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A Dream in The Making aka Big Announcement!

Someone I greatly admire sent me sent me a text at the end of 2012:

Hey, Megan, I think you should go and do whatever it takes to turn 52 cups into a book, because I (and I’m assuming many others) think its an incredible story, and it’s almost a shame that as many people as possible won’t hear it. Go. 

The text meant so much to me, I took a screenshot and used it as the lock photo on my phone. I deeply desired to assemble the stories from my journey meeting 52 strangers into a book. The text was a reminder that other people did as well—and would support me in the process. 

I used my 22nd birthday to announce the launch of my blog. It’s only fitting to use my 26th birthday to announce the launch of my book: 52 Cups of Coffee. 

After many hours—and generous help from both family and friends—it’s happening! 52 Cups of Coffee will be available for purchase in August.

The first round of proofs arrive this week(!) which begins the series of revisions to get everything just right and ready for print. To celebrate the launch in style I will be doing a pre-release at the Passion Co. Shine Event July 23rd (San Francisco friends, would love if you’d come!). Then we enter the final stretch to the official release in mid-August.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing updates and the exact date of the launch. To be the first to know when it’s available sign up here!

The 52 Cups of Coffee adventure has been a group effort from the start, from the friends that supported me to the wonderful people willing to sit down with me and share their story. The power of community and connection is beautiful and 52 Cups of Coffee is evidence of that. Thank you for being a part of the adventure. 

I can tell 26 is going to be a good year. 

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Elle Luna

Roll up your sleeves and start working.

Elle Luna found what so many young professionals are looking for: her dream job.

She was was well-regarded designer in San Francisco with a resume that included Silicon Valley stars: IDEO, Mailbox, Uber and Medium.

Then she quit.

To paint.

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She traded a solid career path for the uncertainty of following the little voice in her head that kept pulling, nudging, and encouraging her to follow her heart. Elle found the studio space of her dreams, painted nonstop for four months, took a transformational trip to Bali and had her first-ever gallery showing, which was a huge success. A year after taking her leap she is flourishing in unexpected ways with continued opportunities for gallery shows, speaking engagements and progress toward new creative business endeavors.  

Elle makes it look so easy but the truth is that her journey, like all good journeys, has been filled with uncertainty and unknowns.  

Elle is in her early thirties with a soft smile that radiates warmth and openness – soft-spoken but in an enlivened and purposeful way. We met in her inspired San Francisco studio, sun streaming through the windows atop of her high walls illuminating her two fresh, triangle-inspired paintings against the wall and a whimsical rope swing in the center of the room. Snuggled in her her cozy seating area, her dog Tilly snuggled in her lap, we chatted about the fear and magic of chasing crazy dreams.

Elle’s act of leaving the comforts of conventional livingh to embrace the unknown is enviable. It was also the basis for a talk Elle gave outlining her recipe for taking big leaps. The title was Find Your Must and the premise is that everyone is born with a unique gift that only they can give. The trick is to discover what that gift is and then give it away mercifully.

It’s worth a watch, but here’s the recipe in a nutshell:

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  1. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE: Start trusting your intuition and crazy ideas in the back of your mind.  
  2. THE LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN: Take action toward your idea!

  3. THE POINT OF NO RETURN: The scary and vulnerable stage where you question everything—keeping moving forward!

  4. THE GREAT REWARD: The space where you have found your gift and are able to give it away mercifully, which is the greatest feeling in the world.

The talk hit home with people because deep down, we all feel that burning desire to uncover our purpose—to be alive and connected to something that matters.

So if the recipe is simple and proven, why aren’t more people giving their gift?

It’s not a lack of knowledge.

It’s a lack of guts.

The great leap is scary. This is why Elle receives countless messages from people relaying the same thing: Yes! I want to find my must, how do I do it?  

Elle’s response is simple: you already have all the answers. Go do it.

"You don’t need any more handholding and you don’t need any more inspiration. I’ll talk for myself. For, it felt like months, I was reading books and looking online and researching places and thinking about paints and I got to a point where it was like, Girl, you’ve had enough inspiration. It is time to actually just roll up your sleeves and do the work. Like actually start cutting or chopping or laying out color or mixing or just drawing, who knows but just start doing something, anything, and the next step in all of this thing whatever it is that has started from that talk is just to do something and do something today."

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It’s going to be scary and there’s no way around it—there is no magical antidote to eliminate the fear.

We search for answers, search for answers, search for answers. But after you’ve done enough searching, the answer is action.

“You’ve got to start saying ‘No’. You do have to be selfish, you do have to kind of put up some walls and protect your space and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to go on a little inward journey right now and I’m going to make time everyday or every week, every weekend that’s sacred’ and it’s just about investing in this thing.”

And with time your investment begins to grow until your small leaps of courage turn into big leaps that lead you closer and closer to your must: the gift you were meant to give to the world, the gift that brings you fulfillment and happiness.

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It’s not easy to find because it’s not supposed to be—your gift is your most valuable possession. But if Elle’s glowing contentment is any indication, finding it is certainly worth embracing the uncertainty and adventure.

This week, Elle launched The Bulan Project, which creates limited edition livable art that is beautiful, thoughtful, and above all else, functional. For the first issue, Elle worked with artisanal group in Bali that felt like family and worked with ethics, intention, and impeccable craft to create a beautiful textile inspired by the moon’s cycles of change and transformation. Find out more about these limited edition pieces at Bulan Project

Illustrations are from Elle’s ‘Find Your Must’ talk. Check it out!

