Category Archives for Creative Solopreneur Adventures


Mindfulness Video

Since I selected “peace” as my word of the year for 2019, I thought it useful to investigate mindfulness to see if it had any applications in the life of a creative entrepreneur.

Mindfulness, like prayer, requires a belief that we exist as part of a wider entity. That’s useful when you’re working hard to create abundance and growth, both as an individual and as a leader in the community.

For the last year or so, I’ve been practicing moments of mindfulness when I’m particularly stressed. That’s something I want to remember during this time of year when client expectations compete with plans for the upcoming year, grant applications and closing down last year and paying taxes.

So, what is mindfulness?

Two Distinct Modes

I like John Yates (Culadasa) description of mindfulness as the “the optimal interaction between attention and peripheral awareness.”

So far, I’ve noticed that it’s easiest to practice mindfulness on days when I’ve slept well, taken time to eat and exercise and am concentrating on a single task.

Clinicians have also found ways to use mindfulness to heal major illnesses.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

According to Wikipedia, Clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness since the 1970s. They are known for helping people:

  • alleviate depression,
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • treat drug addiction
  • cope with crisis
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn uses mindfulness in schools, prisons, hospitals and veterans’ centers

As a Catholic, having a healthy mind doesn’t solely mean being able to function in a secular world. For me, mindfulness works best when I approach it as a kind of prayer.

I’m not the only one who considers prayer a form of mindfulness either. Many world religions include a form of mindfulness in their spiritual practices.

Mindfulness and Christianity

Most people think that mindfulness comes from Eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism, but the Catholic faith also has a long-standing practice of mindfulness.

The Path to Our Door: Approaches to Christian Spirituality

A book called The Path to Our Door by Rev. Ellen Clark-King, the archdeacon of Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, says that the popularity of Buddhist meditation has been good for Christianity. It allows us to discover meditative and contemplative methods within our heritage.

Some philosophies in the church describe a ladder of spirituality that begins with prayer, leads to meditation and ends with contemplation.

Contemplative Prayer

Most people in the west began learning about contemplative prayer after reading books by Thomas Merton. Merton, who practiced Catholicism as Father Louis, describes a traditional practice of prayer that is “centred entirely on the presence of God”. Merton also wrote the Seven Storey Mountain in 1948.

Thomas Keating’s centring prayer movement

Wikipedia has a site for an even more modern Centring Prayer Movement created by Thomas Keating. The Wikipedia article describes a number of leaders in the field.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Keating, Merton and Clark-King all benefit from “The Cloud of Unknowing,” a book written anonymously in the 14th century. An English monk probably authored The Cloud of Unknowing.

The author promoted a kind of prayer in which you keep silent as long as possible noticing thoughts as they occur without paying attention to them.

In Canada, many groups form part of the mindfulness movement, including the Contemplative Society on Salt Spring Island and most Anglican and Catholic Churches.

Montreal Mindfulness Opportunities

The Centring Prayer Movement Centre in Montreal holds meditation events every Monday evening at 19h at 5530 Isabella on Clanranald corner in Notre Dame de Grâce.

Christ Church Cathedral, at 635 Ste-Catherine St. West offers talks and silent meditation from 17:45 until 18:45 the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.

There’s also Mecum, 8598 Des Rapides LaSalle QC H8P 2W2.

A collaborative community non-profit association called Mindfulness Montreal offers occasional events too. It was founded by three Montreal practitioners, Dr. Andreanne Éli (Clinique Psyché) Dr. Joe Flanders (MindSpace), and Muriel Jaouich (True North Insight). Since Éli works at the University of Montreal, Flanders at McGill and Jaouich at UQAM, the collaboration also links to three of our universities.

The organization’s first event at UQAM sold out last year.

This year, they’re planning a full weekend of activities at McGill and UQAM from April 19th to April 22nd. The full weekend costs $525, but individual presentations cost $40 or $50.

These centres offer good opportunities to get in-person training in mindfulness.

I’d like to commit to practicing mindfulness and its deeper cousin, meditation, in the next year to help me focus and take care of my personal health. If things go well, perhaps I’ll move towards a level of contemplation sometime later.

What kind of mindfulness do you practice? Does it help heal your body and spirit?

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How Many Distribution Partners Do You Have?

This week’s video is a short reflection on all the partners there are to create an online business when it comes to distribution.

[00:00:07] Now that we have created our online products, how do we distribute them?

