Two Years of Free Workshops

Nearly two years ago I gave my first workshop on ‘Healing through Nature and Travel’ at the Lancaster Public Library. My husband came for support.

1 person showed up.

I was nervous.

I used it as a way to prep my materials and asked her for feedback. She had been nature journaling for years and was happy to give me feedback. I left feeling ill prepared and a bit disappointed. I didn’t expected hundreds, but I had hoped for more than 1.

Last night I gave this workshop again at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. 4 people showed up. I went into it feeling disappointed, worried only 1 or 2 would show, and wondering if I was a failure. Prior to last night I had determined this would be the last free workshop I plan and promote on my own. 2 years. 9 workshops. Around 100 people.


Tuesday I heard the disappointing news that I was not selected a final speaker in this fall’s Lancaster’s TEDx program. I had made it to round 2 and that’s where it ended. It was disheartening. As a writer friend consoled me he reminded me of exactly what I had done – imagined being up there, wowing the crowd, doors opening into paid speaking engagements where they pay for you to come and for your travel and expenses. Where you become a professional speaker.

It looks like that’s not going to be the place that gets me there.

I can think and hear, over-and-over, how it is incredible to make it to round 2, to be considered, that I should be proud. But I’m not.


I struggle to find the balance between how much time and energy I donate to causes I care about and how much that donating eats into taking care of myself and my family. For two years it has eaten up a lot of energy. Promoting these events, re-creating each talk to meet the audience, practicing, money on advertising and travel, many movies half watched with my husband while I work on my computer, evenings and weekends spent away from home.

It was initially my hope that these workshops would be a great opportunity to sell my book. But a memoir on love and cancer isn’t necessarily a perfect matching for workshops about nature and travel. And few books have sold at these events.

It’s time to set limits. I told myself several weeks ago that last night would be the last free workshop I planned myself. And then I got a request to give another workshop. I asked for a fee. I was met with hesitation and a counter. Now I’m reaching out to a trusted friend to help me come up with a qualifying checklist for agreeing to give these workshops in the future. I can’t do it all.

With a heart for service, it’s difficult for me to ask for payment when I know these organizations struggle to raise money. I’ve donated my services and time for nearly 8 years for causes related to angiosarcoma and sarcoma cancers, and grief. I never believe in an end date for giving your time and efforts into service, but there also needs to come a time when you put yourself and your family first. I have failed to do that for many years. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to say no or how to say “here’s what I’m worth”.

But I have a worth beyond my time and talent. And it comes in a dollar form now.

For the rest of the summer you can find me traveling with my family, enjoying time with friends, and determining the next steps to my speaking engagements and my business. With the launch this year of Widow Voyages I find my energies need to shift towards a business mindset that will help me turn a profit after many years of claiming a loss on my taxes from writing my book. It’s tough to admit that I’m not making money on this. I’d like to say I was, but I’m not there. Yet.

So it’s time to say NO.  To free. To charity beyond a financial donation my spouse and I agree upon. To anything that does not propel me forward in creating a successful company. To anything that does not allow me adequate time for self care and family time.

I am finalizing confirmations for some paid workshops this fall and in late August I will venture on our first Widow Voyages trip. I hope this will be the start of success and self care. I hope this will be the start of a balanced schedule.



Related posts

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.