ONLINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Ashley: What do you do as a certified Martha Beck Life Coach?
Nerissa: I help people uncover their inborn joy and creativity, mostly through writing, but also through learning how to listen to their bodies, talking, and recognizing limiting beliefs.
Ashley: What is Writing it up in the garden?
Nerissa: Writing it Up in the Garden is the name of my weekly writing workshops and occasional weekend retreats. I take groups of up to six writers (twelve for retreats) and create a safe and comfortable environment in which to write. I start writers off with a prompt, and we write for about 50 minutes. Then we re-group and share what has been written with non-prescriptive, supportive feedback (we look to what is good in the piece. We save the “pruning” for a later date.)
Ashley: What are some ways we can create containers for time and space to do practices, such as writing?
Nerissa: -do it first thing in the morning, or some other time when you know you won’t be distracted. Best to find a consistent time (or times) of day to write, and to do it daily. -write with a timer -write for a limited number of pages -write with a buddy -write in a group -make dates with yourself and write in coffeeshops -hire a coach! -notice your biorhythms and write when you have energy
Ashley: How is writing a practice, just as yoga is a practice?
Nerissa: There is no end game in either, though we can be tricked into thinking otherwise. We can THINK the goal is publication (for writing) or enlightenment/fitness for yoga. But the real goods are in the practice itself. In both, we are present, in the moment, for our experience. While it’s been wonderful to have my books published, my songs performed by others, checks in the mail for the books and CDs I sell, or even praise for my work, nothing can compare to the sweetness I have felt when I come up with THAT PHRASE, or THAT NOTE. Actually, nothing can compare to the relationship I have built with myself over time, in that sacred space I make and maintain for writing (or yoga). I show up for myself. And what I know now is that I am a trustworthy person because of that.
Ashley: What are some ways we can be at ease with what we have?
Nerissa: Practice gratitude! Enumerate the good things we have, especially when we want a particular something else. Notice how great the kitchen we do have is when we start fantasizing about someone else’s. Notice how healthy and strong your own body is when you start to wish you had thinner thighs. Notice how well your car runs when you start complaining about how shabby it is. I have my clients do this in writing.
Also, it helps to clean up and declutter. Often we hate what we have because we’re not really taking care of it, e.g. paying attention to it. Or we actually have too much stuff, and what we really want is empty space.
Ashley: Who can benefit from coaching?
Nerissa: People who are ready to tell the truth to themselves about themselves. People who want to grow.
7. How is life like a couch? AH! I love this. I believe the universe is ultimately waiting for us to cry “Uncle” and flop down on our bellies on a nice, soft couch. It’s when we admit our weaknesses that we can start to get well. Also, it’s been my experience that everything goes better when we take little breaks and rest. Couches are better than beds for resting (because in a bed you could fall asleep for TOO long.) And I think there’s a kindness to the universe, to Reality, that is not unlike a couch. And a couch, unlike a chair, sits two. Coaching is all about keeping company.