Be YOU Without Apology

May 22, 2020

I grew up in a family marked by addiction, narcissism, and abandonment. Because of this, and other things, I left my childhood with the firm belief that everything about me was wrong.

My thoughts were wrong. My hobbies were wrong. My frizzy hair was wrong. Everything I said was wrong. Everything I felt was wrong.

I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn’t write because that meant putting all my wrong-ness on a page and that hurt too much. Instead, I spent a decade sitting on a barstool numbing out.

When I got sober I spent the first three years recovering my sanity, and then these last 7 years recovering my creativity. My creative journey has been a deep healing from the belief that everything about me is wrong, because each word I write is defying that old belief and saying instead: “Being right or wrong isn’t even a thing. This is about being YOU without apology.” 

Being me without apology. 

Being me without apology.

Being me without apology.

...

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What I Most Wanted to Hide About Myself When I Started Blogging

May 15, 2020

Here’s the truth: I talk to trees. I sit and commune with them, and they commune back. We talk about life, self-expression, authenticity, and what it means to be a wild thing on this earth.

When I started blogging I thought this was the thing I most needed to hide about myself, because I imagined my readers coming after me with pitchforks screaming: “Talking to trees???? You’re insane!! That’s crazy!! You’re an evil witch!!!!!!” So I wrote helpful blog posts, carefully avoiding the whole tree situation.

And then one day I was sitting outside in a green lounge chair at the edge of a beautiful wood.

There was a birch tree not far from me, waving her leaves in the sun, and I had my computer on my lap, so I could write that week’s blog post.

Writing was a struggle that day. I tried one idea after the next, but none of them came together.

Then I looked at the birch tree, and I told her all about it. I sat back and absorbed her beautiful...

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The Art of Unapology

May 01, 2020

 

I was sitting on a green plastic lounge chair.

It was autumn, and I was looking out at a tall meadow of sumac, golden rod, and bee balm.

It was a foggy morning, not quite drizzling. I could hear the birds sing over the low rumble of distant highway noise.

I was especially enchanted by a birch tree at the edge of the meadow. 

I loved her gray-white-papery bark.

I loved her lilting leaves in the breeze.

Though I was seeing the leaves move, it was more like I was hearing them sing.

The birch tree's branches stretched upward toward the sky, and I wondered what it would be like to be a tree becoming itself.

To have leaves unfurl naturally, without trying to force them to do so. To have my cells turn me into bark or roots.

I imagined what it would be like to live such an unapologetic existence. “Here I am,” she said. There was no question, no shame, no shrinking. There she was. Being herself.

I wondered how far her roots extended. They could've...

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Listening to the soft, flowing, wild voice within

Apr 22, 2020

In my quarantine life I am spending a couple months with a dear friend and her family, who live in the woods.

I had planned on visiting her for a few weeks in March to help as she had her second baby.

Quarantine started in the middle of those few weeks, and so we all decided to extend the visit. This is much better than staying in my small apartment in the suburbs that has no yard.

I am grateful - overwhelmingly and incredibly grateful.

*

While I am here I decided to make a project of getting to know all the trees and plants on their land.

I go walking around their little trail system, usually with a toddler running behind me, and we stop to say hi to each cedar tree, Douglas fir, and hemlock. We say hello to the huckleberries, who are starting to flower, and we say hi to the ferns, whose leaves tower over the little one.

And then there is a great old giant grandmother cedar. She lets her branches hang low, so I can reach up and gently pat them, while I say hello to her.

In the...

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2 Things That Help During Dragon-Fire Transformations

Apr 03, 2020

I've been having dreams lately where in the dream I ask a question.

I ask - "What is my spiritual practice?"

Whoever I happen to be asking responds by saying - "Mantra. Mantra. Mantra. Mudra."

These are words related to yoga and meditation.

A mantra is a repeated phrase you say again and again. A mudra is a hand position you hold either in meditation or as part of a yoga posture.

Here's how this dream message can be translated - "Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Hold."

*

I've gone through a lot of fiery transformations in my life.

I've gone no-contact with abusive people in my family. I've gotten sober, and I've claimed my life as a writer. These were all amplified fiery transformations that changed everything.

During these times I felt like a great dragon, burning everything down with the fire in my belly, so that a whole new, wonderful life could come into existence.

