Pay Attention to What Makes You Cry: A Navel-Gazer’s Guide to Decision-Making

I'm a writer

Something strange was happening.

For close to 6 months I’d feel on the verge of tears every time I read Danielle LaPorte’s blog. Ditto when visiting Linda Sivertsen’s Book Mama website, reading her blog posts, and especially when watching the video about her Carmel writer’s retreats.

Sometimes I’d actually shed those tears.  

Here’s how it looked:

Open email for the day.  Ah! Danielle’s newest blog post. Groovy. “Why Self-Improvement Makes You Neurotic.” Great, I love that topic!  Read. Feel wave of emotion. Tears just about to announce themselves, but don’t.  Feeling rattled and unsettled.  Hmm.

Or this:

Linda’s recent newsletter arrives in in-box.  Feel excited. Begin reading “Writing with Scissors,” about the editing process. Feel bathed in a warm glow of identification and recognition. But, wait! There it is – begin feeling weepy.

If I was keeping track of how many times this happened on my handy abacus, all the beads would be on the right-hand side and I’d be sliding them back over to the left to start the count over again. I couldn’t make sense of it. What was provoking these emotional mini-dramas?

I mean, sure, both Linda and Danielle are gifted writers and what they write about is often moving.  As a writer, I identify with many of the topics they so eloquently cover. And as an emotional creature, feeling moved to near tears while reading something inspirational isn’t unusual for me.

But this was different. It was repeated and insistent, and happened even when the subject matter was ordinary.  Feeling near tears while reading about the editing process – what gives? I was having a hard time figuring it out.  Not to mention, it was becoming a tad inconvenient to flounce around in a near-permanent state of emotional quiver. 

But I’m a world-class navel-gazer, so I knew with enough deep reflection into the minutia of my every fleeting thought and feeling I could figure this out.

After a while, it dawned on me:  the emotional reaction I’m having is because these writers are living the kind of writer’s life I want to live, but don’t – they write and publish regularly, have traditionally published books out, and enjoy creative and financial abundance, doing what they love to do. They’ve created a satisfying and remunerative writing life for themselves based on their strengths and skill sets as writers, writing what they want to write.  

I had to admit that this is what I too want to create. I’ve known it in my gut for a long time. But I hadn’t done it, nor was I even trying to do it. “It,” at the very least, meant carving out time to work on my own writing apart from client writing projects.  So the tears, near as I can tell, were because I wasn’t living in alignment with my truth (I know, I’m very sorry to have to use that phrase, and I really hope you’ll forgive me, but it works here), when faced with two talented writers who are. I felt like the kind of writing life I wanted to create was passing me by. And I ain’t gettin’ any younger, kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my copywriting clients to the heavens and I’m deeply grateful for the interesting projects I’m blessed to work on for them. I thoroughly enjoy writing and creating marketing strategy for them, and for my own copywriting business; it’s work that fuels and excites me.


What I knew for sure was that I wanted to make room in my life for longer, more reflective writing than the kind you can do on a blog or in a newsletter that’s geared to helping your audience achieve a specific business or marketing goal.  Who knows what this writing would end up looking like, but I knew I was game to see.

So when Linda Sivertsen announced the Your Big Beautiful Book Plan Telecourse recently, I jumped at the chance to take it. Even though between client work and business classes and other commitments, I’m clocking in about 60 hours a week right now. Even though I had to charge it to my credit card, because as luck would have it, client invoices went out, but haven’t been paid yet this month. And even though I made a commitment to myself not to take one more course until I finish the ones I’m in the middle of now.

Besides, I had buying Danielle and Linda’s Your Big Beautiful Book Plan digital course (which is a separate thing from the telecourse) on my 2014 plan already – for September or October, not March, fer cryin’ out loud.  March was wildly inconvenient, March was for other business priorities, March was all wrong for so many reasons.

But I couldn’t deny the way getting the email announcement about the telecourse made me feel.  Giddy. Excited. Liberated. A big fat resounding yeeeeesssss radiating from every cell.  When I went to bed that night, I tossed and turned all night dreaming of the possibilities. I also felt weepy (see? there it is again) at the prospect of another dream deferred if I chose not to do this now.

When I woke the next morning I was certain I had to take this course, other commitments be damned.  Out came the credit card.  That was March 5.  It’s been 8 days since I did this thing that I’m sure is going to change my life. And I feel jubilant. 

And I think I can toss the Kleenex.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.  : )


  1. Holy smokes, Kimberly! Are you trying to make ME cry now? What an amazing post to see, and what a nice surprise. I’m sorry Danielle and I have made you cry so much. But not really. Because it sounds like it’s led to some important realizations. Been there myself, too, and it’s fun to see that life evolves. Much love. So happy to have you in the course. What an honor. You’re such a talent! xo

    • Holy smokes, indeed, Linda!! Thanks sooooo much for stopping by to comment, and for your uber-generous and kind words! What a thrilling and encouraging surprise. I *knew* signing up for your telecourse and giving myself permission to pursue my writing dreams was the right thing to do, and this is proof!

      Floating and soaring now. : )


  2. may the rest of your life be filled with “big fat resounding yeeeeesssssed radiating from every cell.”

    • Aw, Danielle, a *million* thanks for stopping by to comment. It’s beautiful and unexpected, and deeply, deeply appreciated. Wow, elated. (trying very hard not to sound sycophantic here!)
      Much love,

  3. Very engaging Kimberly… can’t wait to see your book out there! Kxo

  4. Mazel Tov to you for thanking this step. You are a great and witty writer already! Many happy successes to you and to your book when it is delivered! : D

  5. OK, I’m in too! I’ve been a stay at home mom for 12 years now who has always wanted the writing life. Recently I got published a few different places and it reaffirmed my goals and desires. I just keep pushing it aside and not making it a priority.

    To add to it, I was just offered a job on a specific project to do some copy writing and my husband said I should look at doing more of those on a regular basis. My thought was sure, it would be good money, I get to write and get paid, BUT it will not be what I want to write about. So, before I sign on for any further projects and get distracted again, I will be focusing on creating the writing life I so desire!

    The timing of this, as with everything in life, is perfect!

    See you all in class!


    • Hi Jill,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

      Oh gosh, I so hear you about making writing a priority. One the one hand, I write 5 days a week for clients, and I actually LOVE that work, but until lately, I hadn’t also been doing my own writing above and beyond that. Taking Linda’s telecourse is the kick in the butt I need to to pull me forward into creating more time in my life for my other writing, and I’m beyond thrilled to be doing so!

      I agree with you about timing. Something I say to myself frequently is, “the universe has only perfect timing.”

      So glad we’re all doing this, yay for us!! 🙂

  6. I also am participating in Linda’s class, so, nice to meet you.
    I know what you mean…from the first moment I read about Linda’s Carmel retreats I have dreamed about being there working with her. I just felt drawn to her energy. I felt inspired!
    I can’t do a retreat, yet, but the YBBBP course is just the compass and map I need to get there one day soon.
    Your blog was beautiful, thank you!
    XO Donna

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, nice to meet you too. : )

      Ditto on the Carmel retreats — I feel inspired every time I watch those videos! And here’s to us both ending up there one day! Yes, I agree, the YBBBP course is like the next best thing, and is just what I need to turn my dreams into reality.

      So glad to “meet” someone else taking the course, & thanks again for your comment!


  7. Kimberly , I always read your emails because they are so well written, imaginative ,relevant and entertaining, so I look forward to you publishing your new work ! I wish you every success.

    • Thanks very much, Maggie, that’s very kind of you to say, I really appreciate it. 🙂
      And I’m thrilled you’re getting value out of the weekly newsletter!

  8. Well? How’d it go? Love your epiphanies! Got more to share?

    Thank you for helping me identify that feeling of seeing the work of others and getting all teary…my aspirations are artistic—rather than writing—but I’m eager to know if you had more epiphanies during the course. As a fellow navel-gazer, I love me a good epiphany!

