storytelling

What an Irish Goddess Can Teach You About Writing & Marketing Your Practice

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.

Goddess by Moira age 5
Goddess by Moira age 5

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

15 Stories that Will Help You Find Your Way Through the Holidays

15 stories that will help you find your way through the holidays | short stories collected by writing and storytelling coach Marisa GoudyIt’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.

Get Your Free Storytelling Guide

The secret behind your post-election writer's block

got-writers-blockSomeday, 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.

It’s enough to hold space like Dani Shapiro did, to own our disbelief and disorientation like Rob Bell did, or to apply timeless principles like Susan Piver did.

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.

3 Ways to Write What's True During Times of Uncertainty | by Marisa Goudy, writing & storytelling coach for therapists, healers, and transformation professionalsHere 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.

Set up a free 15 minute consultation to learn about how writing and story coaching can help you build your writing practice and your professional practice.

Your stories can heal and serve - but only if you're ready to tell them

Your stories can heal, protect, and serve – but only if you’re ready to tell them by Storytelling & Writing Coach Marisa Goudy
Your stories can heal, protect, and serve – but only if you’re ready to tell them by Storytelling & Writing Coach Marisa Goudy

These roads are like grooves in my unconscious mind. They’re direct routes into who I really am, but they exist just a few degrees beyond the coordinates of my everyday reality. My daughters and I are driving through my hometown, but I’m not sure they know where they are. They’re focused on seeing friends and the promised ice cream cones and eventually getting to “Neana’s bench.”

I don’t live here anymore. That’s nothing new, of course. I left Cape Cod when I was eighteen just like every other kid with the means and the desire knows to do. But my family doesn’t live in this town anymore either. Strangers dwell in the house where I grew up. All that’s left of our name in this town is etched into my mom’s memorial bench in the church garden.

When we cross into Barnstable, I stop worrying about the most direct path between point A and point B. I trust that I still know seven ways to get everywhere (essential knowledge when you grow up in a tourist town). Soon, I realize I am not choosing streets, I am navigating time.

The lane to my elementary school. Lindsay DiPesa’s old house. The soccer fields that used to be a farm. The rec center where I was a camp counselor. My ex-boyfriend’s parents’ historic home. (Curiously, I ended up passing that place twice, but then, I always ended up back in that relationship even when I tried to leave!)

Every residential area, every sand strewn road has a memory rolled into the pavement. There are hundreds of stories I could tell my girls. Instead, we listen to the radio station that served as the soundtrack to my childhood, and I say nothing.

I’m hoarding my stories. I don’t trust my voice and I don’t trust the tears that threaten every time I remember what the parents of thirty years ago looked like when they stood with their kids at the bus stop on fall mornings. I don’t have the energy to weave these reflections into something that matters to my kids.

If I point out the library, I would feel obligated to say how sad I am that the tree where my mom and I played Piglet and Pooh was cut down to make more parking. If I describe how we used to rent videos from that village store they’ll want to watch something on the iPad.

The good news: you get to choose what stories you tell. Choose the stories that nourish you and your audience.

My girls are still young. For now, I generally get to craft the container of their reality and control what influences their understanding of the world. The goal is to protect them, of course, but I also get to protect myself - especially when I’m lost in tender pockets of grief that are much too much for them to bear.

Telling them more about where mama played and worked and biked and learned might have added to their carseat experience, but it would have cost me too much.

Well-balanced stories heal, protect, and serve.

I talk a lot about the Story Triangle and how you need to balance the needs and interests of your audience with your own needs and interests all while keeping an eye on what makes a story meaningful and compelling.

The Story Triangle is your guide as you tell a story. It enables you to appeal to your audience and honor your authentic voice and make the narrative work. It can also help you decide whether you can tell the story at all.

In an attempt to be a “good” mom who gives the gift of my own history to my children, I could have seized the moment and played tour guide. After all, every kid loves to know what things were like for mom and dad so they can squeal at our primitive ways and also feel connected over all the things that feel just the same. The commentary about seaside suburban life in the 80s and 90s would have filled the whole drive.

But that would have pushed me further off balance than any mama should have to bear, however.

The Story Triangle would have been pushed off kilter and, because these things have real life consequences, when you’re a family in tight quarters, someone would have ended up in tears.

Image-1-5-300x300.jpg

The same is true when you’re a writer telling a story meant to build online community and attract ideal clients. Telling a story that’s too intimate and exposes raw wounds doesn’t serve you or your ideal clients. You get a massive TMI hangover and your readers aren’t so sure you’re the person to help them heal.

The good news: my family still gets to go to the Cape frequently to visit my Dad and my stepmom, though it’s to a different town I’ll probably never really get to know.

I trust that next chapter of my story will be a cheerful one, and one that I’m able to tell with a strong voice. There will be many more chances to take that trip down all the lanes of memory when the girls are older and when my wounds are more fully healed.

There's something to be said for seizing the moment and telling a story when it's timely and fresh. But remember: the story, the audience, and you, the storyteller, are best served when you wait for the right healing moment.

