Writing lessons in unexpected places

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I’m a writer.

So, I see writing spaces, inspiration, and sometimes lessons, in unexpected places and at unexpected times.

I was inspired after my recent massage to return to a piece of writing that has been causing me tension. I am aware of some of the sources of the tension – i.e., I’m writing about a leadership issue that I’m currently navigating – and there are other unknown sources of tension that I am battling in my attempts to bring clarity to parts of this work.

Generally, I will try to work on this or other such writing, feel the tension, and then back away or move on to work on another piece. The latter is largely a gift and joy of having multiple writing projects. However, I can’t keep walking away from the tension when there is writing that needs to be completed and shared.

Leaving a recent spa appointment, I felt a breakthrough of sorts in reflecting on the unexpected writing lesson I received there. You see, a massage therapist feels for tension, acknowledges it, and then spends time and effort to work through relieving the tension. It’s a dedicated effort of applying concentrated and repeated pressure over a period of time until the tension (or “knot”) releases. As I was reflecting on the joy of being the beneficiary of the relief that came from actively and strategically working on relieving muscle tension, I realized that I need to establish writing time, practices and strategies for working on “relieving the tension” of some of my writing.

The time, and perhaps space, needed to do this is decidedly different from the writing time at which I excel generally – i.e., generative writing and developmental editing/writing. I embrace these writing forms and times wholeheartedly.

To facilitate staying on track with a number of writing projects to which I have committed, I’ve got to move to establishing successful practices for tackling the “tension-relieving” writing. I suspect that I’ll need to establish multiple brief periods in which I can use an intense, focused period to apply the “pressure” needed to break through a writing tension. It’s possible that pairing this with a generative writing time could be truly beneficial in breakthrough a “knot” and moving forward towards completing a specific goal.

I’m thankful for lessons that come in whatever form and through whatever forum to inspire me to continue to grow and advance as a writer.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM

Retreating to Advance

I love a “retreat” — which for me is generally a treasured (approaching sacred) time with physical and/or mental distance away from the daily grind.

I retreat to rest and rejuvenate. I retreat to reflect. I retreat to plan. I frequently retreat to write. I retreat for self-care.

I have even been known to retreat just to get a brief break from the cold, gray, and snow of winter.

I retreat in solitude and I retreat in groups.

The common denominator of my retreats is that I always retreat to advance.

It’s easy to stay super busy (for me both professionally and personally). And frequently we falsely assume that constant motion or activity is the “key to success” and progress. However, I’ve learned — and re-learned time and time again — that for me retreating is critical to true progress, fulfillment and advancement.

So in all cases I retreat to advance:

To advance in my thinking,

To advance in my work,

To advance in my writing,

To advance in my self-care.

Retreating is critical to my success, fulfillment, grounding….so I retreat to advance!


Reflection during a recent retreat planned to facilitate recovery from emotional & physical labor.

The Importance of the “Pause”

All too frequently, we are on the “move” — rarely pausing to process what brought us to any one point, destination, or decision.

Whether a “win” or a perceived “loss” or “failure, we rarely pause and meaningfully reflect upon what contributed to the outcome at hand.

There are so many questions we need ask ourselves when something exceeds beyond our wildest dreams OR when things go down a different path or meet an unwelcome roadblock.

Yet, we rarely pause to reflect, learn and plan adequately (and boldly) for the next steps. I think for too many a pause is uncomfortable, undervalued, goes against all the incessant action that too many of us value – i.e., the illusion of busyness as evidence of commitment and productivity.

Now, I admittedly may be a little too obsessed with the pause as evidenced by my “over-commitment” to retreats (for a range of distinct purposes).

However, it’s often in a pause that I can identify the strengths, good choices, purposeful planning, specific community, etc. that brought me to a “win”. This awareness then ensures that I can position myself to engage these factors/players intentionally in future endeavors. Also, it’s in a pause that I can claim accountability for the ways in which I impeded my own growth and success, and strategically review opportunities for me to identify and engage support of mentors, advisors, “re-direct0rs”, and other players.

It can also be in a pause where I recognize the structural barriers that may impede progress in some ways or areas.

Our gut reaction after a “success” or especially a perceived “failure” can be to move on quickly to the next thing. Sometimes we rapidly move on due to a need to continue to demonstrate “worthiness” in the case of successes or to cover any perceptions of our “worthlessness” in the cases of failures. Yet, we have to resist outsourcing our personal perceptions of our worth and embrace the possibility that true worth comes from what we learn from the paths we pursue rather than strictly what we “achieve” and those things at which we succeed.

In this sense we pause to reflect, we pause to learn, we pause to advance with meaning, purpose, impact.

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM