ta-da! writing workshop scholarship

berkeley workshop scholarshipIn a little less than two weeks, I’m going to gather with some Writer Babes in the Bay Area. They’ll be busting through blocks, getting out of their own own way, flowing with stories on the page and really (really) starting to trust themselves and their voices.

Did you want to come, but the budget’s not-quite there to make it an easy “yes” …? Then you’ll want to check this out.

I’m giving away one free ticket to the October 18th workshop – along with a follow-up half-hour coaching session with me. (that’s worth over 150 smackaroos)

Answer just 7 questions (+ one optional one) no later than October 12th at 6PM Pacific to apply.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

(for more information on the workshop, click here)

I’ll read through the responses and select one woman for a full-scholarship to the October 18th workshop (winner will be announced no later 9pm PT wednesday, the 15th).

NOTE: Don’t let your fear of “getting it right” stop you! I’m a writing evangelist, not the grammar police. Applications written with heart and desire totally trump perfectly crafted grammatically correct sentences. (i.e.: don’t get in a mega-tizzy over getting it all “right.”) (see: look at that! the workshop has already begun …)

Bonus: Everyone who applies will receive an unpublished special-offer price for the workshop – and there will be a drawing for an additional super-duper discounted ticket + follow up coaching call. So, y’know: win-win.

Space in the workshop is limited, so registrations at the discounted rate(s) must be received by 9pm on October 16th. (if the workshop sells out, discounts codes can be used to register for a one-on-one session at 25% off – to be used by april 30, 2015)

APPLY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP HERE

throw-down thursday (6-12)

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here at Writer Babe Central. Tomorrow’s the last day at the day-job I’ve had for close to 8 years, and I’m nervous/excited/scared/a little sad … a big mix of emotions all over the place.  And, it has been a long time coming … I feel like I’ve been ripping off a band-aid slowly as I prepare for the “new gig” (that of full-time solopreneur), and this last month or so I’ve been feeling even more split than usual.

When I first gave notice in February, told my boss that I intended to leave in early April. He asked me to stick around until after our annual meeting in June so I could get us farther along on a few big projects I’d been working on. I agreed, with the stipulation that I could take all the vacation time I’d accrued to work on my biz a day or two/week for the duration. Stuck between a rock and a hard place methinks, he agreed.

And while it was not my original plan, it wound up being really good for me. Extra time to work on gearing up with the biz; extra time to work on these projects at the “day-job” that I really did feel invested in; extra time with someone else paying my health insurance (and into my 4o1K …); extra time to prepare my colleagues a bit better with “how in the hell do I do this thing” lists. But I also had this nagging feeling that I was not giving enough time/energy/attention to/at the day-job to get stuff done and fully complete there, and also not enough time/energy/attention to/at the home office to feel fully prepared for the lift-off. It was makin’ me a little nutty.

Now, a little side-bar: All this time, I have been participating in the fab Melinda Hunt’s Personal Yoga Practice beta program (she’s offering an expanded version and, i’m in; you wanna join? find out more here, it’s awesome …). A week or so ago she talked about resting into a yoga pose but not pushing it; choosing not to stay in a pose that felt uncomfortable. (hello? metaphor alert!) 

With that, I experienced a relaxing. I have been pushing at the edges as I try to fit everything in, but with this statement from Mel, I experienced a real relaxing. A sort of permission slip from the Universe to just do what I could do.

The home office might not be done on the 16th as I wanted. The folks from the office may call me a week out because I didn’t explain a process just-right. There might still be a pile of files to sort through, and I might not have my new desk picked out and set up. But it will come. Because I’m doing the stuff. And I don’t have to push the pose or the to-do list. I’ll do what I can do every day. Yoga can be on the mat, in my journal or at the desk if I really push the metaphor. And I will. Cause that’s what works today.

What works for YOU today?

How ’bout a throw-down? How ’bout this one?

permission slip

 

to the 12 year olds (and the former 12 year olds …)

jenipher lyn's blog party

 

No official Throw-down Thursday today. Instead, I’m going to write a bit about my 12 year-old-self. And write on behalf of that self as well. I’m also writing to others who are that age now, and those who are on-the-cusp. I’m doing it in honor/celebration of Jenipher Lyn’s book: How Being Stubborn, Depressed and Unpopular Saved My Life  (you can throw down about any of these topics if you like. i imagine there’s lots of juice in here …)

When I got my first journal — when the entries were about the many boys I had crushed on (names that sometimes changed daily), or when I couldn’t understand why this friend or that friend was whispering about me, or why my sister – who used to be one of my favorite people – was suddenly driving me out of my MIND … that’s when I wish I had Jenipher Lyn’s book.

When Jenipher first asked if I’d write a post for her book launch blog party it was a no-brainer. I watched Jenipher in the early days of her book’s germination, and the more images she shared and the more she talked about what she was planning (and asked one day – and i only paraphrase: is that title too out there?), I was cheering her (and it) on the whole way (and no, i did not/do not think the title was/is too out there).

Because, though being stubborn, depressed and unpopular didn’t save my life, the variations on the theme of those challenges gave me something to push up against, something to fight for, and something to continue to rally about throughout my teens, into my twenties, and even now, in my early 50s.

I wish I could look at the book right now and point to a page or two that had me shake my head with recognition … but I don’t have my copy anymore. I left it out on my kitchen counter a few weeks ago before my family came over for brunch, and as soon as my 13 year old niece saw the title, she snapped it up and that was it. I peeked my head in to the living room about 20 minutes later, and she picked her head up to tell me it was great, and then [boom], back down into Jenipher’s colorful, heartfelt pages. When my brother announced that it was time to leave and she was still reading, I gave her the book. I figured I’d just get another copy for myself.  Because I want my niece to have the wisdom and experience that Jenipher puts on the page.  The book that I wish I had; the book I’m glad is out there now.

Broken up into sections, Jenipher asked friends and bloggers write about each different section/theme in the book. But rebel that I am, I decided I would write about them all. And from the perspective of the grown-up woman who was once a 12 year old who really could have used this book …

Unpopularity

I remember looking around in junior high and high school and feeling the social hierarchy of “popular” and “unpopular,” and the “in” and “out.”  But who made that shit up, I wonder? (as i wondered then too, when i could step away from the grip of not having the right shoes or perfect, pastel fair isle sweater …) Now, I see clearly, and I want to tell my nieces – and my nephew too – (and every kid i know) that this hierarchy doesn’t matter. Like who you like; stand with the people who are compassionate and kind. Ignore the rest.

Semi related: As a grown up, I’ve reconnected with some folks I knew in high school – at reunions and through the magic of social media – and it’s amazing how many of us are sorry that we were unkind to others and/or that we compared ourselves unrealistically to others. Now we see the amazing uniqueness in each person and their glorious quirks. And amazingly, even the “popular” kids have said that they were often trying to be someone they were not.

I also learned that to some, I was kinda “popular” …  and I never felt it. I felt like a theater nerd, gawky, big boobed/big nosed, too loud, too opinionated, too everything.  So, 12 year old Deb, and everyone else – know this: There’s always someone more popular/pretty/smarter/etc. and there’s always someone a little less all those things. Even now, as grown ups. Always.

Good reason to be kind.

Being Yourself

Sometimes it’s hard to “be yourself” when you’re bombarded with images and expectations, and it’s super hard to do that when you’re a kid and you’re growing and the expectations that others have for you (family, teachers, friends) can feel like pressure to be anything but yourself. Naturally, I would suggest keeping a journal; it kinda saved my sanity. I wrote out the frustrations, I vented, I just let it all fly.

Don’t forget this though: the stuff on TV? Girls telling you to wear this or that brand of jeans or this lipstick or perfume? They’re selling you something. Having that purse or buying that soft-drink will not improve your life. Commercials and ads? They’re selling you STUFF. And they sell you stuff by telling you that the way you are now is not quite enough. Ignore them. They suck. Get stuff you need because you need something to carry your books in and you like the way it looks, not because the name on the bag is cool.

Trust me, one day those cool shoes everyone was dying to get when I was in high school? Earth shoes? Yeah, “earth shoes” … seriously: you will wonder what you were thinking.

Depression

It’s easy to let negative feelings get the better of you.  Particularly when you’re a teen and the hormones are swirling and making “normal” feel like something you will never be again. Ask for help, talk to friends or family.  Write it out. Don’t suffer alone. And don’t think it’s something you can/should handle.  Would you tell someone with a broken arm to snap out of it or just give it time?  Depression can start as something that’s just a big bummer about something real and reasonable that may pass, but if it hangs out for a long time and you’re not feeling any better, ask for help. Seriously.

Body Image/Eating Issues

I’m sure I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, but: comparing your body to other people’s bodies is a recipe for disaster. I know. I did. I went from 5’5 and skinny-skinny to 5’7 with a grown-up-girl-looking bust and hips in a matter of one year in my early teens. I felt like a lumbering, out-of-place girl, and for a variety of reasons, I decided that I was fat, and that dieting was the answer. I didn’t get heavy or start to have problems with my body until I started trying to fit it into an unrealistic shape. It took me YEARS to get out of the worst of the cycle, and I still have echoes of the challenges to this day because those old coping mechanisms die hard.

And PLEASE, hear this: there is nothing wrong with a few extra pounds in your teens. You are growing into a new body so if you’re not binging out on lots of processed foods like there’s no tomorrow or eating (or underrating) in an effort to avoid feeling stuff, your body will grow into itself. Relax.

When I hear young girls put themselves down for being “fat” – as though this is the worst sin EVER – I want to cry.  Your body is the only one you get. Kindness to yourself is so important. If you’re having trouble finding that, ask for help. The longer you ask your body to meet unrealistic expectations, the harder it will be to make peace with it.  Please get help if you’re feeling “wrong” in your body, OK?

Ambition/Diving In

Funny, when Jenipher first mentioned this as a topic, I did not want to write about it at all. Ambition? That word kinda gives me the willies. I read “ambition” as a push for achievement, which often feels like it’s based on unrealistic expectations. But if I think of it from a perspective of 12 year old girl dreams, the bottom line is pretty simple: follow the threads of your interest, dive into  your curiosity.  Don’t sweat the big adult question of “what are you going to DO with that?” You have time.  Explore, enjoy, and yes, dive in. Whatever you love, the water’s fine.

Gratitude and Thankfulness

I’ve written on this topic before, so if you want the longer version, you can go here … if not (if you’ve come this far you’ve read a lot already; bless your awesome heart …), here’s my take: Paying attention to the stuff that brings you happiness is a good thing. Notice those moments when it happens – when you’re with your friends, look them in the eye and toast (alcohol totally not required): thank you/more please. When you find a new author you like (thank you/more please, jenipher lyn!), when you smell honeysuckle outside your bedroom window (thank you/more please).  The more attention you pay to the ‘thank you/more please’es in your life, the more you’ll find.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend doing it when stuff really sucks and you need support and help (ignoring the tough stuff is like holding down a beach ball under the waves of the ocean — it takes real energy to hold it down, so vent away, get support … and when good things present themselves, don’t forget to acknowledge them … )

Now, I know I said I was writing this for the 12 year old girl that I was and the 12 year old girls who I love (even those who i don’t know) … but I realize that we’re all former 12 year old girls, and some of those old messages and challenges keep coming up for us. So I think Jenipher wrote this book for us too.

 

I hope you’ll check it out. It makes a good present for all the tween, teen and formerly-teen girls in your life. Including you.

 

maya

Adding my 2 cents to the outpouring of love and stories that are flowing in the wake of Maya Angelou’s death this week.

Maya Angelou

I first “met” Maya Angelou when she appeared on Bill Moyer’s Creativity special on PBS.  The Cooperman’s were not a TV watching family; from the time I was a kid, parameters were set on how much television we could watch, and it wasn’t much: just two hours a week. There were exceptions: good educational programming (to a pre-teen, read: booring!), the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz, and Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren and Celeste Holm, and we also got to see the Apollo land on the moon, and the NY Mets win the ’69 World Series. If we managed to get up before our folks on Saturday morning we could sneak in some cartoons or the LSD-like wackiness of Syd and Marty Croft. But those were exceptions.

So when my father sat me down to watch this show with him, I knew it was a BIG DEAL, even though I didn’t know why.

I can’t remember what year it was, but I was at a horrible stage in middle school or junior high when – as a tall, lanky girl with boobs (real obvious ones too. the guys-staring-and-snickering, girls-teasing kinda boobs) – while the rest of my classmates (and my older sister) were short, cute and with no real chests to speak of – I’d begun to feel awkward, strange and terribly out of place in the world.

And then I “met” Maya.

Tall and powerful, Maya had endured huge personal challenges during equally challenging times in US history, yet here she stood (still i rise, she said): a poet, writer, actor, dancer, teacher … and I was just fascinated. 

The way she spoke – the cadence of her voice — and the way she persevered and forged her own path in so many different worlds: entertainment, writing, politics, feminism — that I, a blonde, lower-middle-class Jewish girl in the suburbs of New Jersey felt a kindred to this older, once poor, struggling black woman from Stamps, Arkansas, and she became a touchstone of hope, power and strength for me.

I bought I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and each one of her autobiographies after that (i still describe happy times as “singin’ and swingin’ and gettin’ merry like christmas” – the title of her 3rd autobiography). I then moved on to her books of poetry; I devoured whatever she wrote. 

So when I heard that she was going to speak at my college my senior year, I was beyond excited. I was rock-star excited.

I loved Kenyon – a small liberal arts college set on an idyllic campus in the middle of farm country in Ohio – but my entire experience there wasn’t always idyllic.  I had some tough times during my four years and I vacillated between a growing self-understanding and confidence, and a comparison habit that kept a low-grade anxiety and depression always threatening to grab hold. By the time my senior year rolled around, I was pretty happy (way better than the year before when i’d had my first bout with real depression), but my nerves about “what are you doing after college” were starting to creep in, and I was worried that the tentacles would take me down again.

For some reason, none of my closest friends wanted to go to the lecture, so I headed to Rosse Hall alone. I arrived early so I could get a good seat: house right, down front, on the aisle, and waited for the house to fill.  

I don’t remember all the details of her talk, but I remember my excitement to actually SEE her in person. To be in her presence and hear her talk live. And I remember the feeling of recognition, delight, and longing she lit within me – as she did the first time I’d seen her on the Bill Moyer’s special.

When she recited Phenomenal Woman, she spread her arms wide and filled the whole hall with her bigness, grace and power; I was completely transfixed.

I was so moved by the talk and her presence, I remained in my seat after it was over and everyone was filing out of the hall; I just wanted to stay in that energy as long as I could. She was joined by someone on the stage – who was obviously a friend, and some folks from the college, and they just stood talking for a while. When they started gathering up to leave, instead of walking toward the side door next to the stage, she walked down into the hall and right up the aisle toward me.  

And then she stopped.

At my seat.

“Did you like the talk?” she asked. I could barely speak for the shock and excitement, but I managed to stand up and squeak out “Oh, yes.” She talked with me for a minute and god help me, I can’t remember a word she said, until the moment when she reached out and put her arms on my shoulders, leaned down just a little bit to look right into my eyes, and with that beautiful lilting voice of hers smiled and said: “Be happy.”  She hugged me (ohmygodohmygodohmygod, i was thinking and crying as it was happening), and then she smiled, tilted her head in a way that seemed to telegraph: Good? then touched my shoulder again and lightly smiled before she turned and walked out the hall, leaving me feeling blessed by a true Goddess or Fairy Godmother. 

It was just a couple of moments. But big, generous amazing moments. So brief and so wonderful. Probably nothing much for her, but huge for me.  That this graceful, amazing, giant of poetry and compassion saw me sitting there – saw something – and took the time to come over, chat briefly – but so generously – and hug me … and shine some light on a funked up girl-woman in the middle of Ohio getting ready to launch into the unknown. 

And, try as I have over the years, it’s hard to articulate just how much this meant to me – how much it inspired me at a time when I needed inspiration –  but today I had to try.

Still, I think this poem of hers says it better than I ever could. 

1956965_639825369421399_3084282778172126681_o-3

 

When Great Trees Fall
By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

countdown …

photo.PNGSeventeen more days.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit arts for most of my adult life, and in seventeen days I will be leaving to put my energy and attention into my work. The what-I-came-here-to-do kinda work.

No pressure. No big deal.

There are things I love about what I’ve been doing in this industry I’ve been part of for so long (in this job/iteration: for the past 8 years), and I’ll miss them.

But I’m also excited to give my work some real space, energy and attention and see if I can make it fly.  I think I can. I hope I can.

About 4 months ago I wasn’t “thinking” or “hoping” … I felt really prepared, and I was confident in my ability to attract the people who were craving the stuff that I give.

Yet the closer I get, the more unprepared I feel.

That’s actually nothing new for me. “I’m not ready” is one of my most negative modus operandi’s.  A cousin to “I’m not good enough,” and “there are others better/more qualified/who have been at it longer than I” … these walls I bump into over and over and over again.  They’re also one of the myriad of things I write to remind myself out of over and over (and over and over) again.  (i suspect i’m not alone in that. you?)

I’m glad I felt prepared for the leap four months ago (and have the writing to prove it), cause knowing that that feeling lives somewhere within me – underneath the simmering terror and “I’m not ready” – tends to calm me down when it surfaces.

I’m lucky to have had (and continue to have) the support and encouragement of some amazing people cheering me on (“this is what you were BORN to do …”) for a long, long time.  I’m grateful (as always) to the all the Writer Babes who have gathered and written their hearts out for the last 13+ years – these wonderful women who remind me each time they show up that this work is important; it matters.

I’m not ready … and I am so ready.

Seventeen days.

 

thank you/more please, happeez 5/5

What’s making me happy this week?

  • Yesterday was May 4th, and for those of us who are Star Wars geeks, it’s a pun-filled holiday (‘may the fourth be with you.’) I’m not a big punster, but I am a believer in The Force, and the first Star Wars trilogy was/is a favorite of mine. (but don’t get me started on the 2nd trilogy … the horror! the horror!) (see what i mean: geek!)
    • I also watched the first 20 minutes of the documentary at the end of this NPR story. It took a LOT of discipline to stop watching and get going with my household chores. I’m looking forward to watching more when I have time.
  • If you’re on FB or Twitter, chances are you’ve seen the video below, but if you haven’t, I hope you’ll watch. Then put the phone down/shut off the computer and go for a walk. Or pick up a book. Or … anything away from technology.
  • In the world where it’s all about me: I was part of an awesome facilitation team (through the fab social impact studios) for two Storytelling workshops – offered to Dodge Foundation grantees this past week.  It felt like a perfect bridge experience: a little bit of what I do in the (s00n-to-be-behind-me) day-job, combined with the soon-to-be-launched full-out biz. It was so amazing to really experience how my skills in both could combine in a perfect-storm of support. I get non-profits, and I get storytelling. And that’s something people need. How cool is that? Yippeee!
  • (also in the world where it’s all about me. except it isn’t entirely …) We had a wonderful rehearsal for next weekend’s Listen to Your Mother show. There are some AMAZING stories in this program. I’m excited to do my first public reading in a long, long time … and to share the story about the best gift my mom and I ever gave each other. If you live anywhere near South Orange NJ’s performing arts center, there are still some tickets left; I think it would make an amazing pre-mother’s day outing.

(then, when you come back, tell me: what’s making YOU happy this week?)

helloooooo

Hello new re-fabbed site!

And how’s THIS for a chuckle? My internet is down today. I had plans for a true welcome/celebratory post, but iPhone posting? No fun. For now, I’ll celebrate with a walk in this awesome spring day. More writing tomorrow. Welcome to the new site. (and thanks francesca – link to be inserted later – for your awesome work on fabulous re-fabbing!)

i’m coming out …

I’ve been keeping a secret for a while.

Hiding beneath the “live out loud” and “express unapologetically” mantras that feed the work that I do here in Writer Babe-land, there’s something I haven’t been saying, and not saying it made me feel like a bit of a fraud.

I’ve been working in non-profit arts off-and-on for most of my 35+ year career – mostly doing PR and marketing for theaters and an organization that supports theaters. My work with the Writer Babes has been a part-time passion project for close to 14 of those years. It all started when I was living in California and working for the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).  I soon went through the entire CTI certification and leadership program, and started offering workshops and coaching and blending my every-present love of journaling and writing with those two new passions. Soon, I was dreaming of doing this – and only this – all the time.

Then I moved back east – back in the day when people still screwed up their brows like you must be some kinda nut-job when you said you were coaching. (“what sport?” was a frequent response …). It was an uphill climb to get the biz going as it was, but after my mom got sick (and then, damn it, died), I just didn’t have the energy to keep going, and I wound up taking some detours. I worked in the private sector; I did freelance PR and writing, but like Michael Corleone and the mob, just when I thought I was out, the non-profit arts world pulled me back in.

I kept the writing workshops going on the side, because … well, it was my THING; I didn’t want to let it go. And though I’d still do talks and work one-on-one with clients from time to time, I wasn’t out pushing that work. When people asked the “what do you do?” question, I’d say: I’m the Director of Markting and Public Relations for a non-profit arts organization. Sometimes I’d tell them about my side thing. Sometimes I didn’t.

There’s a lot about the job that I’ve liked. I’ve had opportunities to use my skills to promote a cause I believe in, and I’ve worked with some amazing, committed and creative people. But over the years, my passion for the work – and the job itself – began to wane. At the same time, my love of working with writers and journalers and people who were trying to live more meaningful, mindful lives just kept growing. The Writer Babes were looking for more opportunities to write, and folks who had signed on to my list years and years ago would often email and ask when I was going to start offering virtual courses so THEY could be Writer Babes too. Friends in far-away towns wondered if I’d do a monthly group in their neck of the woods, and friends from other states would ask if I’d come visit and do a workshop for them.

And I wanted to (i really wanted to) … I was just spread too thinly with work and life to plan and prepare and get my website looking like anything more than a do-it-yourself corner of the cyber-universe..

But guess what? Behind the scenes, I’ve been plotting and planning and thinking that one day (someday. maybe.) I would make this work my only work.

And guess what? That day is coming soon. It’s coming in June. (ooh, look: i rhymed.)

Yes peeps: I’ve been working behind the scenes, saving some bucks, getting the support and encouragement from the hubster and over the December holiday, I got clear that now was the time. I gave my notice at the “day-job” in early February, and – because I’ve been with that organization nearly 8 years, I wanted to make a graceful transition – so when the Executive Director asked me to stick around until the end of the fiscal year and get us through a couple of projects I said OK. My last day? Lucky Friday the 13th of June. (squee)

Over the last month or so I’ve been finishing up the work to get the website spruced up (with a big shout-out and thanks to francesca, my fab web designer). We’ll be launching in a matter of days (i can hardly wait!), and then I’ll be launching a new e-book … and more. I’m also in the early stages of planning an autumn weekend retreat … and, so much more.

I’m super-excited and a little scared to go from a full-time job and a side-biz to a full-on solopreneur, but in my experience, the scary-good things are some of the best out there.

And so … I’m finally ready to come out.  Me: full-out solopreneur; pied-piper of journaling awesome … it’s on. T-minus 80 days and counting.

Wanna dance w/me (and ms. ross)?

i’d like to thank the academy

I used to love watching awards shows as a kid. In my younger years I had dreams of being an actress and singer and, like the old cliché about aspiring performers, I’d stand in front of the mirror in our blue tiled bathroom holding a brush, practicing my Tony/Emmy/Oscar acceptance speeches.

As I got older and realized what the life of a performer was like, the dream lost its glow. In time, I found that the things that I loved about performing: community, collaboration, being allowed – no, not just allowed – encouraged and celebrated for sharing big emotions, stories and truths … these things didn’t require a stage, a costume and a different character. I learned that I didn’t have to tell someone else’s stories, and I could collaborate and create community and shine on with all my own stuff on the page, in writing workshops, speaking engagements and readings.

Still, sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to have that public platform to thank all the important people who brought me to this time and place in my life. So, inspired by a couple of awesome Academy Award acceptance speeches from last weekend …

I’d like to thank my parents, for giving me love, love and more love; for giving me something to push up against in my teen years (and sometimes beyond), and support, encouragement and understanding always.

