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You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Accept and embrace the fact that it’s okay to modify the dream. We all need permission to just do what we can do right now in the best way possible. And trust that it’s a part of the bigger picture.

Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo. And welcome to another episode of MarieTV and The Marie Forleo Podcast. And today my friend, you are in for a treat. Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet whose work is inspired by real-life interactions and stories. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Morgan shares her art on a daily basis across social media and through a diverse range of collaborations and also in her online shop Garden24. Morgan, thank you so much for making time to be on the show. And I just want to congratulate you on the book. It is incredible, How Far You’ve Come. It is gorgeous.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Well, thank you. That means so much to hear and I’m, I’m so excited for this book too, as I literally take a deep breath, just like be out in the world and for other people to see it. So, yes. Thank you. Really excited.

Marie Forleo: Let’s start off with one of the stories that you tell in the book, which I loved, about attending church, where your father was preaching a sermon about David and you found yourself capturing what he was sharing, but then it brought about a big realization for you. Can you tell us that story?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yes. So I grew up as a preacher’s kid and I really admired both of my parents and the way that they could just kind of creatively connect with people in a way that seemed as a kid to be super organic and I was just like, “Wow, it’s so amazing.” However, I, I struggled because I also wanted to find a way to do something, but I was really nervous around a lot of people. I did not like being on stage, so drawing and, and kind of just taking in my environment by writing and drawing. That kind of just became, I don’t know, as a kid, I mean, I didn’t have language for it as a kid. It was just what I did. 

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols: It’s like, I like doing this. So yeah, we were, we were visiting at a, at a church in California and I, for some reason I decided to show my dad one of my drawings after, after he had preached, which I didn’t do that.

I did not share drawing. I drew all the time, but that wasn’t something that I naturally gravitated toward, was sharing it. So I shared it and my dad just looked at it and affirmed, “You were made to do this, God made you to make art. Do that.” And I just took his word for it. And I’m just so grateful for that moment because it really was. It’s just so… I see now more as I grow up, the younger you are when you have someone affirm something good about you, that matters. And unfortunately I’ve encountered way too many people who’ve said, “Yeah, I didn’t have, I didn’t have someone say, ‘Hey, you’re really good at that.’”

So I feel like in many ways, even the work I do today, it’s like, I want to help give other people a small taste of that in some ways. There is something out there that brings you alive. And so yeah, that story has just become, it was very important for that story to be in the book. Because I’m like, it really did set up everything I do today. I mean, obviously I’m not six years old anymore, but it really did give me a lot of courage to, to do what I do today. Even though it took me a long time to get to it… 

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols: …it really was very foundational for me.

Marie Forleo: That seed, right? That was planted. And as I was reading the story, it just painted all these pictures in my mind of you sitting there with your composition book and the power of that affirmation that you were born to create, you’re made to make art and then to see you now, and the millions of lives that you touch. And, you know, every time I see something from you on Instagram and I just, you know, kind of slide through, it’s just, it opens my heart. It opens my mind. It makes me feel things it’s like, you really, you were absolutely created and born to do this. 

I’m wondering if you can take us back for those who don’t know your story, that you actually went from being a college admissions counselor to touring to then art creation and poetry. And in our audience, Morgan, we have so many folks that, you know, when I was starting out, I called myself a multipassionate entrepreneur because I never fit into a traditional, singular box. So I’m wondering if you could take us through a little bit of your journey because I think a lot of people will be able to relate to a more curvaceous, unexpected path.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yes. So I went to college and I, I graduated with an English degree and credit goes to my mom for this because I was already kind of in the mindset of I graduated from college after, I mean, kind of during the recession. And it was a lot of people like myself graduating, like, “Oh, we’re just not going to find jobs.” That was just kind of the mindset. And my mom was like, “Well, you should try to work at the college. Just see if you can get something there.” I hadn’t even thought of that. I was like, “Well, I do like it here. Okay. Let’s see what can happen.” And I did get a job at the college right away. So thankfully I was able to start working a full-time salary job right out of college, which does not happen all the time, graduating from college.

So I was really happy with that. I, I do love to create, but because I wasn’t seeing in my environment a lot of… they exist, but I just wasn’t seeing a lot of more introverted or reserved people doing the things that I wanted to do. So I didn’t really know how to kind of turn something or to stick into a brand or anything. I was just like, “That’s a hobby. It may come to life later. But right now I like my nine to five.” I loved working with students. It was really special to me and I, I had no plans of leaving. However, the position was relocating to a different part of the state because the college was expanding and I could not move with it. I was an entry level employee, we just got married. We had just bought a house.

