Stop striving. Start listening.

This is a follow-up to this post: On a mission (statement)
credit: Joanna Tebbs Young

credit: Joanna Tebbs Young

I’ve written of Serendipity and Synchronicity before. There have been many examples of it in my life, such as the time two women showed up to one of my workshops out of the blue. It “just happened” that these two women were from the very organization I had been trying to connect with the previous week but from whom I had, frustratingly, received no response. Turned out they had never received my email, but had picked up one of my brochures and felt my work was perfect for their organization.

These occurrences always seem to happen right after I have had an emotional break-down of epic proportions. Crying. Blubbering about giving up. Despairing. Wondering how I will ever make things work.

You see, I forget. Every. Single. Time: I can’t make things work. I get caught up in trying too hard, striving, driving to do and be more. Without even realizing it I do this. It’s an unconscious thing.

Instead, I have to remember to allow things to happen organically. I have to be open to possibilities. And above all, I must be authentic and truthful with myself.

So, here is the latest series of synchronous events.

First, I have been trying to find work in a particular industry for a while. Reason being: it seemed the only possibility for any real money. However, even as I was pursuing it my gut was saying to my brain, “Hey, up there! I’m not so sure about this!” But I kept pushing anyway.

One meeting that made me feel a little ill, then another. But still I put together proposals and hoped for the best.

Then, one day, during a writing exercise (as described here), I realized I had it all wrong. This wasn’t what I wanted to do. Instead I created a new mission statement.

As soon as I did that, I felt clearer.

And things began to happen.

1. The director of an art center asked me if I’d like to teach a summer workshop for teen girls. As my graduate research was focused on the loss of voice experienced by girls at adolescence and how expressive writing can help reclaim it, this is a perfect fit for me. I put together a proposal (one that didn’t prompt my stomach to yell at my brain).

2. During a conversation around this same time, someone pondered if my work might be a good fit for enrichment classes in independent schools, for which this person had quite a few connections. I thought “That sounds exciting. Maybe so…” and filed the idea away. Until…

3. While putting together the art center’s summer class proposal I was asking for some wording input from parents of teen girls. This prompted one mother to suggest I put in a proposal for an enrichment class at her daughter’s independent school. Because I already had a proposal in the works, I was able to tweak it and send it off immediately.

4. Because I now had a proposal specific to an enrichment class I could now contact the person who had suggested enrichment classes to me the previous weekend and say, “Hey, hook me up with your connections!” That person asked if I had a flier she could give out. Well…

5. I had that very day been designing one. As soon as I created my new mission statement a couple of weeks ago, I had decided I needed to put together a new flier. With this additional, potential audience in mind I re-worked it slightly and soon it will go to print.

6. Meanwhile, I discovered a conference, for which I registered, is coming to a neighboring town focused on mentoring young women, and I was just asked, thanks to a recommendation from a wellness director at one college, to run my intro to journaling workshop for students at another college.

Trust. It is a difficult, difficult thing to do, especially when the bills are piling up and walls seem more numerous than open doors. But I believe it is these walls and road blocks that signal you’re not on quite the right path; often it’s close to the right one, but if it’s slightly off, you will get the message. The Universe likes focused aim with the target being your authentic passion.

Eve Ensler said in one video (I apologize I’m not sure which one), and I paraphrase: Happiness is action… and giving away what you want the most.

I felt silenced as a young girl (and not so young) woman/person. I want to be heard. I want a voice. This is what I want to give to other people. Once I articulated what it was I wanted and needed and really heard myself say it then things began to click into place.

I have no idea where, if anywhere, any of these recent events will lead, but it feels like a step forward through an open door, instead of trying to smash through a wall.

Prompt: I’m trying too hard to… What I really want to do is…

A Path to Publication, part 2: When the time is right

“What do I really want to do?” I asked my journal.

“Finish your book!” it replied.

“Yes,” I exhaled in recognition of Truth. “I do want to do that.”

The Universe said, “OK, then!” And the Serendipities and Synchronicities began.

Within hours, two conferences popped up in my Facebook feed, one weekend-long one dedicated specifically to my genre, and another on writing pitches, queries, and book proposals — all those things that scared the bejeezus outta me — scheduled in my hometown. I sign up for both, thanks to the bigger-than-expected tax refund that came shortly thereafter.

