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Filtering by Tag: circle of kindreds

the kind light of creative community {a guest post}

liz lamoreux

Today, I'm sharing another guest post from my blog series "A Circle of Kindreds." This series includes stories from a few people I consider my kindreds who are shining a light on the true stories and sharing adventures from their own creative self-care practices.

Today's post is from my dear friend Jenna McGuiggan who is one of my favorite storytellers, and someone I can talk to about anything because she's also a very good storycatcher.

Sometimes phone conversations take the form of magical excursions into truth and possibility. One such conversation happened a few years ago between Jenna and me. She shared an idea, and through our conversation, the idea took form as it stretched until it had wings. She put the idea out to others and they answered her call. Over a few short weeks, her idea was loved into reality into a beautiful little book full of wisdom and truth called Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories.

I am honored to have contributed an essay and a couple of photos and to be in the company of six amazing women in this book. It is one of my favorite things to share with others, and today, Jenna is sharing a story from Lanterns and a bit more about it.


Several years ago, I was inspired to celebrate women in creative community. The result was Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories, a collection of prose, poetry, and photography by seven women writers and artists. Every time I hold this beautiful book in my hands I’m grateful for the power and grace of creative collaboration. Today I’m sharing the essay that closes the book (plus a special kindred spirit holiday sale). You can read the essay below or listen to an audio recording of me reading it (just click on "Lanterns" at the end of this post to hear the audio).

I can chart my life's course by constellations of friendships. The stories of friends past and present shine like stars in the night sky. Some have faded like a bittersweet distant star; others have exploded like a blazing supernova; some burn steady and bright. Every star with her own name, her own story.

She is the girl who made ice cream floats with cheap vanilla ice cream and generic grape soda during weekend sleepovers. Together we belted out Whitney Huston songs and played mad scientist with a chemistry set. We took long walks in the humid summers, our young hearts longing for something beyond the acrid smell of hot, sticky blacktop in our small hometown.

She is the roommate, the hallmate, the classmate in college. She taught me to love the precise smell of lavender and folk music; before her, I was all baby sweet and pop culture.

She showed me that a kindred spirit with a goofy sense of humor can lurk beneath a picture perfect exterior.

She taught me that shared friendship will outlast shared crushes almost any day.

She introduced me to the pleasures of cheap Australian white wine and American sitcoms on foreign telly. She took me home for Christmas when I was thousands of miles from my home. 

She sees straight through me to the other side, between where I am and where I could be. She calls, she texts, she chats, she emails. She comes for a visit. She invites me into her home. She writes me poems, shares her story, folds me into her journey. She is laughter in the dark, sobbing in the light.

She is a creative companion, my very own personal cheerleader. She holds my hand, hugs me, calls me on the carpet, tells it like it is. She inspires me to try crazy things and to encourage her to do the same. When I'm sad, she listens deeply and with love. When I run out of creative juice she inspires me, reassures me, kicks me back into gear. When I rejoice, she celebrates with me.

These are my lanterns, my friends. When I stumble and feel lost, they hold up their lights and say, “Look: You know the way. I'll come with you.” They are, as Lisa [Ottman] has called her essay, “lights unto my path.” By their examples, by their words, by their laughter, they have lighted my way and lightened my load. They have been, to borrow a phrase that contributor Rachelle [Mee-Chapman] often uses, my “withmates” on this journey of living the creative, authentic life.

You are here with us. As Jena [Strong] wrote in her essay, we are all “alone, together.” There are many women along these paths, each of us finding one another in the beautiful twilight, in the deep dark: gathering together, pooling the light from our lanterns until the darkness itself is invisible and everything glows.

* * *

This holiday season, I’m offering a kindred spirit special on Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories: Buy one book and receive a second at half price. That’s two copies (one for you and one to give as a gift) for $27 (normally $18 each).

Jenna McGuiggan is a writer, editor, and teacher.

Visit her in The Word Cellar, where she writes about everything from living the writing life to playing roller derby.

(Photo credits: Photo of Jenna by Vivienne McMaster; Lanterns front cover photo credit: Darlene J Kreutzer; design by Tilky Fernandez


circle of kindreds (a guest post with jen louden)

liz lamoreux

I'm away hosting one of my retreats and thrilled to share another Circle of Kindreds post with you this week. 

Today, I'm so delighted to share some wisdom from Jen Louden. I love the way Jen moves through the world with her honesty and open heart and laughter. So grateful to know her and to share her words with you today.

And, I can't wait for her free The Shero's School for Revolutionaries that begins September 23. I hope you come along because it is going to be so good.


Last week I tracked Diana Nyad as she swam the last two miles of her record breaking odyssey from Cuba to Key West, Florida.

