Embracing Wholeness Through Writing with Poet and Author of WRITING BY HEART Meredith Heller

Embracing Wholeness Through Writing with Poet and Author of WRITING BY HEART Meredith Heller

What if your written words and stories hold the secret to unlocking your authentic self?

In this empowering episode, Becca Powers invites poet, singer-songwriter, and author Meredith Heller to explore the transformative power of self-expression through writing and poetry. They discuss how writing is a path home and emphasize its role in reconnecting with oneself. 

Join us on a journey of discovery as we delve into the depths of creative expression and unearth the radiance within.

Discovering “Writing by Heart”:

Meredith Heller takes us on a journey through her poetic world, where writing becomes a refuge and a friend. From her early struggles to surviving on her own at a young age to finding solace and empowerment through poetry. This journey led her to author "Writing by Heart", a book that beautifully portrays a path toward self-understanding and as a lifelong refuge of steadfast friendship with yourself.

Embracing Authentic Expression:

Through Meredith's experiences, she shares that writing is not just about crafting words but about delving deep into our inner selves and embracing all aspects of our humanity. It is a journey of reconnecting with our true essence and radiating our unique light into the world.

Overcoming Obstacles with Resourcefulness:

Meredith emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself and embracing resourcefulness, even in the face of adversity. Meredith's workshops and writings empower individuals to find their voices, share their truths, and stand tall in their authenticity.

The Reciprocity of Self-Expression:

As the episode concludes, Becca and Meredith remind us of the profound reciprocity of self-expression. By nurturing our creativity and honoring our truths, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute to the collective heart of humanity. 


Key Moments You Won't Want to Miss:

  • Writing Reveals Your Authenticity: Meredith discusses how writing allows individuals to dip into their inner selves and be completely honest about what's bubbling up in their hearts and minds.
  • Giving Yourself a Permission to be True: Learn the importance of permitting yourself to be true in your creative expression, without doing it for anyone outside of yourself or aiming to impress others.
  • Building a Relationship with Writing: Becca and Meredith share how writing can become a pathway to reconnecting with yourself and understanding your power, intuition, and deeper truths.
  • Weaving Disconnected Parts into Wholeness: Meredith talks about how writing allows individuals to weave together the disconnected parts of their lives and selves, creating a sense of belonging and wholeness by giving expression to all aspects of their being.
  • Finding Beauty in Obstacles: Both Becca and Meredith explore the concept of seeing obstacles as part of the path and finding beauty and growth in the challenges that arise, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.
  • Believing in Yourself: They conclude with the powerful reminder to believe in yourself and your creative abilities, knowing that your authentic expression matters and has the potential to make a difference in the world.

Empowering Thoughts to Take With You:

  • “Writing is a path home, poetry writing is how I walk myself and others home.” – Meredith Heller
  • “Don't write for anybody outside yourself.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “I like to hold the space for people when we write to discover something that you didn't know you knew, but you do about yourself.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “The pen is the key, the paper is the door. Put your pen to paper and open the door.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “Writing is a way of tracking our journey and it helps us integrate what's going on so that we can see it and make sense of it.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “Being true to ourselves is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “Believe in yourself. Do something every day that makes you happy to be you.”  – Meredith Heller
  • “Don't write to show other people, write for yourself” – Becca Powers
  • “It is in reconnecting to ourselves that we understand who we are. We understand our power. We understand how we're connected, and who we should be connected to according to our intuition.”  – Becca Powers
  • “You are so much stronger than you think you are.”  – Becca Powers
  • “No matter what stage you're on in your journey, there's a beautiful unfolding waiting for you.”  – Becca Powers

About Meredith:

Meredith Heller is the author of Writing by Heart, Write a Poem, Save Your Life, and several poetry collections. A poet, singer-songwriter, avid nature lover, and educator with degrees in writing and education, she leads writing workshops online and in-person at schools, juvenile detention centers, women’s prisons, and wellness retreats.

