Part One: The Roles & The Rules


About Part one: The Roles and Rules

This is a project about taking risks, seeking personal growth, and saying yes to what life throws at you.

What would happen if you invited 12 of your most trusted friends to write your life story for the next 12 months of your life? The experiment of Living Chapters explores that very question.

On the first day of each month a “chapter” is submitted by one of my 12 selected friend participants to this website. The submissions directed me in my actions, self-reflections, and habits throughout the month. Each chapter writer chooses one of the six (self created) themes for guidance in creating their chapter. The themes include the following: Body/Kinesthetic, Logic and Order, The Environment, Existential, Purpose, and Interpersonal Relationships.

With the theme in mind, the writers devise tasks and challenges designed to push my comfort level, normal boundaries and self-reflection, with the goal of changing habits and instigating self- improvement. Each of the writers also commit to taking on at least one of the challenges they have assigned me in their chapter.

Mid-month, “the Wildcard” a new player, has the ability to enliven and shift the focus of the chapter slightly by making an additional suggestion to the chapter. Their submission may intensify the challenge or change the direction of my path slightly.

Throughout the year long process, all participants of Living Chapters look at life as an open book, sharing responses and reflections through this online platform while exploring how our personal and online networks of family and friends can assist us in a quest for self improvement.

Living Chapters is an experiment in trying out alternate life styles and choices while seeking new ways of becoming a better person for myself and to others.

I invite you to follow along, reflect, and comment as the chapters unfold from month to month. Live out the chapters with us as we struggle and strive to learn something new. Let go for a moment and take on one of the challenges with us. Who knows where the story will lead you.

Thanks for reading, Beth Barbush

The Roles

The Protagonist:

The Protagonist will be given twelve written chapters one month at a time that will outline guidelines, tasks, challenges, and experiences.  She will not be privy to any of these chapters before their submission date on the beginning of each month. She will set out to accomplish, implement, or engage in the directives laid out in the chapters for one calendar year.  She will share this exploration by reflecting, writing and documenting her experiences through weekly written updates, photographs and videos.

The Writer:

The Writers will submit chapters that will span four weeks of the protagonist’s future life.  Each chapter will be written in whatever style the writer chooses. It may be a series of guidelines, a set of tasks or a basic outline to follow. It may be a poem, a piece of prose or a structured storyline. Whatever form it takes there should be clear directives on what the protagonist should set out to do in the month timeline.  Each writer will write with the protagonist’s best interest at heart but will strive to create tasks that will push the limits and explore the protagonist’s comfort levels and boundaries in regards to each designated theme. Writers will also be asked to take on or enact at least one of the tasks or guidelines for their chosen month.

The Wild Card:

The Wild Card essentially can add one new element to the finished written chapter by playing their one and only card for the month. This “card” is really a suggestion or a new task that will shift or re-energize the chapter.  It may add an element of risk or an element of reflection and reverence. The wild card action must be played at the mid way mark of the month and will be taken on by the protagonist.  This new element may elevate an activity already written or diversify the challenge by changing the frequency or specifying a detail.  The Wild Card cannot eliminate pieces of the written chapter or negate any part of the written chapter. The Wild Card also should also take into consideration the chapter theme and the writers’ already composed directives when making their suggestion.

The Referee:

The referee acts as an editor of sorts. His task will be to primarily search for “reality flags” in the written chapters before they are submitted.  The referee will prohibit writers from asking the protagonist to do things that would not promote growth and development (for example, things that may be over budget or potentially harmful physically or emotionally).  However, the Referee is also responsible for making the writer aware if their chapter is not challenging enough as well. He will encourage writers to push the protagonist in particular areas where he believes she could work harder.

The Confidant:

The confidant is the role that all can confide in.  She can be trusted by all. She is true to the project itself and all of its participants including the public onlookers.  Her primary role is to be there for the protagonist outside of the project – listening to any concerns, excitement, or confusion as it arises with each new challenge.  She will also be there for any concerns or questions that the wild cards, the writers and the referee may have.  She is bound to honesty and will answer any questions they may have about the protagonist in their process of guiding her monthly activities. If the other roles in the project have a dilemma they can make one call to the confidant for advice.

The Project Manager:

The Project Manager keeps things moving along as an unbiased administrator. The Project Manager uploads all monthly chapters to the blog site and will send friendly reminders of all deadlines. If the participants have questions about the way the project works or regarding the rules of engagement they can contact the project manager. The project manager will also engage the project with a greater audience outside the immediate participants.

The Maestro:

The Maestro selects and submits songs as the project unfolds to accompany the protagonist and writers on their monthly chapter challenges.  These specific songs or playlists may describe the challenges themselves but will also utilize lyrics, mood, title or genre of the music itself to illicit ideas, inspirations, and clues on how to accomplish the tasks and guidelines that have been given.

Chapter Themes:

Body/Kinesthetic: This theme will focus on the body, (our temple, our shell) however we perceive our bodies. We all have bodies and make daily decisions that affect them.  The core elements of this theme may focus on health, diet, exercise, bodily motions, the capacity or ability to move, engage with objects and our environment. This may also include the presence or absence of our bodies.

Logic/Order: This theme has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking. It also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of setting up systems and relating to structures.  Writers may challenge the protagonist on financial issues, building or fixing objects or organizing and personal planning.

The Environment: This theme has to do with nurturing and engaging with our natural surroundings. It also focuses on being aware and cognizant of our consumption habits and conservation habits of our natural resources.

Existential: This theme will explore new ways of how to engage with a personal or communal spirituality, faith and questions regarding life, death and our journey while here on the planet

Purpose: This theme has to do with self-reflective capacities. It will explore the protagonist’s strengths, skills and creativity. What are the things that make each of us unique? What do we do best and how can we put it to use in the best way possible?

Interpersonal Relationships: This theme has to do with interacting with others.  Writers should explore all types of relationships (friends, family, romance, neighbors, strangers). This chapter might explore how to practice communication, empathy, commitment and transparency.

The Rules


For the Protagonist

  1. Agree to let go of control of organizing and managing project after roles and rules of engagement are in place and the chapters begin
  2. Agree to be as transparent and honest as possible through the entire process.
  3. Agree to live out the 12 related chapters that have been approved by the referee and follow through with the mid-month wild card changes.
  4. Submit at least 4 written updates to the online blog each month – reflecting upon the experiences and reporting on the progress made in accomplishing tasks.
  5. Read and follow all submissions and comments to the online blog.

For the Writer

  1. Agree to participate with the goal of personal growth and development in mind for both the protagonist, yourself and the onlookers of the project (having the protagonist’s best interest at heart).
  2. Create a chapter around the chosen theme that spans a month’s time of the protagonist’s life and submit by deadline to the Program Manager.
  3. Choose one task or guideline that you give the protagonist to live out yourself in the month’s time.
  4. Agree to take any recommendations made to you by the Referee into consideration for your final chapter.  Edit your chapter as you would like and send back to the Project Manager.
  5. Watch, listen, and read as your written chapter is lived out over the month.
  6. Submit at least two updates in your chapter month (written or in photographs) on your own experiences living out the task you have given yourself – these can be submitted when you feel inspired to do so. Submit more if you would like to.
  7. Follow other chapter writers and comment on the process if you are so inspired.
  8. Engage with other Writers by sending suggestions to them OR ask other Writers for advice in the creation of your own chapter.
  9. Call on the Confidant with any moral dilemmas regarding decision-making for the creation of any task in your chapter.

For the Wild Card

  1. Agree to participate with the goal of personal growth and development in mind for both the protagonist, yourself and the onlookers of the project (having the protagonist’s best interest at heart).
  2. Read the submitted chapter for your wild card month and follow the protagonist’s progress in the first 2 weeks of the month.
  3. Submit your “wild card” suggestion to the project manager on the 15th of the month.
  4. Engage other Wild Card players by sending suggestions to them through email if you are so inspired to sway them for their month. OR ask other Wild Card players for suggestions. This collaboration is not required but encouraged.
  5. Call on the Confidant with any moral dilemmas regarding decision-making for the creation of your wild card task.

For the Referee

  1. Agree to participate with the goal of personal growth and development in mind for both the protagonist, yourself and the onlookers of the project (having the protagonist’s best interest at heart).
  2. Agree to read and filter all chapters as they are submitted to you in the 3rd weekend of the month.
  3. Filter chapters for “reality flags”. Highlight any piece of the chapter that could potentially be harmful, unhealthy, unrealistic financially or illegal.  Also filter for difficulty level.  If you feel that the tasks or guidelines created are too simple or easy for the protagonist to accomplish, point this out.
  4. Send recommendations directly to the writer to incorporate into their final submission
  5. Call on the Confidant with any moral dilemmas regarding decision-making in your reviewing the written chapters.

For the Confidant

  1. Agree to participate with the goal of personal growth and development in mind for both the protagonist, yourself and the onlookers of the project (having the protagonist’s best interest at heart).
  2. Agree to be accessible to the Protagonist for any discussion off the record about the project.
  3. Agree to be accessible by email to the Writers, the Wild Cards, and the Referee for one “Call on the Confidant” moral dilemma question regarding  decisions made for the project.

6 thoughts on “Part One: The Roles & The Rules

  1. Pingback: Chapter One | living chapters

  2. Pingback: June: Wild Card |

  3. Pingback: the confidant conclusion |

  4. Jeffery Beyers

    I am interested in following this project. I might even try to create my own living chapters experiment. Woukd you be ok with me doing that and do you have any suggestions for how to get started. Im mainly thinking of the technological challenges. Can this be done on a Facebook account?

  5. Pingback: Being me – my greatest accomplishment | Living Chapters

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