New Year, New You? Not So Fast.

This past weekend, my son said it didn’t feel like 2020 yet. He was going to give it another week or so to sink in. 
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And just yesterday, a friend told me that she spends the whole month of January reflecting on the past year and planning for the year ahead. The whole month. S L O W.

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Neither of these people in my life were trying to become *new.* They were simply feeling it.
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What if each day got to be a new beginning? What would it feel like to actually celebrate the small wins?
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Here’s one: My dad is 90. When we ask him how he’s doing, he replies, “I woke up this morning, so I’d say pretty good.”
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When I was younger, I was on constant alert for the BIG win. If, say, my teacher gave me positive comments on my poetry, I wanted this to translate into POETRY PRIZE, FIRST PLACE. Otherwise, it didn’t count.
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HALT!
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As I’m writing this, I’m catching myself in a lie. I still grapple with this very thing. Here’s what I wrote on social media the other day:
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“Sometimes, I feel like I’m screaming into an empty room when I post on social media. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. We want to belong AND be significant.

I wish you all a million followers, 1000 true fans, and at least 1 bonafide best friend and soulmate.

May we all feel like we are chosen beloveds.”

www.instagram.com/hollyholtwrites

Yes, my words tapped into the isolation and loneliness of this modern world. I was certainly reaching out, but truth be told, I also wanted the modern American internet dream. 
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I wanted B I G. Gold star. Prom Queen. Nobel Prize. Pulitzer. One million followers. I wanted validation. I wanted to live the “new year, new you” dream.
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If I could start 2020 with more social media followers, I would suddenly be…what? No different. Same old me.
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But when I looked back on 2019, I realized that there were so many small moments worth celebrating.

  • I met wonderful new friends and students.
  • I kept chipping away on the second draft of my novel and helped others start theirs.
  • My family was blessed with three new members of our household.
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There was that one time I laughed with my husband and son about some silly thing. That other time a friend texted me just when I needed it. That other time I woke up and the sun was shining after three days of gloomy clouds.
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None of these small moments made me a new person, but they made me a grateful one. When I took the time to NOTICE, when I traded in BIG for SLOW, something shifted. 
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Maybe that’s all it takes to become new. Small shifts.
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Let’s forget about becoming *new* people. We just need to be ourselves, together. 
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Wishing you a year of small shifts, tender moments, and big gratitude for the little things. 
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With love and support,

Holly

Why I Won’t Be Taking Last-Minute Sign-ups for Intention

How do you feel about setting resolutions for the new year? If you are like me, the answer is, “Not so good.” In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that setting resolutions and even concrete, rational goals has only brought heartache and disappointment!
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This is why I created Intention:

an afternoon to reflect, renew, and re-ignite your inner fire.

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This retreat-like workshop happens on New Year’s Day. Registration ends on December 25 (more about that below).

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If you intended to be there, save your spot by signing up today HERE.

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Let me tell you about what happened last year. Eighteen of us gathered together at Ritual, our cozy yoga studio on 21st Street, to ask ourselves, “How do I want to feel in 2019?” 

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We shuffled through the word confetti that I had scattered all over the floor to find just the right “feeling” word. These feeling words reminded us of our dreams and desires and became the foundation for our Intentions for 2019.

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By the end of the workshop, almost everyone had chosen a Word-of-the-Year – an Intention.

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Look at some of their words!

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Radiant. Truth. Connected. Rich. Strong. Free.
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Deliberate. Boundaries. Healthy.
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I’ll admit, the first set of words is all romance and rah rah. The second set of words? Some might call them boring. But are they?


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Words are powerful. 


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Think about it: Strong Boundaries create Healthy Connections. Deliberation and Truth create Radiant Health.

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If I look back at the first time I chose a Word-of-the-Year, I find “Resilience.” This was in 2014. There was now way I could have known, but Resilience turned out to be the perfect, PERFECT word for 2014, a year of huge transition for me. What better word to carry me through the storm?

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Let’s spend New Year’s Day together! We’ll practice some gentle yoga and mindful journaling (I provide the notebooks), so that you can find your “just right” word of the year. And did I mention the snacks? And the glorious day with like-minded people?

