An interesting thing that can happen in the pathway to regaining ownership of your life is this: As things come off your plate, you find time to think and dream. And when you dream, you have new ideas. It may seem counterintuitive to start a new business when in the midst of a personal crisis, but sometimes it makes sense.

But first, let's look at the process of building a pathway forward for a person who has lost themselves in their commitments to others and work:

  1. Stop the Bleeding (document your commitments, get honest with yourself on what you can do, prioritize, communicate.)
  2. Regain Control of the Car (focus on your real commitments, say no, dig out, say no, rest.)
  3. Plan for You (align your work, self, family around a few important objectives)
  4. Fail Forward (be disciplined, try new things, fail, learn, adjust, repeat.)

During phase two of this process while talking with Mark, we dreamed of doing something good for our region and good for us: Launch a seasonal newspaper that highlights all the great recreation opportunities in this area, the growing farm-to-table activities, and rural/off the grid living. It could help local businesses reach the seasonal tourists who may not know of all the wonderful places they can get away to for crafts, gifts, good food, fun, and more.

Note that during phase two the rule is "say no." It is there twice for a reason: You must learn the habit of saying no in order to avoid ending up back in the bad spot where you started. But we kept coming back to the paper concept. And it hit me that it was time to say yes to something. Why? Because this paper idea had many elements that aligned with my personal priorities:

  1. I have the skills to do it - and it is something I love doing
  2. It is local - no crazy travel
  3. It leads to new relationships with great people who are also "doers"

Donny from Liberty, reading the first edition of the Center Hill Sun which delivered to his mailbox in October.

After several weeks of deciding what was possible within the context, we decided to launch the Center Hill Sun. We did it by evaluating the minimums that had to be done in order to get a print publication off the ground: Ad sales, a VERY basic website (this was hard for me to accept as a web designer), a decent printer, a design, distribution. This paper delivers via mail to more than 15,000 households and businesses around the lake, and we are at the major tourist spots in the area, as well as restaurants and other businesses. We aim to add the marinas this spring.

And now that phase four is here, it is time to fail forward. With two editions successfully produced, we are beginning to implement digital strategy, selling as many advertisements as possible, and excited to see our early spring edition in March.

The pathway toward independence is long, but the last six months have been transformational and it has boiled down to four simple, yet hard-to-do steps.

(Incidentally, if you want to advertise in the Center Hill Sun, email me at