The Embodied Path & Love as a Full Time Gig
An interview with Ellie Roscher
The forces in our lives are constantly colliding—sometimes in ways that work out well and sometimes in ways that don’t. This interview series is an exploration of what it can look like to work with the collisions, rather than against them. By digging into how humans and nature interact– from our relationships with other humans, to those with our non-human neighbors, to our relationship with ourselves to our relationship with the landbase–we can uncover how to best step fully into our role in the story of the world.
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I met Ellie Roscher over 20 years ago, somewhere on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. A good friend of my then-boyfriend-now- spouse, I remember her asking some sort of big question along the lines of “what does power mean to you?” I don’t remember if that was the exact wording, or what everyone may have said in response. But it’s fitting that my memory of meeting Ellie includes her asking a big question, one that can have myriad answers, none of them wrong. We co-wrote 12 Tiny Things, a book that includes plenty of questions, and her next book (which you’ll learn about later in this interview) is a treasure trove of self-inquiry prompts. Ellie and I were born in the same week on the same year, we both attended small liberal arts colleges, did a lot of gymnastics as young people, ran Grandma’s marathon, and graduated from Luther Seminary’s MA program. We’re pretty different too, though: I live in a rural area, she’s urban. I’d probably never public speak again if I didn’t have to1, and Ellie lists ‘public speaker’ on her website. At any rate, I’m so glad my husband made friends with her all those years ago, and that she’s continued asking those powerful questions and sharing her work with the world.
Meet Ellie Roscher. She is the author of The Embodied Path, 12 Tiny Things, Play Like a Girl and How Coffee Saved My Life. She teaches yoga at Up Yoga and writing at The Loft Literary Center and the Minnesota Writing Project. Ellie holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary.
Heidi: Ellie, Thanks for being here with us today. To start, I always ask the same question: What are two forces that are colliding in your life right now (or that have in the not too distant past)?
Ellie: I deeply believe that the work of my life is to love. My career path may seem a bit discontinuous, but love is the through line. Love is my full time gig. My unpaid work raising my children and my paid work writing and teaching are two incredibly powerful forces that are in a constant state of collision. I mostly work from home. Because they are young, because of limited child care, because of COVID, because of a teacher’s strike, and because of summer, my kids also have been mostly at home. The collision of these two love forces–parenting and paid work–is messy, relentless, and unpredictable. It can create a sense of clutter in my mind. The beautiful and worthy forces tug. Interruption rules. A voice can whisper to me that I am not tending to either role with the attention it deserves.
I am moving into a season when, after eight years of collision, both of my children will be in a school building during the day. I am looking forward to a little more quiet time in the house during the day when I can turn toward my paid work with more uninterrupted attention. I am looking forward to tender time in the morning and kinetic time in the evening when I can turn toward my children with my whole being. And I anticipate I will grieve the changing season. I venture I will miss the abundance of the holy collisions, too.
Heidi: “Love is my full time gig.” I love that so much. Finding, and prioritizing, the center driving force is such a grounding thing—especially in the midst of transitions that are hard, but also so full of possibility.
How are you navigating the conditions this collision is creating? How does the dissonance created impact your choices?
Ellie: I have embraced the seepage. I am more comfortable with my child joining in for a few minutes of a Zoom call. I am more at peace with answering a few emails on the couch while my child plays a delightful imaginative game across the room. At times I long for clearer boundaries around life and work, but more often I enjoy the flexibility my freelance work affords and know the value of my kids seeing me passionate about my paid work. As they grow, so does their rich inner lives. They don’t need my undivided attention all day long. I carve out both parenting time and paid work time that is sacred, and then in other moments embrace the flow.
Navigating the collisions feels like navigating water flowing down a river. It goes better when you let go a bit and use the current to your advantage. It is reminding myself that there is no arriving. There is no destination. When I let go of my perfectionism and enter into the flow of life, I enjoy being agile and attentive to the moment right in front of me. It is humbling and wonderful. I dwell in the good enough. I love raising my children, I love my paid work, and I feel deeply grateful to be able to tend to both passions.
Heidi: “There is no arriving” is one of my favorite ways of thinking about life. What has this collision, this seepage, taught you about yourself? The world?
Ellie: Covid was a global collision that broke down the division between work life and home life. Our compartmentalized lives dissolved in real ways, and along with it, our illusion of control and independence. The collision reminded me that I hold all my roles and responsibilities in my body. There are no tidy compartments. My day goes better when I name love as my throughline and see right in front of me how the moment is asking me to love. Love often looks different than I had expected, and yet it is beautiful, good work. Instead of striving for perfectly balanced days, I move from my center, from my sense of self, moment to moment.
The collision reminded me how dependent we are on each other, and how we need community to thrive. Community requires vulnerability and grace. The collision invites us to be messy together, to love fiercely, and to be brave instead of perfect.
Heidi: This brings us to your latest work…..tell us about a collision you explore in your latest book, which is out officially on December 6th from Broadleaf Books.
Ellie: The Embodied Path is a book of body stories that invites the reader to claim and share your own body both for personal healing and also in hopes the society will expand its compassion so that all bodies can experience safety and belonging. When I was thirteen, I had a bad elbow injury. I felt like a victim until the doctor told me he almost had to amputate my arm. In a moment my story about the trauma changed, and I shifted from embodied bitterness to embodied gratitude. The story we craft and tell matters.
The Embodied Path shares stories of people colliding with the limits of their bodies. There are stories of people colliding with and transcending limiting narratives given to them by others, systems, or by themselves. It explores the trauma of collision and how crafting a story of that trauma can bring a sense of meaning that expands our sense of freedom and agency. Collisions are inevitable. How we craft and share stories of our collisions can deepen our embodiment and shift the way we move through the world.
Heidi: It’s such an important book. I’m so excited for it to make its way into the world and help others tell their own body stories.
What else would you like to share about your current projects?
Ellie: PLUM is an online writing and wellness community I created for folks interested in deeper embodiment. Go to plumwellness.us to find my yoga classes, writing classes, meditations, journal prompts, breath exercises and more. The Embodied Path comes out on December 6 along with slew of supporting resources including (but not limited to) a FAITH GUIDE for churches, WRITING CURRICULUM for teachers, a JOURNAL for personal reflection, and AUDIO RECORDINGS of the breath practices. On my website you will find information on my books, podcast, blog, speaking and retreat offerings, and my yoga and writing classes. Following me on social media at @ellieroscher will also get you weekly writing prompts and alerts to offerings. I would love to journey toward deeper embodiment with you!
If you are in the Twin Cities area, please join Ellie to celebrate the launch of The Embodied Path. The event will be on Tuesday, December 6th at Open Book (1011 S Washington in Minneapolis). Doors open at 6:30pm, and there will be a program starting at 7pm followed by a book signing.
And you can join me, Ellie, and Sandhya Jha on December 8th at 1pm CST at Faith + Lead’s December Book Hub—a “Spiritual Spa” experience designed to nurture hope and center your own spiritual well-being in the midst of all the extra expectations of this season. In this time of renewal, we will place our attention on the connection with our bodies, the natural world, and our spiritual ancestors.
Have a collision you’d like to explore in this space? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, I am always glad to have done it when I do, in fact, have to make some sort of public appearance that includes making remarks about something, usually a book.