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Do you have a book brewing inside you? Even if you don’t identify as a “writer” or “author”, I know you have a powerful message to share with the world. Maybe you’re sharing that message through your business right now, and have an inkling that you could serve even more people if you had a book out in the world. Or perhaps your audience and clients are begging you to put everything you know down on paper for them!
I can tell you that publishing my books (The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings and Everyday Tarot: Unlock Your Inner Wisdom and Manifest Your Future) was an amazing way to share my knowledge at a depth that’s not possible via social media and other platforms.
I also truly believe that everybody can write their book, if they have a clear intention and dedicate the time and focus to get it done.
That’s why I had so much fun on this week’s podcast, chatting with my friend Maia Toll about her book publishing journey.
Maia Toll is the author of The Illustrated Herbiary and The Illustrated Bestiary. During a life-changing year apprenticed to a traditional medicine woman in Ireland, Maia learned healing craft, working with both humans and animals on a local organic farm. She helps women cultivate personal spirituality through a connection with the rhythms of nature in her online programs, and is the founder and owner of Herbiary, a natural products store with locations in Asheville, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Maia is a brilliant example of an intuitive entrepreneur who followed the breadcrumbs and created business offerings that delight her audience and allow her to live an intentional and fulfilling lifestyle at the same time.
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- How Maia tuned into her intuition to guide her through her writing process and publish a best-selling book (with more to come)
- How to fail with grace and why allowing failure will help your business grow
- Why you don’t need a regular spiritual practice – and how to be spiritually ‘in flow’ instead
- How to find your inner power by working cohesively with others
Welcome to The Intuitive Entrepreneur podcast. I'm your host, Brigit Esselmont, Intuitive Business Strategist and mentor. As a founder of Biddy Tarot, I turned my love for tarot into an abundant seven-figure business. The secret to my success? Making intuition and strategy my entrepreneurial superpower. And now, I'm inviting you to do the same.
In this weekly podcast, I'll be sharing advice, tools, and real life examples from some of the best intuitive entrepreneurs to show you how you can trust your intuition, align with your purpose, and create a positive impact through your work. Let's make it happen.
Brigit: Hello and welcome back to The Intuitive Entrepreneur podcast. Today, I have a very special guest, as always, I've always got special guests. Today is extra special, and I am talking with my friend, Maia Toll.
Now, Maia is also the author of The Illustrated Herbiary and The Illustrated Bestiary. During a life-changing year, she apprenticed to a traditional medicine woman in Ireland, and during that year, she learned about healing craft, working with both humans and animals, on a local organic farm. Hear more about that story when we get into the interview.
Now, Maia helps women cultivate personal spirituality through a connection with the rhythms of nature in her online programs, The Medicine Keepers Collective and Witch Camp. She's also the founder and owner of Herbiary, or as you Americans say it, Herbiary. It's a natural products store with locations in Asheville and Philadelphia.
Now, when Maia's not obsessively reading books, talking to the trees or stones, or drinking copious amounts of tea, Maia teaches and blogs to an international following over at her website, MaiaToll.com, where she helps women cultivate a sense of deep connection, spiritual strength, and inner knowing.
Now, Maia and I go way back, probably a good four or five years when we first started to do a business mastermind together. We got together a group of amazing women. In fact, we were inspired by Leonie Dawson's... What was it? The Shining Academy? She had a great membership site and a few of us met inside of there and decided, "Let's connect in a mastermind group."
So Maia and I have met consistently over the last few years every sort of week or second week to talk about our businesses and to share experiences, to share advice, to support one another, and to cheer each other along the way. And it's been so intriguing to watch Maia's journey as she's built up a great bricks and mortar business, she's got her online business, and now she's really starting to flourish in her role as author.
So, in today's interview, we're going to be talking about how Maia tuned into her intuition to guide her through her writing process and publish a best-selling book, and she's got many more to come. We also talk about how to fail with grace, and why allowing failure will actually help your business and yourself to grow. We talk about why you don't need a regular spiritual practice and how to be spiritually in flow instead. And Maia's got some really interesting thoughts on how to find your inner power by working cohesively with others, and how this beautiful energy flow happens when you're in circle with others, and how that can reinforce that power from within.
I think you're going to really enjoy today's conversation. So without much further ado, let's just get straight into it.
Brigit: Well, hello, Ms. Maia Toll. How are you doing today?
