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We gathered in class the week after 9/11, wondering what we were doing in Fine Arts when our city had just been bombed. What use? Our teacher implored us to recognize that art is exactly what we’ll need as we and our country begin to heal.

She was right. For 11 years, we and artists everywhere have traveled the grief that day triggered, accessed it, felt it, purged it, shared it collectively, in the art we’ve made, stories we’ve told, textures we’ve weaved. Turns out that in healing ourselves of that wound, we’ve been healing each other. Art heals. Stories mend. Creating invites what’s next.

There’s a story on that plate. If you’ve eaten the cake, hug an artist, or, better, buy him or her some creating time. If you’ve been healed by expression, thank yourself for finding your voice. If you’re still locked, invite your voice by eating more of the cake: surround yourself with art, trees, encouragers who see your beauty and the stories inside you. Listen for the muse in the voices of your people. Talk till you find your way down your story’s path.

Live. Lose. Create. Consume. Build anew. Live anew…

Make your cake. Let us eat it.

Photos by Pema Teeter, taken at SFMOMA’s cafe. Art begets art begets art.


Original sin, the rewrite

I am compelled by stories. All stories – real, imagined, practical, fantastical, written, filmed, sung, lived. There is one particular genre that intrigues me most of all: ancient, before-the-dawn-of-time narratives of women. These tales weave and wind their way into every other story I know, hear, and tell. And for me, they have become my companions, muses, guides, and friends.

You may know some of these women. In fact, I’m certain you do. You may also have tried to forget them, dismiss them, and separate yourself from them. Because too often, their names summon up other stories that you’ve worked hard to escape: stories of your own.

When I read Pema’s last post, I felt that tension. She told her story – of curiosity, of desire, of shame, of silence, of separation, of hunger. And in it, she also told of the stories she had worked to escape: those of religion and even of God.

What if I were able to tell them in ways that intrigued and invited? Graced and gifted? Were relevant and real? And what if, in hearing them, you could better understand your own?

This is my quest. This is my passion. This is my love. And this is what I’ve done with Pema’s last post as inspiration and hope.

What follows is the story of Eve…as told through the story of Pema. You’ve heard and read them both before. Read them anew. Hear them anew. And watch both stories transform when they are embraced by each other’s.

Eve’s response to Pema in her recent post, “God, Sex and My Divorce from Religion”:

Disclaimer: Run now or hold your peace

No parent wants to read about their child’s first sexual encounter under their own roof. And so for that reason, I caution my dad and anyone else who feels fatherly or motherly toward me, or anyone squeamish about teenage love to click away right now…

In the beginning: shame. Your story starts there…but not on its own, not because of you; rather because of others’ perception, right? I know. I understand. Still, so many years later, you still feel the heft of your years-ago choices. You still anticipate and assume the pain others will know. The weight of your world still rests on these choices…

The fate of the world rested on mine. Or so it’s been told.


For all who have stayed. Welcome. To the night I got naked. With a girl. In my brother’s bedroom. It’s a passion play that, like all good dramas, begins its slow turn much earlier.

She and I were best friends. On this night, we turned lovers, in a willful gesture that I learned was desire. It took over me as if I was watching myself on a movie screen. And yet, I lived each moment in the heat that spread in my heart, my gut, my skin, exploding my head. Each choice. And then the next. I was 16.

Everything in me longs to scoop you up in a great big hug and never let you go. Everything in me longs to replay these tapes…the ones that started looping just after…the ones that moved you from desire to shame.

Can you imagine if desire were good? If every emotion, experience, and even explosion was hardly something from which you were restrained; but instead were welcomed? If curiosity had been affirmed? If no fear of shame had been present? If choice had not felt clandestine, secretive, hidden?

This was not imagination for me. It was real. Perfection. Desire. A taste. And all of it was good. Oh, I know, this is not how my story’s been told. Maybe there’s another way to tell yours, as well. Maybe it’s time we preached another.

My dad was a preacher. My mom slept nearby on the living room couch. My brother was no longer. At least, not his physical form. He had died suddenly, nine months before, at 17.

Did you wonder how sermons could be preached and mothers could sleep and life could go on when your brother was gone?