[00:00:11] My example for this one is going to be a gluten-free cooking book that I originally did for an in-person course a couple of years ago.

[00:00:21] I’m just updating it now so that I can put it online. It’s gluten-free cooking basics. But I had to think about how to distribute it.

[00:00:32] So first of all, I need to make it into three different versions. I want a basic PDF version that you can buy off my web site.

Digital Book Versions

[00:00:48] So far, I’ve used a couple of different services to make this work. I used Canva in order to do the cover page and Jutoh to do the layout in a proper way. I was going to do In Design because I’ve wanted to learn it. But then I found Jutoh and so I decided to demo that because I know it’s not a very long book.

[00:01:08] And so I decided just to stick with what I know for this particular project. So then I’ll be selling it on my website.

Industry Distribution

[00:01:20] I want to sell it from Amazon so I had to use Ingram Spark and maybe I’ll also use Draft2Digital. Those are the two services that I’m exploring.

[00:01:29] I started with IngramSpark because I want to be in libraries and I definitely want it to be an Amazon and Kobo Writing Life but I could take I didn’t I unselected those so that I could do the distribution myself in those two formats because I want to have my own relationship on Amazon. I want to have my own relationship on Kobo.

[00:01:47] IngramSpark has a print on demand service that they can do. They can do libraries. They have a ton of different things that I don’t know very much about because I haven’t actually done that particular part yet. I’ve just signed up for my account and started investigating what I’m going to be doing but I’m very excited because the gluten-free cooking basics is an important project.

Gluten-free Cookbook

[00:02:08] I know that a lot of people who have celiac disease really struggle with trying to cook home wonderful meals that are as good as the ones they were used to if they were eating gluten free before. And it’s not that hard to take your original recipe and modify it.

[00:02:28] You have to do a little bit of experimenting to make sure that you get the textures right and the liquids right and everything but and baked goods are not too bad.

[00:02:37] They can get crumbly and dry if you’re not careful but I add a lot of either egg or apple sauce into them so that prevents that real crumbly thing from happening and that can be really good. So in terms of distribution, obviously our distributions include WordPress because this site is on WordPress.

Payment Sites

They also include all the payment. You know how people pay me. So I have a Square. I have a Stripe account.

[00:03:06] I have a PayPal account and so people can pay me that way too.

[00:03:20] So basically anybody can pay me if they want to. But all those organizations including Quickbooks where I do my accounting, and YouTube, where I host my videos. Those are all distribution partners because they all have online catalogs which I’m I’m going to take advantage of as well so that they won’t just be on my own Web site but they’ll also be on the website of all my partners because I want to make sure that their clients get to have as much diversity as possible, including my gluten free cookbook. So that’s one point about online distribution that people don’t often think about the other partner and this is MailChimp.

Email List

[00:03:58] I’m using MailChimp to deliver my cookbook to people who order off my Web site. So they’ll just go into my mailing list and then my mailing list delivers them the PEF. Hopefully, that will work.

[00:04:11] I’ll let you know when I launch. If you’re one of the purchasers then please let me know how it’s working for you so that I can update it if I need to. And I guess my next when I do another video I will tell you how it went.

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Writers Grants Available in Canada

I am here to talk to you this week about grants.

Most provinces and the federal government have writer funding for individuals or groups of writers to complete projects.

They also have lots of funding for writers to visit schools or communities.

Governments also pay for writers to represent them in various places around the world.

This is the time when you need to figure out which grants you want to apply for.

Actually, the Northern Territories and Manitoba have deadlines this month, so you got to get on it right now for those provinces. New Brunswick is in mid-February.

Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are in March.

In April, the federal government.

Saskatchewan, B.C. and also Alberta have March 1st publishing grant deadlines.

The Cultural Council cooperation grant allows creators in New Brunswick and Quebec to cooperate and that has a deadline this year of April 20th.

Indigenous artists can apply for grants any time as can Quebec artists

So basically I’m here to encourage you to go public doing really great work and get a grant.

I really hope that you have a wonderful week working as a creative in intended.

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Generating Gratitude for Business Success

Gratitude is the first video in my new series about the Canadian Creative Solopreneur Life. Every Sunday, I’m going to post a video about the way things have been going in my online business development.

This week we start at zero revenue and lots of expenses. I have hosting services for a WordPress blog, 10 domain names, a Thrive Themes membership, a Teachable membership, a YouTube channel and monthly coaching.

