Once in a while a book comes along that lifts your heart and makes it sing.
So … what’s your story?
Come on, the real one. The true one you’re afraid to share. Uh huh. That one. Out with it. No? OK, you don’t have to tell me. But you might at least want to write it down, if not for a reader, then only for yourself. And if you need some help with that, some inspiration and motivation, the resolve to get up the courage, the tonic you need is a book called Heart Medicine. It just might be the gentle kick you need to liberate yourself from a prison of your own making.
There are lots of writing workbooks. And there are lots of books about finding inspiration. Heart Medicine is that rare combination—an inspirational workbook that feels less like a teacher and more like a trusted friend. Kate Bartolotta had me from the opening, reminding me how we used stories in childhood—the ones our parents told us, the ones we read in books, and the ones we invented in our imaginations—to make sense of the world around us, to form a narrative about what our life would be like. Sometimes, we reject those stories as adults or even outright abandon them. Sometimes we adopt a persona, a protagonist character if you will, who serves others but not ourselves. And sometimes, we just clam up, stuffing our story down in box that never gets opened. When this happens, when our story gets stifled, we begin to feel sick at heart. We go through the motions of life with no satisfaction or joy, because the life we’re living doesn’t align with the story of who we are. For this devastating disease of dislocation from the self, Heart Medicine offers the cure.
Here are a few of my favorite passages:
As I stood letting the sun warm me, I saw something floating on the breezes: a small feather. It struck me in that moment that that is our liminal dilemma in life.
We stand at that threshold in our lives and are faced with a choice: will we be the feather or will we be the breeze?
Looking before you leap is one thing, but as a friend reminded me once when I was obsessing, it doesn’t mean getting out your measuring tape and barometer to make sure you can make the leap.
Being a writer is not the same as being a content-generating robot. While not every piece we write feels full of inspirational fire, when it seems like nothing has felt that way in a while, chances are you are not receiving enough to be able to create anything new.
If we think of the word inspiration which implies being full of breath, it becomes simple.
We cannot exhale indefinitely; we need to breathe in or we’d pass out. If we stopped breathing in new air completely, we’d die.
Most people who seek out a book on writing are writers. Obvious? No. But often, we are reluctant to call ourselves writers. That seems to be the realm of someone else. Someone famous. Someone with cool glasses who always has the right comeback. But writers, quite simply, are all of us who write.
And the truth is that we are amateurs. This is no profession. This is love.
If you want to write something that will change the world, write the things that won’t stay unwritten.
The best part in this is that as we work toward finding our balance, as we begin to take charge of our stories—on and off the page—we end up with people in our lives who are a magnificent fit.
We need to find a synchronicity between our internal dreams and the external steps we take towards them.
Our words have a ripple effect that changes the world, and as such, we should choose them wisely.
The last quote, at least for me, has an embedded message. Choose your words wisely, but please, choose them. The surface of the world can’t remain still forever. If it did, nothing would happen, nothing would change. We need writers—we need you, all of you—to dip your toes in the water, to throw a stone, to speak your mind and tell your stories so that others can learn from them. Life is filled with disappointments and painful experiences, some of which help us learn and grow, and some of which just suck, period. Life also brings us indescribable beauty, indestructible love, and immeasurable joy. The stories we tell, and the way they impact others, give meaning to our existence. In the words of Viktor Frankl:
In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.
You may feel that baring your soul and sharing your story is a costly sacrifice you can’t afford. But hiding your light, silencing your voice, confining your expression by keeping your original ideas in your pockets along with your hands—this is the sacrifice that brings emotional bankruptcy, this is the choice that leaves us empty at the end.
Yes, it’s hard to become an expressive soul. But the work is worth it. And Heart Medicine will put spring in your step for every leg of the journey.
If you’re looking for Kate Bartolotta, you can find her over at Be You Media Group.
Photo courtesy of author.