checking in from a slow burn

mosey wood pond copyright debcoopermanHello friends.

I’m writing this post to all of you, but mostly to those who check in from time to time and have sent some notes wondering where I’ve been.

I’m still here.

And there has been a pull to something else in my life that has been taking a good chunk of time and energy, so I’ve been on a bit of a slow burn with my work.

Just for a while.

I’m using this slower time to simmer and plan some new things. Virtual sessions; some more in-person workshops; a video series. I might even jump on the podcast train.

But for now, I just wanted to say hi. Tell you I’m here, and here, sometimes here, and in the free Write Yourself Awesome community. I’m still working with one-on-one clients, but yes, the virtual stuff is on the back-burner for a while.

I’ll keep checking in; please do the same.

More blogging and schtuff for you soon.

Until then: I hope you’ll keep write freely and living fully.

a musical poem (#npm15)

dylan highway 61 revisitedMy classmates and I had been squirming through most of our 7th grade poetry unit, so the day our English teacher stood in front of the class, pulled out a rock album and put it on the record player we were a little confused. Had he given up on poetry?

As the song started, he walked around the class handing out dittoed copies of the song’s lyrics and told us to read along. (you don’t remember ditto copies? clearly you are a youngster.) (or i am old.) (but i digress.)

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose …
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

For kids who’d grown up on The Beatles, Carol King, Jim Croche, James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Carly Simon, the lightbulbs started to go off. We were moved by — and related to — so many of the lyrics that we’d hear on top 40 AM radio…(you don’t remember when AM radio was king? yeah, again: you’re young/i’m old. now let’s resume, shall we?)…we understood the poetry in those songs, even if we wouldn’t call it that.

So for those of you who still think you don’t like poetry, I get it. I felt that way once.

Try today’s poem. The one that turned my idea of poetry on its head. From Bob Dylan. (and frank juliano, english teacher.) (thanks, mr. j.)

Like a Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

befriending the soul (yes, another poem – #npm15)

photo copyright Kenyon CollegeI met Ingrid Goff-Maidoff in college. Kenyon is small liberal arts college–a little hamlet in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio–surrounded by farms and fields, and hidden ponds and streams. If you went to Kenyon, you were part of an intimate community…mostly because there wasn’t anywhere else to go. About an hour north-east of Columbus, students lived on campus, walked up and down Middle Path (photo above) to eat in campus dining halls, to study in the library, and socialize. All at this little campus on the hill.

Ingrid was younger than I — two years I think — but we both traveled around in theater circles. I remember a number of sweet conversations that went a little deeper than the average college chats, but in college, those two years difference often feel like a chasm, and though I’d call her friend, I remember thinking of her almost like she was a little sister.

Soon after she graduated, she sent me an invitation to her wedding. I was working in non-profit theater at the time, and I wasn’t making much of a profit so there wasn’t any disposable income to speak of to make the trip (to…was it martha’s vinyard? or somewhere on the cape in massachusetts?). I remember being so touched to be invited, and I was bummed that I couldn’t go.

We lost touch not terribly long after that as people do when lives spin off away from college. From time to time I’d wonder how she was. She had been a wonderful actress, a lovely singer, and a sweet and thoughtful “kid.” I wondered where she wound up. (strangely, i never bothered to look her up through alumni channels, and, when the google thang came into being, i never googled her.) Then, one day, when checking out Jen Louden’s Teach Now program, I saw her face attached to a testimonial on the site. I clicked the link in the testimonial, and…it turns out, she was still living in Massachusetts with her husband–and now: two children. And she’s a poet and artist. Not just any poet either; a modern-day Rumi-like poet if you asked me (and yeah, i know you didn’t, but you’re reading, so, y’know, tough.) :) (but i digress…).

Ingrid has a way of diving in to the mysteries and beauty of the universe and surfacing with soulful understanding and expressions that are nothing short of sacred.

(and no, i’m really not exaggerating.)

As you can tell, I’m a fan.

I think you will be too. Read the poem below, and then check out her website. Be sure to sign up for her email list; trust me, it will be one you’ll definitely look forward to opening.

Befriending the Soul

Ingrid Goff-Maidoff

Befriending the soul, you say,
Come now partner, Buddy up.
Befriending the soul, you say,
Where have you been all my life?
And you begin to remember
How to really listen.

When she comes to you, she brings gifts:
The broken cup of childhood;
The aroma of your grandmother’s kitchen;
A dream you have forgotten;
A wound you have forsworn.
These all belong in the wholeness, she says,
These are all the wonder of you.

Look, she shows you a diamond ~
A diamond with ten thousand sides.
All of these I am polishing, she says,
The beautiful, the betrayed, 
The banished, the un-forgiven.
See, friend, she holds it ~
I accept and attend with love to them all.

She holds a mirror to your face.
Looking into it you see the whole universe:
Forests, mountains, rivers, sky, lakes, gardens,
Villages throbbing with life…
Sun, moon, emptiness, galaxies full of stars…


rewarded with presence

jen louden quote

When I first read this line, I felt a settling in my belly…a thunk; a softening, which, for me, is the physical manifestation of “yes.”

Damn, that woman nailed it…she so eloquently articulated the essence of what I believe…and what I often say about the benefits of a writing practice.

So naturally, I love this.

At the same time, part of me is jealous. Jealous that Jen’s out there saying things that are very similar to the stuff that I say.

Only she’s been saying it longer.

And her audience is bigger.

And she has several vibrant programs. And she’s had several books published.

She’s also been featured in magazines and on rock-star blogs and, hell, she’s even been on Oprah.

So blahblahblah; comparison comparison comparison, not-good-enough, blahblahblah, bullshit bullshit bullshit.

Oy. Wow. Look at that, huh? Look what I uncovered by writing it down. (well, duh.)

So ok…that bit of blahblahblah side-tracking is a perfect example of what I believe and what I know:

When you get present, when you spend time with yourself (and in my world, this happens by putting thoughts on the page)…you uncover truths about yourself.

This is part of what Jen teaches – and what she’s taught me (as a student in her teach now program) – and what I teach too.

I support women who believe that walking a little off the beaten path in service of finding and living a life that has meaning for them (when so much about the world conspires to fit us into an “acceptable” norm) is rewarding, challenging, wonderful and worth it.

Sure, it’s one step forward, two steps back sometimes. And our lives are packed full of distractions, and things that are hard…things that make it so easy to lean into the distractions.

But whatever you do to “pause and listen to your heart” is worth it. Because, as Jen says: life will reward you with presence.

And isn’t that what people who are standing at the edge of their time on the planet talk about? They’re certainly not – as the age old saying goes – lamenting: “I wish I had spent more time at the office,” but “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” and “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

This is what they want; and it’s what I want…and I’m betting it’s what you want too.

Yes, it can be scary, and you have to do the work. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait. (and yes, i am hearing paula cole in my head now.)

The thing is, this process of pausing and listening to your heart is not like turning on a light switch. You don’t get present and stay there. You go back to sleep sometimes. You get distracted. Old habits die hard. Ego takes over. Comparison and envy (see above rant re: jen-does-what-i-do-only-better-and-longer-and-more-whatevah).

But what I believe – and what this statement from Jen reminded me (and captured) so amazingly – is that it’s a process we have to commit to. We CHOOSE it. Again, and again and again. And I – and my Writer Babes – choose this way of living (this way of being) every time we pick up and pen, start where we are, and write.


It’s with this in mind, that I’m working to better articulate what I do and how I do it. For a long time, when I’ve talked about my work, I’d lead by talking about writing. “I am writing evangelist,” I’d say. Or “I’m a writing coach.” And I am. Sort of.

But what I’m realizing – and what I’m having to admit (to myself and the world) – is that I’m a coach who uses the tool of writing to gain presence. And that presence helps us choose a life of meaning and happiness.

For years I’ve talked about how a writing practice (like the one that i have and the one that i teach) will help if you want to write a book, blog posts, poems, songs, short stories, etc. etc. but it’s the practice; the self-expression and exploration; the working out of the needs and wants and the shoulds and the gotta-dos that is the most important part.

A writing practice is a place to find support. A place to kvetch in safe space. A daily session with a therapist who has your best interest at heart…without the co-pay.

Writing is the tool. And the thing you get by using that tool? Presence. A writing practice can guide you to the heart of you. As you write, you’ll meet yourself on the page. The practice will help you find the strength to live what you discover, and let go of what’s holding you back.

It’s not always easy. But isn’t it worth it?

I think so.

Writing is how I choose. It’s how I listen to my heart.

If this is how you do it – or how you think you might like to do it – stick around; stay awhile. Chat with me in the comments or join and engage in the Write Yourself Awesome community on Facebook. Subscribe to my email list (i call it my fabu-list.) (see what i did there?). And if you’re local (NJ area), come to one of the local Living Out Loud (aka: the writer babes) workshops. Stay tuned for virtual workshops too. (and a blog that better articulates what i’m about and what i can offer you in your quest for a life of meaning and awesomeness.)


certainty – (day 1 reverb 14)

IMG_6287On the first day of Reverb14, Kat McNally offered us this prompt:

What can you say right now with certainty?

That I’d misspell “certainty” 50% of the time were it not for spell-check.

It’s snowing outside. (well, here in the beautiful boonies of western NJ it is.)

I’m fortunate. Life is challenging and messy, and sometimes I wish I could press a button and make some things easier (for me and others), but barring that, I practice focusing on what I can do to be more mindful, present and kind.

