Books       Letters       Me

Books       Letters       Me


Apr 10, 2024

There’s a line I wrote in That Novel that I think about a lot. My main character is reuniting with her two best friends after a few years of living abroad. Doubts about their dynamic weigh heavy as she awaits their arrival. “That’s the thing about change though, the person it’s happening to is the last one to see it.”

I’m always afraid to see the changes I need to make, but never so afraid that I won’t make the change. Sometimes I’ll initiate change with all the motivation of a very eager-to-please ChatGPT. Sometimes I’ll fight it off like a warrior queen defending her very existence. Depends on how much coffee I’ve had that morning.

Well, today I’ve made a huge change. In how I show up in the world. In how I talk about myself. In how I relate to my work and creativity. Please, take a look at it all. But first, let me tell you how I got here.

Over a decade ago, I was living in London for a szn and took a train from Paddington Station to Bath, a picturesque historic town with shopkeepers and museums that made me feel like I was the main character of my very own Victorian novel (I am?). I brought a giant pad of sketch paper, the kind that is awkwardly large and fits none of the bags I’d packed. So, naturally, I carried it around like an earnest artist who was teaching herself how to draw. The paper wasn’t for charcoal sticks, it was for hot pink markers to scribble out all my wild dreams. Some fling in Germany had crushed my delicate little heart and per the “Maxie playbook”, I channeled my heartbreak into plans for the future.

I was ready for a change. For two years I’d been blogging three times a week on ilo Inspired, my site named after my paternal grandmother, ilo (which is also my middle name, and yes, you may name your future daughter ilo and yes, she’ll have the same name as my future daughter).

On an Adirondack chair, with a bottle of wine and a block of Gruyere cheese (I was sad, OK!?), I sat under the foggy afternoon sky and sketched out everything I’d go on to do: build my personal brand, write a book, launch a show, and speak at conferences. I can still see the manifestation list in my head. And the point isn’t “Oh, I wanted to do that and I did.” The point, in hindsight, was that I wanted a change, and I created it. I recalibrated my day job at the time to consulting, packed up my life, moved to Bali for a year, and put my scheme into motion. I was changing. Rapidly. Unlike my main character, not only was I the first to know, I was the first to tell you about it. My girlfriends reading this are nodding aggressively right now.

My personal brand gave way to a robust business in women’s leadership that was magnified by publishing You’re Not Lost. I sat squarely in the influencer + speaker + thought leader + self-help + career space.

And eventually, I wanted nothing to do with most of that. I didn’t want to mine my life for content to stay relevant on social media like my competition. I didn’t want to stand on stage in front of thousands of people to be the “teacher” when really I’m an obsessively curious student. I was permanently rolling my eyes at self-help. And if I had to write much less read another been-said-a-million-times-before career tip I might have poked my eyes out. My gripes were draining me, but I had a hard time shaking them.

I wanted to write, but to make sure your stories don't go on untold. I wanted to be on stage, but only as the hyper-curious host. I wanted to create, but in ways that shifted the genre.

I wanted to change how I showed up in my work and what I worked on, but honestly, I wasn’t sure how.

So I changed other things instead.

I threw myself into the depths of a breakup (highly recommend it). I launched WOMAN ON for two seasons, which was never supposed to be a digital endeavor, but the pandemic made it so. I moved from San Francisco to Savannah, shifting from living and traveling in a big city with all my closest people around me to spending Friday nights on my second-story porch alone until I made enough friends to have plans. I started learning the craft of fiction and made different choices around ghostwriting that would allow me to fund three years of investing in a brilliant writing coach – Julie Artz – to get That Novel on submission, and learn the art of fiction along the way. I tried building out courses that I had no interest in maintaining. I got a dog, the world’s cutest dog to be exact. I cut bangs. And really, the bangs should tell you everything you need to know (still got ‘em tho!!)

I was changing – My desires. What I cared about. Where I was going. But I didn’t know how to talk about it. Because how do you describe the house when all you've ever seen is the view from the living room?

So I let the outward, internet-facing version of me coast – rarely posting on social. I let a website that bordered the dysfunctionally absurd keep kicking because an ugly new site hacked together by yours truly was better than a beautiful old site covered with a version of me so distantly in the past (and littered with images of me with straight hair?? I mean come on!!)

I wanted the digital version of me to give room for my expansion. To be the person around the corner who would greet the woman I was becoming with open arms instead of weighing me down with a version of my past.

So every Friday evening last year I met with my collaborator-gal-pal in chief, and creative-sister-angel Lisa Raphael to chip away at what that could be. She’s a messaging-first, branding icon, and she pulled out the version of my work that I wanted to work into.

Today, that version of me has arrived. I’ve been changing, and now things are changing with me. I’d love it if you’d take some time to check your girl’s new glow-up. The external renovation is a reflection of the deep, internal overhaul I’ve been doing these last few years.

Expect more words, stories, and questions from me. Lots more. Heartfelt, delicious, and the most me. Liberation through creation baby! And because I’m not beyond external validation or feedback, hit reply and send words. They have power for both of us.

Just like my main character would learn once her friends finally showed up: we do indeed change, but the people who love us are cheering for that growth.

My words are written just for you.