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Looking Ahead Through a New Lens

By Melanie Gendreau

· Financial Freedom,For Creatives Club,Guest Post,FFCC,feast or famine

Happy Thanksgiving! As we go into this U.S. holiday this week, I have a guest post written by a member of my Financial Freedom for Creatives Club. Melanie Gendreau wrote this in September of this year, on HER blog. I thought it was a wonderful look at how this year has shaped up for her in the club, and in her life, in general. Enjoy!

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Happy New Year! While ringing in the new year is traditionally celebrated on January 1, I am celebrating my new year on September 1. This month marks the start of many transitions: children and teachers return to school; ice cream cones melt away into warm apple crisp and cider; and the red, white and blue colors of summer morph into the warm orange and yellow hues of pumpkins, gourds and changing leaves. Traditionally this time of year has always been difficult for me. My summer babies are another year older and the slower pace of summer abruptly shifts to a calendar full of work, appointments, carpooling and activities. However, this summer I experienced my own transformation that has me looking at the “new year” through a different lens.

I started the actual new year with a fractured shoulder, a start-up freelance business that was incurring more debt than profit, creative talents that sat dormant and, due to my injury, no yoga. This, I have come to learn, was a result of me living in a place of lack. Just prior to my unfortunate fall on the ice rink, I had signed up for an online Financial Freedom for Creatives course, led by Money Mentor, Katy Chen Mazzara, to help breathe new life into my career. The course required a lot of journaling which was impossible for me as my right arm was nestled in a sling with a bolster pillow. So I couldn’t write or get myself close enough to the computer to peck out notes with my left hand. (Believe me, I tried.) So, at the encouragement of my mentor, I watched, learned and voice recorded my class notes and journaling.

What I thought was going to be a financial course about how to handle the feast and famine mode of freelance work – ended up being an immersive therapy program for my mind, body and soul. After 15 years of pursuing various freelance work at stipend-based, low or no pay, I was burnt out, depressed and ready to throw in the creative towel. I felt that my only option was to return to (gasp) corporate America and get what others refer to as a “real” job. But the creative pull and need for schedule flexibility so I could be present for my children remained strong. When I was referred to Katy, I was very hesitant to commit to a year-long program that – according to my profit/loss statement - I quite honestly couldn’t afford. Desperate for change, I took a leap of faith and registered for the course. Through Katy’s insightful training and thought-provoking monthly assignments, I learned that my lack of income and creative opportunities was directly correlated to my negative mindset, emotional blocks and old beliefs. Through reflection, journaling, meditation and lots of self-care I was able to shift my mindset from a place of lack to a place of abundance. This isn’t something that happened overnight. I had to dig deep and I had to do the work. 

The course required looking back at certain beliefs or thought patterns about work and money that stem from childhood. In fact, my earliest memory is being at a restaurant with my mom and grandmother as they lovingly argued about who was going to pay for lunch. I can recall a number of times when I’ve engaged in that same tug-of-war of who is going to pay the bill. I also had to process the emotional trauma I held from past performance experiences and look at why those were preventing me from new creative opportunities. Ouch. Along the way, Katy guided me in identifying my core values and helped me explore how I want to feel about my work. I am so grateful for the many creative jobs I’ve held over the years (including corporate PR, freelance performance, directing, marketing and, yes, even the non-paying jobs) as they’ve all been part of my creative and professional growth. These jobs have all helped support my family and/or fulfill a creative bucket list item – but work for me, no matter how fun, interesting or challenging, has always been stressful. I’ve come to learn that it wasn’t necessarily the job itself that was stressful – but rather my mindset about work and my lack of self-worth – which in many cases enabled others to take advantage of my time and talents. 

Before I could begin to address my career goals, I had to go through a personal transformation – both physically and mentally. First and foremost, heal my shoulder. Katy has a great understanding of the mind-body connection and shared that my shoulder injury was the universe’s way of telling me I was carrying (or shouldering) too much. Like many women, I was trying to do it all. Balancing the roles of wife, mom, daughter, homeowner, creative and sometimes to a fault, an empath, was wearing on me. So rather than seeing my shoulder injury as an obstacle in my new career path – it was actually an opportunity to heal both new and old wounds. I endured months of physical therapy and committed to some new self-care practices including drinking more water each day, listening to guided meditations, quietly reflecting about what I really want both personally and professionally and filling a self-love jar with positive affirmations about myself. Through Katy’s gentle encouragement and empowerment, I decluttered my physical space, let go of emotional pain that was no longer serving me, and distanced myself from toxic relationships.

I also had to re-wire my brain to look at money differently. Rather than adopting the starving artist mindset, I intentionally noticed and gave thanks for all the abundance in my life – which ultimately brought in more abundance. Quite simply, the law of attraction. That shift in mindset resulted in a neighbor dropping off a pan of lasagna while I was recovering; stimulus checks were received to help during the pandemic; I won great prizes in my course (pictured here); and even changed the way I look at my bills. When I pay our monthly bills, I now see each bill as abundance rather than a debt owed. Our gas bill allows us to heat/cool our home; our grocery bill allows us to feed our family fresh, nutritious food and our internet bill allows my husband and I to work remotely during an unprecedented time. I thank each bill as it comes in which immediately shifts my energy and mood around finances.