I’ve created an initial set of products–four courses to help genealogists create family history stories from their research into Canadian military documents, census records and travel documents. In a future video, I’ll speak about that process. For more information, visit the Notable Nonfiction Academy.

In my weekly discussion about my online business this week I’m going to be talking about gratitude.

Stop Wallowing in Complaining Out of Action Mode

I’m starting with gratitude because I’ve been generating gratitude to stop myself from wallowing in a complaining out of action mode, which I do quite a lot of, unfortunately.

So do you have had a WordPress site? If so, how is Gutenberg working for you?

Gutenberg Misery

I attempted to use Gutenberg for a full two weeks of misery before happily downloading the classic editor and then being very very happy. So my WordPress site is now faster.

I’ve had my own personal artist’s website write web website online since 1995 and I’ve always built it myself. The first one I built out of HTML code for the first four years or so.

I love WordPress and so when WordPress turned into the Gutenberg editor and it was very clearly not working for me, I was really wondering what I was going to do.

Process using Word, Evernote and Thrive

It’s not that I don’t like page builders. I have the Thrive Themes Architect and I actually love that when I need it but I don’t need it for most of the posts I do.

Most of the posts I do are I’m just writing something in another sought piece of software like Evernote or Word or whatever and then I just copy and paste it into the classic editor and then add pictures, change things to quotes or add headings if I need to, listen to Yost SEO and do whatever I need to do to make a decent blog post.

Gutenberg wasn’t working for me, so initially I thought that maybe it would work better on my phone but on my phone I couldn’t even see the squares let alone manipulate them, add to them or make a post.

Anyway, thank you to the WordPress community.

Yippee for the Classic Editor

Already, the classic editor has been downloaded a million times and Automattic, the people who own WordPress, say that they’re going to be supporting it till at least 2022. So I just am feeling so grateful for WordPress.

Now it feels like a gift actually putting me through this. After attempting to use this new piece of software that I really didn’t like and then being able to put the plugin, which I just put in yesterday and it works like a dream and it works exactly the way and everything works the way I want it to.

It’s like oh I love this. And again I get to stay a WordPress geek. Thank you very much.

I did hear one podcast of a fella who actually likes Gutenberg but most of the people who have been talking about it have not found it ultimately wonderful.

If you have a WordPress site, you can get a plugin. It’s just called Classic editor and it’s going to be supported until at least 2022. And even the comments say that it will be supported longer than that if needed. Obviously, WordPress has realized that a lot of its core users, the people like me have very simple blogs and they don’t need all that kind of stuff.

Grateful for 49 Technology Companies

Under gratitude for my business, it’s not just WordPress that I’m grateful for, but I’m also grateful for the 49 different companies that I use for my online work including Thrive Themes and Smarty Pants, my blog host company. I also have 27 different plugins including Akismet, which is the spam blocker, Teachable which I’ll be talking about in a couple of weeks.

I encourage every single non-profit that I work for to use WordPress, including Genealogy Ensemble on WordPress dot com.

It’s just a joy to use.

Anyway, I’m feeling gratitude for all of those companies that are supporting this online endeavour.

Grateful to Partners Offline Too

I’m also grateful for the offline people who support me. Obviously my personal family and urban agriculture people, such as the members of the Coopérative Abundance Urbain Solidaire (which is CAUS, the nonprofit Urban abundance Solidarity Co-op here), Grand Potager, Groundit, Compost Montreal, Ouishare, Sensorica, the borough of Verdun…there’s a heck of a lot of people doing things to try and make the world a better place in my local neighborhood. And I’m so grateful for them all.

The other thing that I wanted to mention about gratitude is that I’ve been able to actually use it when I can actually generate it, which I actually find very difficult.

When I’m starting to go into my little huff about how someone else isn’t doing things exactly the way that I’m doing things, if I can generate gratitude, then it can make things a lot easier.

So I’m expecting to spend a lot more time generating gratitude in 2019.

And I really hope that I’ll be able to work with you on that. So that’s where my business is this week.

Next Steps Online

Like I said I’m at zero revenue online. I’m working on setting up three different kinds of products that will be sold online including web courses and books.

Actually, when I think about it, I already have some books online already because Amazon sells my I Volunteered book and all of my Ulysses guides. Ulysses itself sells a bunch of stuff online. You can get the digital version of my hiking guide to Ontario.

So actually it’s only me who is bringing my work online personally. All of my partners have already started doing that so I’m really grateful for them as well. And I guess I’ll see you next week.

Thanks. Bye.


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