Discover Your Story Triangle

Writing Lessons From the Berry Patch

Lessons from the Berry Patch by Marisa Goudy #365StrongStories 144As is often the way with everyday magic, you don’t notice it even when it’s right under your nose. Or encircling your back yard. We lived in the house for a few years before we realized we lived in wild berry heaven. Our land bursts with joyful, succulent gifts every July, but we never noticed until we slowed down to a toddler’s pace and humbled ourselves to look at the world through the eyes of a child.

And now our second girl is a passionate berry picker too. She’s insatiable, really, but at least we know where to find her when we say “but I thought YOU were watching her!”

This need to chaperone a two year-old in a fruitful paradise that also features thorns, concealed ditches, ticks, snakes, and poison ivy brings life to a halt a few times each day.

When at my best, I'm a merry companion willing to tear my dress to reach that perfect cluster of sweetness. Then there are the moments when I’m itching to start dinner or do some writing or simply go find some shoes so I can satisfy the incessant requests for “Berries! Berries! Mama, ber-RIES!” without injuring myself.

We’re not just picking fruit in the berry patch. We're taking lessons in patience, creativity, and picking the perfect moment.

There are also the in-between times when it’s possible to be the present parent and take an expedition into my own creativity at the same time.

As I said, it took us a while to notice we even had something so wonderful to harvest. But now that we know what to look for and we’ve come to expect this annual burst of Mother Earth’s abundance, we have a chance to learn the berries’ stages of growth. And impatient pickers that we may be, we try to act accordingly.

We know the tight fists, tough beginnings, sparkling jewels, and shining stars. These are the prickly buds, the unripe fruits, the ultimate treat, and the beauty left behind when a berry has been picked.

You can develop and enjoy the harvests of a writing practice in the same way.

Now, think about that story you’ve been longing to tell, the idea that you long to pull out of your head and put on paper. Consider the post that you want to see take root in the hearts of your audience…

At what stage are you? What can you do and what can you expect?

Is it a prickly bud? Perhaps all of the energy still needs to be aimed inward. The idea still needs more time. Though things look quiet from the outside, there’s tremendous growth and organization happening within. The reward seems terribly far off, but the promise is huge.

You need to give yourself time to write some meandering first drafts and to let yourself spend time on the self-focused first draft. Allow. Explore. Practice patience.

Is it unripe fruit? Maybe the structure of the piece of writing has emerged and now you’re tempted to push it out into the world, even if it’s not fully ready. This is when you must remember that the surest way to a disappointment - and a sore stomach - is found when you force a still-in-process post or product in the world. Perfection isn’t the goal, but putting out something that you know is unready is a way of devaluing yourself, your story, and your audience.

Walk away from the piece for hours or days and return with fresh eyes. Call on a friend or think about hiring a writing and storytelling coach who can help you see the big picture and fit all of the vital pieces together.

Is it the ideal moment to harvest? With love, time, and attention - or water, time, and sunshine - that piece of writing is ready to emerge in all of its fullness. Oh, it tastes so sweet on your tongue and it will bring such pleasure and nourishment to those you share it with!

Hit publish and savor the sweetness.

Is it time to share the beauty? There’s a bit of sadness when you release a treasured idea into a world where it might be gobbled up or left to rot on the shelf. Trust that you nurtured your idea with attention and patience. Trust its inherent nurturing nature and promote yourself.

Let other people know about your little shining star. And what if you put it out there and no one seems to notice? Try again. We live in an age of media saturation and a lack of response isn’t a judgement of your work’s worthiness.

I wish I could have you over for a chat down in our berry patch. Let's try the next best thing: set up a free 15 minute consultation to discuss how I can help you get from first shoots to a brilliant harvest.

Storytelling Beyond Fear

Storytelling Beyond Fear. John Harrison's True Calling Project.What scares you most about telling your story?- you have nothing to say - you're afraid what people might say - you're afraid that people won't say anything at all

I had a chance to talk through all of these story-blocking fears with John Harrison for his True Calling Project.

In this conversation we covered how our stories are the foundation of everything we do - as individuals, as professionals, as marketers. And I dared to tell John's viewers the truth:

Storytelling can be scary and it can take a while.

When you face down those fears with a dedicated writing process, the magic happens.

#5 Telling Your Story with Marisa Goudy from John Harrison on Vimeo.

This is why your audience missed your best story

If they can sleep through fireworks #365StrongStoriesIn a third floor loft with giant skylights opening on the fading summer dusk, two small children closed their eyes and fell asleep. This isn’t much of a story until you understand that it’s Independence Day on Cape Cod at a condo just a few blocks from the beach.

The mother watches the glow of fireworks on her children’s slack cheeks before she slips into her own oblivion. There are families saying “ooooh!” and “ahhhh!” all across the neighborhood, but the booms and cracks are just a lullaby to everyone at 19 Grove Lane.

This two year-old and this six year-old have come to their grandparents' house to be stuffed with marshmallows and wrapped in red, white, and blue dresses. This is the week when bedtime is a fairytale and adults hurry kids to get to the beach to catch the tide, not to get out the door to catch the bus. We are a family who believes in much of the patriotic excess of July 4.

But just not this year.

That word might not mean what you think it means - at least not to everyone

Vacation only has 8 letters, but it has a billion different meanings. For some, it’s hammocks and lemonade. For others, it’s mouse ears and princesses. For some it's hanging off a cliff or shooting down the rapids.

