There’s a part of what you do that’s beyond, beneath, and before the bounds of language.
As a healer, you know that the color, the sensation, the texture of an event or an emotion carries meaning that the English language often can’t begin to touch.
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.
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...
How about you… what’s your word of the year, #7MagicWords inspired or otherwise?
“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!)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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...
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.