Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken

Pursuing The Lolly Shop with Lauren Hackney

August 23, 2023 Melissa Ebken Season 8 Episode 10
Pursuing The Lolly Shop with Lauren Hackney
Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
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Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
Pursuing The Lolly Shop with Lauren Hackney
Aug 23, 2023 Season 8 Episode 10
Melissa Ebken

On this episode of pursuing uncomfortable, our guest, Lauren Hackney shares her incredible journey. Like many, she lost her job during the pandemic and was left to find a new path. She was encouraged to make a children's book around the bedtime stories she shared with her kids about a magic lollipop store.  From self publishing a book to overcoming job loss during the pandemic, Lauren's story is a testament to the power of pursuing uncomfortable situations. Join us as we dive into her inspiring mountain climb of personal growth, sprinkled with tales of resilience and the pursuit of new opportunities. So grab your lollies and get ready for an episode filled with hope courage and the sweet rewards of embracing discomfort. 

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Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of pursuing uncomfortable, our guest, Lauren Hackney shares her incredible journey. Like many, she lost her job during the pandemic and was left to find a new path. She was encouraged to make a children's book around the bedtime stories she shared with her kids about a magic lollipop store.  From self publishing a book to overcoming job loss during the pandemic, Lauren's story is a testament to the power of pursuing uncomfortable situations. Join us as we dive into her inspiring mountain climb of personal growth, sprinkled with tales of resilience and the pursuit of new opportunities. So grab your lollies and get ready for an episode filled with hope courage and the sweet rewards of embracing discomfort. 

Follow Lauren

Support the Show.

More From Melissa and Pursuing Uncomfortable:
fiLLLed Life Newsletter
Leave a review
Pursuing Uncomfortable Book

🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro:  On this episode of pursuing uncomfortable, our guest, Lauren Hackney shares her incredible journey. Like many, she lost her job during the pandemic and was left to find a new path. She was encouraged to make a children's book around the bedtime stories she shared with her kids about a magic lollipop store.  From self publishing a book to overcoming job loss during the pandemic, Lauren's story is a testament to the power of pursuing uncomfortable situations. Join us as we dive into her inspiring mountain climb of personal growth, sprinkled with tales of resilience and the pursuit of new opportunities. So grab your lollies and get ready for an episode filled with hope courage and the sweet rewards of embracing discomfort.   🎶

Melissa Ebken  0:01  
Lauren, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you today?

Lauren Hackney  0:07  
I'm pursuing uncomfortable right now. Good morning, Melissa. Thank you for having me. 

Melissa Ebken  0:12  
It is such a joy. Tell us where you're joining us from Lauren. Because obviously here in central Illinois, your accent sounds a little different.

Lauren Hackney  0:22  
I'm in Brisbane, Australia, where it's winter time, and you're probably gonna laugh when I say it's probably 10 degrees and I'm in a snow jacket.

Melissa Ebken  0:31  
Well, that would be appropriate for winter and we know winter here in this part of the world.

Lauren Hackney  0:40  
I take it you're cold than we are.

Melissa Ebken  0:44  
Who knows? Weather's funny anymore, sometimes it can get to the extremes anywhere. But tell us, Lauren, tell us a little bit about what you do.

Lauren Hackney  0:55  
Well, I really, I really want to talk about what exactly your podcast is all about. And that's pursuing something uncomfortable. And for me the benefits of it. And, and because I am very, very average as a person. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I mean that as in, if I can do it, anyone can do it. So I was hoping to sort of just share my thoughts on exactly what I've learned from, from being way outside my comfort zone. And for reasons I couldn't control. 

Melissa Ebken  1:33  
Yeah, let's get into it. Tell us a little bit about it. What happened?