I used to. My son died, suddenly. It was not an accident. And not one aspect of my life was ever the same. But it seemed like life continued around me as though nothing had happened. I never understood how that could be. Many thought my innocence ended when I left the Garden (and you, that night at 16). That was nothing compared to his death.

The end of innocence

His room was intact. I would go in there from time to time, to make his absence real. And to pierce the mute, open doorway standing at the end of the hall, that no one walked through anymore, but which shone blue from the paint on his walls.

It had a bigger bed than mine, covered by the blue and red afghan our grandma crocheted. I would sit on it and stare out the window. Run my hand over coarse yarn and stare out the door. Stare into his closet. Velcro my eyes to the song lyrics he had written on the pad still on his desk. The cartoons he had drawn. His life still in the lines.

But this night, the scratchy afghan slipped to the floor. My best friend and I, we’d been to the beach. Heat from our sunburns made the room feel like day. Street lamp light sifted the darkness telling us it was night. All of it transcended time.

A story is told even before mine where God called the darkness good.

And somehow, that story…like yours…has been lost as time has passed. Now, particular things, spaces, and scenes become indelible symbols we cannot escape. A bed. An afghan. That one night. A tree. A snake. That one bite.

Resurrection mix tape

Dawn came. Then morning sun. Then sleep.

No matter what. These three always return. Over and over again. Dawn. Sun. Sleep. And maybe a fourth: resurrection.

It was Easter Sunday. My dad woke us ten minutes into slumber, to get ready for church.

Mmmm. That morning, after I took the bite, God called to me (just like your dad) and said, “Where are you?”

Pastel floral farm skirt and my favorite greenish cropped top. What I wore that day is sealed on my memory, as is the way the sun slanted through the windows and her next to me in the pew in black pedal pushers. Somebody preached. About Jesus dying for our sins. And coming back to life. While I flashed on fresh sins I could still feel. And felt alive in them.

After I took the bite my eyes were opened – in a flash. And everything was more alive. I got dressed that day. But no matter what I covered myself with, nothing could hide all that I knew, all that I felt, all that had happened, all that was about to happen.

The people here hurt for me and my family’s loss deeply. They wrapped me in love as much as I would let them. And I knew with fearful certainty that if they knew the sins I knew, they would reject me without argument. That was the day a new piece of my spirit struggled free, while my relationship with religion ground to its end.

Many have thought the same of me; that my taking that apple marked the end of perfection with God. Many have been wrong. That one bit of delicious fruit is what changed everything, what opened up brand new worlds, and what enabled a new and intimate relationship with God. Found, not lost.


As it happened, it was my job to drive Grandma to church. That wasn’t going to change. So I went, every Sunday, for the next three years until I left for college, smiling to see the folks that raised me in this community, and dying inside to think we wouldn’t be having this conversation if they knew what I knew about me.

It has been the job of the church to tell my story a certain way. And I have died inside so many times, not because of what really happened, but because of what others’ decided happened. They talked as if they knew what I knew. They did not.

If you’ve ever been a closeted gay teen stoic at church, you know that hyper-self-awareness can widen into silence and separation. Turn into rejection and resentment. Years into the shut-down, I became allergic to all things holy. The day, a decade later, that I sat in traffic behind a Christian fish symbol bumper sticker, and raged at the intolerant audacity of a blindly religious vocal majority, I heard the silence in my car stab back at me. My outrage, the silent echo suggested, might be a bigger fish to fry than the one on the bumper.

No, not a closeted gay teen stoic at church. Just a banished shameful woman who cast the future of all humanity out of Eden and into hell. The religious vocal majority silenced me and separated me from my story. They rejected me and resented my choices. They fed me to the sharks…and blamed a snake.

A modern chance

There was no where to go in the traffic. No one to hear but myself. I’d learned enough to know that inordinate venom is usually the tip off to a personal problem buried so deep you can’t see it. It was there, gridlocked behind the Christian fish car, that I missed spirituality.

I’m not so sure that venom is always bad. But then, my relationship with snakes is different than most.

If I were a preacher, I’d be fourth in a generational line of them, starting with my great-grandfather on my dad’s side. Church, before there was a building for it, used to be held in the very house that I lived in. My dad as a boy would set out folding chairs in his living room for the congregants, which, if you’ve ever crammed into a living room and shared stories and reverence, you know is a silly name to call each other when it feels rather like family.

