You are a fully embodied creative being who has your own stories, your own vast life that comes before and after and beyond the practice of holding and healing others’ stories.
This new year is breathing down our necks with the icy whisper of a frigid New York winter.
On the other hand, this is a great big world with all kinds of weather… The new year just might be caressing your skin with the sweetness of a Carribean breeze.
No matter what, the new year tends to bring chills of anticipation.
We can count the hours until we can sit down with sparkling new, soul-defining day planners. We’re so close to cracking open these wonderful books that we entrepreneurs SO love to buy and creating a fresh 365-day collection of plans and affirmations and visions and promises and appointments that will make this year different…
If you’re anything like me, you’re shifting back and forth between “yes, finally!” and “no, I’m not ready!” as the sands of time drain from the 2017 hourglass… There’s all of excitement for a fresh start mingled with the worries that a new calendar won’t necessarily make for a whole new you.
Do you do the “word-of-the-year” thing?
We’ve just wrapped up the latest #7MagicWords Challenge, so the potency of a single word is abundantly clear right now.
#7MagicWords takes place at the turn of each season, and, as this is first time we’ve run challenge in the winter, it’s the first time we could use it to help us find a word of the year. Just about every invitation to join the project included: “You can find magic in a word and it can light your way - day by day and throughout the year to come.” And as the last magic words appear in the Facebook group and on Instagram, it’s clear that the challenge fulfilled its promise for so many of the participants.
The #7MagicWords Challenge is always 8 days long (because, why not?) and the eighth prompt is always the same: a word that integrates. Though I hadn’t intended my integration word to be my guiding light for 2018, it seems that it is. It has to be.
Drum roll for something so obvious it’s just gotta be true…
My word of the year is “writing.”
You could say that every year is about writing for me, but now, as I continue to grow as a writer and as a guide for other writers, I see the word coming into fresh, undeniable focus. And, as I look at my own big, thick 2018 planner full of endless unwritten possibility, I know that I will write my way into just about every accomplishment.
A word of the year or any magic word is special because it's multifaceted and can hold your evolution in many ways. I know my word is the right one because...
- It’s about writing my Sovereign Story and unpacking what I really mean by my beloved motto “Free the Princess. Crown the Queen. Embrace the Wise Woman.” I know this is the story I must write and tell.
- It’s about writing into the fantasy novel that wants my attention and will satisfy my truest truth… I’ve always wanted to write vast sweeping stories like my favorite authors do.
- It’s about continuing to write the everyday-sized stories because they’re how I connect and serve and teach.
- And, it’s about supporting others’ writing, continuing to deepen my story healing practices and finding new ways to support healers who wish to develop their own writing practices.
How about you… what’s your word of the year, #7MagicWords inspired or otherwise?
No matter what your intention for the new year is, two words can help you embody it
“If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way.” One of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney, said that. I always keep it on my desk as a reminder.
Here are two words I know can help you find the most direct way to your truth and your intention: writing and community.
That last item on that word-of-the-year list? That promise to support writers in new ways? That’s why I am launching the Sovereign Writers Circle on January 2.
In this group of therapists, coaches, and transformation professionals, you’ll have the community encouragement to do what can feel like a very lonely thing - writing your blog, your website, your info product, or your book.
Yes, we’ll think about publishing and using writing to build a business, but we’ll also focus on the healing power of writing. You’ll be invited to use the blank page to discover what it is you really want and what you truly know about your own Sovereign Story.
Learn more about the group including the schedule for our 6 monthly calls and other benefits of joining the SWC.
If you commit to a three-month membership before midnight on December 31 you’ll also receive a free 60-minute writing coaching and story healing session with me. (That's a $150 value!)
Could “writing” be your word of the year?
There are new stories to tell, stories you and I have been hoarding and neglecting and allowing to wither away while we were busy striving and coping and growing and losing track of who we really are... Writing is how we find ourselves again and build the stamina to keep ourselves from losing track of what's really important now and in the future.
I invite you to write with me. I promise words and magic. I promise to dive deep into the mystery, to help you find the stories that hide within and write the stories that must be shared.
Just as every full moon is followed by the darkness of the new, and the crest of every wave is followed by the trough, so we humans must find peace in the fallow time, the quiet time during which we recover.
We might wish to defy the cycles of nature, but we always get pulled back and reminded of who we really are - creatures who ebb and flow just like the skies, the seas, and the seasons.
Since the #7MagicWords Challenge wrapped up at the end of September, I've drawn inward.
In part, I needed the rest after the great outpouring of energy required by all that collective magic making. But really, that creative magic I celebrate every day has been having its effect on me. I needed to still my public voice as I began to figure out how to integrate it all.
Quite unexpectedly, the daily Magic Words themselves have begun to take a new shape. Even as I worked my own creative magic on them, they started really working their magic on me.
(That’s how this tends to work, you know. When you put enough passion and energy into a project, it gives back to you. As you shape your creation, it shapes you too. The dance continues in an infinity loop of grace as long as you can combine commitment and surrender in their own good measure.)
Getting schooled by my own magic
As you likely know, I've traced my 2017 through the #365MagicWords project. I show up to Instagram and Facebook with a new word, image, and story just about every day. Family trips to the beach, moments of backyard beauty, and inspiration from my bedtime reading all inspired the word of the day.
The words, stories, and pictures were a reflection of daily life. They were exactly the size of my world: sweet, but kind of on the small side.
“This is me,” I seemed to say with each post. Everything safe and contained. I smile for the camera. I keep my secrets. I transmute my fears and flaws and shame into something quite compact, light, and harmless.
Not a whole lot to see here, just a nice, tiny little word for a narrow little world.
But the MagicWords needed to teach me something. Turns out, they were preparing me for something all along. Something beyond the limits of a smartphone screen. Something as big as my truth.
How deep is your cauldron? How powerful is your spell? How vast are your dreams?
There’s one question we’ve all been asked. (No, not a question about cauldrons and spells, but I do tend to use those metaphors to talk about creative energy quite a bit, so I am sure some of my story healing clients are nodding!).
Sometimes the question is posed with soul-deep sincerity and other times it comes from someone’s bone-deep aggravation: “What do you want?”
The version that really got me to stop and pay attention: “In your vastest, most inspired dreams, where are you in five years?”
Finally, this question cut through my armor and my excuses. (You know the excuses: “I’ll journal about my heart's deepest desires tomorrow, when I can find the time...”)
My most powerful WarriorGoddess-WiseWoman answer was something like “Um, I don’t really know... but I hope to the gods I’ve written a book by then and I don’t have to worry about money or health or love.”
The painful truth was out. It feels totally devoid of magic, but quite rich in pain and regret:
Though I have been reading all the right books and listening to all the right podcasts, I have been dreaming medium, playing small, and mourning lost opportunities in a big, huge way.
“Sovereignty” is my favorite word, but I wasn’t really showing up to be the ruler of my own life. There was a huge disconnect between the way I tried to look when I walked down the street and the thoughts that were swirling in a constant loop in my head.
Wake up time.
