[April] Jen’s Monthly Round-Up

Mar 28, 2018

I spent a big chunk of March in Patagonia (Chile and Argentina) trekking and trail running with my husband and bonus son Aidan.

The landscape dwarfed any I’ve ever been in.  We drove through native grasslands with nary a fence in sight. We hiked into a basin beneath jagged peaks in Torres Del Paine and I felt like an ant. We turned the corner on a trail to behold the Fitz Roy peak and I cried-maybe it was from the hike, but I believe it was because the raw presence of these mountains made me feel more PRESENT and REAL.

I love travel for a bunch of reasons. Here are three I’m reflecting on now that I’m back in my life and my routine:

1: I pay reverent attention to the ordinary; a woman latching her gate with a piece of rope before she catches the morning bus, finding the toilet in the dark in a strange bathroom, the tipped up wing feathers of an Andean condor, the taste of a plain cheese sandwich by the side of trail.  I notice more.

What might shift when you notice the ordinary with eyes of wonder?

2: I don’t get my panties in a knot about much. Bad weather day? Fine. Skip the boat trip and the hike to the glacier and read in bed.  Crazy, bad road so we almost get stuck which would mean a looooong walk back to town? Oh well (and Bob got us out anyway – what a guy). Mediocre food? Not the end of the world. At least the French fries were hot.

How might you bring “travel mind” into daily life?

3: Hardly any email or social media. This was the first trip in years that I did not bring my laptop or have any work assignments to do “here and there.” I did check in from time to time with my Writer’s Oasis group and my private writer’s mastermind group and my team, but mostly I let everything go.

And you know what? Nothing bad happened. And lots and lots of good happened: new ideas for my work, I read 6 books, I had lots of meaningful time with my bonus son and my honey Bob, and I scoured out the weary sad bits with wild beauty.

How might you remember that you are not needed 24/7 and that owning your own time and mind is your basic human right?

One last thing about this trip: it was fairly last minute. Aidan decided to do a study abroad program in Patagonia in early January and when Bob told me, I said, “We have to meet him there when he’s done. We have all those miles.”  It was that declaration – and stockpiling miles to pay for a big part of the trip – that made the trip happen. A door opened – our son going someplace cool – and we responded with “Let’s walk through that door with him.”

Declarations have power. So do credit card miles.

Recently On my Blog (in case you missed any posts)…

What to do When You Break a Promise You Made to Yourself

How to Prevent Breaking Promises to Yourself

Making Space for New Voices – Guest Post with Nailah Blades Wylie

Journal Prompt of the Month (for your writing pleasure)

What declarations have I made in my life that suddenly opened a whole new field of possibility? “I love you.” “I want to write a book.” “I’m ready to be valued in my work.”  Make a quick rough list. Feel free to be repetitive.

Choose one of these declarations and think back – was there a moment when the possibility of declaring what you want became clear to you? Perhaps a convo with a friend, reading a passage in a book, seeing someone else you relate to do something… Describe this moment.

What declaration is ripening in your life? You need not make it now but consider in writing what might be brewing. For me the declaration I’m playing with is: “Write a book about the moments in life when we want to or have given up: on our most cherished dreams, on our creativity, love, health… on being who we most want to be, and how we can use these junctures to recreate our lives.”

Writer’s Oasis members  -we will explore the power of declarations-in-waiting this Friday, stay tuned!

What I’m Reading / Listening To / Watching

I read 6 books during my travels and here are the ones worth considering:

Educated by Tara Westover

This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. Not because of the harsh and often bizarre life she survived, but because she took those experiences and made a book that points the way to freedom. Writer Oasis members – I will be using this book to make some powerful prompts this month. SO GOOD!

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

A kinetic, dark character driven exploration of the desire to create no matter what the costs. Oh the language, but never at the cost of the story.

Ines of my Soul by Isabel Allende

I could not go to Chile and not read Allende. A historical novel about the only female conquistador, this is the perfect read for learning about the history of Chile.

The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe

I just started this as it’s my book club pick for this month. Helen spent a year and half in a classroom in a Denver high school teaching English Language Acquisition. Helen follows these newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, arrived from war and drought torn countries to the U.S., as they try to make a new home.

What I’m Excited About

  • Nibbling at my new book idea. Does it have legs? Wondering what scenes and ideas from the defunct memoir I can use. Playing with holding this project much more lightly.
  • Seeing my Lily making a good life for herself. She’s taking on new challenges like a work promotion and her best friend and roomie moving to the East Coast with resiliency and humor.
  • Getting ready for the first Taos retreat of the year and my weekend at 1440 in May. What have I learned from my memoir not working that I want to teach about?  
  • Running! We did 100 miles in Patagonia (mostly hiking by far!) but it made me want to start training again. Once my airplane twisted body unfurls a bit.
  • The breakthroughs Oasis members are having with their writing and their life desires at the Writer’s Oasis. Seeing the power of focus and practice in action makes my heart glide like a condor on an strong updraft.

And, as always, I am excited about being connected to and serving you.

Much love,


Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

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