I missed…a feeling. That family. The reverence. The sensation of awe and peace and wonder that my dad called “the spirit.” I missed people caring and loving and coming together just to be together in a sacred hour. As much as I had grown to detest all things related to a religious tenet that would kill me if it had a modern chance, I even missed praying.

Most have been told that when I left Eden, God left me, that “spirit” departed. They have painted me as cast from God’s presence (and threatened all sinners hence with the same). Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it was my leaving of Eden that created the context for God’s intimacy, protection, and care in ways previously unknown. It was my leaving of Eden that caused God to pursue me. I might have missed that had I stayed.


And so there in my car, I cracked open and allowed myself to feel, allowed myself to wonder, and to wander through thoughts of God as God related to ME and not a religion.

This IS my story. I allowed myself to feel. I allowed myself to wonder. I allowed myself to wander. And God related to me – always, endlessly, still.

That was the beginning of what has become an increasingly spiritual journey. I remembered the reverence with which I absorbed nature on the walks to school and in the national parks we traveled with my grandparents. I remembered the joy and gratitude of stewardship that my grandma modeled. And I remembered that I had as much fascination for a fundamentalist’s diehard faith as I had vitriol for what it espoused.

I think they call this collection of attributes “humanist,” and maybe that’s what I was becoming. But what I knew in the moment was that access to spirit was no longer trapped in the church box. It was no longer separate from me and my heathen ways. Access to spirit is mine if I want it, even if religion has its party without me.

I was fully human. And I was fully loved by God. Eden did not broker such. East of Eden did not prevent such. I was never, nor have YOU ever been separate from that same God. That’s worth a party, don’t you think?

I’ll bring the apples.

The good news

It is all I can do to stop typing. Pema’s story is so rich in beauty and desire, isn’t it? So is Eve’s. But do you see? The way we tell them (our own telling and others’) is what moves them to shame. Here the good, good news: if we can so easily make this shift, we can just as easily make another.

Stories of shame can be stories of redemption. Stories of separation can be stories of intimacy. And stories silenced can be stories told – celebrated – honored – lived. Pema’s. Eve’s. Yours. Mine.

This is my passion. This is my love. This is sacred stuff.

Inspired by Eve + Pema in the pulpit May 27

Toward that end I created Inspired by Eve. It’s a guide and companion to self-trust, deep knowing, and a delicious life of desire. 36 pages. An audio version of me telling my version of Eve’s story. Provocative writing/journaling/reflective prompts. And an invitation to understand your story in brand new ways. I’d love for you to have it. Click here to learn more. Come on: reach for the apple and take a bite. That hunger is good.

Sunday Services you want to WAKE UP for!
with Ronna Detrick, Spiritual Director and creator of Inspired by Eve.
and guest, Pema Teeter, Story Charmer
May 27, 2012
10:00 am (PST)

Together we will talk about new ways of understanding and incorporating faith, beliefs, spirituality, and gorgeous, significant story.

We need congregation. We need sacred space.
 And we need conversation that is unscripted, unedited, and unboundaried.
 We need each other.

Dial: 530.881.1300 Code: 590920#

(Skype callers: Add ‘freeconferencing.5308811300′ to your contacts.
Once you’ve dialed in, locate the key pad and enter the access code. )

Smart, engaging conversation about topics that matter. Soak up community wisdom. Even worship. It’s divine.

Join us.


Ronna Detrick provides Spiritual Direction to both individuals and businesses and creates Sacred Congregation for you! She gets at deep truths and talks about a God and faith you’re hungry for. She has recently released Inspired by Eve ~ a companion and guide to self-trust, deep knowing, and a delicious life of desire. Go on, take a bite: learn more.


Gratitude for Waking Up

April 8, 2012

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep
You must ask for what you really want
Don’t go back to sleep
People are going back and forth across the door-sill
Don’t go back to sleep
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep

– Rumi

Thank you to…

You, the reader, who makes this site and this collaborative conversation so special.

L’Tanya Durante for breaking open the Waking Up series by inspiring me to plant my voice in community before I use it.