I email some author and editor acquaintances of mine, asking for their advice. The responses are incredibly helpful.*

Then an opportunity for the summer suddenly presents itself which means I will only have myself to look after… no meals to prepare or piles of laundry to wade through. My editor OKs a sub for my columns for a few weeks. I have been given the precious gift of TIME.

At the first of the writing conferences I learn wonderful things* that give me new confidence in my ability to pursue publication. AND I learn there is a “Meet the Agents” event scheduled 90 minutes drive from me exactly at the end of the time-period I have scheduled to take off to work on the book.

One of my workshop participants said this yesterday:

Sometimes I feel like I’m just driving down a highway and I have no idea where I am or where I’m going. But then, suddenly, boom! there’s an exit and where I want to be is right there!

Well, I feel like I just found my exit. My journey is just started though but at least I know which way I’m going now. For that I am most grateful.

* In my next post I will share some of the gems I learned from authors and editors.

To read snippets of my memoir, click hereI will be adding more as this journey progresses.

Again with the Tension?! (Or, It’s OK not to know)

It’s happened again. An old theme has come circling around, adding another new level of understanding.

June 2009: I wrote this post on a different blog, which I then re-posted here in July 2011. This is the gist: During a Journal Therapy training I wrote (well, it kind of wrote itself while I held the pen) an Alphapoem which included the phrase, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Not knowing what the hell that meant, I played with it for a while using other writing exercises. Then a few weeks later I was provided with the answer while reading Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

In response I wrote:

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career… [but] I choose to put my Longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.

And so I went on my way. Two years later, I am writing, teaching and learning amazing, life-changing things.

Today: I pick up the copy of Marion Woodman’s Leaving My Father’s House: A Journey to Conscious Femininity, and casually flip to a page. I read this:

Knowing [the eternal feminine] has nothing to do with blindly stumbling toward a fate we think we cannot avoid. It has everything to do with developing consciousness until it is strong enough to hold tension as creative energy.”

Having read a lot about the Sacred Feminine or Feminine Divine (or in pure psychological terms, the feminine aspects in both men and women, or our more Right-Brain-associated functions), it is that part of us that can deal with mystery, with the not-knowing, ambiguity, paradox, contradiction, irrationality, possibility… i.e. what creates art  – or stresses us completely out!

Personally, I don’t deal well with Not Knowing. It makes me tense, as it does many people. We like answers, truth, predictability, logic. We are, after-all, a predominantly and proudly Left-Brained culture. Woodman’s use of the word “tense” in the above quote reminded me of that kind of tension, the stress kind. The kind we are told is not good, the kind not to sweat. But here she is telling us that Not Knowing, that being tense, is a way to produce creative energy.

And doesn’t that make sense? We can only come up with new ideas, create new possibilities, think outside that proverbial box, if we don’t have an answer already, if we are not concretely certain and convinced and determined that we already have The Truth. No great change, no great art, no great invention, no discovery, no shift towards better was ever made by those who already had The Answer.

And so, two and a half years after writing that strange phrase and then having been given The Answer, I am given Another Answer, on the surface contradictory but equally good, equally empowering. The one does not exclude the other, they can live side-by-side, providing me with new possibilities of thought.

“Resume the Stability of Tension” = Only a tense rope (a focused life) will carry you forward, and it is only when letting go of what you think you know that you can move forward. It is OK –  indeed good – not to know.

Maybe next week, next year, tomorrow, I’ll be offered another equally truthful meaning of the poem that was given to me…

Prompt: “It is a contradiction, but equally true, that…

P.S. Just hours after publishing this post I picked up where I had left off in the other book I am reading, The Chalice and the Blade and read this:

tension between pairs as well as opposite is a frequent theme. The dynamism of nature and its periodic rejuvenation through the seeming opposites of death and birth… unity and the duality of life and death… motherhood and virginity… femininity and masculinity… juxtaposition and essential unity of the creative and destructive powers… this [is the] all-encompassing transformative character of the … ‘goddess of opposites.'”

Tolerating Fear

This is a recycled post from a couple of years ago. With summer in full , hot swing, the kids are home most days of the week leaving me very little chance to write (the beach and my laptop aren’t great friends). I am yearning to write but when I do have a moment I find myself wading through the ever-deeper seas of social media promoting upcoming workshops instead. 

I have chosen this post because of some particular events this week. One: I truly wrote through some fear in my journal – and came out not only unscathed on the other side but feeling much better; and Two, Three and Four: Some amazing things have landed in my lap this week that I wasn’t even looking for after I stopped worrying about, well,  EVERYTHING! Fear is a crazy, life-blocking thing and it’s time to stomp it on the head. I have written many posts about Fear and over the next little while I will re-post them (Recycling is Good!).

Oh, and P.S. Two years later my daughter is a fabulous belly-dancer (I can boast about my own child, right?) and the only one in her class who can balance a sword on her head while standing on one foot! Fear conquered!

“First recognize that you’re afraid and slowly build your tolerance for fear…

… You may still feel it, but you become willing to bear it as you write. You keep your hand moving, you stay there, you move closer and closer to the edge of what scares you.” – Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning

I have been working on an article for the past couple of months. It’s a biggie for me – the first one for one of the “Glossys” – and I am petrified. First I had to write the query and that scared the bejeezus outta me. But I wrote it and it was accepted. Toe in water. But now I have to swim, and swim damn well. The fear of writing something mediocre and having it rejected has me swearing never to call myself a writer again. I admit I am afraid that I’m not really a writer.

My daughter starts a belly dancing class tonight but she’s scared. What if they don’t like me? What if they laugh at me? It hurts my belly when I hula-hoop – won’t this hurt too? What if I can’t do it right? I try to convince her that everyone has to start somewhere (and sometimes hurt somewhere, like those en pointe ballet dancers who suffer through bloody toes for the love of their craft). I ask her, do you really want to not try this just in case you will have a bad experience? Why are you scared about something you don’t even know about yet?

Um, Mom? Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth? Maybe you need to be having this pep talk with yourself!

Natalie Goldberg was of course referring to writing in the above quote, but isn’t there a message for us all, for our life?  Get close to fear and experience it, feel it. Splash around in it. Like the ocean, its chill eventually becomes tolerable, even enjoyable. Run into a cold sea enough times and you get to know it will get better. Fear turns to “Frust” (faith + trust). And once you have faith there can be no fear.

Recently I experienced some Serendipity that slapped Fear right out the door and allowed Faith back in.

Anxiety and exhaustion over self-promotion, high-achievement, perfectionism, and self-doubt found me standing at the sink blubbering what-ifs over the dirty dishes. The lack of response from one particular cold contact and my insatiable need to save the world ten workshops at a time had triggered the melt-down. I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities and by my own potential to make a difference. What if I was missing opportunities to help people by not following up on every collaboration suggestion? Was I failing at my work by not contacting all the non-profits in town? It was suddenly all too much.

The networking and marketing was taking too much time and producing far too much stress. My name and work was getting known. So, I decided to let it go. To let people come to me.

And they did.

Four days later two lovely ladies walked in to the coffee shop where I was running an informal writing circle. They were from the very non-profit that had unintentionally instigated my fears. And the most amazing thing is that they weren’t there because they had received my email but just because they had seen my brochure somewhere and thought my work would be a good fit for one of their projects.

As I write my article for the “Glossy” I am thoroughly submerging myself in the Fear of it not being good enough. As I slowly let go and just write for the pure joy of writing and spreading my message, the Fear becomes more tolerable and starts to feel a little more like “Frust.” I have to trust that I do have talent and something important to say, and the faith to know that even if the article is rejected it is not a personal failure – rather a lesson for the next time.

Prompt: What are you afraid of? What are you willing to tolerate in order to move to a place of acceptance and growth?

