Janine: Welcome to the Writers Hour Creative Conversations. I am your host Janine Bolon and with me today is a author who really was, did not know it, but in my family, my daughters were really excited that I was going to be interviewing her because they see all these books on my desk of all these different writers I get to interview. Today we get Chrysta Bairre and what is fascinating she wrote the book, Beautiful Badass: How To Believe In Yourself Against The Odds, and my girls then saw the cute little stickers that she put in the book and I had defied him. I defied him off with the stickers. Thank God, she had three in the book because I was able to kind of give to my daughter’s one to me, they thought they were awesome. We are going to be talking a little bit about the book, what it means, how Chrysta was able to actually write, but let me introduce you a little bit tour and that is she happens to be a career coach and speaker and she specializes in helping women kind of create balance and advocate for themselves and actually pretty hard to do with women. So the fact that she is coaching that please listen up. Also she helps women find happiness in work and life because as a solopreneur myself and as full time women will tell you, full time working women will tell you, is that if we are at work, we are running to be at home and working with the kids. If we are with the kids we are thinking about work and we just always feel like sometimes we are split not only in two ways but four ways. We have got so many hats were wearing. So thank God we have a founder and CEO of She Goes High and introvert focused women’s leadership organization based in Northern Colorado. Thank heavens. Chrysta is here to talk to us a little bit about that too, as well as her book Beautiful Badass. So Chrysta, thanks so much for being with us today.
Chrysta: Thank you so much for having me, Janine. I am really excited to talk to you a more about my book and my writing process as well as all of your listeners and stickers, talk about that too. Because I love stickers.
Janine: I am a total. I was one of those girls scotch man. I wanted to get every badge in the book, and I am just as bad when it comes to stickers and I am running around comic cons or something like that. I am running around to every table going pan a dollar at every table just so I can get a sticker from each of them. It is a sad condition, but I own it. So let us go ahead and just jump right on in. Beautiful Badass, its first, it is a wonderful title to have and I would love for you to just kind of talk a little bit about your why. Everybody is like you need to know your why, you need to know your why, before you start a business or project. Well, I like asking writers. What prompted you to write this silly little book? It is not silly. It is definitely not little, it is chalked with stuff. When we first approached our writing process, sometimes we are like, well, I need to get my book done. So help us out.
Chrysta: I was a blogger for about 11, 12 years I think it was and four years people kept asking me. When are you going to write a book? When are you going to write a book? Every time someone asked me that question, I had so much resistance inside me. I did not know I wanted to write a book. I was like, “I do not want to write a book. Stop asking me that.” You know that was the feeling that I had. I did not know where all this pressure came from. Then I did this visioning exercise with a business coach I was working with and where you put yourself three years in the future and you just free form right what is going on and where you are at and what you have accomplished and it is not like to think ahead and plan ahead, it is just literally what comes up three years from now, you are sitting in a scene, what are you doing, what is happened. From that exercise, I wrote down. I surprised myself that I wrote down that I had published a book. I thought, wow, that is weird. I do not want to write a book and it turns out, well, maybe I really did but I did not immediately go straight to writing the book because I also had my coach reflect to me how I have always been a writer. My whole life and I thought what are you talking about? I mean, I have been a blogger but that is kind of different, right? Then my coach pointed out to me how I had told him many stories of how I started writing short stories and poetry when I was about seven or eight years old and continued to write short stories and poetry and so I started writing a blog and then I was blogging and his like, that is a pretty young age to start writing seven or eight years old poetry and short stories. His like you have been a writer. Pretty much from the beginning that you could start, that you could write, and so with his encouragement plus that visioning exercise. I thought, hmm, maybe I do want to write a book.
Janine: Who knew? I run into that over and over with authors that they are like, their blogging, their writing, they do all this stuff, but that self-identification is not on, I am an author, I am a writer, we just do not see ourselves like that. One of my big things is reason I work so hard to get people writing is because I was on book number five that I had published before I could say without choking. Yes. I am an author. Is not that stupid? I mean, do you suffer from the same thing?
