Category Archives: writing

Writing My Way into 2018!!!

I can hardly believe it is now 2018!

I had great plans for reviewing, reflecting and sharing some of my highs and lows from 2017.  But snow fall (lots of snow fall), fun and the holiday spirit pulled me away from my computer and out into Whitefish with family, friends and complete strangers enjoying powder and chair lift lines on the mountain!!

My plan was to either skin up the mountain to ring in 2018, or cross country ski, to put in my first 2018 workout.

I went to the Glacier Nordic Ski Hut to rent my cross-country skis.  I stepped into the small hut with at least 10 others waiting to get geared up.  I heard, “Well, we’re out of most of the women’s boots.” Frustrated, I stepped back out of the hut.  It wasn’t going to be X-Country skiing for me this New Year’s Day!

I didn’t bring my downhill ski pass, nor had I put my skins (traction material you put on the bottom of your skis to climb UP the mountain) in the car.  My big first 2018 workout wasn’t happening! So I headed home.

I opened my computer and decided I was going to write my way into 2018.

In many ways it was perfect.

I always imagine myself as being the great outdoor Montana woman: fit, toned, and ready to ski through the trees, skin up the mountain, or go horseback riding through the snow.  But really, I’m not that Montana woman.

Yes. I ski, mostly the groomed trails and in the powder, when we get snow storms like we have this past week.

Yes. I can skin up the mountain, but I am much more of a ride the chairlift up gal these days.

Yes. I love my riding lessons but galloping through the snow isn’t happening anytime soon. I’m working on trotting in the arena right now.

So it was perfect that I wasn’t able to ski the trails or skin the mountain to kick-off the new year.

Instead, I sat down to write.  Though I dream of being that uberfit, physical Montana woman, at my core, I’m closer to myself and my heartbeats when I am writing than when I am working out.

Don’t get me wrong. I plan to ski, skin, and go horse back riding on Bella (or Floyd) out in the snow at some point.  But writing is truly the path where I get to know myself.

It’s not that easy to admit, but maybe this is the year when I don’t have to prove myself physically. Maybe this year I simply get to enjoy who I have become.

I like that I’ll go ski or skin the mountain to meet people and not be concerned about struggling to keep up.  I get to just enjoy the workout and not be afraid to be the last one up.

And about that horseback riding…

The truth is I have more fun with the horses when I’m in round pen on the ground working with someone on their relationship issues than I do riding horses.  I’ll continue to work on my riding because that too is relationship building.  But my real heartbeats come from introducing more people to the amazing mirrors and heart-openers horses can be when we aren’t so focused on them but letting them mirror us!

So yes, it’s perfect I am writing my way into 2018. I think my writing is what will be most vital for me this year.

I’m already published author, which has been on my bucket list for many, many years!  I’m so proud of our book, The Beauty of Conflict out into the world Oct 31st!

Now, that means it’s time to deliver my more personal story, Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep.  Not necessarily to be published (Oh, my that feels like too much pressure!) but simply to be completed. It’s all there just waiting for me to pull the pieces together.

It is time to stop running away from myself and settle into the wonderful woman I am; to let my inner light shine.

Indeed, there are no accidents that I couldn’t ski, skin, or ride into 2018. No. This year is about writing!

I believe it has been my writing that has helped me become self-responsible, relational and build connections and community over the years.  Not my athletics or my exercise.

I may have wished athletics was my way, but in truth it’s not my legs or my muscles that make be great. It’s my heart and vulnerability that provide and reveal the best of me and that usually comes through when I am writing or working with horses!

Take care,

Susan

P.S. My 2018 word for the year is COMMUNITY.  It does seem perfect that writing is the way to ring in the year!

 

Dark Spots Get the Needed Light To Live Forward

Today I get the honor of participating in my first writer’s blog tour! I have to admit I had never heard of such an event. However, as I took a peek at the other awesome writers on the tour before me and read their writing journey, I was thrilled to get a chance to share and promote other writers.

I was invited to participate by Lea Bayles.

Lea’s piece about her wild river lover was awesome! I found her words rich, moving and wonderfully human. Visit her site: http://www.leabayles.com/blog and read more!!! 7399966

Now for my own writing journey ….
Dark Spots Get the Needed Light To Live Forward…why I write.