Connect with Meredith Heller:


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Welcome to another episode of the empowered half hour, and I cannot wait to bring you today's guest, Meredith Heller. She is the author of this wonderful book that I'm holding up Writing by Heart, and she's going to tell you more about it, but I have had the pleasure of diving into it a little bit prior to our meeting.

It uses poems to guide you through transformation and then puts you into writing, which she'll talk all more about, but your process here just felt so wonderful. Like, it felt good to my soul, like soft and nourishing and guiding and strong. All at the same time. So I cannot wait to dump this power into the audience.

Let's get into the first question. What's the backstory to Writing by Heart?


The Story Behind 'Writing by Heart' 

I left home young. I left home when I was 12, or 13 years old, and raised myself living out in the woods along the Potomac River in Maryland, about 20 minutes outside of Washington, DC, and writing poetry.

I'm also a singer-songwriter, and writing poetry and songs is really what saved my life. That led me to teach poetry, and writing to teens for empowerment who were going through this tough time that so many of us go through as teens taught in the schools as a poet for 30 years and then during the pandemic, I started teaching workshops for women and that is what has now blossomed. So I went from the first book, which is “Write a Poem, Save Your Life.” This came out in 2021. This is the 30 years of work I did teaching poetry, and writing to teens in the schools and at juvenile hall. And now the new book, “Writing by Heart.” I've been thinking recently about these two books and the first book, “Write a Poem, Save Your Life.” It feels like I wrote it in blood. And this book just came out, feels like I wrote it in honey. And the journey is from survival to love. And I feel that so many of us are on this journey. And like Ram Dass says, we are all just walking each other home. Writing is a path home, poetry writing is how I walk myself and others home.

I felt the truth in what you're saying so much that it brought me to tears because there's a thing that I understand being a writer too. So, for the listeners, she's with the New World Library. And as you know, I cannot wait till I get to release my book with the New World Library in October, but there's something to what you said.

I just want to bring it forward to the audience. so you may not know this about me since we just met, but I grew up in a musical family. My parents were full-time musicians when I was born. I just told you that I have a love affair with Stevie Nicks. I just saw her at concerts, but songs and poems have always been a part of my upbringing since I was a kid.

And I've had this understanding that they are a way to express yourself. And even more so I talk about radiance a lot. I feel like they are a conduit for that, for your radiance to come through and to shine. So I would love for you to talk a little bit about that if that's okay. 

Embracing Authenticity: Writing for Yourself, Not for Others

I love the whole way that you hold that and know that in yourself. And I relate that very much to what happens in the process. When I and other people, the people who come to my workshops, anybody who works with the book, what happens in the process when we start writing, writing becomes a refuge and also a deep friend, a place where we can dip into what's happening in ourselves, what's bubbling up in our bellies and our hearts and be honest. And we take this, usually, we start with an overwhelming feeling, which I believe also as a musician is what all music comes from, feeling.

And I believe most poetry, most creative expression comes from feeling, where it's so much that at some point we can't hold it and we have to spill over, or as you're saying, radiate, it exudes. 

I want to pull a little bit more through for the listeners. because I think there's an opportunity. A lot of people might not think that they're a writer, maybe they haven't had an inkling of writing or they think it might be hard or they have preconditions from English back in high school and college that they're not a writer.

And I always encourage people not to write to show other people, write for yourself, because, and I'd like for you to talk about that and almost in a way. Maybe give the audience permission to write.

It's so important and, I laugh when you say that, people come out of schooling thinking they can't write or are completely intimidated and I laugh, but it's very painful and so many people have that and, I love to help people unlearn.

that piece of our conditioning, and the kind of writing that we do in my workshops or that you'll do as you follow along with the book, first of all, I use poetry these days as an umbrella term for all personal, self-reflective, expressive writing, and all forms of writing are welcome. If you come to the workshop or you work along in the book, poetry, prose, story, heart spill, mind spill, song, lyrics, make up your form just right when, now, not when you feel better, not when you think it's interesting right now, no matter what is going on, this is what's going on. that's one piece of it. The other piece is exactly what you said. Don't write for anybody outside yourself. You're not trying to get anywhere. You're not trying to impress anybody. 

