Tomorrow I’m going to be starting another round of my online class, Align Your Story. I love this course and believe deeply in it. Let me tell you a bit about why I made the course.
For a long time in my professional life, I felt lost. I loved to write and I loved literature, but I didn’t love the writing world. And while writing on the one hand connected me to everything—after all, the mind can go anywhere—it also seemed isolating, restrictive and constrictive. Sitting in my chair all day, I would feel stiff and cut off.
Part of the problem was that though I was a writer—which one might think would lead me to discovering my true story—I was also cut off from my authentic story. After all, in writing class, we weren’t supposed to talk about ourselves. Every writing course I'd taken was pre-professional and craft oriented.
So though I could write “well,” I didn’t have the tools to uncover my authentic story or to say what I really wanted—and needed—to say.
I needed to heal in order to write with a fuller vision. But the language of healing wasn’t taken seriously in the writing worlds I was in. And certainly writing towards healing wasn’t taken seriously: most writers are VERY quick to say that “writing isn’t therapy”; because if you admit that writing might be therapeutic, you run the risk of not being taken seriously.
The problem is, if writing isn’t at all therapeutic, it gets cut off in a place that remains unexamined, unhealed, and, frankly, unwise. It’s not surprising. After all, we live in a world that is unhealthy, out of balance and out of alignment, and much of today’s art and writing mirrors that—and the cycle continues.
I wanted to create a space that allowed writers—and non writers—to use writing as a tool to grow not only on the page but also off the page. I didn’t believe that the two were contradictory.In fact, I believed that writing to grow and writing well go hand in hand.
So I created Align Your Story to bring together many of the “tools” that helped me find my authentic self—yoga, meditation, deep listening—with the “craft” of writing. And while I love in-person classes, the unique online format allows people to practice in the comfort of their home, work at their own pace, tap into the material at the level that is right for them, and be able to come back to the material and the community time and again.
In other words, the format supports really deep, personal work. It gives you the tools to come out of the fragmentation of the traditional writing life and reconnect with the stories that your body is holding and also your inherent physical wisdom.
And it gives you a supportive long-term community. Because once you join the course, you have lifetime access to the course and the community.
What the course doesn’t focus on is a lot of page by page critique of your writing. If you want that editorial support—and more emotional support as well—you can sign up for the course's premium plan. But the classic plan purposely does not focus on traditional workshopping and critique because it has been shown that when people know that they are going to share their writing, they don’t allow themselves to tell the same level of truth.
James Pennebaker, a pioneer researcher on the benefits of writing has shown the greatest healing benefits from writing come from writing under these three conditions:
people write about something that was difficult for them
people describe not only what happened, but also how they felt and the impact of the event
people do not share that personal writing, but write for themselves
We’re so outward focused in our world, that when we know that we are going to be read by others, we go into performance mode—we focus on the externals instead of the internals.
The externals are important, but the externals are more beautiful, more effective and more powerful if they can come from a strong and developed internal self.
I think of the story of the golden Buddha: there was a huge clay statue of a Buddha in a relatively minor temple in Thailand. One day, in the mid-fiftees, the statue needed to be moved for temple improvements. The ropes system that was moving it malfunctioned, and the statue fell on the ground, cracking open the surface. Inside was gold. As it turned out, the clay had been put around an entirely gold statue of the Buddha hundreds of years ago to protect the statue against invasions. But its value had been forgotten until the statue cracked open.
Of course, this is a wonderful teaching story: when we stop paying so much attention to the surface and look deep inside, each of us has a golden Buddha within us.
If you want the tools to listen to and speak from that inner golden Buddha, I invite you to join me in Align Your Story.
If you want to integrate your life and create the conditions for healing, Align Your Story gives you the tools to do that.
We live in a difficult, often unhealthy, often dangerous and unjust world, but we also have tools to heal, be more resilient, come into peace and be agents of change.
I start Align Your Story again tomorrow. After that the price goes up. Sign up now at alignyourstory.com
Happy September….there are so many things happening in the world at large and in our individual words! Storms, injustices, great loves, new births, first days back to school, illness, death, art, sleep, food, threats of unthinkable magnitude, and the incredible mystery and wonder of a single flower.
