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My 5 Favorite Questions about My New Book

Catching Your Breath: The Sacred Journey from Chaos to Calm is available now!

After nearly a year of pouring my soul onto paper and working hard to craft a powerful and clear message, it’s here! To celebrate, I asked my friends what they’d like to know about this process. Here they are:

#1 – Catching Your Breath is all about helping people learn how to feel less overwhelmed. However, what are some things things YOU learned as you wrote the book?

What a great question! To be honest, I’ve learned that I better practice what I preach in this book. As a self-published author, it’s all on me. Sure, I hired a cover designer and an editor, but everything else has been on me. I don’t think people realize just how much goes into a successful book launch: from promotion and marketing to recording and producing the audiobook to interviews and blogs and endorsements and so many other things. It’s so much more than just writing a book.

This book impacted me as an author in a very personal way, because it kept giving me permission to be a human. To slow down and take breaks. To extend the deadline when necessary. (This book is a great big permission slip to embrace your true self, so if I’m not doing that as a creator, it makes me quite a hypocrite.)

#2 – What was the writing process like for your family?

Things were different with this book. To be honest, this was the first time it felt like Lindsey and I were on the same page (writer pun) with a new project of mine. She has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about this book.

That wasn’t always the case for us.

For so long, I put my work before my family, jeopardizing the strength and security of my marriage, plus my relationship with my children. It’s typical for an unhealthy Enneagram 3 to behave this way, but it’s no excuse.

So, after years of hard work to become the healthiest person I can be, Lindsey noticed and respected the shift. These days, rather than dragging my family behind me, my wife is my partner and #1 fan.

#3 – What’s the most important message you want someone to walk away WITH after reading?  

If you find yourself feeling all alone on your island of insignificance and shame, you are not alone. And you can’t stay there. You’ll die if you do.

I wrote this book because I know what it’s like to feel completely overwhelmed. I know what it’s like to try and take a “magic Jesus pill” and hope everything would miraculously change. (And I was really disappointed when it didn’t.) This book is a permission slip, as I mentioned earlier – but it’s also a game plan for getting your life back. Little by little, step by step, with patience and self-compassion, you can come up for air and learn to breathe again.

#4 – What authors inspire you?

How long do you have? Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

  1. Bob Goff

  2. J. Dana Trent

  3. Mike Foster

  4. Diana Butler Bass

  5. Ed Bacon

  6. J.J. Landis

  7. Thich Nhat Hanh

  8. Brandon Andress

  9. Jen Hatmaker

  10. Matthew Paul Turner

  11. Jamie Wright

  12. Brene’ Brown

  13. Brennan Manning

#5 – What is next for you?

I’m taking a breath! I am taking a break from the podcast (not sure for how long), and just generally slowing down a bit with content creation. Sounds counter-productive, eh? That’s what this book is all about.

Slowing down a bit with writing and podcasting will free me up to coach and speak more – and I LOVE both of those things. (Have you seen my free e-courses?)

Links to order Catching Your Breath:

Want to know more about Catching Your Breath? Listen to this podcast interview with the Inglorious Pasterds.

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Need to jumpstart your creativity? Try stillness.

Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.

— Charlotte Eriksson

Creative friends who know me well, often call me a “machine,” or a “content machine.” I’m a natural-born storyteller, so if you need a blog, teaching, podcast, or video about a particular subject that I’m interested in, I can usually come up with something fairly quickly. 

But there are times, especially when I’m going non-stop, that I sit down, pen in hand, and the well is dry. There’s nothing there. No inspiration. No thoughts. Nothing. Just a bunch of white noise.

No, it isn’t just you. Sometimes even content machines like me struggle with a lack of creativity.

In January of this year, I was feeling particularly unmotivated and frustrated. I tapped the creative well for a couple of weeks in December and kept coming up dry. I had no new ideas for the podcast, I’d been dragging myself to the keyboard to blog another bit of content that I just didn’t care much about, and I was grumpy.

Why? Because creatives were born to create. It’s in our DNA. And when we feel that we’ve said everything there is to say, it is scary as hell, disheartening, and leaves us wondering what on earth we’re even doing here.

