Sunday, November 24, 2013

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. On Being a Writer

On Being a Writer

A life dedicated to the art of writing is not for the feint-hearted or thin-skinned. 

Granted, I know relatively little about this because “all” I’m writing right now is a blog (although if you knew how much time and energy I put into this you might be shocked.)

But I have read the work of many really good and well known writers, several I have met in person, heard speak, a couple I have befriended through social media, etc.

I can recommend two books if you want to write for a living. The first is WRITING DOWN THE BONES, Natalie Goldberg, which was recommended to me by a college friend back in the 1980’s. It is referenced in my second recommended book, BIRD BY BIRD: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott, recommended by a dear friend just last year.

I see Lamott quoted all the time now. In O Magazine, as a reviewer on other people’s books, etc. After years of sticking to her writing, Lamott is finally making a good living at it. I say it’s about time. She’s one of my favorite writers and has never wavered in her dedication to the craft of the written word. (I have a tremendous amount of respect for the woman, in case you haven’t noticed.)

Now for all about me. Before I was “just” writing this blog, I completed one book to be published print-on-demand through iUniverse. I received their “Editor’s Choice” award, which I was told at the time about 10 percent of their published manuscripts receive. So, that doesn’t suck too bad.  I had a book signing at Border’s in Salem. The book was published in 2005 and I got a royalty check from iUniverse last year for $2.19. I asked my CPA if that would put me into a higher tax bracket. J

Writing first the proposal, and then the book, took a year and a half of my life.

SIX DEGREES TO YOUR DREAMS is 61 pages, paperback.

To any rational person, this must sound like madness, right? But writers need to be irrational. If you have it in your heart to express yourself through the written word, your soul will never be satisfied if you don’t. In fourth grade I was writing plays based on I DREAM OF JEANNIE to be acted on the playground at recess. In fifth grade Grandma Handke gave me my first diary. I have been writing ever since.

When I was working on the second draft of SIX DEGREES, I relied on the editing expertise of two writer friends I particularly trusted. One was Rocky Bellew. I knew that she was a very good writer based on what I had seen online and in her letters.

But when I first read an actual chapter she sent me (in the snail mail – a real paper copy) called On Saw Tooth Road, I felt that I had been transported into a different plane. I said to myself, “This woman is the next JK Rowling.” Yes, I am a Harry Potter fan. Rocky’s work might be less Potter and more Lord of the Rings, but it’s neither. THE SHADOW MASTERS is something quite different. An entirely new realm has been created, and I can’t wait to see the next chapter.

I asked Rocky a whole bunch of questions about how the series had been created, how it came to her, and in the long run I understand it’s simply part of the mystery that creates anything truly worthwhile…you feel it in your heart and soul, and it won’t let you go until you have expressed it.

With my multiple questions about Rocky’s writing process, I’ve narrowed the answers down to this:

I rarely had quiet time or time to myself, so I ended up relishing my nights alone. One night I sat down at the computer to write, but I didn't want to work on the story I'd been stopping or starting for a couple of years, so I started something else. It simply began with a father and his son feeding the sheep in a temporary makeshift pen. The boy didn't want to do the work, but his father made him with the promise he could spend time with his friend when the work was done. But, before the work was done the calm of the camp was upset by the entrance of fifty riders from the Inner Realms.

Along the way I've created several sketches of characters and completed a ton of research into cultures and eras throughout history. I want everything to ring true and reasonable. I want it to be believable. I have had to create several different societies and cultures with histories and belief systems. I've had to decide what they'd look like, what their political systems were and so on and so forth. I've had to learn about doing things in a primitive fashion and learn about all kinds of things I would have never learned otherwise. Of course, my experience with the Native American culture has played a huge role in a lot of the story.

I must say, the process has been one of discovery, one discovery right after another. If you would have told me twenty years ago I had this story within me I would have denied it. In truth, the story is so huge and so complex I sometimes become fearful that I may not have the intelligence to write it. I'm afraid that someone will read it some day and discover I'm a fraud.

The process is fun, exhilarating, exhausting, daunting, frustrating... The purpose of the original story is I wanted people to realize they are stronger than they could ever imagine, and they have the wherewithal to face any challenge, no matter how dire, no matter how heart wrenching, no matter how hopeless the future may seem. This remains the primary purpose of the story plus so much more.