I like to hold the space for people when we write to discover something you didn't know you knew, but you do about yourself. And that insight that you get from making a connection with your creativity, with deep psyche, with your muse, with whatever you call that thing that comes through and opens, that you learn something. You begin to build a relationship with your writing and with that part of you that listens to yourself and that's what brings us back again and again because that is what is alive.

I believe deep in my soul and my heart that it is the disconnection with ourselves. As I was going to say, depression, and despair, I witnessed my parents when they stopped interacting with their muse, they unfortunately both passed away very early, much earlier than they should have, at different times and stuff.

But I believe that's why I believe in this recall, this return to radiance. Sorry. Like you're telling me like letting that creative expression flow through you and come out through you because it is in that reconnecting to ourselves that we understand who we are, we understand our power, we understand how we're connected, and who we should be connected to our intuition.

There's so much that for me personally has unfolded as I've allowed that to happen. And I love that you just shared that because it's a confirmation that writing is a way to bring that connection back. 

I love what you're saying. you have such a beautiful way of holding and connecting different pieces to give them meaning and that's one of the things that happens in writing that we take all of these disconnected parts that are happening in our lives and the disconnected parts of ourselves and we weave them back into belonging and we weave ourselves back into wholeness by allowing them. Whatever is here without a judgment of this is allowed and this isn't.

So when we go back to the word you said before, permission, giving ourselves permission to be all of ourselves. When you're working with this book, Writing by Heart, or you're coming to my workshops. All of you are welcome here, your fear, your anger, your sorrow, your grieving, your depression, your hot mess, your beauty, your brilliance, your bravery, your joy, your longing, your love, it's all welcome here. 


Hardship as a Path to Growth

I think one of the biggest things that I've learned is the hard stuff that comes up in our lives, we always think, Oh, this is an obstacle to my path and the greatest thing that I am learning with myself and working with all of my students is that the obstacles are the path, the hard stuff that comes up, the devastation, the things that take us all the way down to where we didn't think there was any bottom to that abyss. This is where we learn to sit and be present with ourselves to find a way to name in our writing, what is overwhelming and to give it expression to see it, with kindness and curiosity and compassion and courage and to have it mirrored back to us through our writing. Wow. Where did I come up with that?

That's exactly what I'm feeling. And then it's like, wow, there is a magic that happens here. When I put pen to paper, I say the pen is the key, the paper is the door. Put your pen paper and open the door. What's on the other side of the door? You, your stories, your own medicine, your wisdom for yourself.

And then you're here going, I'm going to grow. I'm going to heal. I'm going to come back to something in myself that is really and truly me being true to myself. 

The question I normally ask next is like, what obstacle did you have to overcome? And you're welcome to still answer that question but love that you brought the listener there because that's where we're mostly, I say, we, as like the collective, are afraid to go, but that's where so much of the beauty and transformation lies. And I think you summarized it so well. So if you still like to share a personal story, you're welcome to, or we can move on.

Believing in Yourself: Harnessing the Power of Creative Expression

I would like to just share one. I think for me, because I had left home so young and been on my own and really, struggled intensely to survive. My biggest obstacle was believing in myself. I think that believing in ourselves is so married to the creative process. You know, like whatever your creative medium is, or whichever one you happen to be working through at the moment, that idea comes up and you have to believe in yourself and in that idea to bring it into any kind of fruition, whether you share it or not.

My process of learning to believe in myself, learning that I matter, learning that my story and what I've been through what I've learned, and how I've transformed, A place in the world that opened a doorway and helped others New World Library publish both of these books. I mean, in terms of believing in myself, it's been amazing and then to have something, I call it a living thing when you have a book. It's a living thing. It's part of the process to give to somebody that then becomes a doorway for them to believe in themselves and their creative process and their writing. The life force that comes through us, we are the instruments that come through and I believe I'm here to help heal the world. one new poet and one new poem at a time.

