Make a Living Not a Dying

I felt trapped and frustrated. I felt like I was “making a dying,” not making a living. As the sole income provider for my family, I saw no way out. The only choices I knew were to either be on the road all the time or be at the office all the time. Neither of which felt good to my aching heart.
— Dr. Deb Kern
Image credit Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman | She Who Is

Image credit Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman | She Who Is

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
— Rumi

by Dr. Deb Kern

I was raised by a nurse and a doctor, and my moon is in Pisces (think: selfless service.) Needless to say, matters of business and finances haven’t come naturally to me. My preference would have been to simply be of service and magically have my needs and the needs of my family met. But as a single mother in a culture where teachers and spiritual guides are poorly compensated, I had to figure out something a bit more pragmatic and practical than magic—although, as I look back, I see my path has been filled with magic.

We live in a culture that doesn’t financially honor the gifts and talents that many of us were born to offer. Like teaching, caring, holding space, beautifying and nourishing. Every now and then we see someone on Facebook or Twitter who seems to be really making it in the world using those gifts—but it remains a mystery how they are actually paying their mortgage. 

“I want to do what you do.”

Every time I return from giving a keynote address at a wellness conference I receive many emails from wellness professionals saying they want to do what I do. The want to know “how I did it.” They, too, want to offer their teachings and services AND be financially prosperous.  They see me on stage speaking about one of my books, teaching dance classes or leading retreats in Costa Rica and Mexico and they imagine that speaking, writing books, teaching dance and leading retreats are the sources of my financial prosperity—and they want that, too.

The truth is that my prosperity, as well as many of the people we see on social media, doesn’t come from just one thing. And often it comes from sources that are in the background. So when others follow what they see, they are frustrated that they don’t have the same financial success.

As teachers, caregivers, space holders, beautifiers and nourishers of the world, it’s time for us to support each other by being open and honest about the ways we create sustainable, heart-centered livelihoods.

As teachers, caregivers, space holders, beautifiers and nourishers of the world, it’s time for us to support each other by being open and honest about the ways we create sustainable, heart-centered livelihoods.

The question that has guided my search and creation of a sacred, sustainable livelihood is: “What would I do even if nobody paid me?”  For me, the answer is teach. Anything. Especially anything related to wellness, movement and spirituality.   

My path has been winding and circuitous. Like feminine energy, I have moved in a spiral in order to finally find the right synergy of passion and practicality. After years of being a wellness practitioner and teacher I went back to school to get an MBA, hoping to discover the secret of creating a profitable business. I combined my love for wellness with my newfound business skills and created my own business as an author and keynote speaker. But as soon as I become a mother, I realized I no longer wanted to travel and decided to take a “real” job at a prestigious destination spa resort where I found myself working brutally long hours. I felt trapped and frustrated. I felt like I was “making a dying,” not making a living. As the sole income provider for my family, I saw no way out. The only choices I knew were to either be on the road all the time or be at the office all the time. Neither of which felt good to my aching heart. 

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

A New Business Model

It was at this point in my life that my mentor and friend, Dr. Christiane Northrup, shared her vision of creating a new entrepreneurial business model to support women like us. She explained to me something that I now know is absolutely true: service providers, artists, dancers and caregivers, etc. will burn out if they don’t create at least one source of revenue that does not require the trading of hours for dollars.  She opened my eyes to a whole new world of small business classified as network marketing or affiliate marketing.

You’ve probably seen or heard of companies that pay the consumer to spread the word about their products or services. They range from magnets to oils. From supplements to cosmetics. From marketing schools to nutrition coaching programs.  

This is the kind of business I own. At first I was skeptical, but I discovered how the right business (I will explain what I mean by “right”) could support me so that I have the time freedom to teach dance, lead retreats, be a mother and enjoy my life.

If you find yourself wishing you could do what you love, but not having the funds to do it, you might benefit from finding the “right” kind of business to bring in another stream of income. There are many opportunities and choices out there. Here is a list of questions to help you evaluate which one might be right for you:

Product/Service

  1. Do you like it and believe in it?
  2. Would you use the products or services yourself whether or not you owned a business that represented them?
  3. Is there a recognized need in the marketplace?
  4. Does the product or service meet that need?
  5. Is it priced to sell?
  6. Can it pay you a commission?
  7. Is there a growing market for this product or service?

Company:

  1. Is it well run?
  2. Do you believe in the management team?
  3. Longevity – have they been in business for more than 5 years?
  4. Transparency – are their financial records public?
  5. Is the company financially stable?
  6. If the product is consumable, is there solid science behind it?
  7. Do you enroll by purchasing products or services that you will use? (If not, I don’t recommend it. Here’s the great news: in order to be an affiliate or network marketer, your ‘cost’ of entry is simply the cost of purchasing the product or service for yourself. So if you decide you end up not building a business, you haven’t lost money. You have simply tried a product or service.)

Compensation

  1. Is compensation based on sales of the service or product? (You don’t want compensation based solely on recruiting people!)
  2. Can you develop a moderate part-time income in a reasonable time?
  3. Are there sales minimums? (You don’t want any.)
  4. Can you create leverage by training others to do what you do? (You want this!)

Support

  1. Does the company provide you a sales website?
  2. Does the company provide online reporting?
  3. Does the company provide ongoing training events and online education?
  4. Do you have a personal mentor or sponsor who is available to you by phone or in person for one-on-one guidance?

I love teaching my dance classes, leading retreats and working with private clients. And while they do generate a nice income, I also appreciate owning a business that takes the financial pressure away from those offerings allowing me to be fully present and energized as opposed to tired and rushed. 

My prayer for you is that you find a way to offer your gifts to the world without stressing about financial security. May you find the perfect synergy of fun and finances, passion and practicality and experience bliss in your bottom line.


Dr. Deb Kern

Health Scientist and Movement Goddess

Deb Kern, Ph.D. is a teacher of vision, a sought-after intuitive guide, health scientist, author and speaker. She shares her many modalities of healing and insight with women of all ages in her retreats and workshops, and offers one-on-one Divine Your Life sessions with true soul seekers from all over the world.

Connect with Dr. Deb Kern at DrDebKern.com.