New Online Courses at Brave Girl University

I'm so excited that Brave Girl University, a Netflix-style platform for soulful and creative online courses, opens its doors tomorrow. It's an honor to be a part of the more than 80 teachers gathering for this new work. You can have access to all kinds of learning--from step by step projects to deep wisdom for living--all for $24.95 a month. 

While one of my classes shares its name with a live class and handbook I've previously made available, all these videos are from the NEW wisdom I've been gathering around this topic in recent years: The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls. The title umbrella it falls under is the same but the content here is all new.

The second class I've created is an unedited guide for vulnerability: How to Be True (and Live to Tell). It addresses the challenges we bump up against when we create close-to-the-heart work or when we are making room for our more tender places to be seen and heard. Both courses are right at the forefront and edge of where I'm working and living--filmed in real time from the road on our Summer Tour.

If you enroll before classes start tomorrow, there's a special discount on the Brave Box optional add-on that brings exquisite supplies to your post box every month to inspire and support your learning.

There aren't many organizations I would be this proud to partner with--my friend Melody Ross and her team at Brave Girls' Club works with so much heart and integrity that I've been dreaming of working together for awhile now. I'm so happy that time has come and I invite you to join us there, knowing that it will be all you hope for AND MORE.

Learn more and enroll here.

New Writing Series: Creative Cycles and Seasons

There's a new writing series up for fall! One thing that emerged really strongly when I was going through my archives was this attempt to observe, name and navigate different seasons and cycles of my own creative work as I moved through them. You can find the series here.

The Quiet Parts and Hidden Places

 You're Not Alone: http://jenlee.net/shop/youre-not-alone

You're Not Alone: http://jenlee.net/shop/youre-not-alone

There are a hundred things I've been wanting to tell you, stories and scraps of stories that I don't even know how to string together yet. It's always hard for me to wait for the words to catch up. 

This gap can be a slow and subtle torture, especially because it's so hard to hear the quiet spells of others. We only see their words on the screen or hear them coming from a lit up stage or in a carefully edited film and it's easy to imagine they are always like this: witty and clever, buttoned up and polished with their timing effortless and smooth. 

But here is what I want you to know: 

No one tells you about the quiet parts. 

The magazines aren't hunting down actors between roles to say: How are you resting right now? They don't find a musician right after the tour ends to say: How do you find your way to what's next? 

And to be honest, I quickly tire of all the unveilings, because as a creative I live so little of my time there and I need wisdom for the other seasons, too. Not in a Hold My Hand So I Can Imitate You way, but in a way that finds universal wisdom running under and through each of our very specific experiences. 

I want to tell you about the quiet parts. 

I don't want them to take you by surprise when they come, because for those of us who find so much comfort and meaning in the words, losing them can feel terrifying, like falling out of a plane with a parachute that won't open. And you're watching the ground get closer and closer and wondering if the parachute will magically open in time. 

Because despite all our talk of writerly discipline, there is an arbitrary magic to when the right words appear at just the moment we need them. There's a grace, a feeling of receiving something instead of making it up out of some mix of sweat and grind. 

[Now switch metaphors with me.] 

But when the quiet comes, it is like Mother Nature insisting we leave this ground fallow before planting again. It forces us to nourish, to rejuvenate, to rest.  It protects us from stripping ourselves bare again and again--because this can so easily become compulsive.

And how can it not? When our attention is always on the launch or the release, we easily infer: I release, therefore I am. To do anything else feels not just lazy, or like falling behind--it can feel like we actually don't exist. That nothing else matters, and that we don't matter in any other posture or context. 

This is why I want to talk about the quiet parts and the hidden places--so that when they come we will all know that we are not alone. That we will remember that it all starts here, in the quiet beginning

So we will remember to treat these times as sacred, and ourselves as holy in them. 

Tell me you know the quiet, too, and we will circle and bow heads together. 


The "You're Not Alone" shirt is now available in my online shop, and all the previous designs are on sale while supplies last--check them out on the apparel page.

The Quiet Beginning

 quote paper by Christine Mason Miller

quote paper by Christine Mason Miller

There is a stage in my creative process during which the house could be falling down around me and I wouldn't notice. 

This is not that time. 

This is the Quiet Beginning, a stage which is more akin to cocooning than emerging or taking flight. 

The posture is one of listening--slow, steady, head-bowed listening. It is the time for discernment, for surrender, for dependence on a wisdom both deeper and wider than my own. 

This stage requires cleanliness and order in my surroundings. Organizing, de-cluttering and scrubbing become compulsions for me, but in their wake I find my thoughts have not only the space they need to emerge, but are lined up in neat and tidy rows. 

There is a common, widespread idea that cleaning is a sign of procrastination. This idea was damaging to me for a long time. It kept me always in motion without pause and therefore without understanding whether that motion was in the direction I really wanted to go.

It may be true, I suppose, that cleaning is about procrastinating for some. But I am not one to avoid my work. I burn to work, so fast and so hot sometimes that the daily tasks of my living--the dishes and tea times and bed time stories--are the only things that slow me down to a pace my body can sustain. 

Now I know I need this time, and even though the slowness and stillness of the Quiet Beginning is still uncomfortable to me, it's critical to get this part right. To clean and tidy , to slow down, listen and really discern my guidance for the coming days, so I can proceed with clarity, renewed energy and grounding.

500 tea tray.jpg

Practices for right now: 

Mystery novels: It's important not to think too much right now--it counters the resting and slowing that this season needs, and honestly it can really interfere with the listening. If I must feed my mind a little bit, I will read just a single page of a deep-thinking book or article. Otherwise I try to read things that give my analytical mind something to play with to keep it occupied so I can be still. Right now that means catching up on Agatha Christie novels I haven't read since I was a teenager. 

Tea Time Tray:  Caren McLellan Gazley gives a great tutorial on the British ritual of taking time for tea in Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care. This is a practice I always aspire to practice and remember, but actually clearing my kitchen counter and creating space for a tea time tray (pictured above) to live out in sight and within reach means it now happens. Every day.

The tray is set and ready for tea at any moment, though the girls and I have been having ours in the late afternoon. Amelia and I are loving this peppermint chocolate rooibos tea, and Lucy is jamming on steamed soy milk with a splash of hazelnut syrup.

More photos from the Indie Kindred Tour are coming soon. Next week we return to the Pacific Northwest for screenings in Seattle and Portland, and for the Story Excavation Retreat. Join us if you can!

Indie Kindred: The trailer is here.

Email readers: click here to see the video.

Are you ready? The Indie Kindred trailer is here, along with a website. And the Coast to Coast Summer Tour is coming together, with dates and cities coming soon.

If you're as excited about this project as we are, here's how to show your love and support in 30 seconds or less:

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Things you might need to hear today

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Your work matters.

You are not alone. There is more love for you in this world than you imagine, and there are arms far and wide that will be happy to receive your labors of love.

You alone know the full power of your will, your resolve--your "This Shall Be So". Unleash that power--don't hold back now.

It's okay to have your soul in the grip of a work whose calling you don't fully understand.

When others look at you like you've really lost it his time, when they give voice to fear instead of faith, remember that you are one who presses into a challenge.

Press in. Take your stand, creating new futures like swirling storms at your command.