We had the good fortune of connecting with Debbie Burns and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Debbie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
After experiencing two armed robberies and the resulting fallout of PTSD, acute anxiety, depression, and high suicidality, I actually thought I’d never be able to work again. I’d resigned myself to hiding in my home and writing when I could. But after stumbling into personal development and intuitive healing, I discovered there WAS a path forward for me! One that didn’t lead back to traditional, corporate America (where I’d always been unhappy), but that lead toward freedom, fulfillment, and a life lived on my own terms. For me, starting my own business was part of that. I saw it as an opportunity to have the impact I craved working with people I loved doing work that fed my soul. It could also provide the flexibility I needed around my PTSD so when triggers overwhelmed me and I needed to pull back into safety and quiet, I could. If I woke from nightmares and needed extra time to ease into my day (or skip the day altogether), I could. Whatever I needed, whenever I needed it, having my own business meant I could give that to myself. And I loved that I wouldn’t need to ask or explain it to a boss. My schedule, my life, would be entirely in my hands, built in a way that allowed me to thrive EVEN WITH posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, nightmares, couch days, and more. And I wanted other creatives to know that they could have that too… a life THEIR WAY, regardless of the things seeming to stand in their way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I work in the medium of words and soul. On the outside, I run a business that leads others creatives back to their magic — the Happily EPIC After beyond all the rule books where we get to live in our most authentic expression, freedom, fulfillment, and joy today — not someday. Behind the scenes, I also write both fiction (urban fantasy and fantasy romance) and non-fiction. I don’t think choosing an artistic path is every easy. We live in a society where the cultural expectation is to do something “practical” with our lives. We’re encouraged to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. To journey from high school to college to corporate in a straight light that leads to more money and a better job title. When you choose art and creativity, most of us have to deal with family, friends, and strangers constantly challenging our choices. “When are you going to get a REAL job? Why are you wasting your intelligence? You can’t make money at that.” It can be EXHAUSTING. And it happens WITHIN creative industries just as much as it happens outside of them. I call bullshit. Standing up for myself first was one of the hardest aspects of this career choice — holding my power as others challenged my legitimacy. But it’s also been a super powerful learning experience and has helped me help others to do the same. What I’ve learned through all of it is that we can’t leave it up to anyone else to approve of our life and choices. WE have got to take that power. We have got to stand up for ourselves, our magic, our art. WE have got to be the ones to believe in ourselves so strongly the world can’t help but believe in us too. Which is why I focus so strongly on mind and soul work. I’ve seen too many books die on the hard drives of their creators, victims to doubt, fear and cultural expectations. I’ve watched too many creators + magic makers (in whatever medium they play) step back instead of leaping forward because they believed the haters MORE than they believed their own soul. I truly believe that artists and creatives have the ability to impact our world like no one else, calling humanity forward to a new, better way of being until we are alive and dancing to the rhythm of our own dreams. I believe in the power of our magic, individually and collectively. And I believe our time is now. Not just to create, but to LEAD through our creativity. But we gotta go first. We must own, embrace, believe in, and trust our magic if we want the world to do the same. I’m here to lead those creators and magic makers — who I call sacred rebels — through that awakening, helping them build the confidence to live true to themselves, the courage to take the tough stands, and the connections to not just impact the world, but influence it as they claim their magic and create the life and biz of their dreams.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m currently living in Salt Lake, so I’d be taking us to a few stops across the valley. For food, we’d be heading up to Windy Ridge Cafe in Park City. BEST COMFORT FOOD on the planet! And I highly recommend ordering all the desserts first. Worth it. The staff will double-check to make sure the waiter heard you right, but trust me. You’ll want to work backward. Then we’d spend some time at Hotel Park City for creating. I haven’t found another space like this in Utah — filled and overflowing with creative energy! It is DELICIOUS! Plus room service is my love language (and their spa ain’t half bad either, hehe). We’d finish out the week down at Thanksgiving Point. From Light and Tulip festivals to corn mazes and interactive museums, there is something fun in every season. If you’re looking for suggestions near LA, I’m a Disney girl through and through. I love how all my stress and anxiety seem to fall off me as I enter those wrought iron gates. No matter where I move in the world, my heart and soul are always called back to Disney Land, California Adventure, and the magic I feel there. Cheesy but true.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I heart my power posse so hard! Without women like Birdy Jones, children’s book author, and Laura Moss, founder of Adventure Cats (both my write-or-die sisters) or mentors like Voge Smith, author of I Release, and Danielle Musick, neurofeedback goddess (who have been instrumental in my mental healing), I wouldn’t have made it through the dark times of doubt, fear, come-aparts, and dead ends. They held my star when I didn’t feel like I could shine and reflected back my power in the times when I couldn’t see myself clearly. I believe powerful community is the foundation of transformation and I couldn’t have achieved the success I have now without these (and so many others) who blessed, instructed, supported, and loved me along the way. A book that changed everything for me is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In it he writes, “True justice is paying only once for each mistake. True injustice is paying more than once for each mistake.” Blew my mind! It was the piece that helped me understand how to choose grace, let go, embrace mistakes, and double down on me. Cheesy and cliche, but I can’t not give a shoutout to my hubbs who has been my rock in EVERYTHING. Through mental health, personal growth, business, and more, he is the first to say yes. The first to believe. The last to give up (still hasn’t happened yet, lol). And always my number one fan. I remember a moment of despair when I’d added up the true cost of my PTSD — lost wages, foreclosures, therapy, hospital stay, etc. — and came to him in tears. “Joe, I’ve cost our family over $600,000 because of the robberies.” He grasped my hand, “Deb, it’s actually over $1 million when you take these other things into consideration.” He listed them. I sobbed harder. “That doesn’t make me feel better.” He laughed, pulling my chin up so he could look into my eyes. “Every penny was worth it. The ways you’ve grown and how you bless our family because of it is worth a hundred times that. So let it go. You are and will always be worth any investment we make in you.”
Meagan Smith, Transparency with Meagan