Stretch international cyber book club

Hello Stretch gang! I am eager to get started. (If you missed my first post on this topic, read it here.)

Please read this post to completion. It contains important information and instructions. And a request.

The basic guidelines and preliminary schedule are detailed below. The first post for the Introduction and Chapter 1 will be released on January 18. I will spearhead this first post.

Basic Guidelines:
1.    As with any public forum, rules of decorum prevail. We will respect each other’s opinions. We are free, of course, to disagree, but will do so with utmost respect. If we don’t understand a comment, we’ll ask. If we’d like further discussion on a topic, we’ll generate it. Please remember that this is only the second time I’m trying this format. If you don’t like the way we’re doing something, don’t hesitate to let me know and we’ll try to figure out a change together. (I reserve the right to delete any comment I find offensive or inappropriate.)
2.    Remember: This is a public forum so comment accordingly. Don’t tell the group deeply personal information if it makes you uncomfortable.
3.    If it is not your week to spearhead, leave your comment in the comment section (below) under the week’s post. Check back once in a while during the week and see if you’d like to make additional comments based on what others are saying. 
4.    If you are spearheading the chapter for the week, please remember to email your comments to me at by Wednesday morning. (I need time to generate the post and/or ask questions and get responses.) As far as length goes, if you’re a writing type person, try to keep your post in the 600-800 word range. (If you’re like me, achieving that goal may be hard! I tend to go long.) If you’re not a writing type person that means up to about 3 pages or so, double spaced. To find out how many words your post contains, look in the lower left hand corner of the document. Microsoft Word keeps track there for you of word count.
5.    If you haven’t signed up to receive my email newsletter, please do so before we begin. Go to the Home Page and scroll down until you see Stay Informed. Enter your name and email address and click Subscribe. You’ll get a confirmation email in your inbox. Click the link to confirm.

How it works:
1.    If you are spearheading the chapter, you will get your Word document to me on Wednesday prior to your scheduled day (see below for schedule).
2.    Using your material, I will generate the post and it will go out via email on Thursday morning to everyone who is signed up to receive my newsletter. As soon as it goes out, the comment section is open for use.
3.    Everyone who agreed to participate will leave at least one comment. Let’s have fun! We have a diverse group with many perspectives. We even have one courageous gentleman joining us again. You ROCK Xeno! I'm stoked to hear his ideas…and everyone's. Let’s learn as much as we can from each other and grow in our knowledge.  
4.    If you’re particularly excited one week (or more) about the dialogue we’re generating, feel free to share it with friends you think might also be interested.

2017 12 31 11.00.29

Schedule and Spearheaders:
(Yes, I made that word up! We have more participants than chapters, so I entered everyone’s name into a basket and randomly selected. If you do not want to spearhead, let me know ASAP and I will make another selection. If you have a conflict with the date your assigned to spearhead, let me know ASAP and I’ll arrange a swap.)

Chapter      Spearheader                Date of Post (sent to me the prior day to
Chapter 1   Tracey Yokas                January 18, 2018
Chapter 2   Marci Goldberg             January 25                    
Chapter 3   Kelly Alblinger               February 1                    
Chapter 4   Heather Higinbotham    February 8                     
Chapter 5   Xeno Hemlock               February 15                      
Chapter 6   Patty Young                   February 22                        
Chapter 7   Jyotsna Uppal                March 1                     
Chapter 8   Christine O'Connor        March 8                   
Chapter 9   Sarah Hunter                 March 15                   
(If you really wanted to spearhead but your name wasn't selected, I'm sorry. And please let me know. If someone from this list needs to drop out, I'll choose a replacement(s) from those who contact me.)

Questions to help you if you feel stuck: (You do NOT have to use these questions. I wanted to have suggestions in case someone needs a little help getting started.)
1.    Does the issue in this chapter affect your life? How so, directly?
2.    Pick a specific passage to discuss that struck you as significant or interesting. What was memorable about it and why?
3.    What have you learned from this chapter? How has it broadened your perspective and how do you plan to incorporate into your life?

4. How does what Scott writes in this chapter coincide with how you were raised to understand success? Is "making the most out of a little" a fit with your basic character and/or upbringing or is this something you have to learn to incorporate in your life now?

I know this is a lot of information to take in at one time. Don’t worry; we’re going to take this adventure one week at a time!