 


Resume the Stability of Tension

This is a post from a couple of years ago. I am re-posting it because this phrase – Resume the Stability of Tension – keeps popping back into my mind lately. Although I am in a completely different life situation now (I left my job very soon after this post and started grad school a year later), I am paying attention to it. The “naggings” of our unconscious are important to listen to, they hold messages.

~~~

[June 18, 2009] A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar by my journal-writing/therapy mentor, Kathleen Adams. At the time I was at the height of my distress over my job. The idea of a whole day writing and learning more about journal techniques from ‘the master’ had momentarily calmed and uplifted me. Then Kay asked us to finish the following statement, “Right now in my life..”

I wrote frantically for five minutes. It poured out of me. After the writing sprint we were asked to write a sentence or two of feedback to ourselves: “As I read this I notice…” This personal feedback was what we shared with the group (if we chose). I told them that although I was calm before the write I was now a nervous wreck! I had traded a relaxed attitude for hunched shoulders and a stomach of jumping beans. Kay told me I might want to explore this in an exercise we would be doing in the afternoon.

At lunch Kay and I shared a table, and the conversation – which was intended to be about my upcoming journal workshops – became a mini therapy session. I was still shaky and Kay, being the experienced therapist that she is, asked me all the right questions. The word “loyalty” came up.

That afternoon, Kay told the group about Alpha Poems. I was already familiar with them as they were a fun portion of my workshop training. I chose to do a poem based on the word Loyalty. Here’s what came out:

Limits myself, always
Open, always
Yes, never no
Attitude
Limits the way I go
Take the road to
YOU

Wanting to play some more I chose to do a poem using the entire alphabet.

Always
Bending to others
Cutting out the
Day to
Everyone but me
Favoring
Goodness
Hating
Irresponsibility
Judging myself
Knowing how
Loyalty is my
Mantra
No one is happy
Open the door
Pursue the
Quest
Resume the
Stability of
Tension
Undo the
Values
(e)Xplore
Yourself

I didn’t think about what word or phrase would come next, it just happened. I didn’t even know what word I was going to write until I began writing it. It is a magical thing!

Anyway, the phrase that immediately jumped out at me was the strange, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Now, I am a tense person and in my experience, that is not a good thing. I have even taken drugs for it. Hubby frequently asks me in utter frustration as he runs out of door 15 minutes before he needs to, why it has to be “so tense around here in the mornings?” I couldn’t put my finger on what it meant, exactly, but I loved the sound of that phrase and had a feeling it had something important to tell me. I played with the idea in my journal, even wrote more alpha poems around it. Still not knowing how to decipher its meaning, I decided it would be my new mantra.

Then a couple of days ago, I read this in Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career that was “dragging me about” (again, I quote Christina Baldwin; she *is* me). I needed to Resume the Tension (Focus) to gain Stability.

I put loyalty to my boss and my job aside and I chose to put my longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.

When opportunity knocks… and hands you a gift

credit: Joanna Tebbs Young

Yesterday I received a card through the mail. Inside was a magnet that read: “When opportunity knocks don’t be the one who says, ‘Can somebody get that?'”

This gift was from Kay Adams, founder and director of the Center for Journal Therapy, and it represents a bigger gift which she gave me when she called out of the blue two weeks ago. And, ultimately, it turned out to be a far greater gift than I could have imagined.

Gift #1: Honor and Validation

Three days before the workshop was scheduled to begin, Kay called me to ask if I could substitute for her and teach “Writing Inner Wisdom: Spiritual Growth through Journal Writing” at Kripalu Yoga Center in Stockbridge, MA. Due to a family emergency she could not attend and wondered if I could take her place. What an honor! To be asked to teach in place of this brilliant woman, an inspirational and informative teacher, successful author, and compassionate counselor and facilitator was beyond any dream I had for myself. (However, I had dreamed of teaching at Kripalu, but as a possibility many years down the road…).  What validation of my own path!

Gift #2: A visit to Kripalu

I won’t go into the wonders of Kripalu here, that deserves a post all of its own (stay tuned). But suffice it to say: What a place! If the showers were hotter I might just go live there.

Gift #3: Connection

My weekend spent with 12 beautiful women, sitting in a circle, writing, listening, sharing, crying, laughing… connecting, was the gift I did not anticipate, but by far the most precious.  The serendipities and synchronicities that bought the 13 of us together in themselves were amazing (again, you’ll have to wait for that post) and I have no doubt that this weekend was given to me as part of my own journey of healing.

Gift #4: Belief

