A little self-promoting so-and-so

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life58 Comments


I had a moment yesterday.

All the work that went into the new CZ Classes and then into the new eCourse 30 Days of Thankful (see how I casually worked those into this post?) had culminated into the class launch and I sat back at my desk and was all, “Holy CRAP. Now what?”

As an introvert, I’ve talked about this whole self-promotion thing. It feels weird sometimes. It does. But it’s part of running a business. But yesterday, after I had that holy crap, now what moment, then I had a holy crap I am tired of ME moment as well.

All the marketing. All the promotion. All the ME, ME, ME. You know, that whole thing.

I snap chatted my best friend (because I’m modern like that) and said, “I’m crashing. I feel hollow and empty.” She told me to go do something not work related. Something just for me.

So I went to Target.

The whole way there I was rehearsing what I would say when they asked me for the third time, “You really don’t want to save five percent?”

I ended up buying two decorative pumpkins, some new boxer briefs for Cole and a smattering of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap (I’m partial to the Basil scent).

The cashier only asked me once about the Red Card, and for that, I seriously wanted to spoon her.

Came home, looked at the clock and decided that 4:05 p.m. in Minnesota was actually 5:05 p.m. in New York and poured myself a glass of Apothic Red.

Then it really hit me: what if that’s it? What if that is the last good idea you have for a class. Ever?

I recently watched an episode of Marie TV featuring Elizabeth Gilbert talking about Fear, Authenticity and Big Magic. I don’t know how I feel about Elizabeth Gilbert. I think she has some good ideas. I tried to read Eat, Pray, Love but just couldn’t get through it, though I enjoyed the movie. One thing stood out to me in the first part of the clip when she says everyone who creates always deals with fear as part of the creative process. Fear of being unoriginal. Fear of not having any good ideas. Fear of stuff just not working. She said she is not a fearless person, that fear is always her companion. She said it’s always along for the ride but she won’t allow it to drive her process.

I do wish more people would talk about the fear because sometimes I wonder, “Am I the only one who wonders what the hell is coming next?”

I’m guessing that I’m not. In fact, I’m pretty confident I’m not.

p.s. the bowl of chips in the photo? We’ll talk about that next week.

Thanks for the great kick off yesterday for my class! Just a reminder that it will remain on sale through next Tuesday at 20%off. Learn more here. I’m also extending the 10% off sale for Ten Tips for Better Type! It seems a lot of you are interested in this class and I’m happy to extend the reduced price through next Tuesday as as well!


Cathy ZielskeA little self-promoting so-and-so

58 Comments on “A little self-promoting so-and-so”

  1. #1

    Have you listened to Brene Brown’s TED Talks or read/listened to any of her books (The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly)? If not, I highly recommend them and commend yourself for being in the arena!

      1. #1.1.1

        Just finishing Brene’s newest book (haven’t read the others), Rising Strong. Highly recommend it for this topic. : ) You’re doing great, btw!

  2. #3
    Annet M

    I couldn’t read Eat Pray Love. But despite not wanting to read it, I really liked her novel The Signature of All Things. So I’m thinking I am going to give her new book a chance, since I also like to be creative!

  3. #4
    Barbara Eads

    I don’t think you have to worry. Ideas always come to creatives like you. I don’t think you could stop them. The problem might be in trying to force them. Just sit back with your Apothic and let it flow. Take that any way you like!

    1. #4.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Barbara. You’re right about forcing them. I need to let me brain unwind a bit this week.

  4. #5
    Katie Jones (UK SU! demo)

    Cathy, you have amazing ideas all. the. time.
    I struggle with thinking I’m forever going to be a “CASEr” of card designs and scrapbook ideas, and then I come up with an original idea that I’m really proud of, and it cheers me up. And then I need another one, and the cycle starts again! Not that there’s anything wrong with CASEing ideas, that’s why we have such places as Pinterest and craft magazines, etc. but it’s always nice to feel you *can* come up with at least slightly original ideas!
    No way could I do your job, but you do it brilliantly 🙂

  5. #6

    Oh yeah. You need a day off and away. And red wine. And I need to tell you, you are awesome and I am a raving fan of your sense of humor, your blog, your work and especially your products!

