This morning I’m reflecting on the workshop I facilitated yesterday — Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom. It was beyond full, (I had to turn someone away!), and there was only one flyer left on the board, so any fear I had about there being no interest was dispelled. I got there half an hour early, a bit later than I’d planned because a friend and her girls had stopped by to get pumpkins (we had a mini pumpkin patch in our front garden), but that still left me plenty of time.
It turns out earlier wouldn’t have been better anyway because there was a class in the big room until 1 pm, and that’s where all the extra props we needed are stored, so I couldn’t set much up without them. There were also additional obstacles. The teacher training group that was at lunch until 1:30 pm (start time for my workshop) had left all their gear in the room I was using, and the class that was supposed to finish at 1 pm lingered until 1:10 pm, so it was a mad scramble to move everything around and get set up. Thankfully, one of the teacher trainees was there eating her lunch and was nice enough to help me clear out the room. It was a warm day, I was running around and was hot. And finally, I realized the music player in that room was only an iPod docking station, so the cds I brought weren’t going to work, I’d have to use my phone, and the only outlet was across the room from my mat.
So I was a bit flustered to start. And yet, it was a good thing. I didn’t have a chance to make things precious, to have it all set up perfectly, to be ready and waiting, to be still and have time to get nervous, to think too much about how it all might seem to those arriving.
The thing I noticed as I was preparing, that morning and in the days before, was that I didn’t need to do a lot of prep. I made an outline so I could be sure to stay on track for time, I had my yoga sequence outlined, had picked a few quotes from some of my favorite practice books, and had the prompts for our writing sessions ready. But other than that, I didn’t plan beyond thinking about it. I felt confident that I knew what I was doing. I could teach this from my heart because this is what I know, what I study, what I practice, what I do, what I love. I can talk authentically and on the spot about all of it because of the foundation I’ve built for it in my own practice.
My intention for the workshop was to create an experience where people could uncover some meaning, open up in a safe space, and be fully present without feeling overwhelmed. I also for myself wanted to experience ease and joy. And as I told the women who attended, underlying all that was my intention to not fuck it up. And I didn’t. I know, because this is some of the feedback I got, (shared with permission):
This afternoon feels really pivotal for me. Any workshop that incorporates getting in touch with one’s own heart is of great value. I also really appreciate the easiness in which you allowed the class to relax right out of the gate.
Safe, welcoming and inspiring class.
If you need a day to focus and jumpstart your writing practice, this is for you.
It was a great experience in just letting go of demands & expectations of my writing. Jill created an atmosphere that felt safe & comfortable & so I felt free to just let it all out.
See. I didn’t fuck it up. Even so, there are a few things I’ll do differently next time. I will use the bigger room so we have more space. I’ll try a few other times, like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, or maybe even a weekday. There will be a snack break, in addition to the other breaks we took. I’m also considering a short discussion at the end of the writing sessions to debrief, talk about what that experience was like, talk about why the practice of wild writing and sharing what we write without commentary is so important. I also want to offer a modified version that’s just the meditation and writing, without the yoga or with a much shorter practice.
I was totally wired when I left the studio last night, but crashed as soon as I ate dinner, and feel slightly hung over this morning. I’d love a full day of doing absolutely nothing, but I’m never very good at that. Instead, I’ll finish this post, go to yoga, work on my Something Good list, and dive into Unfold and The Deep Exhale, which will be restorative in a whole other way.
I’m thinking a lot today about how I’m shifting making my living. Paul Jarvis wrote a really great piece last week about the subject, and his opening line is still rattling around my brain, “Are you looking to make money selling things or are you looking to make the world a better place with what you make?” This was very timely because just after I read it, I found out that Wanderlust was no longer going to pay me for my Something Good list on their site. It was a tiny amount of money, and if they’d asked me initially to share the list on their site simply for the exposure, I would have most likely agreed, but being paid and then not felt different. It sucks, actually. And yet, after thinking about it, I’m going to continue sharing the list there, because ultimately what I want is for more people to see it, for more people to have access to what I’m doing because it might be helpful to them.
I know all the arguments for why I shouldn’t continue. They are good, valid arguments made by people much wiser than myself. And yet, I want to continue to make this offering, paid or not. I want to reach people more than I want a reward. It’s interesting, because when I determined what I wanted to do instead of working at CSU, I thought I would just do it. Sure, I’d have to figure out a bunch of logistics, but I thought the shift would be clearer — stop doing this to do that instead. Now it doesn’t seem so simple. It isn’t a choice between two things. It’s a web of things and I’m not entirely sure how exactly to weave them all together in a way that affords me the life I want. And I’m realizing, after so long of thinking what I wanted was to be successful and popular, that I have no interest in being “Oprah-fied.” I want to be authentic and for my life to be simple. I want to ease suffering, in myself and in the world. I want a life that is small, but deep and wide.