When I was seven, living at camp with my family, I was gifted a baby bunny that had been saved from the camp lawn mower. I was thrilled to take the little being in my hands, feel its rapid heartbeat. I found the bunny a home in a box, which I made quite comfy with grasses, leaves, and dirt. I was so ready to protect and nurture the little being. I sat beside that box for hours watching the bunny breathe and sleep.

Late in the day, my Mom called me to go to dinner. We had to leave our cabin for the lodge. I would be gone for at least an hour or more. I knew I needed to protect the bunny from our dog and the camp cat. So I put the box in our car. Off, I went to dinner. When I returned, I found the baby bunny very still, clearly not breathing, yes, dead. The car had gotten too hot. I was devastated. I couldn’t find words for what I was feeling. The horror that I had killed the little baby bunny was overwhelming. I didn’t speak about it. I went quiet for days. I silently buried the bunny. I didn’t know how to come back from such a mistake and loss.

In the fall, when I returned to school, my teacher asked us all to write about our summer. On that blank sheet of paper, I reclaimed my heart. I wrote about the joy I felt with a new life in my care, the pleasure of creating a home for it, and the hours of being a protector. I wrote about the tragic choice to put the little bunny in the car, a decision made with good intent that went horribly wrong, and finally, the pain of holding that little lifeless bunny.

The piece wasn’t long. It was a series of simple seven-year-old words, with some words missing and some misspelled. Yet those words captured the life and death of my bunny and my emotional process. When my teacher chose to read my piece, and I heard my words, I finally cried. My life returned. The pain was freed to live forward.

Since that first piece, I have used writing as a path to process the stories of my life that otherwise would have shut me down. When I write my heart opens. My defenses drop, and the armor that I have used to survive, begins to melt.

When I was dealing with cancer at 24, I wrote to wrestle with the gods about fairness. When I was dealing with nightmares and memories from my childhood, I used prose to share the pain that was trapped in my cells. When I lead a Come Alive, I am holding a space in a circle for peoples’ stories. I write then to find my heart, clear my mind, so that I can stay present and connect with their world, not stay stuck in mine.

Writing frees my emotions, and clears my pain so that the dark spots get the needed light to live forward. Writing allows the broken pieces to reform and become art.

I have wrestled with whether or not to write a book, but my path seems to be more an on-going river of short pieces.

I had never called myself a “writer” because my written words were rarely kept. I’d share them in circles and with friends. In the sharing my armor would finally soften, and the stories would melt away. That still seems to be the heart of my purpose in writing.

4972425Maybe someday I will bring the pieces together, and a book will emerge. Maybe the pieces will remain fragments in a blog post, a newsletter, a poem, or a piece shared to honor a friend’s passing. I am uncertain. I just know I am a better person when I write. My defenses drop and my heart opens when I let the words find a place on a page. The cracks those words create, let the light in and my broken heart beats on.

The memory of a baby bunny’s journey in my hands is complete – life and death, joy and sorrow. No hero. No happy-ever-after ending – real, raw and messy, human after all.

Now for the super fun part of being on a blog tour – the three Writers I would like you to meet:

Meet Martha Jo: Dr. Martha Jo Atkins that is. She is all out loud and proud about death, dying, and grief. She helps grieving folks find new ways to be in the world after someone they love has died. She also helps people + businesses renegotiate and step into identities after big change or loss. Visit her blog and enjoy! http://www.marthaatkins.com/blog/

Meet Xanet: Xanet Pailet is a former health care attorney turned sex and intimacy coach, certified sexological bodyworker and Tantra teacher She works with women and men who are sexually shut down and helps them rediscover their sexuality and find more pleasure in their life. Read more: http://powerofpleasure.com/sex-advice/

Meet CrisMarie: CrisMarie has gone from Olympic athlete to Top Five Consulting firm to Actress, Writer and Coach. Her quest continues to be stepping more and more into her authentic self. Having gotten lots of practice, CrisMarie will help you reclaim your life and bring more of who you truly are to what you do to get the results you want. Visit her blog and be inspired! http://inspireplaycreate.com/

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Rumble Strips & Other Distractions!

