Learning to Relearn

Learning to Relearn - Brass Tack Thinking

I’ve been chewing on writing a new book for a while now.

But every idea I came up with didn’t feel right. I crumpled many sheets of virtual and physical paper working through concepts to a point where I just lost enthusiasm, which is not a good way to start a book.

I’ve been doing this for months.

I knew a few things.

  1. I didn’t want to write another marketing book.
  2. I wanted this book to feel personal and intimate somehow
  3. I needed to say “hell yeah” to the idea because writing is hard, and I wanted the book to be something I felt like I needed to write, not just something that could sell speeches or make for a good webinar.

This last week, it finally hit me.

My Body of Work

My friend Pam Slim is awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is her latest book called Body of Work.

It’s a book about finding the common thread in everything you do, professionally, personally, emotionally, the whole enchilada. It’s a beautiful concept to me because it’s remarkably simple in form but incredibly complex in execution. After all, people spend their entire lives wondering what in the hell they’re put here to do.

I was struggling to find mine.

All these facets of me. Animal rescue. Mental health. My work at SideraWorks. My career leading up to that point and what I love and don’t love about what I do. My writing. My home and my kid. My very personal struggle with an eating disorder. And all the stuff I haven’t talked about yet.

Nothing seemed to connect.

Then I was sitting and doing my Morning Pages, blabbing out the random collection of stuff in my head that seems to pile up magically overnight as I sleep.

And I wrote a single word.


You know that feeling when something just sort of settles in and clicks? My friend Tamsen Webster would describe that as all the tumblers in a lock falling into place…click, click, click.

For me, it’s almost a deafening silence for a moment.

Like that second where you hold your breath in an action movie, all the music stops, the picture moves to slow-motion…

…and then all hell breaks loose.

The common thread in everything that I do is that I’m not afraid to relearn something I thought I knew.

In the last six months alone, I’ve had to relearn:

  • How to work with rescue dogs, having taken on two very tricky but different rescues of my own
  • How to eat and exercise
  • Why I’m worth loving
  • How to balance life and work with a business…or not (ha)
  • How to stop my self-hate dialogue
  • Why I enter the relationships I do…and how to stop
  • How to cope with shame, vulnerability, and exposure
  • How to let people help me
  • When and how to have difficult conversations
  • How to relate to my beloved grandmother who I’m slowly losing through dementia

The list goes on, but the common thread hit me like a ton of bricks.

How Do You Do It All?

Nearly every time I do a speaking engagement, this question comes up.

My first answer is…I don’t. I don’t do it all, not nearly. Stuff doesn’t get done, balance is an elusive beast that’s never perfect, balls get dropped, kids get fed chicken nuggets.

The second answer, when I really thought about it, was about relearning.

After I get past initial ego ouchies, if there are some, I’m never afraid to relearn something. To relearn how to think about it, how to approach it, how to deal with it, how to execute it.

I’m 38 years old and some of the best, most important lessons of my life have been learned in just the last few years simply because I was open to the possibility that I needed a new approach.

I don’t do it all. But I do what I do better than ever because I know I’m never too old, experienced, jaded or anything else to find a new way to do something, from psychotherapy to riding horses.

So that’s the plan.

I have no idea if it has legs, but my gut tells me it does. If you can relate, please let me know.

I’ve been spending most of today on my weekend time framing out a plan. I’ll talk more about that in future posts, because right now, my plan is to self-publish the book and try my hand at crowd-funding its initial production.

Either way, the book is getting written.

Because Relearning is something we all need. A way to take charge of your own life again and overcome that pesky idea that you’ve missed your chance to do something awesome, reinvent yourself, learn new skills or find a fresh outlook.

It’s never too late to relearn. Hell, I’ll relearn how to write, publish, and fund a book!

I can’t wait to write about relearning and hear your stories. Got a great one I need to include in my book? Let me know below. Research is starting immediately.


  • http://slworrell.com Sherree W.

    Go Amber! I’m in the process of doing this in a particular area of my life (long overdue). It was the “ouchies” that stopped me for so many years. For me, it’s about taking the risk to relearn and acknowledging that my age and/or old “tapes,” if you will, have nothing to do with it. It’s my mindset. I can’t wait for this book – it’s important for so many reasons.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Thank you, my friend. That ego check can be really painful. I’m really bad at it, that and taking criticism. But my own worst critic always stares me in the mirror.

      I love the “old tapes” analogy. It’s so true. And the ones you play for yourself are often worn and distorted. Can’t wait to write it!

  • Stephanie Shanks

    Yes. Yes! A thousand times yes!

  • http://twitter.com/YukariP Yukari Peerless

    I love that you found your thread. I’ve read Pam’s book as well and although I’m pretty sure I know what my “thread” is, but I’m still searching. I’m glad you found your story to tell. Everyone has a story to tell, and some of us are lucky enough to have a passion to write about it. Looking forward to your book and please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. xo

  • http://about.me/jkozuch Justin Kozuch

    Hell yes, Amber. I can’t wait to read this.

    If there’s anything I can do to help, you know where to find me. I’d love to contribute something.

  • http://www.CyberCletch.com/ cletch

    Yes, relearning has been an important part of survival these past few years. It’s not easy, it feels lonely and sometimes feels insurmountable. It’s a great idea Amber, even if just to say “you’re not alone.” Best of luck and speedy writing!

  • http://janetfouts.com Janet Fouts

    I love the idea of writing your morning pages. I’m stealing that! I seem to completely switch jobs every 10 years. Horse trainer, chef, web developer and now I am re-branding me and my company yet again. Can’t wait to read where you go with this Amber and the stories!

  • kaydavid

    Sounds like a great idea. Agree with Sherree – important for so many reasons. I struggle with the ego part of relearning so many times, yet life is all about relearning again and again. Go for it!

  • http://olivesroom.com/ Jodi Henderson

    I think this sounds great. For me, the last few years have been more about unlearning rather than relearning. These two words probably mean mostly the same thing, but I need to unlearn the things from my past (following rules, seeking approval, how I think about things, etc.) before I can head down a different path (which would then be the relearning part I suppose). I don’t have any good stories for you yet, but hopefully I will some day soon! Looking forward to the final product.

  • http://www.nixmediasolutions.com Shakadoodoo

    I think that is a great Idea! That is what good teachers always keep in mind. Seeing things from different angels gives you a greater understanding of the whole picture. I have learned the best lessons when the tools that I usually use get thrown out the window. I look forward to the book.