shambhala mountain center book and gift shop
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. ~Chinese Proverb
1. Truth: I am a writer. This has been the precious secret I have carried and kept for the past 38 years. As I say on my Artist Jill about page, “For so long, I kept this a secret, locked in a box in the very, very center of my heart. It was a tiny bird that I fed lovingly, kept it warm holding it close, tight in my hands, whispering all my secrets to it, but utterly unable to let it fly.”
The retreat this weekend allowed me to claim this, my self as a writer, step into it fully, embody it. It was my moment to take my seat, make a vow, devote myself. At Shambhala Mountain Center with Susan Piver is the most sacred and holy way I could do so, in a weekend filled with bravery, open hearts, meditation and writing practice. I will forever think of my writing life in terms of before this retreat and after.
me in an aspen grove on the way to the stupa
When Susan looked me in the eye and said such open-hearted, kind things about my writing, when I got feedback from my accomplices there, when I made a room full of people cry with the raw honesty of my words–I felt a confidence about my writing that has been a long time coming. I felt peace, clarity, stillness, and was able to take risks, without hesitation. I was able to see the totality of this practice–that at first, alone with the words and space, I notice things, understand, explore my curiosity, and experience basic goodness, and then when I share my writing, dedicate the merit, offer the finished pieces in the hope it might benefit others, I serve, and somehow, even if in only a small way, there is less suffering in the world.
my feet on the floor of the great stupa of dharmakaya
2. Truth: I don’t need permission. For a long time, I waited for this. I thought I had to be granted the right to write, or that I had to earn it, prove myself, gain credentials or pass some entrance exam, pay a fee, apply for a passport to be able to live a writing life. What I realize now is I don’t need the go ahead, nod, nudge, okay from any external source. I simply need to be who I already am, to manifest what is already there, whole and unbroken. I didn’t have to change at all, just step into, sink into what was there already, has always been there, or rather what has always been here.
heart-shaped moss in front of shambhala lodge
3. Truth: All I had to do was start. Eric told me yesterday, “you’ve done more writing since starting your blog than you have in years.” He’s right, and all I did differently than before is to start. There is no magic, no complicated series of steps. Instead of waiting for something to happen, all I had to do was happen. Begin right where I was, write before I was ready. “Waiting is the fear, starting is the fearlessness, ” (Susan Piver). All I had to do was relax, soften, and begin–one breath at a time, one word at a time, open my heart and meet reality, what is, as it is, right where I stood.
One wish: Whatever you are waiting for, wishing for, that you can let go of the waiting and the fear, let go of whatever obstacle you have placed in your own way and begin. That you realize you are already whole, already good. You are precious, just as you are, brilliant. Don’t hesitate to let your light shine, dear reader. You have no idea who you’ll help out of the dark, and in the meantime, you’ll be lighting your own way.
Cheer up. It’s okay. You’re perfect.