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James T Slater

Date: Monday, November 4 

Location: JJ’s Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee 

During a trip to Nashville to visit family, I reached out to childhood friend, and former Miss Tennessee, Brenna Mader, who graciously introduced me to Grammy-winning songwriter, James T Slater. We met at a popular coffee shop near Vanderbilt University to talk about music, art and beautiful accidents.

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Grammy-nominated songwriter James T. Slater grew up believing you couldn’t make a career out of music.  

James spent his formative years in Panama. It was there that he, unwillingly, learned to play piano. Despite his best efforts to get out of lessons, his music-loving mother insisted, “You’re going to thank me someday for not letting you quit.”

It wasn’t until he went to his first concert, Santana in a large soccer stadium, that James, captured by the magic of the moment, realized: I’m going to do music.

But not without hesitation. 

"I liked piano, but I didn’t think you could make a career out of it, but once I got into a band at 15 we started playing some Santana song’s. You know that song Oye Como Va? [He pauses to sing a few lyrics using the table as a drum.] I learned that and we started playing in my basement and all the sudden girls start coming around and we’re like, whoa, this is really cool!”

He started making money playing gigs on the weekends. His mom would drive him in the family station wagon and drop him off to play, then come back after the show and pick him up. He was hooked. Music was all he wanted. 

But the voice in his head remained, you can’t make a career out of music. 

COLLEGE DROPOUT 

After high school graduation, James left Panama for East Carolina State where he planned to put music to the side to focus on a business degree. A week into the semester he saw a sign on campus: Weekend Band Needs Keyboard Player.

His internal voice said, Do not do this. You need to study. The other side of him said, Well just call and see what’s going on. The next thing James knew, he was in a band spending his weekends driving around the state playing show after show. 

His grade suffered but he didn’t care. He’d finally surrendered to the message his heart had been sending all along: I have to do music in order to be happy.

20 MINUTES CHANGES EVERYTHING

James left college to focus on sharpening his piano and songwriting skills with a new band that was playing a lot of shows. When the band was offered a two-week gig in Atlanta before Christmas, James immediately decided, I need to write a Christmas Song for Atlanta. So he sits down and 20 minutes later, he’s written a catchy song called All I Want from Santa is a Girl from Atlanta.

Every night they played that song and people flipped out. After one show, a guy approached him and said, “You guys gotta record that.” Young guys with no money, they found the cheapest recording studio in Atlanta, recorded the song in a day, and stopped by the local radio station to convince the DJs to give it a listen.  

"We’re literally driving home, a moment I’ll never forget, after a Zeppelin song the DJ says, ‘We just had a bunch of kids drop this song off, we’re going to play it, tell us if you like it.’ They played the song and afterward, the phones were going off the hook."

The song was a hit and James was caught in his first wave of success: limos, music videos, big events. Everything you expect when you ‘make it big’.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG 

The Christmas season passed but the momentum for James’ newfound spotlight continued. Publishers convinced him to move to LA where he found a gig as a house piano player at Carroll O’Conner’s star-studded Beverly Hills bar at night while he wrote songs during the day. On a whim, he took a piano gig in Manhattan Beach, where a guy sent his tape to Europe and a few weeks later James finds himself looking at an opportunity to play in Europe.

In Europe he joined a band called Vaya Con Dios and suddenly his nights in small venues were replaced with huge arena shows, tours around Europe, and his songs becoming hits on the radio. He’d become a big deal in the European music scene and he loved it.

ANOTHER UNEXPECTED TURN OF EVENTS 

James was living in Switzerland when 9/11 happened and he realized he wanted to be closer to his family so he shifted focus on how to write for Nashville. In the process of moving, he started working on a country song as a gift to his brother who had just become a father. He called it In My Daughter’s Eyes

He didn’t realize the song would change his life. Within a month of being in Nashville, country singer Martina McBride picked up the song and a year later James was nominated for a Grammy. 

"It’s weird, life never turns out quite like you’d think. If you’d told me I’d write a song about having a daughter (when I don’t have a daughter) and that would become a big song and get me to the Grammy’s, I wouldn’t have believed you."

Although Gretchen Wilson’s power ballad Redneck Woman ended up winning the Grammy, the song solidified James as a bonafide country music songwriter, which led him to pen songs for country superstars like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and more.

His mom was right, he would thank her someday. The piano lessons uncovered a passion for music that turned into a wildly exciting a fulfilling career. 

BEAUTIFUL ACCIDENTS 

During our conversation, I told James that, like him, I pushed my creative passions to the side and convinced myself I needed to go into business: I was convinced I couldn’t make a career out of writing.

Like James, I also reached a point where I realized: I won’t be happy without writing. The story and insight James shared was comforting. When I asked him what advice he gives young aspiring songwriters he said:

"You don’t get into this business to make money. You get into it because writing music occupies your every molecule."

For me, the advice expanded beyond songwriting. If you’re lucky enough to uncover a passion that excites you deep in your soul, don’t fight it. It’s not easy, but as James said: 

"You have to be brave enough to just put this stuff down and put it out there. Then beautiful accidents happen." 

Here’s to hard work and beautiful accidents. 


Thanks to @jeannineyeah (officially my unofficial editor)!

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