Day by day, the MagicWords are becoming Sovereignty Lessons
For years now I have been walking around with these short, mighty sentences inside of me:
Free the Princess.
Crown the Queen.
Embrace the WiseWoman.
They are lessons I credit to the Sovereignty Goddess, a Celtic deity who embodies the spirit of the land and conferred the the right of kingship to the man who could please her. (Yes, I a do mean “please” in that sense. Read more about what the Sovereignty Goddess wants to teach you here.)
Her mythical and historical background are fascinating and inspiring, but what really matters is the way Sovereignty Goddess dwells within each of us (women and men alike because we all carry elements of the divine feminine).
To connect with your own Sovereignty, to stand Sovereign in your own life is to lay claim to the soil beneath your feet. If that soil isn’t fertile and stable enough to hold you yet, that is where you begin, tending to your wounds and loving yourself into this piece of the earth that so wants to hold you, flaws and all.
Once you trust you have a right to your patch of the planet, you begin rooting there, deep into your true identity.
Sovereignty Lessons are a message from your own Creative Source
These Sovereignty Lessons - these messages from Creative Source, from your own Higher Self - they aren’t just meant to protect you in a rosy little reality of your own making. You anchor into yourself so that you can remember who you are and what’s important and take action from there.
When you’re grounded into truth and into your own Sovereign Story, you can enter into the great ecstatic dance of loving and serving and healing and transforming this gorgeous, bruised up world.
Even as you continue to question your own assumptions, blind spots, and the false beliefs that you’re separate from the shadows and light in our society and the suffering and the glory of our planet, you’re holding that sacred piece of turf inside you.
Sovereignty is the identity, the story, and the collection of soul-deep things you know for sure. It’s the place you build from. It’s the place you come home to when you need time to learn, to heal, to grow.
Are you tending to your own Sovereigny?
As I said, the #365MagicWords posts are evolving and shifting. Find them on Instagram or follow my Facebook page, Sovereignty and Magic Making with Marisa Goudy to see them each day. To join the conversation, remember that the door is open to you at the MagicWords FB group too.
And I invite you to think about your own relationship to Sovereignty and your Sovereign Story… Have you uncovered it yet? Is it buried under shoulds and doubts or lost inside your not-quite-the-right-size dreams?
Consider a Story Healing Session. Together, we’ll weave the practical and the magical to anchor your into yourself and give you the freedom to bravely express your truth.
It’s what gets us to buy books, to join challenges, to hire coaches, and see healers. In that yearning, we reach and stretch and search. We grow, we transform, we evolve.
And, all too often, we crash against the rocks of our own disappointment, berating ourselves for failing to reach the perfect shore. We set sail again, making new promises, gathering new resources, and hoping that the next journey will take us to that ultimate destination, to the place on the other side of the yearning.
When do you get to slow down and tune into what’s beneath the yearning?
There’s a little patch of Cape Cod filled with tall pines that grow right up to the edge of the dunes. It’s a place outside of time, where the biggest question generally is “what’s going on with the tide this morning?”
Every summer, in the midst of all the sweet family chaos, I find myself with more time to think than my year-round life usually offers.
When there’s nothing that needs to be done besides watch the girls gather crabs on the tidal flats, I become most aware of the yearning and all of the probing questions that come with it: Where was I last summer? What do I wish to change about my life when I get home? What's still missing?
A map to the heart of the yearning
I often carry a battered copy of Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map to the beach.
Now that this book has become my summer bible, Danielle’s question “How do you want to feel?” seems like an obvious one, but I remember how it was a revelation a few years ago. She gave me a new way to reckon with my yearning. I understood it was less about crossing stuff off the to do lists and more about the quest to inhabit an emotional world that feels plain old good.
Armed with all that inspirational prose and all those gorgeous words, I assumed it would be relatively easy to find the feelings and plan accordingly.
Words like “vibrant” and “connected” and “enough” seemed like powerful guides. They certainly seemed like the right words for an entrepreneurial mama dedicated to earthly love and divine wisdom, but, it turns out, they only fueled me for a little while.
I kept finding myself carting the book on family vacations, desperate to find the perfect words and the tailor made feelings that would help me fill the empty spaces so I could get out of yearning and into being, but I was forgetting something really important...
Find your own tools to find your own perfect words
Early this July, I sat on the swing set tucked in the pines. My daughters ran up and down the same slide over and over, finding the magic in the simplicity of “playful.”
As I stared at 150+ words that describe positive feelings and considered all the usual suspects - accomplished, nourished, alive - I realized I wasn’t going to think my way into the feelings I yearned to cultivate.
I wasn’t going to should my way or will my way into them either. Pushing wasn’t ever going to land me in a graceful, positive state of mind.
Then it dawned on me... This was just past the halfway point of the year. That meant I had found nearly 200 magic words to describe each day thanks to my #365MagicWords Project. As I struggled with Danielle’s great list of possibilities, I lost track of my own experience, my own mastery, my own magic.
And so, I quit trying to force it and I tuned into what I had learned over six months of magic word seeking - a different way of knowing, of hoping and reflecting and inhabiting each day. Instead of leaning on the usual shoulds, I pulled on the spiritual, intuitive, and, yes, mystical resources at my disposal.
The words I got were most surprising and, as it turned out, more powerful than any others I had played with before:
Relaxed and receptive.
These soft words were impossible… and perfect.
They were the antithesis of the “Do. Push. Prove. Get noticed. Make an impact.” energy that I thought would lead me to a full and remarkable life.
These words won't carry me through the rest of forever - my old friend yearning will undoubtedly come to call again. But next time, I'll remember that I have the resources I need to find them.
The Spirit of #7MagicWords: Relaxed. Receptive. And Ready.
The next #7MagicWords Challenge, the weeklong project that helps us set intentions for the season ahead begins on the Autumn Equinox on September 22 (or the Spring Equinox for my south of the equator friends!)
This time around, we are focusing on freeing ourselves from magical thinking so we can be free to do some real magic making. This means we’re looking for the words we want, but also opening ourselves to the words we need.
I promise that opening yourself and letting a magic word find you each day invites some real integrative magic into your life. I can't tell you exactly how to do it, but I can promise you that deciding to try to invite that magic in is your first powerful, magical act.
And how do you want to feel when you prepare to make real integrative magic?
Relaxed. Receptive. Ready.
(That last word came through to me at CampGLP because I realized the more I settle into myself, the more I am prepared to take the right action and welcome the most brave and delicious kind of transformation.)
It took me years to find the words I yearned for. What if it only took you a week?
This project offers a series of prompts that are designed to help you find the sparkly words that make you smile, and then, go deeper... We call it a challenge for a reason, after all! ;)
Will you join us for the challenge? There’s no fee to join this community event. All it takes is a willingness to pause and invite yourself to see the magic that lingers in your everyday language.
Sign up here and get set for the first prompt that will arrive in your inbox and on your favorite social media platform on 9/22!
What if I…
What if I missed my chance?
What if I am leaving an important part of myself behind every time I entered a room?
What if there are second chances?