Maia: I am doing so well and I'm so thrilled to be here with you, Brigit.
Brigit: I feel like we should have a cup of tea as we chat.
Maia: Wait. Hold on, here it is.
Brigit: You do.
Maia: Of course I do.
Brigit: In a beautiful clay mug. So nice. I mean, Maia and I, we've known each other for a very long time in her mastermind, so it's so nice to have these conversations. And so nice to be talking about business and how your business has evolved. So, Maia, if you wouldn't mind, just share a little bit about your journey from where you began to where you are right now.
Maia: Okay. To go all the way back to where I began, I went to Ireland and I was an apprentice to an Irish medicine woman. She was an herbalist working with animals, people, she grew her own medicinals, and then we made medicine from them.
So I had this very unusual and unique opportunity. I had a house that escalated in value very quickly, and so I sold it, took the proceeds, and gave myself a year off. I actually had been a teacher. And went to Ireland and studied with this woman for a year.
It was just supposed to be a year off. A little tiny break from my teaching career. I really didn't think that it was going to be the fork in the road that took me down a different path, but that's what it became.
When I came back from Ireland, I started teaching again, but I started teaching in programs that were dealing with food and nutrition and health and wellness instead of in elementary school. Then slowly that evolved to seeing clients and teaching classes, and eventually, my partner said to me, "If you had a shop, a storefront, we could get a lot more attention for your classes." So I opened a little store, which now is two rather large stores. One in Philadelphia and one in Asheville, North Carolina in the United States.
So it's been a fascinating journey. From there, I got into online teaching and now into authoring. So a very full and rich fork in the road.
Brigit: Yes, wonderful. We'll dive a little bit more into that journey and how that's unfolded in a moment. But tell me about when you realized that intuition was an integral part of your business strategy, assuming that it is.
Maia: All right. Let's go back to me pre-Ireland. I was raised by a family that... Okay, my dad was a lawyer. My mom was a family therapist. That's kind of your set up, right? So it was all find the proof, find the evidence, ferret out exactly why something is the way it is. Not scientific method per se, but definitely, I was taught to be research-oriented and fact-oriented. I've always been highly intuitive. But I really squelched it because that wasn't the way I was raised.
So coming into this year going to Ireland, my intuition came up full force. That's how I ended up in Ireland, was just following the threads, yanking on the little silk and cords and following where they led me. But I still had trouble accepting it.
So my journey in the beginning was really this push me pull you, is like I would feel something and then I'd desperately scurry around trying to justify why I felt what I felt. So business decisions, I would make the decision. In my heart, I knew exactly what the decision was, but then I would research the living daylights out of it, making myself crazy and you probably remember some of this, Brigit. Making you crazy and everyone around me, trying to find exactly why. The reasoning, the logic, and other people's opinions to support what my intuition was telling me. I don't do that anymore.
Brigit: That's a big thing. I think a lot of people get in that trap of relying on other people to inform them or to have an opinion about what to do next. In that process, you're really giving away a lot of your power that you've cultivated within, but now it's kind of this leaking out that happens again.
Do you have a specific example of when your gut was telling you to go in one direction, but then this kind of data mind came into play?
Maia: Man, I'm trying to think of something super specific, because I feel like it happens in so many small ways every day, that it's-
Brigit: One thing I remember from our mastermind is choosing an email provider. I don't know if you have any intuitive bits on that, but I remember there was a lot of deliberation on just choosing who's going to manage your emails.
Maia: Yeah, well, what I saw over time, because every decision was like that, right? I would come to our group with a decision that should not be taking so much time. And for three months or four months, I'd be like, "What email provider should I use? Who should I use as my..." What do they call the... the company that hosts your website. Each one of these decisions became these big, humongous energy and time sucking decisions.
And usually, first of all, when push comes to shove, they're not all that different from each other, right? So yeah, just go with the one you're feeling pulled towards and get on with your life. That's kind of where I've come to.
I think a lot of times when I think about intuition, there are these moments where something really big drops into place, like when I'm working on my books. That process is so intuitive. I get paragraphs and very strong impressions that go right onto the page. That doesn't happen when you're choosing an email provider. You don't wake up in the middle of night and go, "I just realized, Drip it is." But-
Brigit: Well, some people do that.
