Capture a Summer Camp Experience

Yes, I realize we are nearing the end of those “summer camp” days, but I think there’s still time for you to have a summer camp experience. Perhaps you have already sent your kids back to school, and you have gotten back into the school routine with carpools and after-school activity schedules. Or now that the calendar has shifted, you find yourself adapting to a new/familiar routine. But did you have a chance to run barefoot through the sprinklers, eat a Popsicle under a shady tree, or just curl up and get lost in a new book for an entire afternoon? Let your imagination and your creativity have a play date.

Farmer’s Union Camp was not anything glamorous.  Located at the edge of Whitewater State Park in the heart of Midwestern farmland, the camp had seen better days having taken abuse from the hundreds of summer campers over the years.  But for my brother and me, it was a chance to experience life off the farm. We were eager to have the opportunity to stay in a cabin with kids other than our brothers and sisters from Tuesday through Friday night.

It was the trip of a lifetime. My one summer camp experience included hiking in a state park, sleeping in bunk beds in pine cabins with eight others, painting ceramics, and performing in a Fractured Fairytale skit which we helped write.  

My mother had the ceramic fruit we painted on her kitchen wall for years. I remember the rainy afternoon we labored over the exact red we wanted for the apples and the perfect shade of yellow for the bananas.  By the time my daughter went off to summer camp, her activities included horseback riding and panning for gold in the Colorado Rockies.

Take a minute to think about what your favorite summer camp experience was as a kid. Didn’t have one? Well, choose an activity and make it happen! Summer 2017 will soon be a memory. Give yourself the summer camp treatment!

photo credit:  MEKnippel.CrookedLake.MN

Let passion fuel your writing

Mary E. Knippel's heart painting

Mary E. Knippel’s heart painting

Do you stress about what to write about on your blog? You already have all kinds of content to fuel your writing.

What are you passionate about? Answer that question and you’ll have plenty to write about. Think about what you honestly care about. Yes, your family and business are obvious subjects here. You know there is more…much more to you than the roles you play.

Just in case you still need a little support in identifying your passion, here are a few questions to get you started.

  1. Are you a supporter of the environment? Do you recycle and buy green?
  2. Are you an athlete? Are you training for a marathon, or big competition?
  3. How do you express your creativity? Have you always enjoyed doing things with your hands and make things (such as cooking, gardening, painting, writing, jewelry, pottery, bookshelves, or clothing)?
  4. Have you overcome an illness and are now involved in finding a cure for your disease? Does someone you love live with a debilitating disease or chronic illness?
  5. Did you grow up in another culture and seek to educate the world about the similarities not the differences we all share?

I am passionate about encouraging you to claim your writing voice. I get fired up when someone says, “I’m no writer.” I immediately start waving my hand in the air admonishing whomever the speaker was, to never repeat that phrase. Everyone is a writer, regardless of whether you will ever have a book for sale on Amazon. You compose thoughts in your head, notes in birthday cards, business reports, sales letters, promotional material, and tons of e-mails.

 As a journalist for over 35 years, I have a system to make creating your content fun…schedule your free Unleash Consultation today and stop agonizing about having something to write about! 

What are you passionate about?


Photo credit:  MaryEKnippel











Free Family Fun Creativity Workshop at the San Mateo County Fair

It’s county fair time and an opportunity for some serious summer entertainment. When I was little, the merry-go-round was my kind of ride; one gentle speed going around in circles. My in-laws used to plan their trip around the Midway so they can ride the Ferris wheel at dusk to see the swirls of carnival lights. My daughter and my husband like roller coasters. Are you someone who goes to see the latest 4H exhibits, stop by to see the baby goats, pigs and rabbits, and the award winning animals. Or do you eat your way around the fair? Strolling from one deep fried food to the next. Tom Thumb doughnuts are my weakness. Whatever your indulgence, I’ve got a suggestion that won’t add calories to your fair experience and is guaranteed to deliver a refreshing experience.