In this email I want to share with you some of my upcoming events and also, at the end this email, a beautiful poem by John Ashbery, a poet of the large, unfathomable, not-quite-translatable multiplicity of the human experience, perhaps the most original and influential American poet of the past 50 years, who died at 90 earlier this week. (And the subject of a large part of my own PhD dissertation) So please keep reading, because it's a really beautiful poem :)
Saturday, September 9th, is the last day to sign up for Align Your Story with the discounted early bird registration price ($100 dollar discount)
Align Your Story is my signature online writing class, and once you enroll you have lifetime access, so there is no falling behind and you can come back again and again—not just to the course materials, but also to the live conference calls and the support of the private Facebook community.
Align Your Story gives you the tools to
Here are what some students have said about the course:
Around the seventh week of AYS I noticed I could sit, stand and walk without any thoughts passing through my mind, except the awareness that my mind is blank in that moment.
Writing was essentially the path of my self-discovery; AYS was my guide. It led me to a place where I could sit with myself and just be—no stirring thoughts, no questions, just peaceful contentedness. That was the most precious gift of Align Your Story—Emily H
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that taking my first workshop with Nadia was a life- changing event. I had been struggling to get back into my writing, and stuck in some old challenging patterns that I couldn’t break out of. The yoga and writing workshop was the first way of breaking that pattern, and then Align Your Story was like going from making a drawing with colored pencils to oil painting. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to come back to myself fully as a writer had it not been for this course. --Tyler P
I’d love to have you in the course and in the community. See more and sign up here or reach out to me with questions.
Join me for FREE online meditation and writing times, the next three Fridays at noon.
All you need to do is show up and you’ll be guided in a supported community of meditation and writing.
If you’ve never done this, I invite you to join us and notice the shifts that happen when you quiet your mind and connect to your breath before beginning to write.
The first starts TOMORROW. Sign up here to get the call/video code.
I’m also teaching a variety of one-day and ongoing in- person workshops, including my small poetry and prose workshops on Mondays from my house, a yoga and writing workshop this Saturday at Om Namo Studio in Cambridge, and a number of upcoming classes at Grub Street. If you’re local I’d love to see you at any of these! (See more below)
I want to share with you John Ashbery's poem, "Summer," published in The Double Dream of Spring (1970).
The poem seems to speaks to us now in this moment, at the end of summer, and also almost seems to reach through time to speak of Ashbery's own death.
If you experience an alternating sense of recognition and confusion as you read the poem, this is, I think, purposely being orchestrated by Ashbery; his poems remind us the ways in which our minds and our language come in and out of perfect understanding, in and out of recognition, in and out of being able to translate our experiences. We seem to see something and understand something more clearly for a moment, and then fall back again into uncertainty.
What exactly is happening in the poem? We have the sense that we both do and do not understand at the same time.
And isn't that largely our experience of life and consciousness itself?
At the end, the poem makes explicit that it is talking about all of our experiences, and all of our experiences not only of knowing the world, but also of coming to know ourselves: it's a constant and imperfect, but rewarding, necessary and magical process in a world larger than ourselves.
Summer by John Ashbery
There is that sound like the wind
Forgetting in the branches that means something
Nobody can translate. And there is the sobering "later on,"
When you consider what a thing meant, and put it down.
For the time being the shadow is ample.
And hardly seen, divided among the twigs of a tree,
The tress of a forest, just as life is divided up
Between you and me, and among all the others out there.
And the thinning-out phase follows
The period of reflection. And suddenly, to be dying
Is not a little or mean or cheap thing,
Only wearying, the heat unbearable,
And also the little mindless constructions put upon
Our fantasies of what we did: summer, the ball of pine needles,
The loose fates serving our acts, with token smiles,
Carrying our their instructions too accurately--
Too late to cancel them now—and winter, the twitter
Of cold stars at the pane, that describes with broad gestures
This state of being that is not so big after all.
Summer involves going down as a steep flight of steps
To a narrow ledge over the water. Is this it, then
This iron comfort, these reasonable taboos,
Or did you mean it when you stopped? And the face
Resembles yours, the one reflected in the water.