I think that's an invitation for the listeners to know that whatever, as you said, whatever their things, whatever way they express who they are, that is your way of impacting and changing the world.

And that's one thing that I've learned is like, the more I own this thing, not only am I doing myself a favor, cause I'm more in alignment, I feel better. I have more positive emotions going on, but then what I am doing matters, and transformation happens like you were kind of saying as an outcome of the work that you've done instead of being the thing that you're chasing.

You're talking about coming from the inside out. Once we know who we are and every piece of our life has fed into this thing that is now us that radiates to use your beauty radiates from us into this world to help heal.

One of the beautiful things that I see happen in my workshops, two things happen and they're interlinked. One is that when we share our poetry in the workshop we're witnessed and we hear other people's poetry. We begin to see our commonality that as human beings, we all have the same hopes, needs, fears, desires, and longings.

So we get I'm not alone in this human experience. I'm not alone, that's one simultaneously. We get my story and how I got here and everything that has created me to now is unique. and who I am and how I share who I am, my voice, whatever that iteration of your voice is, matters. 

We hold and we sit in the middle of I am completely connected and part and belonging and one and no better and no less and my expression matters. 

I just want to summarize that real fast for the listeners you can tell that Meredith has had a journey.

She's had to raise herself since she was 12. I am 13 years old. There could be tons of reasons and she faced tons of challenges along the way, but tons of reasons why she could be stuck or could have pitied herself. And I'm not taking away from her experience or anything that you guys may be going through, but I want you to know that you are so much stronger than you think you are.

And what Marilyn is sharing now is so important because as you go deeper into yourself and allow yourself to go into the obstacle, your truth begins to come out through your interactions and you get to become more of yourself and then your authentic voice, again, whatever that means for you, makes a difference in this world.

So it's so beautiful to know that no matter what stage you're on in your journey, there's a beautiful unfolding waiting for you and that we need every one of those steps, no matter how difficult or how glorious all of those grow us and make us resourceful and resilient, but also make us a resource.

This is what we're doing as human beings. We've done this growing composting in the past. and seeding the future and blooming into whatever's here in the present we do this in our writing and we do this in all of our creative expressions. And like you were saying, in every interaction, everything we do can be leaning into being present with a making room for who we are. 

We've talked a lot about lessons learned already, but I do like to ask my guests specifically, like, what is a lesson that's up for you right now or maybe even a current aha that you might be able to share with the listeners?

Finding Sparkles and Resourcefulness in Adversity

I'm in the middle of the book launch, I have recently moved into this little cottage in the town that I live in, and the Wi-Fi was not working well, and we were having storms, big, huge atmospheric river storms, and the power would go out, the Wi Fi's not working, and I have book interviews to do, and I'm teaching workshop, and I am a wreck, running around trying to find Power, Wi-Fi, and a private space to do interviews and to teach and hold sacred space for my students. And that's very hard to find those three things at once, you know when you're not on your own. I'm supposed to show up for interviews and be calm and collected, you know, and I was like, okay, God, goddess, life force. I'm losing it. Like, I mean, help, help, help, please. And, so I think my biggest lesson is I'm going to be moving in a couple of weeks to another place where the wifi is really solid. We finally got it dialed in here, but I found another, what I call a little flower pot. I just found these little flower pots of cottages with light.

I'm a light fruit and I can root and bloom and that's what I'm always looking for a place I can root and bloom. and I love being home. I just sit at home and make and create and, like that. so two things, one, again, my resourcefulness that in this absolute wreckage of everything I needed to be able to show up in equilibrium was gone, but I was able to do it because I believe in myself. I believe in what I'm offering. I know everything I've been through and how I got there, especially because I write it and writing is a way of tracking our journey, it helps us integrate what's going on so that we can see it and make sense of it, we give it meaning. So in a resource, I was like, wow, if I can show up and do a book interview in the middle of these conditions. Right. In the middle of absolute chaos. I'm pretty cool, you know, but we got that. And then the other beauty was like little sparkles. My next workshop starts this week, it's called Spark the Muse. What are the sparkles that catch your attention? That moves you emotionally and gives you that urge to create to spill over to radiate like you say, and there were little sparkles along the way, even somebody saying. Oh, you'll never find another cottage in that area. They're so hard. You or somebody saying, I know you, you will find it. You always find home little helpers and sparkles that I used to keep going, keep showing up, and keep believing in myself.

