Sometimes you have a story to tell that’s so clear in your mind, but when you sit down to write, your hand and thoughts freeze. How to tell it? Where to start? How to end?
If you’ve been wanting to do more storytelling in your writing, but find yourself stopped by confusion, procrastination or perfectionism, I invite you to join me for this online workshop.
In Build Your Memoir Muscle, you’ll learn and practice tools that will make personal storytelling more accessible—and fun. You’ll explore the “golden thread” of meaning through your life, discover new entry points to your story, and sharpen your own unique writer’s lens. And we’ll create a safe container in which you’ll also be able to share your writing aloud, if you desire.
It’s happening on Zoom from 10-2 on Saturday, January 29th. Offered through Mount Hood Community College—the fee is $45 and there’s a registration link below.
Feedback from the last MHCC memoir workshop: “
What a day! A nondescript classroom filled with delightful and enriching discoveries; all wrapped in such thoughtful and knowledgeable teaching. I feel more confident about my own writing, glad to have heard fellow students share their stories, and grateful for the gifts you bestowed.”
Winter writing on a Friday morning. What would happen if you slowed down for just 5 minutes—and just listened. And then wrote what you heard? Not trying to create something great or convince anyone to buy anything. What if you just listened for the words that are right below the surface? They’re there. And they’re waiting for you.
What you have learned so completely matters. What you keep dreaming about matters. The times you have soared matter. The times that have brought you to your knees matter. The lens through which you are seeing the world right now—the thought that keeps circling, the idea that keeps grabbing your attention—matters. And it is medicine for the rest of us.
I once imagined that if I could just sit with someone who was yearning to write a book—not just any book, but a really beautiful book—without the constraints of time or home or office, together we could dream that book into being.
Surrounded by nature and nourished with good food, we could spend a day exploring all the wisdom they’ve been gathering and wanting to express, look at how they are designed to share their message, and create a container unique to them.
We could then map the way, step by step, from that idea straight on through to a finished book. Long scattered thoughts would connect and that book would begin to be born.
When they sat down to write and stepped into the wilderness of confusion, procrastination or overwhelm, that map would be their guide.
So, several years ago, I began offering Book Mapping Days, and they have allowed all that to happen. In Covid times, they’ve happened on Zoom–and I’ve really missed the spaciousness and magic of being together in person.
This week I was able to create a socially-distanced-in-person day in a beautiful little cabin on Mount Hood. We mapped out a plan and it was wonderful to see all the elements working together again.
What could happen if you gave your book idea these things?
After months of pandemic-focus on things that are most necessary, it felt good to pare down even more. One pants, one shirt, one jacket, one hat, one book, just enough food, a stove, a sleeping bag.
Because the less we have, the farther we go and the more we notice. There’s a spontaneous swim at 8,500 feet. Morning oatmeal above timberline. Explosions of glacier lily and paintbrush. Wild windy nights, yellow moon illuminating pink heather. Elk tracks criss-crossing the snowpack.
The wonders that happen when we remember to pack light. (Especially when it comes to writing.)
The remaining blackberries are raisinlike. Shriveled. Birds have picked over them, leaving them to winter’s dormant dream. * And this is how it always seems to go for blackberries. I’ve got to assume they are ok with it. They likely don’t yearn to be plucked and devoured in the warm sun, shared in pies, or sprinkled on your late night bowl of ice cream. * But you. You human. You do not do as well when your own fruit dies on the vine. When what you so desperately desire to share shivers away, unheard, unseen, unharvested. Unoffered. * I walk past this patch of berries every day, all year long. They remind me so much of our human urge to create. There’s that initial germination of an idea. Then the focused sun of our attention ripens it til it glistens with juicy fullness. The moment that stirs us to offer. To extend our hand. To raise our voice. To hit “send.” Then that sweet instant in which it is consumed. * Then, there are the other times. I know these well. The times when I’ve held that nearly ripe fruit so close to my heart and not let it go. When I haven’t extended my own berries to one who might be hungry. When I waited… til I was clearer, better, stronger–different. The moment of offering passes by. And to hold onto what are now wizened, wrinkled berries just seems overprotective and sad. So I drop them and pretend they were no big deal anyway. They sink back into the earth. * Every single one of these dried-up berries I’m looking at today was such an offering that no human, bird nor bear accepted. And that is fine. * But what about your fruit? * My wish for you is that the moment you sense its ripening—the moment the sun is high and the message is full—you breathe in courage. And breathe in awareness that offering it to someone is the PURPOSE of your fruit. THIS is the reason you imagined the fruit in the first place. To nourish or, maybe, delight others. * * May you let it be easier.
May you reach out your hand and say, “Here’s a berry. Please take it if you like.”
I scribbled this sign the day after Sept. 11, 2001 and stuck it on a fir outside my door. I had just moved from Boston to Rhododendron, Oregon, the week before—and, like everyone, was turned inside out. It helped me feel a little more grounded.
The line came from a book, Gervase, that my mother had and that I loved so much as a kid. In it, a young girl befriends a fawn who grows into a mighty stag. The townspeople fear the stag’s wild nature and make a plan to kill him. Just before he goes off with them, knowing his fate, he tells the girl, “Hither world, thither world, all worlds are one. Keep high watch.”