Thankfully, we had a long weekend at the beach scheduled for New Year’s. I knew the rest and disconnection from busyness and productivity would be good for my soul. I didn’t bring my laptop or tablet on the trip so I wouldn’t be tempted to fill my time with the mindless chatter of social media. In fact, I only brought three things: a blank notebook, a pen, and one guilty pleasure: a fiction book I’d been dying to read.

One the second night of the trip, weather reports were grim. The next day, there was a 100% chance of rain. And not just a light rain, not scattered showers – flash floods. It was going to pour all day. We were on this trip, sharing a beach house with some of our favorite friends, who have kids the same ages as ours. Four adults, five children under the age of 6, in one rainy little seaside cottage – kill me now.

Thankfully, my wife is a saint, and so is our friend Drew. The two offered to take the kids to an airplane museum of some kind, about an hour away. Drew really is a better man than me, and my wife knew just how much I needed a day alone, to find my true self again. So, my two saviors took off the next morning with the kids, leaving Emily to take care of a work phone call, while I sat on the back porch, in a rocking chair, with a glass of whiskey, my notebook, and a pen.

It was heaven in the real world.

In 8 Habits of Love, my friend Ed Bacon says:

Over the years, I’ve come to view reaching daily stillness the way I view my morning shower and toothbrushing. I spend an hour each morning in stillness, which for me, is my deepest form of praying, and I don’t want to enter my day without this act of spiritual, mental, and emotional hygiene.

As I sat in that creaking wooden rocking chair, listening to the pitter-patter of the rain, the stillness began to wash over my soul, cleansing my inner-sanctum . I permitted myself to disconnect from busyness, the unrealistic expectations of self and others, and the infernal white noise of social media. It was exactly what I needed. I began to clear the clutter, and find myself again.

I started taking some deep breaths, whispering, “thank you.”

For a long while, I didn’t do anything. My notebook and pen sat beside me on a little table. I was wrapped up in a quilt, to block some of the chilly dampness from my legs. I sat and observed. I breathed. I listened. Eventually, I closed my eyes – not to nap, but to allow my mind to become even quieter, and enable me to do the deep dive down into stillness.

Maybe this is too much for you. Perhaps silence is incredibly uncomfortable. I would encourage you to ask yourself why and dig into what it is about stillness that scares you. From there, I would urge you to find a stillness practice that works for you. Maybe it’s running. It could be sitting at the piano, or playing the guitar. Perhaps, it’s journaling or taking a walk through the woods or yoga. Whatever works for you, do that. And allow it to form a habit in your life – as Ed says, just like toothbrushing.

The truth is, stillness continues to save me on a deeply spiritual level. And also at the level of merely being able to move and exist in the world in a way that is both compassionate and creative. When I skip my stillness practice, I’m not my best self. I’m not the father or husband I could be. I’m not the writer I could be. I’m not the coach or the employee or the citizen I could be.

Stillness makes me a better human being at every level of my existence, and that’s not an exaggeration. When you find that you don’t have a creative bone in your body, get still, get quiet, and listen to the still small voice inside of you, telling you the truth about yourself and what you need.

According to Shayna Hiller, “Meditation reduces activity in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).” Stillness also helps you sleep better (read more here). A 2013 study on mice, while preliminary, even showed that a couple of hours of silence per day could regenerate brain cells. It appears, as they say, that silence – or stillness – is golden.
After about thirty minutes of quiet contemplation, deep breathing, and prayer, I felt my shoulders drop, and I knew I was ready to write. When I picked up the pen and paper, the words I wrote that day became one of the foundational pieces of my upcoming book, Catching Your Breath. Why? Because I was living it out in real-time.

For you writers, when is the last time you put pen to paper? When is the last time you didn’t start the blog on the keyboard? When is the last time you sat on a park bench or at a picnic table, or in your empty living room, and allowed your soul to pour out on paper? Did you know that you use a different part of your brain when you write longhand? I dare you to try it the next time you fear that your creativity has vanished.

