Story Mentoring: Limited Spots

From nonprofits to executives and all kinds of creatives in between, my individual story mentoring is some of my most rewarding work. Previously only available by private request and arrangement, this summer I have a few spots to offer to my favorite people of all: you, dear readers.

Story Mentoring is for kindreds who:

  • tell stories live as an on stage performance, in speeches or teaching scenarios, or even at dinner parties
  • write stories in essays, online or in memoir
  • craft web sites and communications about their work in a way that incorporates their story and rich personal history

Sessions are available by phone for domestic kindreds, and via Skype for internationals, in packages of two or four sessions (each an hour long).

This work is highly interactive, diving deep into the work you're already doing and complimenting it with the rich multi-dimensions of story building, crafting and telling.

Want to find out more? Complete this short form, and I'll contact you regarding pricing and availability.

Last Chance: Order The Gift of This Moment Home Retreat Kit by June 30th to be included in a TGOTM Facebook Group hosted by the lovely Liz Lamoreux. Imagine connecting with others who are retreating with these practices for reflective living alongside you--you don't want to miss out!

Liz had a great time debuting this new project last week at her Your Story Retreat, including her new collection of poetry, Five Days in April. Thanks to all our friends who celebrated with her in person there.

Read more about The Gift of This Moment or watch a short trailer here.

Informing and Inspiring

Unedited, cross-processed film. Taken with my Horizon Perfekt panoramic camera.I wish I could say it's as simple as telling your soul to wait until June, to hold off and sit quietly in the corner until this last project is made. This part of the making takes so much left-brain attentiveness to copy editing and making sure the sound edits are undetectable, so many calls to printers and attempts at clear communication and then when it's out of your hands and into someone else's--so many crossed fingers and prayers.

But I've been saying "just hold on" for so long now and "it won't be much longer", even as our timetable has stretched this long production phase from April now to June. And perhaps at the end of the day one doesn't have this much say in what kind of seasons draw us in or usher us out.

It makes me feel split between two worlds whenever I have deep, intuitive shifts happening under the surface. So much is always happening up at the surface, whether five pieces are going into production or I just need to remember Wednesday morning's check-up at the doctor and that tomorrow really IS the deadline for a little one's field trip money and she will be so disappointed if I forget.

I tell myself, Be present. But in the middle of the playground or the Friday night movie I have a montage all my own running behind my eyes as the part of my mind that weaves together and connects and takes all the patches and sees how they fit into the whole, spins with memories and emotion and the wise things others have said and all I'm missing is the popcorn.

While I'm shifting and swirling in the place where two worlds overlap, here are a few of the pieces simmering in my internal pot. Things that are informing or inspiring me, right here, right now.

The New Feminine Brain:

Developing Your Intuitive Genius

by Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D.



Maya Stein's Spoke-n-Word daily journal of her amazing Type Rider project


Johnny Cash at San Quentin




(You may need to switch to full-screen mode to close the pop-up text windows.)

Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

Jolie Guillebeau,

We all have stories we are born into, stories we are handed along the way, and many of them aren't easy.

But some people rise above the hard stories, some become more than the stories other people started for their lives. Jolie Guillebeau is one of these people, which makes her one of my personal heroes. I've said before that the story you are writing with your life is the most important thing about you, and the story Jolie is writing every day with her life is a story of resilience, courage and hope. I'll be honest: witnessing her do it sometimes takes my breath away.

Jolie's work, her friendship and her life are living proof for me that there is another chapter after this one, and that even the stories that others start and we are given are stories that we have the opportunity to end however we choose. That we can rise with grace and even sometimes with frailty, but in the rising is our strength. In the rising is our courage.

Now you can have a whole collection of Jolie's stories, which come alive through her words and paintings, as your daily companion as you bravely write your own.


This is a limited edition collection, signed and numbered by Jolie. When they're gone, they're gone, so order yours while you can.

BONUS: Order before next Wednesday, 5.2.12, to receive one of Jolie's 5x7 fine art prints FREE with your order.

Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

*100 Daily Paintings and the stories behind them

*8.5 x 5.5", Full-color throughout  

*92 pages, Double wire bound

*Unique easel-style back allows for easy display

$45 USD, ships free worldwide

Update: Listen to Jolie's interview on the Retrospective podcast (Released 5.15.12), where she talks about rewriting the stories we've been given and her journey as an artist.

Retrospective: A New Podcast...and Maya Stein!

If all the people I know and love lived here in my neighborhood, I would host a party every Friday night so you could meet one another and hang out. You would be so inspired and happy to know each other, as I am every single day.