Then there are those who use the word to describe packing up the kids and throwing them into a house with a bunch of people who share the same gene pool but enjoy vastly different daily lives. We then add in some sand, salt, sugar, and pour adult beverages on top of it all and V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N spells emotional and physical marathon full of the joys of victory and the agony of defeat.

Vacation looks a lot more like survival (another 8 letter word) than relaxation.

In our case, July Fourth fell on the fifth day of our holiday and we were too worn out to care about sparklers or bonfires or the rockets red glare.

It’s Not Your Fault Your Audience Couldn’t Tune Into Your Story

If my kids and I could drift off during a huge fireworks display set off a few thousand feet from our beds, your ideal readers could definitely miss your blog post. Heck, your audience may well miss the fact that you’re blogging or podcasting or newslettering at all!

We live in a world of distraction. We live in a world of too much stimulation and too little human stamina to take it in - even when it’s wonderful, even when we said we were coming to town just to experience it, even when it’s part of being happy enough 21st century Americans who hold out some hope that Washington will look like Jed Bartlet’s city some day.

Yes, it might occasionally be you, the storyteller, who needs to shift the story to meet the needs and interests of the audience.

But it’s likely that you’re telling a splendid tale and pitching it at just the right people but they’re just too full or too tired or too preoccupied to absorb it.

So what do you do?

You can always try again next year when everyone is a little older and wiser, but the good news is that you probably don’t have to wait 365 days to try to put on the show again.

If you’ve got a story that you believe in, keep nudging it into the world. Not with pyrotechnics that wake the neighbors. Not in some annoying, spammy “read my post, dear Facebook group I never participate in unless it’s for self-promo!” sort of way.

Share it in a way that feels like an invitation to learn or enjoy something really meaningful.

Remember that a lack of response isn’t necessarily a judgement on the quality of your story. It’s timing. It’s overstimulation. It’s proof that we’re all just fragile humans trying to balance FOMO (that's "fear of missing out") and a wee bit of self-care.

Do you have a story that you're really proud of that your ideal readers missed out on? Leave a link in the comments below and I'll do my best to share it with my community.

What do you stand for? Who do you write for?

I know why the cardinal in the woods around my house sings in the early morning: Because he has to. And so I write on… Dan McCulloughThe email subject was “read the last paragraph first.” When my dad sends me a snapshot of a newspaper article you can bet it'll be Cape Cod Times Sunday column by Dan McCullough.

Here’s that last paragraph:

But then I realize what all true writers understand: That we don’t write for our readers - we write for ourselves. We can’t not write. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, terrible, frightening, delicious, dangerous addiction. I know why the cardinal in the woods around my house sings in the early morning: Because he has to. And so I write on…

This isn’t a novel concept. As Dan says, all “true writers” get this. Most of know how Barbara Kingsolver invites you to close the door and write for yourself alone.

Yes, I am in Dan’s camp. I need to write and I would do it even if it wasn’t part of my self-created job description.

But what about you? Must you write?

I know some members of my community are dedicated, in-it-for-life writers.

Then there are those who love to write but who are trying to make something of that relationship.

There are probably a few of you who like the idea of falling in love with writing but you just haven’t met the right stories yet.

Wherever you are on that spectrum, what does the “I must write” declaration of a white-bearded college professor who looks like he comes from Central Casting’s “Yankee fisherman” department mean to you?

It means “1500.”

Put another way, it means 28.846 years.

Still confused? You had to read what came before that crucial final paragraph. In this piece, Dan was looking back on the experience of writing 1500 consecutive weekly columns for his local paper.

How does that make you feel? Inspired? Envious? Ready to write the guy a permission slip to take a well deserved vacation?

In my case, it has me thinking about how a writing practice illuminates the practice of living.

Dan writes about global events, the peace of the salt marsh, homelessness on Cape Cod, and the experience of watching his son grow. Think of all the observations and wonder and frustration that have been distilled into all those column inches.

Think of all the opportunities he had to ask himself “what do I really think?” and “what must I take a stand for?”

Do you need to commit yourself to producing 1.5 million words or promise to sit at the desk until Saturn takes another run around the sun to reap those sort of benefits?

No. One impassioned journaling session or one quick set of notes jotted down between clients that eventually becomes a blog post that matters to you and to your ideal readers is enough. For now. That’s the thing about writing meaningful content. You want to keep doing it.

Why are you writing?

Creating a body of work that you can be known for is a brilliant goal. Certainly Dan’s long public writing career has been a gift to the people on my beloved sandbar. (And it's a gift for Cape Codders alone. I'm not linking to his full post because I can't - there isn't a trace of Dan's piece on the Cape Cod Times site. Perhaps they seek to preserve a local treasure. Maybe they simply know that the guy sells papers.)

But I do agree with Dan. To keep up a consistent writing practice of any sort you must consider your needs and interests as a writer and a storyteller.

Take it from a man who has been writing since Reagan was in the White House - writing is ultimately a gift to oneself. It is part of the natural expression of who you are, as surely as the cardinal’s scarlet feathers are an expression of its power to fly.

We’ll soon be packing the car and heading to the Cape ourselves. I’ll have limited spots for new writing coaching clients over the summer, so I invite you to take the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience course and get inspired to write into the stories that you must tell.