Lauren Hackney  1:37  
Okay, so not not making it all about me or anything. But of course, 2020 was not great. And I yeah, and so give you a bit of history on me. So I worked in the same company for 16 years, up until the 2020, horrific year. And I had no reason to upskill I had no reason to look anywhere else. I was that person who went to work happy every day. And it would it would show because I would go to barbecues, or soccer training with the kids or anything. And I would talk about work all the time. So when this other company I was in was it was travel, it was an airline, right. So I always had stories of all kinds of passengers and all kinds of situations. And I worked in lots of different departments too. So it's I was happy, comfortable. And I was happy until the pandemic came along. And I was, you know, 38, two children. And thinking, well, last time, I had to look for a job because we were all stood down. And I'm not alone here. Lots of people around the globe were. I remember thinking, well, back in my day, I would go to a job agency, make an appointment, correlate all the skills I had. And that's how I found the job. Like the current job, I had to move around. While things were very, very different, very quickly. And I didn't know what to do, if anything. I didn't, you know what, if I was put in that situation, I still wouldn't know what to do. Because we we left with no one could leave the house. I didn't know Zoom. What's that? There was so many new ways of going about, there's a social networking site called LinkedIn for business people; didn't know that. Um, so this happened very, very quickly. And, and I was thrown into a very uncomfortable situation. It was and the other side of it too, was most of my most of my close friend group were in jobs that were thriving because of the the situation we're all in, which was great. Like, I was super happy for them. But I had, I didn't know what to do. I was so lost. And I would wake up every day just feeling lost and not not and it was it was yuck. It was really gross. So I ended up getting a role as a casual like homecare type worker helping people in their own homes, which was fine, but it wasn't solid work. And I remember every two weeks because, no one knew, like no one knew the pandemic would last for as long as it did. And the damage it would do. We all we all remember SARS back you know a little while ago. And that lasted, what? Five months. So we thought great. We'll be back before you know it. Nope. So I'm in in this horrible time where I started questioning, why did I do this for a living? I should have been something else. I felt, you know, it's not your fault, but you feel like it's your fault, because you could you could have done other things with your life, right? Well, I remember one thing that kind of got me through it all, was telling stories with my children. But I thought nothing of it. I honestly like I'm not the only parent to make up stories with their child, like everyone does it. But it wasn't until I realized I could, I could do something with this. When I went camping with a group of friends, because no one like it was the pandemic times, right, no one could travel. So we chose a local campground. This was a few months in, we all went camping, and the first night it was torrential rain, like, like my tent was at least four inches full of water. And yeah, it was gross. But without knowing what to do, and entertain all these children we all had because there was about six families. I huddled all the kids together, and under this particular tarp, and I told the story, that I put my bed, my kids to bed to for many, many years. And it just so happens, they all loved it. And then night after night, with this particular camping trip, not only the kids in our campsite, wanted to hear it, other neighboring kids heard it and wanted to come and join in the fun and, and at the end of the trip, my friends sort of said what are you doing? You need to write this book. And I kind of toyed with the idea a little bit because as much as that was fun. And that was such a distraction. And it made me happy. I had bills to pay. And so yeah, like it wasn't, but it wasn't until we I thought the travel industry was coming back. One of my work friends, it seemed like oh, good, we're coming back to some stable work. I was talking to her. And then boom, another lockdown happened. My my work friend said to me, well, right because I was really sad. I was really down about that. Because I thought great my life's coming back. She said, well, during this next round of stand downs where we all don't have work anymore, if you could do anything, what would you do? And I said, well, I've got the story. Seems, kids seem to like it. I might write it. And it was this. It was this massive turn of events where looking back now, if things didn't fall into place, how they did it, I wouldn't be here. Like I just wouldn't. I would still be in my life that was comfortable and happy. And it was it was one of those things and then to distract me and I learned that the power of story is something I want to spread to everyone. Because my children are not because we made the story up like we started the story when they were two and four. Daniel at this point was six and eight. Long time of telling the story it's had twists and turns and characters. Oh, it was it was madness. But we ended up instead of spending our usual nights where I would be packing school lunches, doing laundry going, like you know the usual, I had the time to sit at the table while my husband was at work he worked night shift. And we would piece together back our story and even better. We got to design the characters. So my boys with the book we wrote can I can I show you it?

Melissa Ebken  8:48  
Absolutely. Friends if you're listening to this podcast, click the link in the show notes and hop over to YouTube so you can see this book.

Lauren Hackney  8:59  
This is The Lolly Shop. Yeah, The Lolly Shop because it's about and this comes from my boys. Well, my boys image imaginations. They own a Lolly Shop where all the lollies have magic. And the best part is, is it's temporary magic. So if one day you want to be invisible, or if one day you want to fly around or if one day you want to teleport or if one day you want to swim like a fish. It's the shop for you. And so we got to design like like all these little characters. I don't know if you can see that. They're adorable. But like it was it was wild because looking back it was this that kind of saved me a little bit and not realizing how much kids love the story because look, pursuing uncomfortable I'll tell you I didn't study writing. I never went to university for literacy. I did international business like, doesn't doesn't translate like it. I don't have any writing credentials. But my boys and I have a wild imagination. And I dived into a world where you're competing with a lot of people who are very talented, who have great credentials who have studied for many years who, who are great authors, because they are great authors. I didn't feel like I fit in that category at all. So I had this book where we ended up self publishing it because I sent it to so many publishers after having so many children love it. And then tell me what they do if they could be invisible. Or tell me what they would do if they could duplicate. Oh, put the hashtag in little worried right now. But it was fun. So that kind of was like a great distraction. And with pursuing uncomfortable, I had to dive into a world where I knew nothing about publishing nothing about writing nothing about author life, nothing knowing not how to hustle. I didn't know social media. Never been on Facebook or Instagram. And so right when things were kind looking up, where I was like, right, this is fun. Something, something happened to us, which if I didn't think things could get any worse. It did. And it, I'll never forget. Trying not to get teary because I still get teary. But my husband had a life a life altering heart attack. Trying not to cry.