Right now, we're all in the midst of a dragon-fire transformation. I don't know what's on the other side of this, but I know...

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Crossing the Threshold

Mar 20, 2020

Here is a photo of me with my dear friend's new baby.

Babies are amazing threshold experiences, meaning they are experiences where you can mark a clear before and after with no turning back.

There is the day before labor, where everything is one way, and the day after labor, where everything is different.

Joseph Campbell said every story has a threshold, a place the hero embarks on an adventure and life is never the same again.

I've had many threshold experiences in my life.

There was "before and after" I got sober.

There was "before and after" I chose to go no-contact with abusive people in my family.

There was "before and after" I moved from cold and snowy New Hampshire to bright and sunny California.

Each threshold was a door that clicked closed with no turning back.

When I am in the midst of a threshold experience, three things usually happen.

  1. I first get disoriented, waiting for my life to go back to normal, the way how it used to be.
  2. At some point I realize my life is...
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Your Authenticity Is Your Freedom

Mar 13, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

Just in case you've forgotten, I want you to know:

You get to write the story you want to write in the voice you want to write it in. 

Your story gets to be short or long. 

It gets to be well-researched or not at all researched. 

You can go for traditional publishing, self-publishing, or no publishing at all. 

You get to write it as a memoir or a novel or a private diary. 

You get to write it on a blog, as a poem, or in a Zine. 

You get to write in a room of your own, in a crowded cafe, or in your kitchen during the quick silences of the day.

You get to let it come into the world however you want it to come into the world.

The wonderful thing about your story is that it is YOURS.

You get to do this in the way that feels the most like freedom to you.

The more authentic you are with your story, the more fun it will be for you, and the more free you will become. 

This is one of the things I love most about writing. 

This...

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What To Do When You're Worried Your Writing Idea Isn't Serious Enough

Mar 07, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

What was the first story you remember loving as a kid?

Mine was Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.

In fact, my love of Frog and Toad led me to one of my most egregious acts as a kid. I checked it out of the library and never brought it back!!!

To understand the true impact of this, you must understand that I am an epic rule follower. When I was a kid I got a knot in my stomach any time another kid broke a rule or did something dangerous.

I absolutely did not want to get in trouble, and yet...Little Emma loved this book so much she couldn't let it go.

I remember the feeling of reading it. It was pure comfort. I read it over and over again. I loved those two little hilarious characters. I loved grumpy Toad and optimistic Frog. I loved the pictures of Toad in his funny swimming costume. I read that book again and again.

I love writers like Arnold Lobel, because he had the creative courage to pursue his dream. 

He had an idea other people might have...

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What To Do When Your Writing Idea Changes

Feb 29, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

I went on a road trip last week, driving north through California. I went to a rest stop, and when I got out of the car, I saw a beautiful scene.

The eucalyptus trees were shining in the sun, and there were trees in blossom behind them.

I thought the blossoming trees were cherries, but when I did a little research I discovered they were almond trees. There were miles and miles of blossoming almond farms on my drive.

When I started writing this post, I was going to write about special moments of beauty like this, but now I'm thinking about the climate and the impact almond farms have on water usage.

So now I want to write about the strange dichotomies in life, the Both/Ands. How almond farms are BOTH beautiful AND hard on the environment.

And isn't this so representative of the writing life? You start with a plan, get into it, follow your curiosity, and then your plan wants to change.

I used to find these moments challenging, because I thought creative...

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What To Do When You Don't Know What To Write

Feb 21, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

 

"I don't know what to write."

 

This is the first sentence I write almost every time I write anything - a post, a blog, a story, a novel, anything.

 

When I'm looking at a blank page I often don't know what say, but I do know the only way to get past that is to admit it.

 

I write, "I don't know what to write." 

 

Then I write some things about my feelings and my day. I write truths. I write about the view out my window or the funny thing a friend told me, and then eventually I find myself writing something I actually want to write.

 

All the truths are like little rocks on a path I follow until one brings me to a place I want to be, and then a real writing piece emerges. I always delete the beginning stuff, but with gratitude for where it brought me.

 

I think not knowing what to write is one of the biggest challenges of writing. You might have an idea, but when the blank page stares at you it's hard to think of...

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