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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The best writing advice you'll ever want to ignore

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver #365StrongStories“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.” - Barbara Kingsolver This is some of my favorite writing advice. Some of the time.

Kingsolver is right. Writing for the marketplace and trying to please the masses every time you tell a story sets you on the path toward mediocrity and misery. There's no guarantee that anything will sell or that anyone will care. If you don't at least write for yourself, you're writing for no one at all.

And yet... Kingsolver is not talking to bloggers, to those of us who are writing to build a business and connect with the people whose lives will be changed by the programs you offer and the services you provide.

For us, there must be a time for diving deep and figuring out the message. You need time to look within in find the Sovereign Story that you must share with your community.

But then, it's necessary to open the doors and the windows and the browser and the Facebook feed. You need to look to what people are worried about and longing for and use your writing to connect your personal stories with the stories they need to hear.

I've created a class called the Story Triangle that gives you insight into how to honor your audience, your story, and yourself when you sit down to create online content. It will change the way you look at blogging and connecting to your clients.

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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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To Become a Stronger Storyteller, Don't Write. Explore.

Just for today: don't write. Go explore. #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudySometimes the best way to strengthen your storytelling and feed your writing practice is to take a time away from the page. When my husband asks me what I want for Mother's Day, "time to myself" is always near the top of the list. I was looking forward to an hour with my journal to write and mourn my mom and follow a thought from beginning to end without having to play referee or ask anyone if they needed to use the potty.

But then, as he started to pack everyone in the car, it became clear that I needed to savor an even rarer pleasure - time alone with my older daughter.

As a rule, she asks for more of my focused attention than I could ever provide. Today, however, as we explored the acres of awakening woods behind our house, just the two of us, we met unfathomable abundance. Amidst the unfurling ferns, the scattering of wild strawberries, and the countless fairy dens, I could give her all she asked for and more.

Was it the magic of the date on the calendar, when the ubiquitous celebration of mother love made me a better mama than usual? Can I think Nature's May display of infinite enoughness? Was it simply that my relationship with my daughter makes sense when we have time and space enough to hold it?

On Sundays, the #365StrongStories project is devoted to offering up a writing prompt. This week, I invite you to take part in a BEING prompt.

Go out and explore. Break a writing date with yourself and wander with eyes wide open. Say "yes" and spread your arms wide to the unexpected. When it's time, come back to the pen or keyboard and start something new.

This Is Why We Write: a Mother, a Prayer, and an Answer

This Why We Write- A Mother, a Prayer, and an Answer. #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyWhy write? Because sometimes you give yourself the gift of scribbling down a fervent prayer.  And then, years later you get to read it from the other side when you're living an answer.

Six years ago, I used to pour my earnest, new mother's heart into a blog called The Girl Who Cried Epiphany. (Heavens! I was a babe in the blogging woods - I use "one" like the academic I used to be!)

On this Mother's Day Eve, I discovered what was essentially a journal entry. I wrote the post as I looked at my newborn and worried over what would happen at the other end of my maternity leave. 

Prayer is a word I have and flirted with and danced around and fled from.  I used to worry about the term’s religious baggage.  Also, I have worried that I did not know how to do it properly.

Now, I know that no tradition has a monopoly on prayer and I am aligning myself with Spirit, not with a specific tradition when I talk about the practice.  As for concerns about whether I am doing it right, well, I want to say I really don’t have time for that stuff any more.

Motherhood makes you appreciate each activity a little more because you have less time to spend on everything. Every breath in downward dog is deeper because you don’t know when a wail from the next room will pull you from the mat.  Every chance you get to type with two hands because baby is sweetly sleeping in her sling is to be treasured and exploited fully.  Even though a huge part of me is dedicated to simply experiencing Moira each day, the other side of that equation means that efficiency is more important than ever.  This applies even to talking Goddess or God, or whatever I am calling the Divine on a given day.

Like I said, I do not have time to worry about whether I am crafting perfect prayers, I just have to unleash my soul’s dialog and hope the ideas organize themselves.