Melissa Ebken  11:51  
If you do, it's okay.

Lauren Hackney  11:53  
Yeah, but it's been two years like you think I would be. Anyway. Um, and, and the funny thing is, when you talk about a 41 year old having heart attack, automatically people think he's in bad health. No, he, we we knew he had a bad heart when he had his first minor heart attack at 32. So we kind of knew he wasn't healthy that way. But we're talking a man who looks after himself. So he he did half marathons, he sails boats. He played soccer every night. And well, not every night, but like a few times a week. And it just so happened that this particular night he went to soccer training and he and he had a big heart attack, but because it wasn't a movie scene, his his beautiful teammates, who are who had been so supportive, didn't know what was happening. And so you get him home. And I'm like, no, we need an ambulance. And it was all on. He was straight to the hospital in theater that night, having surgery. And I not like if anything could stop me, it was that because I couldn't lose him. He's, he's amazing. I don't know how else to say it. I've known him since I was a teenager. And if I wanted to leave him, I would, you know, I wasn't ready to let him go. And he's, he's just an amazing person. So um knowing that he was over a few months after that, diagnosed with heart failure, I thought, right. Let's write about that, you know? Let 

Melissa Ebken  13:45  
Well nothing says happy children like a big story of a heart attack? 

Lauren Hackney  13:50  
Well, yeah, well, I thought let's try writing to adults. Because it was a it was an experience where I walked into the surgical ward the next morning, not knowing what to do. And he was by far the youngest in the ward. And it was so unrelatable all the document, all the all the information they give you has the smiling older people on it, you know, and it was one of those things where it was hard because, like I've been to hospitals for many reasons before, and I could find people I could relate to. I couldn't find anyone I could relate to. But so I wrote a short story about it to for grown ups, not children. And it's funny how again, the power of storytelling, the power of even the power of what they call journaling, I think I think it's like a therapeutic way of getting your thoughts out is writing them down. It did the same thing. It covered a distraction. I certainly did not have my head in the sand. But it was a great way of dealing with what I had to deal with. And it's funny how writing that short story, putting it on Kindle myself, getting the reviews I've had, but also the path it's led me to where I'm now part of a writing group in Brisbane, who actually want to support me to put it into a novel. Again, I wasn't expecting the turn of events that came out of something that really changed my life. Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa Ebken  15:47  
You know, you weren't, you didn't choose to step into writing. It's almost like the universe knocked you into writing. 

Lauren Hackney  15:56  
Pushed.  Yes, that it was it did. That's it, like I say to so many people. And this is why I urge everyone to pursue uncomfortable. Because I honestly, liken this journey to climbing a mountain and I say it to so many people, like, you'll start that trail at the bottom of the of the bottom of the mountain. And you'll go on this unknown, like path where you might come across too many trees you can't see properly, you might come close to the edge, there might be rocks in your way, whatever, you get to the top of that mountain, and you see the view. And then you realize what that was all about. And it's funny how the more you listen more than talk, I've actually learned that a few people in my life have had the same thing. Like one of my amazing girlfriends, Kate, like, unfortunately, she has this autoimmune disease that has left her wheelchair bound. On her good days, she can get out of her chair. But on days when she can't, and she's my age with three children. I thought it was tough with two. She's got three. And it was interesting because she has found out of everything. Creative art, she's learned how to do things like crochet. And it turns out, she's crocheting toys and handbags for people it and like satchels and stuff out of everything. She's found something too that she's actually really good at and she wouldn't have done if she was if she didn't have her autoimmune disease who kept her wheelchair bound, she would be, you know, of doing the soccer run or the swimming run or going to work or doing all these things. And it's amazing when you do pursue something uncomfortable. It's like the doors or the pathways just open. Don't you find that?

