A few of my favorite (writing) things

A few of my favorite (writing) things

Is it just me, or does every writer have favorite writing things?

Whether pens, notebooks, a keyboard or special mouse, or even your favorite writing t-shirt, I (Nita) bet you too have a preference for certain accoutrements of the profession. Here, I share mine. Full disclosure: these are affiliate links which means, if you buy anything by clicking through, Write Now Columbus will earn a teensy, itsy bitsy commission.

Rollerball

My long-time teacher Natalie Goldberg extolls the benefits of a “fast-writing pen.” My favorite is this Pilot Precise V5 rollerball. I prefer purple.

I also keep this assortment of colors on hand to match my mood.

Spiral Notebook

Back in the day when I attended Natalie Goldberg workshops at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico, we sat in rows of chairs, sometimes 60 or more of us in one room with no tables. We wrote in our notebooks on our laps. I didn’t think much of it until I brought a floppy notebook to a workshop. The ones I had preferred were out of stock at the office supply store. I never made that mistake again. Nat uses “cheap notebooks” and I can too. But if I have my preference, I want something sturdy with rings that don’t bend when I look at them the wrong way.

Notebooks from Carolina Pad fit my fussy requirements and come in wide range of collections from inspiring sayings to fun designs my current favorite, “Forest Friends.”

No surprise. I also have a few in the “Puppy Paws” collection:

And, I keep a copy of this around to write in when I need inspiration and instruction! 😉

Wireless Mouse

Whether I’m in a library, coffeeshop, hotel, or the community room of a grocery store, I’m not great with the touchpad on my laptop. Wireless mouse to the rescue.

My original Logitech mouse had a place on the back where you put the USB receiver. That automatically turned the mouse on and off. I put off replacing it because I knew I would lose the (now much tinier) USB receiver if it wasn’t somehow attached to the mouse. Yes, I could leave it in the laptop. But at home, I use the mouse that’s hooked into a docking station with other devices and I need all (two) USB ports for other things. That tiny USB receiver would be lost in no time. But Ed recently found this Logitech mouse that has a tiny space inside to store the USB receiver so I won’t lose it.

Leather Mousepad

So many colors! Not for the vegans or vegetarians, of course. But I grew up on a farm and have not yet let go of my attachment to fine leather (or the occasional good steak).

Metal Mousepad

I haven’t purchased this metal one, but it looks cool and it too comes in several colors .

Webcam

Before the pandemic locked us in our homes and threw us onto zoom, we didn’t know we needed a webcam, but now we can’t live without them. I love the built-in speakers in this one and the easy way it tilts.

T-Shirt

I don’t yet own this shirt, but I should!

That’s a short list for now. Tell us your favorite (writing) things in the comments.

Author Interview with Laura Davis

Author Interview with Laura Davis

 

I interview wellness authors to find out what makes them tick and why they write the books they do. 

I met best-selling author Laura Davis in Taos, New Mexico at a writing and meditation retreat she cotaught with Natalie Goldberg where I served as Natalie’s assistant. Laura’s genuine, helpful, and powerful teaching about family relationships and abuse touched us all deeply. Laura is best known for The Courage to Heal, but her new book comes out soon! I knew you would want to meet her as well.

Nita Sweeney (NS): Please tell us about your new book:

Laura Davis (LSD): The Burning Light of Two Stars is a memoir—and my first book in 19 years. It tells the story of my embattled relationship with my mother, our determination to love one another, and the dramatic and surprising collision course we ended up on at the end of her life. For the millions of readers of my first book, The Courage to Heal, the new book serves as both prequel and sequel, revealing in intimate, page turning detail how I reconciled with the mother who betrayed me, and came to care for her during her final days.

NS: What prompted you to write this book?

LSD: I wrote it because it was burning inside me and had to come out. I tried to walk away from it multiple times and it always came back and insisted on being told. We all have certain core stories that live inside us—and this just happens to be one of mine.

The Burning Light of Two Stars is about an intense mother-daughter relationship where we both needed and loved each other, but there was a betrayal that got in the way of us trusting each other.