And yet, I am left to wonder, how literal is Spirit?  What matters more, the intention of one’s petition or the way one words the prayer, the way one might craft them into mantra?

My deepest prayers as I look into my baby girl’s great blue eyes are that we may find a way for me to stay home with her full time. I always knew I didn’t want to be a working mom, but I thought that was because it would be too draining to do both and because I never liked my job that much.  Never could I have imagined the all consuming love that would make being with my daughter a need not a simple desire.

And so I have found my days and nights filled with a constant refrain: “Please, please, please let me stay home with my baby.”

But then, I wonder about how true “be careful what you wish for” really is. What if the Universe decides to answer my most fervent prayers through a lay off?  You see, it’s economics that is keeping me at work. Not only do I need the courage to leave the security of my job, but I also need to find another source of income to make staying home the idyllic portrait of mother and child that I dream of.

And so, here I write, six and a half years later, a second child born and weaned, several lean seasons survived, a business built and growing.

I'm left to marvel that I did find the courage to leave that job and to feel sick at the "how." Then, I didn't know anything much beyond the mystery of prayers and their answers.  Turns out, it wasn't a lay off but my mother's unexpected death a few months after my daughter's birth that broke my heart even as it allowed me my heart's desire. 

But You're a Great Mom!

But You're a Great Mom. #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyAs Mother's Day weekend approaches (ever bittersweet for a motherless mom), I'm looking back on what I've written on the subject of motherhood. This was drafted in 2014 when my second daughter was an infant and I felt like my business had been chucked in the diaper pail. But you're a great mom!

I hear these words like a curse.

Not all the time, certainly, but these words can diminish and dismiss even as they are are intended to applaud and support.

Like many women of my generation, I was raised to be anything I could imagine. Top of the class and pick of the litter... there were no obvious limits placed upon the ambitions of hard-working, middle class smart girls who came of age at the turn of this century.

In the rush to get the best grades and apply to the best schools, there was no whisper of motherhood. Our mothers may have been our role models, but being a mom was never really the goal. There were too many other things to prepare for.

And now that I find myself in the midst of motherhood, I  feel wildly underprepared.

I know I couldn't have prepped for the love or the exhaustion. But I was also unready for the way that all those past priorities would slip away and "be your best mama self" would be the most important thing.

Not my ability to write or speak or make an income. (Though, paradoxically, those things are still vital since being "just mom" isn't a choice due to the economics of 2014.)

In the original version, I tied everything up in a nice little bow and talked about how great it was to "just" be mom for a while. Considering the fact that I still struggle with all of my roles, I know my pat ending was wishful thinking at the time, not an actual resolution. 

These days, no one says "but you're a great mom!" to me to soothe my worries that I'm not doing enough or accomplishing enough. That has nothing to do with how much I'm publishing or the new way I'm teaching about story. It has everything to do with the fact that I am no longer seeking that kind of validation. Amazing how time and sleep and writing into the beautiful pain of motherhood can restore lost confidence and begin to heal the wound of "I'm not enough."

But do think twice about telling a mother to look on the bright side of motherhood when she's telling you she's lost sight of her career, her creativity, and herself in the midst of all the mommying. Listen to what she really needs from you and support the woman, not just the role she's playing.

Stand Here by Guest Storyteller Stan Stewart

Stand Here by guest storyteller Stan Stewart #365StrongStoriesDear Fred: I hear that you are using again. I’m not going to judge you for that. I know how difficult it is to keep addiction out of the driver’s seat.

I’m visiting your Dad. He tells me that your emails say that you don’t feel supported by him or the rest of your family. That’s what leads me to share this story with you.

Your Dad and I went for a walk yesterday morning, shared lots of stories from our lives, enjoyed the scenic trails, and had sweet silences. As we neared his place, I pointed out a chalk drawing on the street. He stepped on it without hesitation and said your name in a clear, quiet voice three times: “Frederick. Frederick. Frederick!"

The chalk drawing was a multi-colored sunburst with these words in the middle:


Since you were the literal loved-one in this story, I wanted you to know about it. I want to hear from you soon and know that I may not get what I want.

