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Back in 2003 when I was still agonizing over what to do with Moonrise Herbs, I went on a 5-day solo retreat in the Trinity Alps to gain some clarity. That was a tough spring for me. I could feel the noose tightening as day after day the Universe continued to bash me over the head with a clear message: “You are done with this business!” Sales were down, my enthusiasm was slumping, yet I had to continually increase my hours spent in the store in order to stay afloat. I felt like I was drowning.

During that retreat I fasted on fresh juices, hiked on the snow-dusted trails, read and immersed myself in ritual and affirmation trying to find a solution. During one ritual I remember penning an affirmation and a commitment to myself. It said “Make money writing.” This was the one thing I wanted in my life. An old dream that I’d set down when I turned my attention to raising kids and growing my business.

Well, that affirmation was a good start. At that point the details didn’t matter, I just needed a direction. I put the slip of paper on my altar as a reminder of that commitment to myself.

But  I forgot to include some important components, most notably to make enough money writing to earn a decent living.

Sure, I’ve made some money writing since then. But I’ve done a lot more writing for free. And I don’t even want to contemplate what my hourly fee works out to be for the paid writing I have done.

As I begin to examine the potential of a career in freelance writing (and confront my self-created obstacles), I’ve discovered a favorite new blog: “Making A Living Writing.”  Seattle-based freelancer Carol Tice packs it with practical tips on how to actually make some money writing.

A tip in one of last week’s posts particularly resonates. Tice writes that her dad taught her to look at herself in the mirror each morning and say, “Damn, I’m good!”

Even if your dad didn’t teach you to do that, Tice continues, you can start now.

Her point is well-taken and it applies to all of life, not just freelancing. In order to succeed you have to believe in yourself. In your own talent, abilities and commitment.

Well, my dad (or mom) didn’t teach me to do that –  far from it. But I don’t blame them. Their parents didn’t teach them any such exercise.

But I’m here to break the cycle. And, although it may be a little late in the game, I’m going to teach my girls this simple trick to cultivate self-confidence. Every morning – as soon as I remember – I look at myself in the mirror, smile, and say “Damn, I’m good.”

Okay, I’ll admit to glimpsing a smidgeon of doubt in my eyes as I mouth these words. And one day I completely forgot to do it. Ingrained thought patterns die hard.

I’m ready for some new ones to take hold. Every morning: “Damn, I’m good!” Loud. With enthusiasm.

With time I’m hoping I’ll start to believe it.