The weather outside is gorgeous!!  Sunny, clear AND COLD.  The temperature this morning was 8 degrees, that’s Fahrenheit for any of you Canadian readers.

Rumble Strip
Yikes! Going Off the Road!

I actually love days like this.  I get a fire going in the wood stove, and sit close enough to stay warm and still be able to see the mountains out the window.  My desire is to write.  Hmm, but I find myself instead checking Facebook, reading blog post or doing just anything to avoid writing for any extended period.  What is that about? Really?

I actually caught myself investigating new tablet/PCs online just now.  For sure a rumble strip! In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “rumble strip” it’s those bumps on the road or side of the road that cause audible vibration so a driver knows when they are veering into dangerous territory – or as Martha Beck says – a metaphor for being off track in terms of getting to my north star.

Well, a new tablet/PC is beyond off track. I am bushwhacking at this point in terms of my north star.

Is it really that hard for me to stay focused on my goal?  I have logged more than enough time on my laptop(s). (Okay so the PC shopping is not a new rumble strip!)  I have the word count.  I have the stories.  I have support.  So what gives?  Why is this writing so hard for me?

This may simply be another rumble strip. Is it really worth hours of investigation to identify my fears or my action blocks and the underlying root cause?  Most likely the cause is a bad childhood or fears of failure or dyslexia – as you can tell I have already taken this path of deeper awareness – more than once!!  So forget it!  I refuse to travel down that path today.  No.  I am writing damn it – even if it is a crazy blog post about my inabilities and failure to write my book.

The best part of my writing today is getting to use “rumble strips” in a blog post.  I love that metaphor – Thanks Martha!  Now, if I could just use that audible vibration to get me back into writing my book.

Feel free to share your rumble strips and maybe more importantly how you get yourself back on track!!  I can use your comments as a distraction from my writing – awesome!

These Boots Were Made For Writing!

“Fearlessly writing down the crazy…”

This has become my new mantra.  I have been at a wonderful writing workshop in Sedona, AR with Betsy Rapoport and Pam Slim.  Wow! I am leaving determined to call myself a writer, and ensure that I put my butt-in-the-seat daily to write something, anything.  That may not sound like a solid clear intention.  But one thing I took from this weekend is that all writing counts – even the sh*t*y first, second, third or fourth drafts!

Yes, I have a story to tell.  I am not that concerned, at this point, if anyone else thinks it is critical for the world of readers. This is really just for me.  I have a very old belief that I am touch crazy and have been fearful of revealing that possibility to the world.  Oddly, my silence and vague drops of information may have made the crazy more of a consideration than simply telling the damn story.  So what the hell?!

I bought these awesome boots before I was heading off to Sedona.  They were not my normal style.  These were red leather, fancy cowboy style boots.  I had my moments of doubt before the final purchase.  Wore them around the house for My Writing Bootsthree days, wondering if I should invest the money or not, fearful I was spending too much and wouldn’t wear them enough.  Well, I finally decided to purchase and of course wore them the next day on the flight to Sedona.

They have now become my writing boots.  I love them.  In one of the many prompts we used for writing, my boots became the metaphor for finding my voice and stepping out of the crazy, quiet zone of fear and doubt.  So the boots have already gotten an awesome ROI.

There are many things I could share about the weekend.  However, I don’t want to reveal others or commit to more than is realistically possible for me to do.  So let me just say, I am writing.  I am a writer.  Stay tuned.  No worries – most of my crazy will never make this page.  However, when I am ready to share those stories, you can count on the fact I will be wearing my red boots!!!

Why Write a Book?

When I look back on the many lists I have made about things I want to do with my life, one thing has been a constant. I have wanted to write a book. What’s equally interesting about this constant is that I have really done very little to make that happen. Yes, I have taken writing classes, written tons of short pieces and started this blog. But nothing as committed to completing the goal as I have been to other things that would show up on my list, like a bike tour in Europe or moving to Montana, getting my Diploma in Counseling at The Haven or starting our own company, Thrive!. These I put on the list, saw them and did them. Some taking more discipline than others.

So I decided to hire a coach. CrisMarie had the name of someone who was known for coaching writers so I decided to set up a chat. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect but what I thought would be an easy call turned into something else entirely.