Sending love & blessings, George

Stan Stewart Muz4nowStan Stewart is also known as Muz4Now – with good reason: this multi-talented musician is a sort of “Jack of All Trades” when it comes to providing music for his clients.

Free the Princess, Crown the Queen

Free the princess, Crown the Queen and all the steps in between #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyIt is a day to feel the feelings. To allow the fear to wrack through my body. To ground myself into this moment even when it seems to hard to bear. Today, I will say “I understand everything about you” as I look the Unknown full in the face.

And it can also be the day I allow the accumulated wisdom to integrate. There is time, in this collection of hours, to find humility and wonder and an unshakable trust in myself. In spite of it all. In spite of me.

It is time to look beneath the digital haze and the “yeah, I got that” attitude. It is time to recognize where I am faking it, where I am making it, and choose to go deeper, to rest, or to let it go.

And all this must be embodied. I tell myself I’ll make time to locate every muscle in down dog and allow child’s pose to overtake me entirely too soon for my vanity’s liking.

But even if I never make it to the mat or cross off anything on the to do list, it is time to love my shallows and my depths, my darkness and my light.

At this moment, I nod to my princess wishes for fame and fortune. I bow to those mature desires for connection and truth and I say, with quiet, fledgling assurance, “yes, it’s time to crown the queen.”

This is part of my Sovereign Story. Join me on May 11 to learn about how to start to access the stories that matter to you and your audience.

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Open the Gateway to Your Sovereign Story

imageYin yoga, she said, is a journey along a path. From time to time, you reach a gate. You have the choice press into it. You see if your body wishes to surrender and move through or if the gate must stay shut. The practice is stay on path and accept that this is as far as you’re going to get today.

I followed along, contemplating the divots in a mat that once saw vigorous daily use. It was distracting, trying to remember how long it had been since I took “work time” to do something as rebellious as an online yoga class. Clearly this was one of those “emotional gates” the instructor was talking about.

The resistance in my hips, in the back of my thighs, I knew these were untold stories. These were the stories I had literally been sitting on. The body was asked to hold them because my mind was just too full.

This isn’t an original idea, of course. We know that the cells, the joints, and the muscles carry the information and the feelings the brain refuses to claim. But this “gate theory” that Julie Schoen talked about, I felt this reverberate through my creaking bones as I tried to rely on them to support me through these long poses.

There are gates along the pathway to telling your Story.

And by “Story,” I mean the capital “s” Sovereign Story that you craft as you pass through the gates of all the small “s” stories. Your Sovereign Story is your declaration of why you are here, what you are meant to offer, who you know yourself to be. It is your True Story of what it means to be human.

To get to that story, you write into situations, into long held emotions, into unresolved hurts, and triumphs you think you fully understand. You invariably get stuck by thoughts of "this is too dark, too boring, too contrived, too intimate..."

You allow all that to be true. Until the next writing session, of course. The next time, you just might discover that there is light in the darkness, wisdom in the boring, humor in the contrived, and universal insight in the intimate.

Dive deeper into story with me and join The Story Triangle webinar when it goes live on May 11.

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After you invent the wheel... A StoryShift by Susan Faurot

This StoryShift from coach Susan Faurot is a story in itself:You just invented the wheel. Relax. You can add the whitewalls later. Susan Faurot #365StrongStories

You have just invented the wheel. Relax. You can add the whitewalls later.


Since it actually describes my own story - and the advice I most need to take after launching my new storytelling course - I am going to leave it to you to spot just how and why this story works.

Not sure? Then You, Your Stories, and Your Audience just might be the ideal class for you!


Writing Prompt: Well, what did you expect?

Writing Prompt: What did you expect? #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyOur six year-old has never had “a sleepover.” Until last night, she and I had only been apart for three nights since her birth in 2009. Her first night away from family wasn’t spent on her best friend’s floor and it wasn’t part some Girl Scout event in a church hall. Nope, we sent her to the woods.

We’re blessed to have the Wild Earth organization in our town. They offer legendary summer camps as well as weekend programs all through the school year. We trust these dedicated counselors to care for our girl and initiate her into a forest wonderland that she couldn’t access with her parents clucking “be careful!”