It was just like, “Okay, I don’t know.” I did not have a plan B. It was just like, I was like, “I was really good where I was.” I didn’t know. And I tried to make it work. But it just didn’t work. I mean, it was just too long of a commute and we were just not able to make it work. So while I was going through this, I have a younger sister who had just started working full-time in music. She started on YouTube and got discovered on YouTube and started doing conferences and tours. So I literally just went on the road with my sister. I was just like, “I’ll do whatever.” I did some merch stuff, but I’m also musical. So I started singing with her and performing with her. And that was kind of my way into the music industry.

Literally just kind of hiding behind my younger sister who has way more energy than I do. So she’s still that way. I mean, literally right before we started talking, my sister has sent me eight text messages. I’m like, “Jamie, I, I’ll get back to you later.” So she’s still, she’s still that way. And I was just like, “Yeah, let’s just hang out. Let’s just go travel. Be on the road.” My husband ended up tour managing for my sister. And that became kind of the next phase of like, “Okay, you know, it’s a bit all over the place, traveling city to city, but I’m not going to complain. You know? I’m, I’m in my 20s. This is a nice job.” You know, it was better than no job. I do like sharing music and being creative. And I got to do a lot of cool things.

I ended up with a record deal. I ended up with a songwriting publishing deal, and those things are great. And at the same time, like many people find out in the entertainment industry, it’s very hard to financially support yourself and sustain that for a long period of time. I mean, it’s, it’s not that you have to become super famous right away, but that definitely helps. And if you’re not in that kind of top percent of performers, artists, it, it becomes very hard to sustain and it becomes harder if you are a woman, if you’re a person of color, and it just gets harder and harder. So I got to a point where I was like, “I don’t know what to do, because I know that I’m giving my all out on the road. And I know that I’m really giving my best to…” And I was making connections.

I mean, I was able to share my music. People were responding, but ultimately the end of the day, it’s like rent is due next month. So, you know, it’s, it’s kind of like the whole thing of like, you know, oh, Instagram likes don’t pay the bills. That’s very true. And it’s very hard because people don’t always understand. It’s like, “What do you mean you have a record deal?” Or, “You have people following your work? What do you mean? That’s not sustainable?” It’s like those things don’t equate financial stability and that’s very hard to communicate and it’s very hard to get support in that way. 

So, yeah, essentially, when I was 26 and this was in 2016, I kind of just hit a wall. And I was like, “I guess I have to stop trying to do things. I guess I got to figure something out. Maybe I need to just leave creativity alone completely and just let it go.” And that was very tough because I felt like I let my family down. I mean, my parents, I already mentioned they’re really supportive. They were… me and my sister always joke. We’re like, they’re sometimes a little too supportive. We sometimes won’t tell them about our ideas right away because they’re like, “You can do it.” I’m like, “Guys, I don’t even know if I’m really sold on this idea yet. Please I’ll get back to you later.”

And at that time, my parents were actually calling me on the phone and they were like, “Morgan, don’t give up, don’t give up. You are an artist,” I’m like, “Oh, but I’m tired. I don’t know what to do.” So it was just a really tough time because I, I really did feel like I was letting people down. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Morgan Harper Nichols: And because even within the music industry, I had had people who really stuck their neck out and really did support me. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m letting all these people down, but I don’t know what else to do.” So I ended up writing a poem about it, just writing a poem about all of this stress and anxiety that I was dealing with. At the time, my husband had started working in construction and he was actually working that night. Like super late.

It was dark outside. It was cold. It was rainy. He wasn’t home yet. And I just sat there and kind of cried my eyes out. And when I stopped crying, I wrote this poem and the poem starts with, “When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that brought you here.” And the poem ends with “You’re wrapped in endless boundless grace. There is more to you than yesterday.” And I share the poem on Pinterest and forgot about it. And it was, that, that was in November of 2016. And then in January of 2017 is when it had been repinned on Pinterest over 100,000 times. And till this day, I don’t know how that happened. I didn’t use any tags or anything, it just happened. 