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Early Bird registration ends THIS SATURDAY, December 21, and FINAL registration ends on December 25!

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I will not be able to take sign-ups after that because this is a BIG event with food and lots of set-up. Radiant boundaries create free and true connections.
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Click HERE to register now! 
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I am so grateful for you, for the community at Ritual Sacramento, and for the practice of letting our feelings become our foundational words which become our truth.

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Yours in love and support,

Holly

(re)Treat Yourself

At the beginning of this month, I had big plans. I was going to work on my novel Every. Single. Day. in November. I wouldn’t be counting words NaNoWriMo style, but I’d be re-visioning, editing, preparing my book for – gulp – reading.
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That “gulp” would have been the sticking point a few short years ago. The fear of rejection and failure would have derailed my Every. Single. Day. plan. 
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But you know what? I realized that setting a rigid schedule for myself everyday isn’t the way I work. Treating my life’s work as a mere J.O.B. feels not only inauthentic but – at the risk of being seen as overly-dramatic – like torture.
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Life is a series of trials and errors, not a series of seamless successes, which means we’ve all got to find our way, trial after error, error after trial. And my idea of success might be different from yours.
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I’ve been reluctant to label myself, but I’ve found such comfort in learning that I am both an INFP (according to Myers-Briggs) and an Enneagram 4
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I am a sensitive, intuitive feeler. Yes folks, I am a weirdo. I KNOW some of you are weirdos, too!
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Here are a few questions that might help you determine if you belong to the weirdo club:

  • Have you often felt misunderstood? 
  • Have you ever been told you are “too sensitive?” 
  • Has anyone in your family or casual acquaintance circle given you “the look” when you try to describe how deeply books and music affect you?
  • Does writing feel like your first language because speaking can feel so awkward around the non-weirdos? 
  • Do you want to spend all your time either alone dreaming and creating OR in a curated group of folks who are creating or diving into personal growth?

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I know that some people want to be told how to “do it right.” They want rules and best practices. They want RESULTS because that’s what they (and all of us) have been taught to want. It’s the American Way.
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I refuse to do that. In that way, I suppose I am un-American.
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What I will ask you – every time – in all my writing and yoga classes – is “what feels right for YOU?” That’s how we weirdos roll.
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I know this can be frustrating. I know this because I used to be one of those people. I rejected my inner weirdo and thought if someone would just give me the answer step-by-step, life wouldn’t be so painful.
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But what I eventually realized was that life hurt for so long because the advice from the American Way experts did not apply to me. In fact, their words tore at every cell in my body. The messages all around me hurt.
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You, too? So, what are we to do?
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Well, of course, I’m going to say “come to my classes and workshops” because I want to hang out with my weirdo friends, create things and grow together. But I also have another gentle suggestion.
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Take yourself on retreat.
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After a few frustrating days of trying to force myself to “suck it up, work hard, and hustle,” I decided that the work of editing a manuscript needed a change of scenery.
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I booked myself a little AirBnB up in the hills. In fact, if you read this anytime between Tuesday and Thursday, I am THERE. I’ll report back on my experiment next week.
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For now, what if you don’t have the money (or the belief that you are worth the money…yet) to spend on booking an AirBnB or hotel room to write?

Consider these Personal Retreat ideas:

  • Offer to house sit for a friend while they are away for a weekend. They get the comfort of knowing their plants will be watered and their mail will be taken in, and you will get some peace and quiet.
  • Find and friend or two and rent the AirBnB together. Of course, these friends need to be quiet, unobtrusive, weirdo writer friends, so that you can get work done. 
  • See if someone (maybe one of those dismissive family members) will let you use their house or apartment while they are at their J.O.B. You can say you are “working from home” and your internet is slow. This only works, of course, if you have a flexible schedule or work at night.
  • Finally, the coffeehouse is an excellent idea for a little “with people but alone” writing. I’m sitting at Pause Coffeehouse in Fair Oaks right now. The room is filled with equal parts chatty Kathy’s and serious Sam’s working on their laptops. It’s like working in a busy office. Bring the headphones!

