During a recent meditation, the West Side Story song “Somewhere” sprung to mind, along with these lyrics: There’s a place for us. Somewhere a place for us. Hold my hand and we’re halfway there . . .
My next thought was: There’s a place beyond fear, and when I hold my own hand, when I’m gentle, loving, and supportive with myself—I’m halfway there.
Where is this place beyond fear and how do we get there? Here are a few suggestions for moving beyond fear, and into a calmer, happier, space:
Switch off your settings for autopilot living. Turn toward the light within. Even as the pandemic rages, as our government erupts, as old systems are destroyed to make way for new ones, as change sweeps through our world, remind yourself that a place exists beyond fear. Peace is available right now. It’s inside. It’s everlasting. It’s alive and well underneath all the chaos. Remember the blue sky. Hold your own hand. Be gentle, loving, and supportive with yourself, and remember to breathe.
Yesterday I had an appointment with an acupuncturist. I’ve been afflicted with chronic UTIs since April, and my physical challenges appear to be stress-related. In the past, while healing from other minor injuries, I’ve found acupuncture both healing and relaxing. The only downside was that I had to travel to the other side of town for treatment. So I was happily surprised to discover a practitioner, Susan, just down the street from my home. We spoke briefly on the phone, then scheduled an appointment.
Last week I had the honor of speaking to Marlene Cullen’s Writers Forum as we celebrated her new anthology, The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing. I spoke to the intersection of writing and healing, which is my passion, and realized, while reflecting on my talk, that much of what heals in life also heals in writing.
Last week, in one of my online writing circles, a student said that she doesn’t feel like a writer because she doesn’t have a big vocabulary. I knew where she was coming from. As a young writer I thought that because I wasn’t a good speller that meant I couldn’t be a writer. It’s logical to assume that having a solid grasp on the mechanics of writing is necessary for an aspiring writer, but those things can be learned—and corrected by editors.
I’m excited to share my new book cover with you (scroll to bottom)! It’ll be released June 1, 2021. My book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?, debunks the myth that anxiety is the price of admission to a creative life, and is divided into five parts: Dream, Nourish, Write, Publish, and Promote. It shows writers (especially first-time authors) how to use their present-moment circumstances as stepping-stones to a successful and meaningful writing life, navigated from the inside out. My book also encourages writers and authors to rethink their ambitions (which may be fueled by the tyrannical demands of the ego) and trust in their heartfelt purpose and values in the journey to becoming, or continuing on, as authors.
Even during this pandemic, the weeks are passing quickly. My last round of classes is wrapping up, and I’m about to begin three new online writing circles. The work this season has been deeply moving, a reflection of our times. I’d like to share many amazing pieces with you and I’m still considering Zoom salons for the future, but haven’t gotten there yet. For now I’d like to share one story that touched my heart, written by Carole Key, a new student.
Over thirty years ago I worked as a sales manager at Jack LaLanne health clubs. My aim was to get to know, support, and enroll everyone who came into my office. I was trained to listen for and dissolve objections—obstacles people raised that kept them from doing what they said they wanted (to exercise and get into shape.)
Prompted by the recent protests, some of my students have been writing about race. Listening to their work has inspired me and also helped me realize that in the past few weeks I’ve gone AWOL on my own writing.
For the past eleven years I’ve been teaching transformational writing classes. I’ve offered four eight-week sessions annually and taken time off between sessions. During our time off I’ve hosted literary salons, where my students read work written in class to invited guests. We have enough chairs for sixty people and we often have a full house. These salons are always joyous events filled with deep sharing, laughter, yummy food, and beverages. They’re parties that celebrate my students and their writing.
Last week I was pleased and surprised to find peace and joy in simply breathing. I wasn’t doing special breath work, or trying anything new (although I experienced something I’d never felt before). I was just meditating and trying to settle down and get as quiet and still as possible. Let go. Soften. Allow. Relax, I told myself, repeating these words as a mantra. I also used, “Quiet mind, open heart.”