But we live near and far, and we will likely never be all together on a Friday night. So I'm creating this new podcast series as an attempt toward the next best thing.

It's called Retrospective, and it features in-depth conversations with artists, authors and visionaries about the places in which we find ourselves and the stories that brought us here. It's an inquiry into our experience of journey. But at the heart of it, it's an introduction between some of my favorite people in all the world.

It's coming soon to iTunes and all that jazz, but I can't wait for everything to be 'just so' because my first interview is with poet Maya Stein and it is a very time-sensitive conversation about her latest project, Type Rider. Here's the video trailer:

Yesterday I went in to meet Maya on the Highline Canal in Manhattan. She was here in town, and she's been setting up writing stations here and there, even though the official Type Rider trip doesn't launch for another few weeks. I wasn't sure how it would go over here in New York--would people be curious, or too cautious to investigate?

Just those few minutes I witnessed there, with passerby being drawn to her blue typewriter like bees to blossom and Maya conversing with them in a space of pure welcome, held so much beauty and humanity that I was all tears under my sunglasses. I wanted a video camera or some other way to capture the quality of playfulness and adventure that was as tangible as the warm sun on our cheeks. Some way to bottle it up and give it to you like the best present ever.

I do have this to offer you, though: a heart to heart chat, friend to friend, with Maya herself.

There are only a few more days to fund the Type Rider project--please help us spread the word.


Maya Stein is a poet, feral writing instructor and adventurer. She is the author of Spinning the Bottle and The Overture of an Apple. On her blog you can sign up to receive one of her original 10-line poems in your inbox every Tuesday.



Click the link below to play the episode in your browser (it may need a couple minutes to load), or right-click (or control-click) to download it into your library. I have individual files of each of the poems she reads to share with you, but it looks like I need to post those separately. Look for them to be added in the coming days (along with ways to subscribe to this new series.)

Ritual & Rhythm by Caren McLellan Gazley

Many people probably dream of someday writing a book, or have some version of that aspiration on a list somewhere. Caren McLellan Gazley has dreamed of many (other) things, but she wrote this book for one simple reason.

I asked her.

It's been my delight and honor to introduce people to Caren in retreat and workshop settings, where her no-nonsense, candid manner endears her to all. I hope to gather again many more such times in the future, but in the meantime I wanted people--near and far--to be able to hold some portion of her story and her hard-won wisdom in their hands.

Caren at a Brooklyn Patisserie in December

From leading faith-based communities to their current humanitarian work in anti-human trafficking, Caren's partnership with her husband, Phil, and their journey together have taken them all over the world. She’s cultivated tried-and-true, practical-as-your-mama’s-good-advice wisdom about how to stay sane and even thrive in the midst of passionate work, parenting, community, and even devastating loss.

"Many years ago I had a decision to make: pack up and quit, or figure out a way to maintain my energy for the long haul." --Caren in Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

In Ritual & Rhythm, Caren chronicles her self care journey, sharing her struggles, challenges, and all she's learned along the way. She reminds us that body care IS soul care, and that all we do for ourselves benefits everyone around us. Through the practical examples she shares, we learn how to craft our own daily or weekly rituals for taking care and find nourishment as our everyday living unfolds inside their rhythm.

at The Integrate Retreat in The Rockies

"When my self care journey began, what I most needed was some deliberate time apart for myself. Time that required nothing of me emotionally or mentally. Time without expectations from others. And so I created a safe place in my kitchen."--Caren in Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

Caren playing with color after dinner in Berkeley

In a world of Do More and Go Faster, and in the face of human need that can stretch like a bottomless ocean before us, this book is the permission we've been waiting for and the guidance we need to find our way into a lifestyle that goes beyond surviving, into a realm where things like thriving, sustaining and flourishing carry the day.

Special Bonus: Everyone who orders Ritual & Rhythm before next Wednesday (4/11/12) will receive a full-color printable pdf featuring four of Caren's most-requested recipes, designed by Liz Kalloch and written in Caren's own handwriting.

We are thrilled to officially release:

Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

by Caren McLellan Gazley

Photography by Andrea Corona Jenkins, Design by Liz Kalloch

Paperback, 48 pages

$28 USD, ships free worldwide

Steady Burn: At Teahouse Studio

Good things: everyone enjoyed seeing our good things in person, and being the first to see what's coming soon!

It was so good to be at Teahouse Studios with Stef and all the new friends who came out to join us. Everyone was open and generous, sharing stories and laughter.

Jolie Guillebeau, my unofficial business manager, relaxing before the workshop begins.