And if you want to go big, I’m in the planning stages for my first Write and Release Retreat. It’ll definitely happen in 2021, but if you let me know you want it NOW, who knows what will happen in 2020?

With love and weirdo support,

Holly


What do you really want?

In a world full of “good vibes only” why do I talk about fear and self-doubt so much? Because these common yet crippling emotions stop so many people from living their actual lives. In a world constricted by fear and self-doubt, there is absolutely no room for “good vibes.”
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I’ve known people so plagued with self-doubt that they go beige when, underneath the facade, they are a prism of color and light.
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I’ve also known people who are ruled by fear. Their fear keeps them from dancing, singing, writing…laughing out loud. They “don’t want to look stupid” and — worst of all — judge the brave souls who enthusiastically step up onto the stage of life as ridiculous, impractical dreamers.
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If you’ve struggled in any way with fear or self-doubt, here’s how I have worked to overcome these evil destroyers in myself.
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I feel my feelings, then do what I want to do. 
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Since kindergarten, I wanted to be a singer. I was one of those kids who “practiced” in my bedroom for hours and sang in the choir but never NEVER tried out for a solo. 
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When I was a teenager, I was asked if I wanted to sing with my friend’s band. My mom said, “no way,” and I let that be the end of it. I doubted that I knew what was best for me (and that my mom must know better). I was too scared to expose myself to ridicule or “getting in trouble,” so I stayed locked in the bedroom.
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By the time I was in college, I chose to focus on the academic, the intellectual. I still loved music, so I decided to work at the college radio station instead of pursuing my lifelong dream of singing. Then, I got married and the music stopped altogether.
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When my son was 2 ½ years old, I realized I had betrayed myself, I had betrayed my heart and soul, my very being. I couldn’t allow my son to grow up with a mother who didn’t at least try to make a go of it as a singer/songwriter.
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So, at 30-years-old, I picked up the guitar, got myself a few lessons, wrote my first couple of songs, and sang at my first open mic six months later.

It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. 
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If you’d like to hear a song from that chapter of my life, click HERE. If you’d like to purchase a signed CD for 10 bucks, email me. I’m still really proud of the music I wrote, and I’d love for you to have it.
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Since my music days, life has been a series of leaps. And boy, have I been scared a LOT. I have doubted myself relentlessly. And yet…and yet, I still take time to dream. And I don’t let those dreams sit idol.
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I let all the feelings move through me, and then I move forward. I try and sometimes fail, but always, I learn.
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During the month of November, I’ll be working on my first novel. People who are still stuck in fear and self-doubt might ask the question, “but what if no one publishes it?”
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That’s not why I’m writing a book! I’m writing a book because I can, because these characters are alive for me, and because I want them to be alive for you, too.
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What are your dreams? How do you want to FEEL in your life?
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I invite you to find out. Join me on New Year’s Day for Intention: an afternoon to reflect, renew, and reignite your inner fire. What better way to start the new year than by devoting a few hours to your dreams?

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Register HERE.
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And speaking of dreams, I’ll be sharing inspiration along with all the real deal whoa-is-me moments of the novel re-visioning process (along with reflections on life and yoga) on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Join me if you haven’t already.
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Yours in truth and love,

