A New Year, A New Manuscript

2019 has been one heck of a beautiful blur.

In January, I tucked away some savings so that I could step away from my full-time position and instead split my time between part-time employment and finishing writing my first book. For the next several months I adapted to being partially self-employed, finding spontaneous opportunities to present my work in a way that honored my passions for travel, storytelling, and meaningful connection. I found myself giving keynote presentations, facilitating student workshops, and being listed as a featured performer at storytelling festivals all over the state; three things I never saw myself doing at just 24 years old.

In April, I received the operating license for Fishtail Publishing, LLC, a business that would not only carry the publication of my first book, but would also serve in honor of my Grandfriend, Karin, who helped create the business when I was just 8 years old. It was simply an imaginative game at the time, a way to occupy my energy while Karin worked at her computer. But it has since developed into the official business through which I create, connect, and inspire others through the art of storytelling and reflection.

In July, my life was changed by the National Storytelling Network annual summit. As a scholarship recipient, I attended a 4-day conference in Fremont, California surrounded by passionate and talented storytellers from all over the world. I recognized the true capacity with which my voice, and my story, has the power to influence and connect others. I was empowered by the prospect of turning a passion into a career.

In August, I published my first book, Gui Ren: Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People, a heart-warming narrative about a dream-job gone wrong, a resulting solo-trek through Southeast Asia, and the people that made the journey worthwhile. It was invigorating to have finished what had been such a daunting task at the start, and I felt so deeply connected to the stories and the people who helped create them. I broke even on my book investments in less than a week, and sold out of 200 pre-sale copies within two. Gui Ren was a glowing success.

In September, I walked away from my part-time job in pursuit of full-time self-employment. My savings from January had never been touched, and Gui Ren established a foundation from which I could continue to build. So, I took the path less traveled by most 24 year olds, and I leaped. And let me tell you, it was, and continues to be, absolutely incredible. I have never felt so wealthy with freedom, creativity, and drive.

In October, I was honored to be a featured teller in two storytelling events in Chicago. Over the course of a week, I connected with community members so engaged with the art of story that I began to feel as though I was living in the wrong city for my career interests. But as I drove home, I realized that I am right where I need to be; in a city with the potential and creativity to be just as meaningfully engaged, and the space for me to figure out just what that might look like. So I decided to start Columbus Speaks, a local storytelling event honoring the personal narratives from within, around, and beyond Columbus.

In December, I accepted a position on the board of the National Storytelling Network as an appointed director and secretary of the board. It is sincerely an honor and a privilege as I continue to make strides in connecting younger generations with the power of storytelling, and as I further develop my own narrative.

I am in awe of all that is possible within a year. And this hardly includes all of the events, people, places, and experiences that made 2019 simply unforgettable.

With the new decade comes new opportunities and challenges. Josh and I are thrilled to begin our new year with a 2.5 week trip to Europe (proudly funded by the savings I never touched). And, upon our return, I am eager to begin working on my second book, a narrative that has excitedly already been mapped out.

2020 will be a year of creation and connection. I want to remain focused on the things that bring value to my life, and set aside those that don’t. I want to perceive this next year as full of opportunity as this year proved to be. I want to be present and attentive to what sparks creativity and joy. I want to treat my body like a temple and get it back to where it feels most confident. I want to honor myself, love without condition, give without obligation, and live without reservation.

This year is my quarter of a century year, and I intend to live like it.

Happy New Year!

eko

Special thanks to Judy C., Amy I., David O., and Carollynne O. for their investment in the publication of Gui Ren!  Learn how you can add your name to this list and receive exclusive content by visiting www.patreon.com/FishtailPublishing

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