It’s August of 2016. Before I arrived at Camp GLP, a gathering of creative, entrepreneurial, big-hearted souls who want to make connections and change the world, I’d heard about the epic talent show.
I admit, I was a bit “meh” about the show. I was leaving my husband alone with the girls for the first time. It hadn’t been a great year for cashflow. Music and comedy were great and all, but they seemed kind of… frivolous. This grown-up summer camp thing was supposed to be about networking and learning from the experts.
By the time Saturday night rolled around, I understood that every moment of Camp was about so much more than the bottom line. As the talent show began, I watched my fellow campers get up there and pour themselves into poems and songs and passionate stories. Some were clearly in their element. Others performed bravely through their fears.
Act after act reminded me of a truth I’d forgotten more than half a lifetime ago: the stage had once been a vital part of who I was.
I promised myself I would get up there myself in 2017.
But real life takes precedence. Again. (Sigh)
Life at home wasn’t set up to remind me of the power of live performance. Being mama, modulating my voice to fit a shared podcast, holding space for others’ stories… I was doing the work and rarely allowing myself the breathing room to ask if it was the right work or if all that work was really mine to do.
I certainly didn’t allow myself to wonder about all the work - and play - I was refusing to invite into my life.
Are you really good at ignoring the tiny whispers of intuition too?
Throughout the year, whenever my mind wandered to the late August oasis that is Camp GLP, I was always sure I’d find the time to write the monologue worth listening to. The story that needed to be told would tap me on the shoulder. It would explode with universal meaning that made it worth 3 minutes of 400 people’s attention.
That never happened, but I told myself I could find a way to be ok with that.
Another year and a whole new energy
Arriving at camp this year, I knew I was crossing an important threshold. I was in mid-stride. My first foot was through - the collaborative project that had taken so much energy and imagination over the past year and more had drawn to a close. Now, it was time to arrive more fully in my transformation.
Despite months of yearning, being on stage seemed like a “wouldn’t that be nice” sort of thing. I was fully focused on on chatting, learning, hugging, and writing my way into the next chapter of my Sovereign Story. Striding onto a stage at Camp GLP 2017 didn’t have to have anything to do with that.
But then intuition sends messengers too wise and kind to ignore
It was the morning of the talent show and I was scribbling in my journal between workshops. This guy kind of tripped over me as he tried to slide by my seat on the aisle. Because it’s camp, we paused and took a moment greet each other instead of simply mumbling apologies and resuming the mission at hand.
We recognized one another from the year before - he remembered my eyes and I remembered that he was on stage with a guitar a lot. That opened a conversation about the girl I once was - the one who had been in dance recitals since kindergarten, who was in the band and chorus, who pretty much lived in the theater, and eventually landed the lead in the high school play.
And I told this virtual stranger how I’d lost all of that… We didn’t get into the reasons, but I know it was a mix of prioritizing boys over creativity and a fear that I was not good enough to keep at any of that performing stuff in college when there were so many people with “real talent.”
By the time I finished grad school, I had been completely colonized by the seriousness of the written word and the slog of “self-improvement.” My sad little story was emerging: the stage was for kids and the grown-up “chosen ones.”
My new friend Mike has these incredible compassionate eyes of his own, and I just felt SEEN. He saw me and I think he saw right through my story (though he was too kind to say). He told me that there’s always a little jam session after the talent show and he asked to sing my song for him. I promised, he walked away, and I wept tears I had no idea I needed to shed.
Because Camp is fueled by tears and hugs, one invariably follows the other. A stranger swooped in to hold me as I sobbed. In that moment, she was the flesh and bones my mother borrowed to remind me that she still believed in me, even though my stage career had languished for twenty years and she’d been gone for seven.
Later, I’d realize that this woman, Jennifer, had the voice of a badassed soulful angel and she was a mama with a heart as big as her voice.
All my mascara cried away, I joined a Kirtan session and sang through the lump that still lingered in my throat. A yogi who often dresses up as a unicorn, also known as KC, led us through a couple chants in English:
“This is what it feels like to be free"
"You only get to choose what you hold onto"
The words I could understand were perfect, and I had a feeling the Sanskrit words I didn’t know were just right too. Maybe it wasn’t about being up on a stage. Maybe it was just about lifting up my voice, joining in with the group while I reveled in the private act of creating sound.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
After the sun set, we all gathered in the theater again. First, Zen priest and activist who is changing the conversation about race, Rev. angel Kyodo williams returned to a question she’d posed to the entire group earlier that day: “When you enter a room, what do you leave behind?”
This deeply personal question is intended to reveal much wider truths.
When you cut yourself off from aspects of yourself, you alienate yourself from your core sense of humanity. When we lose track of our humanness we cannot see our fellow humans in all of their beauty, power, and suffering. We buy into false constructs like race.
A black woman was leading a very white audience through a conversation that, by very deliberate design, was intended NOT to be an “I feel bad about my privilege” session. Instead, this was a chance to look within.
When you understand yourself, you free yourself. Liberated from self-denial, you can truly love others. And this, in turn, will dissolve the myth of separation that has stratified and divided this country in particular.
By this point, it was abundantly clear that I needed to reckon with what it meant to leave behind the performer, the singer, the woman who made her words come alive somewhere other than the page.
It’s not clear what this realization has to do with my own relationship with this weird collective story of whiteness that swept me up from the moment of my birth, but it's all relevant to my story. I trust Rev. angel on that one. In time, it will make sense and help me become part of the solution instead of the silent majority that perpetuates the problem.
Right now, I trust that freeing my own passions from the cave of “used to” and “not me” and “maybe someday” can free me up to be someone who changes the world. For real.
But really, this is A story about a talent show
My second row seat for Rev. angel became a second row seat for a talent show that spanned nearly four hours. I was proud that I felt more love than envy, but I promised myself I would remember the sense of regret and emptiness that lingered even as I clapped and sang along from the audience.
It was so late after the last standing ovation had faded away, I never reconnected with Mike the guitarist. It turns out that that jam session didn’t materialize on that unusually chilly New York night. I didn’t know that as I lay in my bunk at 2 am, sleepless and exhausted and wrestling with my habitual lack of courage, my tendency to play it small.
I forced myself into sleep, deciding that the repeating mantra “next year” had to be good enough for now…
Or maybe, I still had chance to rewrite the story’s ending
As it does, time pulled us through to the end of a weekend that could never be long enough. At the last all-camp gathering, the man behind the Good Life Project, Jonathan Fields returned to a question he’d invited us to explore on the very first day. “What if I…?”
He invited a few campers he knew well to share moving stories of transformation, and then he made space for a few members of the crowd to take the mic.
Pulled by some magnetic force - my palms are sweaty even as I type this now, two days later - I asked to take my turn.
I don’t think my voice shook as I sat across from Jonathan on the stage and said “What if I missed my chance…?”
As briefly as I could, I told the group this story about watching two years of talent shows with such admiration. I told them that I had an answer to Rev. angel’s question and I realized exactly what I had left behind. And I told this crowd of four hundred friends that I had a song I was afraid to sing.
And then, I heard myself asking if I could share just a little bit of it.