Holly

Finding Beauty in the Strangest Places

We walked into the lobby of the hotel rolling our suitcases behind us. As we stood in line with our fellow travelers to check in, I overheard two women talking. 
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“Oh, I live here in Vegas. I just wanted to get a room. It takes so long to get her ready.” Her hair was dyed blonde, and she was standing next to the couches that are always set up in hotel lobbies for lounging and, mostly, waiting.
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The woman she spoke to sat on the couch with two children. She wrapped her hand lightly around a long ponytail pouring like golden light from her daughter’s head.
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“Oh, her hair takes forever! Look how long it is!” The woman wailed as if to say, I’m with you, girl. We’re on the same side.
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But I knew better. I immediately knew that this was no friendly banter between two mothers meeting at the park. These women were here for a…
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Little Girl Beauty Pageant
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I sighed and I turned to my traveling partner. “Marilyn, we’ve officially landed in Las Vegas,” I said and proceeded to explain my theory that we might be entering the land of Little Miss Sunshine or, more accurately Toddlers and Tiaras.
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We came to Las Vegas for a professional development retreat for Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA for short) workshop facilitators. Writing group leaders like me traveled from all over the world to meet for the weekend, share ideas and inspiration, and…to WRITE.
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Later that evening, we discovered that not only were the girls and their mothers staying at our hotel, but that the pageant was taking place in the banquet room right across the hall from our little meeting room. 
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My terrifying beauty pageant theory had become reality.
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As we entered the building, little girls between the ages of 4 and 6 strutted and twirled, their faces airbrushed into powdery marshmallows, their hair tortured into submission, teased and hair sprayed into immobile cotton candy-like structures. 
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What does a group of quiet writing group leaders who love reading, healing, and helping people become more true to themselves do in a surreal situation such as this?
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We write.
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This is the magic of the AWA method. When you gather writers together in a circle, allowing them to let their voices flow freely through the pen and, later, through the physical act of speaking, it doesn’t matter where you are.
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To be honest, I wondered why on earth anyone would schedule a writer’s gathering in Las Vegas. I’m still unsure, but I know that wherever I am, I can find beauty.

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Real beauty. Authentic beauty.
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The next day, I saw some of the little girls at the pool. They splashed and played, make-up and fancy free. No matter what their mothers had done to them the night before, they could still be little girls the next day.
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It gave me hope (and, to be honest, loads of writing inspiration). 
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As I walked down the sidewalk towards the strip the next morning, I followed not the neon and glitter but, instead, turned my focus to the shadows and the shapes that made them.

The more I let go of my judgments (because I came with a suitcase full) and allowed myself to pay attention to the gritty, beautiful, TRUE world beneath the facades, I felt nothing but peace and gratitude.
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How strange to feel blessed in a place called Sin City! This, I did not expect. I think it has something to do with practice.
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Come, practice with me! We meet for Word Gathering Women’s Writing Circle this Friday at 10:00 am and for Yoga this Thursday at 4:30 pm and Sunday at 6:00 pm at Ritual and next Tuesday at 8:45 am at the Orangevale Community Center

~Holly

Don’t You Love Books?

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

John Green
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Have you ever read a book that changed you so deeply, you barely knew what to do next? Part of you wanted to tell everyone in the world. Part of you wanted to stay in bed and think about it forever, swimming in the memory of how it made you feel. 
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This is the power of the written word.
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Other than flesh and bone human relationships, nothing has transformed me more than a good book. That’s why I’ve decided to offer a few book-related resources for readers and writers throughout the fall.
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First, drum roll please
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Book Swap at the Story Loft!

What: A chance to clear your bookshelves and find new treasures

Where: 1719 25th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816

When: Saturday, October 26, 2:30 – 4:30 pm

How: Bring $5 plus at least one book. Leave with as many books as you want!

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(leftover books will be donated to the Sacramento Library, at least 50% of the proceeds will go to The Sacramento Poetry Center, and the rest will be used to replace the harsh fluorescent light in the Story Loft with something more supportive to writing eyes)
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This event will be held at the writing space where I host Word Gathering. I share this space with writer and master writing facilitator, Jan Haag. It’s a funky space, and we love it. 
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And speaking of love stories, I love STORIES and helping others find the stories within themselves. I’m a lifelong listener, and I believe wholeheartedly that telling your story (whether it is a written epic saga or telling your truth in a difficult conversation) is essential for growth and peace. 
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This is why I am dedicating more and more time to helping others extract the golden elixir that is their truth and their voice. Yes, I can help. I work with people in THREE ways:
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Story Whispering

This is where you get my undivided attention. Here’s the truth: group work freaks some people out. They don’t want everybody in their business. They want one-to-one support. They NEED it. If you are working on a writing project, or need help trusting your own voice, I have three spots available for private clients. Let’s talk about working together to support YOUR voice.
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Book It