On Wednesday, June 14, from 1-3 p.m. Coaxing Creativity and the Writer Unleashed/Creativity Muse (aka yours truly Mary E. Knippel) is facilitating a Coaxing Creativity Workshop. This is a free, a family-friendly event for ages 10 and up. (Kids, please tell you parents you want them to play with your!) This is a fun experience for the young and the young at heart. During the workshop, we’ll explore the secrets of keeping a journal and discover how combining bits of paper, glue, and magazine images create magic!

Join us Wednesday, June 14, 1-3 p.m. in the Expo Building by the Literary Arts Stage. I’ll bring the materials. You bring your imagination and a generous supply of enthusiasm.

Coaxing Creativity Workshop is part of a series of readings, presentations, workshops and special presentations during the San Mateo County Fair (  sponsored by the California Writers Club-Peninsula/San Francisco Branch (


This mothering thing…

Meuer girls

The Meuer Sisters…One Generation of Mothers

Do you remember that song from Camelot? The  one that talks about the Merry Month of May…the month of, “yes, you may.”

Growing up good little boys and girls did what Mother (and pretty much everyone else) told them was correct behavior. As a result, you were polite, said please and thank you, turned in your homework on time and cleaned your room without being asked. Well, I’m sure that cleaning stuff happened occasionally without being asked. The point is you knew what your mother expected; that you were to treat others with respect and courtesy.

She told you to button your coat when you went out in the cold because she didn’t want you to get sick. 

Now you know that it takes more than wearing a sweater to keep yourself from getting sick. 

She told you to drink your milk because she wanted you to have strong bones.

Now you know it takes more than drinking milk to have strong bones.

She told you to listen to your teachers because she wanted you to learn the lessons being taught at school.

Now you know more than the teachers in a classroom provide the lessons you need to help you create your amazing life.

The question to consider as you are reading this is:  How are you doing at this mothering thing when it comes to YOU?

As an adult, mothering yourself is an attitude toward self-care which needs to be addressed. You are encouraged here and now to give yourself permission… to say, “yes, you may” about taking care of yourself.

Have you ever dismissed that nagging feeling of common sense when you promised you’d only work just 15-minutes longer on that new idea that’s been noodling around in our head all day? Then end up working for three hours and you didn’t get enough sleep…again. Or, skip your workout because you need to make another phone call. How often do you look up to realize that you didn’t get away from your desk longer than that restroom sprint? What about breakfast, lunch and your dinner routine? Not eating nutritious meals on a regular basis because you don’t have time to shop or cook, let alone digest them.

Nurturing yourself also includes breathing space…down time in whatever form you crave. Mine includes journaling, walks on the beach and soaking in bubble baths. You may like to get lost in planting a flowerbed, playing a sport, or sketching a still life.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to do in your leisure time…what matters is that you take time to step away from the pursuit of business to pursue the business of being a whole person in body, mind an spirit. The result will be a you who brings a stronger and more compassionate self to the business we are passionate about.

Check out my complimentary workshop this month Manifesting Mothering Mentors – Journaling for Self-Care. Find out about the healing miracle all of us have access to!

Your light…

Are you on fire? Do you burn with passion about your life? Do you have a slight flicker when it comes to living life to the fullest and sharing your gifts? Is it a smoldering ember of frustration which lacks spark or the fuel to create a true flame?

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.

Margaret Fuller

As a woman deeply involved and connected to the world in the midst of family, friends, and your community, you are the light for your journey…and theirs.

As a business owner, or entrepreneur who is passionate about their business and industry, you are the light for your business…for those you serve…for those you labor with.

Writing is an amazing tool to share your light.

Do you hesitate to write because you have no idea what to say or who would listen?

I believe you have an incredible story to tell. You are the only one who can create the whole story from all the bits and pieces to tell it. The story of who you are, why you are doing what you do, how you are the solution for your clients, and what gifts you bring to the world. Your audience waiting to hear it. They are longing to hear it!

