In but i digress/ journaling/writing/ the force/ writer babes

writing our way home

This post was written in November of 2015 – after a period where I wasn’t blogging much. 

You may have noticed that I haven’t been particularly “chatty” here in blog-land the last several months.
Below I share where I’ve been, what I’m learning (again and again and again),
and what that may mean for you.
Read on. (it’ll take you about 4 minutes…)

I’ve been remiss here in blog-land. I’ve also been less active in sending emails to my peeps.

Though I left my “day job” at the end of June, 2014 with the intention of making my “side hustle” a thriving, full-time biz, seven months later — in January of this year — I began working on it part-time again.

I didn’t plan it that way.

Things were kicking into gear for me: I had a great bunch of one-on-one clients; I had a private Facebook community that was engaged and growing; I started mapping out a virtual program, and I was offering in-person workshops — both locally, and around the US.

But about 6 months before I left my job, one of my oldest and dearest friends was diagnosed with a rare form of a rare cancer, and soon after I left the job, her treatment options had nearly run out.

And that changed everything. 

A freelance tech and PR writer, and late-in-life singer-songwriter who – like me – worked out of her home, Marybeth and I had actually started co-working together before she got sick – usually one day/week. And when things got more intense/challenging with her health at the end of 2014, since my biz was still in the early/building stages, I wasn’t completely booked up, so I was able to make even more time to be with her.

Soon, I was staying at her home in Jersey City two to three days a week – supporting her as she managed her home, kept concerned friends in the loop, endured treatments, and searched for answers. On her good days, we’d sometimes play hooky from our work and go on little adventures – to the beach, obscure diners, and other fun day-trips. Sometimes we’d just stay home and cook, watch one of her favorite shows on Netflix, or walk to the park across the street from her home, admire the gardens, and talk.

Heartbreakingly, it wasn’t long before all treatment options were soon exhausted. She stopped working, and we were all left to deal with the limitations of her declining health, managing a support team and her pain medication schedule, and finally, the painful reality of her ever shortening days.

With more and more time with her, and less and less time focused solely on my work, it became increasingly hard to rally the energy to amp up the business in any significant way. So I simply maintained; I slowed down on blogging, marketing, and developing new offerings, and just continued on with the small and manageable client load I had.

Then, after steadily declining over 9 months, there came an even more horrible, rapid decline as summer faded to autumn. On Saturday, September 26th, I spent the day in Jersey City with Marybeth and a small band of some of her closest peeps. She was still there that day, but in and out of it, and sleeping a lot. We sang to her, told stories, and never let go of her hands.

I left around 4:30 with plans to return the next morning, but before the sun rose on September 27th, Marybeth died in the arms another of my dearest friends.

I’ve tried to write about this so many times.

Marybeth encouraged me to write about it from the start: “It’s what you do, Debs,” she’d tell me. She wanted me to write about it: in my journal, and here on the blog. She’d remind me that writing about the challenges and celebrations of life was what my peeps had come to expect of me.

But I couldn’t see beyond the daily struggles she was enduring (or the emotional and physical exhaustion i was dealing with while supporting her) to write anything coherent or thoughtful about it. 

I couldn’t talk about the challenges, or unearth the deepiosity, and insight from an experience that was wrenching the hearts of everyone who loved her. Where was the learning or inspiration in this?

True, one of the themes I often go back to in my life and in my work is that we get just one life, no one gets out of it alive, and there’s too much at stake to live an unexamined life, or one full of regret…so, y’know: get on with it.

But this was too immediate. I couldn’t take a meta-view and tie it up with a neat bow of insight in that great coach/lifestyle-bloggy tradition of: “This thing happened; it sucked; I survived; here’s some learning for you!”

And for some reason, I felt like I needed to do that. Or that I was supposed to do that; to be “on” with insight and inspiration for my readers. (all. the. time.) (but if i didn’t have any answers for myself, how could i possibly share anything with my wondermous blog-reading peeps?)

So I just stayed away.

About a month ago it became clear that I wasn’t using all the tools in my arsenal. In particular, I wasn’t journaling a lot, and when I was, I wasn’t letting the writing flow to ask the questions. Instead, I was straining for answers, and being wildly impatient. I felt like I needed to make up for lost time. (which makes me laugh, because i know better. there is no making up for “lost time.” but still, the brain plays its little tricks and tells me i can. and i should.) (ah, you funny little brain.)

Eventually, I remembered…

If I know anything, I know this: I find answers through writing. This isn’t something I’m just going to be able to strive, strain, and figure out.

The only thing I know how to do is to show up on the page. And write. And keep writing. To write my way home. 

Even though it feels raw and scary, and there’s no guaranteed solution or prescribed time-table for OKness. (and even though i know all that, i still kinda want one…)

So finally, I picked up a pen without trying to figure shit out.

It didn’t take long for me to see that, clearly, I’d made shit up about how I had to have answers for my readers. That they expected it. 

Well, it’s not like I’m a guru; I don’t walk around proclaiming that I have the answers to all of life’s big questions. Sure, I know some stuff cause I’ve been working the personal growth muscle since I could think (i think…), and I definitely have my share of opinions…but mostly, I know a lot about how to help people get to their own answers.

So what made me think I had to have answers for anyone? (including myself.) (whoa. lightening bolt.)

And then I thought: maybe my peeps needed to hear this too.

Maybe we could all use this reminder now and then: that we don’t need to know where we’re headed in order to start. We just have to start.

So, here we are.

Me? I’m ready to write myself back into my life, and back into my business after this shitty, shitty thing that’s happened.

I’d love to have you join me. 

Let’s work to illuminate blind spots, fears, and resistances; to process our challenges, heartbreaks, and losses.

Get quiet and write to access the insight that lives underneath the shoulds, gottas, and have-tos in our crazy go-go-go lives.

Learn from being in the process. Ask the questions and watch the answers rise up from writing, and being in the question(s).  

Write your way into a better, more compassionate, uncompromised life that shines with meaning.

Stick around; let’s write our way home.


To come along with me:

And drop a line; I welcome your questions and comments. And I’ll write back.


To learn more about Marybeth, and to hear some of her amazing, heartfelt music:

Photo by Nelson T. Montes

Photo by Nelson T. Montes

Big, big thanks to Amy Palko for helping me get to one of the most mega of ah-ha’s ever by reflecting back to me that helping others “write their way home” was a big part of what I did. (and big thanks to the goddesses in amy’s practical magic business circle for holding the space for said “ah-ha.”)

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  • JM
    November 23, 2015 at 11:55 am

    how ironic/serendipitous/not surprising that i was thinking of you this weekend, as I fell into one of those gigantic black holes that have been opening up too often lately. so i wrote about it. and it helped. i haven’t wanted to write for the longest time. the grief was too raw, the hurt too hurtful, and i was tired of my own voice kvetching about it. then i realized that if i didn’t write about it, regardless of whether or not there is/was an audience for it, i would continue to go around and around inside myself, with no way out. (i know that the people around me don’t “get it” and i really can’t subject them to this damn persistent inner saboteur who is messing with my head.) so rather than write on my computer, i took one of your writer babe lessons, and i wrote it out freehand using a pen with ink that flowed effortlessly from my head into my fingers and then onto paper. i didn’t stop to censor it. i just wrote. and really, there was only one place that i would go back to and rewrite, because the idea was right, but the words weren’t quite.

    and so, my dear friend, you don’t have to have all the answers. i certainly don’t expect you to.

    thank you for sharing a part of yourself by giving me tools to keep on learning about myself, and how to heal.

    keep giving yourself permission to do this at your own pace. please? with much love always.

    • Deb Cooperman
      November 23, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Ah, sweet, dear, Ms. J. Thank you *so* much.

      Thank you for doing the work. Because the world is so much brighter with your light. And writing to help your head/heart/mind clear out all those judgements and stuff that weighs so heavily is so damn important to keep that light shining.

      And thank you for all the deliciousness you reflected back to me. Huge, huge appreciation darlin.

      • JM
        November 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm