Stories. Always stories.
I'm Chris Chandler. I live in Boulder, CO with 1 husband, 2 kids, 3 dogs and 2 cats. I’m a ninja with a black belt in To Shin Do and have been referred to as a quiet little badass. The socks I got for Christmas dubbing me Ringmaster of the Shitshow are sometimes more accurate than I’d like to think.
I spent many of my earliest years under a table at the University of Georgia library, my mom studying, me with my own stack of books I would insist on carrying out of the library on my own even though they were so heavy I could hardly carry them and so tall I could barely see over them.
Opening a book for the first time is like a sacrament to me. I study the cover, read the title page, look at the page where the publication date is noted, read the dedication and even give the table of contents a glance. You can probably tell I’m not a big electronic book devotee. I find it abhorrent that electronic books immediately propel you to the first chapter, irreverently skipping all the beautiful stuff that is the lead in and the anticipation of what’s to come.
Being home sick with fever as a child meant one thing to me: at some point my mom would go to the bookstore and come home with a brand new book. (Of course, while she was gone, I’d jump on the couch and she couldn’t understand why my fever had suddenly returned.) I thrilled at being the one to crack the cover, to smell the paper, to finger the texture of the pages. And then to dive into the words held inside.
Awash in stories
I was born into a southern family awash in stories that I’ve spent my life asking to be told and retold. “Tell the one about . . . ,” is my never ending plea, always readily obliged. We all have these stories, the narrative of our lives, sometimes we just don’t realize it—like my husband who said, “I never realized I had stories until I met your family.”
My writing life started with a Dear Diary journal with a lock on the front. In adult life, I found myself drawn to writing the many stories I’d heard as a child about my family. Until recently my writing was always a bit underground and purely personal. I’d taken writing classes and had written consistently with writing groups over the years but writing was never a part of my professional life. A few years ago I wrote a blog post for my dojo. When I submitted the post, I said to my instructor, “If I had known then what I know now, I would have pursued something having to do with writing.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I had charted my new course.
Stories. Always stories.
Why? Because through telling our stories we discover ourselves and our truths. When we offer our stories up to others, we connect and we stop feeling so apart and strange and alone. By writing and sharing our stories, we heal ourselves and we heal the world, a quiet little revolution.
Welcome to Writing Unleashed where, to paraphrase the poet Mary Oliver, we pay attention to our beautiful, tough, messy lives, are astonished and tell about it.
The other mumbo jumbo
I have a BA from Middlebury College where I majored in Psychology and minored in English. Some of my loveliest days were spent reading literature perched on granite overlooking Lake Dunmore or under a tree flaming with fall color. I also have to say (sorry, Dad) that the most useful skill I learned in college was how to knit.
I have an MA in Counseling Psychology from The University of West Florida. I worked in mental health for many years and also ran my own consulting business helping people organize homes and small offices. I still love to organize though the current state of my house might suggest otherwise.
Through a 5-month teacher training program, I've been certified to facilitate Wild Writing, the process I now call Writing Unleashed, by its founder, Laurie Wagner (27powers.org), one of my mentors and teachers. Thank you, Laurie!