Not convinced? Please reread the quote above. You have knowledge others are looking for…share it with them. When you share your expertise with your clients and customers, you offer more than information. It is a spark igniting their imagination. They learn not only about your products and services, they learn about you. You establish trust and credibility and invite them to follow you. Sharing what you have to offer to your readers in stories, quotes and commentary on what’s happening in the world, as well as your industry, helps them understand you and validates your position. It helps those you are meant to serve to find you.

I help reluctant writers find the words to connect with their readers…ideally to transform readers into clients and customers. I am confident you have the light within you to create a clear message so they may find you.  

Ready to truly allow the light in you to shine brightly? Let’s talk about how you can Live a Life Unleashed. Sign up for a complimentary call today.

An Internal Audit

taxes (1)Hearing the word audit, my thoughts turn to the April 15 deadline and the number crunching for the Internal Revenue Service. No, the Internal Audit I’m asking you to consider is all about the resources we deplete to the state of exhaustion and have such a difficult time replenishing. Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Do you ever skip breakfast and substitute a giant cup of coffee or tea, along with a bagel or jelly doughnut?

Do you ever grab a candy bar for lunch? Do you ever skip lunch and inhale the contents of your refrigerator standing up when you get home from work?

Do you ever feel as if you could sleep the entire weekend because you are exhausted from the stress of the week?

Now, do you have an image of the “resources” I’m talking about?

Your personal Internal Audit involves a notebook, a pen, and you sitting quietly for 15 minutes to answer the question: How do I build up my resources? Or, what is my plan to nurture myself to avoid depleting my valuable internal resources?

Make a plan right now to decide what you will do when faced with life’s challenges – because we all know that despite our best plans, sometimes we have to go to Plan B or just punt – so figure out what you want to do BEFORE facing those challenges.

  1. Have a quick breakfast option handy for those get-out-the-door-fast days such as a baggie of mixed nuts, or protein shake/bar.
  2. Make your lunch for the next day while you are putting away dinner leftovers, and in the morning all you have to do is grab and go.  
  3. Choose one night a week to go to bed at 9 p.m. Soak in the tub, read a book for pleasure, or catch up on those magazines that have been piling up next to your bed.

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[Friday Five-Minute Writing Prompt] I express my creativity when I…

travel writingI express my creativity when I…

Friday five-minute writing prompt

Take out a fresh sheet of paper. Natalie Goldberg uses a “fast-writing” pen. I suggest using your favorite writing instrument and an unlined piece of colored paper for fun. I use a fountain pen with purple ink. Some folks opt to use their computer. If that is your preferred method to write, then just open a new word document on your computer and go for it. The point is to keep your fingers moving for five minutes and not stop. I want you to experience how much writing can be accomplished in a short period.

If you get stuck, just repeat the writing prompt – I express my creativity when I or any other phrase that is comfortable for you. Do not stop to edit, correct spelling, look up a better word, or rearrange a sentence. Do not question what comes up in the five minutes: this doesn’t make sense, where did that come from, or what a crazy notion. This is a timed writing exercise so be sure to set the timer on your watch, phone, microwave, computer, or kitchen stove. Whether you use an egg timer, a No. 2 pencil and a spiral notebook, your iPad, or even your iPhone, the theory is the same. Keep your hand and fingers moving and have fun taking dictation from your unconscious self. Make a list, hum a tune, write a poem, or create a short, short story. This is your time to explore and experiment.

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In search of mentoring

Greek columnsIn Greek mythology, when Odysseus sailed off to Troy he left behind his precious son and entrusted Telemachus, his old friend Mentor, with the task of helping Telemachus grow up to be a wise leader, by teaching, counseling, challenging, and encouraging him.

I have had some wonderful teachers, mentors and guides throughout this journey we call life. Some have taught me formally in the classroom. Some have come disguised as a chance encounter at the grocery check out line. Or, a walk on the beach where I received the magic of Nature’s nurturing. Other mentors have shown up when I had particular challenges such as the cancer diagnosis, getting voice mail that our employer has suddenly closed up shop, or coming home to find my husband at the kitchen table with realtors. My Mentors have helped me develop strategies, tools, and coping skills to adapt to the many surprises I have encountered. The surprises I now consider gifts.images

I know the value of having someone help you identify and then champion your goals for you. Someone who will be a mirror reflecting your hopes and dreams. Someone to adjust the focus of your obstructed view to help you see the reflection of the amazing human being you are right now.