Now that you’ve finished reading these guidelines, please take a second to comment (below) and tell us a few sentences about yourself, if you have ideas about what you’re hoping to gain by joining us here, and any other tidbit you’d like us to know.



  1. Hi. I'm Tracey. I started this website as a way to help and support other people who have had a family member diagnosed with mental illness. But since then, I've also worked on expanding my writing "chops," since I'm writing a book. I want to use this space to bring people together in community to talk about real and important issues from diverse perspectives so we can grow in our knowledge. I'm a huge fan of Brene Brown…and hope to cultivate courage, compassion, and connection. I'm excited to learn how to do more with less. I live in So Cal with my husband, daughter, and 2 cats. My beautiful kid just started college so I’m also a first-time empty nester! It’s difficult! But also exciting to see her flourish and to have a cleaner house 🙂

  2. Greetings, everyone! I'm Kelly. I live in Thousand Oaks, and I met Tracey this past year through a friend. We connected instantly (no exaggeration) and I knew that we were destined to be part of the same tribe. I am JOYOUS about participating in this book club, and I come to this group with an open mind and an open heart. Like Tracey I am a writer (you have been warned!) that hasn't made time to READ in a while, so I'm looking forward to this "assignment". I'm also looking forward to meeting each of you and broadening my network of amazing women (and men!) I firmly believe that the universe puts us where we need to be and brings people into our lives to teach us what we need to learn, and I'm ready for the lessons this experience holds for me.

  3. Greetings Kelly!! We're so glad you're joining us, and I'm thankful to our mutual friend for having introduced us. Thanks for diving in, introducing yourself, and getting this party started. I can't wait for more <3

  4. I live in Portland, OR and met Tracey in a phenomenal memoir writing workshop with Beth Kephart. I am currently in an MFA Creative Writing program and have learned a lot from reading with a writer's ear and eye. And I couldn't turn down an invitation from Tracey!

  5. Hi I'm Christina. I live in New York on Long Island. I am married and 2 grown children, one has finished college and one is in his last term. Yes, we are almost done with tuition!!!! My husband and I are currently in the middle of major changes. I have officially retired from working in education and we bought a retirement home in PA. our long Island home is currently up for sale. I have never done any type book club or any 'online' class so I am excited to add more new experiences to my life now! Thank you, Tracey, for this!

  6. Hi, I'm Sue. I live in So Cal and have known Tracey for a few years. I'm honored to be her friend.

    I'm excited to be reading this book with all of you. I live every day with the concept of happiness, joy and contentment on my mind.

    My husband was diagnosed with cancer almost five years ago. I certainly didn't expect life to then school me on gratitude and joy. But it did. Then he died (that was almost two years ago). Working through the grief, I realized I had to figure out a way to move forward without feeling I was on the edge of the abyss. I wanted to feel joy again. I wanted to be happy. He'd want me to be happy.

    I had to be proactive, change up that self-talk and change up what I did on a day to day basis. And it's working. Of course I miss my man dearly and I haven't stopped loving him. I am oh so grateful for having in my life for over 30 years. I feel I am honoring him, as well as myself, for feeling content (most of the time). Here's to Stretch, and to all of you, for learning more about how, together, we can enrich our lives.

  7. Thank you Christine! I'm go glad you're joining us on this journey. I have no doubt we have so much to learn from you. Thank you!

  8. Wow Christina! You sure have a lot going on. I hope this book club can be a bit of a respite for you and something fun for you to look forward to and to do when you have those free 30 seconds sometime in the future! LOL…so glad you're here and doubly thrilled that this will be your first online book club experience. I really, really hope it's a positive one and that this book is helpful for us all. And best of luck for the move!

  9. Dear Sue..what an inspiration you are/can be to all of us. We all face tough times…you've been through some of the toughest. And here you are with a positive attitude and a life filled with gratitude and joy. You will enrich our journey through this book by your presence. I know that Richard would be so happy for you and proud of you for all that you have done to take such good care of yourself in these last couple years. Thank you for joining us on this adventure!