I couldn’t tear myself away. As someone who doesn’t usually care a fig about sports, I watched myself with curiosity as I sobbed and clicked from CNN.com (horrendous coverage) to Breaking News (equally horrendous) to a rousing conversation on Twitter.

Why did I care so much?

Because it is never too late.

Diana wanted. She burned with a desire for 35 years - or longer, how do I know? There is something fundamental to all dreams and that is declaring, “I want that.”

When I groan, "It's too late," what I really mean is I am unwilling to proclaim, “I want this.”

When I moan, “I’m too old, it’s too hard, I don’t know how, someone else has already done it better” but what I'm actually saying is “I’m not willing to ache.”

When I get sleepy and leave crucial details to chance near the end of project (like this one), I’m actually saying “I’m too scared to bet it all.”

It’s never too late doesn’t mean one form of a dream doesn't end – Diane Nyad knew this was her last attempt at swimming the 105 mile mile stretch of treacherous open ocean – and if she hadn’t made it, the essence of her desire would have continued to reveal itself to her in new forms. Yes, you must grieve all the dream avenues that fail, become dead-ends, you must face those griefs and mourn, and doing that is very different than donning a stained T-shirt inscribed with “Too late.” The essence of every dream continues to reveal itself, to be the grit in the pearl of your becoming, if you allow it. You must not let the husk of failed dreams bury what still urgently calls you.

It’s never too late to take the essence of what you care about and build it, savor it, offer it to the aching world. It’s never too late to become the fullness of yourself, not because that fullness is a better you, but because something pulls at you and that something is your own pounding heart, singing “Experience me even more!”

And too late by whose clock?

Before clocks, there was only cow time as in, “I’ll meet you when the cows come home.” Before that, dream time where the world was sang into being. You are here to live out your personal myth, to become the shero of your own story. Too late doesn’t exist in mythological time, in the land of soul making.

What time is it in your heart? What calls you? Why not sit with those questions instead?  


Jen Louden is a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She's the author of 5 additional books on well-being and whole living, including The Life Organizer, that have inspired more than a million women in 9 languages. Jen has spoken around the world on self-care, written a national magazine column, and even sat on Oprah's couch talking about the power of retreats.  She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all. 

Visit JenniferLouden.com for fab free goodies and an upcoming retreat schedule.

circle of kindreds (a guest post with shawn fink)

liz lamoreux

So excited to share the next Circle of Kindreds guest post.  I love what Shawn Fink is up to in her corner of the world and am delighted to be a contributor to her Abundant Mama ecourse. Read on...

Recently, I asked my readers -- all mothers -- to share with me who they are in the margins of motherhood.

The responses blew me away. They wrote things like: 

  • I'm a cook, sometimes a caterer, sometimes a borderline chef.
  • I'm an "I'd rather make it than buy it" rebel inspired by Pinterest.
  • I'm a color selection specialist for friends who are afraid to paint anything other than beige/ taupe/ creme.
  • I'm a counselor for friends when it feels like something is about to break. I'm an instigator."
  • I am a writer.  
  • I am a huge animal lover.
  • I am a former zookeeper.  And now I'm an aspiring vegan.  
  • I am a daydreamer and a dabbler - cooking and photography and even painting are fun to play around with.
  • I am also a musician.  I play flute but haven't in months because my toddler isn't a huge fan of it!  
  • I'm an appreciator of simple things.  I'm a woman who's pretty happy being my nerdy introvert self.

But, there were others who didn't respond with such enthusiasm.

Instead, they responded with statements like these:

I don't know who I am.

I've lost myself.

I am not sure about anything about myself anymore.

I don't have time to focus on myself or my dreams.

And, here's what I told them in response.

You haven't lost yourself.

You've just lost the ability to focus on yourself 100 percent like you used to be able to do before other things -- children, jobs, life -- became so demanding.

You've just grown up. You're not that little girl sitting on the wall dangling her feet daydreaming the day away anymore.

You're spinning. You're faced with worries. You're full of fear. You're caring about everyone else but yourself. In fact, at the end of the day, you can't think of more than one thing you did just for yourself.

If we're not careful, we'll lose our sparkle during all that care taking and worrying and fearing of making mistakes.

And, when we live in that "less than" state of mind, we're not happy, which means we're not at peace. And when we aren't feeling at peace with ourselves or our life, there's a very good chance our children aren't feeling at peace either.

I don't want that to happen to you.

The only way to get back to yourself -- or to find the new you -- is to start where you are right now.

That might be doing the dishes. Or scanning Facebook, again.

You might not have time for anything extra in the margins of motherhood just yet.

And that's OK.

But, if you really want that sparkle back, you have to work for it. You have to find the time. You have to carve out the space. You have to make YOU a top priority.

