I show up here each week to show you that it's possible to work through the stumbling blocks that life throws at you. That even when you feel like you are being pelted, pelted, with obstacles, there is still room for you examine your story and improve your emotional and mental well being. I love to connect with you. I love bearing witness to your stories as you vulnerably face them.
I have grand plans for Orchid Story. But they only work if I am understanding who YOU are and how to serve YOU. With that in mind, I created a quick, 5 minute survey that I want you to complete. Click the button below to get to the survey. To entice you I have a fun gift box for one lucky winner with a copy of “Your Brightest Life Journal: A Creative Guide to Becoming Your Best Self” by Caroline Kelso Zook (pictured above), a set of 10 Staedtler colored pens, and a $5 Starbucks gift card. The perfect kit to take with you for me time at the coffee shop. Just complete the survey to be entered. You must provide your name and address where indicated on the survey to be entered to win.
I’m so excited to share with you that I am presenting at the Connector Conference on Saturday, October 13 in Rosslyn, Virginia!
My breakout session title is: “Your Story as the Bridge to Your Inner Self“. I would absolutely love to have you there with me. In addition to my session, there are lots of other opportunities for you to reconnect with your calling, community, creativity and confidence.
I’ve been a friend of Charmed Cardinals, the force behind this conference, for a while and really connect with their mission of having members reconnect with all the pieces of their lives to feel less fragmented. You will get so much value out of attending the conference.
I hope to see you on October 13!
Is it ok to call out your therapist on the Internet? For Day 3 of the co-authors of my mothering story I'm doing just that. Megan Fiore was the first therapist I had ever seen. I didn't know what to expect, but by the time I arrived in her office I had a three year old with whom I could not connect, a one year old with serious congenital heart disease and possible surgery on the horizon, and a father who had died suddenly within the past year. I think my back may have been horizontal with the ground from all of the weight on it as I walked into Megan's office.
Preparing for this post today I went back into my email to check dates, conversations and such. This is something I ask my students to do - get curious about your experience and do a little research on yourself. I remind them that while doing this is helpful in placing yourself back in the situation, it can also be painful. I was acutely reminded of this when I delved into my email today. What I read took my breath away and gave me a big achy pit in my stomach.
We had reached out to Megan in the early days of seeing her to ask about how to handle our toddler's habit of not telling the truth. The example we gave was a time when our daughter, Carly, was having a tantrum and arguing with me. She then went to her dad in the next room and told him that I had hit her and pushed her down.
I feel like I could write a book on how this type of behavior affected me and what I know it says now about the pain Carly was in. But, this is a post about Megan and her supreme therapy skills. Megan was able to walk a fine line between making me feel heard and also getting me to see that it would behoove me to start looking at my situation differently. If I wanted Carly to change, I would also need to change. Megan made me feel like I wasn't a failure of a mother who couldn't handle her kid. These were real issues and not just made up in my head like I sometimes questioned.
One tactic we employed for years after starting to see Megan was the concept of Special Time. If you read about my co-author from yesterday, this is also a technique endorsed by Hand in Hand. We did Special Time for years with Carly. Many days I counted down the time until the timer rang, signaling it was over, even when it was just five minutes. But we stuck to it, every single day of our lives. It's something tangible that I think really did have a positive impact on my relationship with Carly.
I don't see Megan anymore, but she will always play an extremely important role in my story. She also introduced me to the world of therapy and though I probably could have redone my kitchen by now with the money we've poured into it, I truly believe that nothing is more important than my family's mental health. I have Megan to thank for showing me that therapy can yield real results.
For Day Two of honoring the co-authors of my mothering experience, I have chosen Patty Wipfler of Hand in Hand. I found Hand in Hand, a non-profit that teaches and supports parents, about seven years ago. I signed up for their newsletter and hungrily read and listened to anything I could get my hands on. The content was exactly what I needed - their method teaches a mix of warmth and limits - but perhaps even more important for me was the style of founder Patty Wipfler. Her calm voice and the rhythmic cadence of her speech was like a balm to my flaming and fiery being. I remember listening to her in the car and feeling like she fully understood both my parenting experience and the experience of being my child. I've never met Patty, but I am so grateful to her organization for giving me what I needed at a crucial time in my life.