Be quiet. Be still. Wait for the whisper. Notice the robin on the branch. Feel the sunshine through the window. Listen to the tink-a-plink-patter of the rain on the metal roof. And allow the gift of stillness to stir those creative juices that have been lying dormant in your soul. You may be a creative, but you are not a machine.

In the comments below, tell me what sparks your creativity. Let’s learn and grow together!

Additional resources:

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The 1 Big Difference Between Secrets and Stories

We’re all trying our best to make it on this great big ball of water, air, heartache, and joy. And most of us, sadly, are listening more to the lies that tell us to keep our mouths shut and our heads down. We’ve honed the fine art of flying under the radar, but we are miserable as hell in the process. In trying not to rock the boat, offend our families, embarrass our partner, or embrace the things that have always shamed us, we are drowning underneath the weight of an illusion. The lies we believe are like massive stones tied around our necks, pulling us to the ocean’s floor, as we gasp, clamor, and cough, desperate for air.

Anytime we think that we are alone and no one gives a damn about our story, we deceive ourselves. In doing so, we rob the world of our unique perspective on survival and success. If you believe that your story doesn’t matter, that you are all alone on your tiny island of insignificance, and you die, holding all those secrets inside, you have kept your one great gift from the rest of us. And don’t be confused: the secret isn’t the gift. The gift is allowing those who care about you to know you completely. Fully understood, thoroughly loved.

When it comes to secrets and stories, the truth is, we’ve all got them. We are bound together in an indescribable web of love and loss, triumph and failure, honesty and deceit, plus all the lies we tell ourselves. All those ups and downs mix with the beauty and tragedy of daily life, but the one thing that connects us all is the power of story.

Your story. My story. The human story.

The one big difference between secrets and stories is whether or not you find the courage to share yours with the rest of us. If you hold all your experiences inside, fearful that we will trample your traumas and not validate your victories, the stone around your neck continues to grow. The longer you refuse to tell your truth, the faster those secrets drag you beneath deep waters. Secrets threaten to destroy you, but all you have to do to defeat the power of a secret is to speak it.

The good news is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. When you taste that freedom for the first time, you want more. It’s the domino effect in the very best way. Courage begets vulnerability. Vulnerability breeds courage.

Brene’ Brown says it best:

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

You may only whisper your truth at first. You might start by writing it in your journal, or sharing it in a text with your best friend. You may even find the courage to post it on Facebook or write it on your blog. Whatever you choose, the boldness to share your story with someone else will slowly begin to loosen the death grip those secrets have on your life. Little by little, story by story, you’ll find the freedom to step into the truth of your being.

This process has been happening for me for the past five years, as I have recovered from a suicide attempt. My secrets nearly killed me. But when I woke up in an ICU hospital room, numb from the waist down, from the amount of prescription and over-the-counter medications, I had two choices:

1) Keep doing the same old thing and eventually die from all that secret keeping.


2) Ask for help and find ways to share my story with the world.

My story includes childhood sexual abuse, addiction, and the shame of living with mental illness. But speaking my truth and embracing myself as a whole person has freed me to the be the most genuine version of myself. These days, rather than working so hard to spin another lie or create a new mask, I am embracing each day as a gift from God. I am telling my story at every opportunity and never turning down the chance to encourage others to do the same.

If this all sounds overwhelming and close to impossible right now, I hear you. I’d love to help. I have created The Writer’s Toolkit for folks just like you. I’ve been there. I designed this 7-part e-course for people who are exhausted from shame and secret keeping and are looking for simple, practical guidance on how to own their story and craft a powerful message.

BIG NEWS: The next 10 people to sign up for The Writer’s Toolkit e-course will receive a signed copy of the workbook as a bonus! Sign up today!

If you’re ready to take your life to the next step, it starts with learning how to share your story. Sign up for The Writer’s Toolkit e-course today by clicking right here. You’ll have lifetime access to my instructional videos and web-based curriculum. You can work through the coursework again and again until you feel confident enough to move forward in sharing your story.

The Writer’s Toolkit is so much more than just another writing workshop. This e-course will empower you to be bold with your truth, creative in your storytelling, and give you the permission you’ve been dying for – to share your story with the world.

Sign up today. Just click here.