I love that message so much because you know, I think that people genuinely have good intentions even when they say things like you will never be able to do that or whatever, don't want to let them dream too big, you know, might not hit their goals but I like that you come back to resourcefulness and believing in yourself, I mean the two, when you have the two of those, you can pretty much overcome most. And, for myself too, I've learned that to be true, and I just was so appreciative that you went there because you know more than anybody else what you can do when people see it as impossible. That might be your call to show them what's possible. Like you said, like I'm rebellious by nature. So when someone says I can't, I'm like, watch. Oh yeah, watch me now. You got it. I'm a total rebel. 

I think a lot of people will go off course by those comments, but I enjoyed that you called that a sparkle because people might initially think you're looking for the pretty things in life. Well, that is a pretty thing. It's just in a different disguise. Right. And so what that brings up for me, when you just said that that was a beautiful doorway, you just opened, sparkles are created by our interaction, So no matter what happens, we get to choose how to make this moment, this devastation, this chaos, this beauty, this glory, this, whatever it is, we get to choose how we tend it in our garden of self-love. 

Why are you passionate about this work? 


How Writing Can Save Your Life 

Because it saved my life and because of what I have witnessed in 30-plus years of bringing poetry writing first to teenagers in the schools. I was a poet in the schools for 30 years, helping kids find the words. To write about and speak about what matters to them and then stand up in front of a classroom of their peers with their hands and their voices shaking and believe in themselves and share their poems and have everybody celebrate them and they sit down as if they have grown wings.

And then the women who come to my workshops, who might start having learned to make themselves small and insignificant and they don't matter and other people's needs are bigger than theirs, and back to the piece about permission, not knowing that they can give themselves permission to be true to themselves. And when I get to witness the women in workshops or write a piece that they feel good about that expresses what is going on for them, and it doesn't have to be pretty. It's true. Authenticity is what rocks any piece and the way that they feel and they say, Meredith, we walk this workshop into our lives, like, because they can be true in their writing with themselves and with this group who's like, bring it baby, then they walk taller and stronger and more true, sometimes stronger, sometimes softer, depending on what we need more true. Being true to ourselves is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. It's back to what we were talking about before, Not abandoning ourselves, but staying in friendship, in belonging, here, making room for this experience.

This is who I am today. I might be different tomorrow, but right now, this is what's true. This is why I'm passionate about writing because it is a doorway for all of this relationship with self, how we show up in the world, and being true to our own.

I just applaud you for your work and your passion around it because I am feeling it on the receiving end of this conversation and I know the listeners will too. When you're able to not only share your work, but when your work helps other people transform and you witness it, it is I don't even, I was going to say beautiful experience, but it's so much more because then they go out and they do more of their work and it's like the ripple effect that goes out. It just makes for me, I can say that it makes my calling stronger each time I witness it.

It's so fulfilling to be part of the reciprocity of the flow, the giving, the receiving because when we give and it builds people, we receive that as part of the entire heart of humanity.

Everybody comes to the workshop and we're just practicing. That's the other main thing. I say this is not perfect poetry. This is a poetry practice and it's deeper than that. It's a heart. Practice. It's a life practice. Practice is about play. Come play. 

I'm good at communicating back to people. I love bringing people into this community. And, the women in the workshop are phenomenal warriors. Women poets, warm and wild-hearted. And in spirited and vulnerable and brave. Beautiful and genuine.

Let's wrap up with you sharing an empowering message for the listeners. One last one, because there were so many.

Believe in yourself. Do something every day that makes you happy to be you. That tunes you into that place in yourself where you hum. And make sure to do that. Every day. That's how we water this garden of self. That's so beautiful.


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