How to pickle an epiphany

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re struggling. Frustrated, stressed, everything seems like an obstacle.

Then something seemingly insignificant happens. A bird flies by, a song comes on, a phrase casually dropped in conversation… and everything slows down.

Your perspective shifts. You see things in a new light. The obstacle that looked like an immovable mountain ten seconds ago now looks like a medium-sized rock that you could totally push out of the way.

An Old Song She Knew By Heart by Lotus Carroll
Photo by Lotus Carroll


And then you smack yourself on the forehead as you remember:

You had this exact same epiphany four months ago, and then forgot all about it.

Learning is hard enough. Learning the exact same thing over and over again is frustrating enough to make you want to give up.

Yeah, yeah, we all know that growth occurs in a spiral, not a line, but can’t we tighten the spiral up a bit?

Can’t we find a way to remember these hard-won lessons more quickly, instead of reinventing the wheel every time?

art by Tangerine Meg
Tangerine Meg

Here’s how I do it.

A couple of years ago, I took on too many projects in my business all in one 5-week period, and I forgot that April was tax time, so I was dealing with the stress of that, too.

I pushed myself too hard. I didn’t leave enough time for myself to rest.

And I burned out.

But after I burned out, I didn’t let myself recuperate. I kept pushing myself because I needed to MAKE MORE MONEY NOW to pay that huge-ass tax bill.

And then I snapped. I don’t even remember what the trigger was. A bird flew by. A song came on. Kyeli casually dropped a phrase in conversation…

My perspective shifted. I saw things in a new light. The obstacle that looked like an immovable mountain ten seconds ago suddenly looked like a medium-sized rock that I could totally push out of the way with patience and cleverness.

I rested.

But then I didn’t let my epiphany fade away into mist. I caught it between my hands, placed it into a jar, and pickled it – so that next time I could open the jar and remember instead of facepalming.

I wrote a love letter to my future self.

I imagined feeling the way I had been feeling yesterday. I felt that pain and struggle in my heart. And while my epiphany was fresh, I knew exactly what I would need to hear to pull me out of it.

Dearest, most beloved Future Pace,

I love you. I love you so much. Right now you’re probably reading this because you’re afraid of running out of money, or you’re tired, or you need some inspiration. Here you go.

Money comes from doing awesome things that are worth paying for. Keep your eye on the awesome things. If you focus on doing awesome things, you will do awesome things and you will make money in the process. Double-check your business model. You didn’t forget to put “make money” in there. It’s in there. You just need to have faith, and do the awesome things, and trust that the people will come. When the people come, the money will come. Everything will be okay.

If you’re feeling tired, you might want to get rid of some of the things that are tiring you. Focus only on the bits that light you up, and figure out more ways to outsource more things, or just let them go. But what you really need right now is rest. Start out with some stupid rest, like playing on your iPhone. But then do some nourishing rest. Go do 15 minutes of Remembrance right now. It’s okay if it’s inconvenient. Go do it.

I love you with all my heart. Trust me.
-Past Pace

p.s. Just keep crying, and everything will be okay.

But the most beautiful love letter is useless if you don’t remember to read it.

I thought about how I would be feeling when I would really need to read this letter next time.

On the virtual envelope, I wrote, “Read this when you’re feeling tired and depleted.”

I put this love letter in a place where I could find it easily the next time I needed it. Since I’m a geek, my place was my private wiki.

Now, whenever I log in to my wiki, I see “Read this when you’re feeling tired and depleted,” so I can read it again when I need it the most.

As backup, I asked Kyeli if she could please remind me to read it when I’m feeling tired and depleted, and she said yes.

I read it just yesterday, and it brought me back to exactly where I needed to be.

A collection of love letters

This love letter was so powerful for me, I’ve started a collection.

Two of them have music that go along with them, which helps me feel the emotion that I was feeling when I wrote the letter. For example:

Dear Pace,

Put on Winter by Breakbeat Heartbeat, and read the rest of this love letter.

Inspiration is perishable

The next time you work through a hard-earned lesson, don’t let it expire. Write a love letter to your future self, and make a plan for how you’ll remember to read it the next time you need it.

In other words:

You’re drowning, and then you’re afloat.
Write down how to swim in a note.
Remember to read it
The next time you need it;
Take comfort in what you once wrote.

Feel clear and confident about your direction in life!


Do you wish you could follow your heart, but it seems impossible? I can help you find the clarity and courage you need.

In other words, I can help you find your path.