Category Archives: Writing Group

Book Writing Saturday

Sanctuary: a place of refuge or safety, a consecrated place where sacred objects are kept.

Yesterday in my writing group, we did a guided meditation in which we constructed a creative sanctuary. Somewhere we could go whenever we needed it, imagined yes, but tangible and whole nonetheless. I went into this the same way I do everything else: having already made up my mind. If I were to have such a place, of course it would be a cabin in the mountains.

The first part of the meditation was to imagine a path leading to our sanctuary. What manifested for me was a path of sand. I have a friend who just got back from Hawaii, so I assumed this was placing my sanctuary in a tropical location, and I resisted. This was not right, the path should be stone or dirt. I tried to force it, to see that instead, but every time I tried to place that image over what was already in my mind, it immediately dissolved and the sand path asserted itself again.

When we reached the part of the meditation where we were to go inside and look around, it all made sense. There were two full walls of windows and as soon as I saw the view, I new it was right: the beach at Waldport. Not a tropical location at all, but rather the place where half my heart lives.

I love Colorado. My job is here, I own a home here, my tiny little family lives here, and I am in love with the beauty of this land, specifically northwestern Colorado–the mountains, the Poudre River, the animals, the rocks, the sky and the trees. I love living in Fort Collins, having the university campus and Old Town both so close, but also living far enough north that it’s not unusual to see a fox running down the road in the middle of the afternoon, or to have neighbors that have horses and chickens. I love having so many parks and wild places in town to walk the dogs, and so many close places to hike.

And yet, half of my heart lives in Waldport, Oregon. Every other year, we try to plan a month long vacation there, and the rest of the time, I dream about it, miss it. I’m not sure I could ever again live year round with the gray sky and rain of the Pacific Northwest, but it still is home to me. It made total sense that if I would imagine a sanctuary, this is the place my heart would wish for, the location my mind would imagine.

Even though the location made total sense, I was surprised by what I found inside. My creative process usually seems so focused on a goal, on a product, I expected that to be the case in my sanctuary. We were guided to see the things we were working on, to imagine them, but what I saw was more about process and practice: a yoga mat, a comfortable and cozy place to read and dream (a huge white heavy cotton sectional couch facing the windows), a meditation shrine and cushion, art supplies and a computer, stacks of journals and books, a large kitchen with a long farm table that could seat at least 10, either for dinner or making art or simply “shooting the shit.” Rather than a private art studio with evidence of many completed projects, it was a retreat space that could be used by just me or welcome a larger group.

The NaBloPoMo prompt for yesterday was “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” The clear answer is I would live most of the year in Fort Collins, Colorado, and spend summers in Waldport, Oregon. I dream of a day when I have a real sanctuary on the beach there, one that I can use but also share with others who need a retreat space, a safe place to rest and dream and play, a place of comfort, a space to practice, a sanctuary.

Full Moon Dreamboard: The Full Pink Moon

Jamie’s prompt is this: “What are you dreaming under this Full Pink Moon? The name represents the pink flowers that so lavishly bloom in the spring. What an invitation to let yourself luxuriate in your dreams, embracing them passionately, sharing them magnificently and enjoying each precious bloom. Let’s share our dreams and make beautiful magic together under the Full Pink Moon!”

The Full Pink Moon asks: “What dreams is it time to tend?”

As I was telling my writing group today (we made full moon dreamboards together as part of our practice), sometimes when I make one, I begin the practice with an empty mind. I might have a vague sense, whisper of an answer not yet fully formed. I keep myself open, as Jamie suggests, seeing what pictures arise, which ones call to me. I’ve even been completely finished with a dreamboard and still not quite sure what the answer is, and only fully discover it as I write my blog post trying to explain it.

When I first read this full moon’s question, “what dreams is it time to tend?”, I knew my answer immediately. However, I didn’t want to fixate on it, didn’t want to reject any other answer that might want to come through, so I stayed open throughout the process–but the answer stayed the same.

It is time, kind and gentle reader, to tend to my dream of writing a book.

Wisdom, wonders and writing.
Books.
Understanding.
Offerings.
Practice.

The story beings.

Writing begins with the breath.

Creativity.
Great stories from a crumbling world.
Writing down the bones.
Freeing the writer within.
Being true to life.

The Writing Warrior.
Discovering the courage,
to free her true voice.
Read, see, listen.
Practicing mindfulness.
Presence of mind.

