We had the good fortune of connecting with Cherie Kephart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cherie, how do you think about risk?
The American novelist Erica Jong said it best, “If you risk nothing, you risk even more.” I wholeheartedly believe in taking risks. Without them, life would be hollow, lacking the growth, important lessons, and deep unions we can encounter during our human sojourn. However, risk taking is individualistic. What may be a risk for some, such as trying a new food or singing Karaoke, may be commonplace to others, like it is for me. Skydiving, traveling to remote places, trekking through jungles, running marathons, speaking in front of thousands of people, and writing a memoir exposing my most personal life are all things I’ve done. Sure, I’ve experienced some fear in each instance, but for the most part I realized that without risks I would not be truly living. So I will almost always choose to take the risk. That doesn’t mean I’m not careful. I do consider the ramifications. If the instructor packing up my parachute told me that there was a 50/50 chance it wouldn’t open, I wouldn’t jump. And yet, there is a whole tier of people living on the edge much more than me that might. As a writer, the odds are about 50/50 on how our words are going to be perceived and received. We never know who is going to be reading, what they are going to connect to and not connect to, and what impact we are going to make. Or, if what we said resonated the way we intended. Will we receive negative comments? Will we inspire and change people’s lives? Or will our hard-earned soliloquy never be read and just linger in the abyss? I can’t control who reads what I write. But I can take the extra steps to crack open my core, pour out my soul, be vulnerable, and risk being judged, misunderstood, or worse, criticized. Ironically, the more I write with increased risk, the more I connect with my audience. I once had a slice of my memoir performed live on stage that was about contracting an infection while I lived in Africa that resulted in getting maggots in my butt. Suffice to say, it was a vulnerable topic, and yet, it won an award and years later I still receive positive comments about it. And in case you’re wondering, I’m now maggot free. With every action there is a reward and a consequence. The bigger the action, the greater reward or potential consequence. When it comes to writing, is the risk worth it? Absolutely. Without putting ourselves out there, truly digging deep and letting ourselves be seen, the words wouldn’t mean anything. The best stories and the best writing can be felt. There is an energy behind the words. If the reader tunes in closely, they can tap into it. They may not be able to discern what is happening, but I can tell you what is occurring. It’s connection. Deep heartfelt connection. Our humanness exposed and exchanged. What a feeling. Words are powerful. The intention behind what is written and the level of openness that is excavated is where the power resides. I have reached new heights in my life and career because I am willing to take chances. And I also know that I will continue to take risks, which will always be my path to freedom.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Life is a miraculous journey. And there is nothing sweeter to me then connecting deeply with others, from that pure place of love. Writing is a form of love. I can see beneath the words and feel the energy and tap into a deeper transmission. It is an art form that comes from an inspired and sacred place inside me. I am open to the process and allow for the flow of energy to move through me as I write and edit. I cherish the ability to foster others on their writing, personal transformation, and healing paths. It is an honor to help them hone their messages, to reveal their truest intent, and to elevate their words, whether it be a book, proposal, poem, short story, or even an email. Whatever it is, it is worth spending time to craft in a way that is clear and full of passion. I’ve spent many years writing in several capacities–scientific and technical writing, grant writing, academic writing, to poetry, healing and wellness, and fiction. I have been challenged to reach new heights in everything I have created. The ones that stand above the rest are always those that I have spent deliberate energy and time refining, over and over again, with my whole heart. Sculpting until what remains is the finest, ready for the world to enjoy. Writing is devotion. Solitude and wonder and enthusiasm and pain. And it is all worth it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them hiking into San Diego’s finest nature spots. We’d have a picnic and enjoy the beauty of the beaches, the lagoons, and the hills. Torrey Pines. Batiquitos lagoon. Elfin Forest. Nature is San Diego’s finest offering and I would watch the sunset from Double Peak Park, and watch the stars up at Palomar Mountain. Drive out to Idllywild and camp. Stand-up paddle board or kayak in La Jolla Shores. And we’d eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Leucadia called Fulanos. We’d go to Good On Ya in Encinitas for some food, visit South Carlsbad beach, go for a stroll and sink our feet into the sand. Watch the world go by. San Diego at its best.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom and dad. They haven’t always agreed with my choices, especially ones that were potentially dangerous, like going into the Peace Corps in Africa. But they respected me for my adventurous spirit and supported me the best ways that they could. And they still do. I have so much gratitude for them loving me for who I am and not trying to make me into something I am not. It is an enormous gift I will always cherish.
Other: GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16889073.Cherie_Kephart?from_search=true
These are all my photos.