You are writing a book that needs to be written. You have set the intention. You have started. Now what? Now, it’s time to Book It! This is an intentional community, a 4 month let’s-get-serious immersive support group & mentorship for book writers who will become authors. Registration for the next round starts in November, and we’ll have our first meeting in January! Email me at hollyAThollyholtDOTcom if you are interested in finding out more.
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Word Gathering

Hey, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Come write with me! I offer prompts and inspiration. You write what needs to be written. People have written whole first drafts of novels in groups like this, and some have come to practice the art of using their voice and being heard. Sign-up HERE. We meet Friday morning and *NOW* Wednesday evenings (limited).
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Finally, if you love book recommendations, I’ll be sharing one book each week that helped me see the world from a whole new perspective. These books helped me become brave, to find my own voice, to live my own life. Some of them simply immersed me in their story. So, without further ado here is the first of many:
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Books that Will Never Leave my Bookshelves

(aka I will not be bringing this one to the Book Swap)
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Tiny But Mighty by Hannah Shaw

Okay, I know! It’s not a transformational book in the way people usually expect, but it has been SO helpful. When I found a slew of kittens in my yard and on our neighborhood streets, I had no idea what to do (if you missed my last newsletter, read about it here). Sometimes, the right person writes the right book at the right time. This was it for me. If you ever find yourself inundated with feral kittens, before you send them to the pound, read this book. You can also check out her videos on YouTube (again, so helpful).
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And just in case you were wondering, the kittens are doing well. Visit me here https://www.instagram.com/kittensandsoup/ or here https://www.instagram.com/hollyholtwrites/ for updates!
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Let’s keep the world of books a reality by writing AND reading them. 

Until next time,

Holly

Doing What Needs To Be Done

“What is yours to do?”

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This is the question I’ve been living with for the past few weeks, and I’m exhausted!

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This is Soup. More on her later!

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You see, right before the 4th of July, my husband found a little kitten underneath our car in the driveway. He was thin, looked dehydrated and, frankly, on the edge of death. I swooped him up into my arms and took him inside.

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After a few hours of rest and hydration, we heard crying outside the door. It was mama cat. After checking the trusty Google for answers, we released the kitten to his mother, and he began nursing immediately.

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This was only the beginning. 

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Mama and baby along with a little grey and white tagalong started coming to the front door for visits and food. Something in me knew that this is what they needed. And, maybe, it was what I needed, too.

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In the past, I would have NEVER fed a “stray” because I believed I would be contributing to “the problem.” I had been taught that outdoor cats were wild things, that someone irresponsible had dumped them, and that they were absolutely NOT my responsibility.

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Again, something in me knew different. Something was calling me into action.

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The kitten explosion continued a few weeks later when I found a tiny, palm-sized creature toppling along the front walkway. The baby was skeletal, eyes crusted over with goo. I wiped the baby’s eyes with a warm, sterile cloth and went back outside in search of mama. She was a beautiful black and white hisser who we soon named “Cookie.” She also had two more babies hidden in the juniper bushes in the front yard.

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Over the next few days, I captured one kitten after the other, wiped eyes, and sent them back to the nest. I knew (again, after Google research and a conversation with a volunteer at Fluff Buddies cat rescue) that I was in no place – yet – to bottle feed three kittens. They would stay with Cookie until they started weaning (about five to six weeks old).

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The information from the cat rescue people dried up fast, so I went back to the internet. YouTube this time. There, I found Hannah Shaw, the Kitten Lady. What a goldmine! Soon, a secret benefactor sent me a copy of Tiny But Mighty, the Kitten Lady’s book. 

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Her book and videos inspired me, once again, to take action. Usually, action is not my super power. On most days, I ponder. I wait. I wonder.

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This time was different. Why? Well, it started about five years ago when four little kittens were born in our backyard. At the time, I went into a panic. I ignored. I let them become feral. Soon, I didn’t see them anymore until….

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The great cat explosion of 2019.

