Song Li's Story
After my crisis, when I was in the maintenance phase of my recovery, I needed to pull together meaning from my life’s journey and I didn’t realize it then but I was developing my Personal Story. It was during this time that I discovered Journaling. I kept a little notebook and throughout the day I’d make little notes and sketches about important thoughts that appeared in my head.
Pretty soon, I had a couple of notebooks chock full of pretty good stuff and I thought, “why not share some of this with others who are in recovery and they might find it interesting and helpful?”. So the idea came to me, “okay, I’ll start a little blog”.
That’s where the skills that I learned from Harmony House really began to shine because they had a course for Indie Publishers with lessons about setting up a blog and what to write (and what to be careful not to write), and how to generally stay safe when getting out into the internet. Getting out into the world-wide web can be just as dangerous (or even more so) than walking around on the streets at night by yourself. You need to know what you’re doing and watch where you go.
So they showed me how to set up my own blog for free (no out-of-pocket expense was a plus for me because I was on such a limited budget) and helped me start writing articles and making posts. Let me tell you; it was such a big thrill to see my material with my name on it come together in a published blog right there on the internet. Things got even more exciting as I developed a little tribe of followers who actually liked my writing! It really did good things to me inside to feel valued and appreciated, especially after all I’d been through in crisis and trying to recover.
So, we kept working on it (my coaches at Harmony House and me) and after a while we discovered that I had enough stuff to maybe publish a book. And as I started to work on that, I got all those spontaneous, rambling insights to come together in an organized way where I could begin to see patterns and pull together events in a profound and meaningful way. It really helped me put my life in perspective.
So the book started to get really good because it had direction and purpose and by the time I go around to publishing it, I wasn’t the same person as I was when I began recovery. I had changed a lot, for the better. I was stronger and more self-confident. My life was more organized and I had learned a whale of a lot about myself (and my strengths as well as tendencies, etc.).
Of course, the folks at Harmony House have experience with Indie Publishing so they really helped me a lot as I finally got that first book published. O wow! I can’t tell you how proud I was to be an author with a real published book! Now I won’t lie and tell you that you can publish something and right away it sells a million copies and you’re rich for life. It just doesn’t work that way. But what I learned in the process was way more than riches and wealth.
Still, I kind of wanted it to do good, so my coach got me involved in the small business start-ups course at Harmony House and I began learning about marketing, self-branding and authority-positioning; stuff like that. And again, I didn’t get rich from it but I kept getting better and my life has continued to improve. Tremendously.
And my blog kept getting better, too. So much so that I finally had enough material for my second book. Now I’m a published author with multiple books and an authorpreneur with a blog with oodles of followers. I can make a little extra dough off my blog (affiliate marketing and passive income) where money comes in every few months automatically (and I don’t do any extra work for it). It’s not a big sum of money but hey, every little bit helps, right?
Small Business & eCommerce
Well, I had two published books and a blog and was earning a wee little passive income, plus I was learning all this cool stuff about Small Business and Start-ups at Harmony House. I still had my disability because it didn’t affect that in that I had a pretty heavy psychiatric diagnosis and was considered un-hirable (my episodes came and went and some of them could get pretty bad). But being in a supportive environment at Harmony House and socializing on a daily basis with other members who lived with things and understand what it’s like really helped. And as I learned more through my courses, I developed the ability to expand my eBook career to other items.
First I started dabbling with coffee mugs and T-shirts. I took some of the sketches from my notebooks and had them printed on hats and stuff and sold them on Amazon. Some of them did pretty well, not every single one though. I still wasn’t getting rich, but I couldn’t believe how much I was learning. I felt just like any other normal, somewhat important citizen who has a business and a life (you know, a life outside mental-health and ‘recovery’).
They also had a Gardening (and Lawn maintenance) internship at Harmony House and I like little flowers (and green things) so I gave that a go. Wow! I really discovered something important inside me because Gardening gave me peace and made me calm inside. Something therapeutic and serene happens when I’m surrounded by plants. So naturally, I wound up with too many potted plants. I felt like one of those old woman ‘cat-hoarders’, only instead of purring fur-things, it was potted plants!
Then one day my coach pointed out that with my newly learned knowledge of Small Business Start-ups, I could develop an online business selling plants. It’s like a big light went on in my head; so now I have an eCommerce business selling small houseplants by mail.
None of these adventures are very demanding and if I’m having an episode, I can just scale back (or even shut down entirely until it’s over) and it doesn’t affect anything. When I’m back strong again, I just pick up where I left off. In this way I’m able to manage my mental health and still have a dignified, productive life.
That’s my Story and I hope it has helped to inspire you to do the things that you know are waiting inside for just the right time and place for releasing them. In my case, Song Li is my online avatar and I owe this opportunity to Harmony House and their Indie Publishing program. Stay tuned and hope to see you soon!