To my sister and brother for the same, only different. And to time, for making our sibling challenges fade into love, understanding and respect. For remembering things differently, but the same, and for the way those shared stories have made us into a unique, special club. And for giving me one of the best roles of my life: Uncle Debbie (and to all the little – and not-quite-so-little-anymore – people who call me that.)

To my aunts, uncles and cousins, for many of the same reasons, and to one particular “loovely coozin” for all the shared experiences and stories along the path. (here’s to more.)

To the friends I grew up with; the ones who knew me when I wore blue cats eye glasses; through the teen years, the drama, the growth spurts and the hurts. And to the ones who are still in that inner circle of call-at-any-hour/come-running-in-a-pinch and who will laugh uncontrollably when we each remember different lines from the old songs from 5th grade chorus, among other things.

To all the boyfriends, crushes, and ‘the one(s) that got away,’ as well as my dear, wonderful ex-husband: for teaching me about love, and relationship, and for helping me see that love doesn’t always conquer all, but it IS better to have loved and lost than not at all. And yes, for making some songs still kick my ass and break my heart years later (oh, those damn songs).

And to the hubster: for all the foot rubs, and for helping me see that a tsunami is not a requirement (and as a matter of fact … uh: tsunami = destruction/pain. duh), and for being “in” with my theory that relationships really are the biggest personal growth workshop ever.

To my step-son, for still calling me his step-mother, long after his dad and I split up, and for “whatever Debbie”ing me when I remind him of his little self, but stilling putting up with me and letting me have what I have, and what I had. (and to his mom, for helping all that.)

To the places I’ve lived, for helping me see what matters in my community and in my space. For reminding me (sometimes too many times) that I can create space, breath into, love and rest just about anywhere I go. (and ok, so a little closer to NY would be nice now, but y’know: the hubster/compromise/the aforementioned personal growth workshop of relationship …)

To my beloved Writer Babes. Each and every one of them. From the early days to today. For helping me see what I’m doing on this planet; for appreciating what I do and paying me to do it (yay). For reminding me every time they show up with pens poised that the power of writing in community and being seen, acknowledged and appreciated for their unapologetic selves is one of the best self-help gifts ever. And that my evangelism around this practice is important and worth doing.

To pop culture for countless references, hours of entertainment, songs to sing, and inspiration, insight and delight. (where would i be without the force and yoda? really …)

To my teachers, coaches, friends and inspiration (some of them are all four) including, but certainly not limited to: Pat SchneiderAnne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Brenda Ueland and Maya Angelou; Lorrie Schneider, Lori Mazan, Sue Coleman, Ruth Flohr, Sandi Davis, Gail Barrie, Kathy Miller, “the Corals,” my “Goldies” (and tanya and michelle for bringing us all together), to my blog buddies (‘specially those from the early days), the peeps I worked with during my time with The Coaches Training Institute, my Clubhouse buds (and again, thanks, michelle), my poet teachers (rumi, billy collins, mary oliver, david whyte, and on and on and on …) for everything. Everything.

And to the person who gave me my first journal – even though I don’t remember who you are: thank you, thank you, thank you.

And, since the music would SO have been playing me off by now, so … like Maureen Stapleton said when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Reds: “I want to thank … my family, my friends … and everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

Ever tried writing your own ‘I’d like to thank the Academy’ speech? (why not today?)

throw-down thursday (8-1)

Many moons ago, in the presence of my eldest niece (who was 11 or 12 at the time), I said (for some reason i can’t remember) “time flies” … to which she replied: “Oh Uncle Debbie,* only old people say ‘time flies’.”

Today, she turns 24 (or is it 23? i forget). Talk about “time flies.”

Maybe it’s time to throw-down about that. (tick-tock, tick-tock …)

*Of all the dozens or so nicknames that I have, Uncle Debbie is probably the most widely used … and the aforementioned niece is the one who gave it to me.
 
When she was really little, she didn’t understand the difference between aunts and uncles, and began referring to me as Uncle Debbie. It was so cute – and in a weird way, the best possible name for me: the slightly off-center auntie – so we never corrected her. And it stuck. Twenty-some years later, it’s just about my favorite nickname, and just about my favorite role too.
(but note: the only way people get away with calling me ‘debbie’ is: 1 – if i love them and they love me, or 2 – if they put ‘uncle’ in front of it.)