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.
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.”
Last week I wrote (but had not yet posted) a piece called “An Alternative to Freaking Out,” in which I described a meditation process that calms anxiety, and which has helped me move into blissful states. But then, over the weekend, I freaked out!
Now, more than ever, I find myself asking this question. For the past few years, my inner guidance has been telling me to slow down, stop fighting, let go, and trust life. As I’ve practiced doing these things, I’ve been liberated from a debilitating anxiety disorder and I’ve experienced greater peace, gratitude, and joy.
In my memoir, Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy, I share how an anxiety disorder hijacked my life for a few onerous years. Anxiety showed up as an enemy but eventually became a valuable teacher. Anxiety still educates me, and in light of the Coronavirus, and for those kindred spirits whose personalities also lean toward worry and fear, I thought I’d share a few thoughts.