May you all recognize yourself, your own incredible images wherever you go, and may you be safe and free.
As always, please pass this on to any friends who may be interested. And reach out to with any questions or just to say hi. I love to hear from you.
As I’m enjoying these last days of summer—taking last swims even though the weather is getting colder, celebrating Simone’s 13th (!) birthday, walking out to see the sunset—I’m thinking about how to go back into the routine of the school year with positive energy. And I find that the more clear I can be in what I’m doing—and why I’m doing it—the more positive I feel about entering back into a more regular work routine.
I often bring together writing and yoga and have written about that here. But why do I do this? You might think that if you were a really serious writer, you wouldn’t want to dilute that serious intellectual pursuit with something like a yoga practice. And vice versa: serious yogis wouldn’t want to interrupt their yoga flow and freedom from thought with writing.
But in fact, when we bring mind and body together, both mind and body practices grow deeper and stronger in all kinds of powerful and unexpected ways!
We live in a culture of fragmentation; from the cartesian mind-body split to the ways in which society itself is fragmented among different groups of people, our paradigms keep things separate. But this fragmentation hurts us.
One of the most powerful, healing things we can do—individually and as a society—is to come back into integration.
And bringing writing and yoga together is one of the most powerful way to do this! Because they both, rather than being fringe activities, remind us who we really are.
Here are three powerful benefits of bringing writing and yoga together:
1) Greater health—yes, really!
2) Greater and deeper creativity
3) Greater clarity of purpose
We live in a time in which so much is going on at once, and there is so much uncertainty, that it is easy to feel fragmented and torn in different directions. But when you invest in these practices and in yourself, you will be more available for your whole life and for others as well.
If you want to experience these benefits for yourself, I invite you to join me in my upcoming online course Align Your Story with yoga, meditation and writing, or in some of my in person upcoming workshops. Sign up for Align Your Story by September 8th for early bird pricing. And the first 20 people who sign up also get a free one-on-one call with me included in the price!
I also invite you to take a moment and get clear on your own intentions for the fall: what are you doing and why? How are you connecting to your own deep calling?
I’ll also want to invite you to join me for three powerful FREE online writing and meditation sessions on upcoming Fridays at noon. These meditations will bring our attention to our breath and body, and we’ll see how this can powerfully shift our energy when we write. Come for one or all of them. You can sign up here.
As always, please pass this on to any friends who might be interested! And reach out with questions or just to say hi. I love to hear from you.
It’s that time of year when the cicadas come out and the nights begin to get cooler.
It is good to be present with the warm days while knowing that fall is around the corner: another season, another cycle.
There are periods of transition that we may or may not be ready for (I’m never really ready for fall to come), and living in time means we’re constantly adjusting and re-adjusting, aligning and re-aligning. And sometimes we need to just jump onto the train of change without feeling 100% ready.
Last year around this time, I went to an energy healer because I wanted some help shifting some habit energy. I didn’t expect to talk about my kids, but the imagery the healer was seeing brought the conversation to them. Simone was about to start middle school and Gabriel was about to start his junior year. At the end of the session, the healer said, “I think Gabriel is ready to spread his wings. Is he about to go on a solo trip or a journey to another country?” I thought for a moment, but the answer was no.
That night we went to Vermont. Gabriel was going to take the bus and join us the next afternoon for the weekend, and then we were going to go home and fly out to Portland Oregon on Monday for a family vacation. The next day, when we were in VT, we got a text from Gabriel (we don’t have cell connection and only communicate from the general store, which has wi-fi): instead of taking a bus to meet you in Vermont, I’d like to take the train across country and meet you in Oregon.
I was unprepared for this (except of course for the conversation with the energy healer!!)—I’d only just gotten used to his spending a night home alone. Now, with some of the money he’d saved working over the summer, he wanted to take the train alone across the country.
After some backs and forth, Gabriel did end up taking the train alone to Oregon. He had a great time—met some people, got to walk around Chicago for a few hours, and enjoyed the views out the window, especially in the Dakotas.
