On this episode of the Work Your Inner Wisdom podcast, I’m interviewing Xandra Robinson-Burns, a writer/artist/essayist and founder of Heroine Training, where she writes about being a protagonist of her own story and finding storybook magic in everyday life.
Her membership program, Everyday Wonderland, helps readers discover magic where they already are. She also hosts The Art Life podcast, an emerging philosophy on what it means to be an artist in the modern age.
I’ve talked about “content co-creation” on this podcast before (you can listen to the episode here), but this episode is a perfect example of that process.
Our discussion did not go as planned – and that was the best possible gift. We had been corresponding with each other before recording, talking about basic questions and items we wanted to address. But the minute we starting recording, the conversation went where it wanted to go. And it was extraordinary. It was the perfect example of content creation as a spiritual connection, where we can plan and prepare, but we also need to leave room for the magic.
About Xandra Robinson-Burns
(2:45) Xandra is a writer who focuses her essays on being the protagonist in her own story. They’re articulations of her life, what she’s learned, and what excites her.
Xandra and I approach the world in very similar ways. As a coach, I help my clients become heroes or heroines in their life. Xandra does the same through her writing.
Xandra says she’s been writing all of her life. Even as a child, she knew that she wanted to be a writer. She started her first formal blog in 2012, making an editorial calendar and publishing every day. Through that process, she discovered she wanted to be a writer full time, so she started to shift into an entrepreneurial role. In doing so, what she wrote and how she spent her time as an artist changed. She’s recently circled back to the roots of what drew her to publishing for fun in the first place.
Xandra says she defines what she writes about on her own terms. She has shifted from calling herself a blogger to an author to now an essayist. What she loves most are personal essays, so branding herself an essayist helps her feel more grounded.
I appreciate Xandra talking about stepping into her identity as an essayist because language is so important. How we refer to ourselves and how we show up in the world is linked to the words that we use.
Defining Ourselves and Avoiding Imposter Syndrome
(6:40) As Xandra and I discuss her journey towards calling herself an “essayist,” she talks a bit about imposter syndrome. As it turns out, she didn’t have imposter syndrome, she says, but she just wasn’t using the right word to define herself.
She talks about her favorite essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his essay on self-reliance. In it, he talks about not getting too bogged down by what he calls “screens,” or titles associated with a particular group. What we say about ourselves matters. Defining ourselves serves us, until it doesn’t. If calling yourself an essayist is what allowed you to step into your role and serve the world around you, excellent. But the minute it starts to limit you, it’s time to take Ralph’s advice and remove the trappings of language.
Xandra has recently been playing with calling herself an “artist” rather than an “essayist,” starting a podcast called The Art Life with her friend Grace Gordon. As Xandra explains, “artist” is quite an open term, refusing to box her into one type of writing. An artist is a creative person that sees art everywhere in every aspect of their life.
I love the expansiveness and inclusiveness of her definition of art. I also view coaching as an art. As I have grown, my definition of art has become more generous. For me, art is about self-expression and connection. Coaching is one way to achieve that. But art is limitless: writing, theater, singing, and traditional art mediums.
Xandra’s Creative Process
(10:55) In her introduction, Xandra talked a bit about her creative process, having an editorial calendar that she followed. I asked her about the structure in her art, and if she still follows that creative process.
Like me, Xandra loves structure. She is a planner at heart. And like me, she initially had a very structured schedule of topics she wanted to write about. But she says that when it came time to write, she would always change her mind (me too).
When she could be more in tune with the present moment and what she was experiencing in real-time, she felt more connected. She has changed her structure, making a plan of when she is going to publish, and then allowing time to work and edit. In terms of what she is going to write about, she lets herself be spontaneous.
I can so relate to her process. I love me some structure and order and routine, but if I’m not careful, my podcasts, writing, and other work can come off as formulaic or prescribed. When I was writing what I had to write, I wasn't responding to my current state and to the needs of my audience at the moment. If I wait until a day or two before I record or release something, I can examine what I want to write about or what I want the podcast episode to say. It’s a way to both create structure and still make room for the magic.
As Xandra adds, we have been taught all our lives that waiting until the last minute is irresponsible, but really we are welcoming in spaciousness differently. It becomes an invitation, not procrastination. Instead, we are showing up in the present moment as our authentic selves and allowing that to inform our creative processes.
Evolving Our Talents Over Time
(15:20) Xandra also talked about how her writing has changed and evolved, especially when she started viewing her work through the lens of being an entrepreneur. I asked her about the process of moving from artist to entrepreneur.
She started writing essays about being a minimalist, but from a feminine perspective. She says she was filling the void by writing what she wanted to be reading about. Through that process, Xandra did what she saw other minimalist writers online doing, and she wrote an ebook about how to be a minimalist. But something was missing: her “why.”