And what I eventually ended up learning from that, it was like, “Oh, wait a second. A lot of other people feel this way too. This whole, this whole weight of uncertainty that I’m literally sitting here crying through, there are people all around the world who have had moments like that.” And even if I didn’t explicitly share my story in that poem, the message of that and the feeling of that is universal. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Morgan Harper Nichols: So that is what led me to seeing of this passion that I’ve had as a child of being able to connect with other people in a meaningful way is, is possible through writing poetry and writing poetry in my house and making art. And I’m not even really good at art, but I have fun with it. I’m like, “Wow, people connect with this?” That was huge for me. Because up until that point, I had been looking at other models of, of people who were successful in different ways and saying, “Wow, if I can’t be that way, then what can I be?”

So that’s ultimately what led me to where I am today. And now I am a visual artist and a poet. And through that, I have been, honestly, just sharing it, sharing my poetry and art. I’ve been able to get a book publishing deal. I do a lot of licensing collaborations with various paper goods and, and apparel and I have an app and just a lot of, a lot of doors have, have opened. And I’m, I’m just so grateful because I didn’t see, I didn’t, this was not the path I thought I was going to take, but that’s, that’s where I am. And that’s just a little bit of what I do and how I got here.

Marie Forleo: It’s so awesome. And I just want to just acknowledge, appreciate, celebrate you, your app. I was just talking, you know, Louise on our team, we were just talking right before we recorded and she has your app and we were talking about how extraordinary it is and I just, your work is so spectacular…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: …and it is so exciting to hear about that journey, rooted in so much uncertainty, rooted in this feeling that you had of like, “Oh my goodness,” on paper, everything, you know, “I have a record deal. People supporting me,” you know, parents going like, “You can do it.” And something in your heart was like, “No, not anymore. I want something different even though I don’t know what that different thing is, or even what it looks like.” And that can be so terrifying in this world where we’re kind of taught and conditioned to reach for certainty all the time. And it’s just not the nature of life.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah, yeah. That is so true. And I feel like that’s something I’m, I’m actively learning and it’s, and it’s so fascinating to me what I’ve, when I’ve dealt with that, of really wanting that certainty and seeing, “Wow, you didn’t get the certainty, but look at what you still did, look at the progress you still made.” And yeah. Yeah. That’s something I have to constantly remember. 

Marie Forleo: Me too, because I think it is, you know, that sense of control that’s natural and human to want to have, so you can feel stable, but it’s not realistic. And sometimes, I think, can shut us off from a greater magic, a greater blossoming, a greater possibility that we would have never been able to experience had we stayed clung so tightly…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …to our thoughts and intentions and very strict plans.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: I want to talk about you recently ended a 365 days song project, which led to enough songs for your new album. So I’m so curious about this, Morgan, can you tell us a little bit about what inspired this project? When you were just like, “I want to do this,” what was the thinking or the heart space behind it and when you felt like, “I’m just going to declare this and do it.”

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh my goodness. Yes. That actually ties into what we were just talking about because I realized that… So I’ve been playing music since I was a teenager. And because I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being in the music industry, I’ve seen a lot of how music works in an industry sense. And I do have certain knowledge around like, “Okay, these kinds of songs may get heard more or, you know, this will fit in this genre.” So I know a lot about music in that kind of rational sense. However, I realize, I have, I have a little one, he’s almost two years old, and just sort of playing with him and singing songs with him. I realized, I was like, well, I’ve kind of, I don’t know if lost, lost is the word, but I kind of have suppressed that kind of childlike relationship to music and just allowing myself to just be free with it and just pick up the guitar just for fun and to just sing for fun.

It’s kind of hard to do that sometimes when you’ve done it professionally. So I was like, “I need something that’s going to kind of shake me out of that. And it’s got to be extreme because if it’s not extreme, I’m going to cop out and back out and not do it.” So yeah, at the beginning of this year, I was like, “I’m going to write a song a day for the year.” And there’s a guy on YouTube. I forget his name, but he’s been writing a song a day for 10 years, he’s in the Guinness World Records. So I was like, “If he could do it, I can do it.” I don’t know why. But yeah, so I started January 1st and most of the songs were written in this tiny little window, right after my son fell asleep at night. And I was just like, “I, I have to do this because I love music. I love sharing it, but I need it to not be about like, oh, is this a single, or is this, you know, something that’s going to go viral on TikTok? I just need to do it for the love of it.”

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Morgan Harper Nichols: So that was what I found in doing that. I had so much fun. There are some, what I would consider, some really crappy songs that I wrote and I uploaded them to YouTube and a few people watch them, but for me it was, it was just about that expression and finding room for that in my life. And then I got to a point about a month ago where it just, with work stuff and projects we had going on, where it started to become too much. And I was just like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to quit. How am I going to quit?”

