Making Words into Worlds

Lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling light a corridor between bookselves in a library.A long time ago, a little girl had a dream. She wanted to write, and see her name on the spine of a book in the library. She wanted Books of Her Very Own, filled with her own words and her own worlds, for other people to delight in and enjoy, as she had done with books since could first read.

Now, this little girl was prone to Sensibility and Responsibility, so when the Bigger World told her that writing wasn’t a sustainable life choice, she listened. And she got older. She continued writing — reams of poetry, a novel or two, some short stories, a few articles — and shared them with just her friends, maybe sometimes a teacher or professor. Her dream became a very private one, hidden away beneath What It Means to be An Adult, and sheer pragmatism.

Over the fullness of time, that girl became a woman who was lucky enough to attend university twice, pursuing words with an addictive thirst for knowledge and hunger for understanding. She read for a BA (Hons) in English and a MA in Creative Writing. She did these things because she loved words, and loved making words into worlds — but on the outside, she co-founded an Internet company and went on to work in the field for 16 years, because: Adult.

In those years, she continued to adapt and grow on her spiritual path, and went on to become a Spiritual Companion and Spiritual Health Mentor, which helped give her world some balance, away from the technology and help desks. And through it all, she kept writing.

Then came the health crisis, and the realisation that IT was simply where she’d ended up, and that wasn’t the intention at all. With that health crisis, she learned that she had to slow down. And slowing down gave her a lot of time to think and feel, and come to the understanding that words she could write so easily in that world, words like PHP and HTML, and “Have you turned it off and back on again?”, and “Please describe the problem you’re having,” were not the words she wanted to write. This was not the world she wanted to live in.

So, she took a deep breath, and left.

For a while she floundered, no longer part of that world, but unsure where she fit. She took some time to learn her body again, to discover who she was without the “Company Director of an Internet Firm” dropping from her lips whenever someone asked what she did. But she had no idea what words came instead, whenever someone asked this same question. All she knew, as she told her journal, was that she wanted words of her own, and that she wanted to help people who were searching for something more themselves.

This woman, is, of course, me. And this was the moment I took control of my own narrative.

Having heard of, and experienced, Life Coaching in the period after leaving my career in IT, when I found Martha Beck’s Wayfinder Life Coach Training, I jumped in. A Coach I knew told me that it would “make you un-learn being human”, which was a polite way of saying it would lead me through all the hells and back in terms of an identity crisis. And it did. Naïvely, I started my training thinking I’d certify within a few months of graduating, that I’d start my coaching business immediately, that I’d find my place and it would be all roses and kittens and unicorns pooping rainbows.

Of course, it wasn’t.

It would take me three years from the start of that training to process and integrate what I learnt (and I’m still at it). Becoming a Coach also lead me back to that dream that I’d kept hidden away inside, that dream of writing my own words and my own worlds, and offering up to the world Books of My Very Own. And so I took novel manuscripts from their boxes and started to dust them off, whilst also creating new poems, new stories, new novels.

I also discovered that things I thought no one would want to hear about were actually fascinating to other people — what books I’d read, what I knew about creativity, what I’d experienced on my spiritual path, what lit me up. And slowly, I began to connect with people who not only understood these things but wanted to explore them, too. And I found that by talking about these things, and using my Coaching skills, I could help people.

The health crisis forced a change in my identity. Then I wilfully took it apart all over again during training. I realised how very scared I was, this new me with this big dream… But I wanted to help people, and so I started my way down this new path. And I wanted to write and share it, so I began to offer up my words to those I trusted. And slowly these things helped me.

I am a writer and a Coach — a finder of possibilities, of words, of opportunities. In both stories and coaching, we are the changers of narratives and the creators of worlds. We make our words into worlds, both imagined and real. Together, we go from one to the other and back again, because this is the way we understand our lives, and dream new ones into being.

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2 comments

  • Jacquelyn

    October 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, Heather. I am so happy that you re-discovered your Words. It was your Words that first drew me to you so many years ago. You provided Words of Comfort last year when I lost my mother, and I truly believe you have been blessed with the gift of helping others. You have always been an inspiration to me and, though we may not talk often, a great friend. I am so honored to know you and proud that you have taken this brave step of pursuing your passion of writing and helping people discover their own passions.

    1. Heather

      October 13, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you, Jacquelyn! That’s so kind and encouraging of you. I’m so glad we connected all those years ago and that we’re there for each other when we need to be. You’re such a great friend. Thank you again! :)

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