Welcome back. This is the final episode in a series on Reinvention, which coincides with the start of a new year. Regardless of the date, it is a good idea to take time to assess making changes in your life. After three episodes featuring experts, Peter McGraw concludes with a remarkable single and contributor to the podcast, Kym Terribile. Kym is a fascinating case study. She has been on a three-year journey reinventing herself. Her changes run the gamut from upping her exercise to tidying up her living situation. They discuss how she has started a business, revamped her approach to dating, and embraced her identity as a writer. You will find the conversation inspiring and considering the question, “What are you waiting for?”
Listen to Episode #60 here:
Kym’s Remarkable Reinvention
This is the final episode in a series on reinvention, which coincides with the start of a new year. Regardless of when you read it, it’s always good to take time to assess making a change in your life. After three episodes featuring experts, I’m concluding with a remarkable single and a contributor to the show, Kym Terribile. Kym is a fascinating case study. She’s been on a three-year journey reinventing herself, and I’m proud of her. Her change has run the gamut from upping her exercise to tidying up her living situation and even renaming her apartment The Pleasure Palace. We discussed how she started a business, revamped her approach to dating, and embraced her identity as a writer. I hope that you’ll find the conversation inspirational. I will leave you with a question that comes up in the episode. That is, what are you waiting for? I hope you enjoyed the episode. Let’s get started.
Our guest is Kym Terribile. She is a writer and entrepreneur. She’s the solo Founder of Wax Crescent, a candle company focused on the idea of self-care and intentional living. Kym holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Hawaii. She is single and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her two dogs. She has been a guest co-host on several SOLO episodes, including episode one. She now returns as a guest. Welcome back, Kym.
Thanks for having me again.
This is exciting to have you not asking the questions, but receiving the questions.
I’m a little nervous.
That’s good. When I coach lacrosse, I used to tell the guys, “Those butterflies are excitement.” No pressure, but this is the final episode for my mini-series on reinvention. You were going to be a case study of sorts. Prior to you, I had Scott Barry Kaufman talking about a model of well-being and how that fits reinvention. I spoke to Kimmy Seltzer, a professional confidence and charisma coach who teaches the outside-in system, by which to reinvent yourself. Also with Rolonda Watts, who hosts Reinvention Retreats. I’ve had a series of experts. Now you get to be like, “Here’s someone who is truly reinvented herself.” I can say that because I’ve witnessed your reinvention. Before we get into yours, maybe you should tell the readers how do we know each other and why are we talking about your reinvention.
We met at a coffee shop in December years ago. We went out and got some coffee and hit it off and have been friends ever since.
You are not telling the full story. It was a dating situation and then we pivoted into a friendship.
Peter became a mentor for me to navigate.
Even on that first coffee meeting, we jumped into and talked about one of the areas that I believe you have reinvented yourself. Early on, I figured out you were a writer. It was a topic that we talked about. I’ve seen you reinvent your life overall, but specifically in three areas, and you can correct me if there’s a fourth or if I’m wrong. One is your writing, the second is your dating, and the third is your business, which I talked about. The business one is crowding out everything else at this moment.
It is because it’s the holiday season. It’s very busy. I made candles. I have a company called Wax Crescent. It’s soy wax candles that I hand-pour in small batches. I’m doing it out of my apartment in Boulder. All of a sudden, over the last couple of months, it’s gotten incredibly busy, which is amazing. I’m learning so much and putting pretty much all my energy into it at this point. I don’t have time for anything. I’m looking forward to January when the holiday season’s over, and I can focus on other areas of my life again.
That may not happen if this thing keeps going. There’s a saying in Silicon Valley about having a product market fit. You clearly have a product market fit. Also, you don’t do just candles, you do these other things, which even the more creative elements of Wax Crescent. You do these Intention boxes. Is that what you call them?
I do a little intention self-care boxes, where it comes with a little ritual. It’s like a candle, a crystal, a stick of Palo Santo and it’s a set. I’m a Taurus so I’m all about vibe and creating a sacred space.
This is part of the reason that we’re friends and not dating.
You can’t deal with the hippy-dippy.
You have potions. You sent me some potions.
I make little spell vials that have crystals and flowers in there to hold during meditation or to put on your altar. I do believe that things possess energies that we can.
