How to Avoid Valentine’s Day Disappointment

How to Avoid Valentine’s Day Disappointment

How to Avoid Valentine’s Day Disappointment

If you’re into Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s going well for you.

I can’t say the day has ever been anything but a spectacular disappointment.

And not because I haven’t been well loved by good people.

See, when I was nine, my father painted this poster for me.

What chance did anyone have, really?

During an early Wuthering Heights obsessed phase, I submitted a complaint to a lover about the quality of his romantic gestures which were not ‘mad and moonly,’ (thanks e e cummings for that igniting phrase). I sighed that all I wanted was to be loved like Heathcliff loved Cathy  – was that so much to ask?  He drew back. ‘So you’d like someone manipulative and cruel. Preferably with PTSD?’

At least someone in the relationship was seeing things clearly.

Long before we were married, Zed, told me I shouldn’t expect flowers. As far as he’s concerned romance is just a capitalist marketing strategy by the florists, chocolatiers and candle-makers and he’s not falling for it. He goes for practical in the gifts department. Which is romantic in its own way.

So I buy my own flowers. And let me tell you I am never disappointed. I always get just what I want: blended roses, pink peonies, parrot tulips. I never have to put up with the messiness of lilies which are spitefully poisonous to cats, nor the morbid attempts of a carnation to coax joy.

But I get that Valentine’s Day can make those of us without romantic love in our lives feel bereft, somehow unworthy. Exclusion is part of its allure. That’s if we buy into its narrative.

Which Joan Armatrading didn’t. She reminds us, ‘there is more than one kind.’ And maybe she meant friendships. Parental love. Filial affection. Adoration of a pet, a place, the ocean – all the ways in which we connect and feel alive because of it.

 

 

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

Love is a way of being in the world.

It begins with our own gaze. It is impossible to wholeheartedly love outwardly if we do not love within.

When it comes to writing, we must always write from a place of self-compassion. Not judgement or self-loathing. If we do not have soft eyes for our failures and shortcomings, how can we ever hold the brokenness of others without hurting them with the hidden blade of our unarticulated criticism?

We teach others how to love us, by how kind we are to ourselves. We role model what we are willing to tolerate by the yeses and no’s we say inwardly.

 

Love is yes, to all the worlds that exist in and through us.

Generosity, forgiveness and self-sacrifice for the sake of others are admirable qualities, sure. But if they don’t flow from the great love we have for ourselves, from what unsustainable diminishing motherlode are they sourced? The need for approval? Fear of rejection? Desperation to be liked?

We all know how to break our own hearts more unrecoverably than anyone else can ever hurt us – by all the promises we don’t keep, plans we delay and voices inside we shush; by ghosting ourselves and diminishing our dreams.

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you’re 65, or 75 and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy, creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart.
Don’t let this happen.

Anne Lamott

 

And so, to those of you who have put off that writing retreat, that book you’re going to write someday, that longing to put words on a page, come join me in August in Mystery Bay for some real romance. Where you get to love you. All of you. Not just the pretty bits.

MYSTERY BAY WRITING RETREAT

(Kefalonia details are being finalized – the cost will be approximately double that of Mystery Bay).
 
Just 10 spots. And me beside you as a guide, witness, mentor and writing coach. I will offer unconditional psychosocial accompaniment to help you stay open to whatever turns up on the path – grief, joy, heartache, bafflement, anger, fear.
 

Maybe then we can speak about what true love is.

Valentines Shmalentines.

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A Loveline to Celebrate the Thread That Has Woven You Here

A Loveline to Celebrate the Thread That Has Woven You Here

A Loveline to Celebrate the Thread That Has Woven You Here

 

Today is my first birthday without my mother.

I don’t know quite what that means.

She began me and now I am finished in all the ways I know myself as her child.

She was always a quiet force of devotion, gravity and governance and in the months since she left, I have had to seek these strengths within. Without her, I am all alone inside myself. No-one and nothing stands between me and the winds and waves of life.

Today I am 55 – two years older than my father’s mother Chaya was when she died. She’d been living with cardiac failure for five incapacitating years, her great gentle heart collapsing ventricle by ventricle when her sister, brother in law and nephew were killed in the concentration camps.