When Kay first called me, I couldn’t breathe as I choked on the deluge of inner critics screaming, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT! YOU’RE NOT CAPABLE!” But my Authentic Self knew I could. And Intuition knew this was the opportunity I had been (unknowingly) waiting for. I do believe that the passion and underlying self-belief in the work I do and the powerful benefits of this field has opened doors I didn’t know where there. So I answered the knock. Yes, I was afraid! Afraid of so many possible unknowns. But I didn’t say, “Can somebody get that?” And that was the gift I gave to myself.

Thank you, Kay, thank you, All. For a greater gift.

Prompt: It was a gift within a gift when…

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Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.


It is connections that heal

Since I began grad school last August I have been particularly awe-struck by the twins, Synchronicity and Serendipity. Connections everywhere! Seemingly unrelated events, conversations, books, memories, people have suddenly fallen together like perfectly synchronized cogs. My life paths and how they have led to where I am and what I am doing today is the most amazing and surprising of all.

This past week I have been thinking about some pretty deep things regarding God, Godde (thanks to Margaret Starbird), Goddess, Spirit. I was trying to wrap my head around my what I am learning from my independent study and pinning it down to nice clean thesis statement. Not an easy task when I have so many more questions than statements (other than “wow! I never thought of that!”). I won’t attempt to explain some of my thought processes (have to leave something for the book) but while mind-mapping I stumbled upon this idea:

It is CONNECTIONS that heal.

Think about it: Connection with those you love, the touch of a mother connecting to a newborn, the new connections made in the brain each time we learn something new (and that researchers tell us help keep us mentally alert as we age), that intangible inner glow we feel when connecting with nature, a relationship with a higher power, connecting with ourselves during some precious alone time, or the resonance we feel when we read/hear/write something that we connect with on a deeper level.

And then there’s the research of emotions and language. It has been shown by scientists and psychologists such as Eugene Gendlin and Dr. James Pennebaker, that it is (only?) when we connect language, either written or spoken, to our feelings (emotions and sensations) that we get a feeling of resolution and so can begin to heal from traumas or emotional upheavals.

It is said we are not islands. No, we are more like the icebergs or delicate coral reefs: connected and part of a far-reaching eco-system, most of it hidden but supporting much life. And it is only when we acknowledge our connections that we can become personally Whole and part of the universal Whole. Maybe this is what it means to be Holy?

Prompt: What connections in your life have healed/helped you?

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Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the process, pt 5 (Everything is connected, 1)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

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Back in May I wrote in this post, Steppingstones to a new life, about how different paths of my life had suddenly come together at juncture, namely, grad school. I was shocked and gob-smacked how the Universe, Serendipity and Synchronicity got together presented me with this and amazing and timely opportunity.

But these three tricksters had more up their sleeves, much more! When I was least expecting it, they walloped me with my past, present and future in connections I could never have imagined. (I say “walloped” because the impact of all these connections left me reeling for a few days.)

Here are just a few of the “coincidences” that have occurred over the last couple of months:

Wow! #1. When I was first questioning my next step after getting my certification through The Center for Journal Therapy I wrote to my fellow instructors asking for advice. I was in a quandary about how I might combine my two distinct writing lives: therapeutic writing for others and my own creative pursuits. One woman in particular went out of her way to write back with her own situation and told me she had attended Goddard College in Vermont. Vermont! I don’t know if she knew I was here in these Green Mountains but that was strange surprise number one. Knock-me-over-with-a-feather-surprise number two was that the program they offered there was EXACTLY what I wanted: a self-designed degree, low-residency and offered a concentration in… ta-da! Transformative Language Arts – a combination of writing for health and change and creative writing.

So, a few months later I find myself sitting across from a faculty member at Goddard discussing my focus. He suggests to me that I browse some of the final projects in my line of study done by former students, one in particular. He proceeds to tell me, out of the hundreds of former students, the name of the very woman who had referred me to Goddard in the first place! She and I had never discussed what I was hoping to research and now here I was photocopying her bibliography and checking out some of the same books as she had done four years earlier.

Wow! #2: In high school I wrote a paper called “All Dressed Up and No Where to Go” about Victorian women’s whalebone “cages” and other restrictive vestments of the era. As an undergrad I wrote a thesis on the fashions of 14th century Europe and now they were symbolic of female oppression. I was just interested in historic costume, the women’s issues were just an interesting side-note to me at the time.