And then I was talking to my sister and she said, “Morgan, do you remember when you started this? You said that you did want to write songs to make an album, write a whole bunch of fun songs, but within that something would rise and you would be able to turn this into an album.” So I went back and looked and through all of the songs that I wrote, I did have enough songs that I was like, “These are real songs that I could absolutely put on an album.” So we’re working on that right now. And it was absolutely from starting that random project.

Marie Forleo: So let me, just for clarification, because I know my audience, I also know my own mind. Did you go, “Okay, I’m doing this for 365 days.” Did you set parameters for yourself? I’ll tell you about a little…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …challenge that I did. It was not a year. It was 30 days, but I had to give myself a container. Do you know what I mean? 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh, yeah.

Marie Forleo: And set a little bit of rules. So that, to your point, like…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: “Okay, how do I set this up? So I can have this burst, this sprint, that’s doable, that’s achievable. That is going to stretch me…”

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: “…but not squash me.” 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yes.

Marie Forleo: Do you know what I mean? Not being laid out. 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I had some serious rules. 

Marie Forleo: Okay.

Morgan Harper Nichols: The song only had to be 60 seconds long. It just had to be something original for 60 seconds. They could be acapella or it could be full drums, guitar, everything. So there were a few of those in there where it was pretty much a full demo, but a lot of them were like, one of them was literally me standing in my son’s room. I was like, “Oh, I just thought of a melody. That’s a song for the day.” And I just sang it on my iPhone and uploaded it right there. So. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And so was another rule to share it publicly. So okay…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yes.

Marie Forleo: Okay.

Morgan Harper Nichols: And shared all my YouTube. 

Marie Forleo: Okay.

Morgan Harper Nichols: I didn’t have to share it anywhere else. Not on Instagram or anything. I just, just uploaded on YouTube. You don’t have to promote it.

Marie Forleo: That’s amazing.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Just upload it.

Marie Forleo: Did you ever come across? Because I’m fascinated by the stuff. Did you ever come across a day… I do this, like I’m playing with learning Italian…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh.

Marie Forleo: …on a language app and Duolingo is one of five apps that I have that I can play with. And the Duolingo one, they gamify everything. Right? So you have streaks and there’ll be times, oh my goodness, Morgan, where I’m like, you know, I go to bed so early, because I’m an early riser, but I’ll be like, “Oh my God, it’s 9:00, I didn’t do my Duolingo.” Do you know what I mean? Did you ever have that where you’re like, “Wait a minute.”

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh, my gosh. Every other night. I’m like, “Oh, I’ve done everything I need to do today. Time to, oh. Nope. I got to go get 60 seconds together.” So yeah, so most. Yeah. 

Marie Forleo: God bless you. I’m still impressed. I’m so inspired. I think it’s so amazing. And thank you for sharing a little bit about the container… 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah

Marie Forleo: …and the rules that you have for yourself, because I feel like it’s one of the coolest things that we can do as creatives is set this challenge, whatever that time space was. So mine was, I wanted a 30 day writing challenge where I would write either 500 words or for an hour a day, but not with a publishing deadline hanging over me and not for anyone else. You know, it was just to… Almost like bicep curls from my writing muscles.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah that’s good, yeah.

Marie Forleo: And it was… I found it and I started to track my moods and also how the day went, all of the self judgment and the criticism and then all like, “Oh my gosh, I could have kept going.” And I did keep going. And I found that to be a really interesting process just to observe, you know?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: The machinations of self judgment and criticism or just showing up and showing up even when you don’t feel like it.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh yeah. 

Marie Forleo: So thank you for that challenge…

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh thank you.

Marie Forleo: …and for sharing so much about it. 

Now this is something else. I read these stories. Another thing I admire about you is that whatever your situation is that you have such wisdom to look at it and then to see how it can become what it needs to be in that moment. So for example, I read that you have had an outdoor space with a canvas and room to paint, and then you moved and you didn’t have all of that. And then there was another example where you want it to be able to work as a musician and write music, but you weren’t so interested in the producing side. So you started writing poetry instead. Can you talk to us a little bit about the value in not being so rigid about your idea of how things should go?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh yes. You know, I think a lot of that, honestly, just, I feel like I used to probably try to say this more poetically, but I think a lot of it is just being broke for a long time. Just like, “I really want to do this, but I do not have the money to do it. And I have to find a way to make it work.” And I just, for me, making art and creative is so much more than about the product for me. It is, it is a part of my wellbeing. It is a part of my mental health practice. So even before I had that language, I was always like, “I’ve got to find a way to do this. I’ve got to find a way to be a creative and get out all of these things that I’m taking in all day.”

