One of my favorite childhood photos is from my Brownie troop picture in the third grade.
I don't have access to the photo, because I've gone no-contact with my family of origin, but imagine it with me.
In the photo most of the kids are wearing official brown sashes and dresses. They're standing still and smiling simply. It's a group picture displaying lovely uniformity.
Except, in the back right corner, I'm wearing my favorite purple overalls, and instead of standing still I'm raising my arms in the air like a Rockette with a big, bright grin.
I remember this moment really well. I had been standing still and smiling simply, like everyone else, until the photo was about to be taken. At that moment I got a burst of bright, silly energy, and I threw my hands into the air.
When I got the photo back, I loved it. What that group needed was a little bit of charisma and charm.
As an adult, I love this photo, because it was taken at a time when I still didn't have the embarrassment and shame of being myself that would come in later years.
As I grew older most of the feedback I got from my culture was that I was too weird.
Colorful clothes? Not ok. Spontaneous displays of joy? Very bad. Being loud and talkative? Two thumbs down! (Oh, the joys of growing up in Boston!)
Throughout my teenage years and twenties, I would go to bed every night feeling embarrassed by all the weird things I said. Why couldn't I just be normal?!
I was filled with shame for being myself, and all of this shame made my creativity suffer. I wanted to be a writer, but after college I hardly ever wrote.
I didn't do interesting things. I just went to the bar every night, trying to numb out all the feelings.
It wasn't until I was in my thirties, got sober, and went to life coach training that my healing journey began.
It wasn't an overnight change. I was never able to just force myself to be self-confident already!
Over the years, however, I have slowly learned how to like myself, how to claim my spontaneous sparkles as a gift, and how to start creating again.
Essentially, I've been returning to being who I was in the third grade, when I could throw my hands up into the air shamelessly.
Writing has been a really interesting part of this journey, because the wounds of rejection tend to come up in this area of my life more than all the others.
I've been writing consistently for the past 8 years, and at first it felt so challenging to put my voice into words.
Everything I learned from culture about how wrong my true self was would come up when I sat down to write.
I was so scared of embarrassing myself. I didn't want to say totally weird things on the internet and have everyone reject me.
Sometimes I couldn't write at all. Other times I wrote, but in a way that felt joyless because I was trying so hard to not be myself.
But then, every once in a while, I would have an experience of flow, where I would connect to my heart and allow whatever was in there to go onto the page.
Those moments were like being me, in purple overalls, with hands flying in the air.
At first these moments didn't happen very often, but the more I healed from childhood emotional wounds, the more I experienced flow and joy in my writing.
The more I had these moments, the more I felt a sense of empowerment and self-confidence as a writer, and the more writing became a joyful and magical craft.
Writing has been a critical part of my healing journey, because it has called me to transform more and more into my true self.
This is why self-expression and authenticity are at the heart of the writing programs I offer to you.
I am here, not to teach you how to be like everyone else, but to teach you practices that will help you be more YOU.
I know just how it feels to be ashamed of sharing your true self and having others reject you for it.
I know that hot, horrible, squirmy feeling in your belly when you remember something embarrassing you said or did or wrote.
I know how it feels to not be able to write, because it would be too vulnerable to put yourself onto the page.
However, I also know the wonder and joy on the other side of learning how to like yourself, claim your gifts, and find authentic connection because you shared your voice with the world.
I know the peace that comes on the other side of no longer believing the lies your culture told you about yourself.
I know the freedom of healing old creative wounds and learning how to write from a place of joy and confidence.
And can I just say...it's awesome and so much fun!!
I would LOVE for you to experience the flow of authenticity and magic in your writing.
If you've been longing to kindle the magic in your writing life, then my new program, Summer of Enchanted Writing, is for you.
In this program we'll be doing fun, quirky, and interesting healing practices where you will learn how to claim your wonderful, authentic voice in your writing.
This program is a healing journey for writers like you, writers who want to share from the heart, but who are scared to be who you really are on the page.
I can't wait to teach you the practices that have been a huge help to me on my journey. I am so excited for this! Are you ready? Join today. We start this Thursday, June 23!
P.S. My communities are safe spaces to be YOU and to heal from the wounds that block your authentic self-expression. This group is filled with kind, interesting, and wonderful folks.
P.P.S. My rabbit, Pippin, sat at my feet and stared at me while I wrote this letter. Sometimes he'd bump my leg or lick my foot, until I'd finally stop and pet him. It was adorable, and also annoying, but it forced me to take breaks, which was good! Do you have a writing companion? I'd love to see a photo :)