If I had actually prepared to perform, all I would have done was tell the story of the song I was too scared to share. I would have described the lullaby I had been writing over years and years of bedtimes. I’d always dreamed it would reach beyond two little girls’ bunk bed, but performing it was as much a fantasy as the song itself which described the journey to a mythical island full of unicorns and mermaids aboard a ship called the Cardinal Star.
But I wasn’t prepared to tell that story. All I had was the song itself. All I had was my unadorned truth.
And the next thing I knew, I arrived back on the stage after a twenty year detour and I heard my own voice rise with words I’d added to that old tune “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral.”
When my voice cracked, people shouted encouragement. When I was done, I’m pretty sure there was a whole lot of applause, but all I remember was stomping my feet in celebration and grinning so much I could barely see.
Just reading that paragraph to myself sparks a quivery feeling in my chest, a smile that almost makes my jaw hurt, and a desire to hold on to this moment because it was pure magic.
What happens when you re-member all you are?
So, what does it matter that this writing coach-copywriter-story healer-magic maker got to relive her high school glory days?
By recovering part of my story, giving myself the time to write into it and mine it for meaning, I’m expanding my inner world.
By removing one more “shoulda” I am opening my heart to hold your stories and your moments of triumph.
By finding my voice in a way that I assumed was not really for me, I clear a channel to help you find your voice in a new way.
What happens when you finally say "yes" to the call?
This most recent season of life has offered lesson after lesson in Sovereignty. To grow even a little bit, I’ve been compelled to see how I have been crouching and hiding and hoping someone would recognize all my untapped potential.
I was trying to work magic in the glow a tiny fairy lantern when, the truth is, I live in a big messy world that needs great lamps that light the human heart and bonfires that draw together the human community.
As a writer, as an entrepreneur, as a being who wants to create change in this world, I need to gather all the illumination I can. When we illuminate the caverns of the inner world where dreams are born (and so many die), we're able to light the way for all beings we're here to love and serve.
Will I sing in public again sometime soon? I really freaking hope so. It’s a direct conduit to the magic I was put here to create and I’m too grateful to shut it down again.
But, in the meantime… there’s everyday magic to do.
There are countless paths that led me to this moment, but one of them is my unfolding Magic Words practice. Finding a word each day to live into or a word that helps me reflect on all that happened has been profound. It has set me up to see the stories I was telling, to see the truth behind the illusions, and to tune into all that I didn’t have the courage to say.
I invite you to join the next #7MagicWords challenge that launches on the first day of the northern hemisphere’s autumn, September 22. It’s a free online series with daily prompts that help you discover the magic words that support the transformative work that’s yours to do in the season to come.
Image credit: Mike Kimlicko from his seat on the stage.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, #7MagicWords is a weeklong community project. Sign up (it’s free) and you’ll be sent a prompt each day and invited to come up with your own magic word.
The goal is to create space for personal illumination, but it would be wonderful to spread the light wider too.
My current work in progress describes how the Celtic Sovereignty Goddess guides women through the transitions of modern life. Why write a book about crowning the queen within if you can't rewrite a few rules along the way? Especially when I'm taking these moments to write to you and the rest of my beloved community of healers, writers, and creatives.
My little one is home with me today, and it might make more sense to hit the grocery store and put away all that laundry so I can empty the baskets and start the whole process again. But, instead, I'm giving myself permission to let her watch Moana for the twelfth time and I am using this stolen hour to do the dream.This is new for me. Until just a few weeks ago, I'd never allow myself to sit down and work on my creative projects before the kids' bedtime. It seems the Sovereignty Goddess is whispering: it's time.
Dreaming Time and Doing Time
This life I lead, as a mother and a creative entrepreneur, it offers ample time for dreaming.
Driving the kids around, throwing together yet another soup, dealing with all that laundry... When the girls amuse one another and when I remind myself that it's ok to turn off NPR (the madness in Washington will go on whether I listen to every news report or not), I find new vast new territories within my own mind.
Yes, this life with small children may give me time to dream, but it often leaves very little time to do. I have time for my clients, of course. I have time to co-create the podcast. But time to actually do my own writing? That has often seemed impossible...
But then, this book project awoke within me. Re-awoke, I might say, but I am not 100% sure that's a word.
With the spring rains, with the rising tides of my own life, and the churning waters of these tumultuous times in the collective, the Sovereignty Goddess rose out of the earth, out of the past, and out of my own past studies and told me it was time. (Get a taste of her magic here.)
And so, the S.G. gets my creative doing time every Friday, and she gets lots of dreamtime in between. And I feel more alive than I have in long, long time.
Out of the Barren Territory of "Just a Dream"
I'm realizing how much effort I have put into dreaming the dream, and how little I devoted to doing the dream. This long time habit has left me feeling barren and lost... I was terribly accustomed to the bitter cycle of feeling inspired and then feeling disappointed as all those ideas just faded into the ethers.
What about you... are you able to dream the dream but just don't have the time and space to do the dream?
I'd love to talk with you about how I can help you capture that creative energy and turn it into words on a page that touch the hearts of your readers and potential clients.
If I had one wish for you, it would be that you would stand sovereign in your story and in the marketplace. Sovereignty is at the heart personal fulfillment and professional success. When you are sovereign, you are the confident, compassionate ruler of your own life. You don't assume that you can control everything, but you are sure of your worth and guided by your dedication to the greater good. For the healer, therapist, or coach who wants to change lives with her vision and her work, sovereignty is a beautiful thing to aspire to.
A quick Irish history lesson (and a good story to tell over a few pints of Guinness!)
But, before it was applied to the modern individual, “sovereignty” has belonged in discussions of royalty and statecraft.
At the heart of Celtic myth - and particularly Irish myth - sits the Sovereignty Goddess. She is divinity made flesh and an embodiment of the land itself. In order for the king to take the throne and guarantee the fertility of his realm, he had to win favor with this otherworldly woman. And then she took him to bed to seal the deal.
Across mountains meant to be her breasts and across rivers meant to be her blood or tears, battles were waged in her name. The Sovereignty Goddess did not rule, you see. She was the power behind the throne. Or, perhaps, it's better to say the power before the throne.
She supported his royal cause and she crowned the king, but then, she had to stand aside and let him define his own destiny.
Centuries later, when the Irish peasantry struggled under English rule, the Sovereignty Goddess represented dreams of independence. This time a fairy woman, the goddess would appear to young men in a dream and incite them to take a stand for themselves, their people, and their country.
(Does this sound a but like what you do for clients? You help them along their journey of becoming and giving them the tools to succeed on their own, right?)
What does the Sovereignty Goddess have to offer the modern transformation professional?
History is starved of powerful women, so this influential creature is a welcome shot of the feminine. Certainly she got my attention when I was a student, just as she got the attention of the people who used these myths to understand their world.
But a couple of generations of feminist literary and cultural criticism has taught us that “and then a woman appears” is not always a sign of gender equality and empowerment.
Though seducing mortals and actually being a country is all very fabulous, it’s quite disempowering. The goddess is momentarily star of the origin story, but then she is pushed offstage until the hero decides to invade a neighboring kingdom in her honor.