Chrysta: Oh, my gosh. I have such major imposter syndrome about being an author and I actually one of the signature keynote talks that I give is around imposter syndrome and I tell the stories about, how it was so difficult for me to identify as an author, I actually started a writing group at a co-working space I was working at. In the room, we had published authors, we had professional writers, we had people who had published dissertation, and people like me who are working on a book who had been blogging and writing for many, many years both professionally and for my own enjoyment and there was not one of us in the room that felt like we could claim the title of author. The day that I realized this through a conversation we were having, we had a very fascinating conversation that followed around. Well, what really is the criteria for us to feel like we can finally claim this title. If it is not based on whether or not you have a book published, or book sales, or what is it really about and I realized from our conversation that it was a different benchmark for each of us and really we did not even know how to define. When we would consider ourselves to be an author, we just knew that we did not consider ourselves to be authors collectively and I thought wow this is fascinating to me because at that point in time I was about halfway through writing my book, I had really dedicated to the art and the craft of writing, I had joined several writing groups, started my own writing group, I started writing conferences, joined writing, all kinds of trainings and all sorts of things and I was like what makes me an author if not the work of writing a book and the process of writing a book.
Janine: I find it fascinating how the internet as much as I love blogs, as much as I love people who are blogger or something and that is how I got my start when it came to media actually, technically I started in radio but I moved to blogging because it was very easy for me. I would just talk and then somebody else would transcribe the oracle for me and then but even then I did not consider something myself technically a writer at that point. Yes, that impostor syndrome and it is a wicked beast and so when you run into people who kind of have that what are your– do you have like top three tips, a couple tips that you can give people that are like you and I struggling to self-identify as an author?
Chrysta: Specifically to self-identifying as an author, I really invite anyone who is in the process of writing, any former faction to decide and claim the title of author even maybe before you feel entirely ready. I mean, if you are doing the work, then that counts. If you are doing the work of writing and when I say that I also include doing the work of having writer’s block and doing the work of procrastinating writing because part of my process was I had this moment when I realized that writer’s block and procrastinating my writing project is actually part of the writing process. I do not think you actually get a completed book without having writer’s block and without having procrastination. So there was one point in my process that I decided just the fact that I am sitting here having writer’s block and agonizing over it. The fact that I am procrastinating writing not all the time, but some of the time is actually an indication that I am a real author because I think this is a universal experience that we all have. So really look for those parts of the process that really show you are actually an author. You are doing the work and when you are not doing the work you are experiencing the same challenges and struggles that all of us as others have experienced before you and if you are experiencing that you are an author just like the rest of us.
Janine: So you mentioned that you started your own writers group, do you still run one? Do you still run a writers group or..?
Chrysta: I do not run one now. I started one at and it was a time-based one at the co-working space that I was at like I mentioned and it was, when I started it was just a several month group to work on a specific writing project but I am part of Shut Up and Write which is all across the globe. I think I believe.
Janine: I believe it is international. I have heard enough about it. It is a wonderful organization.
Chrysta: Yes. Yes. So it is just a group of people that get together to have dedicated time to basically shut up and write and work on whatever writing project they have going on. That is really the main one that I have been involved in is Shut Up and Write group, although I have been part of other groups and organizations, but Shut Up and Write has been the one that I have had the most longevity with because it is just great to when we can be in person together, to sit down in a room, and write with other people, and that really led to me also scheduling writing Sprints with other friends who were writers. So in addition to attending writing groups multiple times per week, I was also scheduling writing Sprints with friends multiple times per week as well in my process.
Janine: I have found it when it comes to the writing process, I always encourage people go find a writers group and I have been meeting on Zoom since 2015 with the particular group of writers and we include new people and so if you are interested in that go ahead and look at my website and be glad to help you guys out. Here, I was actually going to promote Chrysta. If you happen to have on I was going to like go to her writings group. It does not matter, join several. You know, the thing is in the company of writers, they are the only ones who understand you do not expect or ask your friends or family to understand you, only writers are going to understand why you are sitting there agonizing because you have three synonyms for this word you want to use and none of them are correct or is that just me?