Enroll now and save $50 when you use this special link.

The Truth About Fast and Easy Blogging

The Truth About Fast and Easy Blogging #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy“You can ask me anything!” What a bold and crazy statement.

As it happens, in the right environment, it feels safe and smart to do just that.

This week, I am thrilled to be the featured expert over at Agnes Wainman’s Blissful Practice, a Facebook group for clinicians who want to change the conversation around what it means to have a private practice. The group hit 700 members, so if you’re a therapist looking to find a blissful, vibrant community, ask to join!

It started with “what is this whole storytelling thing, really?

I’m grateful for this chance to dive right into questions that include “what is this whole storytelling thing, really?” to how to honor professional boundaries while telling a personal story that tells clients “I get you.”

Then I got a question that kind of freaked me out

A therapist who coaches her colleagues on building their practices wanted some tips on how to streamline her blogging practice. She was writing a weekly post in an hour and wanted to shave some time off the process.

I needed to be sure that my response honored her approach and also stayed true to my message and my experience. After pounding the delete key 1,245 times I replied:

I'd say an hour from start to finish is pretty remarkable.

I must admit I'm not the best resource for "quick and easy blogging tips." I see blogging and writing as part of the bigger picture... developing your ideas on the screen is part of becoming the clinician, businessperson, and individual you want to be. There's no shortcut for that. The intention is that the process is every bit as rewarding as the outcome.

(Just one woman's opinion since years of "just create content!" blogging left me feeling depleted, invisible, and unsatisfied.)

Was I concerned that someone in the business of boosting business would laugh at my answer? “Ha! No writing shortcuts? That’s nice for some people, Miss Writer Girl” Oh, yes.

I was worried that my advice would seem lovely but simply impractical for busy professionals who are already trying to do so much.

Writing & blogging bliss is found in the midst of the process

But then this I got this response from this awesome therapist/coach/writer who happens to be short on time. Her name is Allison Puryear and she's the woman behind Abundance Practice Building 

THANK YOU! Seriously. I think I internalized the message that I should be churning them out. I can write some crap or "quick tips" pretty fast, I bet. I feel like more of a storyteller in my blogs than an advice giver. I decided last year that I'd rather write one valuable blog a week & take the SEO hit by not posting more frequently. I don't want to dilute my message with filler. Now I feel like I have "permission" to enjoy my process instead of feeling like I should be faster. Thanks!

YES! There is power in enjoying the writing process... even if it takes a little while. And our digital world will be a little richer now that Allison is giving her inner storyteller the chance to take over the keyboard.

What about you? Is it time to move away from churning out content and embrace storytelling that connects you with yourself, your stories, and your reader?

Start Here

 

Darkness and Light Upon a Summer Solstice Strawberry Moon

Darkness and light upon a summer solstice strawberry moon #365StrongStories by marisa goudyIt is more difficult than we imagine to hold space with the ultimate power of the sun and the full revelation of the moon. But here we are on June 20, 2016. I’m so grateful to summer and thankful for its lush splendor. My eyes fill with tears that dry instantly on my cheeks in the face of a solstice sun at noon.

Is this what abundance feels like?

This first day of summer decorated by a full moon feels like a full belly and a hunger to show gratitude. It feels like being anchored in the light-drenched earth and flying into the air all at once.

Tonight, I know I will not sleep. I’ll curse that bright-as-day orb even as I long to dance through the yard, bathed in her silver glow.

My toddler and I just spent a leisurely hour picking plants that promise to be drought resistant. (I am assuming I can translate that into “hearty enough to survive the care of a gardener who is better at describing the act of planting and tending than she is at finding the watering can.”)

It’s time to rescue the flowers from the car and find my widest brimmed hat and start preparing our rocky ground. But all I can do is squint from the shade of the porch, dizzied with the luster of this Summer Solstice Strawberry Moon June day.

Today, the sun reaches its zenith. Tonight, the moon shines with her fullest glory. To be alive is to know such brilliant illumination - almost more than you can stand. And it is to remember, somewhere in the overwhelming bliss, that there will be a darkness as bountiful as the light. That is how the heavens teach us about the cycles of living until we die. The loss, the dissolution, the shadows we must cast if we want to make a home in the light.

I still want to cry. With joy and thanks. With the ache for all the lost friends and departed family who will never walk east with me at sunrise, chasing our shadows into a new morning.

I still need to weep with all the potential I feel too full to hold. All the love to give, the stories to write, the healing spaces to create.

In this day of all possible illumination I see that I am afraid of becoming parched, sunburned, bleached. I am in love with the light, but I am wise enough to name and allow my fear.

What does it mean to be so visible, to have every laugh line and squinter’s crease and typo brought into such sharp relief?

Do you and your ideal reader speak the same language?

What do you mean you can't read my mind? Advice for lovers and writers #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy

What do you mean you can't read my mind? Advice for lovers and writers #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy

The fighting is over, but it’s not quite time for kiss and make up. It’s that tender, in-between time when neither is ready to dissolve into love but both are grateful that the crisis has passed. If you’re watching the sort of movie that allows the characters to take a breath between the plate throwing and the shot of the heap of clothes on the floor, there might be a song to move the action away from conflict and toward romance.