When I was 10, I took the words to mean that maybe death wasn’t so scary, that the smallest of creatures was as important as all others. That you look out for everyone, and don’t get so lost in the details you miss what really matters.
I have moved often and brought this sign from house to house. Over the last wild year, I’ve glanced at it and thought, “Jeez, NOW I know what this means.”
May I remember this in the coming days and may we all keep high watch for each other.
I’m at a retreat in Topanga, California. Sipping wine outside in March.
Having my face painted by an intuitive body painter.
Who talks to me about the queen.
Something in me resonates.
I tell Star, “Yes, that kind of feels right.”
And then something else butts in.
“Wait a minute, I’m the scullery maid, not the queen.
I provide the service. I am not royal.”
This very flip is what I often experience with clients after a Golden Thread session- after your stories have revealed the truth of your essence.
And it is hard to stay there. It is so easy to drift back to what’s familiar.
I so get it.
Like this. It feels good to walk and breathe like a
queen with this paint on my face. Not too long after the retreat,
however, the scullery maid comes knocking at my door.
It takes muscle to keep her out. She’s so familiar.
I want to share with you something I wrote in my journal
in the moment when I did feel like a queen.
Not because I want to dump random journal-writing on you.
But because I want to encourage you to explore and claim your true essence. Really, take courage. If I can share this, you can SO share yours!
I am a Queen.
I am the blue flame of clear expression. Dreamer and seer.
I am here to awaken you to the story of you. Of all that you are.
My kingdom is expression. I sit on a simple throne of earth, water and wood. I was born in mud. Crowned by experience. Dripping details, intuition, inspiration. Alchemy. Pulling pearls from your dreams. Polishing diamonds from your coal.
My heart opens more each time I listen.
I take in. I let go.
I let a tear fall–and paint the spot silver.
It’s part of me. It’s part of you.
Nothing to fear. So much room.
Together we step into the old, the new and this royal moment.
Ok, now it’s your turn.
I’ve got an invitation for you:
If you’d like to learn how you can discover your life’s Golden Thread—
and tap into YOUR Queen for a Day essence—
click the link below to schedule your complimentary 30-minute call.
“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
As I was making a present for my baby niece a few weeks ago, this kept happening. With just about every stitch, the thread would transform from straight and smooth to a crazy thrashy tangle.
I untangled that night more than I sewed… and the big vision I had for what I was making kept fading.
It felt so familiar and it struck me the same thing happens when you go looking for your own story… you find it, and for a while it’s smooth and straight. You spot that thread and follow its path and it’s helping connect all the pieces together. Nice and clear.
Then when you tug it a little it devolves into an unrecognizable mess, looping back on itself, requiring you to stop everything and just unravel.
Makes you want to throw the whole thing out the window, no?
The big vision of YOU definitely fades.
You move outside of your story again, like Brene Brown describes.
You start hustling for your worthiness.
There are lots of threads in your story. Lots of emotions. Lots of shame, regret, fear dancing around in there. Seriously, when it comes to sorting it all out, tangling like this is a guarantee.
Sometimes the way through is to have someone sit and look at that whole tangled mess with you.
What I’ve learned in the last few years is that we all have an inability to look at our own story and see if for what it is. Friends shouldn’t let friends dive into their story alone. It can be gnarly in there.
The guests start zipping up their down jackets, attempt to pull last bits of meat off the roast pig, and the microphone just sits there on the grass.Come on, it says, now or never. I grab it and then grab Jen.Falling into a rhythm so ancient and familiar, we start to sing Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful,” just like we did 100,000 times when we were 10. Listening to it now, it’s a grindy-sexy and male anthem, but we loved delivering it in opera voice and cow voice in the way back of the station wagon and as we walked up West Street in our Dr. Scholl’s.One of my oldest friends, Jen, got married a few days ago and her new husband had requested there be no formal, tear-jerking toasts at the wedding. No hilarious yarns from the golden days of decades-old friendships. So I didn’t prepare anything. But as the day started to wind down and the couple headed off to their future, it felt wrong not to call up a single moment of the past.Jen was a great sport and we gave the song as good a go as we could. (I was so in the moment, I didn’t even put down the cupcake I was eating.)So often I wait for the perfect moment. Hit pause until the better technology comes along. Put it off until the right alignment floats into place like a magical dove. Even typing these words of hesitation feels like sinking my fingers and mind into muddy quicksand. Blahdy-blahdy-blah. It’s so, so, so tiring to wait, isn’t it?It felt so great and free to be up there singing that song all out, in a grabbed-at moment with my oldest friend that would never come around again.What about you?And what is right on the other side of putting it out there?If you were a child of the amazing 70s, you might remember the line in the song, “Can I get a witness?” I didn’t know what that meant when we were little and just assumed it was a witness in court. Later I learned it was a tradition in certain African-American churches for a speaker who shared a testimony or insight to invite others to clap or shout “Amen!” by asking, “Can I get a witness?”It’s kind of what we’re all trying to do, isn’t it? Just get a witness?When you share your stories, you’re really asking others—your people, your tribe—to shout out their Amen.So, the thing is, you’ve got to give them something to witness.If you’ve been hitting pause on telling your story or sharing your message, let’s get on the phone.Let me be your witness, because, man, do I get it! Grab your complimentary 30-minute clarity session right here.And here’s a fun little clip of Grand Funk Railroad in their heyday.