Big Magic – In a Light Package

The first time I picked up this book, I’ll admit I scanned it, and then put it back. I had it out from the library, and when there was someone next in line, I let it go back.

It seemed light, and I have read so much on creativity I thought it wasn’t very relevant.


Then I listened to Brene Brown (Rising Strong) talk on Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, and their synergy was so great. I immediately got Rising Strong to read, and also recommitted to trying Big Magic.

And they made great companion reads. While Rising Strong gets into the nitty-gritty of recreating your patterns of failure, Big Magic talks philosophy about creativity. And while it IS a light read, it tends to very lightly draw out some of the darkest myths of creative work.

And then illuminates them with more balanced, truthful ways to think.

This book is one that’s going on my very short list of books to actively push on people. (Like Rising Strong!) Because it’s light enough to breeze through–while also collecting so much of what we need to hear about retraining our beliefs on creativity.

How did I not realize this book was my jam?


I will be giving away an e-book of either Big Magic or Rising Strong to one of the attendees of my webinar on Thursday!

Unlock Your Agency: Three Tools to Become the Hero of Your Life

September 30th, Friday, 7pm Central on ZOOM

Alien Body Syndrome

I’ve been pondering the ways our bodies become foreign territory lately.

Several things inspired it–this :fire: interview on MarieTV, my belly dance class, and also interviews with martial artists for a book I’m planning.

And yesterday as I was walking I realized that the small of my back is always tight because I’m trying not to let my body sway too much. Walk straight, tight, compact.

I recently watched what was essentially an academic lecture on gender portrayals in advertising, “The Codes of Gender”. It talked mainly about femininity–how it’s portrayed as vulnerable, unconnected with surroundings or even objects the model touches. But the masculinity is hyperreal, too–even if the men are skinny they seem to have a certain strength or confidence that lines up with an ideal.

Both sides of this may not be the way the models actually feel, but it’s in the way they are presented by pose.

While I am intimately familiar with way women feel about their bodies, there was a theme in my interviews with the male martial artists–when they started they were unconnected to their bodies, because they were “not athletic” or “skinny”.

Women’s bodies are treated as objects. Men’s bodies are supposed to possess certain sizes and skills.

Most of us, I think, disassociate in one way or another, to not feel shame or inadequacy.

So we have these alien bodies that send up flares through pain or hunger or anxiety, trying to regain connection.

Like Glennon Doyle Melton talks about in that interview, yoga (and martial arts and belly dance) can be the way we reconnect with our bodies. More importantly, you have to take the step of being willing to listen not just to the flares, but the reason you disconnected in the first place.

It’s work I’m still doing. But Rising Strong is one resource I can recommend for exploring that, as is any of Brene Brown’s work.

And if you want a comrade on that journey, I’m here.

~ Bethany, Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Coach


My upcoming webinar Unlock Your Agency (Sep 30th, 7pm Central) will cover some easy tools to start on reclaiming your life, including your body. I’ll also have a special enrollment price for new clients!

Are you ready to reclaim your body as your territory?

Book Review: Rising Strong

Sometimes you don’t open a book for a reason.

I had asked my mom which Brene Brown books she had when I finished listening to her episode on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons* podcast, a brilliant conversation about fear and creating..

*I also got Gilbert’s Big Magic out–look forward to a post on it as well!

This book sat on the top of a sizeable pile of To-Read books for while–and then I had a couple of failures in very different arenas of life, and it was waiting for me.

I read it through as if it were a particularly addictive novel. But it’s not a fluff read. It’s funny, wise, and occasionally heartbreaking. And it digs into the reasons we weaponize our words in situations–and how to instead explore what the pain is that makes us retreat into our tanks.

It’s not a comforting “you’re fine, just be true to yourself” read. It’s instead a concrete guidebook for those who want to do the work of confronting their emotional baggage, shame, and own that vulnerability.

It’s the kind of book that could change the world. At the very least, it will change the world around those who read it and take it to heart.