Moira was phenomenal. The youngest kid of the group, by all reports she was up for every aspect of the adventure.

She’s home now and we are so grateful to have her back and hear her stories of the dragonfly she healed, the donuts she ate, and the unicorn she met (the program, Mystwood, has a profoundly mystical element). And yet…

Even after all that magic and bravery and sense of accomplishment, there been has all sorts of frustration and anger and sadness today. As Moira herself said, “I didn’t think I would come home and feel yucky!”

Shifting from a children’s paradise in the woods where fairies cavorted in every tree trunk to a rainy day Sunday with all the same old family rules is hard. Transitions are never without their challenges.

Ultimately, however, this discord is rooted in our expectations.

Our daughter expected the high of her experience to last. We assumed that she would return tired but happy to be back with her folks. At some level, we probably expected her to be grateful to us for sending her somewhere so amazing (yeah, that one is quite silly).

Your expectations - and particularly all the ways those stories are defied - those are often a source of conflict. And, as you probably know, conflict is pretty much essential to story.

Think about when your expectations stirred up trouble or caused you pain. Write into a situation when hope and reality were mismatched. There’s a compelling story in there, I promise...

Learn more about what makes a story compelling. Join me for The Story Triangle, a free online class I am offering on May 11.

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What hot water and Ani Difranco can teach you about story

What Hot Water & Ani Difranco Can Teach You About Story, #365Strong Stories by Marisa GoudyEvery once in a while, a woman with small children will have a chance to shower without anyone poking the curtain or worrying over the distant screams. She'll get to shave her legs and wash, rinse, repeat if she wants to. This is the chance to put on some of her own music so she doesn't find herself singing "Baby Beluga" (again!) as she scrubs her back.

Thanks to the endless spring twilight and a husband willing to take a shift searching for worms under all the backyard stones, I had twenty steamy minutes to myself. I practiced my ablutions (wow, how often do you get to say that in a sentence) and I listened - really listened - to the album that got me through that summer of crappy 60 hour workweeks.

Ani Difranco's Little Plastic Castle  is just as wonderful. And the title track has a lot to teach us about a well-built story. See the lyrics and my annotations below.

In a coffee shop in a city Which is every coffee shop in every city On a day which is every day I picked up the magazine Which is every magazine Read a story, then I forgot it right away

The ordinary world. (So terribly, terribly ordinary.)

And they say, "Goldfish have no memory" I guess their lives are much like mine And the little plastic castle Is a surprise every time And it's hard to say, if they're happy But they don't seem much to mind

Just enough details about our heroine/narrator to be curious. Show, don't tell. Intriguing and allowing us to fill in the blanks and entertain our own goldfish memories.

From the shape of your shaved head I recognized your silhouette As you walked out of the sun and sat down And the sight of your sleepy smile Eclipsed all the other people As they paused to sneer at the two girls from out of town

Here's the rising action. This is where setting and character exposition becomes plot.

I said, look at you this morning You are, by far, the cutest But be careful getting coffee I think these people want to shoot us Or maybe there's some kind of local competition here To see who can be the rudest

Oh, the conflict!

And the turning point. This is where Ani takes us from story to commentary - much like a good blog post that begins with personal anecdote and brings the reader into the heart of the message. In this case, how does Ani really feel about being a feminist icon in an ordinary, hypocritical world that asks so much of women like her and yet offers nothing but forgettable magazines and rude coffee drinkers.

And people talk about my image Like I come in two dimensions Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind Like what I happen to be wearing The day that someone takes a picture Is my new statement for all of womankind

And I wish they could see us now In leather bras and rubber shorts Like some ridiculous new team uniform For some ridiculous new sport Quick someone call the girl police And, and file a report

In a coffee shop in a city Which is every coffee shop in every city On a day which is every day

Your turn. Listen - really listen - to something by your favorite bands or singer-songwriters and see what you can learn about storytelling. Long, hot shower optional, but highly recommended.