Eventually, Xandra says, “I realized that the answer was to be my own heroine. When you're left with nothing but yourself, you're your own heroine. And so that got me thinking in a different direction.” So she used the same format others were using, but she fit her voice into that format. Over time, she learned that she is the most effective communicator and leader when she tells stories from her own experience. That’s what has led to her business model today.
I so appreciate Xandra’s journey and identify with it in so many ways. When I started my coaching practice, I felt very called to it. I knew it was what I was meant to do, but then I started looking around at how everyone else was operating and what other successful coaches were doing, and I started to shift my ways to follow them. A year in, I realized I was absent in my business. It felt hollow, and I didn't feel like I was showing up as myself.
Once I asked myself, “why am I doing this?” I began a transformation. That transformation is where we gain experience and knowledge that can help us serve others. I think it’s a common experience for entrepreneurs to struggle to find their own ways.
Xandra has used that struggle to create her membership site Everyday Wonderland to teach what she wants others to know, how she wants to say it, and in a way that she invented. She says, “personal development doesn't have to be so complicated…. It can take one minute a week to change your mindset.”
Xandra’s right: we have to go through that dark night of the soul where we try to fit ourselves into what other people do so that we can experience discomfort and disconnection. Ultimately, that’s what brings us back to ourselves. We go through trials and tribulations, but then we come through the other side with deeper wisdom and knowing. That informs how we show up in the world and the work that we do.
How Intuition Informs Xandra’s Process: Creating Space for Joy
(21:20) For me, part of the journey has been making room for my intuition, honing my intuition, and allowing it to have a seat at the table in my decision-making processes. When I ask Xandra to talk about intuition, she says she’s always been an intuitive person.
“Something that I've always felt especially strongly about even as a kid is to cherish the things that I enjoy for fun as valuable,” she says. “So something that is part of my process is really paying attention to what excites me, whether it's a book or a TV show…knowing that there will be some value.”
I love that Xandra uses fiction to help her intuition come through. That’s just another example of trusting the process, showing up in the moment, and going all in. I particularly love that Xandra intentionally creates space for joy.
One way she finds joy is through something she calls an “obsessions diary.” In her weekly planner, she writes several heart bullet points, and throughout the week, she challenges herself to find seven things that she’s not just excited about, but she is “top-level enthusiasm obsessed with.” It might be a song she’s got on repeat or, most recently, the way the fallen leaves sound and feel under her shoes. She says filling out those bullet points is “just as much a part of my work as all of the appointments on my calendar.”
Xandra’s idea of an “obsession journal” is so vibrant and sensual, coming back to our senses and how it feels to experience things. When we're able to connect to the world and our experiences through our senses and to be mindful of that, it enhances our experience and brings us into this greater sense of connection and alignment.
Make It Work Moment
(25:35) This episode is such a perfect example of content co-creation. You can plan and prepare and have everything ready to go, but then you have to show up and see what the moment brings. That’s exactly what our conversation has done today.
Xandra’s Make It Work Moment brought us back to the obsession journal. Feel free to make it all your own, but Xandra’s process is to draw seven heart bullets in her weekly calendar, and then fill those in throughout the week with things that make her excited. That could be an idea you’ve had, a favorite drink you’ve discovered, a new song or movie, or the sounds and smells of the season.
You might write them down all at once, write them down at the beginning or end of your day, or jot them down as they occur to you throughout the week. However you do it, come to the Work Your Inner Wisdom Facebook Community and share your weekly obsessions with me. I’d love to hear what’s getting you up and going each week.
You can add anything to the journal. As Xandra says, “We're all really seeking joy, and the truth is we experience it on a regular basis. Too often, we limit what we experience and don't let ourselves get excited about something because it might seem silly.” But in the end, it can be a catalyst for deeper connection with yourself and with others.
I’ve so loved having Xandra on the podcast today. If you’d like to learn more about her, you can visit her website or click on the links below for more information.
If you’re an intuitive coach looking to expand your practice and dive deeper into your own purpose, I’d love to have you join the Coach With Clarity Membership. You’ll have unmatched access to toolkits, expert courses, interaction with other like-minded helpers and healers, and access to Q&A sessions and hot seat coaching sessions. For more information, check out the Coach With Clarity website.
Finally, thank you for spending your time with me this week. I’d love to continue the conversation over at the Work Your Inner Wisdom Facebook Community, where intuitive entrepreneurs gather to talk about this week’s podcast topic. You can also find more tools for FREE at the Wisdom Library.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Episode 7: Content Creation as Spiritual Connection
- Xandra Robinson-Burns’ website, Heroine Training
- Xandra’s membership program, Everyday Wonderland
- Xandra’s Podcast, The Art Life
- Work Your Inner Wisdom website
- Coach With Clarity® Membership Program
- Work Your Inner Wisdom Facebook Community
- Follow Lee on Instagram!