Chrysta: It is definitely not just you and I totally agree with being in the company of writers because they understand, all of us understand in a way that other people really cannot. There was actually I joined Northern Colorado writers which is a writing group here in Northern Colorado and they have an annual retreat and one year my friend from my writing group asked if I was going to attend the Northern Colorado writers retreat and I told him know that I had not really considered it and then I realized as soon as he had asked me and I had responded that I had not actually considered attending, I realized the reason I had not considered attending was because I had this belief in my mind that those were real writers and I am not a real writer. Right? I mean, I do not know what I am, but not a real writer. I realized that thought even existed in my mind. I was so determined and I bought my ticket to the retreat and I went to the retreat and it was a fantastic experience to spend two and a half three days with other people writing. We had so much time to actually write but in between those times that we had writing. We also would sit around and talk about the process of writing, the identity of being an author, the struggles and challenges we had, and it was a fantastic experience.
Janine: I highly encourage people to grab a buddy and go on a retreat. There are plenty of places that you can do that and I have a friend who is a murder mystery writer and I love her to bits because she is also a registered nurse and she works in the OR. So as a scientist myself, I like her murder mysteries because she does not have somebody get a concussion and have them run across a field or something like that. You know, she keeps things real and so I teased her about she is the real writer because she is doing, she is creating world, she is creating characters and storylines. I am like, I am just a nonfiction writer. Anyway, she we laugh about that, but if you do not mind, I would love to talk a little bit about your book Beautiful Badass: How To Believe In Yourself Against The Odds because I think that just totally fits in with the whole process of writing to. Everybody walks away with something different in your book because you go through so many of the systems. You talk about spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical barriers to our own betterment, to our own work, and how we are very good at self-sabotage. So you give us these beautiful tools, excellent questions kind of dig in. One of the things that has been said a lot on the internet and I would like to dig into it because there is so much for people will say, “You really need to work on yourself care.” This is chapter six from your book. It is on page 41. One of the beautiful quotes from it is women will define self care is a luxury instead of a priority or better yet, the other quote is women will be glad to give themselves self-care as soon as they know everybody else is taken care of and this is especially true of mothers of young children. So go ahead, take it away Chrysta, talk to us about self-care at basic levels.
Chrysta: Yes, absolutely. I feel like self-care is this word that we are pretty familiar with now and it gets thrown out a lot and we do tend to think of it sometimes as luxury items such as bags and massages and things like that. Also what I find is that self-care is still not something that we necessarily prioritize as women and maybe even as individuals. I used to be very true for myself. I found four years even once I knew what self-care was and it was a priority in my life. It is still got pushed down the list, right? It is sort of like this. Let me take care of this other thing first. Well, let me just take care of this work thing. Let me take care of this family thing, this friend thing, and then there will be time for self-care and the time that I was able to truly prioritize myself care is when it was life or death basically. When I was in a situation where it was, if I do not stop and take care of myself, I am going to get sick, like very, very sick, which I did have happen. Actually, what started me blogging many years ago was I went through a series of health issues. I had seven surgeries and 6 years I got shingles at the age of 35 and all of these things were related to stress. It was like, I really have to start doing something very, very differently because this is not working. So when it was that kind of scenario, I was able to prioritize health self-care. Outside of that, it was always like that fell to the bottom of the list the last thing, everyone else is taken care of. So I really differentiate in the book between basic self-care and what it really looks like to take care of ourselves which includes, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, going for walks, taking breaks throughout the day, things like that, to differentiating also more advanced self care and what that looks like and that is often things like, setting boundaries, saying no when we need to say no, pursuing our own passions, that is a form of self-care. If you are a writer sitting down to write that brings you joy, I mean, maybe sometimes tears too, but that is self-care to take that time to say, I am very passionate about this and I want to spend time on this, and how important it is, and we talked about the oxygen mask scenario. When you are on a plane and they say put your own oxygen mask on first and I talked about this in the book and that scenario is great, but the thing we have to realize is that when we are talking about the oxygen mask and putting your own on first, we are talking about doing that when it is an emergency. Right, the planes going down. The plane is going down. Everyone is at risk. This is a life-or-death situation put on your mask first. So that is how we approach self-care so much of the time, it is like when it is life and death, when it is emergency. What does it look like to prioritize it every day instead of just when it is an emergency and how can that shift the way that we show up not only for ourselves, but for all of the people that we love and support. For our family, for our friends, for clients, for our jobs, and all of those other areas.