It isn’t that this writing coach said anything too harsh. She simply wanted to know why I wanted to write a book, and as I rattled off the many things that seemed like good reasons, she kept pointing out that my responses seemed to have more to do with what others wanted than what I wanted.

At one point on the call I started down the path of sharing that I wanted to write my story. The journey I had been on through cancer and through dealing with my history which was filled with stories that never could be confirmed as fiction or non-fiction. She was relentless in trying to re-focusing me on the question of “why write a book?” and “who is audience?”. I found myself and tears and quite fragmented by the end of the call.

So I wonder what is it about writing a book that remains untouched on my list of lifetime goals and causes such fragmentation with simple questions like why do you want to write? and who are you writing for?.

As I told the coach, there is some part of me that simply wants to say “I did it. I started and I finished.” I have a history of believing I am not very good at that. I tried making that I worthwhile reason for why on the call by sharing my childhood experience of having an unfinished box of craft projects that haunted me. The coach didn’t fall for that. She pointed out that that still wasn’t about my reason now for writing and would not likely carry me through the mess and hard work of completing a book.

She wanted to know why, if I enjoyed blogging, didn’t I do more and make that a path for my writing. I had shared that I loved blogging but was not as disciplined as I wanted to me. Again, I tried using the ADD, distraction excuse, but I was not going to get off that easy. So instead, I dug deeper and that is how I found myself talking about my history. Dealing with cancer and my memories from my childhood. The story came out quite scrambled in my opinion. At some point, I shared my fears of getting lost again in the past and the compelling possibility of wholeness I imagined might come from successfully accomplishing the task.

Indeed, I believe the chat did help me focus and find my reasons for wanting to write. I also think I understand why blogging fits my style more than writing a book. Blogging let’s me come up for air and step into my present. A book would be a path I imagine having to take alone. That terrifies me. What if I go back there and get lost?

It’s funny, my past is what makes me a great counselor and coach. In listening and being present with someone who is courageously stepping into their own mess, I am quite competent and able to hold a space for them. I am able to easily stay on solid ground with whatever comes up or gets thrown my way. I can use my own journey to keep the faith that even in the blackest moments there will be a path. I trust my ability without doubt to stay present for the traveler even when the traveler doubts themselves.

Yet I am terrified of my ability to hold that same faith and solidity for myself. I have equated the hard, long road of writing a book about my life as a path to holding that space for me, and I have been unwilling to commit as fully to that task as I have to other more relational goals.

Maybe that is okay. Maybe knowing why I want to write will ignite my will, and I will go forward. For now this blog is my first pass at taking a step.

May even become a way to take the journey without being so alone.

The coach did say she wasn’t really interested in simply being an accountability coach. She believed I could find other ways to create the structure I needed and a way to stay accountable. Maybe she was right.

Overcoming Trash

I have been off-line so long I can not seem to get back on track.  I have gotten a number of post started but not been satisfied with the content so sent them to trash.  I downloaded the latest upgrade to wordpress and discovered that the trash link is now highlighted and easy to use.  Not good for a blogger suffering from blogger’s block and/or some odd form of perfectionism.

I would not generally think of myself as a perfectionist.  However, I have discovered with writing and blogging I suffer from my own internal standards.  I don’t seem to have high standards related to spelling or grammer but I seem to have a content standard that even I can not articulate.  I want my blogs to be personal, cover interesting topics, get people to think about something differently than they usually  do and create connection.  My personal best blogs usually come after an experience I’ve had that touches me emotionally or after reading something that seems so paradoxical that I can help but write.

It’s not like my life has been without interesting experiences.  Yes, bronchitis wasn’t much of a topic for sharing, nor did crashing computers seem worth detailing.  However, there have been some great paradoxical headlines – like anything related to the insane healthcare reform.  Or my favorite was the Census note that gay and lesbian couples who consider themselves husband and wives can check that on the report.  Now isn’t that insane.  Many gay and lesbian couples consider themselves married but ‘husband and wife’ – that just seems wrong on many levels.  Still not enough to warrant a post.