Ronna Detrick, whose conversation expanded the week-long 4 a.m. wake-up from a solo venture to a community experience that blossomed.

Dyana Valentine for helping me wake up to a very deep knowing I was ignoring before this project began.

Michele Mollkoy for pointing out the mega flow of creativity that follows after the stories get charmed.

Stephanie Murphy for helping me stay close to target and chasing the big ideas.

Michelle Elmquist for the cool badges, the assistance, and the ever hilarious camaraderie

Lisa Slavid for listening to me think out loud for months before I put waking up into blog and community form.

Dave Markowitz for hosting the Wake Up week Story Charming Party.

Floyd Rocker for taking care of me the 9 fevered days I succumbed to a mysterious virus while barely meeting deadlines.

The Wake Up callers who woke up with me at 4 a.m. to create a community of intention and awareness—and as a result, magic happenings throughout the day and the week.

The wonderful contributors to the Waking Up series who answered the call to share their work on Story Charmer, and as a result engaged, inspired and opened readers with what you shared.

The contributors and interviewees of my last blog project, Memory to Light, for helping to inspire this one — Julie Daley, Laura Smith, Gillian Berry and all of the folks who made moving conversation in the comments.

My therapist for a weekly dose of wake up and the tools to becoming a happier, more honest, trusting, and in-love woman in progress.


Waking is Unfolding

March 30, 2012

From my friend, new mom to twins:

My favorite thing about parenting is watching who my girls become every day. It’s like they gently unfold into more of themselves every time they wake up. It really is an honor to watch and support.

Every night it gets dark, and every day the sun breaks into day. What if we let ourselves gently unfold into more of ourselves, every time we wake up?

What did you wake to this morning?

What have you recently dreamed?

How can you take that awareness, from the edge of sleep, the edge of light, into your current intention?

How can you honor, watch, and support your gentle unfolding into more of yourself every time you wake up?

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.


Surrender and Allow

My personal journey is one of a heart opening.  The two messages I received this week were loud and clear: surrender and allow for.  Surrender that which you think you know as you simultaneously allow for that which you have not yet known.

Brand New and Relearning

Quite simply, I have not yet experienced living in such alignment, so while it feels natural, it also feels surreal.  There are moments that I feel like a stranger in my own life—my physical body has changed, my external space has changed, my connections have changed, my work has changed, *grin* my children have even grown in all ways.  This newness is lovely, yet unfamiliar, making my “regular” daily life an adventure.  One might imagine then, that when I step out of daily life into World, I am almost like a newborn, relearning everything as I venture out.  It is a whole new world.  There is magic and beauty and depth and texture and *life*, all so wonderful and delicious to me, yet often so far away in these moments that I am re-learning the “hows” of movement.

Living Through the Senses

I tend to initially resist the unfamiliar, but I find I am curious (very new for me!), and my entire being wishes to explore.  I wish to savor each moment, relish all that is presented to me.  I honor my pace as I take the time to feel everything.  I live through my senses, and I wish to explore through my senses.  I am remembering how it feels to participate in a love affair with World, from the moment I open my eyes in the morning through the moment I close them again at night, I am fully awake.  I no longer have the need to understand, I now have this desire to experience.

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I met Joy Holland early this month, when she contacted me to contribute to her magically conjured book, Cultivating Your Voice. I thought that was gorgeous timing for what the the Wake Up series is exercising. Her observations through the 7-Day Wake Up have been continued perfect timing. You can read more from Joy on her blog, Facets of Joy.

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Speaking of magically conjured, the 7-day Wake Up has been off the charts expansive and beautiful in its results.

Join us for the weekend? 4:00 a.m. PDT. March 20-27. Wake up with us + watch your life pop open. Cost: Zero dollars and a few dawns. Reach out —> Hi [at] StoryCharmer [dot] com

Receive the Wake Up Kit. Get on the call. Or skip the call! And wake up anyway.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.

{ 1 comment }

For years I was asleep

I was an unconscious observer, lost in a dream, watching a life around me unfolding in rampant directions.

There were turbulent highs and lows. My relationships were battlegrounds of reckless will and misunderstanding.  No real connection, just lonesome ships wandering dark and stormy seas, crashing upon beautiful islands filled with monsters.