I’ve been doing the work of coaching in my own life for some time now. Up to now I’ve been learning to release emotions and improve my baseline. A mainly self-centered process that’s important. Rising Strong outlined how to expand this into relationships with others–when you have a conflict, and are face-down with hurt.

How to learn from those moments to later keep your feet under you and recognize, “Oh, my sense of inadequacy is being triggered by this, but I don’t think that’s the intention. How do we handle this together?”

And in a way it is a comfort to read. It says, “Oh, yes, you will fail yourself and the people you love. But here is how to learn from that.”

That sounds less like wishful thinking and a lot like the life I can live. It’s actually really exciting.


I’m also really excited to share this with my coaching clients! The more we understand emotional hindrances to moving forward, the more I can help them be the heroes of their own stories.

Mark your calendars for my next webinar, Unlock Your Agency on Sept 30th, 7pm Central!

Link is to the Facebook event where updates and reminders will be posted. Join there and you can even catch a replay if you miss the actual webinar.

Fear-Busters – My Coaching Team

It’s glamorous to talk about realizations and revelations in a sort of social vacuum, barring books as a sort of neutral companion to intellectual ascent.


When I told my story the other day of coming to a crackling realization of what I was doing wrong, I didn’t misrepresent it. That realization happened while I was reading, and alone.

The rest of the story, though, is that I have been weaving a net of friends and coaches that are present even just in my process when I’m by myself.

I had just a few days before gone to a friend also studying coaching to talk about a relationship failure, and that reflected on how I was able to go into reading Rising Strong with openness to having been in the wrong.

When I realized I had chosen my goal poorly, one of the first people I wrote to about the watershed was my life coach, who I knew would be excited about my paradigm shift.

And even if I’m not actively interacting with them, I know I have people to reach out to, people who know what I’m trying to do in life and are on board.

A dream team.

It’s important to build yourself a community like this. Not by cutting off relationships with people who don’t serve that purpose, but instead by being intentional with those people who DO support and understand you.

Who’s on your dream team?

(I think I should be, but I’m biased!)

Dead Air – the dangers of reprogramming your thought-life

It’s pretty risky to start changing your ideas of your self-worth, and emotional baseline. It means having to relearn skills, like basic conversation. Recently, I’ve been having moments of awkwardness in conversations unusual to me.

Not that awkwardness is unusual to me. But I’ve grown in confidence and comfort in my own skin, lately, so I’ve been feeling less consistently awkward. And that’s made it more obvious.

There was something about where this short-out was landing in the conversation. Weirder still, it didn’t feel embarrassing, just …silent.

And then embarrassing because I fumble the recovery, but laugh it off.

What is going on? I wonder, as I stare into the eyes of friend, trying to figure out where I lost the thread of how to converse.

I had an epiphany this week. I was sitting, talking a workshop idea in a pleasantly low-clatter cafe, having a gorgeous spiced cold-brew and being pleasantly blinded by reflected sunset. It was a great conversation with rapport and world-domination dripping from every word. Something was said, I smiled, and…dead air.

“This is where I am silently shy,” I joked. I tend to wear out quick when having intense conversation, but this wasn’t that.

And later, it hit me: my friend had said something nice. No, wait, this was a pattern!

Person says something nice, and I…

Don’t deprecate it. :instant brainshort:

THIS IS HUGE, FOLKS, I thought to myself.  Because I’ve been journaling and studying emotional health, trying to change my patterns just like this.

A friend once told me off for always putting myself down (startling me to no end). The last several years I’ve been hard at work to find those kernels of thought that made me feel the need to tear myself down, to reject compliments.

For one thing, it’s rude. People giving compliments may or may not be sincere, but it’s strikingly antisocial to contradict them.

So, I smile, and…now what?

I mean, skewering myself with a humorous self-knowledge, that’s an asset to any writer. Not going away.

But when you get rid of the reflex to laugh someone off, to tell them, “Oh no, I’m actually terrible”, what then?


“Thank you.” “I appreciate you saying that.”

Time to continue improving my social skills, I guess. (<– that? That is honest skewering. Not self-flagellation.)

Now I know what’s going on, though, I know I can work it out. (<–and that is honest confidence.)


Do you find yourself contradicting people who say nice things about you?

Have you had to reprogram your thoughts to be more confidence? Tell me all about it! Here in the comments, or on Unlock Coaching’s FB page

~ Bethany, Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Coach


Interested in reprogramming yourself for more creativity and less self-sabotaging trash talk?

The MoJo workshop, launching in July, will guide you through a month of meaty journaling. Get Back Your MoJo

Better yet, sign up for my newsletter AND get a steep discount on MoJo: Unlock My Best

Eavesdropping – On Your Own Mind

Lately I’ve been joining my mom on her walks in the morning. It’s a great opportunity to share what we’re thinking about while in motion and therefore not neglecting some other task!

Sometimes, though, she gets important calls from friends while we’re out walking. I try to get ahead to let her have privacy, but I can’t help listening in a little.

I grew up eavesdropping on my mom’s phone calls. The 90s were a great time for phones, in my memory, and rather than women talking around a kitchen table, most important conversations happened via landline.

I found these a source of great information and interesting ideas–though I had to infer the other side of the conversation.

One of the greatest things was hearing what my mom thought of me and my siblings, things she might not say directly to us. She’s always been fascinated by personality (I come by that one honestly), so I sometimes got to hear breakdowns of our behavior from an external perspective.

I’m sure she knew at least one of us had big ears, and didn’t often express her frustrations. (She recently told me it was a nightmare trying to get me enough reading material–something that doesn’t surprise me, but was successfully hidden from young Bethany!)

Sometimes you need to get things outside of your own head, for perspective on yourself. That can involve talking to someone and saying your thoughts out loud, like my Mom hearing me out on our walks. (We talk directly now about how awesome, or frustrating, I am!)

Or it can mean writing it out. Journaling is a perfect way to make your thoughts become real outside yourself. You can look at them more directly that way.

And it’s more reliable than what you’re willing to say others.

(Thanks for not telling your friends I was a chocolate thief, Mom!)

Have you ever discovered something by journaling? Tell me about it in the comments here or on my Unlock page!

Interested in journaling your way to greatness? Not sure where to start?

Check out Get Back Your MOJO, my new online workshop coming up in July!



Being Fat(ish) as a Health Coach

note: this blog includes references to myself as fat. It also includes references to the fact that this is not healthy for me. I’m not standing in judgement of myself or anyone else. But if this isn’t a conversation that is healthy for you to engage in, feel free to skip reading this one!

Don’t tell MY coach this, but I’m the fattest I’ve ever been.

Still cute! But a bit round…

I think. I mean, I’m not sure if I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been (scales are one-dimensional and therefore liars, so I don’t look often) but I’m definitely the paunchiest.

It’s been…interesting, to be working on getting my coaching practice going with this fairly visible flaw in my own health.

The year-and-one-quarter since I started studying to be a health coach has been full of dealing with inner garbage. I would have thought that by now the actual physical inner garbage would have moved out–but it’s more the metaphysical garbage that I’ve been focused on.

Which has led me to an interesting place. Because I’m overall more confident in myself, more self-assured.

“Self-assured” is one of those new-fangled words that sounds a bit pampered. “Great job having endless hubris! So glad this world’s critique (however well deserved) hasn’t got you down.”

That’s a lie. For most of us, building our self-confidence and assurance is dirty, down-low work that involves digging into the corners of our minds where our ugliest memories are. Things that not only tore us down then, but have been steadily smothering our happiness and ability to express ourselves ever since.

Things like the idea that because I’m bigger than the other kids, I’m not worthy of attention or friendship.


In a way, it’s actually perfect. Right now when I walk down the street with that little bit of a strut from knowing my purpose in life, and having shed the self-impressions that backed me into a corner–people react to me differently.

