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"Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened." ~ Wayne Muller

How to Keep Your Creative Flame Alive

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I have a cork board in my writing office that is crowded with quotes, photos, and inspirational messages. This one has somehow made its way to the center:

“Most of us would do better if we became more adept at watching the fire under our work… The fire bears, requires, watching, for it is easy to let the flame go out.” 

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

It’s a reminder, a warning, because I’ve let my flame go out before, more than once.

The first time was in college.

At the end of my senior year I met with my creative writing professor to discuss my plans for the future. Mr. F was an intimidating figure whose impressive degrees and sardonic attitude fostered fear rather than inspiration. Nervously, I told him about my plan to apply to MFA programs. He shot down my idea as unflinchingly as he might have flattened a bug.

The irony was he was right. I did need life experience more than another degree, but his delivery lacked compassion, to say the least, and I left his office disillusioned and shattered.

Who hasn’t experienced a moment like this, when our dreams are suddenly extinguished? Worse still, at the hand of someone we trust. But as much as I resented Mr. F, as much as I “blamed” him for my plummet in confidence, it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t put out my flame.

I had.

The creative embers that stir within our hearts are sacred. We will all encounter obstacles and challenges, but ultimately we’re responsible for protecting and nourishing the flame within (tweet that!)« Continue »

Lean. Love. Learn.

Fall woman in rain looking at ocean

“Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” – Charlie Jones

The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging and painful of my life. I’ve been through a major loss with my business (don’t worry—I’m not going anywhere), a great personal loss in a relationship, and stand on very shaky ground with all I have sewn into for the last decade or so. In short, I find myself at ground zero, in a place of needing to rebuild and set down new roots.

Have you ever been in that place? That place where you feel parched and question everything about who you are, what you want and what it all means?

That’s where I am.

And I’m grateful.

Not for the pain; I could do without that part. But for the journey, the opportunity to grow, and the chance to effectively start again. It’s only when we’re standing on parched ground that we gain clarity on our deepest needs. Everything else falls away: materialism, the to-do list, the everyday stresses that really mean nothing. Loss and pain are the greatest catalysts to finding meaning and purpose in our lives (tweet that!)« Continue »

How Writing Catapults Change

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Two years ago, my chest was continually throbbing, as though my heart was beating outside of my chest. The weight of stress and anxiety controlled every aspect of my life. I was in one of the deepest and darkest moments I have yet to experience. My wife and I owned a small business. It was a […]

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How to Develop a Writing Practice that Works for You

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I have this idea, every once in a while, that I need to improve my habits. I need to drink more water, get more fresh air, walk the dog. I don’t even have a dog. So you can imagine what happens when I read a blog or a book or a helpful message telling me […]

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