Maia: ... But you do-
Maia: ... tend to have that moment where you're just like, "You know what? That one's good." So at this point, the feeling of like, "That one's good," that's good enough. I don't pick at it anymore because more than anything else, more than a conversation about, "Do I trust my intuition or not?" How much time did I want to waste? I mean, I wasted so much time. I think I could add like three or four years to my life just with all these decisions I belabored that they didn't get me anything, right?
Brigit: Yeah, that's it.
Maia: So go with the quick hit and move on.
Brigit: Yeah. Yeah, and I think that's the real advantage of intuitive decision-making is it's just much more quick and fast and effective just to move you through. Yes, you might make some mistakes along the way, and that's okay, but that's usually better than having to deliberate it and sat on something for months and months as simple as like a web host.
It feels like we're talking about mundane topics, but I've seen so many people in their first year or two of their business getting stuck on stuff like this. It's almost debilitating and it's upsetting because you're like, "You've got so much potential and impact to make here, can you just get on with that bit? Because there's so much more that needs your energy and attention."
Maia: Yeah, and I think for me, that's exactly it, first of all. When you are deliberating on something and chewing your cud over and over and over again, you're not moving forward. You're standing still and chewing on the same minor detail. And you can trick yourself into thinking that you're trying to make the best decision and the most financially whatever, whatever. You saved $10 or $20 and you waste three years. It's ridiculous.
But beyond that, I think if you're not willing to let yourself fail, you can't move forward, right? So if you begin to think of every single decision as potential for failure, I failed to choose the right email provider, I failed to choose the right web host, whatever it is, you're going to be stuck.
When I finally got to the place where I was like, "Sitting around chewing my cud is not working. I'm just going to keep moving, keep moving, keep moving," I realized that every failure or every perceived failure, is a chance to find the right solution by action instead of inaction. So that sitting chewing your cud, is trying to find the right solution by inaction. You're researching everything. It's back to my upbringing. Everything has to be researched to the nth degree and defendable in a court of law.
So instead, you're making a decision and then you're course adjusting, course adjusting, course adjusting. I read a business theory at one point called Fast Fail, the concept basically... And I'm sure there's more to it, but what I took away from it was get in there, do something, and if you fail, course correct. Learn from what you did and just keep moving.
I found that that actually suits my personality really well. What it's also done is it's allowed me to say to my team, "It's okay. Just do it. If it's wrong, we fix it." And that's freed everyone up to keep moving. Sometimes I'm unavailable, but they know that if they don't do it exactly the way I want it, it's fine, we'll fix it. So things keep moving even if I'm not there to check everything and say, "Okay, go." My team knows it's, "Okay, go." And we'll fix it. It's not a big deal.
Brigit: I think this is also part of intuition in terms of trusting the process and knowing that a so called "fail," it's all information, and it's all meant to be, and it's all unfolding perfectly. Even if something didn't go as expected, that's great because that shows you, "All right. We need to do it a little bit differently and there's an opportunity to upgrade and change here." Because I think if you don't fail, if you don't push yourself to the point of risking failure, then you're just stuck in that comfort zone and like you say, you just can't move forward, you can't progress from that point.
Maia: Yeah, I've also realized through that process that I'm a really good life editor. So even things like emails that need to go out. For instance, right now, we're in the process of sending emails out for the yearly retreat I do to Ireland. And I've just said to the woman I work with, "Please just write something up and I'll edit it," and so she sent me something. It's not gobbledygook, that's too strong a term, but it's certainly not anywhere near what I want to say. But somehow, editing something feels so much easier than starting from scratch. I'm not starting from a blank page. And so she knows it doesn't have to be perfect, right? We had it in the beginning of working together, she was like, "Oh my goodness. I can't do this. It's not perfect yet. I can't show it to you yet." I'm like, "No, no, no. Let's just go. Let's move."
So we're both in this. She tosses something over the fence to me, I edit it, which is sometimes easier than creating from scratch. I toss it back to her, she makes sure that she gets all the typos and things. And there's movement and flow, which allows for new things to happen. Whereas if she's sitting in her corner chewing her cud and I'm in my corner chewing my cud, we're really not getting anything done. Also, we're not just sparking that lifeblood energy of the business. There's something about lighting that little bit of fire and keeping it lit, that I think is really important to the soul of the business.
Brigit: Yeah, I think that growth is a very natural state. Everything wants to grow. Well, until it doesn't, and then-
Maia: Until it doesn't.
Brigit: ... it wants to grow again.