I like the symbolism of it all in terms of helping you be more present and focused. The problem is I put that vial up my ass when I was meditating. It didn’t work as well. That’s a callback to an old joke. We’re going to talk more about this business because it’s something to be celebrated, but it’s also creating struggles. Reinvention is difficult. If reinvention was easy, people would be changing their lives for the better all the time. Before we start, I’ve developed this model and it’s a work in progress, but I believe in putting things out into the world and seeing how they feel.
I also think that writing and articulating helps develop them. I talked about this in the Solo Thoughts Episode 5, where I said that singles need a new narrative. We need a different narrative than the one that is typically placed upon us by our parents, by the media, by the books that we read, by the music we listen to, and even the movies that we watch. In this new narrative, I present what I call the three Rs. That is to recognize our human domestication. That is that the world wants us to behave in a particular way. It wants us to get on the relationship escalator. For example, it wants us to couple up forevermore. The second is to rebel against that, to assert what you want from the world, not what the world wants from you. If the relationship escalator is the right path for you, by all means, I’m not saying that it’s not a good path. I’m saying it’s not a path for everyone, for those of us who are single for now or forever. Do you consider yourself a single for now or forever?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I’m not sure. I’m starting to love my life and enjoy my time. I like that there are partners who come in and come out. I don’t know if I’ll ever settle down with one person forever.
I don’t think you have to make the choice. I think there are some people who know that they are forever single. I suspect that most people are for now singles. They’re open to the possibility of that. Maybe they have a partnership idea that might not be conventional like, “I partnered with someone, but I don’t want them to live in my house. I partnered with someone, but I don’t want monogamy.” This is an act of rebellion against whatever the domestication that we’re Also, facing, especially at that particular time in our life. When you’re 23, it’s not a couple up. It’s getting a job. When you’re 33, it’s couple up.
That’s recognition, rebellion, and then the one that we’re talking about, reinvention or reinventing yourself. I’ve developed this model around that last R and it has these two categories. They’re connected to the previous episode with Scott Barry Kaufman because they’re very similar. He has this sailboat analogy for well-being, which is you have the base of the boat. That’s safety and security, and then you have the sales, which is growth. What I had done prior to talking to him, but I was happy to see how well it fit is you have your first step, which is the foundation. What are the foundational elements of your life? That is your environment, your body, your finances, and your relationships. Your environment and looks. How do you tidy yourself up? How do you tidy up your space in order to create not just a mindset, but then suddenly you started getting treated differently? Kimmy Seltzer talked a little bit about that.
Your health, it’s hard to live a good, remarkable life and reinvent yourself if you have health problems, if you’re not sleeping well, if you’re not eating well, and if you’re not getting exercise. That is a foundational element to life. Your wealth, that is how do you find some security in your income and spending? This is something that I’m sure I talked about. Lastly, who’s your team? Who are the personal and professional friends that you have? Are you going to firm up your friendships? Are you going to repair friendships? Are you going to fire friendships in this way? This might also be dating relationships. We’re going to certainly talk about that with you, Kym.
The next one is flourishing. How do you flourish? As a single person, you have more opportunities, ways and paths to flourish. I like the PERMA model by Martin Seligman, Positive emotion, Engagement flow, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement. These are different paths by which people flourish. For the regular readers, they’ve heard me talk about this a number of times. This is akin to what Scott Barry Kaufman’s sail. How do you find direction in your life and how do you catch the wind? It’s the foundation and flourish. Before we get into where your reinvention happens along this model, let’s talk about why are you reinventing yourself. What is the engine to this chain? This set of changes are pretty dramatic. Two years sounds like a long time, but to completely revamp your life and to create a new set of perspectives, identity, business, artistry and so on, that’s fast.
It’s been pretty fast. I would say it a few years ago, a little bit before I met you.
Are you saying I’m not completely responsible for this?
You are. I sent you a text message on Thanksgiving telling you how grateful I am because you’re constantly pushing me. It’s tough love. You’re the only person in my life who gives me tough love and calls it like it is. It makes me uncomfortable and forces me to hit that next level. The reason why I have a business that’s doing so well is because of the 50th episode. I told you that.
Let’s pause on what started years ago and just jump into that.
We did the 50th episode. It was Peter, Julie and myself. We were talking about my business and I said something self-deprecating about it. You stopped what we were doing, called me out on it, and gave me a hard talk. It felt like a hard talk at the time. I was like, “If you’re doing this, you need to put the energy into it. You’re doing something and have confidence in it.” I remember leaving the show and being like, “Why do I have this business if I don’t love what I’m doing, I don’t love how my product looks, and I don’t love every aspect of it?” I sat down, rebranded and reinvented it. I put it out into the world with confidence. It’s now a product I’m proud of and I love how it looks. That was because you pushed me to do it and now my business is doing well.