With this in mind, what can a kingmaking, rabble rousing Sovereignty Goddess do for the transformation professional on their own quest to change the world?
Well, being an essential part of the prologue or “just” having a recurring role in the supporting cast is actually what being a healer is all about.
5 Lessons About Storytelling & Marketing that Only a Sovereignty Goddess Could Teach You
When you’re a therapist or healing professional writing in support of your own work, the Sovereignty Goddess can be the perfect model.
As the writer or the healer, you’re not the star. The reader is the hero. The client is the hero.
Your role is to awaken, inspire, support, facilitate. Though you hope to sustain a long term relationship with your readers and your clients, the focus is on their process and growth, not your role as guide.
Here are five ways to embody the Sovereignty Goddess and make a difference in your business and in people’s lives:
- Live the Legend: Like the Sovereignty Goddess, you need a powerful legend. Through your writing and branding, you can build visibility and a strong reputation that invites people to learn more about what you offer. Intrigued by your story as well as the social proof (what people are saying about you), prospective clients (or, perhaps, perspective heroes) will be excited to explore how you can help them rewrite their own stories.
- Embrace the Magic: The Sovereignty Goddess used magic to turn commoners into kings and warriors. In our contemporary world, we have our own kinds of magic. After all, there’s something just a little mysterious in that alchemical process that turns ideas into words that help your ideal clients understand that you're the one who can help them become healed and whole.We create and connect to magic through stories. When you sit down and write out your vision for your clients, describing what sort of transformation you know is possible, you are taking the first step in making heroes who, in turn, can be sovereign in their own lives.
- Exercise Choice: Just as the goddess has the power to name her consort, you have a similar power when you decide on your ideal client and reader. Choose someone who has the life experiences that your stories can speak to. Write for people who seek the outcomes that your work can promise. It’s in being choosy and specific that you’re most effective, telling stories that go deep and doing work that changes lives.
- Seek to Empower: When that young man laid down with the goddess, it was guaranteed that he’d arise an empowered man ready to make his own way in the world. Your hero client/reader is going to use the seeds of your story to create his or her own great narrative. Ultimately, this is what you want: your audience’s new sense of success and happiness originates with you but does not permanently depend on you.
- Practice Trust: The Sovereignty Goddess understood her role in the grand scheme of things: kings would pass on and young upstarts would need her to help them take their place. She trusted that in every king’s court, her story was told around the fire - the modern equivalent of being shared on the Facebook wall, the Pinterest board, and the Twitter stream.Create content that matters to you and is designed to speak to your ideal readers and you can trust that your good work will inspire your hero client to share on your story (most likely by crediting your supporting role in their own remarkable journey).
This St. Patrick’s Day, as we celebrate all things Irish (both pagan and Christian), I’d be grateful if you shared the Sovereignty story with your community - who knows what getting in touch with their inner Celtic Goddess might do for them!
Do you need help discovering and telling your own Sovereign Story? Check out my writing coaching services.
If you're longing to meet the Sovereignty Goddess within, I can help you connect to her during a Creativity Healing & Coaching Session.
I'm thrilled to bring you a guest post from Karen Brody this week for several reasons:
- I am in love with her work and am eager for her upcoming Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writer - a 9 month online emersion in meditation, yoga nidra, and writing
- I want to see what you can create when you shed the "I'm so bloody tired" narrative - and I want the same for myself.
Done. Cooked. Fried.
I coach busy women leaders, and this is what they tell me all the time:
"I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work."
Or "I love my work, but my kids keep getting sick and so I show up to my job and can't even remember what I'm doing."
This story of exhaustion is real and we could say it's simply an effect of modern life and leave it at that. But I sense there's more meat to this story. I believe women can re-write the story of their exhaustion and it starts with telling a new story from a new place.
Shedding Your Tired Stories About Sleep & Rest
Do I want women to lie about being tired? Well, actually, I see it more like the need to shed.
If we're going to bring peace and tranquility back to our lives -- and to the world -- we've got to shed ourselves of what keep us so tired. And that starts with our mind.
Our minds are useful tools that give us many gifts, but there's this other dimension that goes beyond the mind and it's urgent women begin tapping into this place. Why? Because no matter how many gadgets you use to measure the number of hours you're sleeping or how well you think you know your exhaustion, identifying with this story is ultimately draining. It won't make you feel whole, ecstatic and ultimately fulfilled.
Counting the number of hours you're sleeping at night -- telling yourself the story that you're just not a good sleeper or just not the kind of person who can get in eight hours of sleep every night -- is thinking that is done through ego-mind, and this is exactly what separates us from oneness.
People think ego-mind will free them -- counting those hours of sleep -- but most people who are counting the number of hours they sleep are not living fulfilled lives.
I'm not shaming science -- the research that tells us we should be getting a certain number of hours of sleep is often based on solid facts -- but instead I'm urging women to be cautious how we use it. Sleep deprivation is only an ingredient in your soup. It's urgent that we reveal the full recipe.
We must we teach women to tell the full story of exhaustion... to shake off this one-sided karmic drain.
When You See Beyond Exhaustion, You See Gold
It's no wonder women are so exhausted. When we tell only one side of the story throws us out of balance.
In scientific terms we've lost the balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of our nervous system. In human potential terms, we've stopped looking for our gold.
The story of exhaustion in women today keeps us stuck in a narrative that has taken us away from feeling wildly alive.
What if instead of being goal oriented -- looking for those perfect precious hours of sleep -- we searched for our gold? This is the story we must start writing. With technology extending our days and gadgets to tell us that we're not measuring up all here to stay, women need to take back the narrative on exhaustion and focus on our gold -- that place where were wildly ourselves and creative. This is the only way woman leaders of the 21st century are going to survive.
I remember a time when I was a young community organizer and all my mentors were exhausted bright women stuck in what I termed "the story of yuck." They were doing brilliant work, yet their stories were all the same: high output, but exhausted in mind, body, and spirit. Most were divorced, or not in healthy relationships. Nobody seemed to care or notice that deep down they were personally miserable.
Historically women's exhaustion story hasn't been much better. Exhausted women tended to go "mad" and take to our beds as a way to check out.
Today with so many creative forms of communication and the rise in popularity of mindfulness-based tools women have an opportunity to use our voices to change the story of exhaustion to one where we're fully checked in. We no longer have to hold on to the shame of exhaustion or identify ourselves as "exhausted all the time."
Create a New, Conscious Container for Your Life & Work
So how do we tell a different story? I suggest it starts with cultivating awareness, a deep consciousness. This is the "checking in" women so desperately need and it will only come if we rest more, specially using conscious tools like my favorite, yoga nidra meditation, a sleep-based meditation technique recently referred to as a "secret ... happy place" that's all your own.
Consciousness provides these gaps of nothingness and in the gap -- a deep pause -- this is when you can dis-identify with exhaustion. Not deny your exhaustion, but rather stay unattached to that story.
