Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stealth Strategies

Sometimes you have to get sneaky to get around your own defenses, have to use stealth if you want to know the truth about your life, no matter how hard and wonderful that life has been. The new book is a memoir, so it is deeply personal. I know, if you’ve read the other books I’ve written you’re probably wondering how it could get any more personal.
But it can. And it does. And some of it is not pretty. Some of it is hard.
For a while, each time I wrote for a couple of days, I would get very sick, and that’s not a fun way to live.
So, now I write fast in small pieces, no edits, no reviewing. And then I go out and walk. I walk for miles after I write one of the stories from my childhood. I walk to feel my skin, bones, muscles and sinew meet the earth and the icy wind on my face. I listen to the sound of my inhale, the release of my exhale, the rhythm of my beating heart echoed in my blood.
I walk to make sure I stay here, because here is where I want to be.
As I walk I invite another story to come. Sometimes I walk for a couple of days before the same story pops up frequently enough to let me know it’s next. I write an identifying detail about the story on a post-it note and put it on my desk, because it is amazing how easily I can “forget” – can go completely unconscious about what story is next.
The next day I get up and go about my day- doing my practise, making a smoothie, putting in a load of laundry, answering emails. And the whole time the neon coloured post-it calls to me like a prayer I offered yesterday that will be answered today.
Today’s post-it says, “Dad’s Funeral,” which is more of an adventure story than that title might suggest.
And at the right moment- like right now, after I write this- I will quickly open the Word document and write about what happened that day and how it left me in awe of our ability to survive and thrive in dark places. Writing like this is like slipping through a door someone left ajar, being careful not to set off any alarms. I’ll slip in, write fast before the inner censors show up, and then slip out.
And then, I’ll go out and walk.
And, Spoiler Alert: it works out well. Even though some of the journey is tough, it lands in a place of joy and gratitude. Sometimes I can't believe it myself, but it's true; the act of writing, of creativity however it manifests in our lives, makes room for more Life to rush in and fill us with awe for simply Being here.
~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2016

I love Karen Davis' photos at Open Door Dreaming. The ones of docks always make me smile as I spent a lot of my best dreaming time as a child sitting or lying down on docks feeling myself amongst the clouds or the stars.


  1. I really like your process and how you just allow yourself and your story to unfold in its own way - giving yourself the space to let it be written... Love the sticky note idea too! :)

  2. Dear Oriah, I have just discovered your beautiful work. This morning I finished The Invitation. Reading your post today is so lovely because I am also writing a memoir and how you describe the way the stories arrive is so true to what I experience. Today I was so much less worried about my work because of something you wrote about writing what wants to be told. This makes it so much less of an ego driven process and gives so much permission for simply allowing what is inside to be released, almost of it's own accord, as long as I listen and am patient. Thanks for writing not only about your life and your wisdom, but about the process too.

    1. If I write anything that helps another to write more- well that really makes me smile. Thank you Jennifer :-)

  3. You inspired me today to write! Thank you!!

  4. I am not an author Oriah , but have two of your books which I absolutely love. For some reason your writing 'lifts' me and enters my soul. I sometimes am moved to tears and sometimes to laughter but always really enjoying your wisdom and the love that comes through the pages. Thank you .