Brigit: But I just don't think you can be in a static state forever and doing some things that push the boundaries supports that growth. On a deeper level, what role does intuition play in your business? Do you have a spiritual practice that you integrate with your business? Have you got a philosophy or way of thinking that integrates with your business? Tell me more about what role that plays.
Maia: Yeah. In the beginning, I was very ritual-focused like having my altar on my desk, carefully following the cycle of the moon. For a while, I was actually trying to do different activities in time with the moon cycle. But what I found is when push comes to shove, I'm kind of an amorphous being and I need to just flow the way I flow. And some of these things became rules for me. In seeking to make my business feel sacred and spiritual, I was putting rules onto myself that actually made me feel constrained.
Brigit: Yeah, it's interesting.
Maia: So I've just gone the other way, which is every day when I sit down to get to work, I take a moment and see what I'm feeling, see what I'm wanting. If I want to light a candle. If I want to sit with a crystal. If I feel like I need to pull a card. I find that by giving myself that freedom throughout my workday, I just jump up and I have a couple of smoky quartz that I work with a lot just be like, "You know what? I need the smokies."
In fact, when I was writing the books, if I got to a point where I was doubting myself, just be like, "Okay, I'm going to talk to the smokies." And I'd just sit down and hang with the stones for a few minutes and get my confidence back. So it's just become much more fluid for me as opposed to, "Here's my routine." Yeah. Do you do, "Here's my routine."?
Brigit: No. It's an interesting thing because a lot of people ask me, "Do you pull a card a day because you're obviously in tarot." And I don't. I'm much more in flow with it. However, I do teach the concept of having a spiritual discipline. And as you were talking, I was reflecting, "Why do I teach that when I practice something different?"
I actually think it's a process of firstly, going through a discipline and kind of embedding those practices, and getting into the flow and the feeling of them. And then you can almost let go of the reins and then let it be a lot more fluid. I don't know if you would agree with that approach.
Maia: I think you have to understand the practice. Whatever it takes to get to the place where you understand the practice, and you know what purpose it serves in your life. You know what I mean? If you just grab some herbs and light them and cleanse yourself off, and you're thinking about your mother-in-law coming to visit or whatever it is, and you're not in tune with that practice in that moment, then you're not getting the sense of how that affects you and how that affects your energy. So whatever it takes to get to the place where you understand how these practices affect you and your energy, so that you know when to call them in. Because otherwise, you don't know when to call them in and you're just following some schedule that someone mentioned in a podcast. Right?
So what I'm always trying to do is get people to feel it for yourself, because then you know when you need it. You know the feeling of your energy field being icked like needing to go grab something to cleanse it. But if you haven't gotten to the point where you know that feeling, then you have no idea when to do something like that.
Brigit: Yeah, yeah, that's true. Certainly, laying those foundations to get into that practice, I think it's really important, and then that sort of flow state comes through.
Brigit: So, Maia, you were talking a little bit about through your journey, you've gone from... Starting, what I would say, the Herbiary store.
Maia: Yes, in America we say, "Herbiary." But when I was in Ireland, we would've said, "Herbiary."
Brigit: So the store.
Maia: For lack of a better word.
Brigit: So bricks and mortar place, and then you went online. You had some amazing online programs and membership sites that you were running. And you still are running, right?
Brigit: A couple of these are still in play. Yeah.
Maia: Yeah, I still have an ongoing community and I still do Witch Camp every fall. So that's still happening.
Brigit: At the same time, then you're starting to transition into this role of author, which I think, has been a sort of lifelong dream of yours to step into that role. If I'm not speaking too much on your behalf.
Just tell me firstly about the flow that you've experienced as an entrepreneur from those times where you feel like, "Yes, goals. Here we go. Launch program. Make lots of people join. Good luck on stuff," to "Wowzers, I just need a little bit of a rest now. I need to just chill out." So how has that played out for you?
Maia: For me, I set up a lot of the programs to be very responsive to my own needs. I am one of those overly sensitive creatures, and if I breathe potato starch, I can be down with a migraine for three days. So my personal sensitivity to the world, which I think links in a lot to intuition, also can derail me.
So I very purposefully set up a life that allowed me to come and go from it as I needed to. The stores didn't do that. So I very quickly turned them over to my partner, "Here, you run these things." And kind of retreated into a space where I had more flow.