Think of it like a container. Your story of exhaustion is not the container, it's part of the stuff in the container. We tend to notice the stuff, right? We often say things like "I'm so tired all the time" or "I never sleep" because this is part of our stuff in the container. This is not the container. The container is your true story -- the gold -- and not everything moving through it. The story of your stuff is time-bound. You are not. You are timeless.
Yogis often talk about enlightenment as being when you are resting in the space of awareness. When you are the container.
I attended a training a few years ago at the Amrit Yoga Center and on my ride home on the airplane I found myself writing the words of my instructor again and again:
"You are the silence, not the sound."
This is the new story of exhaustion that women must start telling. A story born out of silence, not sound.
I believe that once women rest more, get silent, and start using tools that raise our consciousness -- that help us check in -- we will finally know without a doubt that we are powerful beyond our wildest imagination. Not Super Woman -- women aren't blind anymore, we know this isn't the gold -- but simply we'll begin to tell the version of us born out of awareness beyond our stuff. We'll tell whole truth in our own voices. A new narrative of women on exhaustion. It’s time.
Mother, writer & women’s empowerment leader Karen Brody is here to help you break the cycle of fatigue and reclaim your creative spark. She'll help you get some rest, chuck perfect & return to wholeness in your mission and purpose
Join Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writer, a 9 month sleep-based meditation immersion for creative women starting March 15, 2017.
NOTE: If your exhausted, creative heart says "yes!" to Karen's offering, send me an email by March 12 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a special promo code for our community. You'll get an extra savings on top of the early bird discount!
Karen Brody is a dynamic mama changing the world, inspiring mothers, birth professionals and women entrepreneurs to “be the change” through their work, personal lives, and global commitment. She is the playwright of Birth - known as “The Vagina Monologues for childbirth” - and through Birth Karen founded BOLD, a global movement supporting birth visionaries to change the culture of birth. Today the BOLD movement includes The BOLD Method for Birth, a ground breaking “women’s empowerment meets childbirth education” approach, an advanced online yoga nidra meditation pregnancy and postpartum training and Bold Tranquility, a yoga nidra meditation company for women ready to wake up and be BOLD. Karen writes regularly for the Huffington post and has written dozens of articles and two health books.
“Women can have it all, but not all at the same time.” Brilliant, successful people from Betty Friedan to Madeline Albright to Oprah to Anne-Marie Slaughter are credited with this line. I don’t think anyone is irritated about plagiarism because truth is truth and amplifying shared wisdom raises everyone up.
I need to come clean: right now, I’m not occupied with writing a seminal feminist text or running the State Department or establishing myself as the ultimate media mogul.
Nope, my reality isn’t nearly as high profile or quite so life and death. It’s just as real though. I’m dancing with the daily truth about the choices that must be made: “this, not that.”
The "thises" and the "yeses"
My “thises” include mothering sick children and tending to my own wintertime ailments. When I’m not tossing tissues in the trash, I’m taking on copywriting work and writing coaching commitments for healers who are changing the world, one client at a time.
On the podcast, we talk a lot about the various roles we play as individuals, as professionals, and as change agents. Often, it’s about “you can do more than one thing, but let's think about how that will feel...”
That’s what we explored in the recent discussion we had about Resistance & The Princess-Rebel Role Model. You can be both princess and rebel because, let’s be honest, we often want to be saved just as much as we want to change the world. But what does that really look like in practice? (Listen in and decide whether it’s something you can really do at the same time.)
The "thats" and the "not todays"
But the act of podcasting - and doing all the behind the scenes work it takes to make it happen - creates a whole new bunch of “thises” and excludes a whole lot of “that.”
As you may have noticed, blogging about writing and the creative quest have been in the “not that, not today” pile for some time. That’s due to the concrete realities that contain our boundless universe and give our lives some kind of reliable shape. I assume you know these - very real the constraints of time and energy?
The shaping of the time. The container of rest.
All this has me thinking about time and energy more than ever. I’m thinking about as discernment too. And I have a couple of resources for you to check out that speak right to what I know is a very common concern for so many of us - particularly those who try to fit parenting and entrepreneuring and client supporting and creating and self care all into one day.
Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder invited me to write about my tango with time. It felt good to offer up some of my finite number of hours to Stop trying to make time. Enter into relationship with time.
In the post, I talk about how “I enter into relationship with time so that I can see the relationships between my ideas and the work I want to manifest.” The patience and the resources it takes to enter into such a productive relationship rely on one essential thing: rest.
Karen Brody’s work with yoga nidra has long been a source of solace and support, and I’m thrilled to tell you that she has a nine-month immersion in yoga nidra coming up.
This sleep-based meditation is radically necessary and powerful, but that isn’t the only reason I am so excited to share the program… Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writer is specifically for women who know they have a story to tell. A playwright and author as well as a yoga nidra expert, Karen is the perfect woman to combine story, sleep, and personal revolution.
Ultimately, yes, it does come down to balance
It's as trendy to scoff at balance as it is to strive for it. When the contemporary tussle over a word becomes too much for me, I look to the ancients.
This is the latest image in my #365MagicWords series. As I am thinking of shaping time and prioritizing rest, and I am also thinking of the Eqyptian Goddess Maat who was the keeper of universal balance. The daughter of the Sun and the wife of the moon, she had great wings and always wore an ostrich feather headdress. She was the embodiment of justice and the grounding of reality.
A fine spirit guide for these tumultuous, over scheduled times, yes?
“Say the magic word, dear.” Maybe your first thought is “please.” Or maybe you’re thinking “abracadabra” or “open sesame!” There are as many magic words as there are tongues to say them. Luckily, there are only 365 days in a year.
It’s a daily project that asks for no more than a word and an image. Perhaps the word will wish to be wrapped in a story or anchored in a definition. Most often, I’m thinking I’ll let the magic work in the mind of the beholder (most often the be-holder of the smartphone who will see these images on Instagram and Facebook.)
What kind of magic lingers in your language?
We know words have power. We know a single word can resonate at countless frequencies, only finding its meaning and its truth when it lodges itself in a particular human mind and is held in a particular human heart.
We know that words form verses and books that shape faiths and cultures that dictate the fate of the world. We know that the Word came first.
And yet, we’ve also heard that talk is cheap and we live in an age when we don’t know if it’s safe to take people at their word. We're told not to be so sensitive about what people say and judge people by what they actually do.
It's time to redefine our relationship with our words
With #365magicwords, I hope to deepen my relationship with the language I use. I hope to open word-shaped doors for others so they can discover new magic spells for themselves.
Do you want to join me? You’re invited to savor each word with me, and, if you’re inspired, to send your own magic words to the collective too.
The why and the how of a 365 project
365 projects have become something of a New Year’s Day tradition for me. And, even though the 2015 and 2016 attempts were “failures,” I count them amongst my favorite mistakes.
A couple years ago, Saundra Goldman asked me to write about the 365 Project as Creative Process for her Creative Mix blog. I’d had great success with my 2014 #365feminstselfie project and I was an unabashed cheerleader for the daily digital enterprise.
The first header in that post?