More positively.

Maybe I NEEDED to experience this while at my least-svelte, to underscore that change in belief. Obviously, I still have self-doubts or I wouldn’t even be talking about the fact that I’m a fat health coach. But at the same time–I can be hot even when I’m not skinny?



How Journalling Saved My Life

OK, “saved my life” sounds a little dramatic. And when I say that I don’t mean that I was dangling by my fingertips from a cliff, and Journalling Personified scooped me up in their strong, muscled arms.

In this case, “my life” is the life that I want to live. Where I am focused and happy enough to write, increasing my skill level. Where I am secure enough to make new friends, try new things, see new places.

To live as Bethany, not some ghostly shell of her personality.

Journalling, in the method of the Artist’s Way, brought me back to life.

I guess it’s dramatic even when stated more accurately.

Part of why I’m passionate about coaching is that it does what The Artist’s Way course does, with a partner-in-crime who helps you accelerate the process. Asking questions that make you really look at the emotional underpinnings of your failures or blocks. Making you spell it out for yourself.

“I believe I cannot succeed because…”

The good news: once you write or speak the stupid things you believe, because some misinformed or careless person gave you that program to run, you can rewrite that code.

Here’s a great first question to start off with:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you to fixing the problem?”

What problem? Oh, I think you’ll know if you start journalling about it.

Sabbaticals Sound So Radical

I took a break.

What’s funny is it was HARD.

To try and take a break for a month. And I ended up crowding the beginning of my break with “life” being crazy, so though I knew I needed a full month off I started back to work while having only really had a couple of scattered weeks off.

And it didn’t really work.

I started to feel the energy to start again about a week later than I’d let myself wait (the time I KNEW I should get back officially to work, when I made my plans).

But, but, but!

I am not DOING anything.

Things I ended up doing on my break:

  • Hosting 3 different sets of houseguests
  • finishing Christmas gifts
  • Helping plan a house remodel
  • Keeping an eye on remodelling people
  • Reading books I’ve been meaning to read (including assigned book club books)
  • finishing setting a new yarn
  • frogging a project and then reknitting the yarn into something I actually liked
  • cleaning out my clutter

All these good things. And probably mainly made possible (without insanity) by my “break”.

Who knew vacations were a skill to develop? I am going to know better for next year.

Or maybe for this summer. I sucked at this break so much I may have to do another one before I forget the lessons I needed to learn.



NoMoReMo – the recovery program your write-brain has been waiting for!

I am launching my very first coaching program for creatives! It starts Dec. 1. You guessed it–Post-Nano Day 1.

I’m calling it NoMoReMo: Novel Month Recovery Mode. Here’s a bit about why this matters to me:

Even if you’re not doing a NaNoWriMo project, this program will be a great holiday stress inoculation. 21 days of restorative food, rest, and fun are targeted toward the worn out writer, artist, introvert. To rebuild the reserves of your humanity.

You know what I’m talking about.

You’ll end up with more energy, focus, and even socializing power (should you choose to use it).

The content: a series of exclusive e-mails, videos, and recipes, with weekly group video calls. Plus, a mini aromatherapy kit!

The bonus round: one half-hour brainstorming session on your novel during December, one 50 minute complimentary health coaching session during January or February.

The cost: $50

The deal, a: $40 if signed up by Nov. 21st!

The deal, b: $40 if you bring a friend!

Join my free coaching newsletter list now to get a pre-series of e-mails during the last three days of NaNo. I will be cheering you on and giving you tips for focus and productivity! Use the code “NaNo” in the “free first session” box.

Get in!

If you are ready to buy the 21 Days NoMoReMo program, do the same, but use the code “NoMo” in that box.

My qualifications: I am a three-time NaNo winner, published poet, and am certified as a health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

I also love Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I used it along with wholistic remedies to navigate my recovery from blocked and depressed to writing and coaching.

Questions? Shoot me an e-mail at bethany (at) or write to me on the Unlock Facebook.