healing through story
At the beginning of the year, I had an opportunity that, in my younger years, envisioning my ideal life as a writer, I could have only dreamed of. I had the chance to participate in a writers' retreat with a group of amazing, powerful, beautiful, heartfelt, talented women, at the foot of Mount Shasta, one of my favorite places in the world. What a blessing! 🙏🏼
Several months ago, I received an email entitled "Are You Serious About Writing A Book?" The email came from a trusted source (Lee Harris), who was recommending the writing course that his editor, Debra Evans, and her business partner, New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned speaker, Kristine Carlson, were offering: a course appropriately titled The Book Incubator.
My immediate response when I read the subject line of the email was: Heck, yes, I'm serious! I read on to discover that, in addition to the 12-week virtual class that ran from October through January, there was an option to participate in a 4-day in-person retreat with the Book Doulas (Kristine and Debra) in Mount Shasta at the start of 2020.
Mount Shasta captured a a very special place in my heart when I first stopped there for an overnight on a road trip back down from Vancouver, Canada, with my partner at the time in 2009. I've returned to the mountain almost every year since then - some years more than once -, and my experiences there have always been deeply meaningful. I've been saying all along that "a part of my soul lives in that mountain," and, during my last trip up there for my 40th birthday in April of last year, that statement took on a whole new meaning with a beautiful spiritual experience I had. But that's beyond this blog post. I read the email about the Book Incubator course in the staff room, during my lunch break at work, and I told my colleague about it. I was positively lit up, and my colleague commented that she'd never seen me quite this excited about anything. I told her my cells were vibrating with joy at the prospect of this course and retreat. They were! ✨ There was an option to participate only in the virtual class, as well as an option to purchase the Platinum package and attend the in-person retreat. The price tag had me pause for a moment, but the soul call was so strong... it didn't take too much effort to silence the fears around the financial investment. I knew I was meant to be a part of this retreat, and I knew the Universe would have me covered in regards to money. I had (and have) no doubt that the investment will bring returns worth many times what I put in. Heck, it already has! Not in dollar bills just yet (although I trust those will come back manifold in years to come), but the reward has been absolutely worth every penny, and so much more! So how do I begin to describe the tremendous impact this experience has had on my life? For starters... the class is the reason this blog exists. As it turns out, you can't just write a book and hope to have it picked up by a publisher and become an overnight bestseller. Who knew? Well, actually, I believe that anything is possible, so I'm sure that, too, can happen. But, for most people, becoming a published author requires a lot of leg work, and part of that is building a platform and engaging with readers, so that, once your book does hit the shelves, people will actually have an interest and a curiosity in buying it, because they'll already have a feel for your work. They'll know you already, and they'll want more of you. (That's the hope, anyways.) So, I'm here to "build my platform," but, in the process, I've been reminded of just how much happier I feel in life when I write regularly. Writing lights up my passion. I feel plugged in when I write. I feel a sense of purpose. I feel aligned with my higher being. And my hope is that my readers will find inspiration in what I share and reconnect to their own passion and inner knowing in the process. That is my most sincere wish when I share any piece of writing. I used to blog actively way back when (in the mid-2000s), and I loved it, but it was a private blog that was read only by a small circle of other private bloggers. We shared intimately and so openly and vulnerably, and we supported each other on our life journeys with all their ups and downs. It was amazing, and so rewarding in so many ways. We had our little "cul-de-sac" community that we could come "home" to at the end of a demanding day and find comfort in, sharing with each other, uncensored. It was real, and raw, and beautiful, and I made lifelong friends in that community that I will forever cherish. This was almost a decade and a half ago, and most of us got busy with careers, relationships, families, etc., and the blogging fizzled away - although the friendships have continued, through Facebook, through real life visits, through phone calls, emails, texts, etc. I love these women something fierce, and know I could reach out to any one of them if I needed someone to go deep with about life stuff, and they'd be there for me in a heartbeat. As would I for them. As I worked on developing my career as a Licensed Acupuncturist, I wanted to put more energy into writing on a forum I could share publicly and that would also be of benefit to my patients, so I launched a public blog. The tipping point that got me started was a conversation I had with a patient about writing a vision statement. The year was 2008, and, at the time, I was constantly talking to my patients about writing vision statements for various areas of their lives (work, relationships, health, etc.), because this practice had been so powerful for me. I decided to create templates and post them to my blog, so that I could point my patients to these links and have them as a ready resource. The blog aimed to inspire and encourage. I shared a little bit about personal experiences, but the blog was written primarily in the voice of a professional, sharing wisdom and guidance. It was rewarding in its own way, but, with Facebook taking off and spending more time on that forum to post inspirational thoughts and tidbits, my blog, Healing Body, Mind & Spirit, soon, too, fizzled away. It seemed to me that people didn't take the time to read blogs anymore. Or maybe it was just me, I'm not sure. It seemed, though, that we had become a culture of scrolling and didn't have the attention span any longer to take in more than a few brief lines of text before our minds wanted to move on to the next shiny image and tagline. I think that is still true. And I also think that some of us are coming back around to dedicating ourselves to those reads that feel worth our while. (If you've read this far, I hope you are finding this worth your while.) What was missing for me in my last blog was the vulnerability and authenticity that I had brought to my writing in my first (private) blog. As a reader, what stirs and inspires me the most is the raw, authentic stuff. It's what lights me up and what I crave more of. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't linger on the surface. I delve into the depths, and I invite my conversation partners to go there with me. My goal, then, in this blog, is to find a happy medium of both: the professional voice and the personal voice. Approaching this as a "professional writer" is a little different, too, than the approach I previously took as a "professional healer." Here's the thing, though: the two (writer and healer) are really not separate. When we think of "healers," we tend to think of someone in the "healing profession;" a "healthcare practitioner." However, you can be in any profession (or none) and still be a healer. Being a healer is not a job - it's a frame of mind. And writers, in my opinion, are some of the greatest healers on this planet. Bearing in mind I don't believe we can heal any other person, BUT: we can provide an opening, an insight, a nugget of inspiration that will guide another on their healing journey and help them to do their own healing. Enough said. I've always believed that story is one of the most powerful healing tools. Sharing our stories and witnessing the stories of others can, at times, open up an energetic portal and bring about shifts more powerful than physical medicine. Sharing our stories can help us to get in touch with what we're really feeling deep inside. Sometimes, we can't seem to gain clarity around our own emotions until we've heard ourselves speak them out loud. That's why therapy and good friendships are so valuable! Sometimes, the healing comes as we hold space for another and witness them in their sharing. The beauty is that the healing always goes both ways. If you are truly present with someone as they share their story with you from the heart, it is impossible for both of you not to come away from the encounter changed. How many times have you read a book, or watched a movie or a show, and you've laughed, or cried, or both? How many times has a story touched on feelings deep inside of you that surfaced in the process, even if they were only remotely (if at all) connected to the book you were reading or the film you were watching? That is the healing power of story. Indigenous tribes know about this healing power well, and they employ it very intentionally in their lives, in their communities. We use it, too - through film, through books, through poetry, through sharing with each other - though often not that consciously. Take a moment right now to pause and think about a book or a movie that has deeply affected and changed you. You may have read or watched it years ago, and it still continues to have a lingering impact on you today. What comes to mind? I'd love it if you shared some of your favorites in the comment section. At this moment, what comes right to the surface for me is the movie Whale Rider (one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen) and the book The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd. Her writing has touched me deeply over the years, and, this book, in particular, has had an impact on my life that I continue to feel many, many years after reading it. My mission here is this: I am here to help encourage more healing through story telling. Sometimes, the story doesn't need to be shared with others, and you can connect to it by writing in your journal. Other times, you might want to write to a trusted friend (try writing an old-fashioned letter!), or sit with a dear one over coffee, or share your heart with someone while you walk in nature. However you feel called, I encourage you to share your stories in the ways that feel most nurturing to your soul. I also encourage you to invite the people in your life to share their stories with you. Try taking the time to be fully present with someone as they share something vulnerable, and see how you feel afterwards. It's powerful and beautiful, and I guarantee you'll both walk away feeling like you've just received a priceless gift. Aside from my writing pursuits on this blog, and, the main reason, of course, why I enrolled in the Book Incubator course, I am continuing to work diligently on the book I started writing more than four and a half years ago (a novel). There's a lot of healing in that book. There's been healing for me in writing it. There is great healing in it for the characters (who have become such a big and real part of my life over these past few years), and my great hope is that there will be healing in it for those who pick up the book to read it. One thing I have learned is that we cannot wait to "have the time to write." We need to carve it out. If writing is your passion, you have to write! Equally with any other creative endeavor, be it painting, music, sculpting, building... If your soul wants to express in a creative way and you don't heed that call, the energy that wants to be brought into form will keep bouncing around in your body and leave you feeling anxious and uneasy. If you're feeling called to express your spirit in any particular way, you won't find peace until you do. So go out there and create, and let me know about your own creative endeavors! What a beautiful journey this is. Keep adding your own unique spectrum of colors to the canvas of life and contributing to the masterpiece that we are all here to create together. I will leave you with the following quote by Sue Monk Kidd:
Humans, I discovered, need stories the way we need air.
With so much love. Angie K. 💗
P.s.: The picture is from the actual retreat home I stayed in. A friend of mine wrote in a text: "When you come back down from Heaven..." It felt very much like being right at the gateway to heaven. The majestic mountain towering over us imbued us with inspiration and awe as we wrote and came together in circle twice a day to share our writings and our visions and release our fears.