As I've learned to manage my own energy better, and manage my own oversensitivity to the world better, I've gotten to this place where I'm like, "I created this thing because of my health and my energy needs, and now those needs aren't so great, but this thing is wonderful because it's so flexible." Right? I have online programs that are really steady on. I've set them up in a way where people are supporting each other, so I'm not in there all the time. And that created this huge opening to be able to write and to have time to write.
So, the business has supported the shift. I could not have become this person without building this strong business that pays the bills, and that is steady and strong and foundational to my everyday life. It's been pretty amazing.
I was actually talking to my partner earlier about it. The reasons that I set things up, might not have seemed the most positive at the time, like, "I need to stop teaching in-person and start teaching online because if I have a migraine, I can hide on the other side of my computer." That's not the most positive reason to go online. And yet, time after time, like we're talking about, being in flow, the decisions that I've made have allowed me to expand and grow in ways that I never would have thought possible, even to this place of writing books now. I'm touring and things like that.
So I think it's really interesting when you step out of what's expected, and step into where your life is pulling you even when it doesn't seem the most positive. A lot of what has happened has been because I was problem solving for things that were difficulties in my life.
Brigit: So instead of you fitting into the business, the business is fitting around you, and... Also say from a values perspective. I've often see it where someone thinks, "I want to be around my family, but I've got to travel for work. I've got to do these 60 hour weeks. It's as if you're at the mercy of the work, the business, and as if you have no control.
But the thing is when you're an entrepreneur, the buck stops at you. You are in this unique position of control over your life. And if you can't configure it in the way that you want it to be at this point, you probably never will, right?
So I think you've been really smart in choosing a model that fits to your needs so that it is sustainable over time. Because you could've pushed through, you gone, "Well, everybody wants me to each in-house and they're really enjoying it. Even if I do get migraines and I'm getting stressed and I can't do things, I just have to do it anyway," right? That's another of those giving your power, but you're reclaiming your power again and saying, "No, you know what? I'm going to be my best self and I can serve people in the best way, if I teach in this new way, which is online and be more in service that way."
Maia: Yeah, it's been a fascinating journey. I think that it started with following my intuition. The Ireland decision, I'm not Irish. It was not returning to the land of my roots or anything like that. I literally had a dream. Not an "I had a dream," dream, but a lay down your head on the pillow and have a dream. That I was to go to Ireland.
I had no idea what I might do there, I had kind of made a list of things I was interested in for this time out of time year off. I sat at the computer, and I put, "Ireland plus pottery. Ireland plus weaving. Ireland plus herbalism," and this one woman's name kept coming up, and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to study with this woman whose name keeps coming up on my computer." I think there's some different things that we lump under intuition. I think that looking for guideposts in your daily life and in the world around you, is following your intuition.
When something pops up three, four, five times, if you're ignoring it, it's to your own detriment. There's a reason something keeps appearing. So sometimes, you don't understand why. You can't research why. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.
Brigit: Yeah, I call it following the breadcrumbs. I see breadcrumbs everywhere, I'm like, "Okay. What will happen if I go down here?" Well people ask me, "How did you find me? How did you find out about me?" I'm like, "I don't know. I just followed some breadcrumbs and here we are and perfect fit." Yeah, I think that's really neat.
Tell me a little bit more about, yes, you stepping into this role of being an author and a writer, and perhaps even how your intuition has led you to this point. Yeah, actually let's start with that first because I've got lots more questions. Give you some space.
Maia: The author thing has been fascinating. I've been writing since I was a kid. My first novel I wrote when I was nine years old. It was about a unicorn stuck in a bottle. It was a classic. I'm sure you've all read it.
But as I got older, I remember actually, sitting in a pizza restaurant with my dad and him saying, "Why aren't you writing?" And I said, I was in my 20s, "Come on, dad. You can't expect me to both have health insurance and be an artist. Those two things just are not mutually compatible. Get it together, dad. You're expecting way too much." But I've never forgotten that conversation where he kind of said to me, "Hold on a sec. You're not doing what you're supposed to be doing."
So for a long time, I was a writer without a story. It was one of those situations where I was like, "I'm a writer. I love to write, but what is it that I'm going to write?" So blogging really helped me to kind of get that going and grease the engine or the wheels or whatever part of the car needs grease. But I still felt like I didn't have that thing that I needed to say to the world. Usually, when you talk to writers, they have something pressing that they must say.