So I think a lot of it boiled down to how can I make this something that I can do anywhere or almost anywhere? So I was very, once I had that first big move with my art, I was like, “Okay, yeah, it’s hard because I’m losing all my studio space,” but I was like, “This happens in life. You move, you, you can’t take your studio space anywhere.” So I was like, “I’ve got to figure out how to do what I do on the go.” And I kind of, you talked about creating containers and that’s what I did with my iPad. I was like, “I’m going to make art on my iPad.” And at the time I wasn’t really seeing the kind of art that I wanted to make. I wasn’t seeing other people making that kind of art on their iPad. I was looking for it because I needed tutorials, but there were none.

I was like, “I guess I just got to make something up. Because I love playing with colors. I really do. It brings me so much joy and I love sharing it with people. So I’m going to figure it out on this iPad. I’m going to learn this app.” At the time I was using Adobe Sketch and now it’s Adobe Fresco. I was like, “I’m going to learn it inside and out. Every brush. And I’m going to just treat this like the modified downsized version of my studio and just see what happens.” And I’m so glad that I did that because then when, when my son was born, I, I, we were still in a small space and now, you know, we’ve got another whole other room that we’ve got to add a nursery and all these things. And I was so able to make art at the kitchen table.

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols: So it was just, I was like, “Oh, I can see now, I can see now the benefit of, of learning how to downsize that.” I didn’t want to, I felt like it was a I had to, if I wanted to keep creating, but, but now I’m more aware of it. Now I’m more aware of when I have to downsize things. For instance, I just, we just moved to a new house and I didn’t really factor in how close the train was to our house and how frequently it comes by. So I had to make some changes with my podcasts and I was like, “Okay, I guess I’m going to have to do shorter episodes because at the timeframe that I have to record, that’s when the trains likely going by and not just that, but there’s a lot of cars on the street outside.”

It’s just a lot of noise in the area. And I was like, “Well, that’s my only time to record.” So I was like, “Well, what can you say, Morgan, in three to five minutes?” And that’s my podcast now, it’s daily and it’s three to five minutes. And yeah, it’s a challenge because that wasn’t the format that I wanted, but it’s, now it’s working and I’m getting feedback from other people that say they enjoy the three to five minutes. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Because as it turns out, their schedules are the same. They also don’t have as long as they want sometimes. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Morgan Harper Nichols: So yeah. It’s fascinating. It’s fascinating how universal that ends up being.

Marie Forleo: Yeah. And, you know, let’s talk about that because you are so incredibly prolific and so incredibly consistent. And I want to appeal into this a little bit because it’s something that I’ve talked about with our audience. It’s something we talk about on our team. You’ve said that your mom, who’s an artist that homeschooled you and your sister, taught you to create something new every day. Do you have any advice, insight, best practices or things that you’re like, “Oh my gosh, here’s what happens.” You know? I don’t even know, Morgan, do you ever hit a wall where you’re like, “I don’t know what to say.”

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yep.

Marie Forleo: Any insight that you can, that you can share? I think people would get a lot of value out of that.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh yeah, for sure. I have, I have two, I have one for the kind of writing side…

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols: …and then more for the visual side too. I’ll start with the visual side. So, because I get a lot of people who are very curious about my art practice because I make all my own graphics and I am not trained in art. I just learned my iPad and… But what I try to encourage people to do, I’m like if you’re intimidated by the iPad and you’re just like, “I want to start with old school materials,” don’t get fancy, get some kid’s crayons, some markers, get some printer paper. If you’re just wanting to get in the habit and you’ve been, you haven’t colored in years, get an actual kids coloring book. Because if you go to the craft store and you buy $100 worth of art supplies, you’re going to be like, “I don’t want to use them because they’re so pretty and so perfect. And I don’t want to mess them up.”

