Create to heal, not to monetise.

Whether its a podcast, a book, a course, a youtube series, making things help us heal. But it is in the making that we heal, not the selling of it.

On a healing journey, we often feel called to create something. That could be anything: a book, music, podcast, a table, pottery, a podcast and so on.

Creating is a key part of the healing journey. I am a huge advocate for it. I gives us permission to explore new parts of ourselves and what we’re experiencing.

But when we live in a culture that prizes productivity and monetisation, we can feel pressured to turn our healing project into something more. A business, a side hustle, a best seller, with the most downloads, a course with a launch sequence. All to prove that we’ve been productive in our time spent on healing.

That’s a lot of pressure.

—-

It was May 2020. A bit of an awful time for everyone really.

I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to have a very bad month.

The worst month of my adult life.

And to survive it, I would make a course.

Which was both essential to my emotional and mental survival, and also, a waste of time.

Would I did it again? Sort of .

——

My Very Bad Month (A Three Act Play)

Before I tell you what happened in my very bad month, this is just a quick warning that if you don’t feel like doing the emotional labour today that could happen from hearing other people’s bad news, feel free to skip your eyes over to the next section. 👀

1.

I got the first call on a Wednesday. A friend is in hospital, he’s been hit by a car. We prayed and hoped all week. But his injuries were just too much.

We attended his funeral (in person) on Thursday. It was a strange day learning things about a friend you hadn’t fully known about or appreciated before. And even though we weren’t close, we had been getting to know each other more these last few months and I didn’t know what to make of the grief I was feeling.

2.

Now it’s Friday. I have my feet in a bucket of hot salty water for their weekly soak when I get the call. Grandma has reached her time. Feeling trapped in the bucket, I told my grandmother I loved her for the last time in front of my housemates. It was weird but I gave it my all. She died that night.

Alone, away from family in this strange limbo we were all in, already carrying around a lot of unprocessed grief, I really needed support, but it wasn’t readily available.

3.

Untethered, I lashed out someone who might have held me physically through this. With words filled with guilt and pain that wasn’t about him, but at how my grandmothers’s last few years had been spent. (You’re not reading this, but I’m sorry, and I’m sorry it took me this long to realise that’s what I did. Grief is A LOT.)

Then he too was gone. I woke at midnight, feeling our connection sever through the ether. I knew we would never speak again, but with just a few hours before my dear grandmother’s funeral, I  had no idea where to put this shock and devastation.

Thankfully a dear friend sat with me for my grandmothers funeral. (Honestly, friends who bring snacks to watch a remote funeral of someone they never met are truly the best.)

Encore.

And then, because this three act play required a curtain call, on the last day of the month I dropped my phone in the toilet. It too now gone.

Thank you June 2020, you’ve been swell. 🫠

——

Diving into grief

Before my annus horribilis, as Queen Elizabeth II might say, I had been learning about grief and grieving.

So come 1st July, I knew I had a lot of grieving to do.

I knew it would take me about 2 years to process it all. (And I wasn’t far off, it took 2.5 years.)

I knew that I couldn’t just wait grief out, it doesn’t go away with time.

I knew I was experiencing cumulative grief and I would need to grieve each event individually.

But what I didn’t know was how.

Because this grief was different.

I had learnt how to grieve some kinds of loss. Just 7 months earlier I could be found full body wailing as a relationship ended. It had taken years of therapy and inner work to allow my body to just be present with what I was feeling and allow it to come out in whatever way it wanted. And there was legit wailing. Which, amongst the awfulness, also felt good.

But this loss was different. Feel different.

My sadness felt heavy, weighing me down, rather than something rising like a fountain.

What I did know was that now I had a project. A grieving project. And in order to do it, I would need to learn about different types of grief and grieving, so I could find my way through this.

Because that is what I do when faced with something big and unknown and life changing.

I research the crap out of it and turn it into a something useful.

I read books, spoke to experts, did the exercises, and mostly just tried to understand what all the different kinds of grief felt like in my body and what to do about it.

Because I think sometimes the hardest thing with grief, is to recognise that we’re feeling it. There are so many flavours of grief, and I am only good at recognising the kind that’s like a sledgehammer to the face.

But grief can be gentle, and calm, it can roll through you in waves, it can be light and heavy, it can be angry and sad, it can be passionate and despairing. Grief is so many things.

And learning how to grieve includes knowing how to be with all those different states.

That’s what the course was about. Not that I knew that when I started writing it.

I made it because I needed to make it. I need to make it to have a place to channel my grief into something useful. I needed a beacon of light to follow through that dark period. And making that course was it.

For that reason I would make it again and again.

And I am proud of it, I think it’s great. (You can check it out here.)

But that brings me to the BUT.

BUT.

I didn’t make it to sell it.

So when someone bought it the other day, I freaked out.

My inner critic started chattering “Is it any good? Should we check? Hmm, let’s worry, worry, worry about it”

Which got me thinking, do I need to be selling it at all?

——

Create to heal not to be “productive”

If you’re a coach, consultant or someone with a hobby, the internet is awash with ads telling you to make a course, so you can sell a course. To monetise your creative efforts.

As someone whose career has been about designing courses and running workshops, I can tell you there is a difference between making something for yourself and making something for others.

And I think we should ignore the internet.

Making a course, writing a book, recording a podcast, making a YouTube series, are all great ways to help us heal. To help us sort through all that we’re feeling, to give it structure and meaning. To understand.

Making something gives us permission to devote time to a project, to think and feel deeply about something. It gives us a way to do inner work while also feeling productive. Instead of feel guilty, we feel purposeful.

Note to self: give yourself permission to make whatever you want, but just do it for you.

And if, when it’s done, you have the energy and inclination to do the marketing and business stuff to monetise it, well great.

If not, feel into what feels complete and do that. Leave it stuffed in your closet or hidden in a folder on your laptop. Or, if the energy flows this way, drop it on Udemy, YouTube, Spotify or Amazon.

Sure it would be great to share your knowledge with others, but if that process doesn’t feel healing or in alignment for you, maybe let that go. At least for the time being.

Let go of the metric that it has to sell for it to have been a worthwhile investment of time.

To prove there was a worthwhile outcome of your grieving, your healing.

Like a merit badge that says: “it’s okay I took this time away from all the usual activities that make me productive member of society, because I made this thing!”

It was worthwhile because it helped you heal an important part of you and that’s enough.

Note to self: make whatever you want and do whatever you want with it.

Ignore the pressure to make healing “productive” by monetising it in some way. Healing is productive in and of  itself, it needs to be nothing more than that to be the best use of our time.