Rise & Shine Interview: Elan Morgan (aka Schmutzie)

I’m so excited that today a role model of mine and fellow Canadian blogger, Elan Morgan (aka Schmutzie), is sharing her thoughts on perseverance with us.  As I have said before in a previous post, "tome, my role models are individuals who have the courage to be real, to be vulnerable, to be themselves, and to share their journeys." Elan does this through speaking from her heart.  I was first introduced to Elan electronically when I was a juror for the Canadian Weblog Awards.  After hearing her Ted Talk, I had to ask her to be part of the "Profiles of Perseverance" series as Elan encouraged me to be more open and to dig deep by sharing my personal narrative online.  I'm so thankful for Elan's advice; she truly inspires me. Thanks, Elan, for your presence on my blogging journey!

Elan Morgan lives, writes, and photographs in Regina, Saskatchewan. She blogs at Schmutzie.com, designs and consults at Ninjamatics, spreads gratitude through Grace in Small Things, celebrates Canadian blogging with the Canadian Weblog Awards, and speaks all over. She believes in and works to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online. Check out Elan's interview with me after you listen to her Ted Talk as Elan opens up and speaks from her heart!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

The best piece of advice I was ever given was from my paternal grandmother, and it was this: "You were born with everything you need to make it through already inside you." When I am feeling heavy self-doubt, I recall what she said to me and know that I'll make it.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Mentorship has been incredibly important to my success so far. It is through mentorship, both through mentors I actively sought out and those who happened into my life, that my dreams and ideas have found more concrete footing and plans to go forward.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

There is not a singular best moment in my life that rises above all others, but as far as my creative and professional life is concerned, the moment that most stands out is when I stood in front of a crowd of people for the first time as part of the first BlogHer Community Keynote in 2008 in San Francisco. I felt like I found my voice in that moment, and I knew that I couldn't turn away from the creative path I was taking.

Check out my interview with Elan Morgan!

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

I am still learning how to live a healthy life. My diet and exercise habits are often abysmal, but I have gained a lot of ground creatively and psychologically.

My biggest tip for living a healthy life both creatively and psychologically is to find a safe place and/or community to tell your stories, whether that is with a close group of friends over drinks or a therapist on Thursdays or a weblog. How we speak about our lives and the things that happen in the stories we create around them tells us who we are, where we are, and why we are. It allows for a higher level of conscious living.

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

My motivation is easy to come by. I am a freelancer, and persisting despite setbacks is what keeps my mortgage paid. I know that doesn't sound very inspiring, but setbacks are when practical thinking is incredibly valuable. Freelancing has helped to keep me motivated during times when previously I had the luxury to throw up my hands and give up. It's hard work to keep moving through setbacks, and it has been good to have a practical reason to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

My biggest setback, by far, was when I had to go on stress leave from an abusive work environment. I knew that I couldn't go back, but I had no concrete plans for what I was going to do next. It was terrifying. I decided that it was okay if it took me a thousand baby steps to establish a life that worked for me, and I began with a very part-time job at a shoe store. It wasn't much, but it helped me slowly work up my confidence, which helped me move toward new creative projects I been too afraid to try before. When I first went on stress leave, I had no idea that a breakdown would be the thing that led to my life's greatest successes, but it did. I wouldn't want to do it a second time around, but I wouldn't change what happened for anything.

How do you deal with critics?

I would be lying if I said they didn't bother me sometimes, but, for the most part, I don't mind critics. If you can take an emotional step back and take an objective look at what your critics are saying, there is often some valuable takeaway in there. As far as dealing directly with the critics, though, I caution against it. Listen to what they say, take what is of practical use, and then walk away.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Social support is vital. None of my successes would have been possible without outside support. My husband and friends have carried me through hard emotional times and given me solid feedback on new work; they keep you grounded. They remind you of who you are, where you come from, and why you do what you do.

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

People often get stumped trying to set huge, long-term goals. I used to think I didn't know what I wanted, because I couldn't look ten years down the road and tell you exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing. My advice? If you are feeling a little lost or overwhelmed, set smaller, shorter-term goals. When I went on stress leave, my goals were sometimes as simple as "remember to eat lunch" and "go for a walk", but it's those smaller goals that helped me get to a place where I could set larger goals.

What is a life lesson you wish you had learned before graduating high school?

I wish I knew that fear and failure were a natural part of becoming something greater. I avoided any feelings of fear or doing things at which I might fail as though my well-being depended on it, but I've since learned that fear and failure are actually integral not only to continuing my ongoing well-being but also to increase it. I'm happiest when I'm problem-solving my way through a new project, and if I let myself shy away due to fear, I would never be able to grow as much as I have creatively and professionally.

Thank you, Elan, for sharing your lessons with us and for truly speaking from your heart.  Keep writing, inspiring, and empowering others!

What life lessons did you learn from hearing Elan speak? Why is it important to share your personal narrative? What advice would you have for your fellow bloggers who are afraid of sharing their story with others?

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!