Feeling cold in the heat-of-the-Montana-day humidity wasn't because the mercury suddenly plummeted, but because it felt as though every ounce of clothing I was wearing miraculously disintegrated and I sat, bare, fully exposed in front of a near stranger.
I wasn't. Naked...that is. Exposed? Yep. Vulnerable? You bet. And she wasn't a stranger; she was my writing coach. A mentor, an immediate 'I-see-and-get-you' soul sister, a genius whose time I had the privilege to get a slice of. And it was that sweet woman who granted me a perspective and an understanding of this whole entrepreneurship journey that I, the wordsmithing copywriter, couldn't for the life of me find language to describe.
One Word-Loving Writer to Another
It was my first few moments of one on one time with her. I'd waited (patiently) for months to get to that quiet corner of Big Sky Country, and even more patiently for the 48 hours leading up to this moment of her undivided attention, her listening, her fast hand scratching beautiful words across her notebook with the same (and only) brand of pen her favourite author wrote with.
She asked me about my story. I shared the tale I had told time and again; the one where I lost myself in a sea of stretchy pants, where I didn't know what words were or were not mine, that life was falling apart behind the closed doors of my apartment...I went on. And on. But her interest wasn't so much in the breakdown. She leaned forward ever so slightly when I started to talk about what happened next.
How, after flipping the table on life and leaping without much of a net, my story was still about being disconnected from a sense of self, a sense of standing for anything, an ability to bring language to what I knew in the most gut-deep parts of my guts to be true.
She listened. And paused. And reflected back what she heard.
That, even though I had taken myself out of the place where I had felt locked down by language that wasn't mine, I was still struggling to really speak. That post-employment I had every reason to be using my voice and saying what simply felt good because the shackles of the 'right' language I had put on were gone, sharing and rejoicing and asking for what I wanted and saying what I needed. But I wasn't.
And then she, that deep listening lightbeam, simply said this:
After all that change, you were still under an inner gag order - and didn't have a company to point the finger at any more.
YEAP. Nailed it.
I had free reign on word choice and saying what was up, but was choking on what I really wanted and sometimes needed to say. At the random odd moment I might have succeeded in bringing up some kind of expressive amalgamation of thoughts, yet they would eject themselves from my body the same way a surprise vomit happens: often embarrassing, often messy and always leaving some kind of physical or emotional mark on the person who just happens to be in the line of fire.
Forgive me - but surprise word vomit is a thing.
(author's note: surprise real vomit is also a thing. Trevor Noah agrees. Watch his special.)
The Real (Wordy) Deal of Self Expression
Now let me assure you: I've gotten better. It's taken a short 31 years but I'm finally getting a handle on the whole 'better out than in' thing when it comes to saying what I know to be true and being real with how I feel, what I need, what I want. And yes, it's coming up and out less in a spew-like fashion and with much more conscious consideration, and a whole heap more alignment with what I really mean...most of the time. #communicatorinprocess
And holy heck it's been a journey...just ask some of my old boyfriends. I was number one most best at expecting them to know what I was thinking or feeling without saying anything at all AND to 'get it' when I would lose my proverbial shit (aka: word vomit) all over them, with more blame-infused projections than you could shake a stick at.
What Laura helped me uncover was that writing, and in particular this freelance copywriting business. has been about gently releasing myself and the people I work with of our individual and collective gag orders: creating a safe space for real, true expression to occur.
My genius in helping clients find the right words for them is the exact process that set me free of my own self imposed gag order and made expression the norm, not the abnormal.
Said expression now includes a clear no, a passionate yes, and the confidence to cuss in public on panels I've been invited to speak on. Bundle in the ability to set boundaries, to confidently put a price tag on my work, to say things like 'that doesn't work for me'. To share clearly, with purpose about what I'm here to do in this world.
There's a process - yes. And it's something I'm sure keen to share. AND. Know this: you gotta be ready to leave word-vomit behind and start spewing rainbows instead. Or something like that. Whether it's for your business or for your own sense of expression and owning your words, reach out. I'm ready to paint rainbows on the floor with you.