"I used to feel so alone. Alienated. Different. Weird. Now I’m able to tap into my quirks and turn them into superpowers."
Amanda Fall, 30
Occupation: Creator, editor, & publisher of The Phoenix Soul
College major: Art
Ruth: Welcome, Amanda! How long have you loved what you do?
Amanda: November of 2011 marks the true birth of this calling, although I enjoyed muddling around with all things artsy before then!
R: How did you feel and what did you do before now?
A: Lost. Unfulfilled. Unsure of my place in the world. After graduating from college with an art degree, I struggled for several years trying to follow the path I thought I “should” take (i.e. something like fine art production). I sold at craft fairs, on Etsy, or wherever I could convince people to buy what I thought I was supposed to create. But something was always missing. I kept trying to fit into some preconceived notion of who and what an artist should be--rather than embracing my unique gifts and motivation.
R: When was the first time you realized that you love what you do?
A: When I got my first reader comment, saying that my offering had helped bring healing in her life. I don’t do this work for the validation, but something that was missing for me before discovering my current calling was the connection--the heart-to-heart kinship of owning our story, together.
R: Describe what you do now and what a typical day looks like.
A: I’m creator, editor, publisher, and chief gatherer of good for The Phoenix Soul, an indie digital magazine published monthly.
I lead an amazing team of regular contributors and varied guests, but aside from their brave offerings (art, poetry, essays, etc.), I create and manage everything else. Depending on the day, you’ll find me: sifting through submissions; writing interviews, editorials, features, poetry, creative prompts, blog posts; painting mixed-media backgrounds for the magazine; crafting inspirational promos; hanging out on social media; curating layouts; brightening up our website; taking photographs; and, of course, drinking coffee. Lots of coffee.
R: What were the steps you took that got you to loving what you do?
A: Oh, my goodness. Those steps have followed a winding, twisting, turning path, all the way from childhood to now, at thirty years old (how did that happen?). The dream for this magazine first arose when I was a kid--a vision of a tangible zine, filled with poetry and musings and artwork “for kids, by kids.” That didn’t happen, partly due to a lifelong struggle with anxiety and occasional depression, with a hearty dose of family trauma.
In college, I rediscovered my childlike and pure love of creativity, although it was still mucked up by desperation to be valued and accepted by someone else’s standards. As I mentioned earlier, I experimented for a few years, trying to discover and develop my unique voice . . . not realizing, of course, that it was the one I tried to silence all along. My voice is the vulnerability that I hid. My voice is the gentle power that I once thought wasn’t good enough.
Every stumbling step brought me closer to here. Nothing is wasted. In late 2010, my childhood dream resurfaced with fresh possibility: what if I could create a digital magazine? What if I embraced who and what I am, instead of struggling to be what I’m not? That realization freed me. Lots of work has followed, of course, to bring that dream to reality, but this clarity has carried me through every practical step of creation.
R: Is there something about your work that makes you feel like you're contributing to a greater good?
A: Absolutely. I get a lump in my throat every time a reader reaches out, saying that a message I’ve shared has brought comfort, inspiration, or joy. I used to feel so alone. Alienated. Different. Weird. Now I’m able to tap into my quirks and turn them into superpowers, urging my fellow “phoenix souls” to live their own truest, most authentic, and joyful lives (even/especially when they feel as if they’re falling apart). There is such relief in knowing we are not alone and that we are already worthy of love, right in the middle of our mess. Through The Phoenix Soul, we offer sanctuary and kinship.
R: Do you have any advice for others on their way to loving what they do?
A: Become crystal clear on the why. What makes your spirit spark? What snuffs your spark? What’s your story? How can you tap into your authentic voice and use it for the greater good? Don’t be afraid to step away from your expected path to discover where you are truly fulfilled and energized. Go where your passion leads!
R: If you could whittle it down, what was the ONE most important thing you did to begin loving what you do?
A: Trusting that who and what I am is not something to hide was the key to a cage I didn’t know existed. Embracing authenticity allows me to connect with and encourage fellow truth-speakers and love-believers from a standpoint of gentle power and vulnerable strength.
R: Thank you, Amanda!