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Does going to Costco this morning count as a day away? They DO have my favorite wine for cheap! 😉

  6. #7
    Deborah P

    Um yeah, that fear thing? That’s why I create more in my head than I do in reality because in my head it always turns out great. In reality, not so much.

  7. #8

    Dude…the reason you have such a strong following is because you are so freaking normal. Keep doing you….we’ll keep loving it. Don’t sweat the creative process. Creatives’ block is normal and just part of it all. Take time for yourself. You’ve got to allow the well to replenish itself before you can take from it again. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Cheers.

  8. #9
    Heather D

    There’s a quote from last season’s Doctor Who that is perfect for this.
    “Fear is a super power.”
    And it is. Because fear sneaks up on you and grabs you and you freeze for a bit, and then you turn around, and hug it, hold it tight.
    Glory in the fear, and then jump right back into whatever is scaring you. It gives you energy, and inspiration, and plain old orneriness. “Whatevs Fear. You’re not stopping me. In fact I’m going to turn you into my next big thing, so there!”

  9. #10
    Jacenda G.

    Cathy – YOU are awesome! And to quote the movie The Help – “Youz kind, youz smart, youz important”. We love what you do, how you do it, and would miss it if it weren’t out there. Thanks for what you do and I know you’ll continue to come up with some rockin’ scrapbook inspiration. And yes, a day away, even if it’s at Costco is good for the soul. Wish I had one close.

  10. #11
    Lynne Gillis

    You are in good company.
    I think that there is always fear – for everyone – where we differ, I think is in how we incorporate it into our lives. Do we let it paralyze us, or do we get curious about it? This past year I’ve been doing a shit-load of personal work on transforming fear through self-compassion. When I am most afraid or fearful, there is ALWAYS this ‘part’ of me (did you see Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’? – it’s the perfect metaphor for the ‘parts’ work that I’m talking about) that needs attention. So I try to get really centered – really physically grounded in my body – and simply feel and listen to that part that’s afraid. And then, I work on accessing my ‘inner wisdom’ – my Authentic Self Voice, if you will – and talk to that part about how she’s feeling and why, and most of all, what she needs.

    This probably sounds all woo-woo and weird – but I will tell you – it has been life-changing. Being able to find a way to be compassionate – to give myself a little break from all of my expectations of myself (no small feat, let me assure you), and to truly care for myself as I would care for a dear friend or family member – well, it has made all the difference. And it has unblocked a ton of resistance and fear. Am I still afraid? Yes. But I now have a way of moving through it that feels healing and really powerful.

    Sending you lots of love! And totally digging your choice of Apothic Red. One of my FAVE wines!

  11. #12

    Fear is something I deal with on a frequent basis. You are definitely not alone. I believe in you and your creative mojo will return. P.S. I didn’t notice the chips at all. Only your expression. The eyes have it. ?

  12. #13

    I am reading Big Magic right now! And it is terrific. Amazing. And I don’t even create for a living. (just for fun) I found it to be the perfect blend of validation, motivation, and inspiration.

  13. #14
    Glenda Thorne

    Well I was trying to state something profound, meaningful and witty, but everyone has stated all my thouhgts on your blog post today. You are appreciated , creative, smart, witty, funny and am so glad to have been following you since you started your journey. Of course the red wine and chips would have done it for me to follow your blog, just sayin’.

  14. #15

    let’s talk fear, I’m still carrying around my script from last summer as if I have lines to learn because what if I never get cast again.

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yep. It’s that doubt of what if this never happens again thing. Part of the creative life.

  15. #17

    I’d recommend Elizabeth,s Ted talk. More talk about fear and how it’s possible that her greatest success is behind her. And always Brene. I especially love when I can hear her speak. It seems to make the struggle feel normal.