Have you experienced a setback that changed the path of your life? Rewriting these stories to reflect the empowerment of our struggle can positively affect our wellness. Join me for a six week online class to explore the science that supports this and finally get your story onto the page. Reach out with questions!
I am so excited to bring an online version of my class to you! I can reach more people in an easy-to-access way and maintain a community aspect with a limited class size and a couple of live sessions. Applications open on Wed April 18th. The class is six weeks and mostly self-paced. If you sign up to get on the waitlist you will receive a special discount code.
This class is for you if you've experienced a challenge in your life that divided it into the before and after. A part of you is the same, but a part of you is different. The story of your struggle is stuck in your head and you don't know how to integrate it into your life.
I've been there. I've done it all - therapy, support groups, self-help books. They each have a place. As does rewriting your story. See, the stories we tell ourself become part of our personality. This is called our narrative identity. Our narrative identity affects our emotional and physical health on a daily basis.
If we make small changes to the way we see our stories, we can make drastic improvements to the way we feel.
There is research to back this up. I've been working with this idea of narrative identity for a couple of years and I have seen evidence in my own life that it works. The best part is that you don't need any special tools or even a huge time commitment. Short bursts of dedicated writing time can lead to big improvements.
This process helps build resilience. You'll feel more energized in your day-to-day and you'll bounce back more quickly the next time something unexpected happens. Some studies even show that writing about your story lowers your blood pressure.
Join me. My superpower is taking complicated scientific concepts and breaking them down so that you can benefit. This is my passion. I hope to see you in class!
Last week, right around the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms here in DC, I attended and lecture and book signing by Elle Luna, co-author of a new book called "Your Story is Your Power". It was an intimate setting which meant that those of us in attendance actually got to interact with Elle.
Elle introduced an idea in her book about how we, as women, don't often recognize the culture of patriarchy and misogyny that surrounds us. We learn how to adapt in this specific culture very early in our lives, so that by the time we are adults, it is the norm. Unless we pull back the layers and examine how we each got to where we are, we can't fully understand ourselves. She put this quote, by neuroscientist David Eagleman, up on the screen:
We are like fish challenged to understand water: since the fish has never experienced anything else, it is almost impossible for it to see or conceive of the water. But a bubble rising past the inquisitive fish can offer a critical clue.
Then Elle asked us to write down a response to the question, "Have you experienced discrimination against a woman?" The first thing I wrote was about was the experience of watching my daughter play soccer. From ages 4-9, during every game that she played I would feel a strange mix of dread and excitement when she was on the field. You've probably heard me talk about her fearlessness, the drive to score and compete. It's quite distinct from the way most little girls play soccer. I felt this and the other parents standing next to me definitely did as well, evidenced by moms running onto the field after being plowed over by my daughter, Carly.
At first I didn't know why I chose this to write about. But then we began discussing our responses with Elle. She told a story of a young boy at a cabin with two friends, also boys. They were watching the sunset from the porch and the little boy said, "Isn't it just so beautiful?" His friends replied by giving him a shove and telling him to stop acting 'like a girl'.
I realized my soccer story was the girl version of this. Why did Carly not acting 'like a girl' get me (and others) so ruffled? I always wondered this because I call myself a feminist and I admire the way she plays.
The answer is in the water. The water that I have been swimming in. Since I was a little girl I've been taught to be the good girl: please others, don't speak up unless it's your turn, follow the rules, get the right answer. This is simply the water in which I swam. While it has occurred to me before and I've worked on undoing some of these messages, this was a new way of looking at it.
The reason I often feel unsettled by Carly's behavior is because she is literally changing my water. And it feels uncomfortable to me because it's a different temperature and a new color. I didn't ask for the change. I expected her to swim right alongside me. But somehow she recognizes the limitations of my water and it determined to change it.
This was such a huge realization for me. To think that my daughter is helping me to change these deeply embedded beliefs by simply being who she is. Isn't that so beautiful?
So, I ask you: What is the water that you are swimming in? Take two minutes to write down a response. Think about where you were born, your religion, your gender. You never know what will come up. Maybe it will be a whole new realization.
Course content is DONE for my online class starting this spring! WOOT WOOT! No experience necessary - this class is for you if you have experienced a hardship that divided your life into the before and after... and you are trying to figure out how to integrate that experience into your life to honor the new you. Sign up to get details as soon as they are announced! Class will be kept to a small size in order to facilitate community and connection.