Life felt unfair.  Always happening at me, to me, in spite of me.  In my struggle to find balance, I found myself running from one extreme to another.  Never satisfied, never home.  Always running.  Always searching.

As it turns out, awakening is not always an instantaneous thing.

Sometimes it is a journey

My journey took me to the absolute limit of my endurance.  At last I came to a dead halt — before me, only a foggy wasteland of consequences and dead ends.  No illumination.  No horizon.  I couldn’t go any further.

It was here that I became acutely aware of one thing: choice.  I could see how the tone and texture of my life up to that point was the result of choices I had made — even if I was making them unconsciously, or with very limited awareness.

The power of choice continued to unfold in my awareness.  I realized, for the first time, that I had never really taken responsibility for my life.  I’d put my happiness in the hands of others.  I’d given my expectations complete power over my experience of life.

Most of all, I’d been loving myself vicariously through others.  I could see this now.

This was my awakening.

On the journey, choice

With the intimate realization of choice, came the understanding of responsibility.  With responsibility came possibility.  The potential for a life of fullness and beauty.  A life of joy.  A life of purpose.

I would see myself through new eyes.  I would begin to nurture myself with love and kindness.

“Not good enough” became nothing more than a lie, and a silly one at that.  Not good enough for what?  For a life of meaning?  Not good enough to fall in love with living?  Those three words just didn’t make sense anymore.

I began to see the world very differently.  Resistance became my teacher, a reflection of the tender areas within me.  And as I opened myself to the work of healing and conscious growth, I became aware of a very interesting phenomenon:

As I changed, the world changed.

I realized that this world is a mirror, showing me reflections of myself.  There’s a teacher in everyone and everything, and they all point back to me.  That’s the secret.  It begins in me.

In choice, freedom

This is my journey, and I’ve found a freedom that I never knew was possible.  There are still ups and downs, yes.  But I’ve created space for purpose.  In moments of ease I find inspiration and encouragement.  In moments of difficulty, I discover where I have work to do.

Life is beautiful because I’ve chosen to see it as beautiful.  It is a continuous act of creation, of giving and receiving.  So wake up to the worth and the magnificence of You.  Stop looking outward for your happiness, and take responsibility for what you are creating.

After all is said and done, freedom is asking yourself what you want your life to feel like, and beginning the work of bringing it forth.

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I met Daniel Collinsworth via Twitter. I appreciated a tweet, clicked onto his site, Metta Drum, and discovered this from Daniel:

As you bring…loving-kindness forth in You, it becomes natural to radiate it outward into the world. This is the foundation of Metta Drum. I’ve created this space to share my insights on personal and spiritual development, healing, and our essential connection with each other.

And that was that. Our connection precedes us. Check out the rest of Daniel’s site for ongoing pages loveliness and beauty just like this.

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We began seven days of Wake Up calls today—the first day of spring—for the 7-day Wake Up.

You can still join us. 4:00 a.m. PDT. March 20-27.

Wake up with us + watch your life pop open. Cost: Zero dollars and a few dawns.

Reach out —> Hi [at] StoryCharmer [dot] com

Receive the Wake Up Kit.

Get on the call.

Or skip the call. And wake up anyway.

# #

Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.


My awakening has not been of the “alarm-clock-ring-snaps-me-into-action” variety. More like the “waking-up my-16-year-old-son-for-school” variety.  I hear his alarm go off and I wait. Then I gently rouse him to consciousness and say, “Time to get up. You don’t want to miss the bus.” He looks at me and nods. A little later I am back, this time lifting him into a sitting position or tickling his toes or knocking his legs off the bed. “Come on. You have to be out the door in 10 minutes! Now or never.”

The awakening I have been resisting is pretty radical. It means dropping societally sanctioned definitions of success and questioning the fabric of my (and our) societal norms. And oh, by the way, might force me to stop doing what I am doing and choose an entirely different path. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Leza and Peter have been trying to wake me up.

Leza Danly is the founder of Lucid Living. Some messages from a class I am taking with Leza have been disturbing my comfortable sleep.

  • You don’t make success happen you allow yourself to experience success.
  • Real world definitions of success are an illusion. Money doesn’t give you security.
  • Success comes when our deepest soul/self is given form in our lives. This is deep work that comes with intention and commitment.