Book with flowers around it

Although it’s the story of one mother and daughter, one relationship that went from an impossible state of estrangement to a surprising state of reconciliation, it’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has someone in their life that they struggle with but wish, more than anything, that they could come to terms with.

Besides, my mother is the best dramatic character I’ve ever come across and her story–and mine–and the fireworks we created together makes for great storytelling.

There were also several core questions I had to answer through the writing process:
  • Is it possible to caretake a parent who has betrayed you in the past?
  • Is it possible to open a heart that’s learned it’s safer and easier to stay closed?
  • What does healing from trauma look, truly look like, over the course of a lifetime?

NS: What message do you hope readers take away?

LSD: The Burning Light of Two Stars comes out November 9th and I’ve posted the first five chapters on my website and I invite you to come read them for free. Since I posted them, I hear from women every day.

“Your book makes me think about my mother—or my daughter—in a whole new way.”

“I’m going to have to take care of my mother, and I’ve been dreading it, and now I’m looking forward to it as an opportunity.”

One woman reported calling her mother for the first time in 18 years. I loved hearing that. More than anything, I wrote this story because I wanted to demonstrate that transformation is possible in even the toughest relationships. That caregiving can be a pathway to healing.

Woman standing in front of waterfall

 

NS: Writing (and life) can be stressful. How do you take care of yourself?

LSD: Swimming—I love being in the water. I’m saved every time I dive into the pool.

Being out in nature. Hiking. Walking by the ocean with our yellow pandemic lab puppy, Luna.

 

 

NS: Tell us about your other work.

LSD: In addition to writing books that inspire, the work of my heart is to teach. For more than twenty years, I’ve helped my students find their voices, tell their stories, and hone their craft as writers. I love creating supportive, intimate writing communities online, in person, and internationally. Writing can be a powerful pathway to healing, connection, integration, and wholeness. That’s what I love to teach.

NS: What led you to this path?

LSD: It’s a natural extension of who I am and who I was meant to be in the world. I’ve used words to express, to vent, to educate, to inform, to disrupt, to teach, and to inspire since I was a teenager. And I’ve been committed to—and fascinated by—how human beings heal and grow across the life cycle.

The tag line on my website is: “Healing Words That Change Lives.” That’s a pretty good summation of everything I’ve been manifesting as a communicator for the past forty years, whether as a talk show host in Alaska, a seven-time author, a public speaker, a teacher or as a retreat leader.

NS: Do you have a motto or slogan you find helpful? If so, how did you arrive at that?

LSD: As my father once said, “A family is a dictatorship run by its sickest member.” My dad was full of great slogans, but that one has really stayed with me.

“A family is a dictatorship run by its sickest member.”

NS: What’s the worst wellness (mental health, self-care) advice you’ve ever heard?

LSD: Take Ivermectin. Unfortunately, I have family members who believe it.

NS: Oh. That’s sad and painful. I’m so sorry. What is one thing about well-being you wish you’d learned earlier?

LSD: That worrying is practice for failure. And I wish I’d learned to apologize a lot sooner. I’m still working on that one.

NS: Do you have a go-to wellness practice you would like to share?

LSD: Walk or sit in nature with your palms open. Pet a dog.

NS: Do you have a writing tip for the writers out there?

LSD: Write and edit in layers. If you read a powerful, well-developed fully rendered scene, you might think that it was “just written that way,” but it wasn’t. The writer started with raw material. They did a free write or a writing practice. They dove deep into the maw and the gut and brought back an image, an emotion, or a moment and put it on the page.

Or perhaps they started with a character or a single dramatic moment, an object or an image, and the story evolved from there. On a later pass, they focused on characterization or on building tension, on creating an emotional flip in a scene so it didn’t remain static. They took the words, “He was angry,” and found a way to show anger on the page without using the word “angry” or any of its synonyms: “enraged,” “furious,” incensed,” and the like.

And they didn’t worry about diction!