I love, love, love when I get questions from my community. It helps me create new content and it sheds light on where I can be more clear.
One question that came up:
What are the different ways to use your story?
This is so important to consider. But before we get to the different ways to use your story, I suggest you start with this question:
What is the reason WHY you are telling your story?
Let me get a little more specific. Let's say the reason why you are telling your story is because you are a business owner who wants to connect on a deeper level with your clients. What you can do with your story when you come at it from this angle would be much different than if your reason why is to dive into a struggle you've experienced because you want to find new meaning in it.
I want to help you explore this for yourself, so I made you a worksheet to help you answer this question. We'll get more specific about what to do with your story in upcoming posts.
You'll get my Storytelling Insights download immediately and I'll send you a personal hello email with the Reason Why worksheet attached in a second email. Already on my list? Check your email - it's already been delivered straight to you!
Introducing my intention for the year, The Next Right Thing. What's your next right thing? Maybe it's taking my class to give yourself time to rewrite your story. I still have spaces and we start on Tuesday. Go here for details and registration.
Did you answer, yes, yes and yes (like me)? Then my upcoming class is for you.
It's a new year and it's time to rewrite your story of struggle to boost your well-being. Class is held Tuesday nights starting January 16th, 7-8:30pm, for six weeks at the Insight Shop in Vienna, VA. Make this be the first step towards saying YES to empowerment and clarity in 2018. Cost is $197. We have limited availability and I want to see you in class - sign up today!
What happens each class?
Class generally follows this format each week:
- Review our goal of the week
- Inspirational quote and reading of the week
- Mini-lesson: Writing your story
- Mini-lesson: Science
- Community discussion
- Guided writing time
What will I get out of the class?
Here's what a recent client had to say:
On what curriculum is the course based?
This is a completely innovative curriculum developed by me, Rachel Nusbaum. The class blends the science behind our personal stories (called narrative identity) with the how-to's of writing your story. The goal is to get your story out of your head and onto the page. (The goal is not to publish your story or to share it publicly.) Class consists of learning, self-reflection, writing, and community. All of the resources I used to develop the course are shared with the students enrolled.
What's your teaching style like?
Why, I'm so glad you asked. Each week I send out a comprehensive email of the writing lessons and techniques we've discussed in class, links to all of the resources for the week, the weekly quote and a science lesson video. Here's sneak peek into the video included in Class One's email:
What do I need for class?
Just show up with an open mind and heart! I created a special workbook that I will give to you on the first day of class. All of your writing will be completed in the workbook. If your preference for writing is on a keyboard, you will need to bring your laptop.
What do I gain from working with you?
A recent client had this to say:
Still have burning questions? Reach out to me.
This month Holstee is examining the theme of Reflection and is featuring my work! Go check it out. It's so meaningful as a writer to see my words get out into the world and to feel supported by other creatives.
For giving me opportunities and asking nothing in return
For reading my work
For allowing me a space in your inbox
For stopping my scroll
For providing beautiful images
For your words of encouragement
For your belief in me.
You know one thing we all have in common? That life is hard. It's full of ups and downs. Sometimes it's in the day to day - that colleague who isn't pulling his weight, who backs out of a meeting last minute to leave you in the lurch and in charge of his hour long presentation. Other times it's a pretty huge transition, like saying goodbye to the family dog who was your first child and an integral piece of your everyday.
I'm on a quest to find more effective and healthy ways of dealing with these ups and downs. Because they don't stop coming - so I don't have time to wait until this thing I'm dealing with now passes. Writing has been huge in this. Another thing? Making a conscious effort to put myself in the same space as people who make me feel good. Who lift me up. And not in the all "everything's going to be ok" way, but in the "this shit is real and I hear you" way.
It's in this spirit that I share this inspiring quote from my friend Dr. Vickie. I wrote down the words during the interview for her storytelling session. That word - sacred - it stuck with me. Who me? Sacred? Vickie explained that sacred is not reserved for the extraordinary or for when we are spiritually enlightened. Sacred is allowing your 7 year son to sleep in your bed because you realize it's only a matter of time until he's grown and out of the house. Sacred is the acceptance that you are enough, even in the moments when it feels like the total opposite. Especially in those moments.
I encourage you to listen to Vickie's story. I hope it touches you in some way like it did for me.