  10. Hello all! I am Roberta and I live on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. Tracey and I connected through our mutual friend and mentor, Beth Kephart as we both have attended Beth's Junctures writing workshops (but not the same one so we only know one another through on-line connection). Tracey and I share so much in common. Her open heart and indomitable spirit an immediate draw! I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage this year to my husband, Bill, and we have two children (a son and a daughter) in college. We are in the midst of making life changes for our retirement/future and I am finally focused on writing a memoir which was the reason I moved to Nantucket almost 30 years ago. Finally able to return to my passion. I am a breast cancer survivor and know that every day counts. Excited and grateful to be part of this bookgroup and look forward to getting to know you all better! Thank you, Tracey, for spearheading this!!:)

  11. Hi I'm Janice. I live in Simi Valley and have been in a book club with Tracey for 15+ years, I think. Born and raised in So Cal I am truly a Californian at heart, although I take my CA heart to Maui as often as possible. I'm married to a man I've known since elementary school! I'm a local Realtor after spending 30 years as a veterinary nurse. I'm blessed with 3 beautiful grandchildren who I see almost every day. I'm not much of a writer but certainly have opinions. Looking forward to the group.

  12. LOL Janice…you're too funny and I don't know about you not being too much of a writer! Either way..that's okay. As I say above..the writing's not the "thing" here. This is a place for our diverse group to share ideas and thoughts that hopefully will help us more forward together in a more connected way. Thanks for taking the plunge! This is going to be fun.

  13. Hi Roberta! Let's see…Tracey, Karen, Christine and you. Four Juncture people will be on this journey together. What fun! And how lucky I feel to have met you, Roberta, and the others through Beth. I am beyond thrilled that you are returning now to your passion and joining us for this book club. I hope everyone will take a moment to find you on Facebook (Roberta While Brown) and check out the absolutely incredible photographs you bless us with each day to celebrate life's beauty. What a treasure. Thank you!

  14. Ah, thanks, Tracey. A huge part of experiencing joy is feeling the wonderful connection with you and other dear friends, and my 2 children, 25 and 28 years old. You all have been my pillars.

  15. Hello everyone!

    I'm Xeno Hemlock, author of fiction books, all the way from the Philippines. Tracey and I got to know each other through an online writing course some 2/3(?) years ago. She introduced to me the writings of Ms. Brené Brown (and now Mr. Scott Sonenshein), for that I'm very thankful.

    I joined Tracey's last cyber book club and learned a lot from other's perspectives and experiences. Looking forward to experiencing the same, and much better, this time around, and also connecting with everyone!

  16. Welcome back Xeno!! I'm ecstatic you're joining us, and very appreciative of getting your perspective on the material. I'll ask this again I'm sure, but please share your link at some point so people can check out your work. "See" you here soon!

  17. Hi, everyone, I'm Karen, and I am a straggler. Not always, but I guess I'm a late arriver here. At any rate, I am thrilled to be a part of this group, doing this powerful work. I am a freelance writer in Houston (, if you're interested) and met Tracey at Beth Kephart's amazing inaugural Juncture Workshop, which took place in September 2016 on a farm in Pennsylvania. I have a keen interest in spirituality and holistic wellness, and I think this book — and the dialogue that ensues — will be right up my alley. I live in Houston with my husband of seven years, Jim, and our new rescue Golden Retriever – Great Pyrenees mix, Jake. I have a son, Burke, 22, a senior (yay) at Alabama. Roll Tide!!

  18. Hello! I'm Sarah Hunter from Seattle. I've known Tracey since we both attended the Haven II writing workshop in Whitefish, Montana over two years ago. I'm a retired (read: burned-out) family law attorney with Paul, my long-suffering and patient husband of 28 years, and two adult kids. Sydney, 23, independent and gainfully employed, and Sam, 21, finishing his Senior year at the University of Redlands. Currently I'm working on both a memoir and on a fiction, but I'm mostly in my own way. I do some freelance editing and crisis consulting for a local PR firm. I'm excited to participate in this book club! Thank you Tracey for creating this opportunity!