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How to Own Your Story: A Writer’s Toolkit

What is your story?

Deeper than your name, your hometown, and your favorite color. What’s the story you obsess over at night? The one you struggle with when you’re alone? What’s the story that haunts your prayer time or makes you feel like you shouldn’t pray at all?

[clickToTweet tweet=”What’s the story you are dying to tell? #graceismessy” quote=”What’s the story you are dying to tell?” theme=”style3″]

Do you want to tell the story of something really great you accomplished, but fear sounding like a pompous ass? Do you want to tell the story of the hardest lesson you ever learned, but don’t know how to say that the story isn’t over yet? You’re frustrated because you still feel stuck in the middle of learning it and wonder if you really have anything to offer anyone else.

Am I right?

Our stories are all different. The who, what, when, where, why, and how change from person to person. But the one common denominator is that all of our stories have power.

[clickToTweet tweet=”All of our stories have power. So tell your story. #graceismessy” quote=”All of our stories have power.” theme=”style3″]

Let me say it again: Your story is powerful.

Through writing, I have found my voice, connected with others in similar situations, and witnessed the creation of an online community of grace-givers that continues to astound me every single day.

While I thought successful writing was all about page views and building a name for myself, I have found even greater satisfaction in writing through my brokenness and helping others do the same.

I am Steve Austin. I have been blogging my story of messy grace since 2010. Along the way, I’ve found this message resonates deeply. I’ve had work featured on The Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Patheos, & The Mighty. I am a staff writer for Venn Magazine and serve on the Board for Altarwork.

The Writer’s Toolkit: How to Own Your Story

I am thrilled to release my brand new PDF , “The Writer’s Toolkit: How to Own and Craft a Powerful Message”. I am so excited about this easy-to-follow, helpful, and effective resource!

The Writer's Toolkit by Steve Austin, will teach you how to own and craft a powerful message.

[purchase_link id=”11786″ style=”” color=”” text=”Download the ebook!” direct=”true”]

The buzz about the book:

Steve Austin has put together a fantastic resource to help would-be writers, preachers, speakers, and newbie bloggers learn how to tell YOUR story in a way that genuinely connects with people.

He has encouraged me to share the less-than-Pinterest-perfect side of my own story over at Completely Kristie, and this PDF Kit both inspired me and gave me practical tools to tell my story more effectively.

Steve has a talent for developing great storytellers, so if you’ve got a story that needs to be told, I highly encourage you to snag a copy!

-Kristie Burch,

This is a fantastic resource from Steve Austin. It is a useful tool for writers, story tellers, leaders and those interested in furthering their own healing journey.

-Sean Swaby, Editor at Good Men Project, Writer at SMSWABY

If you’ve ever thought about writing or sharing your life story, you might want to check this out.

Christine Callister Walker,

I have known Steve Austin for nearly twenty years and if anyone has a story to tell it is him! His message has changed my life in more ways than I can count. You definitely want to read everything he writes.

Also, his downloadable set of worksheets on how to tell your story have inspired me to get to writing! I have a story to tell and can’t wait to use Steve’s “tell your story” formula to craft my message of awesome! Look out world! 🙂

-Amye Still,

I really liked it [the e-book] and found it helpful.  Your list of questions is quite thought-provoking.

I have been working on memoir writing for some time now. (one of these days I REALLY want to be published) I’ve read books, signed up for courses, but your approach is quite different and I really like it. Perhaps it’s better to look at a small chunk of life rather that the whole big picture.
Oh, one of the questions called to mind when I was a little girl and our pastor stopped by. He wrote out John 3:16 and put MY name in it instead of “the world”. I still have that piece of paper. The mere thought of God’s love for ME has gotten me through some pretty hard times and can still bring tears to my eyes. I hadn’t thought of the event in sometime. Thanks for helping me to recall that evening.
Anyway, sorry to ramble on.  Thanks for the book.  Thanks for the inspiration.  I will look forward to your future works.
-Barbara W.

This downloadable set of worksheets will inspire, encourage, and teach you how to tell your story through my proven formula.

It’s your story. It’s time to own it. Let me help.

Download your copy today! Just click here.