So I started for fun, working on a memoir of my time in Ireland. I figured, "That's my story. That's my one big story." And at the head of each chapter, was a little tiny write-up about a plant. Those little tiny write-ups just really seemed to speak to people. So I started just pulling on that thread, like, "I wonder what these could be. Maybe they can be oracle cards. Maybe they can stand alone," which slowly, but surely led to the book.
Even that, it was a rocky path. I had proposed the oracle cards. My publisher said, "Yes, let's do it," and then three months later, they said, "No, actually, it turns out there's a different buyer in the bookstores for oracle cards than books. We're not set up with those buyers. It's not going to work." I was just like, "Hold on a sec. This still feels alive for me." Right? That's that intuitive piece. Like, "This is still pulling on me." And I said, "Well, can it be a book instead of oracle cards?" And that's how we went. Yeah.
Brigit: Yeah, beautiful and it ended up... Well, you've got oracle cards in there though, right?
Maia: Yes, I convinced them to put... All right, so I was ready to drop the oracle card thing, but they suddenly loved it. But they wanted it in book format. So there's these oracle cards in an envelope in the back, which truthfully, I was really worried about. I was like, "I don't think we should do this." My intuition was like, "No, don't do it." People love those cards.
So that's the other thing, is that you're not always spot on. You know what I mean? I think that sometimes we get this idea that if I follow my intuition, I'm always going to be correct. No. Sometimes, you don't nail it. And that's okay too. Just keep moving.
Brigit: Yes. I think also, sometimes we need to trust the support of others and the input of others. That's certainly something that I got out of publishing a book. So contrasting self-publishing. Come up with the idea, write it, publish it. It's kind of all on your own, self-sustaining. And then publishing a book with a publisher was a really different experience because I came to the table with my thoughts and ideas, and so did they. What I loved about that process was the blending of both ideas and concepts, and what came out of that was a really synergistic, elevated product.
So yeah, I think there's kind of this room for partnering with others in a way that's leading to that elevation. Versus what we were talking about earlier when you completely put your power into someone else's hands and say, "What do you think? I don't know. What should I do?" Different energy and a different dynamic that has much more positive results.
Maia: Yeah, I think of it as sending the energy around the circle. When you're working with a team, if you can send the energy around the circle, then you're trusting that all those other people in the circle have intuitive hits as well, and that they're bringing their best self to this project. You're allowing that flow to create something that's greater than the sum of its parts.
That's what happened with my book as well. If we go decision by decision, there were things where I was like, "No way. No way. I don't like that." But it worked out beautifully and so much more beautifully than if I had dictated the whole thing.
Brigit: Yes, it is a balance, isn't it?
Maia: Yes, it is.
Brigit: And needing to know when to let go and surrender to that process versus grip on and make it a particular way.
Maia: Yes, yes, so I think the trick is finding your power as a member of the circle, right?
Maia: So how do you keep passing the energy around? How do you infuse the energy of the group with your energy without dominating and realizing that... I think sometimes when we talk about being in our power and following our intuition, people go to the "my way is the only way." My intuition said this, so it must be this way. And maybe what your intuition is telling you is throw this idea into the cauldron of the group because it's going to cook up in a way that you can't possibly imagine right now.
Brigit: Yes, I'm so glad we're making this distinction. I think it's really important in that sort of group flow.
When it comes to writing, what role does intuition play in your process of actually not so much pen to paper, I mean, fingers to keyboard?
Maia: Okay, so my writing process is incredibly intuitive. I have four books written. They're not all published yet. We're working through the publishing schedule. But I have four books written, and three of them have these write-ups from plants, animals, and crystals that are like a little short oracle card write-up and a reflection and a ritual.
When I would sit down to write those books, I would literally sit down with the keyboard and say, "Okay, who wants to be in the book?" And the first plant, if I was working on the plant book or crystal if I was working on the crystal book, that came into my mind, was what I would write. So I literally put my fingers on the keyboard saying, "Who wants to be in the book? All right. What do you want to say?" And I would just start freeform typing whatever words came into my mind. Even if they didn't make sense right away, or even if they weren't complete sentences. Just getting down any images, any visions, any words, and then I'd go back and zhuzh them into shape. But it was an incredibly intuitive process.
Brigit: Did you ever have a fear or worry that you hadn't included everything possible because you're only choosing some things to include?