Any director worth her salt would say “we need a song that feels like ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ But obviously we need to pick to something less… obvious.”

Thing is, sometimes real life is just that cheesy and obvious.

What do you mean you don't know that song?

This weekend saw a disagreement in the Goudy kitchen. No plates were thrown, but someone may have been asked to quit putting the dishes away and make some g.d. eye contact so we could talk things through.

And just in that movie-perfect moment when we’d found our way back to common ground and the kids were playing quietly in the other room, "Let's Stay Together" came on the radio.

And then my husband opened the fridge to make a sandwich. He seemed to understand my hopeful, love song-inspired smile to mean “would you make me one too?”

After a moment or two, my soft look turns into the prelude to a snarl. “Um,” I say, “This is the part when you sweep me into your arms and we fall in love with the universe and with each other just a little bit more because this song played at this moment.”

“What song?”

I have married the only man in America who does not know “Let’s Stay Together.” Ok. I can breathe through this.

“How can you not…?” Right. I’m breathing. We’re in making up mode. I’m freaking breathing. “Ok, then how about you listen to the words?”

“You know I never listen to words.” Yep. I, the writer, am married to man who never listens to the lyrics.

This is actually relationship magic at work

In the end, this didn't cook up a new battle. It was a chance to remember that as much music as we’ve shared in the last twelve years, we’ve managed to stay together without Al Green’s help. It was a chance to see that we don’t always share a common language of songs, symbols, and words even though we’ve pledge to share our lives together.

As a partner in a marriage, this is an essential realization, and I know it will change how we communicate. I’ll leave the deeper discussion to the beloved and brilliant relationship therapists and coaches in my client circle like Lily Zehner and Robyn d’Angelo.

I know they can help us understand what’s really going on here and how to recognize and shape such moments into opportunities for connection.

This is actually storytelling and sharing magic at work

I'm analyzing this moment through my writer’s spectacles.

Even when you’re speaking a common tongue to a carefully chosen ideal client, you don’t necessarily share a complete set of reference points.

You, dear reader,  may not think that every person in America would know “Let’s Stay Together.” You may not be drawn into the story of a married couple’s spat because you haven’t met “the one” yet or because monogamy just isn’t for you.

A while back, someone left a reason for unsubscribing from my newsletter: “I don’t identify with the voice in these messages.” When I first read that it seemed a little bit like “I don’t like you as a person,” but now I can see that we just didn’t share enough common reference points to make the connection.

Three ways to stay connected to your readers

So what do you do, especially when you’re communicating in writing and you can’t clear up a misunderstanding with a smooch? How do you make sure you're working with a shared frame of reference?

1) Check with your assumptions that “everyone knows about this!”

You may be using your favorite TV show to help you illustrate your point, but if it’s a niche program with only a few million viewers, you can’t assume that everyone is in on the secret. (But really, you all would love Outlander and I wish we could all watch it together every Saturday as long as you promise not to talk during the episode!)

2) Seek feedback from people you trust

If you have a story to tell or want to build a blog post around a specific example check in with a trusted circle of early readers. Ask them if they get the references (“What do you mean you didn’t watch Inspector Gadget before school in the 80s?"). Revise or add context as necessary.

3) Value clarity over cleverness

Ingrid Bergman was so right with “Be yourself. The world worships an original.” When the world isn't worshipping the latest cookie cutter pop singer, it’s totally true.

Dare to give us your unique voice and perspective - please! Just remember that you’re blogging to build a practice or a business. If you alienate your readers by telling stories and using examples they can't relate to, you need to reevaluate your goals or your approach.

Another way to stay connected with your readers is to understand the Story Triangle. Take the free class that teaches you how to use storytelling to inspire and engage your ideal clients.

Get Instant Access

Tell the story that’s true to you, not just easy for the crowd

Tell the story that’s true to you, not just easy for the crowd #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyYesterday, I had a chance to share my Story Triangle webinar (you can watch the recording here). During my morning preparation I expected to spend time perfecting the way I presented my storytelling e-course (we all need to sharpen our sales skills, right?). Instead, I ended up lavishing my attention on what seemed like an innocuous little story about St. Patrick and his teaching tool, the shamrock.

To tell the truth, I’d always felt a little disingenuous about this part of my class. I chose the story because I wanted to talk about the power of three. Trotting out the tale of Ireland’s patron saint helped me do that while highlighting my personal story as a student of Irish literature. Plus, just about everyone has a kindly association with March 17 and the wearing of the green and all that, right?

Well, not everyone.

Just this week, someone responded to a video I’d posted earlier this spring about What to do when content you loved writing doesn't get read. I recorded this commentary because I was bummed because some St. Paddy’s Day related content I’d created hadn’t gotten much attention. As a former “professional Irish person” I guess I felt like the world needed to heed (and tweet) my green-tinted writing advice.

After offering some kind, supportive thoughts about how important it is to be seen for our creative contributions, someone who goes by “Wonderfeel” had this to say:

I can't help but mention that St Patrick is someone who would have made the Westborough Baptist Church look mild-mannered. He was a fanatic who violently trounced Earth-based faiths in Ireland. He 'chased out the snakes'. Like most violent individuals he had a backstory that made his cruelty more understandable, but still he was a person who deeply injured the soul of Ireland. Maybe we could wait till April 13 and celebrate Seamus Heaney's birthday?

