I remember “writing stories” before I even knew how to form letters. Later in university, I briefly pursued an English degree but left when I realized it was mostly about dissecting other authors’ works, and not on writing. Although I never let go of my writing aspirations, my priorities shifted to caring for other people– my partner, children, and loved ones.
After decades of putting others first, I attended a workshop combining yoga and writing. I was hooked, and signed up for a coaching program. However, I felt some self-doubt. What if, after finally making this commitment to writing, I discover I have nothing worth saying?
Within the coaching circle, I quickly learned that my stories resonated with others. We wrote from prompts and read our words out loud. Sharing with others was new and uncomfortable but helped me learn on a deeper level that I matter. One day I brought a very rough draft of two vulnerable paragraphs and read them out to the group as fast as I could, keeping my head down. When I looked up, everyone in the group was crying. Even imperfect, “rough draft” words impact your ideal listeners.
The inspiration to write my book The Chocolate Pilgrim arose during that year-long writing group. In 2009 I had walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in northern Spain with my husband and adult son. At the time, I had no intention of writing a book, although I did keep a daily journal. Along the trail I experienced my darkest self as well as a fundamental shift in the way I was showing up in my life and processing my past. I was prompted to write about this physically and spiritually gruelling transformation in order to support others who may have had similar challenges.
As a coach, I aim to provide the same inclusive, supportive experience I had when I started writing and sharing my words. Without this support, I never would have had the clarity and courage to write my book, let alone publish and release my words out into the world.
In my writing circles and retreats, we learn how to lean gently into our discomfort with story and share within a group of writers who are taught how to listen and provide inspiring, encouraging feedback. You have stories that are worth telling. Maybe the time has come for you to begin, no matter what your age or writing experience. It’s your time!
Are you a lover of credentials? Here are mine
- Bachelor of Arts (English)/ Bachelor of Physical and Health Education – Queen’s University
- Diploma after Degree – University of Calgary, Teacher Education
- Master of Arts in Counselling, Gonzaga University
- Canadian Certified Counsellor through Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
- Registered Social Worker (Alberta)
- Integrative Body Psychotherapy – advanced training
- Hakomi Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy – advanced training
- Canadian Recreational Canoe Association – Master Trainer (moving water, canoe tripping, lake water canoeing)
- Calgary Family Life Education Council – Small Group facilitation training
- Love Your Words Mastermind (2010 – present; from student to teaching support team)
- Vancouver Manuscript Intensive (Betsy Warland) – mentor Cathleen With
November 2016 I decided to submit a chapter for an anthology entitled, “When Women Talk”. In December I felt paralyzed by self-doubt about what to say. Was my story worth sharing? Would anyone listen? Marie was there for me, supporting me with a process that allowed me to hear the power of my words. Marie also reminded me why I chose to share this transformative time in my life. I trusted her, and therefore trusted myself. When I sent my draft to the book coach for feedback, she responded: “Excellent writing and storytelling.”
I was thrilled. However, I wasn’t finished yet. As I worked with revisions, Marie was there for me. I trusted her with my vulnerable writer-self, sharing more tender pieces of my history. In March 2017, I submitted my new chapter with final edits.
In my opinion, Marie is the “best ever” writing midwife.