VULNERABILITY IS AN ACT OF BRAVERY
Whenever I teach Writing From the Heart, I encourage my students to share their stories with the group. From my own experience, something happens when I read my stories aloud to a group of people, especially people I don’t know.
Writing in 10-minute timed exercises as we do in Writing From the Heart creates a sense of urgency. We all want to tell a story and wrap it up with a neat little bow; after all, we were taught that well written stories must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Believe me when I say 10 minutes is not a long time to tell a story well. Most people don’t even get into storytelling mode until minute 22 or so. So, scrabbling down a story in 10-minutes and then being asked to read it to people we barely know, makes us feel particularly vulnerable.
I’ve come to realize that reading our stories aloud is like baring our throats as a puppy will do in an act of surrender to a dominant dog. We are giving up control. We are saying,
“I trust you not to hurt me.”
What makes this act of vulnerability so perfect is that it is also what binds us together. Brené Brown says, “it is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.”
WE ARE NOT ALONE
Listening to each person in the group share their stories can be transformative for the listener as well. We get to feel as though we aren’t the only person in the world who feels the way we do. Our empathic response kicks in and we are right there in the story with you.
Reading your stories aloud is a gift to the listener too...
WHEN THE LIGHT TURNS ON
My favourite thing about Writing From the Heart is that moment when a student reads aloud. I see the fear of being judged, and the attempt to explain because she or he believes what they wrote makes no sense.
And then they take a breath and begin.
Sometimes there is a bit of stumbling, but almost without fail, I see the other students in the group nodding their heads, their body language open; sending the reader courage as they come to a particularly tender part, their eyes sometimes filling with tears.
Then there is that moment when the reader takes a quick look up to see the love and acceptance from the other members of the circle, some of whom can’t help but exclaim how good their story was, or how similar it is to an experience they might have had.
And then it happens… the light turns on and they begin to glow.
For some, it is their first experience of reading what their heart wants them to hear and it they are amazed that it made so much sense and sounded so much better than they thought it would. This is the why it is so important to read aloud.
VIRTUAL SACRED SPACES
In 2015, I got so focussed on creating videos, then on getting people to watch them, that I didn’t get to meet face to face with students as much as I had in previous years. I missed seeing the light turn on behind my students’ eyes.
Last month I held my first live webinar writing hangout of 2016. It is a commitment I made to students in my video course — and to myself. I also wanted to find a way to share Writing From the Heart with more people from more parts of the world.
I have been hosting two live webinars each month to allow people from North American time zones and people from far away lands that I have to get out a map the understand where they are from, to participate. One of the happiest results of hosting videos is the people I’ve connected with.
In my January hangouts, I connected on camera with Karen, a friend from Moncton who often joins me, Peggy from Michigan, Vikki in Calgary, and Ibrahim from Baku. The connections were strong and fascinating. After we’d shared our stories we told each other about our lives, the books we love, and the things we want to do. There were no barriers. Age didn’t matter, and even though we are all probably as different from each other as could be, we also found great similarity.
This is what happens when we gather and create a sacred space of compassion and kindness.
GOING LIVE IN 2016
One of the goals I set for myself in 2016 (yes, from the infamous feelingsboard) is to do at least one live engagement each month of 2016. I’ve got that covered in these live writing hangouts already, but I also plan to do more live classes and workshops whenever I can, and even some speaking engagements.
Seeing the shift in people who attend my classes is what fills me up and makes me rise to my best.
I invite you to attend one of my live writing hangouts on February 5th and 6th. Our theme of the month is “Love is in the Air!” But don’t worry, I promise not to go all marshmallow heart on you; there are many kinds of love to write about besides romantic love.
Here are the links:
All are welcome to watch and participate via chat, but there are also 9 on-camera spots available for each hangout. If you would like to write along with us, dare greatly, and read aloud what you wrote, we’d love to bear witness to your stories. Just contact me through my website or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me which hangout you plan to attend, as I will need to invite you to be on camera. More details are available by following the event links above.
I look forward to hanging out with you!