That was a wake up call I didn't know I needed

I don’t know who Wonderfeel is or whether they’ve followed me enough to know that my interest in Ireland has a lot more to do with Heaney’s poetry and triple goddesses than it does with the Christian trinity. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Perhaps the universe picked this person to remind me to tell stories that are important and true to who I am, not just those that seem most likely to appeal to a crowd.

No matter what, I’m deeply grateful.

Like my mysterious friend Wonderfeel, I don’t have a particularly warm view St. Patrick. I know that “salvation” happened as the result of a lot of devastation. There are many other examples of the power of three that I could have used that wouldn’t have made me feel like a fraud for telling the easy story rather than the story that was true to me.

What’s so important about one tiny story?

Would revising one minor example in an hourlong presentation have made much of a difference to the overall outcome - teaching therapists, coaches, and others in the transformation business about the relationships that help them tell stronger stories? Probably not.

But I strive for integrity and it’s my mission to align every story I tell with who I am and the interests of those I hope to reach. Telling a story that pulls me off that course is a disservice to my community, myself, and the Story Triangle I hold so dear.

You can watch the Story Triangle presentation now. (Try to check it out before midnight on Friday, June 3 because that’s when the special early action bonus expires for new You, Your Stories, and Your Audience enrollees.)

Stories create your legacy. Stories connect you the now.

Stories help us... Understand the past Anchor in the now Shape the future We tell stories to understand the past. We tell stories to anchor you in the moment. We tell stories to transform the future. This is the story behind Because He Was a Writer: A Memorial Day Story.

It's also an invitation to tomorrow's Story Triangle webinar - the free online event that will help you understand the inner workings of story so you have insight into that superpower you already possess: storytelling.

Reserve your seat

Because He Was a Writer: A Memorial Day Story

Because he was a writer: A Memorial Day Story #365StrongStoriesAloysius Haden Mann served as a bombardier in the Royal Canadian Airforce. His name alone pulls you right in, doesn't? Add in that he was handsome as they come and had a tremendous laugh, and his is a story that you'd want to read. If someone could do it justice, a novel about a young man from the Maritimes who would fall in love with Blitz-era London and suffer through the blistering airstrips in North Africa could be unforgettable. My grandfather died in 1991 and he never told his grandchildren his war stories. He was, however, a writer. And thankfully, my grandmother was a typist since it would take a wife's devotion to decipher his handwriting.

This Memorial Day morning while the rains fell soft over upstate New York, my grandfather's home on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick seems just as far away as those targets he bombed in Germany and Italy. But still, I woke with him on my mind. I riffled through the boxes of papers that included my ballet recital programs, college papers, and a single folder of first drafts.

My grandfather was a writer, yes. He returned from overseas to get a degree in journalism at St. Mary's in Halifax. And then he moved to Boston with his new bride to work for a newspaper that would fold within months of their arrival. The next forty years would be spent trying to find work and raise a family in the States, not chasing bylines.

But he left behind just enough of his memoir-in-progress. He left enough to help us remember and make me cry and to inspire me to pick up his story in my own voice (someday).

It was in the '30s. A time when the world seemed troubled and uncertain. The world was still deep into the Great Depression. My friends and I sought refuge in what was to become known as "The Monkey Pasture." Actually, it was a cow pasture, where Kate Reid pastured her cow, and Kate drew many a summer bucket from the spring in the gully which adjoined it. Kate was the one who referred to us as "monkeys" because we disturbed her cow while playing a ball game.

It was here that we discussed life, love, sex, friendship, sports, etc. It was here we were slowly and naturally initiated into those troubled first years of puberty. I was here that my mother picked her May Flowers in her Sunday afternoon walks, filling every room in the house with the month of May.

An unavoidable fact about the childhoods of our time was our innocence. Our likeliest crime was a misdemeanor - on the order of soaping our neighbors' windows on Hallowe'en, raiding an apple orchard, or a farmer's garden to pick an ear of.

It all seemed so innocent. The world seemed to be marking time. World War II seemed ready to explode - around the corner, but not quite come into view.

One by one, the "monkeys" enlisted and left the pasture, some of them never to return.

The age of innocence was over.

Storytelling is part of my lineage. And I would love to share my knowledge with you. Please join me for the free online class on June 1 and discover how the Story Triangle will transform how you connect with readers.

Reserve your seat

Never Evens by Guest Storyteller Kelsey Rakes

Never Evens by Guest Storyteller Kelsey Rakes“Is the back door locked?” I ask my husband, and he nods. He doesn’t remind me that I’m the one who locked it. He doesn’t mention that I’ve already checked it three times because the rule is only odds, only odds, never evens. After two years together, he knows better than to question the invisible manufacturer’s warning seared into my flesh: may contain irrational fears and compulsions. I don’t know if there’s ever been a time when I didn’t have to count to prevent imagined disasters, didn’t have numbers running in the background of my mind like the radio static of a channel that won’t be ignored. Checking and counting and tapping and counting and checking are the only ways to keep the uneasy ghosts of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at bay.

Now that I’m pregnant, I find myself reciting appointment dates over and over, and I seek out stillbirth statistics in an effort to quell the endless feelings of dread. Though the odds are in my favor, the numbers won’t leave. They won’t quiet.

“What if our baby’s first words are ‘Is the back door locked?’” I ask my husband.

“That,” he says, “is an awfully complicated sentence for a baby.”

“But what if he or she is anxious?”

He presses his cheek to my shoulder and kisses it five times. “It won’t matter. We’ll do everything we can to help them be happy and show them they’re loved.”

This isn’t enough, and we both know it. There are so many pieces to this, so many questions and fears and hopeful wishes that I can’t possibly begin count them all.

This thought soothes me.

When my husband falls asleep, I press my hand against the smooth, hard skin of my naked stomach and count the baby’s kicks. One, two, three, four. Four tiny, wordless promises.

Although the language is an alien morse code, I’m somehow fluent -- so, with the tips of my fingers, I gently reply.

One, two three, four.

Kelsey Rakes #365StrongStories Guest storytellerKelsey Rakes is a writer who enjoys poetry, picnics, and poetry about picnics. Her life is a constant work in progress.

What's your story? Please submit to the #365StrongStories project.

Walking with my daughters, a boyfriend, and my earbuds

Biking with my daughters, a boyfriend, and my earbuds #365StrongStories by marisa goudyThis year, our snow days are being used to honor the beauty of May. We get to celebrate our freakishly warm winter with bike helmets and sunscreen since we didn’t need to use those days waiting for the plows to come around. My six year-old learned how to ride a two-wheeler this week, so we’re heeding the siren’s call of the rail trail. As I push the toddler in the stroller, my big girl stays close. She wobbles as she tries to match my walking pace because, unlike the evening before when she gleefully peddled ahead, she seems to need to be in my orbit right now.

There’s a sweet jolt when I realize “this is one of the perfect moments.” I sense I’m reliving a scene from thirty years ago. It’s a different setting and there are new characters in the starring roles, but here I am hoping one daughter will fall asleep and praying the other doesn’t fall off her bike, just as my mother would have done.

There’s a thread through time, braiding us together. Our connection will never snap, even if my mother and my daughters will never walk the same trail together. I feel my own first-grade memories entwine with this moment, and my pace slows with the weight of my gratitude.

Of course, there’s one vital element that separates this particular idyllic scene from what my mother might have experienced. It’s not 1986. It’s 2016. This mama has an earbud plugged into her head and occasionally has to say “wait, what did you say?” as she fumbles with the pause button.

I’m not even sure why I think I need the extra stimulation. My phone is on my hip (the better to count my steps) and it seemed like a good idea to multitask and keep up with the “you must listen to this!” recommendations from colleagues.

Of course, I am only able to open up to the grace of my children’s magic and my mother’s blessing when I stuff the wires in the stroller and decide to be present. I’m not surprised that being there with my girls is more fulfilling than one more grown up filling my mind with more stuff to do and consider and change.

If I’d still been walking in two worlds, in this perfect spring morning as well as someone’s basement recording studio, I can’t imagine I have exuded the welcoming, present energy that invited my daughter to say, “Mom? I have a boyfriend…”

I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to take a breath and respond with a few gentle, open-hearted questions if I were half listening to something else. I am sure I would have squawked “what!?!” and crushed the moment flat.

But this isn't a post by a saintly iPhone free mother

Thing is, this experience probably isn't going to change my behavior - at least not completely. There will be many more bike riding/ stroller pushing outings this year and I am sure I’ll take headphones with us most of the time.

I want to be honest with myself as much as I want to be present with my kids. That means I need to balance the feeding of my mind with the caring for my children. It means reflecting on my own needs and those of my family, making conscious choices, and practicing compassion through it all.

It also means getting the support where I can get it. If there isn't a loving grandmother or a village of other moms around to help us deal with the tough moments (ahem, MY FIRST GRADER SAYS SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND), the advice and comfort may need to come through that nice recorded voice from my iPhone.

An important note:  that podcast I was listening to was Laura Reagan’s Therapy Chat. Do check out this brilliant, vulnerable episode called Worthiness, Perfectionism, and Self Compassion when the moment is right for you.

Up the Mountain by Guest Storyteller Sharon Rosen

Up the mountain by guest storyteller Sharon Rosen #365StrongStories“Thank God for those twice weekly yoga classes” is all I can think. It is a nearly straight uphill hike to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Madison Hut, where we’ll spend this first night in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I’m mid-menstruation, at the end of a sinus infection, and have a 27-pound pack on my back. This wasn’t quite the image I had in mind during all of our excited months of planning. One step at a time. I call out to my friends, so far ahead I’ve lost sight of them, grateful yet chagrined when one stops, waits and shifts her pace to mine.

I am aware of every muscle in my legs, hips, and butt. I thought I knew them intimately from my study of anatomy, the hundreds of bodies I’ve massaged, my erotic explorations with adventurous partners. But this has an intimacy and immediacy all its own.

Lift leg. Find footing. Shift weight forward. Bring body up, feel pack shift, breathe. Notice the strength the standing postures have given me — hips empowered from all that rising on one leg into Warrior Three —as well as the thump of my heart, the throb in my head, the heaviness in my uterus.