So I keep plenty of crayons around my house. I use them way more than my son does. And I’ll just scribble, it’s fun to just play with them. So that’s what I, I would say. That part is so important because it’s so easy to get really fancy and feel like you need every brush, every tool. But it could be so simple. And on the writing side, one of my practices that I have, and I’ve had it since 2017 and it’s still a practice for me today, is to figure out who the person is or the people are that you can talk to on a one-to-one basis because those people are going to bring the words out of you because that’s what happens organically in conversation. So I think a lot of times it’s easy to get stuck as a writer because when you’re sitting there at the page it does not feel like a conversation.

It just feels like there’s stuff in my head. And I’m trying to make it sound like something worth reading on a page, but we’re not thinking about that stuff as much when we’re talking to people that we like to talk to, people that we’re comfortable with, people that we enjoy spending time with. So that can look a lot of different ways. And for me, I love talking to the people in my community that follow me online. And I noticed in 2017 that I found the words that kind of came to me more naturally and just felt more organic and authentic, were the words that just happen when I was DMing someone. So I was like, “That’s where the poetry is.” It’s in the actual words that I would say to someone. So yeah, I steal, I steal regularly, open DMs and emails and respond, mostly just emails now.

DMs have gotten a little hard to keep up with, but I still open emails and I respond and it’s through the language that comes from those actual emails that I actually find what I ended up sharing with everyone else. I think that there’s so much to organic conversation. And I do this also with people that I know, like my sister and I, she’s also a writer, and there’s so many times where she and I would just have little sister venting sessions about things in our texting. Like, “Oh my gosh, I just need to get this off my chest.” And it’s like, wait a second, the way we’re talking, not that we share everything, but the way that we’re talking, we don’t have to put on some other voice, you know? Some stern voice when we’re talking to others. It’s like that energy that we have when we’re talking to people that we care about, there’s a way to bring that into what we do in some way. So I hope that makes sense, but that’s just a bit of my, a bit of my practice.

Marie Forleo: Oh it makes, it makes tremendous sense. So it sounds like, if I’m hearing you correctly and correct me if I’m wrong, you don’t, writer’s block is not a thing that exists in your process because it’s such a practice that’s rooted in real conversation.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, I’m really serious about the writer’s block because I also have, the second part of that is, I do have moments where I sit there and I’m like, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to say to this person.” And that to me, I’m like, “Well, that’s the cue that is time to read. It’s time to listen.” So, it’s not, for me, it’s not a block, that’s just a cue to do something else. So it’s just a cue go and read and take in. And then when you’re filled up, then you can go and speak again. So yeah, that’s kind of…

Marie Forleo: I love that. It’s not a block. It’s a cue that you need to shift your attention and energy. Just brilliant. On that note. Let’s talk about energy and self care, especially when it comes to social media, you know, to interact with so many different people. I’m an empath. I care very deeply about humans. It’s part of, I think why I chose this path because I really love people and I believe in us. Are there any things that you’ve noticed that really support you to be able to honor your own energy? Because people send you the most incredible stories and they’ll send you messages, right?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And they’re going through some really difficult and challenging times. I’m wondering what your perspective is on being able to both honor yourself as well as genuinely connect with people and so many people because you’re so incredibly popular and so well loved.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Well, thank you, and yes, that is really important to me. Because I’m naturally a pretty low energy person. I don’t have a lot of energy throughout the day, so I am very mindful of what I give my energy to, sometimes a little too mindful. And the sense of like, I would say that the downside of it is sometimes I’m like, “Whoa, okay. I need nothing. Like no phone calls, no noise. Just give me…”

Marie Forleo: Yes. I get it.

Morgan Harper Nichols: “I need a quiet six hours, everyone. And then I’ll check back in later.” 

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols: So yeah, sometimes I can go in that direction, but the other side of it is I’m very sensitive to social media and what happens online and just the urgency that’s there. I’m very sensitive to it. So I mean, when I’m on Instagram or Twitter, I feel that like, “Woah, it’s heavy here. There’s a lot going on.”

So I would say that for starters, I’m not a very passive internet user. I, I feel it all. I really do. So, because of that, I actually, I mean, I know this is a privilege because not everyone has multiple devices, but I actually keep all of my social media on my iPad. So I don’t have it on my phone. I keep it on an iPad and that distinction’s good for me because my iPad is most likely at my desk. So that means when I’m getting on social media, I come into this room in my office, kind of with a mindset of like, “Okay, this is a space where you’re coming to engage with the outside world. You don’t know what you’re going to encounter, you know, at any given time, when you log onto your phone, when you log on to, you know, any social media app.”