    • Hey Michelle, thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

      It went well — I loved the course, and it got me inspired to start planning my book in earnest, which I have been working on over the last few weeks! I created a master outline of all the chapters, started initial research, and started drafting a plan for guest posting and other outreach to coincide with when I get this baby finished next Spring. (I plan to release a version of it on my blog first.)

      I don’t know if you’d call it an epiphany exactly, but as I started outlining and researching, I thought, “Heck yeah, I can do this!” So it was all about getting out of simply daydreaming about writing a book and getting into action and actually starting the process. 😉

  9. I absolutely adore this post…you articulated exactly what I have been feeling and I am just now realizing what those teary episodes mean on a deeper level. I need folks like you to reveal what my heart is telling my brain, cuz my brain is slow to pick up on the clues!!! I so look forward to reading a book written by you!

    Best of luck! 🙂

    • Hi Sarah, thanks so much for stopping by to comment, and for your very kind words!

      I totally agree with you that sometimes it’s challenging for our brains to pick up on what our heart’s are trying to tell us — I like the way you put that. I often have to remind myself that getting the same clues over and over again means I might need to change something in my life. And I try not to let the little murmurs become screams (not to be too dramatic or anything) before I make the necessary changes. 😉

  10. Kimberly, I always enjoy your posts, but this one really resonated. I’m up to my butt in alligators with orders and custom work right now, but I signed up for a course back in July that’s happening at the end of October. It’s with a renowned fused glass artist, 3 intensive days, and I have been so looking forward to it. I’ve been a stained glass artist for years, and decided to give fused glass a try this time last year. I’ve learned everything on my own, and really want to take it to the next level. Recently, though, I’ve been considering canceling the course, due to volume of work. However, I really want to take this course. I love creating new and exciting things, and I’m tired of making stuff that sells but doesn’t give me, the artist, a chance to make what I have in my head and heart. What to do? Can my shop survive without me for 3 days? Probably, though shipping will be delayed. Can I survive without something new to engage me? Likely, but not ideal. Any thoughts? (As my own tear ducts start selling up, lol.). Maybe I just answered my own question.

  11. That should have been welling up. Oops.

    • Hey Debbie, thanks for stopping by to comment!

      You have to do what’s in your heart, but if it was me? I’d take the 3 days away and take the course. As you said, “I love creating new and exciting things, and I’m tired of making stuff that sells but doesn’t give me, the artist, a chance to make what I have in my head and heart.” There’s your answer.

      I struggle with this same conundrum ALL the time, and too often, I’ve ignored what’s in my heart to do the “responsible” thing, then feel strangely constricted and irritated afterwards. ; ) But I’ve made vast improvements in just the last few months to overcome that bad habit.

      A favorite quote I fall back on to give me clarity when I’m wrestling with this issue is from the vastly talented and successful Sidney Poitier, who said this once when talking about his earlier years: “I knew my dreams were as valid as I was prepared to make them.” Now THAT brings tears to my eyes!

      Are we prepared to make our dreams valid? Why yes, yes we are!! (Ok, cheerleading session over now.) ; )

  12. Hi kimberly, life give you gift when you less expexted. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY.
    This help me understand what is happening now in my life..have a beautifull day

  13. So now that its been all these years – whats the end of the story – did you finish the course? Have you written the book? …did you pay off the credit card?….i need to know

    • Hi Mandy,

      Thanks for checking in.

      I did take the course I mentioned in this blog post; it was fantastic! I also began carving out time on a regular basis to work on my own writing apart from client writing projects, another important goal. I joined a live, in-person writer’s group in my hometown, which gives me something the online writers groups I participate in don’t, as awesome as they are. And I’m working on a couple of big writing projects right now not related to client work. Both have been in the works for a bit, and I don’t know yet exactly what form they’ll take when finished, but a book is a possibility. Though the main goal, as I mention in the post, is to simply write more for myself, apart from the client stuff, and to do so consistently, and that has been a resounding success. 🙂

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