How to see and how to be seen
This phrase appeared well before Rebecca Wong and I named our Practice of Being Seen community and podcast. Now, as we stand on the precipice of 2017 and manifest this idea, I'm feeling the true magic of those words.
Here’s what you need to know about creating and sharing something online everyday
A 365 project has to be sustainable.
You have to be able to keep it up each day in five minutes or less. It has to offer you some sort of creative or emotional sustenance to be worthy of your energy.
A 365 project has to help you see and be seen.
The goal isn’t just to “do the internet” with a new gimmick. You show up for yourself first. You bring your curiosity, your desire for your integrity, and your belief in everyday magic.
When you lead with that energy, you create ripples of truth and connection that nurtures those who see you.
Let's discover #365magicwords together
Find the #365magicwords project over on Instagram. And, if you decide to cast some spells and unlock the magic of everyday words, do use the hashtag and tag me so we can unravel the mystery together.
And no stretch of time is tougher for us evolutionary service providers than all these themed shopping days that hang about Thanksgiving like so many tantalizing, calorie-packed desserts.
Our sky looks different from the warehouse scaffolding of box stores and the online giants. We offer stillness and introspection. We offer healing that may sting before it soothes. These time-honored paths to growth and lasting peace seem absurd in our doorbuster, free shipping, instant gratification holiday climate. There must be a lotion or a pill or a fuzzy slipper set that can do the same thing, right? Sigh. Of course not. But sometimes it seems like we’re the only ones who know that.
First, remember what it means to be in the transformation business
This weekend, I went to a "Small Business Saturday" event with a group of local women selling a number of products. It was a lovely little gathering. I came home with some budget-stretching makeup, super cute leggings, and a huge case of "not enoughness." Everything seemed so fun and effortless and it all smelled delightful. Selling clothing and essential oils seemed so much simpler than sweating over sentences for a living.
On the walk home, doubt and Christmas budget worries started to take over. But then, Rebecca Wong, my dear friend and Practice of Being Seen partner reminded me, “They're selling something, not creating anything. That’s not what you do, is it?”
Well, sure, selling is part of what every small business person has to do, but when you’re a coach, a therapist, a healer, or anyone else who offers time in support of another’s evolution... selling comes second. And it’s probably not the sort of thing that people are going for during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
Time for a transformational reframe of all these "special deals"
I just came across the phrase "self-evolved small business." This feels like balm to my tired, over-extended entrepreneur's soul right now.
All of us could use the reminder that we've all done something tremendous in hanging out the proverbial shingle and essentially creating something from nothing more than our passionate, creative caring hearts.
Creating something, offering something that comes from the core of who you are and standing in your truth... that's a truly special deal.
So, in the midst of all the consumerism and the holiday's special offers, I just want to invite you to stand in what you've created this year, stand in the space that you have created for so many people.
Breathe into enoughness. Breathe into your evolution. Breathe into the evolutionary spaces you create for your clients. Just breathe.
What's your alternative to a holiday sale?
When you realize it's ok to sit out the late November salesy blitz, it's not an excuse to opt out of marketing your good work. Rather than creating reactionary social media posts about a sale you just thought up, use this time to plan how you'll promote and sell your service or other offering when the time is right.
Rebecca helped me see something else during our conversation this weekend… While we don’t sell stuff that’s going to look nice under the tree, we DO offer something that will help our colleagues transform their 2017.
If you’re a therapist, this is a great time to join our community, The Practice of Being Seen. And, since the one truly good thing about all these themed buying days is #GivingTuesday, we’re donating a portion of the community enrollment fee to the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center when you join today. Learn more & join us
It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the sun has some climbing to do before it reaches the horizon. The house quakes in the wind and I’m unaccountably sad that there are trucks collecting garbage in the freezing darkness of rural New York November. Somehow it seems tragic and strange that we live in a world that doesn’t have enough daylight hours to deal with its trash. Perhaps my cozy, privileged little bout of worry is forcing story into the hands of those hardened waste collection warriors.
It’s just a paycheck, lady, they might say. You keep to your words and those gigantic cups of tea, and we’ll work at the edges of the day to keep the world running smooth enough for the storytellers and the dreamers and mothers and all the rest who create pretty things for a living. After all, someone has to keep clearing away the scraps to reveal all that beauty you’re looking for.
Stories always find a way. Stories help us find the way.
That. That right there. That little paragraph is proof that there are stories waiting to be revealed in every conversation - real or imagined. Stories lurk in every moment of reflection. Stories even hide in the noisy blackness of a Hudson Valley back road at six AM.
Stories guide us toward the dawn. Stories anchor our worries and our blessings so they become real enough to be spoken aloud.
I didn’t wake up this early to fret over America’s waste problem or its labor practices, though both would be worthy preoccupations in their own time. I’m at my desk because I’m sleepless with stories and gratitude.
I’m here to offer 15 tiny gifts that are all more enduring than the latest soul shaking headline or the worries that race through your mind.
Each story you read, each story you write: it’s a gift.
Early in 2016, 15 writers answered a call.
Fifteen writers joined me for my frightfully ambitious #365StrongStories project. Each contributed a story - of birthing, of dying, of living in spite of all the pain that these simple events bring forth.
With their contributions, each writer lightened the burden of a daily writing project that ended up demanding too much from me. After well over one hundred posts, in May I abandoned my promise to tell a story each day. My life wasn’t designed to produce and publish a story 365 times in a row. I’m not sure that anyone who is dedicated to tending and protecting her creative source would want to force herself into such an arrangement.
But the writers who joined me were doing so much more than helping an overcommitted #365project sister out. Each story was a gift: for me, for the readers, and for the writer who gave herself permission to lavish attention on her own tale.
It’s not to be taken lightly, this work of shaping ideas into something that has a beginning, middle, and end. Turning twenty-six letters into a code we can all understand and then deftly splicing and slicing the words in their own divinely inspired order so that they make a story… that’s alchemy. And alchemy is transformational magic.
[tweetthis]This work of shaping ideas into something with a beginning, middle & end is not to be taken lightly[/tweetthis]
15 short story shaped gifts for you & yours this Thanksgiving
And so, now that the sky is brightening and it’s time to launch my girls into one more school day before the Thanksgiving break, I want to take a moment to thank each writer and to offer their stories to you as the gifts that they are.
Before the family arrives, before you’re up to your elbows in stuffing and sage, and before you have that next glass of wine, read a few of these stories.
May they offer comfort. May they offer inspiration. May they remind you of what you have lost and what you still might find.
Meet the #365StrongStories guest storytellers
Read Doubt and Annie D. by Suzi Banks Baum when you’re rumbling with creativity, self-doubt, and missing your babies.
Read Knowing Motherhood by Barb Buckner Suárez when you’re struggling to find your own voice while still honoring those who taught you to speak.
Read Echo Grandma by Evelyn Asher if you’re separated from your loved ones and are seeking creative ways to connect.
Read When Elder Becomes Child by Tania Pryputniewicz if you’re carrying a parent as you hold tight to stories of the way life used to be.
Read The Woman and Her Irishman by Brenna Layne if you have an ancestral mystery to solve.
