Fierce Encouragement for Writing + Life
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Hello, beautiful writer friend. 

Below you'll find a mid-summer, half-birthday 14% discount on ALL of my offerings -- books, all upcoming groups, the August Unfurl retreat, self-paced prompts, and coaching. But before we get to that, I wanted to come here to say hello. Because I miss you when we're not in touch, and I love you all the time, and that is a true story. 

Perhaps more than ever before, I've heard from so many people in the past week or so that they've written and deleted hundreds of words. 

I get it. Me too. In fact, I just wrote and deleted a few sentences myself. There's so much I could say about the state of our nation and world, and there's also a layer of self-censoring that stems from questioning what difference my voice can make in necessary and hard conversations. Silence can look like indifference -- and it can also be a powerful choice for self-care. Here's what I know today: 

1) We need to keep showing up. 
2) There's no right or wrong way to show up. But sometimes it's freeing to have a container for your words where you can let go of worrying about your words being good or right. Where you get to just let it rip. Where deleting is discouraged and being seen is safe. 
3) This itself is courage.
4) We need each other.  
Yesterday, I was stormy. 
By "stormy," I mean: off-center, off-kilter. Just plain OFF. So many different emotions squeezing a cross-stitch around my heart, until finally in the early evening, the storm broke and I told Mani what was up. I said all the things that felt wrong and ugly and unclear and yucky about that state. And she gave me such a gift: "You get to be human," she reminded me. 

You get to be human. 

I could click "share" on Facebook all day long, and feel less and less connected.
Instead, I took my bike out of the garage and rode to town. I got a taco and a $2 lottery ticket. Then I rode home. Anger, envy, sadness, missing, confusion, and love -- all perched on my handlebars like a motley crew of dark companions, offset by the chirping of birds and pretty houses and flowers growing around picket fences. It wasn't until I got to my own old yellow house that I stopped and put down the kickstand. Put down my guard and my armor and opened my eyes again. These lilies, towering amidst weeds, growing by the curb in a kind of accidental garden. 

What seeds am I sowing? Where is my silence a sign of respect and listening and where is it a cop-out and a condoning of injustice? Where do we get to write about whatever is on our minds and in our hearts, without fear of judgment or reproach, comparing or competing, and without having to be right or good? 

I drove to NYC with Aviva on Saturday.
At one point, she asked me what I'd do for work, if I could do anything. First, I said handwriting analyst. Then a thousand other things all slideshowed through my brain as we drove south on the Merritt Parkway. Then I said, "This. I would be doing the work I am doing, because it's the first time in my whole life that I am truly using all of my gifts and connecting with people in the ways I've always wanted and needed to." 

Then I asked, "What about you?" And the floodgates opened. "Everyone thinks I want to be on Broadway," she said. "But I don't really know. Maybe I don't want to do theatre professionally. I might want to paint. I picture myself in a bright sunny studio painting all day." 

In that moment, I heard all the voices. You know the ones -- all the messages of discouragement about what's practical and what's unrealistic. I heard the indirect pressures to be good and the not-so-indirect pressures of figuring "it" out. I heard an almost-fourteen-year-old saying, "I don't know yet." And, of course, I hear echoes of so many of us, as adults, who still grapple with these pressures and early messages and negative voices, be they external or internal or both. 

"You get to change your mind," I told her. "And explore. You get to not know." 

Keep singing, I wanted to say. And keep painting and writing and drawing and busking and caring about the world and showing up and sitting down and learning how to listen. 

But I didn't say all of that. Because I am her mother, and lord knows she may misconstrue my words as their own kind of pressure. We are all on a path, and there's no "there" that will magically change everything. To develop confidence in your own voice, to allow yourself to write without editing the life out of your words before they even hit the page -- that is what we do when we practice together. 

Six months ago, on January 14, I came here at 11:11am (my birth time) to celebrate my 42nd birthday by saying thank you for being part of my world.

Today, I'm coming with a half-birthday present for you -- 14% off everything on the menu.

Menu? What menu? THIS menu! 
or use the direct links below.

This discount will last until midnight EST on Thursday, July 14. 

"Don't Miss This" and "The Inside of Out" (my books)
"Blossom" (two-week group) starts July 18 
"Unfurl" Amherst retreat, August 5-7
"Mini Memoirs" begins August 15 
"On the Corner: Writing at the Intersection(s)" begins September 19
Dive Into Poetry begins October 1 
Self-Paced Prompts (10 or 30) begin anytime
Discount applies to all coaching options :: contact me for details

And while the connections themselves may also be impermanent, there is a thread so strong I swear you can probably see it from space that binds us to each other. If you’re ever shaky, reach for it and give it a tug. I’ll do everything I can to tug back. Each word, each of your voices and faces and names — a touchstone, smooth or faceted, opaque or transparent — is precious to me.
Read more of "A Thread So Strong"

Fierce encouragement for your writing: 
Copyright © 2016 Jena Schwartz, All rights reserved.

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