Conventional wisdom says we should always expect to be challenged. Many of us know from inexhaustible experience that it is not an easy task to identify hidden fears, embrace the process of change, sacrifice stability for freedom or explore territory forgotten or undiscovered. Self-doubt and fear can stand in the way of the progress we need to make, even when our path is clear in all other respects. Likewise, we know that it is much easier to overcome a physical barrier than a psychological one. But an emotional breakthrough is a wonderful thing to make. International workshop leader and life coach Marita Golden is helping people turn their fear into fulfillment and their challenges into a chance for personal growth.
In March 2016, Marita gathered together a generous group of individuals from near and far, who wanted to expand their writing strategies, explore writing as a curative process, and learn how to use writing as an expression of reflection, gratitude, truth, love and light. Among the participants were published authors, novice writers, professors, publishers, columnists, stay-at-home mothers, speakers, teachers, and more, of all ethnicity, gender and creed assembled for one common objective – to grow. The workshop began with a meditative exercise of deep-breathing and extending the muscles for relaxation and creativity to commence. The air was clear, both inside and out. It was a good day to explore goals, achieve clarity and fully examine the objective of life writing.
During the first exercise we were asked to write a story then partner with another individual who would not only critique our story, but mirror it with theirs as well. It was a powerful assignment in transparency, listening, sensitivity and support. It takes a strong dose of bravado to overcome fear and be transparent, both in writing and in life. Yet, each participant around the room was present – and prepared – to share his or her personal story and assume responsibility to reach and write from places and spaces which may have felt uncomfortable, barred or broken.
As a life coach, one way in which Marita helps individuals expand their personal growth is through her latest platform “A Day of Life Writing” workshop, a forum where she uses life writing exercises, storytelling and visioning exercises to stimulate the individual’s ideas and strategies for the ultimate level of change and growth. Her customized life writing program creates an action plan to aid the participant in moving beyond obstacles where they feel stuck to creating a blueprint for the year they want and the best life possible. But in order for one to achieve the best life possible, Marita believes that gratitude is the first law of success in any vocation.
“I believe that gratitude is the first law of success, first, because it works like a key that opens the lock on our heart and imagination. We move from a focus on what we want, need, think we must have, to being actually present to, seeing, feeling, believing in what we already have. And most times we “have” much more than we think we do. Gratitude supersizes, magnifies our awareness of the essential beauty of the “ordinary” as well as the extraordinary – the love of family or the good feeling a piece of music inspired. We get to really see people, experiences, possessions, that we have grown inured to, that we take for granted. Gratitude secondly, allows us to experience a sense of calm, a sense of peace and fulfillment, even for just a moment, that can become a space free of anxiety, self-doubt and fear. And it is in that place, that fertile soil, open, free, almost virginal, that our desires can actually take root. I am most grateful for this last aspect of gratitude, that it infuses me with real “presence” and puts me in the eternal moment where I don’t want anything, where I can just be.”
As a group, we encircled each other in an intimate setting and gratefully shared our life stories, writing challenges, personal victories, professional accomplishments, publications and further endorsed collaborative efforts. We now understood how to find the courage and the time to tell those stories in an effort to create more opportunities for our families, our cultures and our communities. We appreciated that through the process of life writing we could not only fulfill and heal our lives, but also aid our nation as a whole.
As a life coach, multi award-winning author of more than a dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, master teacher of writing, literary institution builder, lecturer, national speaker, workshop presenter, mentor and friend, Marita appreciates our courage too. Her ability to induce change and connect writers to the heart and soul of their craft is an ever-present extension of her gift.
When asked why storytelling is a valuable component to creating a whole and satisfactory life, she replied, “Our lives in a very real sense or composed entirely of stories, from birth to death we are thinking stories nearly every second we are awake and even when we dream. Storytelling as a tool specifically tasked with helping us to strategize our goals, design our dreams, and confront trauma – takes us outside ourselves and deeper inside ourselves – at the same time. We can objectify and visualize and create desires through stories, without high stakes because we have the buffer and launching pad of imagination. Imagination is considered more powerful than knowledge because it is so positively indiscriminate in what it allows us to think and feel and believe. Stories that empower us live and elevate us beyond the borders of our fears. The act of writing a story changes reality because it changes how we think about “reality” and our place in it.”
Our realities are widespread and all-pervading, as are our stories. And confidently, we can be thankful for the process of life writing because it unlocks our potential, deconstructs our fears and allows us to embrace change and the healing influence of transparency.
Marita’s assurance on transparency:
“The act of writing has the potential to make the hidden, what we fear and what we consider “secret” open and transparent. And once we accept the power of transparency to unveil hidden strengths, we can use writing as a powerful tool in our lives.”
Marita Golden has been a household name in the literary arena and has been teaching writing for over 30 years. She is the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based African American Writers Guild and is the Co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.
She says that her most profound discovery in teaching people how to use words to overcome their most unsettling fears and ascertain their greatest gifts…“has been very gratifying to learn how satisfying it can be for people to realize the power of their stories and/or the power of their ability to tell stories. I think we were born to tell stories and once people allow themselves to really mine a story for all its potential grace and terror and confusion and beauty, they are literally transformed. And they then become more comfortable with the ability to walk into darkness and to confront the unknown in themselves and in what they write.”
Upon conclusion of the workshop one participant expressed, “It was a great day. Not only did it inspire, motivate and help me create a strategy, it was a lovely, organic way to expand my writer’s community.”
Another participant candidly stated, “It was truly transforming for me. I am unstuck!”
Marita has shown us how to get ‘unstuck’, reboot our writing lives, write with authority and intent, and create the kinds of stories that readers will remember. Since the workshop in March the group recently rejoined for lunch and an exchange on progress with writing. One writer has published an entertaining anthology CRUSH. Another writer has published a thrilling fiction novel Melting The Blues. One more writer has published a brave and beautiful essay in the Potomac Review and other writers are diligently working on several anticipated and creative works-in-progress. All of the participants are continuing to move forward with courage and clarity and utilizing the tools treasured from Marita’s Inaugural “Life Writing” workshop to achieve the best life possible.
Marita is helping people all over the world become masters of their destiny through writing. Her 2016 spring and summer workshops will offer opportunities to new and old participants to, well, simply grow. And again, there will be challenges. So I asked Marita one last question.
Your newest workshop platform “Life Writing” will help participants focus to seek clarity and transparency, strengthen goals, strategize for ideas, and get unstuck in an effort to have the whole life they desire. What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for many participants?
I think that when people attend workshops like this one, they are primed and ready in many cases to be changed. So actually, I find most of the time that the biggest challenge is “letting go and trusting the process” which is usually easily overcome. People attend events like this one because they want to be challenged and in most cases are ready to be challenged. And in a group setting letting go and trusting the process is much easier because people are surrounded by so many others modeling letting go and trusting the process.
Marita believes that anyone can have a new year of possibilities. Simply be present in the moment. Have gratitude. Let go. Trust the process.