Read Traveling Distances by Peggy Acott when you’re journeying to a meal you’re never going to forget.
Read Luis: A Study in Breath by Liz Hibala because we share this holiday with our animal companions too.
Read As I Remember It by Ginny Taylor because the past is often full of pain and survival and we need to honor those memories.
Read The Inconvenient Allure of Solitude by Maia Macek if you just want to slip away from the table to be blissfully alone.
Read Dance Camp by Sara Eisenberg because you need to experience your body through movement, not through overeating.
Read Walking Home by Dawn Montefusco because you need to root into your core beliefs… especially when certain members of the family start talking politics.
Read Stand Here by Stan Stewart if someone in your family is struggling with addiction.
Read The Martyrville Messenger by Lois Kelly if a loved one’s illness keeps you close to home this year.
Read Up the Mountain by Sharon Rosen to dive into the sensations of the body and savor the blissful and the brutal.
Read Never Evens by Kelsey Rakes to prepare yourself for the unexpected - especially if you’re expecting.
Are you ready to tell your own authentic, compelling stories? Learn how the Story Triangle can transform your writing and your practice.
Someday, it might be fun to tell your grandkids that you had a front row seat for what will surely go down in history as one of the most infamous elections ever. Since every person must tell the story from their own point of view, there will be hundreds of millions of versions of the 2016 presidential race, and they’ll only have one thing in common: each story will have a beginning, middle, and an end.
Eventually, you’ll have the perspective to understand when and how the story started (it probably wasn’t the day the winner announced his candidacy).
You’ll figure out the turning point (surprisingly, it wasn’t the day the Access Hollywood tape was released).
Already, some Americans can tell you the last line of the story: a 3 AM victory speech.
Others are still waiting to figure out how their story ends.
[tweetthis]If you have post-election writer's block it's because you're still living your story[/tweetthis]
How to be sure your 2016 election story isn’t finished yet
It's important to note that having an unfinished election story does not imply that you refuse to accept the results of the American democratic process or that you're into the whole #notmypresident thing. You could say it's more about the state of your heart than it is about making plans to move to Canada.
Here's a quick self-test to see if you're in the camp that's still waiting for an ending:
- If you have a love/hate relationship with the social media feeds and recognize that all these reactions are wrecking your health, but you still can’t look away, your story probably isn’t finished yet.
- If you’re someone who is trying to avoid all political material (except Joe Biden memes) and is focusing purely on videos of cats and puppies, then there's a decent chance your story isn’t finished yet. (And I’m really flattered you broke your own rules to read this!)
- And, if you’re someone who can’t turn journal entries or scattered notes into a complete article or blog post, your story definitely isn’t finished yet.
(Oh, and should you fit the unfinished story profile you probably appreciate pantsuits and the color blue, but that’s sort of a side issue at this point.)
Ultimately, you see the 2016 presidential race as something that’s about a lot more than the person who sits in the Oval Office. You understand that many of the the people you care about and work with can’t get back to life as usual in our post November 8th world.
You’re in touch with all of the feelings of shock, outrage, confusion, and emptiness that make you fantasize about taking to the streets or hiding under the bed. (And you probably vacillate between the two options in the space of a minute.)
But what about the persistent inner voice that says “you must write” (or podcast or try Facebook Live)?
A wise friend, a therapist and writer, who has been writing boldly into the most troublesome issues of the day kindly advised me to "give yourself a chance to wait until you regroup and heal."
My response? "Well, I guess I will be doing a lot of writing from the other side of the grave."
As a writing and storytelling coach for therapists, healers, and people in the transformation business, it’s my job to be two steps ahead. I’m here to support people who write to deepen self knowledge and publish content to support their practices. I show up online in order to model that process, but how on earth can I do that when I have no idea what I really think and I feel unqualified to offer guidance?
That sort of extra pressure only makes the writer’s block even more painful, of course.
But then, I remind myself that every honest person who has shared any insights over the last week owns the fact that they’re stumbling along unmarked paths with everyone else. Many have found a way to say… something. Few of these pieces feel complete or definitive, but that’s ok. Certainty is a lie when you don’t know the story’s real ending.
If it’s not a time for storytelling, it’s a time for story holding
What eases us through this time of confusion?
Stillness. Being aware of the mess. Feeling all the feelings. Kindness. Compassionate conversation.
We actually heal confusion by admitting that we’re mired in it and, as much as we hate to admit it, when we realize that confusion has a measure of power over us.
We collectively achieve clarity when we refuse to rush a story to a neat little ending before its time.
The good news? The wonderful news for therapists, healers, and transformation professionals? It’s your job to hold and keep safe the stories of others. Even if you’re a teacher and it often feels like you're called to perform and convey information, you’re also someone who witnesses and supports others’ growth.
The kind of work you do is about listening. It is the kind of work that asks you to respond to one person’s needs. It does not require you to fully articulate the new left wing agenda or how to reverse this new racism and misogyny sweeping America or how to decide if it's better to protest or pray.
Your work requires you to be articulate in long moments of silence and to hold space for clients going through their own dark nights, through their own stumbling confusion.
Your clients don't need to be guided to the end of their own election story. Your clients need you to help guide them back to themselves.
[tweetthis]In the #election aftermath, it might be better to be a story holder than a storyteller[/tweetthis]
And yet, it is always time for writing and self expression
Even as your work may call you to be fluent in the language of silence, please don’t silence yourself if the words are aching to come through.
I invite you to rely on your writing practice (as well as your meditation practice and other healing modalities that calm and unbind your soul) to find your way through your own confusion. And I invite you to heed the call to share those ideas when you trust the moment is right, when you trust that you must be heard.
Here are 3 things I know as I write beside you through this time of uncertainty:
(And, yes, it's based on the Story Triangle that I use to help writers connect with their readers and their own truth. Click here to learn more. )
1. Self-focused first drafts are essential. Anne Lamott gave us permission to write “shitty first drafts.” By all means, feel free to write utter crap as long as it means you’re getting words on a page.
But please, please, please don’t allow yourself to write lousy versions of what someone else told you to think or what you assume the people want to hear from you. Write for yourself first in order to discover the truths within you.
2. Keep your audience in mind. What does your reader need from you? Why are you writing in this particular public forum? The territory you cover on a Medium post will likely be very different that the ideas you share on your business blog.
Know your platform and know its audience. When you get that SFD into the final draft, it needs to be re-crafted according to the needs of your reader. Do they need reassurance, do they need resources, do they need you to raise a ruckus, or do they need respite from all that election talk?
3. Remember that complete, compelling stories are everywhere, just waiting to be told. The great big election story is still being written as we see what a You Know Who presidency looks like, but there are countless little stories to be told along the way.
Even though many kids have taken the election results pretty hard (who else loves an elementary school kid who is still heart broken because we don't have a “girl president?), children are resilient. What stories are they living in the present moment?
Look for the ways that hope is being wrapped in a beginning, middle, and end. How are people uniting and taking positive action, despite the heavy November clouds?
Do you have stories that are begging to come through you? I can help hold space for you to tell them, support you as you clarify your ideas, and help you craft your words.