Writing helps me do that.

Speaking of which: I currently have 5 boxes filled with old journals. They shall go unread by others and will burn-baby-burn like a disco inferno when I’m gone. (if those who are left do what i ask …)

Sometimes the things that I want require big stretches and growth that I don’t actually want to do. Sometimes I do them anyway. Sometimes I don’t. I wrestle with that.

I have lost too many people I love to cancer and too many people I love are still dealing with it. Cancer fucking sucks.

The generation that once said “Don’t trust anyone over 30″ is now over the age of 50…and then some.

My hair looks better the day after washing it. And even better than that the day I go to a salon to get it cut. (ok; that’s kinda shallow, but the question wasn’t: what profound things can you say right now with certainty, right?)

I can drink a cup of coffee at 9pm and still sleep soundly at 10pm. The upside of ADD.

My office is in a constant state of getting-organized. (see the aforementioned ADD reference…)

Working from home is a blessing and a challenge.

Related to that: I miss the community of my old job, but I don’t regret leaving it to pursue my biz/work.

That’s it for now.


If you’re playing along with #Reverb14, pop a link to your response to today’s prompt below (or if you don’t blog, feel free to drop your full response below). I’m doing a drawing at the end of the month for a free session with moi. The more times you chime in, the more times you’re entered to win. See you in the comments. :)





throw-down thursday (2-6)

Oh so much going on in the life away from this corner of cyberland, and those of you who check in regularly will notice that I’ve missed a couple of throw-downs. My apologies.

I’ll share more about all the schtuff soon … in the meantime …

This quote has a lot of resonance for me lately. Maybe you too?

throw-down thursday the readiness

throw-down thursday (7/18)

Where’ve I been, you might be wondering … well, I’ve been juggling and kvetching … and yeah, dropping some balls along the way.

One of the places I’ve been during this stretch of juggling (read: quiet time on ze blog) was to the wedding of a friend/work colleague – just two weeks after Doclicious and I had our not-big-deal Big Deal nuptializing. It was great to live vicariously through the pomp and circumstance of a full-on wedding (we dressed schwankier for their wedding than we did for our own …), and great to raise a glass to their leap into married life while still shaking our heads that we actually did it. (well, maybe it’s just me who is still shaking her head. doclicious is pretty much saying: it’s about bloody time!)  (but i digress …)

The wedding was delightful and we danced up a storm. Though we didn’t dance to this song, it grabbed my attention like no song has in a while. It’s pretty awesome.  (i’m not a super-fan of the video, but hey, y’can’t have everything …)

Listen, simmer, then have a throw-down about it why don’tcha?

when self-care looks like a kvetch-fest

This post is part of the “Blog Lovin’ Tour” for Michelle Ward and Jessica Swift’s awesome new book The Declaration of You. The tour is an 8 week celebration where tons-o-bloggers are going to write in support and celebration of this fab book – and on some of the themes within. This week, I’m writing on “Self Care.”
I pre-ordered a copy, so I’ve been digging in for a couple of days now, and I’m loving it. If you’re here because you already know my stuff, trust me, it’ll resonate with you. (seriously. go get it.)
And if you’re here because you found me through one of the blog-loving tour links: Yee ha! Hiya, and thanks for stopping by. (and did you get the book? seriously. go get it.)


(ok, now … about self-care …)

I’m exhausted.

First, there’s the day-job – which is intense and demanding and can take a lot out of me.

Then there’s the side-biz that I’m working on (with an eye on making it my only biz sometime down the road).

Then, last week (after weeks and weeks of house-hunting) my partner and I put bid out on an awesome house, and we’re set to close in early August … so now we’re scheduling inspections and appraisals and a move (oh my).

And when I say that “we” are doing this, I actually mean mostly me. He’s a therapist and he’s with patients all day so I’m the main errand runner, lawyer caller, and all that fun stuff. Arg.

Did I also mention that said partner and I got hitched last weekend with a backyard wedding that we orchestrated ourselves?


Sometimes it feels like I’m competing for the gold in the Crazy-Busy Olympics.

To add to the excitement of these Olympics, I go and make a commitment
to write for Jessica and Michelle’s Blog-Tour.

On the topic of self-care.



Self-care? What the fargin farg is THAT?  Who has TIME for that?
I’m in training for the Crazy-Busy Olympics, right? Hello?

So, yeah, it’s true that I’m feeling kind of overloaded, streched and stressed. Aaaand, all that blahblahblah is just me having a vent-fest. And that vent-fest IS my self-care.

Cause the truth is: self-care is so ingrained in my life that I sometimes forget that I do it all the time. But it’s not bubble baths and spa treatments or a bi-weekly yoga date that keep me from going completely wacknoid when I’m in the midst of stress and change and to-do lists a mile long. Sometimes my self-care looks like a grade A bitching and moaning kvetch-fest.