Even now I find myself considering the trash button.  But I am going to stick with it though.  I need to get ‘back on the horse’ so to speak.  Even if this post does not live up to my internal standard for relevance I need to hit the publish button and move beyond this sticking point.

Oddly I received some of my best feedback just before taking this extended break.  Someone out there found my blog and commented on my unique voice in a sea of otherwise repetitive blog material.  Of course instead of just receiving the kind words I have put pressure on myself to live up to the standard with each new post.  Most likely the fan has moved on and will never know what post comes next.

Well I am not going to let my internal critic stop me today.  In moments I will scroll down to hit the publish button and even if that trash button is right there much bolder than publish – I will not be stopped!!

I am a Great Writer When I am Running

Often when I am out running I come up with amazing material for blogs, articles and even books.  As I run the words flow freely and stories seem to effortlessly emerge with a beginning, middle and end.  You may be thinking I run for miles and miles.  However, my morning run is usually about thirty to forty minutes.  I get back to the house and I try to capture the same flow at my computer.  What seemed brilliant out in the woods does not often translate onto the page.

I am curious about this.  I honestly believe I am a good writer while running.  In my mind I have no problem developing new material or wrestling with spelling and word placement.  Instead the story or subject simply unfolds.  Then reality kicks in once I am back home.  Suddenly I am stopped at the first big word that appears misspelled on the screen, marked by the red under line.  Instead of allowing the error to wait for later correction.  I stop and wrestle with the keyboard trying to sound out the word or use spell check.  The story fades background and stalls.

Of course it is not always spelling that stops the flow.  Sometimes the story in my mind is not nearly as interesting once written on the page.  May be I have missed some of the rich content that seemed so entertaining while running or may be the idea was not as grand as in seemed out there in the woods.

I do want to write the book that has so gracefully been written over the years out on trails.  The pieces have been captured in kilobytes of data storage on the various hard drives I have used trying to save and store what flowed in my mind but stalled once I sat down to share with the world.

Blogging seems a smaller bite to take along the path to a larger dream.  Still even the blog seems more powerful while running.  On the trail I bypass the mental chatter that censors and stalls me once back at my desk.  Out there I am confident about my own creative potential.

I know I have heard this all before and I am not alone.  The great singer in the shower.  The screen play that came through while driving .  The Oscar performance that took place in front of the mirror.   Yes we all have our talents that can too often remain enjoyed and safely performed while alone.

I am indeed a great author while running.  It’s time to bring the words back out of the forest and onto the page.

May be the greatness won’t be quite the same but at least I can say I am more than just a great writer while running!

Blogger’s Block!

I seem to be suffering from bloggers block.  Honestly I don’t know how ‘real’ bloggers do it – write daily, some multiple times a day.  I will say I am enjoying the process.  I love getting comments and thoughts from readers.  I enjoy writing when I have an idea.  But sometimes I am just sit staring at the screen or worse typing and deleting without ever landing on something worth finishing.

I know this place when it comes to exercise or learning a new sport.  I seem to easily find the discipline and commitment to go for a run and know it’s okay even if it is a slow jog or get on my bike after a few days without riding and overcome the critic and my head that says -” you’re never get better like this – you must ride every day.”  In that world I seem to be able to laugh at the tyrant and stay true to my real goal of exercising to connect to my own flow and aliveness.

Writing isn’t quite like that yet. The tyrant seems to have a bit more power.  I listen and start to believe that indeed I have failed because I missed a few days or that this little piece about Blogger’s block is stupid and a waste of time.  It is usually about know that I select all and delete.  But I am going to stay with this, ride through my critic.  I am guessing I am not the only one that faces some type of inner dialogue that stops forward progress.

Back when I was an avid and quite talented  tennis player I still had days when I would walk on the court and instead of the seamless relationship I generally felt with my racket, the ball and my body I would be caught in the separation and not be able to hit anything well.  Those moments (and sometimes longer periods) were very challenging.  But because I had a felt sense of grace not to far in the past I could laugh at myself and carry on.

I am guessing true writers are like me when I was playing tennis.  They are enough in touch with a ease of grace and ease with words and story that they ride through the rough spots.  They laugh at the less the perfect blogs and they wait for the next moment when the words come with ease.

Maybe tomorrow!