  • Not after losing 10 pounds.
  • Not after publishing the great American novel.
  • Not after establishing a 6-figure business.
  • Not after speaking live to a crowd of 5,000
  • Not after…(you fill in the blank)

Someone to help you open the windows on your business, to your life, to let in fresh air and blow away the myths of doubt and fear that hold you back.

There is great potential in the gift of a life-altering experience. What comes after you crumble is how you rise up. And as you rise up, you may discover that your new normal truly is an amazing life.

I help women leverage their impact through writing…to transform readers into clients and customers by polishing your pearls of wisdom…reclaiming your voice…from tag lines to social media posts…from blogs to books…from free reports to entire websites…unleashing your true purpose message.

I would be honored to support you as your personal mentor as you unleash your story worth writing. Let’s have a complimentary conversation…a free discovery call…schedule your 20-minute talk here.

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[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Choose comfort to experience joy’t forget while you are rushing around this time of year baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, and secreting away very special items to take time to do something comforting for yourself. Stop for a cup of something refreshing when you are out running errands.

Make up your own playlist of favorite holiday movies and watch them during your wrapping sessions. One of my favorites is The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. Of course, there is also the standard Miracle on 34th Street with Marueen O’Hara and little Natalie Wood. Be sure you take stretch breaks while you are wrapping. Getting caught up in all those colorful papers and ribbons is wonderful, but you need to pay attention to your health.

Tap into your creativity and keep things simple. Write a heartfelt letter instead of hunting for the latest gadget. Limit your shopping trips to only a couple of hours. By all means use every time-saving option you have available to you. Order on-line, create gift certificates for future experience on your computer (promises to make a special dinner, pizza & movie night, attending plays/concerts in the park, take-a-hike date, ___________ insert your favorite activity that gives you joy and hasn’t been happening in your life for far too long).

Think sprint, not marathon…and wear comfortable shoes! See you somewhere in line!

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Take aim to unleash your legacy! aim at the target…the target of the stories that make up your legacy!

  • purpose
  • education
  • family
  • relationships
  • community

When you look in the mirror, do you smile back at what you see reflected? When your work is praised? When your compassion is recognized? Taking aim at your legacy happens with every decision you make towards your goals, interacting with friends and family, deciding what to have for dinner…even in the line at the grocery store when you are purchasing the ingredients for dinner.

What are you taking aim these days? Or is life winning the battle with challenges, complications and those persistent inconsistencies which throw a monkey wrench into your well-plotted plans?

I won’t pretend that I know how you can use a bow and arrow to take aim at your story, but I do know that writing your story can help you unleash your legacy.

Do you struggle with what you want to say when you sit down to write?

I think an exciting part of writing is that it is a direct line to building a relationship with the world at large in a way not many other things can.

Your story so far does not have to dictate where you go from here. Take time for yourself…even five minutes uninterrupted…will help you find clarity about how you can focus on finding yourself again. Taking time for you and only you.

When my daughter was a toddler, I took a week-long writing workshop. It was the first time I’d gone away to really work on my writing (although I’d been keeping a journal since I was an 11-year-old hiding my spiral bound notebook from my brother) and had a degree in Mass Communication. Our teacher greeted us at the door with a 3-ring binder and told us that we were all writing a book. That statement put me in such a state of panic and I almost bolted from the campus. Almost is the operative word. My determination to write pushed me to stay more than my panic wanted me to run.

Sharing our passion and beliefs exposes our vulnerability, deepens our authenticity, our transparency, and builds trust with everyone we encounter. I found my voice through my two breast cancer experiences. It made me passionate about encouraging everyone not to wait until you have a health crisis to practice self-care. I learned to self-validate and to take loving action on my own behalf for my highest good.