I remember this because you said you were going to give me 10% of all your profits because of this. I can’t endorse Wax Crescent enough because you have MANdles, candles for men. The other one is it keeps improving. They’ve always smelled good, but you’ve also included these cool elements too that I’ve never seen in candles before. I had a visitor and I have some of your candles 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. I laid them and put them out on the counter and it was amazing. The person was like, “The third one, I like the new packaging.” He picked it up, looked at it, smelled it, and immediately went to the new one. It stood out as being very clean, elegant, professional, and worthy of the kind of money you want to charge for it.
As I’m reinventing myself and growing my businesses, it’s reinventing itself and growing. I have to allow and I can’t get stuck on the fact that this is how things were and I wasn’t happy with it. I know that it’s going to keep developing and changing.
We’ll come back to that. I didn’t want to have that hanging there. I’m happy to help. I don’t ever mean to be harsh. Sometimes I will be because I care. People I don’t care about don’t get that, but the love has to go with the tough. If it’s not someone I love, I’m like, “No.”
I need that. I know you’re not a hippy-dippy, but I feel like the universe sent you to come into my life. The day we had our first coffee meeting, I went to a tarot card reader that afternoon. She pulled a card and said, “This person is going to be a mentor in your life.” It was the emperor card.
Let’s hope this emperor has some clothes. I liked your energy. It was old school when people did that, not in person. Years ago, what started this?
I was engaged to someone and I was unhappy in the relationship. I felt like a lot of it was the story I was telling myself like, “You’re supposed to be with someone. You’re supposed to get married. You’re supposed to be in a relationship. You have to make this work.” We were both unhappy. We’re living separate lives as roommates and then I made the decision. I went to five yoga classes and something happened. I was like, “I’m done with this.” We broke up and I found myself alone for the first time in my whole life because I had always had a boyfriend, a partner, someone I was dating, or a guy I was living with. It was the first time I was by myself. I got myself my own apartment and then that’s where things started. I had my life as my own for the first time.
What I hear you saying is you started your reinvention as you became a solo.
Yes. It was the freedom to do it. My family lives in New York so there was no expectation from anyone about how I should be living my life at that moment.
You had your dogs. The beautiful thing about the dogs is they accept you for who you are. You feed them and they love you and it works. You got your own place, but that’s prior to your connecting with this show and with me. What was that first year like?
It was hard. I thought that I needed to be with someone. I started dating. I was dating the exact same type of guy I left and ended up in situations that were the same. I was with someone who I felt didn’t see me and I was tolerating their behavior because I didn’t value or respect myself enough. Through that period, I started exercising a lot for the first time in my life, yoga and running.
You’ve always been a big walker, but you started up the intensity.
I felt in my body for a long time. In my relationship, I was so unhappy and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I felt dead inside. I felt like a shell. When I got out of that relationship, I was reborn almost. I started taking care of myself. I was able to decorate my house for the first time and create this cozy, I called it The Princess Palace. It is my space. I started traveling by myself and going on vacation alone. I did a month in Costa Rica. I started to accept my life by myself.
I want to ask a question about this. You had this break up and then you were improving your life, starting to exercise, and cleaning up your space. You started working on those foundational things that I started talking about.
You sent me the episode where you talked about it, so I got to read it. As you were talking about those foundational things, I was like, “I did all of those things.” I have it written down in notes. This is exactly what I did.
You started exercising. You cleaned up and tidy up your space. You made it welcoming for yourself and for others. Let’s talk about the relationship side of this. You said you did start to date again, but you found yourself falling back into the same kind of person and bad habits. Can you give an example of what that looks like? It feels abstract for people who don’t know you.
I tend to date narcissistic artists, people who are self-involved. I get myself into situations where I’m too afraid to state my needs or to set a boundary. I’m constantly allowing that type of behavior. I was watching this documentary about Tony Robbins. He said this thing that stuck with me. He said, “You get what you tolerate.” In every one of my relationships, I’ve tolerated that type of behavior where I’m sacrificing my needs and I’m caregiving.
You are helping these artists to be the artist.
Also playing into the behavior of alcoholism, cheating and disrespecting. I don’t tolerate that anymore. I had a situation where I was seeing this guy who I had gone out a bunch and we’re dating. He kept pushing the line and saying things to me that I wasn’t okay with. I said to myself, “I need to set this boundary.” I know when I set this boundary, that’s it. This is done. I set the boundary and I told him how I felt.