It’s no good,’ she told my father from her hospital bed. Since thirteen, he has carried the burden of that mantra as heavy as any cross. It has been my task to unshoulder it so my children don’t become sherpas of that darkness.

My father needed her to leave him with a blessing. But terrified and literally heartbroken, knowing she was going to die, she could find no ‘good’ to balance the ‘no good.’

In this year of grieving, I have wondered if it’s possible to hold onto beneficence, even in times of agony and hopelessness.

Yeats’ poem, ‘My Fiftieth Year’ offers illumination:

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.”

To bless others, we must first feel blessed.

 

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

If we relegate this to circumstance, we are at the mercy of outside forces, prisoners of situation, reliant on fairy godmothers and other such fickle tricksters. We wait, like Rapunzel in the tower for someone to come save us with hope or at least an escape route.

We have more power than that.

‘Being blessed’ is, I believe, a narrative choice. It is a love story we tell about our lives.

It’s how we unpick our ‘dharma,’ or our true calling from the muddle of our experiences and discern the ways we have lived in service to Life – beyond the transactions of hand-to-mouth, nine-to-five, quid pro quo. The ways in which have we handed over and passed on all we have, all we know, all we are capable of, is the deep story of who we are. Not what we do. Not what we earn. Not our roles, genders, achievements or failures.

There is a bright vein that pulses through circumstances, of how life has woven itself through you.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

William Stafford

Here is my loveline:

 

And here is a template for you to build your own:

How to turn this exercise into a blessing:

  • Come to it as a ritual (set aside time, light a candle, put on music, lenghten your outbreath, summon deep insight);
  • Pick a theme (creativity, relationships, music, writing, belonging, homes);
  • Build the loveline through years and time with words and images;
  • Remember what you have forgotten – the mistakes, losses and pain as well as the ‘successes’;
  • Give your loveline a name, like The Making of a Mermaid; Thirty Ways I Let Go; Who I Became Because of Chocolate;
  • Pass the template on to others.

If this inspires you to want to explore your loveline with greater attention, my course 7 Tricks to Writing Your Story is a perfect vehicle for this. And just for the month of September, I’ve lowered it to $54.45 which is 55% off the usual cost of the course with the voucher code JOIS55 – to make this an easy gift to give yourself.

May the thread that has woven you here, find you.

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It’s Too Late to Leave

It’s Too Late to Leave

It’s Too Late to Leave

(Trigger warning for climate change denialists and anyone with a broken heart)

‘I didn’t know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn’t worked the earth love it …
I didn’t know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear…
I didn’t know I loved trees…
I didn’t know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass …
I didn’t know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return
Nazim Hikmet

I’ve been thinking about Nazim Hikmet’s poem Things I Didn’t Know I Loved each morning as the eerie pink sun rises through the smoke haze.

I didn’t know I loved a golden sunrise. Opening my window to let in fresh air. Dark stormy clouds that shatter with rain.

‘Only know you love her when you let her go,’ Passenger sings.

‘And you let her go.’

***

My late Granny Bee used to say, ‘If you have nothing nice to say, rather say nothing at all.’

She meant this in the context of an unfortunate outfit choice, but it applied to the losses of her life. I once tried to get her to talk about her mother’s death from tuberculosis when she was 16 (her mother just 36), and the miscarriage at six months of her unborn son. But the most I could wrestle from her was, ‘my darling, in those days, you just got on with it.’

Getting on with it, plastering grief with politeness, made of my granny, a fabulous liar. She could mask pain with a dab of powder, a sweep of blush and a smidge of lipstick. She was, above all, a lady and it was decidedly unladylike to speak of hard things.

I’ve tried to live by her ‘be nice or be quiet,’ principle. My online personality is as an optimist, motivator, cheerleader. I am, by nature, an enthusiast, so I haven’t had to lie much to keep this persona up.

But, dear friends, I’m all out of nice.

As fires have raged across Australia, we are in a time of irreparable loss – millions of animals and ecosystems are burning, our oceans are coated in ash, our air is barely breathable, and our government remains in denial about climate change.

I am close to tears all the time. I’m confused, saturated with grief and my New Year’s Eve was characterized by my fury that Sydney went ahead with fireworks and our PM took a little ‘well-deserved break’ in Hawaii while firefighters cancelled their Christmas lunches to save homes and lives.

