spirit.

2. At the end of the day, you will never feel like you wasted your time; you will never regret showing the world who you really are. Do this, even though it might creep you out: Imagine yourself on your deathbed and ask yourself, what would you regret more? Spending time on a purposeful business idea or hiding behind doubt and uncertainty?

One of the top 5 common regrets of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware who worked in palliative care and wrote a book about it, is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” A life true to myself…what does that mean? An authentic life. All of it. Business included.

Yes, you will work your butt off to go the self-discovery route, create your products and services by continuously checking in with your Self. Yes, you will have to figure out how to market and show the world what you bring is needed. But that time and energy is going to be spent anyway. Might as well make an investment you will think is worthy at the end stages of your life.

3. Imagine a business that is really an extension of who you are. Everything you care about, everything you value, everything you believe in. The things you find fun. The gifts and talents you were born with. All rolled into one profit-making venture. Sounds like a dream, right? There are way too many quotes about dreams come true for me to spout here. Do you think it’s worth investigating why so many human beings say the things they do about chasing dreams?

If there is a chance that you can make every workday feel like a Friday, would you take it? If there is a chance you could wake up in the morning and be as excited about a Monday as you are about a Saturday, would you take it? Being authentic in your business does that for you, because you aren’t putting on a charade or a mask and acting like someone you’re not. There is nothing our spirits want more than to be free; nothing we want more than to be in harmony with ourselves.

harmony, balance, gandhi, business, authenticity, let me out creative

Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Your business consumes a large part of your day. Align it with what you think and say; make it an extension of who you are.

4. The difference you make to this world when you are standing in your authentic power will drive you, inspire you and leave you feeling incredibly fulfilled. Sure, there will be tough days and ‘what the heck am I doing?’ days. Then you re-root yourself in your genuine Self and you make a decision that propels you forward. And you want to do it! Why? Because: the difference you make to this world when you are standing in your authentic power will drive you, inspire you and leave you feeling incredibly fulfilled.

Whether your niche is technology or fine arts, law or education, small business or corporation and everything else in between…figure out how you can make a difference to your community in a way that lets your spirit shine. It can be one of the best things you leave behind.

5. People are drawn to the person behind a product. Any business is about relationship building. And much of the time, it’s pretty easy to see the difference between a masquerade and the real deal. Be who you are in your business simply because the connections you make this way will be long-lasting, honest, and mutually beneficial. Isn’t that what you want in a client or customer? Isn’t that what you want in an employee?

And if you’re being ‘real’ in your business, it’s easier to be real in other areas of your life (and vice versa). Which means you will be attracting the same kind of long-lasting, honest and mutually beneficial relationships in all those other parts of your life, too.

Bottom line: Any business is a lot of work from conception to execution. When we are authentic in our business, that work becomes a lot more satisfying.

Which of the points above resonated with you the most?

Being Woman – A One-Day Retreat For Entrepreneurial Women #BeWo

Creating a business that aligns with your heart and purpose doesn’t have to be a pipedream, but it’s definitely not always easy. Some days I have boundless energy and confidence, and other times I slump in my chair and ask, what exactly am I doing? One of my most exciting discoveries on this journey is that that question is actually super important: What exactly am I doing here? And above all else, who am I?

Who am I and What exactly am I doing here are fundamental questions to creating a life that is happy, healthy, prosperous and soul-satisfying. And these questions most certainly have their place in business.

This September, my friends Kate Muker (founder of Conscious Divas) and Lara Kozan (co-founder of YYoga and Nectar Juicery) are hosting a heart-centred business retreat called Being Woman. They asked me to share some things about my journey as an entrepreneur. I’ve answered their questions below and have included information on the retreat – be sure to use the coupon code I mention to enjoy a gift bag valued at $50.

What is your definition of success?

I kind of take a Ralph Waldo Emerson perspective of success which essentially is about being happy, fulfilled, conscious and – my favourite part – to leave the world a bit better than I found it. I think the ‘leaving the world a bit better’ part involves our relationships, our environment and the way we earn our living. Success is living on this earth with your soul leading the way and helping others shine their own light. Creating a business around that sometimes seems like having your cake and eating it, too…but really – why have cake if you can’t eat it?

Every entrepreneur has those days when she wants to walk away. How do you get yourself out of a funk when you feel demotivated?