If we pay attention, sometimes the stories we are supposed to write find us instead of the other way around. First, you have to show up at the page!

Hop over to my Facebook page to share how you are showing up on the page!



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[Resource] Free Writing tips and tools

write-nonfiction-nowQuestion:  do you like free stuff? Do you find it hard to carve out writing time unless you have a deadline? Do you struggle to stay focused? I’ve got two great resources for you. 

The first is a unique writing challenge where you determine the specifics and learn from seasoned writers at your own pace. 

Write Nonfiction in November

The second is a compilation of writing wisdom assembled into book form.  And you can pick up a FREE copy Nov. 2nd and 3rd.

The Write Nonfiction Now! Guide to:  Creativity and Flow

Don’t worry, this is not a competition. The only one putting pressure on you is you in this special challenge. My friend, colleague, and roomie at San Francisco Writers Conference, Nina Amir, created Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) writing challenge as an alternative to November’s National Novel Writing writing event (for those of us who are not writing the great American novel). 

WNFIN offers a unique opportunity for nonfiction writers to spend the month of November writing and completing a work of nonfiction. Not only do participants of WNFIN commit to their individual writing project, but they also have opportunities to learn about writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction as they complete the 30-day challenge through materials provided by Nina along with various guest authors.

Which brings me to the second reason I’m excited about November 2016. I have had the privilege of being invited to be a guest blogger for WNFIN. Nina has compiled many of those blogs, into The Write Nonfiction NOW! Guide to Creativity and Flow. My chapter is entitled “Five Ways to Tap into Your Creativity and Let Your Writing Flow.” I’m very proud to be part of the authors who are championing reluctant writers to get their stories out there!

Go here to get your FREE copy now! For two days, Nov. 2nd and 3rd you can reap the benefit of writing wisdom from the experts at WNFIN! Don’t delay. The price goes up after Nov. 3rd.

Your creativity unleashed in pink

pink-ribbonAre you noticing all the pink ribbons this month?

My heart goes out to everyone who experiences a health crisis, but I have a kinship with this month’s cause. 

Almost 15 years ago, I gathered my mail from the mailbox and among my birthday cards, bills, magazines, and assorted advertisements, was a white business envelope from the clinic. Curious, I opened it even before my birthday cards and was stunned to see a form letter telling me “an abnormality had been found and I needed to call the office as soon as possible.”

I stood in the kitchen staring at the red check mark next to that life-altering statement. Just three sentences, but with those words I became a statistic. I became the one of one in eight women who is diagnosed in their lifetime. I am lucky.

Yes, I am lucky in more ways than one. I was diagnosed with D.C.I.S., ductal carcinoma in situ or intraductal carcinoma), the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. I didn’t need to have radiation or chemotherapy. However, three years later I became one of the 10 of 100 women who experience a reoccurrence of D.C.I.S. Again, I think I’m very, very lucky.

Yes, I’m healthy, but that’s not the only reason why I’m lucky. I view my breast cancer as a gift. It’s a blessing which has helped me step out into the world with my writing. It has allowed me to declare I am passionate about encouraging every woman I meet not to wait until you have a health crisis to take care of yourself. Don’t wait to make yourself a priority in your own life. Follow your dreams. Jump into your life and live!

Healing from breast cancer is an on-going process. The physical scars fade away, but the nagging fear that it could reoccur is always in the back of your mind. Fortunately, I know that my attitude plays an integral part in my course of treatment. When I gave myself permission to prescribe creative expression as a healing tool, everything shifted for me.

 “A woman is like a tea bag, you don’t know how strong she is until you put them in hot water.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, I know that you can paddle awfully hard to keep your head above water while championing everyone else’s life only to end up feeling unfulfilled, ignored and silenced. Life is too short not to put yourself at the top of your To Do list.

The only hot water I want to be in is a bubble bath!

I’m loving my life and making my dreams come true. I’m helping reluctant writers demystify the writing process.

What state are you in?

Do you wear a pink ribbon…for yourself…for a loved one? Hop over to my Facebook page and tell me about it.

Thank you for sharing!

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