Cause my self-care practice is writing.

Self-care happens every time I pick up a pen and a notebook and write out my feelings; the crankiness, the frustrations, the challenges and the oh-my-god-how-am-I-going-to-get-through-this-week weeks. Self care happens when I bitch about my schedule and how I had a crappy night sleep cause the hubster was snoring and damnit-I-need-sleep. (kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.)

Not to say that self care doesn’t also happen beyond crankiness and kvetching. It happens when I’m slowing down and paying attention; noticing the way the birds are swooping and diving on the bird feeder; how good the coffee smells; how I’m looking forward to dinner with friends on Saturday.

Self-care can be reporting on the events of the day or just turning down the noise in mind. (yeah, i just quoted carly simon …) Sometimes self-care is a stream-of-consciousness rant about things that I know don’t really matter in the big picture, but they’re pulling my attention just the same. Sometimes its a pep-talk to myself about sticking with my fitness goals when I really want to stay in bed.* Sometimes self-care is about getting down my latest thank you/more please … or honing in on those things that Michelle and Jessica call The Big Likes.

Y’know how – during their safety announcements – flight attendants always say that: “… in the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first …” …?

Well, writing is my oxygen mask. It’s self-care in the form of a chronicle, a vent-fest and a celebration. It’s the thing that keeps me from losing my shit when I’m feeling like I’m losing my shit.

It’s my self-care spa-date, a walk on the beach and candles in my bath. It’s the aromatic tea, the Pinot Grigo, the rich, dark chocolate. Writing is the way I clear out the clutter and make space for myself among the to-dos, the shoulds, the oughttas, the challenges, the celebrations, the stresses and the stretching.

Writing is the sanity in my wackanetta … that sometimes (and lately, all the time …) looks like a kvetch-fest. 

*Wanna join a super-beta Write Yourself Awesome group to get on the road to improve your habits and health in 30 days? Shoot me an email at info (at) debcooperman (dot) com for deets of this super-small, super-affordable (like sliding scale affordable), test run of this new program. (ie: it could be messy … but it will be awesome.) Just four spots left; starting in July. 

throw-down thursday (1-3-13)

Even as I was putting the graphic together for today’s prompt (i use picmonkey; love it!), I was conflicted about using it.

That’s probably because I’m conflicted about the word itself, and how it gets tossed around so much this time of year. “Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Resolutions!” “I resolve to keep better boundaries/lose 10 pounds/watch less TV/blahblahblah…”
The concept of New Years resolutions seem so “outer-driven” to me … so “should” oriented and wishful-thinking-ish. It’s possible that people are doing a lot of inner work to get to these statements of resolution, but that’s not how it lands for me.
The problem is probably semantics though, because I like “re-imagining” and “re-thinking,” and “choosing new perspectives,” “being mindful,” “setting intentions” … stuff like that. And one could call that resolution-ish…

~    ~    ~

That three-minute blahblahblah (or ‘throw-down’) up there sprung forth from me/my keyboard after paying attention and writing. And if that word brought stuff up for me, I’ll betcha it brings up something for you too. (even if it’s only sorta-related to the word, the prompt itself isn’t really the point.) Just notice, put the pen to paper (or fingers on the keyboard) and go, Speed Racer go. See what shows up when you do.

The thing about this weekly prompt party is that, even if it is the first week of the new year and I post what seems like a very obvious writing prompt (“well, she threw down ‘resolution’ … i guess i should write about my new year’s resolutions…”), you can (and should) write about whatever you bloody well want. If the visual reminds you of the cover of Bobby Sherman’s Here Comes Bobby album (as it sorta does for me), you can write about how you wish you kept all those Tiger Beat and 16 magazines you used to have as a pre-teen cause you could’ve made a fortune on Ebay, right?

Well then, write about that.

If the word “resolution” reminds you of the Beatles Revolution, and that makes you think of the first time you heard it at Sandi Freeman’s boy-girl party in 6th grade, then write about Sandi Freeman’s boy-girl party. Or maybe it makes you think about how so many daytime talk shows focus on resolutions at this time of year, and suddenly you get this flash of brilliance for a chick-lit novel about a 20something go-getter working on a small-town news show who gets in a scuffle with the handsome new producer and … (got it?). OK, good.

Go write now.

(wait; one more thing … a side-bar/meta moment: the writing [or rather, the ‘product’ of your writing] is also only sorta the point here. i’m talking about writing as a process; a practice. it’s about paying attention/being mindful/noticing yourself and your patterns, thoughts and feelings, etc. to deepen and improve you life and make it ever more awesome.)* (if you want to be a writer, or you have to write for your work, a writing practice like this will actually make a you a way better writer.)

*more on that – and what my ulterior motive is with all of this writing schtuff. (soon …)

So really, go write now.