Walking Home by Guest Storyteller Dawn Montefusco

Today's #365StrongStories guest story is special: it's a poem. Our storyteller Dawn Montefusco is a writing coach, so she definitely knows the rules of story well enough to break them. As she describes it, the piece is the complete hero's journey. 

And this is a special time to be sharing "Walking Home." Dawn's free telesummit Write Because It Matters is airing now. She has collected 21 experts (including me!) to talk about how to get your own meaningful stories into the world. What a perfect time for this project to hold space for Dawn's story of strength, love, and evolution.


Walking Home by Guest Storyteller Dawn Montefusco #365StrongStoriesI believe I am strong.
I believe I am weak. I believe I am separate. I believe I am connected. I believe I had a rough childhood. I believe I am a blessed woman. I believe that if I love people they will love me back. I believe no one really loves me, they just say they do. I believe I am great at what I do. I believe I am imperfect and therefore messed up. I believe I want peace. I believe I hurt others. I believe there is a reason for everything. I don’t believe a thing. I believe my heart will break if he leaves. I believe we should part and it’s the best thing for both of us. I believe nothing is working out. I believe everything will be okay.

Dawn Montefusco #365StrongStories Guest StorytellerDawn Montefusco is a writer, speaker, poet and coach who escaped the Bronx in the 80's and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Please join Dawn, me, and 20 other experts in the field of writing and publishing for the free Write Because It Matters summit that is running now.

Enough with the Tortured Entrepreneur. Love the Process.

The process is the cupcake, the outcome is the icing. #365StrongStories by writing coach Marisa Goudy“It doesn’t have to be easy. Isn’t it enough that it’s magic?” Ohhhhh, Liz Gilbert, thank you! Thank you for this and thank you for piercing through my crunch week mania and my cranky mama is on a deadline B.S.

I’ve talked about how putting the finishing touches on my new course - You, Your Stories, and your Audience - has been a total grind. If you saw my sleep starved eyes and my messy ponytail you’d understand that I wanted your sympathy. And fresh brewed coffee. And a time machine. And full time care for my children.

But I am done with that. I am embracing this as the creative process it is. I am showing up to fix one more slide presentation with gratitude rather than resentment.

Enough with the tortured entrepreneur. The business martyr is every bit as worn out and uninspiring as the "tortured artist."

[tweetthis] "Business martyr" is just as cliched and unhelpful as "tortured artist" #lovetheprocess[/tweetthis]

It’s time to recognize that this process is the reward - that gathering and honing of what I know and shaping it into something that is worthy and helpful and TRUE. When people take the course and start writing their own strong stories that better lives… that is just going to make an already powerful, beautiful act of creation into something that much sweeter.

Deep gratitude to Elizabeth Gilbert and to the podcaster who hosted her, the  wicked brilliant Rob Bell (no, he is not a man who says “wicked,” but if he was from Massachusetts rather than Michigan he would say it all the time and would be freaking adorable).

Listen to this one for the brilliance about the cake and the icing and this whole riff about the “transrational” that I am super excited to explore.

And try this one if you want to jump into Big Magic and get the context for the quote above.

Curious about what's in the new course? Get a sweet little taste in the content rich webinar, The Story Triangle, that goes live May 11!

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Use the Story Triangle to Tell Stories that Work

Use the Story Triangle to tell stories that work #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyIn some forgotten magazine, I once read a lament about how little fiction is written about the world of work. When historians look back upon this time they might think we live in an age of passionate romance, of hideous crimes, of sweeping wars, and occasional zombie plagues and vampire infestations. They won't be able to look to that cultural signifier we call the novel to understand how many bloody hours we devote to emails and preparing reports and fiddling with "easy"  tools like the LeadPages system.

That said, these people from the future might be able to go to server farms to comb through our Gmail accounts to understand our daily preoccupations, but what will they really understand of our everyday lives by looking at all those alerts and notifications we skillfully dismiss and ignore?

I'm hustling through the completion of a major project. Ironically, though it's all about storytelling, I find that I'm having trouble living my own story through the haze of "busy." That's what happens when you hunch over a laptop perfecting copy and worrying over image selection and praying that all the intangible tech pieces will place nicely with one another.