Janine: It is fascinating to me how I was raised and how I am having to learn to be now as a solopreneur and all that. I have been working for myself for over 30 years, but it still it was a process to get to a point where I could even put myself first because I had four young children under the age of 10 when I was first starting to write my books and stuff like that. So just nobody warned me about the physicality of motherhood and I am talking about, working with a toddler, working with somebody who is in diapers, working with the third that can walk, but still has trouble buttoning shirts, it just physicality of dealing with four little humans that they need help with eating, like we teach them how to eat with a spoon. I always, whenever my kids start teasing me about how behind the times I am and stuff like that, I go, “Listen, Buster. I taught you how to use a spoon. Well respect.” They are like, oh, ouch, burn. So it is all done with a lot of joking and everything, but that I think that is the point is that a lot of us are having to be trained in this advanced self-care and this is on page 105. For those of you reading along, Beautiful Badass, well listening to this. Page 105 where you say, “The awesomely selfish, you need to spend time, money.” Thank you the financial first responder and me, appreciate you saying money. So we need to spend time, money, and energy. Pursuing those big dreams. You need to be more selfish. So take it away. Tell us a little bit about that Chrysta.
Chrysta: So many of us myself included were raised with the idea that selfishness is an inherently negative trait. It is a horrible thing to be, if you are selfish, you will not be worthy, you will not be loved, you will not be respected, right all this messages that we might be getting from being selfish or what it means to be selfish. What I find is that if being selfish is something that you are afraid of, if you would feel really upset if someone were to call you that, chances are. You are very far to the opposite extreme and you are self less and too much selfless, right? So I think we all know examples of people that are truly selfish and that those are not the people that I am speaking to here. I am talking to the people who really the last thing that they would want for someone to say about them is that they are selfish. That is the audience, those are the people that I want to reach, the people like me, maybe people like you, Janine, and that we give so much of ourselves that we do not really have much left over to truly reach our full potential, to be the best that we can be in the things that really matter and are really important, and that is what I am talking about when I am saying be awesomely selfish. Be selfish in a way that you are serving your higher good and the higher good of the collective whole because you are pursuing your passions, your dreams. You are reaching your fulfilled potential and you are not settling, you are not making do with what is left over. You are not surviving, you are moving beyond that state into something bigger and better.
Janine: I totally agree with the fact that for some of us who were raised, I am a recovering Catholic as I like to say and for those of us who were raised and that kind of paradigm to be called selfish was like one of the worst things that can possibly happen and so you were kind of instructed to be in fear of that. You did not want that to be that person. One of the things that happened in my world was it leaves you open to being abused in not necessarily a physical way but emotionally and mentally to where you would give to a point that there is nothing left to give. I ended up in that kind of situation. Then after I came out of that, when I really started making time for my passion such as writing, and art, and listening to music, and dancing. Yes, that is my form of exercise. I put on my favorite playlist and I just start dancing around the house and I do not worry about people calling me crazy because I think I am just confirming what everybody should know, anyway, but I just wanted to share with folks that when Christopher talks to you about advanced selfishness, I really want you to pay attention to that chapter because it was that arena that I realized how I was opening and leaving myself open to being emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, abused, and so there were some deep scars and self-development I had to do because of that and I just wanted to share with those other wonderful recovery and Catholics out there, recovering from whatever spiritual paradigm you have, your world that we are taught selflessness, but please realize the people that are teaching you selflessness are the ones that want to be in control of your life. You do not want to be under anybody’s control except your own higher self or your own source. So thank you for writing that chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I am not going to give any spoilers on that. You guys need to read this book. Is there anything else that we have not touched on maybe Chrysta that you would like to talk a little bit more about your book because, of course, I guided these questions to what I wanted to talk about, but what do you want to talk about?