This (and so much more) put a kink in my general conviction that my earnings are the juicy fruits of my success. Inconsistent to be striving for a more soulful existence even as I pursue the pot of gold? MMM… yes. (Because clearly I am acting as if I believe there is a pot of gold.) I would attend a class. Do the meditations. Journal. Feel moved. Sense a deep stirring. And all the while plan new products, reach out to new prospects and watch the bottom line. It was my version of hitting the snooze button.

Peter Block is a transformational leader. I have been reading his work obsessively. In his latest book The Abundant Community co-authored with John McKnight, he gently and kindly tickled my toes and warned that I might miss my bus. You see I am a certified leadership and systems coach. Here is what he had to say.

Professionalization is the market replacement for a community that has lost or outsourced its capacity to care…What my uncle once knew is now a secret known only to my therapist. What this produces is a hollow neighborhood that does not value coming together around troubles. Neighbors pay professionals to process their troubles.

He goes on to say that the commodification of care also means care-givers need to continue to see people’s deficiencies to justify their own existence. (And by the way, companies need you to believe you need what they are selling- i.e. you are not enough.)

Holy bed knobs and broomsticks! I am out of bed and shaking in my pajamas.

Never mind that I am all about people’s potential and dignity. Never mind that I bring people together to create community that is conscious and intentional. Peter is right. I need them to need me! I need them to be dysfunctional! Why else would they be calling me (and paying me)?!

I don’t want to go to school!


Wake-up calls, lessons…they are not fun. If I am to get dressed and get going with this new consciousness, I am going to have to make big changes and make some people profoundly uncomfortable.

May I just say, I am not out the door—yet. I am savoring my coffee and looking out the window. I am working my way up to it.

I don’t know what it will look like yet:

  • Start a bartering system to offer my gifts and receive the gifts of those around me?
  • Re-educate my clients to rely on each other?
  • Scale down our lives so we have fewer material needs?
  • Refocus on the love and laughter and real emotion I bring to my life as the currency which enriches me.

Here is what I do know. Pema has it right: “one person and the next, one community coming into consciousness and then the next.”


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Pearl Mattenson is a writer, leadership and systems coach. We met while writing for Danielle LaPorte’s pre-FLAME incarnation, Carrie and Danielle, and have kept in touch following each others’ work, and meeting when our tips of the globe unite. Pearl plugs IN. You can read + learn from her journeys on her blog.

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Wake up with me for the 7-day Wake UP! March 20-27. Join us + watch your life pop open. Cost: Zero dollars and a few dawns.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.


1. One Voice Ain’t Enough

So I figured it out. With the help of Dyana Valentine and Stephanie Murphy, my confideante, the Wake Up Series will continue like this:

Through March 31, Story Charmer will be a platform for community pieces, conversations on waking up. Send me your stories, your moments of awakening, and I’ll post them here. Depending on time and space, I may send the piece back to you with questions to help you elaborate–I’m a Story Charmer after all.

There’ll be one posted per day through March 31. I’ll be writing mine, too. The project MAY continue if story submissions dictate, but for now, we’re looking at the end of March as the end of the Waking Up Series. We’ll all be perky, awake, and a full leap into spring by then.

2. The 7-day Wake UP!

Then! March 20 is the FIRST DAY OF SPRING! The Northern Hemisphere is waking up all over with longer hours of daylight, blossoms busting out of their bulbs, grills emerging for outdoor dinners (albeit in jackets).

For SEVEN days, we’ll get up at 4 a.m., get on a call together, and talk (or sit quietly together) for 15-30 minutes.

Four a.m. is said to be a holy hour for those who meditate. Here, we’ll see the other side of day. Wake up and welcome the divine in us to open. Lean into our animal limbs before dawn, the physical reality of the human body emerging from its nightly cocoon, to explore the possibility of wonder.

So that we can welcome the dawn, chase the edges of sleep in togetherness, curiosity and witness. What is out there? What is inside us in this journey into night to find the dawn? What in our lives do we want to wake to? What waking is there to be done?