On another pass, they worked on creating vivid dialogue or adding rich sensory detail. But they didn’t add all these layers at once. They focused on them one at a time with each rewrite of that scene. And they didn’t worry about diction—the mechanics of writing–till the very end—the length and rhythm of their sentences, their word usage, the sharpness of their verbs, ridding their work of cliches.

Each time a seasoned writer comes back to a piece, they hone in on a different element of storytelling. Each rewrite, each new draft, moves the piece forward. Eventually when the scene or story or book has been completed, the writer has seamlessly integrated all the elements of story and made it look easy—but it isn’t.

woman hiking with journal

NS: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

LSD: Any advice that proclaims, “This is the only way to be a writer.” There are as many ways to be a writer as there are writers.

NS: And the best?

LSD: Start by letting what’s in your body and your heart pour out on the page without editing. Don’t edit and write your first draft at the same time.

And I’ve always loved Natalie Goldberg’s line: “Feel free to write the worst shit in America.”

NS: Me too! Such freedom. Has your life turned out differently than you expected? If so, how?

LSD: In my twenties, when I was first facing the sexual abuse I’d experienced as a child, I believed I was too damaged to have children. But then I healed and got involved with a wonderful woman who showed me that I was capable of love and loving. We’ve been together more than thirty years and have three children and three grandchildren. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to have a family and a fulfilling career.

Author Laura Davis

NS: Is there anything you would change about your journey?

LSD: No, every step, even the really painful ones—and the worst mistakes I’ve made, have led me to where I am today.

NS: What are you currently reading for inspiration?

LSD: To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue. It’s always on my bedside table.

NS: Is there a wellness or inspirational book you couldn’t finish? Why?

LSD: Many, I’m opposed to dogma.

NS: What wellness book could you not put down?

LSD: Liberating Masturbation by Betty Dodson, back in the 1974. She was such a trailblazer and a feminist idol of mine.

NS: What’s next for you?

LSD: Launching a book, like birthing a baby, is all-consuming. Hopefully once the new book gets kicked out of the nest and starts making its own way in the world, I’ll rest. Deep rest is a critical part of the creative cycle—every field needs a fallow season—but it’s always a challenge for me.

I’m such a doer.

I’m going to be taking a group of writers to Tuscany next June. That trip had to be canceled twice and I’m hoping the third time’s the charm! Late at night, I just love drooling over pictures of the Italian countryside and all the fabulous meals we’re going to eat.

AND FINALLY:

NS: Mermaids or Goddesses? (Superheroes or Gods?)

LSD: Mermaids. I love everything to do with water.

NS: Toast or bagels?

LSD: I’m not a big bread person. But I’m partial to ginger lemon scones and fresh handmade corn tortillas.

NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?

LSD: Ocean. I grew up a 15 minute walk from the Atlantic and now I live a 15 minute walk from the Pacific.

NS: Leggings or jeans? (Jeans or slacks or sweatpants?)

LSD: Jeans.

NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?

Dogs, and I never thought I’d say that until I got a puppy at age 64. I’ve never liked dogs before, and now I’ve fallen in love with all of them—how amazing to intimately observe how another species moves through the world.

About Laura Davis

Laura Davis is the author of The Burning Light of Two Stars, the story of her loving yet tumultuous relationship with her mother, and six other non-fiction books. The Courage to Heal and The Courage to Heal Workbook paved the way for hundreds of thousands of women and men to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, a rich resource guide co-authored with parenting expert Janis Keyser, helped parents develop a vision for the families they want to create. And I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation teaches the skills of reconciliation and peace building to the world, one relationship at a time.

Laura’s groundbreaking books have been translated into 11 languages and sold two million copies.

You can learn about her books and writing workshops, read the first five chapters of her new memoir, and receive a free ebook: Writing Through Courage: A 30-Day Practice at www.lauradavis.net.

Facebook: @LauraDavis&TheWritersJourney

Facebook personal page.

Instagram: @laurasaridavis

Pinterest: laurasaridavis



If you purchase something through the affiliate links on this page, Write Now Columbus, a collection of resources for central Ohio writers and readers, will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy


Fewer Meds? Yes, Please!
A review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Mari had me on page 2:

After a year or two of regular writing therapy, I found I didn’t need the masses of prescription drugs I’d been taking.—Mari L. McCarthy

As someone once on six different medications, Mari’s pronouncement that she too found a way to reduce (or eliminate) her dependence on pharmaceuticals sparked my interest in reading more of Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live. In this part memoir, part how-to book, Mari L. McCarthy shares how her worsening symptoms led her on a search for health, and shares what she discovered so we can all benefit.

I identified with her hitting a point of desperation and discovering a solution. My memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, explains how running put the missing piece in place for me and pulled my health into balance. Like Mari, I was “in a desperate bid to recover my health.”

For Mari “writing therapy” was that missing piece.

Physical health is so completely intertwined with emotional health that it’s a wonder that so many of us deny the link.—Mari L. McCarthy

Mari suffers from MS and the onset of more extreme MS symptoms took away her option for the exercise she previously enjoyed. When she discovered Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” (three handwritten pages first thing each day) Mari soon experienced the kind of profound shift that I found in running.

At one of her lowest points, Mari could no longer write with her right (dominant) hand. Thinking of it solely as physical therapy, she trained herself to write left-handed. In that process, she not only discovered the way therapeutic writing transformed her emotions, but the act of dragging her pen across the page brought back circulation into part of her body being ravaged by MS.

My long-time teacher,  best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones, Three Simple Lines) often says, “Writing is a physical act.” Mari would agree.

Before I took up running, in addition to taking those many medications, I studied with and assisted Natalie Goldberg for several decades. Natalie teaches “writing practice,” the freewriting technique she founded based on her Zen practice. Similar to Mari’s journaling results, writing practice offers insights, and infuses the writer with a sense of calm and clarity.

Writing Practice

In the years before I began to run, I’d stopped my daily writing practice. But the pandemic and my husband’s health crisis drove me back. I began to study with Natalie and and “met” online or over the phone with other writing practice regulars to write and read out loud. While Natalie didn’t intend writing practice to serve as therapy, similar to Mari’s “regular writing therapy” writing practice is therapeutic.

You Should Be Writing, the writing journal I co-authored with Brenda Knight, serves as a safe landing spot for therapeutic thoughts. Our journal offers author quotes to serve as inspiration and instruction. Whether a person wants to write for publication or seeks healing, the quotes in Chapter 8, “Writing as Medicine” show how writers throughout history felt the salve writing offers.

Meditation

Mari’s method of journaling is also a form of meditation. Mari writes:

Instead of reaching for more caffeine, I would just sit with the tiredness, breathe deeply and acknowledge: “You are exhausted. Let’s just explore what’s going on.” I would approach my issues from a heart perspective. I stopped reacting in a knee-jerk fashion and expecting instant solutions. I learned to live more in the present moment.

Because of the scientifically-proven benefits, meditation earns a spot in my “Three Ways to Heal Your Mind,” completing the body—mind—spirit trifecta we require for stable health.

Mari found her own wellness trifecta, with a pen.


About the Book

Can the simple act of putting pen to paper every day lead to healing?

In the multi-award-winning Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live, Author, Musical Artist and CreateWriteNow.com Founder Mari L. McCarthy shares her story of how she used her own writing to relieve her symptoms of multiple sclerosis, become a 5-octave singer and created 20+ Inner Journey Workbooks.

This best-selling self-help memoir teaches you how to use your own journaling power to heal the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual issues in your tissues and embody and empower your True Self. You get step-by-step guidance on how to:

  • Reduce physical pain and overcome illness
  • Heal emotional wounds from past traumas
  • Resolve inner conflicts and create self-compassion
  • Eliminate limiting beliefs and fears
  • Reconnect with your inner healer
  • Reduce stress and find your inner wisdom
  • Set realistic goals and discover the motivation to make them happen

Whether you need to heal from stressful life events or learn how to put yourself first, Mari L. McCarthy guides you on a journey of well-being and self-care. With Journaling Power, you unlock the powers of this self-healing tool to lead a life of joy, compassion, creativity, and growth. So, grab a notebook, a pen, and a quiet space, and reveal the strength of your unconscious mind.

