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You live, you (un)learn

Update from Mixolo founder, Carolyn Walton Lynch

2021…so, what can I say?

Oh, please send us another hard lesson, Universe,“ said no one ever.

When we ask the universe or a higher power, if that’s your inspiration, for a favor and it goes well, that’s pretty exciting.

Sadly, sometimes, you get a spiritual punch in the throat. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s some karmic f*ckery going on because of some dumb thing we did, or one of those inexplicable hard lessons that propels us forward to enlightenment, or something like it.

When I last wrote/blogged six months ago, I had a plan to plan for Mixolo to “be right back.” All I can say is “Ouch!” The spiritual jugular slap may be as painful as the real thing (but probably not). It’s those darn expectations. They’ve got to go.

2021…so what have I learned?

I’ve learned to unlearn expectations and welcome the dispassionate lessons that just keep on coming as long as we’re breathing. Lessons seem to be baked into any master plan, again, however you see that unfolding – divine, random, manifested, or maybe all of the above.

While disappointment is hard, simply being able to breathe might well be the greatest gift of all. It means that there is still an opportunity to make some joy. Perhaps the more compassionate results we expect can only be accessed by looking inward.

If you’re reading this, thankfully, you’re still breathing with me in this seemingly infinite paradox of joy and pain (a.k.a. living), and you’ve spotted 2022 posting up in your side-eye. 2022 is in fact closer than it appears.

Enough with the gifs...real talk.

2021…so what happened!?

In 2020, I put Mixolo ‘s platform in a coma of sorts, promptly situated my own proverbial oxygen mask, and attended to my own financial security. I put my shingle, along with my pride, out for assistance, did the work, and with a little help from friends and family, I re-launched my consulting practice as a CPA. That went pretty well.

While pausing Mixolo felt like giving up (because expectations), I knew that the obstacles that I had worked to overcome as a solopreneur for such a big idea had left me vulnerable and without support in the way that a staffed and financed business might enjoy. Risking my emotional health and financial security had not been enough to make Mixolo a profitable venture, or to be deemed credible enough to others who could help, BEFORE the pandemic.

If you know my backstory, I set out on February 14, 2017, to manifest a new community to go out with. I just wanted someone to see the Ring Cycle with me!

Since March 2020, Mixolo is now a dream deferred, sort of.

I am eternally grateful for all of you who supported and continue to support Mixolo! To re-launch Mixolo, however, we will need more than one dreamer working 100 hours a week without pay.

2021…the plan to plan.

A comeback plan, “Plan Re-," was carefully constructed with the perfect listicle! I had pretty much gone through the alphabet of plans in the first three years of Mixolo with all that failing and winning (there’s that paradox again).

First phase on the list was Re-group. NO explanation needed. I’ve been doing that since March 2020.

Then Re-view… I had to get out of my own way and take another look at all of the plans (business, technology, marketing, financial...), legal documents, code repositories, including plug-ins and add-ons, and so much more.

My consulting practice funded an intern who helped me wade through tons of intelligence and assumptions predicated on facts and experiences in a pre-pandemic world. Much was accomplished, but every step of the way I was reminded of the reality of the extent to which I could execute such ambitious ideas on my own, with or without a pandemic. Ah, more lessons.

Next, was Re-imagine… Why Mixolo? What could Mixolo be? What did I learn in the Beta years? What did Mixoloists and hosts tell me they wanted and why?

Could such a social experiment generate enough income to sustain a working platform? How was it different? Was it still different or even special? Was it still relevant to our evolving society, particularly for anyone who might identify as solo? I had to revisit my competitive analysis and potential addressable markets in our new normal.

Pre-pandemic, I had already incorporated some of the asks from Mixolo hosts and guests for the planned Mixolo the Re-mix in the technology plan. It had already become crystal clear that Mixolo was not able to sustain itself on coordinating events.

Moving the Mixolo platform from scheduled, event-based gatherings to giving members and hosts who want to be solo-friendly more freedom to connect on their terms was a priority. For members, I want you to be able to go out where you want to, when you want to, and seamlessly connect with other solos when you arrive. For hosts, I envision ticketing for your events would be integrated with Mixolo's platform, so that you know who's coming and how to coordinate those connections through seating assignments or a Mixolo "lounge."

Sign from our lounge for solo ticket holders at Baltimore magazine music festival.

Before the progression to the “final” phase to Re-Launch (still TBD), I had to get though Re-Work, mother of all phases. Key word: Work. Here is where the real unlearning began. When I could free myself from expectations, it became clear to me that work not only propels us into the possibility that the thing you wish for could happen, the pursuit IS that thing.