  16. #18
    Michelle t

    I get the whole introvert thing. It’s h hard for me to comment on blogs. I know I comment fairly often and that might be hard to believe, but it’s true. I just only comment where I feel I somewhat belong, and have something to say, that’s hard for me too. But enough about me, you are relevant. It IS all about you! It’s supposed to be. And you rock. You’re doing awesome things. I can only imagine how tiring it can be. But I just wanted to say you can do this, you are doing this. Hope you’re feeling better. Michelle t

    1. #18.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Michelle. And I am. Today is a chill day of cleaning up emails and getting back to a few little freelance jobs that need doing. 🙂

  17. #20

    Dude, you are my hero. “Long time follower, first time poster.” As a fellow introvert, I appreciate the internal drama that is created by ME for ME being ME! As far as Target- here’s my story:
    “My husband works for the firm who audit’s the bank that Target’s credit card is run through, therefore as a family we cannot hold a Target credit card.” Total lie, but if he did work for said company the story just may be plausible!

  18. #21

    Cathy: I think you’re having a post-project crash. It happens to non-creative types too. You work your little (or in my case, not so little) behind off to meet a deadline. And you do it. So you celebrate for two seconds — or worse, forget to celebrate at all. And then you don’t know what the heck to do with yourself. This happens to me every time I hit a major project milestone.

    So shopping and red wine may be your version of a small celebration.

    Now, take some time to write down everything you’ve done in your project that you’re proud of and what you did to make it happen. You. Own it. If you didn’t do it, it wouldn’t have happened and we’d all be the less for it. Then, once you recognize what cool stuff you accomplished, really celebrate it. Make your hubby take you to dinner. And THEN think about what to do next.

    Now I’m off to look at those classes! You marketing dynamo you!

    1. #21.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I totally am. I do need to take some notes and think about what has just transpired. Oh yeah, and dinner out would be a good thing!

  19. #22

    Liz Gilbert is a bit woo woo for me sometimes but if I can ignore that, there’s some gold there. She recently had Brene Brown on her podcast. I recommend it. Fear is a big part of the conversation. I’m also reading and liking Brene’s new book. Get in the arena. Get your ass kicked. Get up. Good stuff will follow.

  20. #23

    I too have introverted characteristics, and am a professional artist, (art reception tonight as a matter of fact…) and I so get your quandary over self promotion! You said it perfectly — it is driven by fear — fear that nobody will respond, that you’re putting your heart out there and it might be squashed. But you keep doing it, even when the artwork/ideas seem less than stellar (not speaking about your ideas — they’re great! I’m thinking of myself here…) — or at times when you think you’ve done your best work and then nobody agrees! Ouch! I was raised to not brag, be humble, and that worked well with my introverted side — happy to hide away in the background. However that doesn’t work when your career is all about “Look at what I made!” I have always wished for an agent to do my marketing so I could stay in the background and just produce paintings — but that’s not the reality. So we have to embrace the fear, and keep working on those things that don’t come naturally to us which help us grow. We also need to remember to take that break and step back into our shells to rejuvenate and recharge so we can emerge and continue the less natural push forward :). Your friend is right, it’s time for you to do what you need to gain energy, you’ve worked hard, and it’s ME time right now. Then you’ll be ready for the next adventure!

  21. #25

    I’ve found the answer to the Target 5% inquiry… I use gift cards to shop there now. I buy scrip cards – good for a charity and saves me the repeated 5% 🙂

  22. #26

    I imagine that when your name is your brand you literally do not get time off from being “Cathy Zielske”. I promise you will have many more great ideas, and I’m sure I speak for thousands of students and customers when I say we have your back!

    1. #26.1

      And I just misspelled your name :-(. Kinda takes a little wind out of my pep talk. My apologies!

  23. #28

    Oh Cathy, I so get you. As a creative introvert teacher I have that same fear. “What if all my talent is gone, what if that was my last good idea, what if what if what if. And I’ve been doing this for decades. I it think it is part of the ebb and flow of creativity. We have a creative spark and spend energy fanning it into a flame, then promoting the heck out of it on social media and wait to see what happens. What if they don’t like it, what if they don’t like me, what if I’m stupid, what if what if what if. I call it the Mutterings of Doubt and I have learn (and still learning) to say “shut up you are dumb!”. Still sometimes I believe that was last art journal, I’ll never creative a worthwhile digi layout or my Copic coloring classes will be no more because I’m a fake, I really do feel that way at times. I’ve just learn to ignore it, not to feed it and let it die a speedy death. So the good news is you are normal! Love ya!