I think about my last day on Earth and ask myself, on that day what choice would I wish I had made in the middle of this funk? To give up? To push forward? To take a day of rest and self-care? The big picture doesn’t allow me to give up because I know I will never regret creating a business that aligns with my heart and soul. I may change direction slightly or add something to my entrepreneurial goals that feels more like ‘me’, or take something away that no longer serves me or my clients. Sometimes the funk just means I need more fresh air or a tea date with a good friend or to play with the kids. I put the ‘funk’ in the bigger picture and then it automatically reduces in size! I have also become conscious of the fact that a funk will usually come right before a burst of creative energy; things are working themselves out on some level which might make me feel low or tired, but then I come out of it with a solution, an idea or a great spark of hope. Knowing this helps me get through the funky parts a little easier.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your work?

A heart-centred business requires knowing yourself and your purpose well. It kind of goes without saying: if you are trying to create a business that aligns with your purpose, you should be well-versed in what exactly your soul’s purpose is! And that can take a lot of time, self-reflection, courage, discipline, among other things. It’s an amazing quest; the surprises and revelations along the way are well worth the ups and downs.

But I’ve also been growing my family at the same time which many women can relate to as being a challenge. Having 3 young kids means a lot of juggling and sometimes very small windows to focus on my work. Carving out time for my biz has been an ongoing feat.

Opportunities are everywhere. How do you choose which ones to snatch up and which ones to walk away from?

I wasn’t so good at this before. I did a lot of many things because I felt like I should be doing something. Thankfully, everything has led me to understand what it is I must do and what it is I can pass up. Now I ask myself, if I take this opportunity am I adding to my business, my integrity and my ideal lifestyle, or am I detracting from those things? I will sit somewhere quiet and reflect on this, or write about it in my journal and spill all the why’s and why not’s onto the page.

I have to decide where my time will be spent because that is my most precious commodity. It feels good to be asked to be a part of something, or to create something for someone else. But that’s kind of more ego than anything. Saying ‘no’ to something kindly because it doesn’t align with my big picture was just something I had to learn to do, and now I trust that doing so is actually bringing more of what I truly need into my life.

How do you make your wellbeing a priority?

Oooohhh good question, says the on-again off-again gym member 🙂 This is actually something I am still learning. One thing that helps me is to literally schedule in time for a walk, a fitness class, meditation or whatever self-care activity I need. I have also started spending a lot more time in Nature and making that a part of my lifestyle. That has added so much to my life physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A strong motivator is that I know my wellbeing affects my relationship with myself, my Creativity, and my loved ones. And that helps me squash the guilt that I sometimes feel when taking time for myself.

How does your business impact your closest relationships?

I am a much more joyful person now than I was a few years ago, and every year as I become more authentic in my business and in my life in general, that joy just grows. It definitely spills over into my relationships; my husband gets a kick out of my crazy creative energy and his enthusiasm and encouragement make me fall more in love with him as time goes on. My kids are literally growing up watching their mom navigate life ‘out loud’. I talk to them about what I think about, what I care about, what I am passionate about…and they see me pour those things into my business. It has cultivated a spiritual environment in our home. Because my work is soul-oriented, we talk about those things in our house almost daily, relating everyday events as lessons in a bigger picture. Our conversations and the way we incorporate soulful writing in our home gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction.

I think my childhood friends enjoy seeing me shine authentically and I feel so blessed to still have people in my life who have seen me through all this. My business has also brought me some amazing friendships that have turned out to be real soul connections and these people just push me more and more to keep going!

Any last words of wisdom for an aspiring purpose-driven entrepreneur?

Sure! Actually, I just want to reiterate the two questions that I think are the foundation of building the life you want – business included. Ask yourself, Who am I and What exactly am I doing here? often. Sit with those questions in meditation, with your journal, out on a walk in Nature. Don’t get bogged down by them, don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t jump out at you right away. The very act of searching is an enormous part of the journey and you will find answers all around you just by being conscious of the questions!

Thanks for reading my responses – I really hope I get to see you at Being Woman! Here’s the important information and the coupon code for your $50 gift bag!

Being Woman is an intimate one-day retreat for women who are ready to realize their full potential in business and life. This unique event gives you the tools required for continuous personal growth, success and abundance.

On September 19th/20th you will overcome your limits by learning to connect to your WHY – on a daily basis – and tap into a business that is aligned with your authentic self.

Use code BWTJ for a giftbag that promises to nourish your mind, body and soul ($50 value). Besides the retreat, you also receive a BONUS month-long Own Your Brilliance program that is worth over $600! Space is extremely limited!

REGISTER NOW!

See you there!