Expectations are completely subjective, based on some ideal or standard that we internalize as part of our life journey. They can inform our effort, even when that effort is not beneficial for our wellbeing. What if I unlearned the need to prove anything or be like [insert whomever]? What if I re-defined what success means to me?

I focused on working on opportunities that fit into my new reality which, even with the kindness of friends/colleagues who hired me for freelance work, was still a bit precarious financially. New rule: I will not be taking any more financial risks without a supportive team or without remuneration.

It started with unlearning those “keys to success” (also dispassionate, by the way, and now reduced to clickable content listicles like the “8 traits of highly successful people,” none of whom have all 8 of them and each defining success differently). In the billionaire category, what they usually have in common is identity, pedigree, or network, and, of course, good old-fashioned hard work with a domination bent. Even so, no success story is alike. While it can help to have a certain lineage and connections in the systems we operate in, perpetual shapeshifting for an unwelcoming crowd is surely a wasteful effort.

When one actually goes about dream work, whatever one’s lot in life, something new manifests that is aligned with the effort. Of course, the outcome rarely matches the plans or timeline we expected.

Success for me now feels like an amazing, supportive COVID-resistant(ish) pod consisting of family and good friends, many of whom I met in my new life in Baltimore and through my hard work with Mixolo. Thank you for your support!

Woman outdoors with backpack, others walking on beer tasting walking tour.
I'm "working" here! Mixolo Brew Walk 2019.

Imagine what more could happen with a little teamwork…

2021…reality check on the epiphanies.

The Re-work phase wasn’t all joy. It’s hard to unlearn stuff and be compassionate to self. There was acute pain from the loss of a dear friend to a surprise illness and losses related to COVID among extended family members. I was restless sitting with hard things.

The drastic adjustments I had to make to mitigate all of the new risks introduced with COVID for myself and my broader community were in line with my values, but completely antithetical to my adventurous nature. I was heartsick (and still am) about the state of humanity when, in our most trying times, so many people are choosing falsehoods, demagoguery, and violence in their pursuit of meaning or their perceived plight of having to share or care for others. It’s difficult to navigate family in the divided states of America, why would anyone believe that an idea like Mixolo could weather the assaults on nuance, human dignity, and tolerance?

So, to better manage the glorious gift of oxygen, I decided to test my theory on effort on another dream, without expectations. I managed to muster the courage to pursue a lifelong desire to live in other cities for extended periods of time. COVID sucker-punched the international options, but I still had the opportunity to manage my consulting practice and rebuild Mixolo from anywhere - in the United States.

I went to work on preparing my home for short-term rental to allow me to go on a walkabout of sorts - for inspiration - and to exit my bubble in search of adventure as safely as possible. I had no definitive expectations for the outcome, but I figured if I created the scenario for the outcome I wanted, something could come of it.

The compassion I found within reasoned that I would either enjoy my now extra cozy living space with crispy new sheets and a very well-stocked kitchen, or I would attract a tenant whose joy would essentially fund my joy.

Seneca Lake, NY, November 2021; for inspiration.

When the house was ready and listed, I got a tenant who financed my first few months away and I have been on a working vacation in the State of New York from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes this fall, arguably the most beautiful time of the year.

Dreams work when we do. As soon as the leap of faith is taken, our dreams are officially in motion. The challenge is to be kind yourself, whatever the outcome.

Plan for 2022…keep going

I can visualize Mixolo the Re-Mix someday soon. Perhaps not as the idealistic capitalistic enterprise focused primarily on investor gains or hoarded wealth, but as a provider of services that are fairly remunerated to sustain the business AND its beneficiaries, our hosts and Mixoloists.

I provided a survey to the Mixolo community over a year ago to garner interest in the possibility of a cooperative effort that includes our hosts and member guests as owners. The response was low, but I remain grateful for the feedback. I revisited it in my Re-view phase. Your responses inspired me to conduct extensive research into the development of a more cooperative business model for Mixolo.

Mixolo’s mission will still be connection and joy. I can see (no side-eye) a supportive, highly participative organization that connects ready host venues and ready-to-go-out solos wherever they are, over whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. If you’re going out solo and you’d like to have a plus-one, you’ll be connected with your new plus-some!

I encourage you to make your joy, and, by any means necessary, spread it freely. Goodness knows we need a new contagion in this world.

Happy holidays! May the breath be with you.

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