You are being very abstract here.
He was saying things that were making me sexually uncomfortable.
That’s fine. It’s helpful for people to know because other people have this issue.
I didn’t appreciate the way he was talking and texting me. I felt like it was too soon. I had mentioned it a few times and I set a pretty firm boundary like, “I’m not okay with this. If you want to continue to see me and talk to me, it can’t be in this manner.” I knew when I sent that message, that would be it. It was it but I feel like that was a big growth point for me because in the past, I would have tolerated that behavior. In my thought, it’s better to be with someone than not be with someone. Now I don’t have time for anyone.
Do you know my saying that’s related to this, especially when it comes to dating and relationships?
No, I don’t think I do.
It is, “Ask for what you want.” It’s amazing how scared people are to ask for what they want. What you did in that relationship is you asked for what you wanted, which is to be treated differently, and he wasn’t able to give you that. Another man might have been able to give it to you. He might have immediately apologized and said, “I’m sorry, I overstepped.” It’s not clear that he was doing anything wrong. I’m sure he’s had other relationships that were built on sexting and dirty talk and all this kind of stuff. It’s just you two weren’t a good match. It’s not that his behavior was inappropriate, it just happened to be not a good match for you. You tidy up your space, started working on your health, and started working on what I would call your team of the people who are in your life. Are there any other team-related friends, family, professionals during that time?
I started seeing a therapist, which was helpful for me at the time. I’m not seeing her anymore, but I saw her for about a year. That was a good reflection to look at my patterns with dating. Everything relates to childhood. That was helpful. I did the Daliya dating coach for two sessions.
We should jump into that, then we’ll get into the wealth and flourishing, and the other side of it. As someone who dated you and is now your friend, and thankfully, you’re comfortable talking to me about your dating life. We had a whole conversation about some dude who was ghosting you. I encourage you to give him one chance to step up.
He was the sexter. He is the same guy.
The sexter, not only was he not able to give you what you want, he also disappeared on you.
Yes, after I set the boundary. He was so cute though and he had a camper van.
I have this generosity project that I work on. It is always running in the background. I always look for opportunities where I can gift someone important in my life. It’s a small gift. It’s about $300 or so, give or take. The idea is, can I give someone not money, but some service or something that makes their life exponentially better? I want to give a $300 gift that is worth $30,000 or $1 million. That is the idea behind it. I gifted Kym a coaching session with Daliya Karnofsky, who is a dating coach and has appeared on the show. I like her perspective. While I think deep down, she’s helping people find their forever, her advice works well for solos, and for anyone dating regardless of what their goal is. I gave the gift and I forgot about it. Kym later wrote to me. You essentially said, “Literally it changed my life.” How did you reinvent your dating in part because of this coaching session? I think what happened was you had texted me that you were listening to that episode and you were saying, “I’m taking notes.”
You had Daliya on a couple of times. The first time, I was taking notes, and then I kept calling you. In a way, you did it so I had to stop calling you every time I had a question because I don’t know how to date. I was with someone for seven years, and then someone else for ten years, and that brings me to now. I’ve never actually dated before. Dating is so fun.
When you do it well.
When you do it without expectation. Daliya’s whole thing is it’s supposed to be fun. It’s just a cup of coffee. You don’t have to marry the person. I’ve met some pretty cool people, no great romances, but pretty awesome people.
How did you change your approach as a result of this? I want specifics. I want you to dish.
I fall in love easily. I love people. I fall in love with my friends. I’m in touch with my emotions. It was always like I meet a guy and I’d be like, “This guy is the one. That’s it.” Not that I had fantasies about weddings, houses and kids. We’re going to travel. It’s going to be us. We’re going to do all these things. There’s so much pressure on it. Daliya’s approach to it is no pressure and just have fun. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not your person. I have it in my head like, “If it doesn’t work out, it’s not your person.” I’ve said that to myself probably twenty times in the last few months.
She is saying, “He might become a friend, a business partner or lover.” You’re just meeting someone for the first time. Let’s not put all this pressure on this 1 or 2 hours.
It is just a cup of coffee and a conversation. If you’re approaching it from, “I’m going to meet someone new,” I found that I have so much fun. I can laugh. I can be myself. If they don’t like me, it doesn’t matter because I have another date with someone else in a couple of days.