Even though all this minutiae isn't in itself the stuff that legends are made of, the stories that I am empowering others to craft do have infinite potential. They can mean something to the storytellers and the audiences they're made for.

The everyday tasks of running an online business don’t lend themselves to become great stories. In my case, however, I hope that my own stretch of "mundane" work will empower you to tell stories that matter.

Join me for the next free Story Triangle class that is coming up on May 24. Who knows? The storytelling tools you learn to deepen your connection with clients might enable you tell the great story of what it means to run a business in the 21st century! Reserve your seat

Writing Prompt: Write Your Way Home

Writing Prompt: Home #365StrongStories by Writing Coach and storyteller Marisa GoudyWhat does "home" conjure for you? Simply free writing on a page beneath that word written in broad capital letters is a potent writing exercise in itself. Today, I drove through a piece of my hometown, eyes welling up at my closest childhood friend's driveway, at the stretch of sidewalk where I fell off my bike and nearly got run over, at the restaurant where I slogged through the worst summer job ever.

Gleefully, I told my daughter about the forest where I met the fairies for the first time in my adult life (they were happy to have me back). I did not point out my high school boyfriend's house or mention the church we thought we'd get married in some day.

I don't have a bed in this town anymore. My dad has moved four towns further out on the peninsula that held me from my first breath. Luckily, Cape Cod has great wide arms to welcome me "home," no matter what beach I land on. This piece of historic Route 6A in Barnstable will always lead the way home even if I have no fixed address along the way.

Now that I have survived the five-hour trip across Massachusetts and dipped down into our "real" home in New York's Hudson Valley, I can almost leave the tears behind. I can almost find the creative spark that hides amongst the yearning and the memories.

Gratefully, I can turn to one of the great mothers of American literature for three views through the prism of home. All true, all compelling, all addressing a different aspect of the complicated subject of home:

  • "You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right."
  • "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
  • "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."

Your turn... write into that simply stated "home" or use one of the quotes as inspiration. Consider submitting your story to the #365StrongStories project.

Some words that matter more than words

The words that matter more than words, #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy, writing coach for therapists and healersThe afternoon is heavy with the perfect kind of April damp that invites you to play outside for a while and then rush inside for popcorn and a movie in front of a blazing fire. The kids are tucked onto the couch with their grandparents and we're watching Inside Out. I wish I didn't have to have the laptop out, but I'm doing good work and everyone is safe and warm and feeling all the feelings. I have the room to hold space for this moment, the project at hand, and this...

Earlier today while I was on a quest for blog posts that combine story and the authors insights, I stopped over at Momastery.

There are blog posts that shine brilliantly as they tear up every script. They transcend mere bloggery and just... speak. To the heart and to the soul and to all the things that matter.

Read this one.

Life is hard but they are brave by Glennon Doyle Melton of MomasteryIt breaks every form because it's written according to the laws of love and sorrow, connection and death. It's about the things we're most afraid of and the places we are most brave. It is about everything that quiet, non-eventful Saturdays seek to keep at bay because, as much as we want don't want to let the dark stuff in, "the hard" still part of our greater reality.


Where the Water Meets the Earth Day

Where the Water Meets the Earth Day, #365StrongStories by Writer and Storytelling Coach Marisa GoudyEight long months have passed. Finally, the moment I have been longing for. I’m standing at the edge. I am home. Water. Sky. Frigid spring sand cradling my white winter feet.

It happens to be Earth Day, but that is just a coincidence. I am much more interested in the ocean than I am in the earth right now.

I call myself a mermaid who accidentally found herself living in the mountains. Over the almost twenty years since I left Cape Cod, the only thing more troubling than a landlocked existence is the way I’ve almost stop noticing the dull ache of my separation from the sea.

But finally, I am here. And I feel… nothing.

Maybe it is because my head is full of stories that are about everything but the natural world. Perhaps it is the habitual lack of sleep that makes it hard to be present in the moment. A lot of my distraction is due to the effort it takes to keep a two year-old from falling into the freezing cold water while she tries to wade after sister.

Either way, I feel like a failed mermaid and an Earth Day flunkie.