Chrysta: Yes, and I love hearing people’s takeaways from my book, from my talks that I give because really I like to think that there is something in there for everyone to really meet people where they are at. I do want to add something that I felt like was very important to me and it really inspired me writing this particular book, why I wrote this book was having spent so many years sitting in rooms, doing self development work, doing personal development work, doing professional development work, and seeing the people at the front of the stage, or reading authors who honestly most of the time come from a very privileged perspective. Not to say that there is anything wrong with having privilege, if you have got it, awesome, but having grown up in poverty, having lived with mental illness in my family, and having a lot of other barriers and limitations on my situation growing up, I would sometimes get frustrated from sitting in these rooms or reading these books that were written from a very privileged perspective. They assumed certain access to resources or certain access to tools. So they are giving this advice that does not necessarily apply to everyone in the room and they probably do not even realize it, right? Because we tend to express ourselves from our own experience and assume that most people are like us, but the hard part about that is that if you are someone who has less privileged than the person you are trying to learn from, you do not always know how to apply what they are saying to your situation because there is so much assumption of access to resources, access to tools, those types of things, and so this was really a huge inspiration for me for writing this particular book because yes, it is a self-help book, it is personal development book, but it is really written from the perspective of you have to start from where you are. It is a wholly positive and wonderful thing to acknowledge the very real barriers that are in place for you, so that you can leverage what you do have instead of trying to make something work that was never going to work for you because you did not have the right tools. You did not have the right resources. So, so much of what I write in this book really continually comes back to this place of how does this apply to you? Where do you come from within the context of what I am talking about? What barriers are in place for you? So let us acknowledge those things so that you can be empowered to do more with what you have, rather than feel like you are somehow failing because you cannot accomplish the same thing that someone who has access to a higher level of resources can accomplish.
Janine: That is Chrysta Bairre. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have found her words as inspiring as I do. The book that she has written is Beautiful Badass: How to Believe in Yourself Against the Odds, positive thinking will only take you so far. She says especially when contending with trauma, mental illness, or economic instability, and other factors that act as barriers to our own personal success. Her particular memoir of self-help, she shares heartfelt stories and lessons of overcoming abuse, poverty, and depression to create a life that literally works for her. I am so grateful that you are sharing such intimate details about your life in this book. I know very few people who would not find some sort of inspiration story or be able to actually find connection points and their own life about oh, my gosh. I struggled with that in this book. So Chrysta, how can somebody get a hold of you, if they want to reach out, and maybe join a group, or get on a newsletter list of yours?
Chrysta: Absolutely. So my website is liveandlovework.com. That is under my business name Live Love Work. So if you go there you can find information about me as a speaker, about my book, you can contact me there. I also run a women’s leadership group that is introvert focused. It is called She Goes High and you can find us that shegoeshigh.us. So She Goes High is going to be a much more interactive experience than going to my live love work website because there is a community of women within She Goes High and many of the things that I write about in my book, we are practicing actively in She Goes High and we are supporting each other to grow personally and professionally and it is really all about women supporting women.
Janine: Sounds fabulous to me. Thank you so much for your time today. I know that you are highly engaged as many sought-after speakers and it is a pleasure to have you here on the show today.
Chrysta: Thank you so much. It is been great.
Janine: This is Janine Bolon and Chrysta Bairre with the Writers Hour Creative Conversations. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. Keep your hands on the keyboard, and keep imagining those stars that you are shooting for, and do not ever, ever stop writing. Take care.