There’s another dating coach who uses this term and I might have pushed it on you. It is called mantourage dating. They are focused on women specifically, but the idea is like, “I meet this man. Let me explore the possibilities with man number one.” If it doesn’t work out, then you go to man number two. If it doesn’t work out, you go to man number three. The idea behind this is that while you’re exploring man number one, man number two might come off the market and you missed what we call opportunity costs. In economics, when you spend a dollar on this widget, it’s a dollar you can’t spend somewhere else. Most people are bad at considering opportunity costs. They’re very honed in on the cost, but they’re bad at opportunity costs.
Mantourage dating is like an entourage of a group of men you’re interacting with. You’re clear that you’re seeing and talking to other people. At some point, one of those men may bubble up to the surface and there’d be that right match. You can then go to the rest of the mantourage and say, “Man number 3, 4 and 2, you’re nice. However, I’m going to pursue something more serious.” That removes opportunity costs. It also has this thing of taking a lot of pressure off. It has a lot of opportunity for there to be some fun and to be playful and not to feel as like, “I don’t want to screw this up.” Maybe this is it, and all sorts of overthinking and rumination that can go with this serial philosophy.
I like that. Daliya also told me I wasn’t allowed to get into a relationship for a year so that takes the pressure off.
The date number one is no pressure if you have a whole year to wait before anything could happen with that. Why do you think she gave you that advice specifically?
It is because when we talked, I told her, “I always somehow find myself in these relationships. It happens too quickly.” I think it is those hormones in the beginning. Was it you who told me the trajectory of a relationship that works out and doesn’t work out?
You have a good memory. This is a very fascinating finding, which is that short-term and long-term relationships have the same beginnings. It’s almost impossible to tell at the beginning that someone is a long-term partner. When you pull people about how the relationship is going and so on, short and long-term relationships, once they drop-off after a short period of time versus one that may go years, they are indistinguishable from one another. We have this tendency because we hear this fairytale narrative which is, “The moment I laid eyes on her/him, I knew that that was my person.” What we don’t ever hear is the number of times someone says, “The moment I laid my eyes on him, I knew that was my person. We then went out three times and then we broke up.” No one ever heard that story.
That’s me every time. I’m like, “That’s my person. We meshed so well,” and then it fizzles.
She knows that your challenge is you fall too fast, so she put a block on that ability to do that. Is there anything else about your dating that either came out of that conversation with Daliya or otherwise has helped you with your reinvention?
It’s hard to separate all these different areas of my life because I feel like it’s how they interconnect that changes one. Taking care of myself, eating healthy, establishing more confidence, self-love, and getting self-care practices has changed my relationship because now I love myself. I’m not looking for it from somewhere else or someone else.
First of all, Kym looks ten years younger than she is. She always attributed it to her wrinkle cream that she puts on religiously.
I put anti-wrinkle cream four times a day.
I would put it on the fact that she runs, walks, eats well, and does yoga. The best way to get younger and look younger is to exercise, eat well, and sleep well. I do like the idea that the more you get your life together, the better you’re going to be in relationships and the more appealing you’re going to be.
I know you’re not into vibrations or whatever. I don’t know how else to describe it though, but if I meet somebody now, I’m not at the level I’m going to be at. Look at my trajectory of growth. I keep saying, “My partner is way up here and I’m on my way up there.” I don’t want to settle for someone now that’s on my level.
Because you know in three more years, you’re going to be twice as good as you are. The last one on this foundational thing is wealth. This is your financial situation. Let’s talk a little bit about how are you doing now relative to before? Is this some area of life that needed some work and you’ve made some changes?
Before in relationships, I have a thing for artists. Artists don’t necessarily make money or the people, at least in my life, who are great at holding down jobs. I took on that burden of being a financial supporter in a lot of situations. Money was always a stress factor for years when I was in a relationship. Now I find myself like, “I have extra cash.” When this pandemic happens, I’ve lost my job twice. My full-time job is working in restaurants and restaurants closed down when the pandemic happened. My restaurant closed again for dining. It was shut down again. I’m not stressed about having money at this point. Money Amy helped a lot with the episode she was on about saving money and paying off debt. I was looking into buying a condo and then I realized maybe it’s not the right thing for me at this point in my life. I think a big thing around money was, “It’s just me. There’s going to be nobody to take care of me, so I need to do it myself.”