Melissa Ebken  18:02  
I do. And sometimes it feels like the universe will test you a little bit. Do you really want to come through this door? Do you really want to come through this door? And then when you have that bold choice of, yeah, I guess I do or I'm coming through whether I want to or not, then and you keep walking. It's amazing what path opens up in front of you.

Lauren Hackney  18:27  
Yeah, and also the confidence because when I first started writing, it was so easy to say to everyone. And I still find myself saying is, oh no no I'm not an I'm not an author? No, no, no. Because I didn't feel like one. And I certainly didn't feel like I had the badge. And I certainly didn't feel like I yeah, like I said, the badge for it. It just was a situation that threw me into storytelling. And it's funny how your confidence does build. It's something it's something wild. Like you'll see these people who throw themselves into these difficult tasks. Like they'll they'll go and they'll they'll focus on something whether it be fitness or cooking or something. And their confidence builds and it's actually a hidden gem you don't realize happens.

Melissa Ebken  19:20  
I had an experience earlier in life when I was about 18 years old. And it was, it seemed impossible. I don't want to go into all the details here. But it seemed impossible at the time. But I got through it and I did it and I succeeded. And once you do something that's impossible. Nothing can stop you after that. Right?

Lauren Hackney  19:43  
Exactly. And I guess it's almost like you're talking to people in their own forms of uncomfortable because I know people will be listening to my story right now and say, Oh, honey, that that's not difficult because I do I understand as others going through, like way more uncomfortable things, then, you know, kind of what we've we've gone through, and that your individual path and the growth you get from it is I want, I want as many people as as, as you know as I can to go out there and pursue something. And if you fail, it's not necessarily a failure. Like I said, at that point, no Australian publisher, want wanted our story. And it's funny how getting knock back after knock back after knock back. It wasn't I didn't see it as a failure. It's something kept telling me that that's okay. This just isn't the time or your story to be told that way. Keep going. And when you do keep going, you're, you know, like, I met a book, PR person, because I ended up just thinking, how do I, how do I spread my story, because I am a drop in the ocean, like there's, so many amazing people out there with amazing stories. And I came across this PR person who I phoned her up, and I said, Hey, I've got this self published book, do you deal with self published books? Do you only deal with, you know, represented books? And she pointed me in this particular direction, where she got me interviewed by a local author who is extremely successful. And she's got all these awards and accolades and works internationally. And she put me on her show interviewed me, but since then she said, Hey, this events happening, why don't you come along? Or hey, this is happening in the, you know, Queensland Writers, won't you come along? So it's interesting how, just because it didn't work out the way you thought it would, doesn't mean it's not working out?

Melissa Ebken  21:49  
Absolutely. And so much of it is a matter of mindset and perspective, don't you think? I mean, when you're to stick with your climbing a mountain analogy, some people would see a giant step or one of those big boulders as a door that's closed, another person would see that as a step to take, you know, even if it's a small one, some people would say, oh, no, don't step on that that will trip you up, or others will say, no, it's a stepping stone, it helps you get higher or to the next level. So much of it is a matter of perspective. And then the flip side of that, sometimes you just gotta go and not think about it. If you've over thinking you may not take that step.

Lauren Hackney  22:32  
Yeah. Cuz like, and again, like, you're a mom, right? Like, you've got kids and you do you think, Oh, I, I can't afford to gamble right now. Like, I remember when the job loss was fresh. And I just needed something. I didn't care what I did. I just needed a job. That, you know that that was the prime. That was that was the number one thing that I needed to do not, get my thoughts on paper and write a book. And it's funny, like you said, it's when you thinking too much that it all worked out. Right? You know. And also, I find, I find also the people you are around, really have a big deal. Like they do, like I'm I found I just attracted all these friends for the last 10 years, who actually keep me accountable. And have always said like, I remember the so the girlfriends I went camping with initially. They they kept me on track, like I remember I'd receive like the odd text message going, Hey, have you come along with that story lately? I can't wait to read it. Where are you up to? And it depends if you have people like that or not, because I found that that was one big motivator is having people keep you on track. You know? I think that's that the big thing? 

Melissa Ebken  23:59  
Absolutely. I would agree with that. 100%. I'm working on a book right now about coming through adversity in difficult times. And that's one of the four pillars that I identify is you have to have the right people, whether it's the professionals you need, or the support you need, you gotta find your people. They can make a tremendous difference.

Lauren Hackney  24:20  
Is that with your book, is that from inspiration from talking to people all these years and is there like some sort of universal traits they all have from their pursuing and uncomfortable?