Up and up, one step at a time, 3500 feet in about 3.5 miles. It is a lesson in humility (but I’m young, I’m strong, I’m limber!). It is a lesson in pure presence and awareness (one slip, one wrong turn of the ankle and yikes). It is a lesson in activating strengths I didn’t know I had.

Finally at the hut, relieved of backpacks, my friends lightly take the last few hundred feet to the summit. I hang back, boots off and feet up, basking in the warmth of my tea, the crisp crunch of an apple. I savor every sip, every bite, every sensation as I await their return. Tomorrow will bring its own unknowable challenges.

Sharon Rosen #365StrongStories guest storyteller Sharon Rosen is a spiritual healer, mindful living mentor and author who helps women learn to dance gracefully with the rhythms of their lives. www.heartofselfcare.com

Refame: Those who know better than to do every day, teach

Those who know better than to DO every day, TEACH. #365StrongStories by marisa goudyEveryone has heard that snarky line “those who can’t, teach.” The updated version is said with even more venom: “those who can’t, coach.” I have no use for the throwaway cruelty that lies at the heart of both phrases. Such statements either come from self-loathing or the petty judgement of those standing outside the arena. “Not good enough” never serves anyone and never gets anything done.

And think about it for a moment - this whole idea has a flip side: “those who can, must.”

Whether you’re teaching or doing, “can’t” and “must” are limiting and damaging

My 2016 project, #365StrongStories, has taught me a great deal about what it means to do something every day just because you can. It very quickly becomes a dangerous "should."

I’m a born writer. It’s what I do for work and for fun. But when writing becomes a massive obligation - I must because I can, I must because I committed, I must because I am not good enough if I don't… Then you run the risk of making every word a punishing, impossible chore.

In the process of all this doing, all this daily writing, I remembered why I took up teaching and coaching storytellers and writers. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the writing myself but because it doesn’t make sense for me to do that full time. My creative resources won’t stretch that far. And I do not think they are supposed to.

Remember the value in teaching and coaching others

When Melvin Varghese of Selling the Couch interviewed me, I had a chance to share my insights into why storytelling is important to clinicians in private practice and how to use it to connect to clients. I also talk about making a sane, compassionate commitment to your writing practice.

As I listened back on our conversation, I was struck by the value that lies not just in doing but in supporting the process of those who are trying to find their own way. Humbly and gratefully, I fell just a little bit more in love with the work I get to do.

Save your resources for the stories that matter. Support your creative process by guiding others. When all else fails, support your creative process by pulling out the earbuds and going for a walk as you listen to someone else discuss her craft.

Marisa Goudy on Storytelling. Selling the Couch podcast

Sometimes, you'd prefer a soapbox in the town square

Sometimes, you'd prefer a soapbox in the town square #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyAn ideal client becomes a match made in entrepreneurial heaven when she meets a tech mishap with "well, it is Mercury Retrograde..." If you're not familiar with that concept, you and I can still be great friends, of course. And if you're wondering, Mercury Retrograde happens three or four times a year. The planet seems to move backwards for about three and a half weeks. During that time, things here on earth seem to go a bit haywire. Communications are garbled. Travel is difficult. Technology refuses to cooperate.

Standard astrological advice has it that you should avoid signing contracts and launching new endeavors. And every stargazer since the dawn of time recommends that you absolutely, never ever ever offer any webinars.

Today's Story Triangle webinar was a tech dis-AAAAA-ster. (But that's ok.)

I can't guarantee that 20 minutes of tech hiccups at the start of today's webinar will teach me to heed the ancients and stick to contemplatively "taking stock" during Retrograde. Nope, I'll just mutter about why everything seems so hard and retroactively check the calendar over at MysticMamma like I always have.

No, what I learned was that when you consistently deliver value to the people who need it, they trust you. And they'll stick with you when you frantically enter in the chat box "please bear with us, we're working on it!"

I am deeply grateful to the members of my community who reminded me to breathe and stuck around and told me "Thank you Marisa! Such helpful information to finding my voice in story..."

But I do fantasize about that soapbox

Once upon a time, when you had something to say, the only technology you needed was a loud voice. If you wanted to get all fancy, you borrowed a soap box so the crowd could see and it could become a "multimedia" presentation.

But, since you probably aren't going to be able to make it to Main Street in New Paltz, NY for the next Story Triangle session, I guess I'll stick to the internet.

I checked the calendar, and Mercury Retrograde ends on May 22. Let's do this thing again (perhaps with a more reliable webinar platform). Join me on May 24, will you?

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In Case You Need One More Reminder: Yes, Your Story Matters

Maybe by telling you my story you can better tell yours which is the only way home, Mary Karr #365StrongStories This line is wrapped up in a longer sentence in the prologue of Mary Karr's memoir Lit. To say that she had me at hello is a terrific understatement.

In this case, she is speaking to her son when she says "Maybe by telling you my story you can better tell yours, which is the only way home," but I think it is true for any relationship.

In a family, in a friendship, at work, or in the relationship between storyteller and audience, everyone is freer to speak the truth when someone is brave enough to tell their story and invite others to do the same.

Come with me as we explore the relationships that make strong stories. Sign up for the free Story Triangle class that's live at 1 PM ET on Wednesday, May 11.

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