That’s great. I’m happy to hear that episode was helpful. That was one of the early ones about finding financial freedom. On one hand, solos have a disadvantage. They don’t have the potential for two incomes. There’s not the hedge that you naturally have. If one person loses their job, the other person can continue to pay the rent and so on. In that sense, there’s more burden on you to get your shit together, to have an emergency fund, and to pay off your high-interest debts. On the other hand, solos can be lean. We can live lives where we have small footprints where we lower our costs. In that way, it allows for mobility. For example, if you want to become a digital nomad. When these shocks happen where you might lose your job temporarily, you don’t have mouths to feed. You have a couple of dogs to feed.
It can be a burden on people where they end up having to work jobs that they wouldn’t normally work. I’ve had this sociologist/demographer, Kris Marsh in one of the episodes called Meet The Love Jones Cohort. She details how being single and living alone, she calls it SaLA, you’re a SaLA single, is a path to the middle-class for the black community in America. There’s a tendency to believe, “You should couple up.” Married people have this advantage. What she finds is that people who go solo have this end-around to get to middle-class living in part because they reduce their burn rate and they can be so agile. I’m happy to hear that. I’m glad you didn’t buy a condo.
When I was thinking about it, I was like, “I don’t know if that’s the right move for me at this point.” Having a financial foundation is probably one of the most empowering feelings as a single woman. It’s being financially independent.
One of the interesting things about your situation is you work as a server/bartender at a very established restaurant. You have regulars. The money is good. You said, “I work to live. This is a steady income. I’m good at it. I might not want to do it forever, but it’s good enough for now. In my free time, I’m going to work on my business,” versus being impetuous and be like, “I’m quitting. Take this job and shove it.” That’s important. Kym, I want to thank you for being vulnerable to tell these stories. These are not easy stories to tell. You’re letting people get a glimpse into your personal and professional life. I have this saying about vulnerability, “To be vulnerable is an act of bravery.” A lot of people could stand to be more brave. It helps them and helps the world. I thank you for that.
I liked your idea when you think about this foundational stuff that they start to interact with each other. When you improve one, it gives you a chance to improve the others that are there. If you get your financial situation together, then it allows you to get your health situation together. It allows you to make a team because you might be able to invest in a therapist or shop at Whole Foods. Good healthy food is expensive. Once you have the foundation set, you’ve done the tidying up, I applaud you for doing this over the last few years. I’ve seen the last two, but it’s been remarkable.
The first year was a shit show so you missed it.
If I had not met you then, who knows if we would have become friends?
Are you talking about divine timing?
There is some element of luck in the world. I don’t know if it was predestined, but this idea of flourishing, that’s the next step. This idea that once we have the base or the foundation, now we can start to lean into the things that help us thrive. It’s going to help us grow. It is going to help us reach our maximum potential. I like this idea of living a good life. Well-being is living the best life that you can live in. People have natural impediments. They have natural challenges based upon where they were born and at what time in history they were born. We know about all of the challenges that come from marginalized groups. If you’re a person of color, gay, lesbian, queer, trans, these all are impediments that people have. Yet they still can find a way to thrive even in a system that can be oppressive.
We should be very cautious about comparing ourselves to someone who’s at the pinnacle, who’s climbed the mountain. That person may have advantages that you don’t have. There’s this role of luck and so on. What I like to do is I like to compare myself to the person I could have become like, what is my potential? I need to be excited about my life because I shouldn’t be living as good a life as I am in some ways, because of my own upbringing and challenges. You don’t just have a foundation, you’re flourishing. I’m seeing that in your writing. This lends itself to the E, the Engagement element of the PERMA model. I also see this with your business.
You are engaged in it. You are a problem-solver. You are compelled to work on these ideas and not just because you need money, but because you’re enjoying the challenge. I know it’s overwhelming at times building a business. You’re dating is providing for once, positive emotions and relationships in your life. I’m seeing not only that you’re taking care of the base, but you’re also taking care of the flourishing. Let’s talk about the writing a little bit because we’ve gotten enough of a glimpse into the business stuff. You have recreated your life around your writing.
I have. It’s fallen off a little bit as things have gotten busier with the candles. There are about 2 or 3 times a year where I get serious about my writing for about three months at a clip, which I realized is my pattern and I have to be okay with how I work. I want to be a writer. I want to write novels. That was the reason why I started making candles. I figured if I started a business where I could be my own boss, I would have time to dedicate to writing because I can make my own schedule. Years ago, I wrote the draft of a novel, which I rewrote over quarantine. It needs another rewrite, which will happen in January 2021. I’m planning on kicking it off again and doing another rewrite.