A few months ago I had what the experts call a “big” dream. An Intuitive and Jungian dream analysis-expert friend of mine interpreted it as my own battle with feelings of Female Oppression. I had never associated any of my own domestic frustrations with such a concept, but when she said it, it resonated. It rang through me like the Liberty Bell. I had grown up in a patriarchal world, in general, and a religious community, specifically, where women are undermined and ruled over, with first their father and then the husband as their “head” and salvation. Our bodies, minds, even prayers, were not our own. As Sue Monk Kidd says in Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I had “touched the wound of my feminine life.”

As I began delving into the writings that began my journey towards my own religious recovery I quickly realized that the Feminine would play a major role. My own Feminine Source had been denied me (and all other women of the last 5,000 years) when she was disowned by patriarchal society and religion. I long to set her free from her cage – as I had at age 16 without realizing it. And now one of my references for my studies is the very one I read back in a women’s history course almost 16 years ago. Even a chance conversation and a book recommendation while at Goddard, which I had dismissed as not really relating to my studies, suddenly became very relevant.

Wow! #3: I live in a blue-collar town. As a self-employed workshop facilitator and coach it is very difficult to make a living here. It is not an artistic town (although there are artists and writers burrowed away by the lakes and mountain-sides surrounding the town) and it is poor and, by Vermont’s extremely high standards, can be dangerous. I have lived and visited vibrant cities where there is a sense of community and respect for the town and the people in it. City-wide events are well-attended and fun. I desperately want this for my town but I’ve never really articulated what it is that makes a town different.

While noodling along in my journal at the Goddard residency I wrote, “Live-able communities are spiritually-based communities. Lots of nature, healthy options, community events, caring for self and each other.”  Without exactly knowing what I meant by the definition, I realized the difference is spiritual. Connection. A One-ness. There is personal empowerment within a Whole.

A few days after returning home from Goddard, one of my advising group sent me a link to a Public Radio International show, “To the Best of Our Knowledge” called, “Losing Religion.” One guest spoke of his discovery that the least religious societies have the lowest crime rates and vice versa. His visits to Denmark and Sweden, where the people wouldn’t even consider voting in a religious leader, presented him with beautiful, clean, safe, back-to-nature cities.

Again, the connections: I had been questioning What Makes a Community and thinking about it in my own tiny life when the subject suddenly presents itself to me on a much larger, societal scale. This is obviously just a tiny peek at a much larger question with many, many variables (which I could go into more here but you’ll have to wait for the book! These topics will be making up the bulk of my research while at grad school). But I questioned and the answers started to come. Given to me…

It’s those rascally rascals, Serendipity and Synchronicity!

Prompt: I experienced Serendipity and Synchronicity in my life when…

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Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

A prayer for my readers

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This post was inspired to this article by Molly Gordon, “Why you should pray for your clients.” As writing is my mediator to both the inner and higher sources of wisdom, I offer up this open letter as a prayer and meditation in honor of my valued readers and clients.

Namaste!

I do not know many of you personally but knowing you are there reading my words and sharing this journey called life brings me joy and encouragement. It is a blessing to know I am not alone.

I truly appreciate those who visit here and who occasionally comment. The thoughts and ideas you share and the gratitude you express brightens my day and gives me hope in this world that at times causes me despair. There are days, when the media is yelling, Be afraid!, the marketers are yelling, Buy more crap and feel crappy like everyone else! and my children are yelling, (S)he hit me again!, that I want nothing more than to crawl into my bed and not arise until war is over, big business is dead and my children have figured out they love each other. But through this blog and my work in the real world I meet people who inspire me and give me a glimpse at a changing – more loving – world. I thank every one of you for that.

It is my hope – my wish, my prayer – that as I continue to share my thoughts and experience that I will say exactly what you need to hear at the exact moment you need to hear it. I pray that Serendipity and Synchronicity will step in and allow us to meet, whether online or in person, just when you were looking for me (whether you realize or not!). I pray that you will come into my life and teach me something too, exactly when I need you. I learn from and am inspired by my readers, students and clients and I am so grateful for that!

Together as grateful, self-aware, self-confident and loving people, we can radiate a little more positive energy into this world.