Melissa Ebken  24:33  
For sure. It's from working with people for 25 years as a pastor, watching them. You know, I am so in awe of the people that I get to do life with. They have faced and embraced the most difficult things in life, fearlessly, or well probably not fearlessly, courageously, and they've overcome them. And it's just an honor and a privilege to do the work that I do to walk with people through the things that they go through. But yeah, there are some commonalities in all of the things. And having the right people around you is definitely one of them.

Lauren Hackney  25:11  
Yes, absolutely. And also, knowing that something good can come out of something like, my situation is isn't. I'm not alone, like a lot of people lost their jobs around that time. If anything, people have been losing jobs for a long time, it's nothing new. And then, you know, within a certain timeframe, having another big event happen, I'm not alone. I know a lot of people out there have got these amazing stories. But if if I'm when like, if you were just to concentrate on those times, you'll just get those times. But if you concentrate on something else, because like, honestly, I couldn't believe how powerful The Lolly Shop journey was for us initially, because those focusing on those memories and focusing on how good it felt to spend time with my children at the dinner table, piecing together back our story, illustrating, and mind you, they were six and seven. The attention span wasn't long, it didn't take didn't take long before my youngest was like, can I go play Lego now? But still, we did it so many times that I now look back. I don't, I don't really remember or want to remember the the times where I felt like a failure. Because I wish I wish I did a more secure line of work. I I don't really hold on to the feelings of loneliness and emptiness. And all of this. I'm holding on to I had this great journey with my children. And I remember their faces lining, up lighting, up when local kids read their books, because I had, I didn't have many people wanting to take on the book either, I had one local bookshop in the area, not talk favorably about it at all, because it was from us. It was self published it she pointed out all the mistakes and how it's, you know, blah, blah, blah. Whereas I had another bookshop on the other side of town say, actually, it's really cute. I really like how this has come about. Both both book shops didn't know my story, by the way. And nor did I, I didn't sell my story by awe you know, wah wah wah I'm, you know, affected by job loss. I sold it as in, look what I did. Yeah, and this one particular bookshop, who did take it on, she, she has been supportive ever since like she'll support any, any book we put out. And well, she reads it first, make sure it's ok. But we've actually written three books in The Lolly Shop series, because the story is so big and crazy. And but it's funny how when when I look back, I think of those good times because yeah local kids have read the book, and local kids have loved the book. And we've started selling books all around the place. I've had reviews from the US the UK, I've had around Australia, as soon as my children read what other kids would do the magic, the mischief side of it. And as soon as they hear, hey, we really enjoyed that. They're grateful it happened too and they're the memories I take away from the last two years, then why not pursue something uncomfortable? Like I think for me, what would be worse is not pursuing it at all.

Melissa Ebken  28:37  
You know what sometimes I re have to reframe things for myself, when I'm afraid of failing at something, I have to stop and think, what would it be like to wear around a t shirt that said I failed at this. If I wear a t shirt that said I failed at publishing the great American novel, I'd feel pretty good about wearing that because how many people try to write the great American novel? Or if I wear a t shirt that said I tried to make a difference in my community. You know? Fantastic. If I saw someone with that t shirt, I would want to go talk to them. What did you do? What do you have a heart for? You know, so reframing things sometimes, letting people know what we failed at can be a good thing.

Lauren Hackney  29:27  
Yep. And I wouldn't change this journey for the world because what I, it's funny, sometimes you look at something and what you get isn't in. It doesn't look like what it does look like in the brochure. Do you know what I mean? Like because I knew nothing of, of publishing. I just assumed I would write this fun story. Lots of people would love it. And, you know, I'll get picked up somewhere. No, but gee, I love the journey I've been on and it's it's brought me to people like yourself, where you go hmm, I wonder if it did go the other way, whether I'd be, you know, allowed to talk to anyone I want to, do whatever I want to. Because at the moment I have I have freedom to go about it however I want to go about it and who, who I'm sort of talking to and I, yeah, I think it's just played out perfectly. So I'm happy to fail bring it. 

Melissa Ebken  30:23  
Absolutely. Lauren, I'm gonna let you have the last word today. What would you like to leave the listeners with?

Lauren Hackney  30:31  
Pursue uncomfortable. Do it. Find something because at the end, you I don't like, failure is a funny word. Because you may not fail, it just may not look like it did in the brochure, you know, but, it's better than not doing it. Not doing it is is the worst feeling of all.

Beautifully said. Thank you, Lauren.

Thank you, Melissa. Thank you so much for having me.

🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