The only other thing I would add is that I think every story written is in some small way the author's story. Though there may be real shockers in there, those shockers, prose and ideas that give people pause and make them say, "That person must be crazy," are only tools to create a strong reaction in the reader. A good writer will know when to use them and will use them sparingly. The use of those tools does not make the person crazy.

My readers, I’m thrilled to introduce you to one of my favorite writers you may not have heard of until now.

Rocky’s book is now a serial on JukePop. Should you feel drawn to do so, go read it and vote like I did. J

Authentically Yours,


Monday, November 18, 2013

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. Visualize, Journalize, Vocalize

Visualize, Journalize, Vocalize

Visualize, Journalize, Vocalize is a phrase I coined early on in the creation of Wishweavers.*  Bringing your authentic dreams and wishes to light and into reality, using the six degrees of connection, is a three part process. This process uses different learning styles for those who are visual, auditory or tactile. You see what you want, and deserve, clearly in your mind’s eye. If you can’t see it yourself, how are you going to go about describing it to others and getting it? You write it down because that makes it real and helps solidify details and concrete goals you may be missing. And you share it with others, vocalizing, which kicks the six degrees of connection into action. (But be careful who you share your dreams with! No dream stompers – only people you know will support and buoy you with encouragement.)

I will add a couple of things to that at this juncture in my career and life. Add emotion. Incorporating feeling into the visualization process makes all the difference in the world. A very good book on this topic is ASK AND IT IS GIVEN by Esther and Jerry Hicks. That book added a whole new dimension to my personal visualization and creation process.

The other thing to add is the phrase “as is in Divine order for the highest good.” Sometimes we think we know what we want, but God has a slightly (or radically) different take on the subject. (Please don’t take that literally—like God is sitting at a desk with a pencil, like Santa, checking boxes on a piece of paper and deciding if your wish is a good one or a bad one.)

The “perfect” house you found on Red Leaf Avenue may actually be destined for a family with a dog that will enjoy the fenced back yard, while one almost exactly like it, but with a pool and flower garden the dog would have destroyed, is waiting for you right around the corner on Peony Drive. You just haven’t seen it yet…that’s all.

Visualize, Journalize, Vocalize (discriminately), with feeling, as is in Divine order for the highest good.

Authentically Yours,


*For those unfamiliar with Wishweavers, refer to The website is still mostly there, like a potential rental house that needs to be remodeled.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. ME NOW Exercise: Your Ideal Day

ME NOW Exercise: Your Ideal Day

I was in an all day seminar recently and grabbed a pen, as I often do in these things (especially right after lunch), and started writing to ensure I wouldn’t start to nod off. Sometimes I write letters. This particular day I started working on what I refer to in my first book as the ME NOW exercise.

Imagine your life, yourself, as a clean slate. Wake up in the morning and notice your surroundings. What are the colors, textures, scents, sounds and beings – people, animals, plants, etc. – around you? Did you wake up in a king size bed with a rich thread count in the sheets, on a bed of pine needles in the forest, in your very own house boat? Wherever you start is your ME NOW. What gifts, talents, skills and energy are you using to better your life and the lives of others? Write down every detail. Know your contribution to the world and where your money comes from, what you are doing with your time and resources. For now, let your imagination run wild. Later you will break down priorities and map out a plan.

This exercise is a lot of fun. Just take yourself step by step throughout a 24 hour period, a week if you wish, noticing how you’re feeling and what you are sensing.

I first completed a similar exercise called Your Ideal Day, from the book WISHCRAFT by Barbara Sher, in the fall of 1999 shortly after I co-founded a women’s group (known as M to the Sixth Power or M/6 for short), dedicated to helping each other make our dreams come true. Being involved in this group, and reading Sher’s book, changed my life. All the critical pieces in that particular ideal day manifested into my life within six months.