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A few months into the program, my shoulder had healed and I was ready to focus on my career again. The skills and prizes I had accumulated so far in the program really changed the way I approached my work. Now, each morning I fill out my amazing 90-day journal (created by The School of Betty) which helps break down my long-term career goals into daily attainable goals that keep me on track. In fact, I’ve achieved several of my goals already! One of the most interesting prizes I was gifted is The Entrepreneur Oracle deck, intuitively guided oracle cards specifically for entrepreneurs. As a creative with a multi-track career in acting, directing, marketing and copywriting, I’ve struggled for many years with the peaks and valleys of freelance work and, at this point, was definitely stuck in the valley. So, I gave the cards a try. The first card I drew was entitled EXPECTATIONS (vibrational output and the results you receive back.) The associated guidebook explains in detail how our vibrations or energy around our work manifests in our successes or failures. So I thought about how, despite my college degree, range of performance and marketing experience/training, I was always filled with self-doubt and anxiety around my work. As I reflected on that, I wondered if my negative thoughts were impacting not only the quality of my work – but how others might receive it. Was my anxiety showing through in my auditions? Was my self-doubt reflecting into my writing? 

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Since that card pull, I turn to the cards whenever I’m feeling stuck or need to make a decision (personally or professionally.) In fact, I leave one of the cards on my desk as a daily reminder. GIVING: You are giving your heart to the world through creative expression. That card resonates with me as a creative and an empath and ultimately inspired me to start writing my blog. (Coincidentally, one of Katy’s assignments to get me out of famine was to do something creative that would put me in the creative flow.) So, in line with the oracle card, I chose to write stories of struggle, personal growth or perhaps even just a light read amidst the turbulent news stories. This is me giving my heart to the world through creative expression. And shortly after posting my first blog, all of a sudden, the work started to come in. Whoa.

As I reflect back on the past 9 months, I’ve witnessed a gradual transformation (a rebirth if you will) that has not only affected my career, but also has had a ripple effect on all facets of my life. Upon completing 3 months of physical therapy, I gained back all of my shoulder mobility and was back on my yoga mat in May. After struggling with years of performance anxiety, I started singing again – and finally learned the Ave Maria in a mezzo-soprano key so I no longer have to tell people I can’t sing that at their loved one’s funeral. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and applied for jobs that I knew would require me to learn new skills. After 2 years of little to no income, my business has finally started to profit. I not only have enough to pay for Katy’s course, but I am able to invest back in my business and help support my family again. Best of all, I am attracting work that is flexible around my family’s needs and am collaborating with clients who align with my core values, respect and value my talents – and pay me what I’m worth. 

I’m attracting work I didn’t know I wanted, but the universe proved otherwise. I’ve edited two non-fiction books this summer. The first is a guide to help teen drivers reject old beliefs about driver’s training and adopt a new mindset about how to control their safety behind the wheel. As I was adopting a new mindset myself and also happened to be teaching my own teenager how to drive, the timing was uncanny. Hello universe! Not only did the client love my edits, but he has already started outlining a second book and told me to stay tuned. The second book I edited was written by a local author who shared her personal transformation during and after her divorce. While I, too, was going through my own metamorphosis, the timing was just perfect. In addition to editing her book, the author also hired me to produce and engineer her audiobook from my home recording studio – which enabled me to learn some new editing skills for my own voice over work! I’ve also met some wonderful creatives through the FFFC course, and in fact, have just accepted a job as a copywriter for a fellow FFFC member – which will provide a consistent stream of income to avoid the feast or famine mode of freelance work!

I share my recent successes not as a means to brag, but rather to inspire others who are feeling stuck in a relationship, a job, insurmountable debt, or who feel like their goals are unattainable. Whatever you are struggling with is temporary. By shifting your mindset, letting go of old behaviors, habits or relationships that aren’t serving you and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – you, too, will attract more abundance in your life. If you do the work, the universe won’t necessarily give you what you want, but rather what you need. 

As I kick off my flip flops and get reacquainted with my yoga pants (hello old friend) I am raising a glass (of water with lemon) to ring in my new year. Day 1 started by dropping the kids off for their first day of school; taking a brisk walk with my husband; writing in my morning journal; editing blogs for my new job; prepping for my audiobook sessions next week; dropping off my daughter’s sneakers at school which she forgot to bring for practice (there’s that flexible schedule thing I was talking about) and finally, after a busy summer, carving out time to write this blog. Heck, I even had time to throw some cookies in the oven for the kiddos’ return from school. (Settle down…they were the Tollhouse pre-cut ones – as I didn’t even have time to slice and bake.) Not every day will run this smooth and next week my work and the kids’ activities will pick up significantly. If I find myself feeling overwhelmed or sliding into self-doubt, I will take a note out of my self-love jar, reflect on all of my abundance – and as a wise woman has taught me – count my blessings.

Cover Photo credit: Shout out to my husband for being my model for this blog’s cover photo. In his eyes, he sees all that is possible for me. I could not have dug my way out of the valley without his support.

Melanie Gendreau is a freelance writer, actor and vocalist. When not thinking of topics for her next blog, she is either uber driving her kids, on the yoga mat or curled up with a book.

If you want to experience some of the financial freedom Melanie has in this year, I encourage you to sign up for my FREE Financial Freedom Method Masterclass! I'm going to go over the six steps to get you to your true financial freedom!