I also felt like I’d jumped on a new train: the train of being a mom to a young adult, of Gabriel’s own growing independence, of time, movement, change—the train of our ever-shifting journey and adventure.
Sometimes, we might be timid or cautious around change, not sure if we are ready to take the next step. And sometimes change and growth come with the force of a fast-moving train, and whether we are ready or not, we find ourselves on it—moving to a new and unfamiliar destination.
This year, whenever I’ve met obstacles, I’ve tried to remember that train and have tried to get on whatever new adventure or opportunity presented itself with excitement and without fear.
As Gabriel is starting his senior year, I definitely am in the process of my own ongoing transformation, in many ways mourning that time of mothering little kids, already anticipating what it will be like to with Gabriel at college. And at the same time I’m trying to step up to what new adventures and growth might be in store.
Align Your Story and my in person writing workshops and retreats invite you to re-align your story, to step into the adventure of your life, to put aside your fears and jump onto the train of your own growth and transformation.
This is a time of rapid change not only individually, but also socially, and I believe we can best keep up and respond appropriately if we have the tools to stay in our own center, to be comfortable with change, and to keep on reconnecting to our own vitality, voice and energy.
In this time right after the eclipse, a time auspicious for change, I invite you to take a moment with these questions: Are you more ready to step into new growth than you had perhaps imagined? What will that change look like, and how will you get the support you need to make it happen?
I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful day, wherever you are!
As always, please pass this on to any friends who might be interested, and reach out with questions or just to say hi. I love to hear from you.
I got in late last night from a week in France with Eric; it was the anniversary of our being together for 25 years, and we took some time to be together hiking and visiting the countryside.
Thinking about being together for 25 years (I hardly know how I’m old enough to have been with a partner for 25 years!), we reflected again on the story of our life together, and how to have a meaningful life—how to live in time, in change, in uncertainty, and also how to prioritize what matters.
(And periodically, we’d look at the news)
I felt very grateful that I've been able to prioritize my relationships, my writing and my social/spiritual engagement—that often comes through writing--in my life. And I've seen how things are at the same time always changing and also largely staying the same--Paris, for example, is both different and very similar to the way it was when we lived there in 1996!
I created Align Your Story to help others prioritize their creativity, voice and engagement and to help others live with more ease in their own stories.
I’ll be starting the weekly module-by-module conference calls again this fall on September 22nd. If you sign up by Labor Day (September 4th) you can sign up with an early bird special (a reduction of $100) and if friends sign up together you both get an additional 15 percent discount.
Sometimes, an online course can seem off-putting. But there are also great benefits that can come with an online course that you can’t get in an in person course. And I want to outline just a few of them today.
The benefits of an online course vs an in-person course:
You can get more content at your own convenience, in a more integrative way.
I find I’m able to give much more content in an online course than in an in person course. You don’t need to take in all the course material at once so I can give you more. And because most of the material of Align Your Story is not only in text format, but also in audio format, you can listen to the material of the course when you take a walk, or are doing the dishes. This is not only more convenient for busy lives, but also a better way to integrate your learning. We know that sitting still, as people do in traditional classrooms, is not the best way to take in new material, and being able to learn when you are ready to learn can make the learning process more integrated and deeper.
You can self pace yourself and come through the material again and again.
With Align Your Story, you can go into more depth with the material that is more suited to you and come back to other material later. Listen to something two times or three times. Choose to focus on one part of the course or another. Traditional courses ask all people to do the same kind of work with the same timeline. With a self-paced course, you can tailor your particular learning to your particular interests and needs—and come back again and again for deeper, and different experiences.
You have an ongoing community, not a community that ends with the end of the course.
When you sign up for a traditional course, you are part of a strong community for the hours you are in the course, and once the course ends that community almost always disbands. In Align Your Story, once you enroll you have lifetime access to a strong community of like minded writers. You can communicate with them whenever you want, and you can stay in an ever-growing authentic community of heart-centered writers around the world (we have students in Germany, England, South Korea, Washington State, Illinois, throughout the Northeast, Texas and more). If you want in person meet-ups, there are also in person meet ups in the Boston area and, I hope in the future, in other areas as well!