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Here’s what I wrote about it all recently on Instagram:

A wise woman told me recently that when feral cats come into your life, consider them a metaphor for the unruly, disowned parts of yourself. The first time they came was a few years back. Four kittens were born in our backyard. I absolutely couldn’t deal with them at the time. I believed the inner voice that said, “You are not to be trusted to care for such wild, tender things. You are not capable.”

Well, things have changed. I have changed. This time, three  little shadows (and a few larger ones) have arrived at my doorstep to give me another chance to love. And, this time, I’m ready for the challenge. This time, I’m ready to invite them (and all of myself) to thrive. They will be loved fully, and so will I.

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So my answer to the question, “What is yours to do?” Rescue cats. Help them. Help the neighborhood by TNRing (trap/neuter/release) as many potential mama and papa cats as I can. I’ve learned that THIS is the best way to control the “feral” cat population. Not euthanasia.

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We’ve also officially adopted the little grey and white tag-a-long. Her name is Soup. She is helping raise the three kittens inside. We’ll be caring for them until they are ready to be adopted.

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Meet (from left to right) Ramen, Stew Pot, and Pad Thai

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Yes, I am looking for two to three forever homes! If you’d like to keep up with the action at the Holt Cat Sanctuary, follow me on Instagram @kittensandsoup.

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This is what is mine to do.

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This work, along with my regularly scheduled yoga and writing groups, has given me a renewed sense of purpose. It has also reconnected me with the disowned part of myself: the wild, the little girl who loved (and still loves) cats. 

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I’ve also realized that, sometimes, what is ours to do is hard. It is expensive (financially, emotionally, physically). It is magical for the very reason that it is unexpected. And it can break your heart open (the first kitten was adopted by a little girl down the street and mysteriously died of pneumonia).

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Perhaps, we don’t need to search the world for what is ours to do. Perhaps, we simply need to step outside.


The Nature and Complexity of Telling the Truth

I took a trip down the virtual rabbit hole over the weekend to revisit one of my favorite blogs of all time, Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. The depth and breadth of her offering astounds me every time I – ahem – take the time to read it.

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I ended up landing on Adrienne Rich, whose poetry and prose shift something in me every time I read her. In this post, Maria Popova shares Adrienne Rich’s deep contemplation of lying and what truth really means. 

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I think I’ll be ordering her book On Lies, Secrets, and Silence as soon as I finish this post! Ms. Rich says: 

Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler — for the liar — than it really is, or ought to be. Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity. But it’s a movement into evolution.

I talk a lot about truth. And yet, I see all the ways I have lied to myself, to others, to the world to “make it simpler than it ought to be.” 

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Maybe that’s why the practice of yoga – the inner exploration of it, the self-realization part of it – has become a thread almost as strong as my writing practice. Both modalities uncover truths we may or may not want to see.

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But uncover we must.

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Ms. Rich goes on to say:

Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.

We do this every time we show up, not glossing over our pain, not “over-helping” to take the focus off of ourselves.

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We do it when we replace all “nice-nice” with transparency. We do this every time we vulnerably we sigh and say, “Yeah…me, too.”

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We do this when we take breaks for rest in yoga class or when we go a little further into a pose (even when no one else in the room is doing it) because it feels TRUE.

Vintage Yoginis

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We do this when we step into the writing room and let the pen fly. We dive even deeper into the vulnerable yet so powerful truth when we are daring enough to share what we have written…even if it makes us cringe.

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Or, to take some baby steps, why not read a  good memoir? Why not choose one from this list? I’d also say anything by Anne Lamott will do. Or get scandalous (as I am right now) with The Diaries of Anais Nin.

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Truth is subjective, a quality that has not been valued by the “now, settle down and think rationally” masculine energy of our dominant culture. The truth, so often, can be inconvenient.

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Sometimes, the truth is mad. Sometimes the truth is horrifying. Sometimes the truth is so hard it makes you want to crawl into a hole and never come out again.

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But we must not hide!

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Please, take stock. Where do you lie to yourself? Where do you lie to others? Yes, we all do it. But the practice is to do it less, to trust that our whole, real, forever broken selves are capable of surviving all this “realness.” 