Luckily, the Bay will be there tomorrow. The sky and the sand and those squawking gulls will  be too.

The Earth and her waters and her ceaseless winds have a way of forgiving us not matter how many times we forget and lose our way.

Thanks, Mama.

Dance Camp by Guest Storyteller Sara Eisenberg

Dance Camp by Guest Storyteller Sara Eisenberg #365StrongStoriesI walk into the plain box that is the main studio bearing a small notebook, a water bottle, and a body trained from age four to classical ballet’s five stylized positions - turned-out hips, port de bras and all. Ignorant of the terminology, elements, rules, of modern dance. Ready to risk moving in unaccustomed ways. Age 68. De-conditioned. Writer's photo of dancers of the third ageAm I nuts? Or am I home? I am a Dancer of the Third Age, captured by this iconic image that hangs on my wall.

It’s taken me 28 years to drive 42 miles to the Dance Exchange, but here I am.

We move out from the opening circle walking randomly, casually pair up for counter-weight stretches, grasp with hands or elbows, pull away. Keep moving, lean on and into one another, form shifting sculptures of three or four. Flock together, following the changing leader, ever shifting to sync with other bodies. Practice not replicating but capturing the essence of a partner’s movement. Preliminaries to creating dance together.

We tell our stories and “found” gestures emerge - a sweep of the arm, a shift in gaze, height, level, or direction. We play with these gestures like words snipped from magazines, and build movement phrases, sequences, experiment with them as solos, duets, chorus. Later, spoken words are layered in. Even later, music.

I am unmoored by the absence of music. Sequence flusters me. Brow furrowed, I ask again: break this down for me. Ever seeking flow and smoothness, I am immersed in this staccato movement all week: break it down, re-member a sequence, work it through. Others waiting for me. Waiting. Waiting.

Still, I am willing to be the only one standing when everyone else drops to the floor, to forgo a jump and instead lift a leg, to drop a movement altogether.

I walk out of the studio at the end of camp with a few scribbles in my notebook, an empty water bottle, and no injuries. Praising.

Limitations have become less encumbrances than shifting opportunities to shape choreography, relationship, life. Secret chords that please: Hallelujah gestures, broken down, broken open, holy.

#365StrongStories guest storyteller Sara EisenbergSara Eisenberg grapples with honesty and kindness in daily life in Baltimore, where she practices as a healer, herbalist and creative inquirer. Connect with her at www.alifeofpractice.com

Do you have a story to share? Of course you do. 

Submit to #365StrongStories

Your Next Story Is Hiding In Your Favorite Little Details

Your next story is hiding in your favorite little details, #365StrongStories by storyteller and writing coach Marisa Goudy | therapists | healers | content creationSome people remember exactly what everyone ordered during that special meal. Others have a vivid recall for the phase of the moon on an important day. Personally, I have fashion memory. I can tell you exactly what I wore from head to toe the night I met my husband. (And yes, I still wear that denim jacket twelve years later.)

The shoes I wore to my unexpected date with destiny just hit the bottom of the trash can, however. During the last big rain I realized that the cosmetic issues on the soles were in fact structural deficiencies. Turns life is too short to wear leaky shoes - even if they do have great sentimental value.

The details make the stories

What little things do you tend to notice? Those observations form your unique point of view. They allow you to tell the authentic story that only you could tell.

My husband wouldn’t remember my outfit and he certainly wouldn’t remember what he’d worn himself. But now, the story of how that redhead at the end of the crowded bar in New Paltz knew there was something about that guy with the sweet smile - even though he wore a tie-dyed Harley Davidson shirt, tapered legged jeans, and boat shoes - that’s essential to the “how Mike and Marisa met” legend.

Your favorite details also inspire your stories

The details that are special to you can also help you decide which stories to tell.

Though my first date shoes are long gone by now, I was reminded of them when I tripped over another pair of sneakers that have been sitting in middle of the hall for much too long. If “the clothes make the man” is true, then apparently “the shoes make the memories” is valid too.

What little details stand out to you? How can you make a practice of noticing these details and put them to work in the stories you write?