The Art of Speaking Your Heart | elephant journal


My last boyfriend—let’s call him James—had a nickname for me: Darth Vague.

(I’m certain he meant it as an endearment!)

James was perpetually accusing me of being unclear. This confused me because, before being with him, I’d rarely had a problem being clear.

I tried to pretend that this new vague version of me was out of some saintly desire to be perpetually positive, but that wasn’t the truth. In reality, I was petrified that I would say the wrong thing—the “wrong thing” being the thing that would make him unhappy. Thus, our more serious conversations were liberally dusted with drawn out silences while the gears in my brain overheated. I was running through every permutation of word combinations looking for what would be the most benign. What came out on the conveyor was…Darth Vague.

Later, I realized how much my attempts to sanitize my feelings did us both a disservice. The problem was never that I couldn’t find the words—it was that I feared the power words have to change things. Still, I craved them! I’m a writer. Give me beautifully strung together sentences over pearls any day. A good conversation is better than flowers. I don’t want things; I want communication and connection.

But while Darth Vague may be a thing of the past, I certainly don’t volunteer when I don’t have to. Silence seems easier than being vulnerable or continuously defining terms. Words lock me to something. I never know how they will be interpreted. Silence is safer. There are no promises in silence—and that means fewer disappointments.

[Read more on elephant journal….]

Stephanee Killen: I Am a Woman Who Talks to the Moon | Land of Books Interview

moon and railroadI was recently interviewed for the website “Land of Books,” and it is by far my favorite interview–and a completely crazy pairing, since the interviewer, Ognian Georgiev, is a Bulgarian sports journalist, TV commentator for fight sports (boxing/kickboxing), and author of a book about Olympic weightlifter Galabin Boevski (a man imprisoned for [alleged] cocaine trafficking in Brazil). What does that have to do with relationships? (Well, some might say the weightlifting and imprisonment parts….) As for the interview, he asked a couple of unconventional questions and gave the whole thing a beautifully ridiculous title that I love because it’s true. (Although not so much in the winter months.) This one was fun.

Here’s a brief excerpt. Read the full interview at Land of Books!

How did you decide to write the story?
I began writing Buddha Breaking Up without realizing that it was going to become a book. In the beginning, I was merely documenting my journey, my own search for peace and meaning in what had happened after my partner and I separated. I wrote constantly about what I was feeling and the things I discovered, having developed a desperate need to put myself under the microscope—to examine what I was experiencing and WHY. I researched the very real physical withdrawal we go through. I searched for tools I could use to ride out the most intense period of what psychologists call “shattering.” This included meditation, using music to impact my mood, learning the best ways to battle my ego, facing my loneliness and depression, dealing with the crushing disappointment and anger I felt, learning to question my thoughts and accept REALITY, and finally opening myself back up to the world. Essentially, I was charting my course to that state of grace I’d been longing to achieve.

When I was done, I realized that what I had written was the book I’d desperately wanted to read at the beginning of my breakup but could not quite find. All the books I read were either too light and funny (like putting cotton candy on a gunshot wound), or they were so serious and clinical and bossy that I wanted to throw them (or myself) out of a window. I felt like what I’d discovered was what I needed to know in order to heal, and then I simply wanted to share all the cool stuff I’d learned.

[Read the full interview at Land of Books…]

Buddha Breaking Up Second Edition Now Available!


The second edition of Buddha Breaking Up: A Guide to Healing from Heartache and Liberating Your Awesomeness is now available, re-released by Parham Press just in time for Valentine’s Day! (Consider this a pre-emptive strike!)

In celebration, the Kindle version is available
FREE January 22 – January 23.

Get your copy now!


How to Feel Grateful When Everything is Awful | elephant journal


I am grateful for…

Ask me on a good day, and I’ll rattle off all the things I’m supposed to: A roof over my head, food in the refrigerator, work, car, health, family, still breathing….

Ask me on a bad day, and I’ll rattle off these same things, but they’ll come with a load of negative qualifiers. Suddenly, all I see is scarcity and reasons to be afraid.

The truth is that listing off the items for which I should be grateful feels hollow.

Things could be worse—I am well aware. But I’m also well aware of how they could be better, and relativism only gets human beings so far.

Just because the guy next to me is suffering from a different problem doesn’t ever seem to detract entirely from the fact that I’m suffering, too. I’m expected to judge my station, in one direction or another, through an infinite series of contrasts.

Either I end up having to compare myself to the indigent, starving or terminally ill just so I can feel good about my place in the world, or I compare myself to all the people around me who seem to have it better, which provides ample justification for these feelings of indignation and self-pity.

I ask myself, Why can’t I have what these other people have—the things that ought to be unalienable rights for all of us: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

[Read More on elephant journal!]

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