So, I’ve gone quiet. I haven’t wanted to inflict my agony on any of you good people, dealing with your own agonies.

I have no fucking idea what is being asked of me and how to be of service anymore, amidst the chaos, choking smoke and unrelenting despair.

Some days, my only solace has been an ocean swim when the air outside is breathable and the ocean is not toxic with ash. I’ve been collecting shells the ocean sends my way, diving deep down to the sea floor to retrieve them. I only take the broken ones – little elders of the sea. I started adorning them with bits of silver and gold jewellery, gold leaf, precious and semi precious stones. I’ve called them ‘ocean kintsugi’ shells. I’m going to fill them with healing prayers. When the time comes, I will take them to places which have been ravaged by suffering and grief, and plant them there.

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

In Australia, bushfire warning systems alert people about the fire danger, to help them make decisions about whether to evacuate or stay and defend their properties.

If it’s ‘too late to leave,’ you’re stuck. There is no way out. The roads are closed. You’ve left your decision to evacuate too long either because you were overly optimistic that the fire wouldn’t come close enough or you were in denial about the severity of the threat. Either way, you will have to defend your property with your life, and pray.

This is exactly where we find ourselves – all of us. Climate change is upon us; it’s arrived. This is not a drill. It’s not a mild threat, it’s a catastrophic one. And it’s too late to leave.

So what do we do now?

The way I see it, we have two choices. We can remain in denial and carry on with our lives-as-before hoping we can outrun it.

But if we do, we become the dead weight those who are conscious, awake and taking action have to lug with them. We’re taking up space and resources and making their work much, much harder. It’s the selfish option and we’re kind of running out of room for selfish on this tired little blue globe.

Or, we can face head on what is coming our way – which is more of what is already unbearable. To do this, we need to be well prepared for the interminable griefs that are still to come.

None of us is protected from what lies ahead. Our wealth, status or distance from Australia won’t save us. Every single living human being right now is bound and affected by this omnicide (the destruction of all life around us) and solastalgia (ecological grief for the worlds we are losing).

And if we cannot come together as one now, well, folks, we’re truly fucked.

Australia is the canary in the coalmine for the rest of the world.

Please let our devastating losses not be for nothing.

Here it is – the defining moment where we can change.

Maybe we cannot alter the trajectory of destruction that awaits, but we can change who we are and how we travel forward into this burnt new world.

Here are some soulful ways in which we might evolve: Can we drop the ‘me-me-me’ shtick? Can we conceive a future defined by values other than money and our own personal comfort? Are we able to treat every human, animal and plant species as something other than a resource put here for our personal benefit?

Can we remember (Australia, I’m talking to you), that there is a karmic cost to turning away every refugee or displaced person who arrives on our shores on a boat? That there is a legacy to coal mining? That the reason the world has not rushed to our shores to help put out our fires is because we are an arrogant, racist, smug island with a PM who thinks a good old game of cricket will cure a summer of scorching fires? Can we listen to indigenous wisdom? Can we stay humble and humane?

Here we are, then – in a time when we’re remembering all the things we didn’t know we loved because they are disappearing around us. The era of self-help is over, I’m sorry if you missed your chance to be the best version of you.

But it’s okay – what each of us wants personally or individually is frankly, irrelevant. If we continue our carbon-heavy overseas holidays, avocado smash brunches and shopping sprees, let us do so, knowing that we’re fiddling while Rome is burning.

Our children’s futures depend on our ability to think transpersonally about the years ahead – in other words, even if it doesn’t suit us, or it doesn’t personally benefit us (as in planting trees under whose shade we will never get to sit). This is our chance to rethink how we spend our time and money; and to stop wasting – time, resources, electricity, water and energy.

We can each take responsibility for the tiny corner of the planet we’re lucky enough to still inhabit and do what we can to heal it.

We can’t fix the whole damn catastrophe. But we can’t do nothing. Please don’t throw up your hands because you think, ‘what’s the use of doing this one small thing?’

Your small thing holding hands with my small thing and everyone else’s small thing, might just tip the scales.

Let’s do everything to become people who deserve the earth we didn’t know we loved.

Let’s not let her go. Even if she decides to let us go.