Join us –> Hi [at] StoryCharmer [dot] com

3. Your Life Is Ringing. Pick Up.

The origin of this project: I’m sitting on my bed, dead of night, laptop on lap, giggling to myself at the mental image of a character waking up early each morning in an effort to become enlightened. Mid-giggle, I ask, Why not?

The destination may call us, but the journey attends us. It’s the journey we intimately come to know. It’s the practice that brings us the most valued reward, and surprise. Why not wake up to wake up? Why not see what the night, and the dawn in its wake, has for us? In failing, the only thing lost is sleep. And gained? That’s the journey. Adventure, I hear your call.

So I commit to the project. And the minute I do, my life starts popping open all over, so much so, that I can’t keep up with it. Even the method I’d planned for the Waking Up Series–intended to be a sequel, of sorts, to the Memory to Light story circle–woke UP three days before the start. It plugged into community, making VOICE the prong and community the light socket.

My single voice that led the last project said, Congratulations, you’re a deep thinker. What will your deep thoughts awaken plugged in? What voices can yours plug into? What systems will they wake up, in small quivers or tsunamis unleashed, by thinking out loud?

Wake Up to Wake Up – Made to Scale

Get up with me at 4a.m. Get on the call. See what the darkness brings in the hours before light. Listen to what your community is finding, feeling, waking up to in their lives. AND IF YOU DON’T get on the call, ANSWER THE CALL. Wake up anyway. Watch for the FB + Twitter correspondence. Read the stories here. Keep a notebook in your pocket and note the brightness that was missing the day before. Note the revelations and the serendipities. Note the corners of your peripheral vision that widened over night.

Want to wake up with me? Send me a note at Hi [at] Storycharmer [dot] com. I’ll send you details. Call will be at 4 a.m. Pacific, March 20-27. How about that, yous in other time zones can get up a bit later. Or, you can get up at your own 4 a.m. and tell us about how it went, encourage us along in our West Coast hour.

Ready for wide open wonder? Turbo-oh-my-stars awakening?

The dawn. Is ON.

Join me –> Hi [at] StoryCharmer [dot] com

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.


What’s scary about conversations? What razor teeth are threatening enough to chase confrontation into the dark?

Are we worried about being revealed? Worried about being wrong? Afraid that if we ARE in fact wrong, there’s no way to right ourselves to a new view? And what exactly IS confrontation? Have you heard these words cross your mind or lips?

Is something I’m saying confronting you?
Are you shutting me down because what I’m thinking out loud is making you see and feel things you don’t want to see and feel?
Am I the bad guy for saying what I see? Versus, say, recognizing the perpetrator as the bad guy?

What threatens so deeply about talking something out, without sleights of hand that detract from the point.

Hello, passion plugged in. Welcome to Waking Up.

Turned up. Shut down.

In the wake of March 1st’s post on the potential of racial bias in U.S. Congress and the country, I noticed conversation would spark, and then talk would be quickly shut down. Shut down by others as if the talker were naive for bringing it up.

Conversation over. Crickets. Setting sun. Go about your business, there’s nothing to see here.

This in turn shut me down. A week went by. I got wrapped around an obstacle.

Do people want to hear this—“this” being curiosity about the topics that keep us sleeping?
Do I have authority to talk about it?
Am I naive for bringing it up?

Don’t hold your peace. Live it.

I can thank Rush Limbaugh’s current breach of decency for showing me the way. Rush attempted to shut down critical conversation by shaming a woman for talking.

Aren’t shame and fear and control the reasons most conversations get censored and self-edited? Fear of being misheard. Fear of not being accepted. Shame for one’s belief’s in contrast to a louder voice’s beliefs. Fear of repercussion. Control of the  relationship, lest it…evolve into something different?

Speak now.

Talking is powerful action. Listening is a seat of power, and a gift of creation, collaboration. Listening is growth for both the talker and the listener.

If you cannot say a thing, think it. Write it down in private. Yell it into the woods. Let your beliefs live somewhere. Like us, they have a habit of growing, and bursting out of seams that would hem them in.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.


The Waking Up Series

March 1, 2012


I lean against the headboard, laptop and late night my company, lights dim. I’m traversing mental whimsies, and snicker when I imagine a character thinking he can achieve enlightenment simply by waking up early in the mornings, as a practice. “Waking up to embody Waking Up,” I think. “That’s cute.”