Maia: Yes. I mean, especially The Bestiary has three different owls in it. At one point, I sat down and a fourth owl... And I was like, "No, No. I'm sorry. There are too many owls. You are not allowed to take over the book. This is not the aviary. This is the bestiary." And I was really worried that my editor was going to be like, "Maia, what the what? This is not an owl book."
So yes, and it was also really interesting with the first book, The Herbiary. I work with a lot of medicinal plants and had been in clinical practice, so using plants as medicine. I was looking through what plants were in the book and weren't, and I felt like, "Wow, I've missed some really important medicinal plants." But the book's been a huge success, and it was never meant to be an encyclopedia. It was meant to be a doorway into the personality of the plants, the animals, the crystals. So that people could start thinking about them differently for themselves and connecting with the energy instead of what we call the materia medica, which is kind of like the chemical properties that tell you what these things do.
I just had to let it go. I mean, truthfully, my publishing house was like, "We can do 36 per book. That is the budget. Illustrations are expensive. Stick to it." I'm like, "Okay."
Brigit: Yeah, at least you got some space to play within that container, yes. When it came to marketing and promoting the book after its launch, what role did your intuition play in that?
Maia: It was interesting because there's a publicity team at my publishing house, and they went toward traditional publishing like trying to get magazines and things like that. It never even really occurred to me to go that route. I just started putting these gorgeous images on Instagram. It wasn't a big thought out plan. People keep coming to me now and they're like, "You had this whole Instagram plan. Can you tell me about it?" I'm like, "Put pictures on Instagram because they're pretty?" There was no great big plan, it was more like I looked at what I had and I was like, "Wow, these are gorgeous. People are going to want to see these on Instagram, where I can show off pictures."
So I think that that's what happens when you're following your intuition. You end up with something that worked and then you can try to work backwards and reverse engineer it and figure out what you did. But a lot of times, you just did what you did and dang, it worked.
Brigit: Yeah, and it comes back to that concept of the fast fail too. Not being afraid of failing. So if you're in constant like, "Just see how it goes. And if it fails, that's okay. And if it works, that's awesome." Happy days either way, yeah.
Maia: Well the Instagram thing is actually a really great example of this because if you, the listener, wants to go back through my Instagram feed, you'll see if you scroll back far enough, a couple different styles of posts. We were experimenting with, "What are people going to like? What are people going to pay attention to? What's going to stand out in the feed?" It took about four tries. There's this public trail of images that didn't work so well and weren't getting any traction.
So it took just playing with the white space and the image circle or square, small or large. We actually found, and this was so counterintuitive, that people like small type. That when we used a smaller font, I guess in the feed where everything's kind of jumping out at you and it feels loud, it feels quieter. But that's not where I originally went. That's okay too.
The hit was Instagram. Let people see pictures, and then it was, "Okay, now that I know that I'm going to be using Instagram a lot, how do I make that work? What are the mechanics of it?" And I knew that the answer was Instagram, it just took me a while to get the mechanics right.
Brigit: Yeah, and trial and error. That's good.
There's probably a lot of people listening who have got dreams of writing a book one day or already have written their manuscript, and they're thinking, "Okay, how do I make this real?" So do you have one piece of advice for people at that very early stage of their writing career?
Maia: Write what you love. Write what you love, and then read it out loud, read it to yourself, read it to other people, and see what pops. Again, it's kind of that fast fail concept. The entire manuscript might not be the thing. But see what's popping for you when you read. See what makes you smile when you're reading it. See what's making other people smile when they're listening to it or cry or get angry. What's evocative? And follow that piece.
Brigit: Yeah, beautiful. Excellent. So what's coming up for you over the next six to 12 months? Obviously, more books.
Maia: More books, more books, more books. Let's see. I have Bestiary comes out in the fall. Then I do Witch Camp, which is United States's autumn, Australia's spring. Big yearly course. Then I have my retreat in Asheville, which is so much fun. Then we come around to the crystal book coming out in early spring my time, early fall your time. Then my Ireland retreat.
So yeah, I mean, it's all full up. Then there's a little tiny break in the publishing schedule because we're going to have an election here in the US and my research brain kicked in. Well, this is interesting. When you wonder what sets you off on a research stint, that's where intuition comes in. Something in me was like, "I don't know about publishing a book right near an election.
Is that smart?
Brigit: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Maia: Why am I thinking about that? Probably intuition. But then I did some research and I was like, "That's not smart. We're delaying publishing the fourth book a little bit to just get us past the election.
