Tag Archives: self improvement

Living Chapters opens my book, my heart

Shannon Twenter image

It was only two months into Living Chapters when I received a phone call from a woman living in Boise, Idaho – Shannon Twenter.  Shannon shared with me her desire to become the protagonist in her own life and requested my permission to take on the Living Chapters model to start her own blog.  The idea that someone else wanted to and was willing to take on their own self-improvement project in this way was exciting to me.  One of my goals for Living Chapters from the beginning was to encourage others to take on their own personal challenges and take risks. I had hoped that Living Chapters might provide a road map of sorts for others to take for a test drive.  I just didn’t realize that it would happen so quickly.  Below, Shannon shares how living out her own chapters and writing her own blog “Open Book” has affected her thus far.

I knew Beth briefly years ago when she worked with my students at Learning Inc. (a school I use to work at in Baltimore, MD).  A mutual friend of ours made me aware of her Living Chapters project. While reading it, I found a kindred spirit of someone doing things her own way and enjoying the ride.

This summer I drove across the country to a new home in Boise, Idaho. En route, I had a conversation with my dad about the Living Chapters project and my own interest in it.  He never understands my own hair-brain schemes/life decisions, so it seemed odd that I chose him as my audience to tell him about this project. But I was mesmerized by Beth’s idea, and had to share it. The conversation made me consider that perhaps this project meant more to me than I thought.

Living Chapters appealed to me because it was sounded fun, utilized community, gave a vision and led to a serious commitment in sharing and striving for self-growth. I believe in the power of doing this with others. It challenges the protagonist/me to get real with real friends.

I also wanted to try it because I wanted to learn how to trust. I had just watched some of my old patterns recently prevent me from taking a risk I knew my soul needed to take.

My friends are the crux of my life and I even a have hard time trusting them, and even more, trusting myself. I thought I’d try to start by trusting them, trusting that they love and know me enough to suggest ways to do this life thing in a way that could create new meaning or perspective for me. In essence, I believe that Living out Chapters could be a way for me to become more confidant in deciding what I need to thrive and stand up for, while simultaneously helping me to become open to wonderful new experiences.  So I dove in. Lo and behold, I created a blog called ‘Open Book’ formed after Beth’s model and you know what, it’s is working.

Following ‘Open Book’’s structure has made me open my heart. It has made me trust myself. It has made me stand firm when my friends challenge me in ways that I disagree with it helps me adhere to my inner truth. It has made me trust and respect my friends for what they see in me and push me to do, and for how they choose to make hard choices to navigate their lives and hold firm to their perspectives.

It has made me look at things in a new way. It has made me look at my patterns, where they have emerged and took hold, and has shown me how sometimes even a simple change – and saying YES – can make me experience the need for a larger shift and get me started on a new course.

It has also made me appreciate my friends and the power of community. Not only am I benefiting from Open Book, so are my writers and friends reading, who are taking on their own projects. Some have mentioned that it is because of Open Book that they have started to write again, to paint, to believe in the gifts they have been given.

For me, Open Book, via Living Chapters model, helps me prioritize and calls me out to stay true to what makes my soul work, not what the rest say works. It also calls me out to shake those barriers that prevent that from happening. My goal is to keep learning from this process and stay true to myself while making the small needed shifts that will help the “hopeful and open” me become the dominant me.  Thanks Beth.

Shannon Twenter


Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

the prologue


This June will be the 18th anniversary of my high school graduation, one of the few moments in life when we all focus on and celebrate the idea of branching out and breaking free from the years of guidance and training from school and our families. We are told to set out and find ourselves but yet are not given a map.

Well it’s been 18 years since I was 18, and I am not sure if I have plotted the correct path to any eminent successful future, but I have found my way to my own voice and guidance and have started listening more intently to it.  Ironically, the message I keep hearing is “Stop planning, forget the map and just let go!” For some reason, I believe that now more than ever is the right time to take my own advice and follow through.

On June 1st, Living Chapters officially begins. Although I feel as if I have been living out chapters my entire life, I at this moment feel strongly about the importance of letting go of the planning and directing that I have been doing thus far in search of that specific outcome or greener grasses. Living Chapters is a process I have created to help achieve this goal of letting go.  I see it as an experiment or a performance of sorts, playing out, witnessing and examining this art form that we live and breathe each day.  It’s a chance to live out different plot twists and directions that I may have never chosen or found alone. An exercise in trust and collaboration and an uncommon chance to reflect on the decisions we make when faced with change, challenge, and discomfort.  It is a rare opportunity and moment in my life that I am able to devote this period of time to the observation of what can be learned if we decide to let go of the reins we hold so tightly over our lives.

OR – it’s simply an elaborate creative way to force myself into doing all the things I’ve been meaning to do in the self-improvement department over the past few years.  A way to follow through with all those un-kept new years resolutions and untapped adventures I’ve been hoping to engage in.  Either way it’s on! And as of June 1st I’m accountable not only to the 28 other individuals that I roped into this scenario but to myself to follow through with all the rules of engagement and whichever direction this may take.

I do not consider myself a person who unearths new wisdom, philosophy, or creates reflective prose, witty remarks or even humorous ramblings.  This is not what I hope to share in this upcoming blog – I do however lead a fluid and free existence transitioning often from one thing to the next, falling into new situations and engaging with a multitude of amazing people along the way. At the very least this project was born to share that.