You can really listen to yourself, and not worry about “performance”
The community focus in traditional courses is so strong, that it’s harder to really listen to yourself and not to worry about performance, and what the teacher and other students might think. In Align Your Story, because the course is online, you have much more freedom to pay attention to what you want to say, to take risks, to experiment, and to come to trust your own voice and body.
You can integrate mind body and spirit because you have the time and space and support—and duration—to do so
It’s hard to imagine an in person class that would give you all the tools to create ongoing writing, yoga and meditation practices and to integrate the three. Would it be held in a yoga studio or in a room with desks? Because the course is online it can support all three practices equally with text, audio and video formats and the support of a facebook group and live conference calls to ask questions and get support.
Align Your Story is very user friendly, and because so much of it is audio, you can do most of the work away from your screen, connecting to your body or writing in a good old fashioned notebook. So I encourage you to think again if you believe an online course isn’t for you. Yes, we are living in a changing world--and some of that change is hard, but there can also be benefits to be gotten from the changes.
If an online course isn't for you, and if you're local, I also have a number of in person courses and workshops that I’m also offering this fall—see below. I'd love to see you at any of them!
And there are still a few spaces left in my retreat this weekend; if you’d like to treat yourself to a grounding, rejuvenating weekend of writing, yoga and meditation, I’d be delighted to see you!
As always, please pass this on to any friends who might be interested, and reach out with questions or just to say hi. I love to hear from you.
Today I’m very excited to share with you an interview I did with Tami Simon, the founder and CEO of the publishing company Sounds True, (which publishes many of my favorite authors and teachers). Tami is a great inspiration and model of someone who brings the wisdom of contemplative practice to her very successful business life, and I’m really delighted to share her wisdom and her vision of a more integrated world.
I’m writing this now from a friend’s house in Maine, looking out over a lake. This summer I’ve been very lucky to have restorative time in a number of beautiful places with friends and family, and I’ve been writing recently about the importance of inward reflection and attention to the self.
But how do we balance this inward attention and private life with our outer demands and aspirations?
Can we attend to our inner life and our deep knowing—of ourselves, of the value of nature, of the value of conscious communication and relationship—and still be in the “real” world of work?
Sounds True was one of the very first conscious companies—even before there was a name for such a thing. Tami founded the company with the self promise that she wouldn’t compromise her inner values for her company’s financial bottom line. Today, the great success of the company, a major publisher of spiritual wisdom with over 100 employees, shows that there need not be a dichotomy between our inner values and our outward success.
This is a deeply powerful and inspirational lesson.
I grew up thinking that there was an unsolvable dichotomy between the values of the private and public realms. From almost every side, I got the message, both explicitly and implicitly, that if you wanted to be successful in the public world, you’d need to compromise on the values of the private world.
But I didn’t want to live with a dichotomy. I wanted to bring the integrity and authenticity—and love—that I could access in my inner life to the public realm and to my work life. I wanted to bring my full authentic self to my work life. Because what kind of world are we living in if we need to compromise on our values to be successful? What kind of world are our children going to inherit?
Tami speaks eloquently about her own mission to bring her true self to the business world, and she is a wonderful example of the success that can come when people do that. I hope you’ll enjoy my interview with Tami as much as I enjoyed conducting it!
The tools that we develop to listen to ourselves and to come into our true self can make not only our private world richer, but also can lead to greater success in our work life, our public life, in all our relationships and in everything we build in the world.
As always, reach out to say hi or with any questions. And I’d love to see you at any of my upcoming events or in any of my classes—in person or online.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are interested in looking inward. But how do we make time for this, especially in our busy world? And how can we justify this attention?
I remember being at a New Year’s Eve party maybe fifteen years ago—most of us were in our early thirties, beginning to solidify our adult lives.
We were going around in a circle, saying what we wanted to focus on for the year, and one friend said, “This year I’m going to focus on myself more.”
He meant his statement as a joke. After all, he was a struggling to be in a serious relationship, and part of that struggle was to listen better, to not always put himself first. He thought it was funny to suggest that he’d be more narcissistic.
But I wondered whether, in fact, what my friend really did need was more attention to himself—just in a healthier way.
