Fearless Memoir

How to overcome fear, unworthiness, and self-doubt and finally write a memoir. By Brad Wetzler, award-winning author, editor, and book writing coach.

Short Memoir: How Travel, Journaling, and Yoga Bring Us Home to True Love

Working in memoir requires a writer to stand in the fire of truth. This means holding ourselves accountable to seeing what’s true about our lives. Part of my process as a book writing coach is to point clients to ways they can write with a more open heart. Writing well about our life requires us to open our hearts. When one’s heart is open, we bring full awareness and presence to all situations and people. We are capable of writing patiently and honestly about the heartbreak and the ecstasy, as well as the ordinary. We can face the whole catastrophe of being alive, as Zorba might say. And we can do so from a place of wonder and generosity instead of from blame and shame.

Here’s an amazing thing about the human heart: you don’t need a field guide to learn how to open it. Yes, meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practice can help us slow down and develop distance, open space, between what happens to us and how we respond to...

Continue Reading...

How a Daily Writing Practice Can Lead Us Back to Our True Self

Writing is more like yoga than you might think.

Both disciplines require learning specific rules and vocabularies. Yoga has its 8 Limbs, one of which is asana, or the physical poses that most Westerners consider to be yoga. Each asana asks the yogi to hold the body in a specific and precise way. By focusing on the mechanics of the pose and sitting in the uncomfortableness, we see ourselves in a mirror. We learn things about ourselves.

Writing–crafting sentences out of symbols composed of curved and straight lines–is similar. When we write, we see ourselves in a mirror and learn things about ourselves. Things that we couldn’t see before we did the writing.

Both disciplines can lead to waking up from the trance that afflicts us all when we get consumed by the demands of work, home, and society. When we do yoga or write, we experience ourselves in deeper and more subtle way. This isn’t spiritual mumbo jumbo. We actually become more human.

Both...

Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: How to Stop Being a Spiritual Seeker and Become a Spiritual Finder

Transformation is hard. It takes work to break old habits and create new ones. We must stay diligent at "doing the work." Yoga, meditation, self-inquiry, and therapy are methods that, when practiced regularly, can lead us back to our true selves. But I've learned that there are pitfalls to focusing too much on "the work." Sometimes I catch myself being too diligent at doing the work. I forget about the other path to transformation: self-acceptance. When we focus too much on "the work," we can easily become self-aggressive and escapist. As important as the work is, we must accept, maybe love, the person we already are.  We are all we have, right. And wanting to be different is a trap that keeps us separate from our true selves. 

For example, I am a lifelong seeker. I seek knowledge, wisdom, connection, even God. I read books about spirituality and self-growth. I travel to experience new places and new people. But I suspect seeking is...

Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: How Bhakti Yoga Brings Us Back to Our Hearts

Spiritual practices are an important way I stay connected to my deepest self. Yoga and meditation are my go-to practices. When I practice consistently, I do better at staying grounded in the present moment. And when I stay grounded in the NOW, I am slower to react to difficult situations and people, and I'm better able to respond to life's myriad challenges with patience and compassion to others and myself.  Spiritual practices are one way that I show up for myself with self-love.

Like yoga and journaling, I think of chanting as a loving knife, a knife that is able to cut through habit and resistance to the soft, beating heart within all our chests.

On a recent summer night, my friend and I drove to a retirement home to attend a kirtan led by Benjy and Heather Wertheimer. Kirtan means “to chant together,” and kirtans are a common practice in Bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion. No matter what you believe, chanting with other humans feels good in the...

Continue Reading...

Yoga and My Quest for True Self

A consistent yoga practice can be powerful. It’s like standing in front of a mirror and staring at your reflection. This can be frightening for anybody, but for a middle-aged man it is especially so.

First, you see things that surprise or shock you. Is my belly really that lumpy? Is my hair that gray? With time, these judgments soften some. But then it can be easy to swing too far in the opposite direction. “On second thought, I don’t look too bad for 52. My stomach may not be a six-pack, but look at those arms! They’re coming along! All those chaturangas I’ve been doing have yielded some nice deltoids. I don’t look half-bad. I can add some sit-ups, but otherwise, Brad, you’re looking good!”