But yeah, there's so much coming up. It's incredibly exciting, and I'm starting to think about what the next book is.
Brigit: Well, and it sounds like a very dreamy few projects that you have. Writing, retreats, launching another program. Just a lot of people dream about that being their reality, for sure.
Maia: And what I would tell everyone who's dreaming about that being your reality, is it took me 14 years. So don't let my chapter 14 say anything about your chapter one. I think I've said this on podcasts in the past, I didn't get paid my first two years of starting this business. We lived off my partner's salary.
The beginnings were rough. And your beginning's might be rough, and you might not always get to do exactly what you want to do with your day. But keep the end goal in mind. Realize that sometimes there's some nose to the grindstone. There's still nose to the grindstone. There's always a little bit of work that is not my favorite work.
So I think, sometimes you hear this like, "Follow your dreams, and you will get there." Follow your dreams and work your ass off. Both.
Brigit: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's sort of painting the possibility of what can be out there for you. For you, it was a 14 year journey. For me, it's been 20 years of being online. It's the 20 year overnight success.
Brigit: Doesn't Chris Guillebeau... I think Chris Guillebeau has something along those lines. But yes.
Maia: Yeah, in Hollywood they say something like it takes 20 years to create an overnight success. Yeah.
Brigit: Yeah, that sounds a bit better.
Brigit: And as you are doing more of this writing and retreats, what's the new aspect of yourself that you're expressing through these initiatives?
Maia: I think I'm circling around. What happened for me was I took this fork in the road and went to Ireland and studied herbalism and traditional medicine, and it took over my life. My little niche before that, as a teacher, was I loved working with The Hero's Journey. Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. This concept of there being a replicable path that we can take through our lives, following certain archetypes that helps us to grow and expand. Then I took this divergent trail and worked with a medicine woman, and followed that path myself for a while.
But what I missed in that time was that meta perspective of kind of zooming back and understanding the archetypes that we use in our lives to help us to move forward. The rituals that call up those archetypes. The turning points in the larger cycles of our life. I love that stuff. I love that kind of mythology and mythologizing our own lives. So the writing has allowed me to get back to that, and to get back to these meta narratives that help you to move your life forward. I'm really enjoying that. That's always come out in the retreats. We're always working with time and the cycle of the year. But it's starting to come out in the books as well and I'm starting to do some speaking. It's coming out in those public talks.
I'm interested in that circling back to some of these ideas, but from a much richer vantage point than I was at when I had them in my 20s.
Brigit: I always say it's like this spiral evolution.
Brigit: We keep coming back to the similar concepts that we've already looked at, but we're in a very elevated state as we come back to that, which is exciting.
Maia: I think of it as an upward climbing spiral. I picture a spiral staircase that gets wider as it goes up.
Brigit: Yeah, I like that.
Brigit: Maia, where can people find out more about you and the books that you're writing?
Maia: Come on over to my website. It's www.Maia, which is M-A-I-A, Toll, T-O-L-L.com.
Brigit: Fabulous. And everything's there?
Maia: Everything's there.
Brigit: Wonderful. And of course, we'll make sure that that's in the show notes as well as long with your Instagram profile, so people can see this beautiful, not oracle deck, with some oracle cards in the back. I wonder-
Maia: With some oracle cards in the back.
Brigit: ... Yeah, I wonder if you'll ever get it... You could get it to having your own box to set maybe one day.
Maia: That's coming. It's-
Brigit: Good. (laughs)
Maia: ... Yeah, it'll be released in the fall, actually.
Maia: Yeah, I mean, they were laughing. I visited my publisher recently and they were having a laugh about like, "We've done all the things we said we were never going to do with you." Yes.
Maia: I love it.
Brigit: Beautiful. Well, it's been an absolute joy to talk with you, Maia, today. Thank you so very much.
Maia: I love talking to Brigit any time.
Brigit: Yay. All right, that's a wrap.
Thank you for joining me for today's episode of The Intuitive Entrepreneur podcast. If you loved this episode, please leave an honest rating and review on iTunes. It really helps to get the word out and of course, I read every single comment.
And if you want weekly inspiration to help you trust your intuition, align with your purpose, and create huge business success, then head on over to Brigit.me and sign up for my free weekly emails. That's B-R-I-G-I-T.me. See you there.
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