How I Came to Writing Practice: Often, failure is a learning experience

Two days to launching the class schedule for my inaugural month of teaching!

(Are you as excited as I am?)

Between July 27 to 31, I will be posting the story of how I came to writing practice. This will hopefully give some context of what to expect and why I believe so strongly that we are all storytellers and why I believe in this process. Please leave comments and questions if there’s more you’d like to know.

A month or two before leaving for Taos in 2009, I had started talking with a graphic designer to make business cards for this potential venture. I came back from New Mexico raring to go, ready for this. I wanted to GO GO GO! (Anyone who knows me also knows I don’t tend to do things halfway. So it was lots of arm flailing, excitement, and GO!)

Business card from
First business card
Fast Pens, Open Hearts: Workshops Cultivating Creativity and Space

Emily designed a beautiful image and card for what I called Fast Pens, Open Hearts (or FPOH). If you’ve liked Visible and Real over on Facebook, you’ll recognize the image.

I scheduled one single day, in person, workshop for early-ish 2010, putting up fliers in a few places, posting on Craig’s List. The mid-Atlantic then experienced snowpocalypse. We were digging out for days. I cancelled the first workshop. (I should also mention – no one had signed up.)

Cue the spring time, and I wanted to try again. I had worked a little bit with a meditation center in the area where I had taken a few meditation classes. I left business cards, tried to connect there. I scheduled another workshop, put up a few fliers, did Craig’s List, created a Facebook event.

No one signed up.

Let me tell you, those negative thoughts that get us wondering what we’re doing were definitely setting up camp in my brain. At this point, I had two failed workshops, no bites, no one even remotely interested in what I was doing? Oh, they were on a rampage. Who was I to think I could do this? Who was I to think that I could do this? I had had some wonderful teachers… who did I think I was, really, trying to do something those amazing women had done?

So, I gave up.

I began using my business cards as bookmarks in books about creativity, living your dreams, meditation. I used them in memoirs about people who followed their hearts. I gave up on the idea of teaching this practice as something I’d ever do. I noticed the irony of the business cards as bookmarks, reading about ideas that had launched FPOH. But, I had given up completely.

It’s amazing, the stories that we tell ourselves. Looking back to that time, nearly two and a half years ago, I was telling myself some pretty powerful stories. They all boiled down to Stephanie, you can’t do this. I believed I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, dedicated enough… enough, period, to do what my heart was telling me I really wanted and needed to do.

Fighting those messages were too exhausting.

For two years, I continued meditation training. I didn’t write nearly as much, and when I did, it often wasn’t writing practice. I kept adding words to pages, trying to not think about teaching.

I think it was also around this time that I began to be haunted by the phrase: Who am I to declare myself storyteller?

Check back tomorrow for how this haunting, my heart’s deepest desire, and some time and space brought me to Visible and Real.

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