So I kind of come in here with that posture and that helps me from being kind of susceptible throughout the day to all of the little things, because it’s, it’s overwhelming. It really is. From, from a, you know, a world news standpoint, all the way down to a personal standpoint. It’s just, it’s a lot for a human being to take in all at once. So I am proud of myself. I’ve been doing that for a while, a while now and keeping that separate. So that kind of gives me permission to, when I do open emails, it does happen where it’s just too much for me to respond in that moment. I just am like, “Okay, I’m going to literally leave this in this room and then I’ll come back when I’m ready.” And I became mindful of that when, it was the first time I responded to someone’s story.

And by the time I got back to them, they had passed away and someone messaged me on their behalf. And that just… I felt the full weight of that in every way. I didn’t even know this person. I mean, as I’m saying it now, I literally feel it all in my body. So that was a… I was like, “Yeah, this is real. This isn’t…” It’s like, “Yes, we’re talking digitally, but these are real people. These are real souls involved and it’s okay to take a break and be a human and just respond to that.” So that was a huge first wake up call of that. And unfortunately, unfortunately, I’ve had that happen more than once. So I’ve had to be very, very mindful of that. I’ve, I’ve had sometimes where I’ll just respond to a few people throughout the week. Sometimes I’m, I’m responding to dozens in a day. It really does vary. And I, I can say that I’m proud of myself for giving myself room to let that vary.

Marie Forleo: I think you gave us such a gift and I love, love your practice of having social on your iPad that, generally speaking, stays on your desk in your office. I’m working on a project now and I’ve been doing research on this because I, I have the unique perspective of remembering so clearly A, what life was like pre-cellphones, but B, what business was like and what creating was like pre-social. 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah. 

Marie Forleo: And, you know, pre just this technological explosion and there’s so many beautiful aspects to it, right? And we’re so grateful for those aspects. But to be really mindful and deliberate and intentional about the downsides, it’s, I just, it’s something I’m really passionate about now because as I watch the statistics and as it relates to mental health, as it relates to people’s wellbeing, chronic stress, you know, and especially some of the numbers in young adults between, you know, 10 and 34, it’s like we have to be more mindful and intentional.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And you just gave us such, such a gift with that. Thank you. Thank you. It’s big.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Thank you. 

Marie Forleo: This was really so fantastic. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your work and inspiration. For those of you that don’t know, Morgan is also an incredible guest master teacher on The Copy Cure, and she’s created an incredible bonus for us. Your book is, your books, by the way, because this is not your first one, are just spectacular. Before we wrap up today, is there any message, anything else that you want to let folks in our audience know or anything that you just want to share?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Oh yes. Well, thank you. One thing that’s been really kind of heavy on my mind, and even just as I feel like my life just keeps changing, is to accept and embrace the fact that it’s okay to modify the dream. I think a lot of times like dreamers, visionaries, people who can see things, we can get so like, “Oh my gosh, I have this dream.” And it’s okay to say, “Or if I could, I could do it this way. Maybe I can’t have the studio right now, but there’s a way I can create something amazing on my iPad.” And that’s not, that’s not less than, you’re still engaging in the work that is meaningful. And other people will be inspired by the way that you’ve learned how to shift and adjust and change and adapt and… Because we all need that. It’s really tough out there right now. There’s no secret to that. And we all need permission to just do what we can do right now in the best way possible. And trust that it’s a part of the bigger picture. So, yeah.

Marie Forleo: I love that. Modify the dream and give yourself permission. Morgan, you are such a gift. Thank you for taking the time today.

Morgan Harper Nichols: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: Congratulations again on your beautiful work and for anyone, I don’t know anyone who’s watching that wouldn’t know, but where’s the best place for them to come and experience you, I would imagine Instagram?

Morgan Harper Nichols: Yeah. Yeah, you can find me on Instagram, @morganharpernichols, and that’s the same username on Pinterest, TikTok, everywhere, so.

Marie Forleo: Awesome. Thank you my love. 

Morgan Harper Nichols: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: Wasn’t that beautiful? Morgan and I would love to hear from you. I’m really curious. What’s the biggest insight or aha that you’re taking away from this conversation? And most importantly, how can you put that insight into action in your life starting right now? We have awesome conversations happening over at the magical land of So head on over there and leave your comment now. And if you’re not already, please subscribe to our email list and become an MF insider. Every single Tuesday, we send the most loving, inspiring, positive emails, and I don’t want you to miss out. Until next time, stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thanks so much for tuning in and I’ll catch you next time.

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