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May It Happen for You

May It Happen for You

May It Happen for You

Sometimes

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscatel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you

– Sheenagh Pugh

As we hurtle towards the end of 2019, I’m rounding the year up, harvesting the insights and trying to work out how I’ve become that weird and crazy person – you know, the type you see down at the beach in winter, swimming.

The year began with me flat on my back. That L3 L4 disc. I had to draw on my entire life savings of spiritual work to keep me steady and ‘trusting the story’ that was playing out.

It played out.

I took to water to learn to move again – I had to be reintroduced to gravity, like a disloyal friend who has to earn back our confidence.

The small forays in the ocean baths became swims across Coogee bay and that in turn has led me to the greatest love of my life (Zed knows, he’s good with it). Learning how to be in the ocean – to read the tides, understand the rips, manage the swells, use the waves – has taught me humility, courage and stamina. I’ve  now done four open water ocean swims – the kind of thing I consider a little reckless and extreme. The most thrilling part is that I don’t know who I am anymore. I used to ‘hate cold water’ and was ‘afraid of big waves and sharks.’ These are all still a bit true. But a little less true.

The ocean has become a life theme, a foundation of my every day, and it has helped me hold steady through a year of big decisions (letting go of my crazy busy-ness); writing a new book (The Sabbatical – the third in the Secret Mothers’ Business trilogy), staying somewhat sane while my 22 year old daughter was travelling alone through Europe for 6 weeks; big griefs and sadnesses. 

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

In April this year, l lost a beloved friend, Carol Thomas. She was maybe the best obstetrician and gynecologist, but without doubt, one of the magnificent humans you’re lucky to meet once or twice in your life. I met her when we were both women’s rights activists on the Reproductive Rights Alliance in South Africa many years ago. She delivered my son Aidan in 1999. Her death seared my heart and brought me to my soul’s knees. I kept swimming, sobbing my grief into the water, my goggles filling with tears.

It was a blessing to then come upon Stephen Jenkinson and his two astonishing books Die Wise and Come of Age which have literally changed me – how many books ever do that? Jenkinson says being an elder is about ‘having your heart wrecked on schedule.’ And so it has been.The water has held me through it all – the stingray, the blue gropers, the small silver and gold flecks of fin, the jimbles that have stung me ragged, the speckled wobbegongs, the large manta rays that have terrified and thrilled me, even a small Port Jackson shark (harmless, by all accounts) I came a little too close to one morning.

The sea has offered me daily astonishments with which to actively forge joy – a mercy in the face of all that has crept in as cruelty and suffering, including the terrible effects of climate change around us that are hurting our earth and the future of all sentient beings.

Of course, life is always mottled. Beauty shines like the gold resin that holds broken pieces together in the Japanese art of Kintsugi. A happy collaboration with talented artist Margaret Rolla came to fruition this year in a little book of Meditations and Visualizations for Aspiring Authors and Writers  as we turned the meditations from my signature Author Awakening Adventure course into an exquisitely illustrated book. It is Marg’s first book, so yet another celebration. Lucky for you, it’s just in time for Christmas and Chanukkah gifts.

Aren’t her illustrations exquisite? I hope you’ll grab a copy or two to gift over this festive season.

After I’ve finished the rewrite on The Sabbatical, I’m planning a couple of retreats next year – some will be for writers (I’m especially interested in working with women leaders who need support and mentorship to bring a book into the world). Others may involve healing through storytelling, family constellations and even ocean swimming (When Wound Meets Water) through collaborations with some spectacular and powerful women. In this way, I hope to cross paths with some of you in 2020.

I wish you all a blessed festive season and new year. As the Pugh poem above goes, sometimes goodness prevails.

May it happen for you.

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How to Touch What Is Beautiful

How to Touch What Is Beautiful

How to Touch What Is Beautiful

‘I did not survive to be untouched.’ – Mark Nepo

Today, my friends, is my 52nd birthday. I know, right? I don’t look a day over 50.

The past year has been a mix of magic and mayhem. I count among the highs my discovery of ocean swimming and the return of my writing fire. A serious back injury, and the loss of a beloved friend, Carol Thomas took me into some deep grief that keeps coming back and nudging me, reminding me how impermanent everything is.