Me: Oh my gosh, Liz--those pillows look like you painted them!

Liz: I did.

(Of course.)

The irreplaceable Phyllis Mathis.

Weekend bonus: getting to be face-to-face with some of my most beloved friends.

Somehow, every time I take a picture of Caren Gazley, she's sipping a warm drink.

Color, color everywhere.

Being at Teahouse Studio is like being wrapped inside an artist's pallette. So many colors and textures delight and inspire, everywhere you look.

These two are always so happy to be together.

We enjoyed some of the yummiest meals EVER.

Handmade pottery by Phyllis, and a sneak peek at the cover art for Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau.

We savored Caren's special touches, like her tealight candles and her essential oil tips and treatments.

I loved seeing Liz, my partner-in-crime, in person. She always makes me smile.

Steady Burn was the most nourishing, filling, feeding-of-body-and-soul event we've ever done. If you'd like to experience some of this creative wellness wisdom for yourself, order your copy of Caren's brand-new book: Ritual and Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care. (Coming soon!) We took the opportunity to celebrate this new project while we were together, ooh-ing and aah-ing over Liz's design and Hula's photography, reveling in the exquisite feel of the paper and the joy of seeing Caren's words and wisdom come to life.

Many thanks to all whose presence and contributions made this weekend so special.

Yearning for some time together? Join me at Squam Art Workshops in September.

Scenarios USA: Support good work. Be a reader.

At the 2010 Scenarios USA Awards and Gala with friends Assistant Professor Jennifer Kaplan, SUSA Director of Education and Outreach Ernestine Heldring and Rob York, SUSA Director of Media Production and Distribution

Earlier this year I jumped at the invitation from my friend Ernestine to attend the Scenarios USA Awards and Gala and learn more about her work. I met teen writers and educators and talked about one of my favorite subjects: empowering young people to tell their stories in a way that impacts society and culture. The awards ceremony made me cry. I don't know anyone else who is doing work like this--using film as a vehicle for under-served teens to talk about issues that are relevant to their lives and to pioneer a new kind of education about core issues like gender and power.

In addition to their curriculum which is taught in three regions of the U.S., every year Scenarios USA hosts a writing contest for teens. The winners are joined by Hollywood filmmakers to make short films that are shown around the country--at festivals, on television and in classrooms. They need 1000 readers to give 90 minutes of their time in February to make these young writers' dreams a reality. There are still some vacancies for the 2011-2012 Selection Committee, and I invite you to join me and register before the December 31st deadline.

You can watch Life’s Poison, written by Angileece Williams in her sophomore year of high school here. Learn more about Scenarios USA and take just a minute to sign up to be a reader today.

More Good Things Coming Soon (Tomorrow!)

Central Park

Hey, everyone--I'm just dropping a quick note this morning while I sip my second cup of tea and before I plunge into the day's projects. Today I'm doing some editing for The Iconic Self, which you can read more about here, and getting everything in place for the new shirt design to go on sale tomorrow. There aren't a lot of each size, because I decided to do a small limited-edition batch for the holidays on a whim. If you are totally in love with your Just Be True or It's your story. Tell it. shirts, if you need to bolster your courage (so many family visits ahead) or if you're just a little curious, stop by tomorrow at 9am EST to see what I'm currently living in. It could be just the thing for you or for someone you love.

Summer Hits

Hiding, Horizon Perfekt camera

Just back from a sweet day in Manhattan, and thought I'd jump on and share some of our summer hits.

Movies. I know some families pull off the whole no-tv no-movie thing, but in our house shows and films are the great equalizer between introverts and extraverts. Especially at the end of long days of outdoor play.

Grown-up picks: Beginners, Tree of Life, Dial M for Murder

For the family: Top Hat, Wallace and Grommit: Loaf & DeathHelp!, The Secret of Kells

Books. Mad Libs have made their way back into our world recently. When we're not thinking of adjectives and adverbs, we're spending time with things like:

Anam Cara by John O'Donohue

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Food. My current summer favorite is this artichoke lemon pesto with any fresh pasta. This week we're going to make some basil pesto with basil we've been growing just outside the kitchen window. I've also had a craving lately for scones, which I love with mixed berries.

Do and See. The American Museum of Natural History is even more fun now that the girls are a little older. Thier new special exhibit, The World's Largest Dinosaurs, was the best I've ever seen. The artistry was off the hook, and the interactive components were a big hit with the girls.