Let’s back up a little bit. I’m super proud of your novel writing because when we met, you had this idea.
It was something I was working on and off for a long time. When we met, I remember our first coffee meeting, I was sitting there across the table from you. You were asking me questions about myself. I mentioned that I write. Anytime I said it, it was quiet. I roll my eyes. I was embarrassed of calling myself a writer. You then reached across the table and you put your hand on mine. You said, “Kym, just own it.” I was like, “Okay.” That’s what I’ve been trying to do. I own the fact that I am a writer. If at this moment, I’m not writing, that’s still who I am and probably how I define myself more than anything else.
I said something else to you, but I’m going to leave it as a cliffhanger. Before we get to that, there’s a reason I told you to own it. Tell the readers your story of you as a writer. We are both writers, but we’re different. I wasn’t meant to be a writer. I forced myself to become a writer.
My story is that I went to school for writing. I knew since I was twelve years old that was it for me. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I am one of those people carrying around a notebook with me everywhere I went writing down stories, writing down poetry in high school and junior high. I was constantly submitting things to teen magazines and newspapers and getting them published. I’m meant to be a writer.
That’s why I said, “Own it.” You’re like, “I’m a writer.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? Since you were twelve years old, you’ve been a writer.”
Books, literature and metaphors excite me. I want to get a t-shirt made that says, “Metaphors make me moan.” Anytime there’s a good metaphor, I get excited.
In the previous episode with Scott Barry Kaufman, we were talking about the sailboat. I kept calling it a sailboat metaphor, but it’s a sailboat analogy. I always get a metaphor and analogy screwed. That’s how bad a writer I am. I don’t remember telling you to own it, but I’m not surprised that I said that because you don’t have to be published to be a writer. There’s one thing you have to do to qualify as a writer.
Is it to write?
Yes. If you play basketball, you don’t have to play in the NBA to say, “I’m a basketball player.” You just have to play basketball.
You’ve said to me, “Writers write.” Sitting right in front of me in front of my computer on this whiteboard is, “Writers write,” because you’ve said that to me 50 times. I think more than anyone else in my life you are all about inspiring people to create. You want people to make things.
I do. When everybody’s making things, sometimes small, sometimes big, we make the world a better place. Consumption is fine. If you’re tired on Friday night and you want to Netflix and chill, I’m not going to criticize you for that, but if you do it every night, I am. I believe that everybody has something in them that allows them to make something. That maybe to paint, to throw a dinner party, to build a business, or to develop a vaccine. When you create, you not only make the world a better place, but you also make your life better. There is that moment of engagement that happens when your abilities and the challenges match up.
That is a wonderful feeling where time disappears and you have this pleasant, engaged feeling. I always talk about creating more than you consume. That is an important idea. It’s one that is undervalued in the world. When I heard you tell the story, I was like, “Why is it that I have a book and plans for another book, and this woman doesn’t have a book?” I said something else to you. I don’t know if you remember this, but I said, “What are you waiting for?”
I think permission. In my head, I needed permission or pressure to do this. We did a whole episode in your other show, I’m Not Joking. I talked about why I wasn’t writing. It’s fear. It’s everything. It is expectation. In all areas of my life, once I let go of expectation, things started flowing like expectation with dating. This doesn’t have to be my husband. This doesn’t have to be my life partner. With expectations with business, this doesn’t have to be 100% of where my income comes from because I have another job. With expectations with writing, it doesn’t have to be a bestselling novel. I can sit down and write 50 garbage sentences, but the good one makes those four hours worth it.
We’re gushing because we care about each other. We’re excited for each other. I remember at one point in time, I was working on the one-pager for SOLO and you were visiting me. You said, “Do you have a pair of scissors?” I gave you a pair of scissors and you took the one sheet and you cut all of the sentences into their own little bits of sheet of paper. We sat down on my coffee table and you started moving them around. We ended up rewriting the one-pager in that way. I ended up taking a picture of it and then carefully moving it to my desk so I can rewrite it. I remember thinking like I was energized by that because I was falling in love with words. You’ve been in love with words since you were twelve. Words are a puzzle. When you put them together in the right way, you can create magic.