Now I do this exercise regularly, typically every year or two. I start with when I wake up in the morning and end with when I go to bed at night. I also give this exercise as a homework assignment when I facilitate classes and workshops. One attendee of my LIVING IN BALANCE series several years ago presented a particularly creative result that stands out in my memory. In her ideal day, she and her husband were running an intergalactic import / export company. You read that right. Not international, intergalactic, working with artisans from planets all across the Universe. That one got a big burst of applause from the group. J

My recent one wasn’t quite that expansive, but beings plenty of tropical breezes and scooter riding surfaced, I have reason to believe some changes may be coming before too long. At the very least, a sunny and sandy vacation in 2014!

Just completed my morning activities, which include morning maca shooter, yoga, meditation & prayer. I invite you to give yourself permission to live today without history or herstory. Be in the moment with God's story about you. It begins like this: "once upon a choice" not "once upon a time". Choose to be happy, creative & feel that all your needs are met as the beginning of your choosing. Blessings! -Michael Bernard Beckwith Facebook post (If you have not checked out this amazing man’s work before, do it right now!)

Authentically Yours,


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Worst Decision I've Ever Made

The Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made

You may have noticed my last entry was over 90% quoting Dr. Phil. Not only did I admire what he wrote, and how he wrote it, but I paid close attention to what he said about a “decision audit” -- truthfully recognizing whether or not important life decisions had been based on desire or fear. 

A huge part of authenticity is becoming clear about our motivations. We have all said and done things we regret. We’ve all made choices that weren’t in the highest interest of humanity or our planet or even a close personal relationship. Or especially ourselves.

Rather, what I am talking about here is a decision that completely alters the trajectory of your future, and it’s only later – looking back – you just want to smack yourself alongside the head (and maybe you do) and go WTF WAS I THINKING?

Some who know me well may think my worst decision has to do with my divorce…or my marriage. It doesn’t.  I don’t regret my over 12 year marriage, nor do I regret my divorce. I learned to become a better partner by being married to Jeff, and when we had done everything we could to keep our relationship intact and couldn’t – we both knew. As for those of you who know about the one time I was pulled into the police station and finger-printed – suffice to say I never again had too much wine and not enough Chinese food at a hot-tub party and tried to drive home, really slowly. Really super stupendously bad idea back in 1997.

No, the decision I am talking about was a decade earlier, 1987, Phoenix, Arizona. I was fresh out of college and after 3 ½ months left my first professional job as a placement counselor for temporary employees at a company called Pro-Tem. (I met my best friend at that job, which makes it an enormous blessing.) I enjoyed placing temps in jobs (remind me to tell you the story about actor Patrick Duffy’s home construction job; that was a hoot) but the office was so slow I would sometimes do my nails because there was nothing else to do. So they sent me out to market for them. Cold calling and me were SO not a good fit.

I had an interview with a start-up cosmetics company – cosmetics meaning the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. for hotels and the like. The atmosphere in this warehouse type building on the industrial side of town was charged – everyone in that office was jazzed about what they were doing. I vibrated around these people. And they assured me the receptionist job was only a starting point. They wanted people to grow with the company. They were filling the receptionist position because the last one had been promoted. I wish I could remember the name of the company to see whatever happened with them. It would not surprise me, at all, if I am to this day using their bottled products whenever I am in a hotel room, and they have expanded to a line of spas or something like that.  

I had interviewed at a bank around the same time. The bank receptionist position paid $100 more per month. I held off on giving an answer to the cosmetics company, who had offered me the job, until I heard from the bank that I had been hired.

For $100 more a month.

Looking back, I realize that while that tiny amount of extra money per month felt like security at the time, I went against my gut feeling and the energy I felt around those people and in that environment.

Perhaps in a parallel universe I was a part of that company’s and my personal success. From where I am sitting here, it feels like the biggest mistake I ever made. I ended up working in banking (at three different banks) until I moved away from Arizona in 1990, and didn’t truly enjoy any of the banking jobs, while I made the most of all of them and met some wonderful people.

I rarely express regret because I truthfully rarely experience it. My friend Quinton (God bless his soul on the other side) once said that I am an unflappable optimist.

But I wish I had taken the job with the cosmetics company.

I’m sharing this story because Dr. Phil got me thinking, and I believe it’s best to make decisions based on that energized and “right” feeling, rather than the illusion of security which is really only that – an illusion.

Here’s to releasing the F word of fear, and going with the authentic desires of the heart and soul!

Authentically Yours,