Good Things: Moby, the photographer

I first learned about Destroyed, a new album and photo book by Moby, in this interview on NY 1 (scroll down the page for the extended interview). Moby has been a photographer as long as he's been a musician, but has only recently chosen to share his images with the world. I loved hearing about this journey in the extended interview, and his comparison about what it's like to work in two very different mediums.

Good Things: Being, and John O'Donohue

One of my favorite moments of the week is when I catch some of the radio program, Krista Tippett on Being, on Sunday mornings when I'm in the kitchen making blueberry muffins or something for breakfast. If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to Krista Tippett or her show, I recommend checking out some of the episodes online or subscribing to the podcast.

There are so many episodes I could share (including this Peabody Award-winning episode, The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi), but this conversation: The Inner Landscape of Beauty with the late poet, John O'Donohue, is really a fit for this season I'm in right now--inhabiting time and regarding things like beauty in a new way.

Where you are understood, you are at home.

Good Things: Elizabeth MacCrellish's journey to SAW

Squam Lake, Horizon Perfekt camera, cross-processed film

It's a profound honor and pleasure to gather with the community at Squam Art Workshops and to set apart days in which to make magic together. For me, SAW has been a place to be seen and to be known in a way that makes me feel surrounded, connected and held all year long.

I've never before heard its founder, Elizabeth MacCrellish, speak as long and in-depth about the journey that led to Squam's inception and the growth she's experienced along the way as she did in this recent podcast.

If you're feeling like your journey has twists and turns that feel like detours or don't make sense, Elizabeth's story shows how it's possible that everything belongs, and when we're ready for change it can find us.

A Week of Good Things

Bake Sale for Japan

I'm at my desk this morning, heading to the post office in a bit, and then I'll be away from my studio until next Monday with no trips to the post office in between. (If you need anything urgently, order it now.) This week I'm featuring a week of good things to explore and enjoy in the meantime.

But before I get to that, I'm feeling compelled to share what few words I have about how things are going over here, as a check-in or an explanation for the recent quiet--I'm not quite sure. Over the winter a lot was happening--I was turning a sharp developmental corner and decided at one point to call in all my reinforcements so I didn't keep struggling against that turn alone. I called my therapist, I met with an intuitive counselor, I gathered friends. Around the same time I realized that I needed to attend to some health concerns, as well, and I found an Ayurvedic doctor. I was shocked at how quickly I started to feel better.

I was in a couple weeks ago for some treatments, several days in a row. On the first day, I could feel in my body how many people I'm caring for, in various ways, and I welcomed the opportunity to have someone else take care of me in this particular way. Later, my healer urged me to extend my meditation time each day. It will train your mind to not think so much, and when you think less you will be so much happier.

That stirred up a little hornet's nest in my mind. I was immediately concerned about my contribution and I could see something like a movie trailer for someone else's life:

Jen was always the smart girl. She had a good mind, and convinced that was the best she had to offer, she worked it like an Olympic hopeful, keeping it in overdrive lest it atrophy and lose its edge. But could she ever believe that the world would want anything else from her? Could she love herself and be loved for more?

I started to entertain possibilities of other contributions I could make, other aspects of myself that could hold worth and value. What about presence, humor, joy? It's been over ten years since I first started practicing contemplative ways, but never before have I had such a revelation of how much of my identity I had wrapped up in my thinking, strategizing mind. It was at once alarming and freeing, and I let go of something that I've had my white knuckles around for a very long time.

The day of my last treatment, I thought, This is it. Anything else you're holding onto in your body--here's your chance to let it all go. Disappointments, sorrows, expectations, and a hundred sadnesses made their way out of my system.

On the other side, I feel like I'm building a new relationship with my body and with time. I'm discovering a new kind of patience, what it feels like to swim through spaces of listening and to wait for enfolding instead of powering through on arbitrary timetables. There's a lot of looking out of windows going on, a lot of dwelling in my body and tending to baths and meals and the making of beds. Not so much in the way of thinking, not a lot of words. But it doesn't feel like nothing is happening--it feels like when storm clouds are gathering and building before they unleash a helluva storm. It feels like gathering my most potent power, and it also surprisingly feels a lot like ease and rest.

It's hard to communicate the power and the quiet of sacred times and spaces, but I loved the way this film I saw yesterday did just that. I generally can't stand 3D films (which as a parent of a young child is a bummer), but I was so thankful to have the 3D technology for this experience. It was breathtaking, deeply moving--the kind of thing you want everyone you know to go out and experience for themselves immediately. I'm not usually too hung up on seeing most films in the theater, but if there is ANY way you can see this in the theater, you will not regret it: