Courting the Monster In Your Head (and Under Your Bed)

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2014 Camp GLP Talent Show 119-L It’s nearly midnight on a cool Saturday in September.

Barry Solway rises from his seat and walks anxiously to the stage. Rising up the steps, he turns to face the visual embrace of 250 people from around the world. Hours before, we were strangers, now we don’t ever want to leave, or have this night end.

I wasn’t planning on this, he offers, but it feels right, so please forgive my nervousness and the fact that I’m about to read this from my cell phone.

He pulls the device from his pocket.

A hush falls across the room.


I first meet Barry some eight months prior. Among the mad flurry of applications for the 2014 Good Life Project Immersion program, Barry’s strikes me. I have to know more.

Based out of Boulder with a background in software engineering, he’s looking to launch his own consumer robotics company. He wants help and support and thinks the Immersion sounds like a great place to find it. I agree, he commits and we begin this exploration, together with a curated group of compassionate and wise vocation adventurers.

One thing about this crew, though, as always happens in the Immersion, they have an expert capacity to hold up mirrors. And something isn’t lining up quite right. A different aspiration is brewing, just below the surface that Barry isn’t quite giving life to yet. A deeper creative soul yearning to get out and become a fuller part of a story born not of devices or digits, but of words.

Barry, you see, is a writer. And a gorgeous one at that.

So, when he takes the stage at Camp GLP some eight months later in September, he’s not just stepping out before a packed house of artists, entrepreneurs, makers and world-shakers from around the globe, he’s stepping, in a very public way, into his life as a writer. And praying we’ll like what he has to offer.

And, what is that? A poem.

A beautiful, rhyming story he’s written for his then 7 year old niece who, at the time, is having a bit of an issue with monsters. He begins, moving and reading nervously across the stage. Head down, he scrolls through words on the screen with his thumb, reciting along the way.

In any other setting, this scenario might not fly, but we’re all with him. Holding him, reveling in the collective glow that comes from being there to not just witness, but co-create the moment an artist takes his place in the world. We’re hanging on every word. As Barry wraps, 250 people rise to their feet to whoop and applaud. And plead for him to turn what he’s just read into a book.

BSolway Monster - CoverOne of those is a fellow member of the Immersion, they hatch a plan. Bringing together a team in a stunningly short window of time, they turn scrolling words on a smartphone into a beautiful illustrated book entitled “Courtship of the Monster Under the Bed.”

That book is, by the way, available to download in kindle format for free for the next three days on amazon.

I love Barry’s story.

Not just because he’s part of our GLP family. Not just because he’s bringing a wonderful story into the world and stepping into his craft as a writer.

But because his journey has been a beautiful example of what can happen when you commit to a process of discovery and openness and vulnerability. When you allow all the assumptions about what you should be to fall away and step into what you are. When you’re willing to share your voice with the world, hold yourself out to be on the one hand, judged, but on the other, embraced and lifted.

This is never an easy process. Whether Barry’s love of writing will become his full-time occupation over time, I don’t have an answer. But, that’s not really the point.

What is, then?

That he’s stepped into a part of himself, that’s he’s taken action to breath life into the thing he can’t not do. And, in doing so, created a new avenue for the expression of purpose and soul and art. And a way to connect with people, to touch them, move them, inspire joy and ease. That he’s created a vehicle for the expansion of empathy and love.

As we settle into the final week of 2014 and start thinking about the year ahead, I guess the question I’d ask is this…

Will you befriend the monster under your bed?

Will you step into purpose and connection and expression, or leave them for dead?

Will your essence remain, for another year, hidden in a closet of dread?

Or, will you rise, like Barry, to let it out of your head.


Image credit: Enso Photography

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25 responses

25 responses to “Courting the Monster In Your Head (and Under Your Bed)”

  1. MeganK says:

    That’s EXACTLY what I’m doing right now. That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking of this morning as I was writing a proposal for a community-based art project. That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking when I got worried that they may not take me because I don’t have much experience in this field but that it’s now what I can not not do.
    Jonathan, thanks again for the uplifting message.
    Happy Holidays.

  2. Colleen says:

    I love this, partially because I was there that night and felt what you describe, but more because I know what you’re saying about embracing the thing you “can’t not do”. There are no guarantees that anything we do in life will be a success, but by not hearing the voice that drives us and taking steps to say what that voice needs to tell the world, we have admitted defeat at the start. Here’s to Barry and the message of his story. And to the other 250 who felt the world move that chilly night in September. : )

  3. Catherine says:

    Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing this Jonathan. Makes me think of Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability. So inspiring to see others being true to themselves and honest with the world, because in fact, that’s how we have truly deep connections with life and love and people. Love it!

  4. Jonathan, I like you.
    I’ve never struggled with so much fear in my life as these past three years in which I’ve wrestled with God, and the disease of evil, that has affected my life – my world – and a calling to become deeply and completely open and honest about Ultimate Reality around me and in me.
    But I heard Jeff Goins on your program and have been listening since and I just want to write and let you know I have appreciated you and your program.

    • colleen says:

      If I might be so bold, I believe that what Jonathan is trying to make happen is less about him, and more about helping others to distill their unique vision, and make a difference in a world that desperately needs a new perspective. Just my take on it. : )

  5. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, you always make the monster in my head a cookie monster—thanks again for being the master of ceremonies (and battery pack) for so many good and giving currents this year.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Good Festivus and sweet cookies to all (even if they have to be gluten-free).

  6. Marcos says:

    All I can say is Beautiful!

    Thanks Jonathan.

  7. I feel tremendously fortunate for having been there that night. A pure, beautiful expression of allowing ourselves to create and share. Thank you Barry for having the heart and guts to do it, for energizing the hall, and for setting an inspiring example for the rest of us searchers. And thank you Jonathan for creating the movement, and the space, that made it all possible. Peace.

  8. Miranda says:

    I love this post! And Barry’s story. The magnificent chutzpah it takes to get up on stage and read a poem to hundreds of people is so impressive to me. I don’t have such chutzpah, but I did find just enough nerve this year to start recording my short stories and put them out on soundcloud. It’s a start 🙂 I’m adding a link here… I hope that’s not inappropriate, but I’m not selling anything, so hopefully it’s alright to do that. Your book is absolutely beautiful, Barry, and thanks so much for your fantastic podcast, Jonathan!

  9. Erin Moon says:

    These are the little big moments that shape us, inspire us, move us and make us. Thx for giving us this one again JF.

  10. Just WOW. Being there in person was such a profoundly high point of 2014. The whole weekend, but especially the talent show. Barry’s an incredible guy. We knew that. But this moment was like: “Please adopt me and raise me in your image Barry Solway.”

    Guy is just mega.

    Beautiful piece about a beautiful moment. And I think my favorite part is how Liz Scully, Heather Krakora and a few other Camp alliances made a BOOK HAPPEN. Since September.

    So grateful for the work we do.

    Least favorite part: the exhausted goonery on my face in the image above. LOL. That was near out of body.


  11. Barry was sitting next to me until a few minutes before he went on stage that night at camp… he seemed pretty nervous at the time and I wondered what was going on – then – he was up on stage! Still nervous but wow! Inspiring, inspired and lit up!

  12. Reid says:

    Barry’s story is a good one. Very inspirational. Love to hear about moments of vulnerability and the results it produces. Being vulnerable is arguably as close to God as one can get in human form.

  13. Christopher says:

    Not to mention the fact that the guy can Salsa like Salsa-ing is his job! Go write a book Barry.

  14. Patricia Gabay says:

    You make me smile so wide that the sunshine comes in and lights up the world
    Luv ya, Ma

  15. Laura Neff says:

    Ahhh…it feels like such a privilege to have been there when Barry took that stage! I believe that when we’re living into and from the deepest heart of ourselves, *that’s* when we’re living “on purpose.” Done. And. Done. Barry has shown us this in spades throughout 2014, especially as he’s given life (and more life!) to parts of himself that had been previously kept under wraps (or the bed). So proud of you, Barry, and so grateful to have watched this unfold. And thank YOU, Jonathan, for creating the space where this kind of expansion, unfolding and offering can happen. YEAH!!

  16. Makeda says:

    I need to look at some of the monsters underneath my bed so I appreciate this post and this book. I have gotten a copy of it and look forward to reading it, even if I’m an adult without any children 🙂 Thank you for sharing this amazing story. Very inspiring!

  17. […] Courting the Monster In Your Head (and Under Your Bed), from Jonathan […]

  18. Rose Costas says:

    Thanks for bringing such an inspirational and encouraging post. As the new year approaches once again I know I have to make a decision like so many I have done before to either befriend the monster under the bed or ignore him.
    I have decided to step out in faith and work harder than I have ever before. Look fear in the eyes and keep going even though afraid. I have to look at my failures weep over them then bury them and move on since I have keep going because success is not yet mine.

  19. Gail Gaspar says:

    Thank you for sharing Barry’s story of how his chutzpah (vulnerability on steroids) to allow, express and follow through, was embraced and transformed–willingly, by those who received his words. Doing that thing we can’t not do…worth it every single time.

  20. Such joy all around. So powerful to see someone’s creative vision come to life in a loving and supportive community. So glad you brought Barry into the fold. And even more glad that Barry showed up with so so so much courage, that night and every week this year.

    LOVE this!

  21. […] can read a post about the event from Jonathan Fields’ blog this week. You can also order either a print or electronic copy of Courtship of the Monster Under […]

  22. Shell Parsons says:

    Oh thank you so much for sharing that wonderful story Jonathan. I could relate to Barry’s story so much (Huge congrats Barry!!) and especially loved your words “his journey has been a beautiful example of what can happen when you commit to a process of discovery and openness and vulnerability. When you allow all the assumptions about what you should be to fall away and step into what you are. When you’re willing to share your voice with the world, hold yourself out to be on the one hand, judged, but on the other, embraced and lifted.” I have committed to this process of openess and vulnerability over the past 18 months and have been swept up in Ordinary Magic ever since. It started with reading some of my work out loud to a bunch of strangers at a small creative writing class, firmly starting on my first novel and has now extended to launching my first blog a few months ago. My second blog post was actually inspired by you and Susan Piver and is on Serendipity and Ordinary Magic I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you have the time:-) You and Susan are such generous and giving people and inspire us to believe in ourselves. That is such a blessed gift. Thank you. Wishing you a wonderful New Year and may all you dream of come true. Shell.x

  23. […] Courting the Monster In Your Head (and Under Your Bed) […]