2019 has also been the year when we’ve finally woke up to what’s happening on our planet. 

It’s so difficult not to feel overwhelmed with indifference, anxiety, anger and sadness. You may find yourself escaping into food, drink, shopping, travelling or Netflix just to get some relief. We’re all looking for ways to stay untouched by what is going awry around us.  

It’s a simple wish, isn’t it? The desire to feel happy and well. But in a world that is diseased and poisoned, perhaps it’s impossible to feel truly well or happy when everything is so askew.

So maybe we can’t have ‘happiness,’ but what is certain is that we can touch it. Now and then. Maybe we can’t be ‘calm’ or ‘peaceful’ all the time but we can taste it, here and there. We owe it to ourselves to touch what is beautiful and meaningful. If we can keep returning to touch and be touched by awe, gratitude and wonder, we stay connected, alive, in tune with what is both painful and the grace that helps us overcome pain.

For a while, I’ve been thinking about how to create something that could bring pleasure or joy or mindfulness to others – through writing. Not a big project like a book, something small, manageable and designed to be fun.

So I put together a little joy-bundle called Just A Touch – it’s 24 writing exercises over 24 weeks. Each exercise takes you somewhere, just for a while, and lets you play.

Just a Touch Online Writing Course - Exercises

Just a Touch is designed to:
– bring the kindness of writing into your life;
– connect you to your heart through writing even if you don’t know where to start;
– tickle your writing bone and take you by surprise.

It would help me immensely to cover the costs of the creation of the course if you’re able to purchase it for $39.95 AUD.
However, if for any reason, you cannot afford this, please don’t let this stop you.
You can pay whatever you like for it over $1 AUD. 

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

Joanne Fedler birthday

‘I write and I feel how the tenderness and intimacy I maintain with language, with its different layers, its eroticism and humor and soul, give me back the person I used to be, me, before my self became nationalized and confiscated by the conflict, by governments and armies, by despair and tragedy.’ – David Grossman

 

It would give me such pleasure to know you’ve chosen to touch your writing over the next 24 weeks, and that you’ve committed to the radical act of being touched by the grief and grace of your life.

Get Just a Touch here.

It’s super-easy:

* purchase the Just A Touch course by clicking the button below or click here;

* you will receive your first writing exercise immediately;

* every week, for the next 23 weeks, you’ll receive a new writing exercise in your inbox

(if you can’t find it in your inbox, please check your spam/promotions folder).

I had so much fun creating these exercises, I hope they’ll keep you in touch with the part of you that needs nurturing in these troubled times.

Swimming with Details

I just returned from a family trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where we celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We experienced vast views of lava-filled fields against turquoise waters, watched white puffs of whale blows, cheered breaches of power, savored...

Where Is My Writing Voice?

When I heard the question, “How do I find my writing voice?” I had this vision of searching my house. Looking behind the cushions on the couch, checking amongst the debris long forgotten in the back of my wardrobe, maybe even turning out the rubbish bin in my...

Why Books Are the Best Presents

Why Books Are the Best Presents and All of Our Wins in 2018   "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."―Charles William Eliot ‘I’m so proud of you,’ I sniffed. I...

Dueling with a Four-Year-Old

There is a world, a ‘place of tomorrow,’ Kahlil Gibran writes, in which our children’s souls dwell, which ‘we cannot visit, not even in our dreams.’ That world of fairies and elves my daughter inhabits is a familiar, beckoning place. I delight in her lilting musings...

Don’t Tell Me the Moon is Shining: A Golden Rule of Writing for Aspiring Authors

Anton Chekhov wrote, ‘Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ One of the trickier 'golden rules of great writing’ that can be difficult to understand and execute is the ‘show don’t tell’ rule. What does it mean? It's the...

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

'The purpose of freedom is to free someone else.’ -Toni Morrison   I started mentoring writers ten years ago to save myself from starvation as an author in a climate of declining advances and book sales. But something happened in the teaching that saved me from...

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

It is hard to work out what makes sense anymore, isn’t it?

I know I’m not the only one trembling at the idiocy, greed and self-interest of our politicians and those in power, as we stumble onwards, losing species daily, adding more and more carbon to our world, robbing our children of a future.

I am distracted from writing my new book by news of children held in detention, refugees self-immolating on Manus, whales washed up on shores, ravaged from the inside by plastic. And those are just the headlines on any given day.

Just breathe. Go for a swim. Read a fucking poem, I self-soothe.

I find I have to turn away intermittently from the media lest I get crushed by it all. Humans were not meant for this level of bombardment; this torture of always-being-in-the-know.

I’m about to try hibernate for some weeks to finish writing my new book, The Sabbatical. I’m afraid of all the terrible things that will happen while I’m not looking – which must be the height of some inflated omnipotent fantasy (that things will fall apart while I’m not on watch, as if I have any control over any of it… )

Before I do, I wanted to share a story that always gives me strength and faith to keep working for a better world, even when it seems pointless and hopeless.

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

It’s the story of the 100th monkey, which I love because it reminds me that we don’t need everyone to make a change, just enough people to tip the scales. Many years ago, I rewrote the 100th monkey story as the introduction to a book I began (and didn’t finish).

Here is my version:

monkey, hot spring

 

Imo

The year is 1952.
     On the island of Koshima, scientists were, as they had been for thirty odd years, observing the native Japanese monkeys in their wild habitat.
     As scientists do, they had to fuck with nature.
     They dropped sweet potatoes in the sand to see what the monkeys would do with them.
     The monkeys liked the taste of the sweet potatoes, but it was clear, they didn’t enjoy the dirt that stuck to them.
     In comes Imo. A female (naturally), who took her sweet potatoes to a nearby stream, washed them, and was satisfied. Sweet potatoes taste so much better without dirt on them. She taught this technique to her mother. Her friends and playmates soon learned to do the same and they taught their mothers and friends.
     The monkeys slowly taught one another to wash the potatoes, and the scientists watched. Between 1952 to 1958 monkeys who came into contact with those who had learned to wash their potatoes, began to wash them too.
     Then something happened.
     It was not a small thing.
     On a certain autumn day, when a critical mass of potato-washing monkeys had been reached, suddenly every single monkey on the island began to wash his or her potatoes – whether taught or not.
     What is even more startling is that colonies of monkeys on neighbouring islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama also began to wash their potatoes.
     Did you get that?
     It means that when a certain critical number achieves a particular awareness, this new awareness creates a new reality.
     This reality is communicated at an energetic level.
     In other words, when enough of us get it right, that’s when things will change.
     Only then.

 

***

We still have time to make this place beautiful.

 

Come and Join Joanne for the next 7 Day Free Writing Challenge

 

Where do we start when we want to write?
How about right here?

I designed this 7 Day Free Writing Challenge for people just like you who have always wanted to write but don’t know where or how to begin the journey.

Swimming with Details

I just returned from a family trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where we celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We experienced vast views of lava-filled fields against turquoise waters, watched white puffs of whale blows, cheered breaches of power, savored...

A Loaf of Bread

‘I’ll have the one with the sesame seeds,’ I say pointing to the shelves of loaves, lined up like newborns in a maternity ward. The shop is cozy, a cubby-house of crispy sourdough, dark rye and milky coffee. Amir takes a sheet of translucent tissue paper and picks up...

What Would Happen If You Just Stopped?

Yep, you know what I mean. Just stopped. Did nothing. If you'd asked me this question during the past 18 months while I worked 14 hour days, 7 days a week, it would have baffled me. I love hard work. I've got what we call 'zeitzvleis' - 'sitting-flesh' - I can do...

Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Over the past years, I’ve been working with ordinary women who are writing the ordinary stories of their lives. 'Why would anyone care about my story?' each one asks in her way. 'Who am I to write my story?' 'What does my life matter? I’ve done nothing special. I’m...

Dropping Judgment, Embracing Compassion

If every time I guzzle a bar of chocolate I think, ‘You weak, pathetic, greedy pig,’ my judgment and criticism cuts me off from understanding myself. If instead, I look at my behaviour and I think, ‘that’s curious – why do I do this? what is motivating this...

Books Are Like Besties

I equate the experience of reading a good book to sitting alongside my bestie and listening to her share a story in a raw and relatable way. I’m there in the story with her, her words evoking a variety of uncontained visceral responses. I’ve been known to snort, laugh...