But if you stand at the mirror longer still, your feel-good thoughts fade, too. If you’re lucky, you land, finally, in self-acceptance. You accept the good with the bad and the handsome with the ugly. But more likely, you will overshoot...

Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: A Middle-Age Man Grows Up to Be a Yoga Teacher

 ----
In February 2017, a few weeks after my 51st birthday and on the twisting road to becoming a middle-aged yoga instructor, I skulked through the orange-themed lobby at a Boulder, Colorado, CorePower Yoga studio. Past the racks of Lululemon yoga pants and T-shirts that read...
Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: How Yoga Brings Us Closer to Ourselves and a Higher Power

For years, I've sought a connection with the divine. The problem has been that, as much as I desire to believe in something greater than myself, I have a rational side to my mind that requires empirical proof. I was a journalist for years, after all. I excelled at fact-finding and writing from a logical, fact-based perspective. So, as soon as I decide I can believe in a Higher Power, I deconstruct my faith, and I find myself afflicted by doubt again. It's never-ending, torturous even. 

Building on altar was a watershed moment in my spiritual life. It was sweet if chaotic arrangement of statuettes, prayer flags, framed photographs picturing Indian gurus, incense holders, candles, and the precious collar that belonged to my deceased dog Blue.  As I stepped away from it and viewed it from a distance, I saw it as a signal to myself that I had entered a new phase in my spiritual life. By representing my inner life with statues on my...

Continue Reading...

Yoga of Writing

Years ago, I committed to a daily yoga practice after two decades of casual three-days-per-week practice.  Within months, I saw tangible results. I became more fit, more flexible, a little happier, a little less reactive, and even more connected to my spiritual self, which I’d abandoned years earlier. All good stuff. I kept at it. The boons continued. And there was another, less anticipated result: daily yoga lit a fire within me to learn more about this ancient practice that promoted health, healing, and deeper spiritual connection.

What happened next?

I was a journalist and the author of a book about nature. I did what a journalist/author would do. I read everything I could get my hands on about yoga. It soon struck me that there was no end to what I could learn about yoga. I kept at it. My bookshelf became a yoga library.  But I realized that reading about yoga was woefully inadequate. I needed to learn about yoga in-person from a teacher or teachers. Next, I...

Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: Reflections on a Mystical Experience in India

At the age of twelve I had a brush with mortality that changed me. On the first day of a weekend father-son canoe trip in the Ozarks, the canoe carrying my dad and I capsized, and we were both sent overboard into the cold, fast-moving water. In the chaotic next seconds, my lifejacket snagged on a submerged tree, and I was trapped there. Though my mouth remained above water, the rest of me felt the fury of thousands of gallons of water running through a narrow channel. The upriver current flung my torso violently into the log at the same time that the downriver current seemed to claw at my spindly limbs, enticing me to be free. I was terrified, and, for ten minutes, I believed I would die. Eventually, I was rescued, but the event terrified me. It shook my sense of safety in nature, and it instilled in me, at a very young age, a deep knowing of how temporary this life is. In the next years, I became a very spiritual kid, and I latched onto Christianity, the dominant faith of my Kansas...

Continue Reading...

Short Memoir: How Dogs Show Us How to Love Unconditionally, Part 2

The morning after my dog Blue died, I woke before dawn, reached into the dark for my phone, and turned it over to a text from a friend: I’m so sorry, Brad. My heart aches for you.

A tear rolled down my cheek, but I didn’t want to wake Kristen. I leaned over, kissed her on the forehead, and crawled out of bed. I put on pants and a sweatshirt. I went downstairs and sat on the couch.

The memories of Blue’s death—the violent vomiting, the scared look in his eyes, the surreal drive to the emergency vet, and my last tearful half-hour with the dog of my dreams—all felt too fresh, too raw, for my foggy, pre-coffee state of mind.

Of course, I had been aware that Blue was aging, but I was certain I would have six months, or more, with him. If only there could have always been six more months with him. His death coming so suddenly wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. Worse, I couldn’t keep myself from wondering that morning if his death was somehow...

Continue Reading...
1 2
Close

50% Complete

Subscribe

Stay connected with latest news and updates as well as promotions and specials as well as download my ebook "How To Tell A Great Story" FREE.