I’m still snickering, when I hear in my head, “Well…why not?” Why not practice something physical to find something spiritual, or cerebral, or emotional…some parallel experience by which we can compare another experience for better understanding how to maybe bring it about.


My new blog project is conceived, just like that in the late night and solitude. A 30-Day project about waking up, stories and experiences and guest posts. “My, the topic is so broad, anyone can relate,” I think. I start reaching out to people to open the conversation, asking them to be a part of my experience. I jot down memories and story ideas that illustrate examples of waking up. …But along the way, I start thinking, “My, the topic is so broad, I wonder how anyone will relate. I guess I’ll write stories about my experience, invite others to do the same, and people can follow along if it speaks to them.” I make a contributor calendar and set a start date.

A Swerve the Size of A Continent

I hear a fantastic radio story on “This American Life.” It’s about a guy, a normal dude, who looks so much like this other guy who’s running for president, that he shaves his beard, buys a suit jacket and starts showing up places to feel the rush of the Obama-for-President experience. It’s a story about the way up, the way down, it’s a story about the way people look at you, and about racism, and about hatred by proxy. It’s human and heartfelt, and more shocking by the minute. By the time it’s over, my blood boils, my skin sparks, and I can’t stop wishing, once again, that I could find a conversation-in-progress about racism, buried deep in the recesses of the ways we think and feel and fear, specifically racism quiet or loud in the American electorate, in Congress, staunching the yeses and swaying the no’s, on the House floor, in living rooms, and in the darkness of the never-said but leaking out to the surface in action, inaction, refusal to be led by a Black man.

I’m still boiling when I fire up email and reply to a Waking Up contributor asking for clarification. I let it rip. I don’t know her politics, but off I go, spewing like a geyser, connecting an example of waking up to what I just heard, to allowing different conversations into one’s life, to examine how he or she feels and thinks, and to question if it is fairly serving self and community. I hit send.

I don’t hear from her for a week, till I email her again and apologize for my outburst, and for connecting it to the project between us when I don’t know what she feels, where she stands. Politics, everyone knows, is not for polite company. And heck, I’m the one asking for her contribution here. I’m a jerk. I welcome her to vent anger in reply. I ask for forgiveness. I hit send.


What I get back blows me and my little Waking Up project into the stratosphere. She takes time to tell me her experience, her observations, her profound and profoundly calm assessment of the same things I have been spewing about, whether certain No’s would be simple Yeses if the man were not Black, if certain classes of poor would vote against their economic interests if they were being led by a fair skinned leader.

I finish reading the email and my idea to write introspective stories about personal consciousness, on the path to individual waking, seem tiny in comparison. Then my bell gets rung even louder. I sense, through the clanging of it: this project is not about my personal awakening alone, or others’. It’s about where we wake up and plug it into community. It’s about lighting up our cultural realities with personal possibilities turned outward. It’s about plugging in and flicking awake, like a string of lights down the line, one person and the next, one community coming into consciousness and then the next.

My idea is not new. Religions have been proselytizing for centuries. But it’s not evangelism that powers my exploration. It’s the curiosity of what will happen when we take our own personal revolutions and plug them into the cultural status quo. What then? Even if cultural status quo refers to your personal environment, your family culture, your work place. What happens if you take what’s been waking you, and slip it into a community’s dark edges?

Crack! The lightning of cold meets warm. Current races across the sky. And thunderous conversation roils, about seasons, elements, change.

Building It

That’s the result. That is what we’ll get to. Before then, there are inner miles to explore. I meant to start a 30-Day project today, wherein I wake up at 4am to embody waking up and write about it, toy with metaphors of the physical feeling, see if I can speak the language of wake-up in this way. I will get to that, and will ask for a cohort to wake up with me for that time.

There is road to cover first, however. It’s a road I’m not exactly sure about, but the beginning of which I can see. So today, I step into it. I invite you to walk with me. I’ll post on waking up throughout the month. I’ll publish guest posts. We’ll get out conversations that live in the dark. We’ll retell stories of how the light got in. We’ll follow the yellow brick road. It’s all WONDER after all. And begins today.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.