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You wanna get real with me? Yoga for Grown-Ups starts next Tuesday, August 20. Hatha Yoga + Sound continues every Thursday and Sunday at Ritual. And if you haven’t taken the deep dive yet, Word Gathering meets again on Friday, August 30.

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Supporting your truth and mine,

Holly


Are You Afraid of Being Found Out?

Remember that time I promised to revisit the subject of fear? Fear is the unconscious force that can keep us from risking in relationships, putting ourselves out there professionally/creatively, or living the life we truly (at a soul/gut level) desire.  
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For years, my basic human need to belong was holding me hostage. I was afraid that if people knew the “real me,” they wouldn’t love me anymore. I was afraid of being found out.
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My behavior was a big clue that I was not comfortable bringing my whole self into a room. A friend from college asked me what I thought of her when we first met. I said, “Friendly and open.” When I asked her the same question, she said, “Snooty.”
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Ouch.
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And one of my fellow yoga teacher trainees told me (a few years after we’d graduated) that I was “Stone Cold Steve Austin” in training. She couldn’t read me. I was closed off. 
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This graceful ostrich type behavior was a symptom of self-betrayal. It was certainly a form of spiritual bypassing
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Even just a few short months ago, I bumped right into this form of fear. I wrote this article about my mom. I was freaked that she wouldn’t like it, that I had betrayed some kind of unspoken family agreement by writing about her. I had almost convinced myself that I could hide it from her forever and never risk her judgment.
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Well, turns out she loved it.
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And what I’ve discovered as I begin to share my truth more readily, as I open my heart more completely to others, I am not abandoned. In fact, people seem to respect and love me more for trusting them with my vulnerable humanness.
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It might just have been my penchant for public vulnerability that got me the gig as a feature writer for Somatic Psychotherapy Today. My column is called Life Notes, and my latest article, The Yoga of Midlife, is featured in the July issue.
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If you want to know more about how the body and the mind work together, how your past informs your present, and how your body holds your stories, you might want to consider a subscription (it’s the only way you’ll be able to read my column for now). 
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And for those of you who have been wanting to come to Word Gathering but were stopped by the fear of being found out, I invite you to come this Friday at 10:00 am. You will be supported. You will be heard.
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However you choose to risk, whatever you do to overcome your fear, congratulations! It’s worth it.
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With love and support for your whole self,
Holly

The Perils of the Doing Culture

What did you do today?

What do you do for a living?

What are you doing with your life?

What do you want to do?

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These questions, like church bells ringing to mark the hours, are part of the rhythm of American life. But I’ve been seriously wondering lately, how do they serve? 
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I think about my college-aged son when he reveals he is working toward a degree in – gasp! – Painting. He has to field questions like:

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“What are you going to DO with THAT?”
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More frustrating still are the times when people answer their own question, as they often did when they asked the same question of me, the little old English Major.
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“Oh, right, you can teach!” As if that solved the mysteries of the universe.
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Why is it that people feel like they have the right to formulate our life stories in their heads?

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Why does the DOING matter so much?
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Don’t get me wrong. I love looking around at my clean house after I’ve spent hours mopping, wiping, buffing, shining. 
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But what I love more is the process.
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The inherent demand when someone asks about DOING is RESULT. What will be the result of your doing today? Show me something tangible.

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But, as anyone who has had an epiphany, a profound transformation, or an awakening knows, the tangible just doesn’t cut it.
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What’s underneath the doing? What is the need? What is the programming? What are the archaic expectations? Where do we go from here?
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And I’ll just say it:

There is nowhere to go but here. 
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What would it feel like to stop. To BE. No expectations. No planning. No results required. 
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Take a breath. Rest into THIS moment. Pay attention. How does it smell? Sound? Notice the quality of light. Any aches and pains? How does your heart feel? Exhale.
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Now, get ready for work, the party, the family gathering, knowing that you don’t HAVE to be defined by what you do, what you did, or what you will do now or ever.
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You don’t have to accept that what you DO is synonymous with who you ARE.

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With love and support for your very being,

Holly