  24. #29

    I got two words for you:



    You can do October sleep deprived, beat-up, battered, scared, and on cruize control. So, let the good times roll. Relax a bit. The well is just a little dry; that’s all. A little rain and your gonna be posting about you have a zillion ideas in your head and your not sure which one to start with first. You got this; promise.

  25. #30
    Jennifer D

    I thought of you in Target a couple weeks ago! A Target employee was literally stopping people randomly in the aisles and trying to get them to sign up for the Target card. I heard him talking to someone next to me and quickly made a beeline to the other side of the store!

  26. #31

    I hear you… 🙂
    I can’t say much more than my fellow “Zielske Zulus” above but just know that you make a difference in many people’s lives.

  27. #32

    Know that you are awesome and well-loved! I am a forty-one year old mother of one college kid and one almost college kid wondering what I am going to do “when I grow up” (translation – when both kids are in college and I don’t have as much mother stuff to do). Fear that’s almost paralyzing. #gocathygo

  28. #33

    Cathy, I love you for posting this raw and timely piece. I totally get it, i’m in it and i also work my way ot of it, only to do it all again, somewhere in the near future! Stay on the tredmil, some of us just get strengthened by you being you and all that you do. You don’t have to be an empire or a well oiled machine to influence and add value to the masses-x

  29. #34

    First of all, I heart you.

    Second, Mrs. Meyer’s Basil is the best.

    Third, I feel like all of your honesty, authenticity and openness about these struggles could be channeled towards your next great idea- which I promise is coming. I know that I have said this before, and I also know that I’m a therapist so I’m always harping on it, but I wish there were more products, classes, etc focused on documenting the emotional journey. Feelings. Energies. Thoughts. Bordering on art journaling? Hmmmm maybe. But I mean, who cares. It isn’t crap so it’s right up your alley!!

    You’re the bestest.

  30. #36

    I can not count the times that I thought; I wish Cathy would have a class for this. Seriously. And just because others also have a class on that subject does not mean you shouldn’t have one. There might be hundreds of people who rather take a class you than with person A, C or C.

    I was kind of sort of hoping you would do a kinda sort of December/including all holidays album. Like Hannukah etc.

    I understand that it must be awkward and strange if you have many scrapping friends who teach classes and workshops to find your niche and not feel awkward if you would do a holiday workshop/album as well. Because those others have a totally different style than you have. Stay true to yourself.

    A workshop for people who do not have kids at home but still want to make a fun holiday album would be my request. I did one 2 or 3 years ago with Heid Swapp who posted a prompt for a photo every night. Lots of fun and an album with lots of photos. 🙂

    Remember my dear; Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

    1. #36.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Tink, this is good to remember. It’s one of the things Liz Gilbert said in that interview I watched. Just because a, b and c has already done it, no one has done it like you. I have ideas in my head and I think, “But… but… but…” Gotta get the buts out.

      However, I won’t be doing any December-related project classes/etc. I want to do everything I can to support my girl Ali, as she has been so supported of me and my career in this biz.


  31. #37

    Very interesting post. Your niche is special and it’s true, nobody does it like you.

    I don’t know how you manage ideas when they come to you – and my idea would be to keep track in your computer or book. And when you’re feeling feisty, excited, in a good mood and energetic pick one up and see if it goes any further or morphs into some thing even cooler. (see, I totally think you may already do this and I took a chance and suggested it anyway).

    I do think that ideas should be worked on when your pumped and ready. I know that I work much more efficiently when I’m stoked about something NOT when I’m worried, bummed or stressed.

    Yes! relax, enjoy your success and we are with you! We, ‘your’ peeps, are sending you goodness and kindness….because you are fun and enjoyable and dang creative!

    Peace out

  32. #38

    Oh, Cathy. I hope you’ll laugh with me… I read that part about Elizabeth Gilbert as, “everyone creates deals with fear as part of the creative process.” And I thought, oh, sometimes, yes.

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