The thing about it is that if you are creating magic at the moment, then that’s going to serve you foremost. Just because a book or a story doesn’t end up working out the way you want it to, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure. As I like to say, imagine a musician who goes into the studio every day to create an album. Musician launches the album and it is not a critical success. You say to the artists, “Did you waste your time in the studio?” The good ones are going to say, “No, that’s what I do.” Musicians make music. That’s not always going to be the greatest. We get judged by our successes, but not by our failures. I will say this to everyone, what are you waiting for? Are you going to wait for COVID to end? Are you going to wait for permission?
If this pandemic has shown us anything, it showed us how temporary life maybe. It reminded us of our impermanence in the world. All the plans that we have are suddenly thrown out the window. Lean into the creation and it’s a broad tent. I don’t expect people who aren’t writers to become writers, but there’s something you’re good at creating. Lean into that versus the easy thing, the consumption. That I do feel strongly about.Create more than you consume. Click To Tweet
Through this period of COVID and this pandemic where there are many restrictions and so much stress on other parts of your life, having something to create and something to do is saving me now. I live alone. It’s giving me something to do and something to focus on.
I’ve coped with it in the way where I’ve doubled down on my health and relationships. I’ve been taking good care of myself, but the thing that has gotten me through it in terms of it not feeling like a lost a year. I don’t have that many years left on the planet. I’m not willing to give one up and sit and tread water, but I have thrown myself into my creative work. It’s the one thing that’s keeping me sane.
I would argue that this has been probably the most important year of my life because of the pandemic. It’s forced me to thrive in other ways to make use of this time. I could have spent the last nine months watching Netflix and sitting on my couch. I chose instead to rise to this.
It’s why I wanted you to be a case study to close out this mini-series on reinvention. I’m happy for you to see this change because you’re becoming a better person. You’re much lighter, happier and you’re making things that are making your life better and other people’s lives. When I light a candle or one of your MANdles, I make the world a better place. I know you’re having challenges around building your business. That’s natural. It’s normal. Steve Jobs had that in his garage with Wozniak. You have your apartment. That’s a natural thing to happen. I want to close out by telling you that I’m proud of you for doing this.
The fact that I had a small bit of push encouragement and inspiration to do that makes me proud. I don’t get any credit for this. You are the one who did it. You were doing it before I came along. You were doing it before the show. If it served as an accelerator, I’m thrilled. When it comes to an act of reinvention, it has to come from the person. This is not a make-over, it is reinvention. We could make you over, but it’s not going to last. A reinvention has to come from yourself.
I have been giving my readers homework at times. In a forthcoming episode, they’re going to get some homework. In this one, write down these elements of the foundation and the flourishing. Your environment, your health, your wealth, your team. Where are you doing well? Where are the spots that are missing that needs some work? Get to it and work on that. While you’re working on that, write down these different paths to living a remarkable life. Do we need more positive emotion in your life? Do you need to be more engaged? Do you need to lean into certain relationships? Do you find meaning and purpose in the world? I’m amazed that this show has turned into this meaningful activity. It’s not just engaging. It’s about helping people make profound change.
It helps me so much. There has been so much that I’ve learned, new perspective and support. You’re doing such a wonderful service to many people who don’t have access in their daily life to other solos.
There is no conversation about this. I keep getting messages from people saying thank you. For the readers who are finding value in this and are saying thank you, there are ways you can help. Let me do my little PSA, rating and reviewing the show helps. It helps the algorithms. The more positive the ratings and the reviews are, the more people who get exposed to it. The algorithms reward that. The other one is word of mouth. Telling your friends, families, and acquaintances in the world that this resource is there for them is important. All of the growth thus far comes from people, typing single into iTunes or into Google or telling their friends. It’s been organic growth. It’s important because there’s one of us at every Thanksgiving dinner table, so we got to find a way to connect. Kym, I appreciate you.
Thanks, Peter. I appreciate you so much. You’re the coach of my team.
It’s very nice. I am happy to help. Why don’t we come back years from now and see where you at?
That sounds good.
Thank you. Cheers.
- Wax Crescent
- Episode one – Introducing Solo: The Single Person’s Guide To A Remarkable Life episode
- Scott Barry Kaufman – Previous episode
- Solo Thoughts Episode 5 – Previous episode
- 50th episode – Looking Back And Looking Forward episode
- Daliya Karnofsky – Previous episode
- Money Amy – Previous episode
- Meet The Love Jones Cohort – Previous episode
About Kym Terrible
Julie Nirvelli was born and raised in San Jose, CA and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has lived in Colorado for 16 years. As a strong, independent and fun-loving person, Julie embraces the solo life. A frequent contributor to Solo, she recently launched her new business, Bachelor Girl Productions
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