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One of the best ways to become good friends with someone is to let your guard down and share some of your inner most thoughts and feelings. Things that have been rumbling around inside of you for a long time. I didn’t expect to love five strangers, in five days, by doing this or to bond with them in such a profound way, but I did, and our connection with one another is deep and real.

We have become trusted friends.

I met my dear friends last week at Linda Sivertsen’s Carmel Writing Retreat in Carmel, California. We were five women, six including Linda, who came together to learn from her and to have some of her #bookmagic rub off on us. 

Linda has an uncanny way of diving into the heart of what you’ve written and pulling out the gems. Then she offers ways to polish them until they sparkle. 

Linda Sivertsen is a self-described book proposal doctor, author whisperer and midwife or #bookmama to many bestselling books. She’s an agent connector, idea fairy and the author/co-author of eleven books, including two, New York Times bestsellers and a hit digital book, Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, a must read if you want to secure a book agent and a publisher. She is also the host of the uber popular Beautiful Writers Podcast.

You don’t have to be a writer to listen to and enjoy the conversations between Linda and her guests—bestselling authors, agents and book editors—because they talk about more than books. They offer wisdom about life and the staying power needed to make it across the finish line. They reflect on creativity and spirituality, and they share their hard-earned street smarts about the book business. Linda’s guests are too numerous to count, but some of the names you may recognize are Cheryl Strayed, Elizbeth Gilbert, Tom Hanks, Terry McMillan, Glennon Doyle, Candice Bergen, Dani Shapiro and Marianne Williamson. 

Every day at Linda’s writers’ retreat we wrote, ate fabulous food, read our work aloud and cried over what we’d written. We bonded over good tears and unhappy tears, and in some cases, tears of relief. Some of us, like me, were sharing secrets with strangers that we’ve kept hidden for much of our lives. The words we read to one another began as notes to ourselves on our computer, or thoughts we’ve kept in paper journals. Our words and remembrances became therapy for our souls.

If I can pass anything on to you from my week in Carmel, it’s that we must let go of our secrets. 

Perhaps you can confide in a trusted friend who won’t judge you, a therapist or maybe you can chronicle your thoughts in a journal. Regardless we need to find ways to unburden ourselves because secrets are toxic. 

Last week I met five other women I now love, and I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything. Like soldiers on the battlefield who step-in and lift one another up when our strength and courage ebbs, we will continue to be there for one another. Do you have someone like that in your life? If not perhaps you might give some thought about finding one.

If you’re a writer, and you’re ready to take the next step with your writing, you might checkout Linda’s Carmel writing retreats. It is one of the best gifts you will ever give yourself.

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Hi Girlfriends,

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    • Thanks, Barbara! Mine is the black Vince slip-on, the only pair of shoes I took with me. I wore them with everything. Even when I travel to Europe I only take two carry-on bags. I pair things down to the bare minimum. xoxox, Brenda

  1. This retreat was so good for you in so many ways. I get the feeling that not one single woman there was posturing or mentally condemning another. I’m sure you have been in groups of women in the past where there was one who did not enter into the spirit of the gathering and was secretly distanced and disdainful. This post gives me hope that there are wonderful, sincere and sharing folks out there. Yeshua Messiah has admonished us to love one another. I think you found that love!

    Yeah, which shoe was yours? That is a cool photo. Reminds me of a picture that was taken at my daughter’s wedding with the different shoes all the gals wore.

    • Hi Donna! Yes, I was with a group of girlfriends not long ago and one of them was cold and distant and made it clear she had a problem with one of us. The women in California were all generous and offered great ideas to make each other’s books better. It was like drinking from the well of renewing spirit. My shoe… I’m wearing the black Vince slip-on. Very comfortable. xoxox, Brenda

  2. Glad to read it was such a great experience for you in CA. Writing was a really good initial connection, being creative and very personal, for all of you to enjoy an intimate camaraderie so quickly.

    In lieu of having a friend to open up about ourself, I would go a step further saying that everyone should see a therapist at some time in their life whether it is weeks, months or years. My husband and I both feel strongly about this, that it would make us all better, more receptive and understanding human beings. Does it heal our wounds? Not always, but therapy does allow them to heal so we no longer pick at them.

    I find sometimes sharing with strangers (like in a grocery check out line) is easier than with those closest to us. We don’t know each other, there is a momentary connection, perhaps with a smile or a comment, and suddenly we are talking on subjects we would not normally broach with family and friends. This happened with a cashier just the other day at Walmart. Makes me smile.

    • What a great observation, Paula. What we’d written painted a picture mere words in conversation might not have done. I love your story about the person you met at Walmart. I struck up a conversation with three different women while walking down the street in NYC and two women on airplanes that turned out to be lasting friendships to this day. One of these women went with me to Italy a few years ago. You just never know where a chance meeting will take you. And your experience with a therapist is an example of what therapy is supposed to do for us! Brilliant comment, Paula! Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  3. Wow! I want an experience like that. Does this mean your book will be published? We’ve been waiting forever to read it. For now I’m just glad you’re blogging again and I can wake up and read your wonderful wisdom in my email. Barb

    • Thank you, Barbara! I’m happy to be back blogging as well. I’ve missed everyone and our “conversation between strangers.” I continue to polish my manuscript and book proposal and plan to submit them to agents before the year is out. Thanks for asking!! xoxox, Brenda

  4. Good morning Brenda

    How appropriate to read this blog after attending a funeral last week. “We must let go of our secrets – unburden our secrets because they are toxic.” At the service it was revealed that the deceased had been an active participate in the war at a very young age. He received a medal for saving lives. He had never spoken about this to anyone for 63 years as he had made a promise. Then he started having nightmares and insomnia for 3 years. His doctor was very compassionate and encouraged him for the good of his health to talk openly about what he was perhaps hiding. He told the doctor about his role in the war. His nightmares ceased. At the reception I was fortunate to receive a copy (chapter) of his personal account Memories of War – it had been a very harrowing time in his life. I know it was very therapeutic for him to write his account and share it with others.

    • Dear Rose, Oh, my! Don’t you know there are millions of young men and women who’ve kept their participation in war a secret, and it’s understandable. The valiant warriors who returned from WWII came home heroes, but those who served in Vietnam were shunned and spit on. Tragic! Unforgivable! They’d been drafted by their country to go to war and then their country turns on them. The political tides may change, but it’s more than the “enemy” and their families who suffer when this happens. I’m happy the man you mentioned unburdened himself of his secrets. What a great story to share, Rose. Thank you. xoxox, Brenda

  5. So glad you got to go, and fantastic to make such a great connection to these women! And to glean the wisdom of such a success as Linda is such a blessing! I’m SO happy you had such supportive women there to help encourage you in your gift and shine those gems! Excited for you to get the book submitted, and will pray as you continue to prepare and place it in the right spot.

    And I knew right off which shoe was yours! 😀 You always look smart and together. 😀

    Love and hugs!

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