  19. Hey Karen! Welcome…so excited you're here and thank you for highlighting your interest in spirituality and holistic wellness. Hopefully (read, I have to get my ass in gear) I'll be posting about my intention for my personal life this year which is self-care. A large part of that will be exploring spirituality in non-traditional ways. I hope this comes up during our conversations here! Roll Tide, indeed! We're getting ready for the big game tonight here too even if SC isn't in it. Damn those Trojans and their offense not showing up for the Cotton Bowl. Oh well..there's always next year. 🙂

  20. Welcome Sarah!! And in another interesting tidbit…Sarah and I discovered after meeting in Montana that her son and my daughter are attending the same university! What a coinkydink! He is a senior and my girl is a freshman so their time there together is short-lived, but it's still fun to think about. Excited to have you joining us on this expedition! xo

  21. Hello Ladies! Forgive me for being so late. Wow! What an interesting group of extraordinary women – plus one super dude Xeno (how's your beautiful niece doing?!). Everything everyone has said about Tracey does not surprise me in the least bit. I adore her and I've never been in the same room with her. We are Haven Alum, which I think makes us automatically, sister writers. I went to Montana after emailing with Laura Munson literally by chance in 2012. I had no idea who she was or what she did. But both my husband and I had just lost our jobs within three months of each other and we were about to lose our home. It was absolutely not the time to spend money on a writing retreat, but my family pushed me and I went and it changed my life. I finished my first novel, "Northeast of 80" and am currently searching for an agent/publisher while working on my second book, "Where Snakes Go To Hide". I've met some incredible writers/authors/people on this journey and fund my adventure by house/pup sitting. Talk about a win-win situation – plenty of time to write while piled under dogs! Lol! I've been married for more than 30 years to Warren who came with two children and said if our kids were ugly it was my fault because he had a portfolio! Yeah, we laugh a lot in our house. I can't wait to get started and Stretch!

  22. wow Patty! I didn't realized that you're working on your second book..that is SOOO fantastic! I hope we get to hear more about them as we go through this journey together. And isn't it incredible how these things work out? Right before I went to Montana, I told myself that my writing life, such as it was, which really wasn't one anyway, was over. But I'd already paid for the retreat so I had to go. That was the beginning of 2013 and the rest, as they say, is history. History in the sense that going to Laura's retreat changed my writing life, yes, but it changed my personal life, too, in so many ways. Most notably, by the continuing relationship I have with people like you..that I've never met..and people that I was lucky enough to meet there. I'm so grateful you're here!

  23. Hi Everyone! I'm Jeni from Newbury Park. I'm a writer and mental health advocate. I met Tracey through NAMI, when I volunteered for Tracey's amazing production of Celebrate Recovery! I speak out about mental health, in hopes of lessening the stigma. In my work with NAMI, I give in-school presentations called Ending the Silence to middle and high school students, raising awareness of mental health issues. I live with my husband in NP, and our two daughters (23 and 25), both live and work in LA. I've never done an online book club, and I'm super excited to be a part of this one!

  24. Hi Jeni!! We're so excited that you're joining us. Thank you for the incredible work you do for NAMI. I know how hard it can be sometimes to speak out, but you are changing lives. So glad you're here.

  25. Hi everyone. My name is Jyotsna. Tracey and I met in an on-line writing space. We didn't get to interact much but I appreciated her thoughtful comments throughout. I am recovering academic, was a professor of history for many year, and am currently a somatic psychotherapist with an on-going intention to write about interdependence and its inherent braiding of joy and pain. I have lived outside the United States for the last 13 years. First in India, then Singapore and currently in Abu Dhabi. I look forward to your many voice.

  26. Welcome Jyotsna!! I'm incredibly exciting that you're joining us and look forward to your thoughts on the material we'll be reading. Somatic psychotherapy! As is the braiding of joy and pain…How fascinating! Welcome to our group.Thank you for being here.

  27. Hi everyone! Wow, such a fun and diverse group! I met Tracey at Laura Munson's Haven I writing retreat, and was fortunate to participate in her first online book club as well. I'm super excited about this one! I am not familiar with Scott Sonenshein but I am a little obsessed with geeking out on human psychology!

    I'm also a writer, currently working on two books–a throw-myself-under-the-bus type memoir about being an environmental hypocrite to hopefully bring awareness and action to climate change, and a memoir about recovering from an abusive and alcoholic marriage, which is still impacting me as I raise my daughter on my own and have to engage with my abusive former husband. I've been a single mom for most of my daughter's life (she's 11 now, and boy, middle school is a whole new complication to all of this!).

    Also, I am blessed to have just married my best friend on New Year's Day!

    Excited to be on this journey with you all!

  28. Heather!! I'm so excited that you're joining us again!! Yay!! Welcome back. And congratulations on your marriage. I couldn't possibly be any happier for you and your beautiful girl to have such a wonderful partner to travel with through this life. Congrats congrats congrats!! Thank you for sharing here and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on Scott's material. <3

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