 
About the Author, Mari L. McCarthy

Mari L. McCarthy, Founder and Inner Work Tour Guide of CreateWriteNow.com shows curious health-conscious people how to use Journaling For The Health Of It®️ to heal the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual issues in their tissues and to know and grow their True Self. She’s the multi-award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live and Heal Your Self With Journaling Power.  Additionally, Mari created 20+ Journaling For The Health Of It® Inner Journey Workbooks that include Who Am I?, Declutter Your Life In 28 Days, and Take Control Of Your Health In 24 Days.

Find her online at:

Website: http://createwritenow.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/CreateWriteNow

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwtlBKKHXAfl_fZjLtOGMHA

 


Blog Tour Dates

March 1st @ WOW! Women on WritingJoin us as we celebrate Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power. Read an interview with the author, find out more about the healing powers of journaling, and enter to win a copy of the book.
March 4th @ Reviews and InterviewsVisit Lisa’s blog and read her interview with author Mari L. McCarthy about her book Journaling Power.
March 5th @ Bareroot HealthVisit Heather’s blog where you can read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 6th @ CK Sorens BlogVisit Carrie’s blog and read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 7th @ Joan PorteVisit Joan’s blog and read her review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.

More reviews!
March 8th @ Author Anthony Avina
Visit Anthony’s blog and read his review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.
March 9th @ The Potpourri ParlorVisit Chelle’s blog and read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s Journaling Power.
March 10th @ World of My ImaginationVisit Nicole’s writing blog today and you can read guest reviewer, Angela Clay’s review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.
March 10th @ Leslie’s Voice  – Join Leslie as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy book Journaling Power.
March 11th @ Living UppJoin Stacy as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 12th @ World of My ImaginationVisit Nicole’s writing blog today where you can read guest reviewer, Wendy Kipfmiller-O’Brien’s review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy
March 13th @ The Faerie ReviewLily shares her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 14th @ Book Review CrewJoin Sara where she reviews Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy
March 15th @ Freeing the ButterflyVisit the Freeing the Butterfly blog and read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
Even more reviews!

March 16th @ My Question LifeVisit Kara’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 16th @ Pamela CumminsVisit Pamela’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Mari L. McCarthy’s Journaling Power.
March 17th @ Nicolle NattrassVisit Nicolle’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 18th @ Deborah Zenha-AdamsJoin Deborah as she spotlights Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 20th @ Because of WordsJoin Cassie’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 22nd @ Not Without My CoffeeVisit Angelica’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 24th @ Anne Janzer’s BlogJoin Anne today at her blog where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 25th @ The Frugalista MomVisit Rozelyn’s blog where you can read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 26th @ Melanie FaithVisit Melanie’s blog today and read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.

March 26th @ Nita Sweeney – YOU ARE HERE! Join Nita as she shares her thoughts into Mari L. McCarthy’s new book.

March 27th @ Anne GreenawaltJoin Anne as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s new book.
March 28th @ Christy O’CallaghanJoin Christy as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 28th @ The Knotty NeedleStop by Judy’s blog today and review Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
April 1st @ Eden LiteraryDeirdra will be spotlighting Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
April 2nd @ International Association for Journaling WritingRead Lynda’s review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.



If you purchase something through the affiliate links on this page, Write Now Columbus, a collection of resources for central Ohio writers and readers, will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Inertia. Apathy. Terror. Monkey Mind.

Inertia. Apathy. Terror.

Was I alone in my delusion that becoming a published author would cure this ill, drive it from my mind? Having books out in the world with my name on them hasn’t fixed it. Rather, the critical internal voice has grown stronger and more bold.

“Who do you think you are?”

Imposter syndrome. Low self-esteem. Personality quirks. Sloth. Insecurity. Anxiety. Chronic depression (recurrent, severe).

This is what I face nearly every time I sit down to write. Call it what you want, but one term fits better than any other:

Monkey Mind.

“According to Buddhist principles, the ‘monkey mind’ is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, or confused.”—Psychology Today

Monkey mind can take many forms. It might be a voice in your head or mild (or extreme) agitation. It could send you to the refrigerator (or the drug dealer) and is probably why you’re unloading the dishwasher (or going for yet another dog walk) instead of writing that piece you promised your editor months ago. Monkey mind transforms itself and reformulates as quickly as you find a solution.

Monkey mind is the great chameleon.

Best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones, Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home) explains one theory about the tenacity of monkey mind. In Thunder and Lightning, Natalie calls monkey mind “The guardian at the gate.”

Monkey mind, she explains, is like those enormous and somewhat terrifying statues that “guard” the gates to a monastery. They’re put there to challenge entrants. The guardians ask if you are willing to face these demons (and your own). Are you worthy of the teachings? Are you up to the challenge?

Sensei Sean Murphy of Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness recently discussed something similar with our 200-hour meditation leader training cohort. As he traveled across the country interviewing Zen teachers for his book One Bird, One Stone, many of the teachers did their best to evade him, refusing to answer his questions. They only wanted to teach the serious, the persistent, the rigorous. Sensei Murphy continued to show up and, ironically, their antics, playing guardian at the gate, gave him great stories to tell.

What do grotesque statues and reluctant Zen masters have in common with your unrelenting desire to play just one more game of computer solitaire?

Inertia. Apathy. Terror.

They are protecting the jewels.

The part of us trying to write terrifies the part of the mind that thinks we need to be protected. Monkey mind believes it is doing you a favor. But this guardian at the gate of your heart and mind also knows you’re getting close. The story that needs to be told, the mystery only you can solve, the message you must tell the world awaits just behind the temple door.

The guardian asks, “How bad to you want it?”

And how do you prove you want it?

By writing.

Simple, but true. In another piece I’ll talk about how the only cure for writing is writing.

Is that it? Just write? Yes, and no. Other techniques can help you still that chattering monkey which will, in turn, allow you to face the page.

For me, it’s meditation both on the cushion and out in the world.

Sitting meditation, writing practice, and moving meditation (usually running) have brought my own monkey mind out of hiding. It’s stealthy, slippery, persistent, but not invincible. When you sit through terror, run through inertia, and write about (and through) apathy, monkey mind realizes you’re not fooling around.

But why bother if writing is so difficult? Why not take up plumbing or mathematics or binge-eating instead?

Because the rewards are huge. Not much beats the feeling of pushing a pen across a page. And when you’re done, you have the victory of having made a thing, first a raw, often ugly, rarely sensical, thing, and later, a more lovely, shaped, and formed creation.

You’re at the temple gate. Will you walk through?


For more writing wisdom, please check out You Should Be Writing, the new writing journal from Mango Publishing by Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney.

Follow the teachings, not the teacher.

 

Follow the teachings, not the teacher.

Recently, another public figure many thought was beyond reproach proved herself to be human. This happened to be a well-respected, best-selling author. I admit to being stunned myself.

But why are we surprised?

If you put something (or someone) on a pedestal, rest assured it will eventually fall. It will either be knocked off, pulled down, or take a tremendous swan dive off on its own.

Eventually, gravity always wins.

In her memoir, The Great Failure, Natalie Goldberg wrote about the sexual misconduct of her beloved Zen teacher, Katagiri Roshi. While she lamented his shortcomings and lost followers for making it public, she did not lose faith in the Zen he taught. In fact, she went on to become a Zen priest herself.

People may disappoint you. They may break your heart.

But you know what won’t fail you? The teachings.

And you know what won’t fall? Principles.

We can love our teachers, see them as human, admire their wisdom and effort.

And when one of them crosses a line, we don’t need to throw out all the principles because of their wrong step. What they have taught is not lost even though they may be.

Trust the principles.

Follow the teachings, not the teacher.

People may fail you. Principles will not.