A magic poem, sent from the Universe, like a prayer:

Spinning, swamped, slimed, sunk
She rises, resolute
Still crowned by petals.

P.S. I am realizing now that I should make clear that the last stanza here was a true gift from the Universe, but maybe not how you might interpret that: I was looking through my stack of magazine pages, feeling like I needed just one more thing, probably words, to finish out my dreamboard, and there it was, a whole page poem, Way of the Water-Hyacinth by Zaw Gee (translated from the Burmese by Lyn Aye), of which the above is the final stanza.

Here’s a video of Lyn Aye talking about and reading the poem.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Tiny spring flowers. How do they get them so small?! There are two huge beds of them as you enter from the south side of campus by the parking garage at CSU, tiny daffodils and tulips and a few others I can’t even name, all in miniature but such bright color, such big joy in my heart when I see them. I know the picture above looks like a regular sized daffodil, but it’s full bloom was no bigger than a quarter.

2. Susannah Conway is going to be at World Domination Summit in July, and so am I! She’s proposed a session called “Writing from the Heart” and I hope it gets enough votes to run, but at the very least, I am going to be able to tell her in person, right to her sweet face, how much I adore her. It was on my Mondo Beyondo list to do just that some day, and it looks like it’s going to happen.

3. Eating clean and drinking juice. After two weeks of this, I cannot tell you how good I feel, not just physically but emotionally. My brain works better, I am happier, I have more energy. So simple, so profound.

4. Spring. I know, I know…blah, blah, blah. But, I can’t help but mention it again–the weather, everything budding out and blooming, sitting in the backyard reading, watching Dexter roll in the grass and Sam chase the squirrels. Although, this is Colorado, so Spring weather this week meant it was 80 degrees on Sunday and snowing on Tuesday.

5. This week, I got the best (and most surprising) compliment: she called me “positive.” After years of struggling with anxiety and depression, thinking of myself as moody and dark and disgruntled, it makes me so happy that people are noticing and appreciating the change, the shift in me.

6. WILD. My writing group met today, and we had so much fun, even made Full Moon Dreamboards together. I adore those women.

7. Laurie Wagner’s Telling True Stories. Class officially starts on Monday, but there’s lots of prep happening already, lots of anticipation and excitement. To add to my own personal hysteria, I just found out that Andrea Scher, author of Superhero Journal, and teacher of Mondo Beyondo (the course that started it all for me) and Superhero Photo is going to be there too! I owe Andrea so much gratitude, that even after nine months, I still haven’t worked out quite how to communicate it–it’s just too much.

Joy Jam

What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

1. Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop afterglow: I’ve been basking in this all week. Remembering and daydreaming about it, running into and hanging out with women who were there, hearing their good feedback and receiving their generous appreciation, seeing the glow in them, and thinking about how loved and lucky I am. Hopefully this weekend I’ll finally find time to tell you more about last weekend, because I have so much I want to share.

2. Sitting in the backyard in the sun with the dogs: Yes, it’s muddy back there today because all the snow melted, and Sam and Dexter were putting their dirty, slimy toys on me (neither one really wanted me to actively play or even touch them or the toy, just wanted to be partly in my lap while they played), begging for attention, and not letting me write or relax much, and it was only 45 degrees, but it felt good and made me long for the seasons when we can sit out there for hours at a time. In the same way I choose to go barefoot whenever I can, I’d prefer to be outside.

This is how Sam feels about having to come back inside so I could write this post:

You've got to be kidding me, Mom.

3. Cleaning my house: Okay, I know that probably sounds strange, maybe even a little crazy to some of you, but it happens so rarely anymore that it was a joyful thing. The only year since Eric and I’ve been married when I didn’t work and/or wasn’t in school, the first year we were back in Colorado (he got the job here after I’d already been accepted into two graduate programs in Oregon, and it was too late to apply at CSU, so I took a year off), I would clean the bathroom, dust, and water the plants once a week, every week. I cooked and worked out every day. My house was clean, and I was well rested and fit. Sometimes, I really miss that.

4. Preparing a WILD writing session: My writing group is coming over today. I’m hosting, which means opening my home, providing food and drink, and planning the writing we’ll do for the three hours we spend together. I’ve had bad experiences with writing groups in the past (too much building up and tearing down of egos), but I love, love, love this group of women.

5. My home: As I cleaned it this morning, I was reminded how much I love this place. It’s small and needs lots of work still, but that only makes me love it even more.