We live in a culture that often cannot distinguish between healthy and unhealthy self attention. A narcissist focuses on his outward needs, appearances and gratifications. Blocked from his own inner life, a narcissist doesn’t recognize the inner lives of others; this is dangerous for the narcissist and everyone else (and yes, this is relevant to contemporary politics.)
Healthy self attention, by contrast, is being able to be with oneself, with whatever arises, with curiosity and compassion. This attention actually makes us more available for others, more present in our lives and more able to be our best selves.
But because many of us associate self-attention with narcissism, we don’t know how to focus on ourselves in healthy ways, and so we miss out on a chance to really know ourselves and to wake up to the great miracle of who we are in the world.
In fact, many of our blocks—in life, in our creativity, in our relationships and at work—come from the ways in which we cannot fully be with ourselves.
And many of the imbalances in our culture come from our inherited discomfort with ourselves.
What would happen if you took more time to get more comfortable with yourself, to sit, to listen, to tune into your creativity, to attend to your body, to move, to relax, to wake up? What would it be like if you could justify taking the time and energy to do that? Even if you’re a regular meditator, are there parts of your being, your wholeness, that you’re overlooking?
This week I’m offering you a short meditation and writing prompt that invites you to come into your light and wholeness. It’s guides you through a five minute meditation and ten minutes of writing. (Go to the bottom of this email)
And please join me for some of my upcoming events, in which I offer a variety of ways to get through whatever is blocking you so that you can come into greater wholeness, creativity and energy. Because paradoxically, when we take the time to be with ourselves, we end of having more time, energy, spaciousness and flow for everything else in our lives.
Next week, August 4th I’ll be leading a three hour Writing Through Blocks workshopat Grub Street. https://grubstreet.org/findaclass/class/writing-through-blocks/
The weekend of August 18-20 I’ll be leading a full weekend retreat on living from our center, designed to nourish you through writing, yoga and meditation.
And my online course Align Your Story, also designed to nourish you through writing, yoga and meditation, is open for enrollment, and now, when you sign up you get immediate access to the course. (See the link to the newly designed page here: www.alignyourstory.com)
See more events below and, as always, reach out just to say hi or with any questions.
Align Your Story Course
NEW POLICY: when you enroll in the class you have immediate access to the online material so you can start this summer! Conference calls will start again in September.
Writing, yoga and meditation course to get through blocks, integrate mind body and spirit
and give you tools to write what you want—and need—to write.
NOW OPEN FOR EARLY BIRD DISCOUNTED REGISTRATION.
Writing Through Blocks
Friday, August 4th 10:30-1:30
Grub Street, Boston
Living From Your Center: Integrating Mind, Body and Spirit
August 18-20 Full Weekend Retreat
Copper Beech Institute, West Hartford CT
Treat yourself to a full weekend of self care, integration and growth
with writing, yoga and meditation.
Writing and Kundalini Yoga Workshop
August 30th 7-9pm
Beverly, MA (more information to come)
In Person Writing Workshops:
Fall 2017. Cambridge, MA
Reach out to me for details and to reserve a spot. Classes will fill fast.
Where the Social and Personal Meet
6 Thursdays, from 10:30-1:30 starting September 7th
Grub Street, Boson.
Appropriate for writers of all genres.
MEDITATION AND WRITING PROMPT
I hope you’re having a good Monday! I spent last week at Kripalu assisting at the second annual narrative medicine conference, which was wonderful!
At the heart of the conference was the insight that the stories we tell have the power to heal—and also to harm—us.
This was so exciting to me, because the whole week helped me flesh out many of the ideas that I’ve been coming to these past years, but that are rarely articulated.
The stories that we tell and our imaginative life are not disconnected from our bodies. Quite the opposite! The stories that we tell and the way we see and imagine ourselves and our world, directly affect how we feel—both individually and socially.
I’ll give you two snippets of research that I loved learning about:
This week we were also lucky to hear from a truly dynamic, inspirational Minister, Dr Jacqui Lewis, who reminded us that racism is itself a story—or rather, a lie. And yet, that social “story” affects the health of millions of Americans (almost all health indices are lower for blacks in America than for whites). And so, through the power of the stories we tell, we can literally affect the health and wellbeing of individuals and of society.
