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.


another go ’round the sun

calendarThe last day of 2012. And how are you spending it? Are you a resolution person? Do you reflect, set intentions, or have a ritual to mark the end of the year? Do you go to a New Years Eve party, or watch whatever television something that has replaced Dick Clark and the ball dropping thingie? (i never got that: standing around in times square – where it’s probably bloody freezing – or sitting on the couch to watch a huge metal ball lit up by loads of light bulbs drop a few feet.) (and really, it doesn’t even drop; it slooowlly inches down a track where it says 2012 at the top, and when it falls, the 2 changes to a 3. oh, the excitement!) (… but i digress.)

The older I get, the more mixed I feel about the significance (or lack of it) around the changing of the year. Does magic happen when the clock strikes twelve on December 31st? Do we get a clean slate? More energy? Forgiveness? Cause really, it’s just another day … with no greater power to grant renewal than any other.

But we forget that, of course. In the process of managing the details of our lives, it’s easy to get distracted (not that i would know anything about that … [see dick clark/ball drop musing above …]). So maybe because of all these distractions in our lives, we embrace the opportunity to reflect, and use whatever collective energy is swirling around for change and improvement. I know I do.

I had a nice stretch of time off from work with the x-mas and New Year holiday falling as they did, and that gave me a lot of time to think about the coming year; from big-picture visioning and dreaming to nitty-gritty details around my work, to personal self-care type stuff. You’ll hear more from me on all that in the coming months: more opportunities to play, explore and unleash your awesome along with me … but in the meantime …

… to start off this next go ’round the sun, I decided to dip back into a little something I wrote a few years ago at the turning of the year. Same as it ever was, though so much has changed.

On the turning of the year
(2012/13 revisited) 

Days go by, we meet people, we buy groceries. We work, we sleep, we eat, we drink coffee, we wish for more, we strive to do better. We wonder why some things are so damn hard; other times we think about people who are really suffering and struggling, and we feel lucky, soft and grateful.  And we are grateful.

And sometimes we still forget.

We wish we’d said something when we had the chance, other times we wish we hadn’t said it when we did. People get sick, and people get well; some don’t. Fear is sold on the news and there is plenty to go around. There is also magic and beauty to go around. And sometimes we forget.

We do laundry, we hang out with  family and friends, we move and we procrastinate. We can’t get that stupid song out of our head. We triumph, we fail, we let people go. We rise to challenges and we hide our heads in the sand. We get the mail, we pay the bills, we bitch about the price of gas. We dream, we stretch, we take out the garbage, check email, laugh and cry. We hug the people we love.

Deadlines loom, deadlines pass, and new ones grow in their place. We come home at the end of a long day and get into comfy clothes, light candles, listen to music, and have a glass of wine. We wrestle our demons, we wrestle each other. (sometimes that wrestling stuff is fun.)

We choose, we second guess, we choose some more, we plow forward hopefully. We move with purpose, we hesitate, we adjust, we plow forward some more, we fall down and get up. We dance with the unknown even if we don’t ever think about it.

Tomorrow the calendar flips to a new number, but nothing else is really different. It’s another new day; a chance to choose, to dream anew, to take bold steps, to shine on. There’s much to celebrate: it’s the same complicated, challenging, magic and beautiful world … and never the same river twice.

Happy New moment, new day and new year, friends.  Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for participating – whether by reading my schtuff, coming to my in-person workshops, working with me one-on-one, adding your thoughts to the weekly writing party we call Throw-down Thursday, or emailing, commenting here on the blog, following me on Twitter, or being part of the Facebook page/community.

And yes, “more please” too. “More please” of each one of you. “More please” of your awesome, “more please” of your vulnerability, your bravery, your writing, your living full-out. With much love, thanks, and lots more “more please.”

random schtuff

  • Was getting ready for Monday and realized I left my coffee mug in the car.  Unlocked the door, lowered myself in, grabbed the cup, and noticed this staring at me.  I live in natcha.

  • Father’s Day today. My folks always called Father’s and Mother’s Day “Hallmark holidays,” and we never made much of a fuss over them.  No big fanfare; no brunch; no gift. (no, that’s not entirely true; i once took my mom to see gypsy on broadway with tyne daly, but it was more about treating her to see the show than it was about mother’s day. she loved tyne daly). Usually I just send a card (cause even if these holidays were made up to sell cards, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of any reason to tell someone you love that you love them…)  (but i digress.) Since my Mom died, Mother’s Day provides another reminder of her obvious absence. Today I saw several Facebook posts from friends who have lost their fathers, and a few times when I saw a photo or an “I miss you Dad” post, I’d future-trip into panic about losing my dad. Bad enough to have lost mom; I don’t want think about the possibility of losing my dad … but for some reason, the mind seemed to be going there today. (stop it, mind.)

  • Had a session with the Writer Babes yesterday. The groups are usually intimate; after hosting a few with 10 to 12 participants, I’ve settled on an upper-limit of eight, but I really prefer no more than six (which is why i’m trying to think of new ways to deliver the material; because if i want this to be the work, then i’ve got to figure out a way i can deliver the content and make enough bucks to live/save/thrive. cause there’s no way i could even make a getting-by kind of living delivering only intimate workshops the way i run them/charge now…). (but again, i digress…)  This week I had a really intimate group: two regular long-time Babes, and two complete newbies. New Babes bring an unknown energy into the mix; you never know how they’ll respond to the invitation, the process and the whole vibe of the group, and facilitating those workshops takes more focus and energy from moi. This time, I had a true facilitating workout cause the newbie Babes were an old friend from my elementary and middle school days, and my sister. If each had come on her own, it would have been interesting/a stretch and would have brought its own bit of history (and potential self-management requirements for me), but this was a double stretch. It was also a huge gift to have them there. But my sis in particular. She’s a year older, and while we get on great, we’re siblings, and we have that sibling history and issues and differences, and, and, and.  So with me in the facilitator role, and her in participant role – and in this vulnerable and awesome writing practice circle thing? … yup, I had me some facilitating steroids yesterday, I did.  But it was so cool to see both of them get the goods of the group, and be so jazzed by it. I’m looking forward to having them both back. (i love the writer babes. including the newest babes…)

  • I’ve been enjoying the action on the new Facebook page. If you’re here because you came from there: Hi; thanks for playing there, and thanks for coming here. (and if you’ve never been there, please, go “like it” … ) With more people playing, engaging and appreciating, I’m feeling way more inspired to write, to think about how I can serve, and really working to make it happen. Love when it all works like that.

  • Today was the first day since we moved into the new digs (march 31) where I had nothing I had to do (and/or without doclicious’ kids staying with us). I feel like I’ve been going-going-going for weeks (cause i have), so today felt like the greatest day ever. No expectations; no must-do’s; wonderful. And on top of that, boy, did the weather cooperate: mid 70s, no humidity; a stunner of a day. Late last week a friend invited me to a concert, and as much as I might have enjoyed going under other circumstances, I declined. I told her I had every intention of not leaving my PJs, much less my house this weekend. And that I did, friends; that I did. (ok, so i left the house, but i didn’t leave the yard. and today was spent in cozy schlub clothes. not PJs, but pretty darn close …). I actually did quite a bit: I cooked,  made banana bread, watered plants, cut Doclicious’ hair; but also I sat in the backyard, read, listened to music and did a lot of nothing. It was awesome.
  • And that photo on the left? More natcha. Pinwheel (an extra writer babe ‘fabulous parting gift’) in the pot with the wee blueberry bush (hoping for buds) and birds on the feeder. The magical backyard.