Write to Empower and my YES! Moment

By Tracy Burgess

Past the Threshold Blogger | Creator of Write to Empower

When is the last time you felt a full body chill or like confetti was being pumped through your bloodstream? When every cell inside you vibrated and converged together to let you know you made the right decision? Let me tell you about my YES! Moment.

My performance coach, Sarah Willoughby, painstakingly worked with me for about two months to disentangle the disorganized, directionless pipe dreams in my notebook. I approached her with pages of ideas and goals strung together like pasta. Which first? Write my book? Pursue a master’s degree? Pursue a new career? Oh – and how could I stay on top of my nutrition, CrossFit, and meditation practices?

Patiently, Sarah helped me narrow down my mission.  My mission is to empower survivors of domestic abuse to redesign their life narrative. How would I do this? When she mentioned the idea of giving workshops, I lit up. Being a perpetual procrastinator, though, I was of course jolted into reality when she required me to choose the start date. I gulped and picked a random date.  It was about to get real.  This was my first Yes! Moment.

It was a holiday weekend. The owner of the local art gallery and co-op advertised she needed volunteers who could help her relocate to her hip new location on Main Street. Once I saw the ad, I knew I only had two days to prepare an entire framework for my curriculum. I could have chickened out. I could have procrastinated and remained lost in doubt that the owner would support me. But I chose to get it together and stop procrastinating. I said YES! There was an inner knowing that settled deep down in my gut. It was time to work.

I thought BIG. What would my absolute most ideal class I look like, and how would I teach it?  How exactly did I heal myself from domestic abuse and manipulative relationships over the years?  My clients would literally and emotionally redefine and master their own story through research-based practices of expressive and poetic writing. They would do it through journaling, meditation, poetry, nutrition, flow state, routine, risk taking, visualization, planning for the future – everything I’d naturally gravitated toward during my own peaks and valleys. I created a hybrid model that involved live and virtual teaching and a private Facebook group.  

By the end of the course, I pictured my clients walking away with bound books or projects – clean hard copies of their new story as an art form, bursting with their own empowering, edgy, raw expressions of overcoming pain and stepping into their worth and ambitions. Everything hidden in my thirteen journals – the elation, despondency, despair, victories, to-do lists, receipts, college transcripts, ironic cartoons, dark sketches – went into designing Write to Empower.

Before I knew it, I’d built the framework for the class – a six month program consisting of eight modules. I printed out an official plan. It included the eight module descriptions, a calendar schedule, and the end goal. I showed up to the art gallery in my work jeans, and nervous as hell to talk about my idea.

I was astounded when the owner said YES! It was a resounding YES! – not to just a few classes, but the entire program. Suddenly I heard her asking me about a business logo, and what was my price? But I was too busy feeling that confetti fluttering everywhere in my stomach and feeling huge, scratchy goosebumps poking up out of my arms. My heart was racing. I must have stared at her like she was speaking a foreign language. Because, let’s be real – I wasn’t prepared for that full on YES! Moment. That afternoon, the triad – my mind, body, and spirit, experienced an exquisite high like no other.

From there, all the pieces fell into place. I took the steps to obtain a business license. I enlisted my graphic designer friend to help with a logo, and began building my first detailed lesson plans. I poured over five books of well-researched expressive writing studies, built Powerpoints, planned my very first meet and greet.

This isn’t just about Write to Empower. This is also about how that one YES! Moment profoundly changed my life trajectory. My social circle grew in quality. I am now immersed in a supportive, empowering group of writers. This one YES! Moment led to so many other Yes! Moments.

I read my poetry on stage – rusty as it became from years of neglect – twice! I gave a domestic violence testimony in front of law enforcement and social workers. I gave a speech both in Yuma and in Phoenix to promote Write to Empower. I recorded my story with Storycorps. I was interviewed on Past the Threshold, and await another podcast interview in Phoenix. I’m getting comfortable with sharing videos of myself with others in Sarah’s mastermind group. For a former victim of domestic abuse, these seemingly insignificant Yes! Moments have been transformative.

You never know how your life may unfold just by answering with this one word.  When will your next Yes! Moment be? 

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