Time has to become your friend not your enemy. Use every single precious moment to your advantage to create a feeling of peace and being enough.

That's when you'll start to see the abundance in your life.

For now, though, please know that the real YOU is still inside that body that feels so overwhelmed with parenting and working and housekeeping.

Your dreams are alive and shining inside of you.

And your time will come, and it will probably be very soon.


Shawn Fink is the author of The Playful Family and the Thinking Mama behind Awesomely Awake, a blog encouraging families to find their happy place. She is a peace and kindness spreader and offers various e-courses, including The Abundant Mama Project that guides mamas in creating their own daily gratitude practice.  You can follow Shawn on her Blog or find her on PinterestFacebook and Twitter


The Abundant Mama Project is a 5-week e-course experience that guides you through a self-discovery journey to figure out who you are now that you are a mother and what really is the most important things in your life. For five weeks, we take self-care time to do journaling prompts, real-life gratitude challenges and connect with a wonderful, supportive tribe of like-minded Mamas around the world who share the same stories of struggle, transformation and triumph. And now, you can also join the Abundant Mama Peace Circle, which extends the course in a weekly e-mail for the rest of 2013. 

Quick note from Liz: I'm an affiliate for Shawn's Abundant Mama ecourse and Peace Circle because I really think they are going to be fantastic and a beautiful opportunity to connect with other mamas. 

believe in your own magic {a guest post}

liz lamoreux

Today, I'm kicking off a new series of guest posts that I'm calling "A Circle of Kindreds." These will be stories from a few people I consider my kindreds who are shining a light on the true stories and sharing adventures from their own creative self-care practices.

The first post is from the amazing, thoughtful, and luminous Alana Sheeren.



Is there magic inside of me mama?

Yes sweetheart.

When will it come out?

It already does.

This conversation took place in the car with my five-year-old daughter. Though I guessed she meant the abracadabra kind, I answered truthfully from my point of view. She is magical. We all are.  Our bodies are magical. Our hearts, minds, and spirits. 

Pure magic.   

Most of us have forgotten though. 

What would your life look like if you felt magical? What would the world look like if we all knew ourselves to be walking miracles, powerful creator beings in human form? 

I’m not talking about positive thinking, Law of Attraction abiding citizens. I’m talking divinely inspired beings of love and light, living beautifully and imperfectly on purpose. By which I mean that we all hold the seeds of greatness inside of us – whether that shows up by you being a loving partner and parent, a compassionate human being at work and dedicated volunteer on weekends, or as someone who is a force for good on the world stage. It doesn’t matter. There are no visions too big or too small. 

I am magic. So are you.

It’s hard to remember when we’re caught up in the daily to-do-ness of life. This is a problem. At least it is for me. When I stop long enough to witness the magic around me, to see my stillborn son in the twinkle of a star, my husband’s love in the clean dishes drying beside the sink and (my version of) God in the perfect feather at my feet, I breathe more deeply. I stop trying to control everything and stand squarely in my trust that life is good even when it feels bumpy. 

And if I am magic, then I am worth loving, and listening to, and knowing well, whether anyone else believes that or not. 

When I think of myself (and everyone else) as a miracle, I no longer need to compare my accomplishments with yours, or hers (that happy, successful woman over there who looks like she walked out of a magazine with her 3 kids). I can believe that my value is intrinsic and isn’t diminished by anyone else shining brightly. 

I invite you to join me in this practice of remembering. When the road ahead seems dark and life is full of challenges, when you’re not feeling as happy and shiny as your Facebook friends, when you’re wondering how long it will be before you lose the weight/fall in love/make six figures, try these words on and see what happens:

I am magic. I am a miracle. I am love.

It might make you weep. It could make you rage. But if you open to the possibility that it just might be true, it could also change your life.

Deep breath. Say it with me.

I am magic. I am a miracle. I am love. 

(If those words don’t work for you, find some that do. Because having a mantra that connects you to your inner brilliance is…well…magic.)


Alana Sheeren writes and teaches about grief, transformation, love and luminosity. Through her e-course, Shine she encourages everyone to listen to their inner wisdom, claim their truth and shine their unique light into the world. She loves deep conversations, joyful connections, spending time by the ocean and everyday magic. 

You can find out more about her at her website, and sign up for the next round of Shine here

A PS from Liz: I was lucky enough to take part in Shine this spring. Alana's real-life stories + beautiful, accessible practices were a powerful combination that helped me create space to really notice what I needed, how I was moving through my day, and invited me to give myself the gift of slowing down to just listen to my heart. As a teacher, I don't always remember to give myself this gift I so often try to teach. Alana helped me to feel safe as a student so I could.