So, I thank you, my dear readers, students and clients (current, past, and those whose paths I have yet to cross) for venturing along with me. And I thank the Great Good for giving me the courage me to walk – nay, dance! (and sometimes stumble) – along this path of my Potential and Purpose.

But above all, I pray you will find your own right path – the one that allows to find Flow. Believe in your talents, gifts and dreams and they will carry you far.

joanna

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Steppingstones to a new life

Yesterday morning in my journal I wrote:

I am blessed with abundance. I am blessed with the answer. I am a magnet to all the resources I need. What is the answer? I need to know what path to go down today.

This morning I wrote:

Oh, lawd! I feel like a puzzle piece just snapped into place. Thank you! Yesterday I wrote that the answer would come. Yesterday I didn’t know… but today I have my next step in life.

Ira Progoff calls them Steppingstones. They are the moments, the decisions, the experiences that have carried you to the place you are today. Today, the dissonant notes of my life came crashing together and fell into perfect harmony.

I was raised in a fundamental church. As a child I felt loved and cherished surrounded by many “aunties” and “uncles” in a family which segregated itself from, while living and working in, The World. But by the time we moved to America in my early teenage years, the shiny veneer of this community had begun to tarnish.

The next fifteen years were ones of anger, grief, denial and pain. I do not exaggerate when I say I was experiencing the after effects of trauma – emotional trauma. By my early 30s after much reading and self-exploration through journaling, I had finally come to a place of peace and acceptance. I was still searching for meaning in a spiritual sense but at one with the knowledge in my heart that I believed in one thing – Love.

And then last week someone said something to me that ripped my wound open. It became very clear to me that I needed to purge this pain and grief once and for all. But how?

From age 5 I wanted to be a writer. From age 13 I kept a diary. From age 22 I kept a journal. At age 33 I began to call myself an Aspiring Writer and realized I wanted to teach others how to journal. And at 35 I told the world I was a Writer and a Certified Journal Writing Instructor. Two different things. Similar in their love of words but not the same. I started two blogs, one just my musings and the other for journal prompts. I’d write personal essays for various outlets and then I’d go out into the world to share my love and passion for the power of journal writing. I want to empower everyone I meet and I am passionate for them to believe in their dreams, their talents and their potential. Two different worlds: words for me, words for you.

From the moment I was handed the certificate that claimed I had a Bachelor of Arts degree and all the “rights and privileges pertaining thereto” I wanted to go onto grad school. Problem was I had no idea what to go for. 16 years, two states, 5 houses, 7 cats, 2 children later, and approximately 5012 journal entries later, I finally figured it out.

When I finished my certification as a journaling instructor I thought I wanted to go on to study journal/poetry therapy but the medical implications of that did not appeal to me. But I also wanted to write – creative writing. How could I tie my two writing worlds together? I wasn’t sure what to do next.

Then I discovered there is such thing as a self-designed degree in Transformative Language Arts. Very few colleges in the country offer this program and the one recommended in my field just happens to be in my home state, only two hours away from where I live! And because it is self-designed I can incorporate both creative writing and journal writing. But how exactly?

Yesterday while pondering in my journal the next step with my journal workshops I had written that there might be “a slight pull towards religious people.” Why on earth?! Because I want to understand the thinking and maybe help those who have experienced the similar “religious trauma” as me. I wrote, “I’ll look into [grad school] today and see if this is the direction I want to go. What new worlds could that open???”

Then today: Light Bulb! I could write a book as my Masters study – my religious trauma and the healing I get from writing about it and how I could then help others with similar issues.

Stopped in my pen tracks! Fear. Excitement. Doubt. Overwhelm. Combination of both worlds. One giant therapy session! Yesterday I didn’t know I’d be able to combine this curiosity about religion and a degree. And today I have an answer. THANK YOU!

Steppingstones. When you step from one to the other you may feel like they are islands, isolated and disconnected. Just a way to get from here to there. But then you reach a new shore and you turn around to see, that although they are all different – some big, some small, some wobbly and scary – they were all leading to the same place.

And when you bring your journal along to record each step, it can serve as travel agent, telescope, compass, map, and travel log. Today mine is a celebration of self-exploration. Where to next?

Prompt: What are the steppingstones in your life that have gotten you to where you are today?

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P.S. Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization, and almost everything in between.