Similarly, the stories we tell about, for example, plastic or non organic fertilizers or about our past or our future also affect our health.
Our stories matter, and they are all interconnected.
I’d love to connect with you and hear how the stories you tell—or don’t tell—affect your body and your world.
And I’d love to work with you.
Because a number of people asked me to join my online course Align Your Story this summer, I have a new policy in which you get immediate access to the whole course when you sign up, and then we will have weekly conference calls starting in the early fall.
The course walks you through lessons to get comfortable with and trust your own voice, learn from great writers, and connect mind and body through yoga and meditation—which are taught through video and audio recordings.
You can see more here (I’ve updated and redesigned the page—check it out!).
If you sign up now, there is a 20% early bird special. And if you sign up with a friend you each get an extra 15 % discount.
Reach out with any questions. And see more ways to connect with me and my offerings below.
I’m writing on my last day in Italy before flying home. It’s been a lovely vacation—lots of really nice family time in beautiful locations. From Lucca (where Eric and I spent 10 weeks 18 years ago, and where we conceived Gabriel at the end of that summer) to Chianti, Bologna, Verona, Venice and Lake Garda, we’ve had a wonderful time!
This trip was largely about looking out: to the views, the colors, the sites. It was about being available to my family. And it was about absorbing different experiences.
I try to incorporate some mindful meditation and exercise into my life no matter where I am, and to balance the inward and outward focus. But it’s also true that different periods have different intensities—like different seasons. We’re taught to eat a well balanced diet every day, but in fact, strawberries are only really ripe in early spring, and so traditionally people would eat seasonally and get their nutrients seasonally.
These past weeks I’ve filled up on some of my favorite things—travel, family, exploring different cultures—and I’ll store up these experiences for the rest of the year.
Next month, I’ll be leading a full weekend retreat that focuses on some of my other favorite things: yoga, meditation and writing and inner centering. Sometimes more intense retreats can help us fill and store up on what we need to find our center and remain grounded.
If you want a weekend of inner alignment at the end of the summer, before the rush of fall begins again, I hope you’ll join me!
The weekend is designed to meet you wherever you are. Not comfortable doing yoga? I’ll help you modify, and you can do chair yoga instead. Haven’t written for decades—write in ways that make you feel at ease.
The weekend is about self listening, self acceptance and self love. Held at the beautiful Copper Beech Institute in CT, August 18-20, with delicious home cooked meals and the support of a small, supportive community, it will guide you on a different kind of journey: a journey into your own center. I’d love to see you there! You can see more about the weekend here and see more upcoming events below.
Reach out with any questions.
Speaking our truth is important. And it's also hard.
Most writing schools focus on the craft of putting words on paper. But we all know that what is hard about writing is not just the technique of writing but also the emotion of putting our truth on the page, in language for others—and even for ourself—to see.
We can hide in silence. But language clarifies. It shows the holes in our thinking and the scars in our feelings. At least honest language does this.
But because we live in a world in which we prefer to be "polite," "professional" and in which we often value surface over depth, we usually don't admit the difficulties of understanding and telling our own stories.
Even in memoir workshops, especially in university settings, where professors need to give grades, people rarely talk about the emotional challenges, and also the emotional rewards, of telling their stories.
But Melanie Brooks, a brave writer at work on her own memoir, decided to ask writers those usually unspoken questions about how they deal with the emotional challenges of writing difficult stories.
These are important questions; if we can have honest conversations about the challenges of our stories, we're more likely to be able to work through those challenges and create real transformation on the page, in our lives, and in the world.
In her book Writing Hard Stories, Melanie interviews 18 memoirists about how they told their hard stories and "shaped art from trauma."
And this week, I'm sharing with you my interview with Melanie. She has lots of great things to say about writing—and living. I hope you'll watch and share it with others.
Nadia Colburn talks with Melanie Brooks about Writing Hard Stories
I blog about creativity, writing, yoga, meditation, justice, women, the environment and integrated well being for the individual and society