I have a choice to make. One that will take my path in another possible direction. At the very least, I will have to rearrange a few things.
Isn’t that interesting that we say we are “making” a choice. Like making a pie or a bed?
Being that we are meaning makers, this idea of making choices resonates with how we are the writers of our stories; we are the meaning makers of our life.
Because, of course we make meaning through our choices.
What makes an absorbing read is what choices our heroine or protagonist is confronted with on her adventure. If she goes right . . . well, she may apparently lose everything. If she decides to go left, well, she risks . . .
In my present consideration I could let the choice be made for me. (I guess like letting someone else make my bed, and then lying in it). What happens when we don’t make a choice? Where a choice is made for us; where not making a choice is making a choice? In our written stories these choices are great places of conflict and tension. Just as in life.
If I wait long enough, the choice will be made for me. I don’t have to really do anything. Wait on the Universe to point the way. However, if I make this choice now, ahead of someone making that choice for me, (like in rejecting a job or an invitation), I do so by following my inner nudging’s. Just so happens that my inner nudging’s are saying, I don’t think so.
However (and here is a plot twist): I consulted the Tarot cards as a contemplative practice and basically got a “yes.” Yes, take the opportunity if it is offered to you.
But I hesitate. I don’t think I want to move forward with this possibility. But why not wait and see if I am actually offered the opportunity first? Why jump in and decline the opportunity before it fully presents itself to me? How can I ignore the advice of the cards? Or turn down an offer?
Because my body sinks and shrinks a bit when I think of taking this possible offer.
Because I don’t want to sacrifice some other choices I’ve made and intentions I’ve begun on the altar of this possibility.
Because I know there is no right or wrong here, only right and left.
Because I like the risks in the no thank you. I will pass.
Because I want to strengthen this internal muscle of trusting what I know and want. I choose to lean into this rather than that.
This then moves me into, having made a choice.
Making conscious choices is taking the heroes’ path. So, in our life and written stories, the hero makes conscious choices, where the victims or even protagonist at times will let choices be made for them or risk making a choice by not making one. That’s okay too. We don’t have to be heroic 24-7. Even superwoman takes off her cape and lives in the mundane world.
Then there is the contextual reality of the choices presented to us.
A neighbor mentioned to me that she felt that people are responsible if they get COVID because of where they choose to live. (They made their bed). “You have chosen a home on a corner lot, in a small village but others have chosen to live in New York City,” she said to me as she nods at my yard. Being that we were social distancing I decided to let the conversation go, for now. However, -- the reality is that our choices are limited by opportunity. Not everyone has access to the same opportunities.
So, within our limits and opportunities, what choices can we make consciously to move our writing and our life forward?
Where is the heroes path from here?
We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known ...
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.
And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.”
― Joseph Campbell
Where is your heroes path? Write about that.
What choices are being made for you? Or have been made for you?
What limits are you encountering?
What choices are up front in your writing and life?
What is your body telling you?
Are you on the heroes path? Write about that.
Need help being heroic on your writerly path? Consider this: Sherpa-mentoring & coaching.
I have been teaching a series of classes through the Oregon Public Library. Last night’s teachings was on Writing Memoirs. Here is a link to the Utube: Writing Memoirs. A central thread in the class is the requirement of vulnerability if you want to write anything worth reading.
In writing anything autobiographical it gets down to our willingness to be honest with ourselves and our readers. To be vulnerable in ways that translate our meaningful experiences into something meaningful to others.
Everything in nature points to this doorway. A way of Being that is honest, exposed, natural, connected, nurturing, destructive, creative and vulnerable.
To be vulnerable means to be honest, open, intimate, first with ourselves, and then, we invite this vulnerability into all our encounters. To cross this threshold of vulnerability in our writing we want to get our first draft of our memoir written, and you don’t want to leave anything out of this first draft. Don’t worry about offending others or exposing yourself. We have computers now, we can cut and paste or take out anything we want in a later version. If you are not vulnerable in this way, where you hold back some encounter or name, you close off to other narratives that are attached to that scene or story. So, you are not only controlling the flow of words, ideas and meaning, you are shutting off from more that is waiting to be revealed.
In our first drafts, write it all down. Bleed and sweat and cry on the page. Share the most embarrassing moments and thoughts, and expose the abuse or the abuser. Reveal how you got into and out of that predicament. Give us the story of your most courageous hour. Ignore nothing. Witness that when you are open in this way with yourself, more will be revealed to you, through you. Write all that down too.
Your vulnerability is a doorway to more story.
Vulnerability is what we are naturally prone toward. Everything that gets in our way to be so, causes suffering. Vulnerability brings peace, joy, connection and prosperity. Look at those who are powerful but not vulnerable (yes I know who comes to mind) . . . does he look happy, satisfied, at peace? You can be the leader of the free world and still feel left out, complaining about what you don’t have --- all because you don’t have the capacity or willingness to be vulnerable.
Our vulnerability opens us up to ours and other’s grief, stories, questions, and our deepest desire to simply belong.
When we bring this vulnerability to our writing (and life), we feel our belonging.
Outside circumstances become less influential on our experiences, where we come to live from this inner strength and courage of being and belonging.
All because we are willing (and able) to be vulnerable.
This is a risk.
In our writing, our vulnerabilities are a mirror first to us, we write for ourselves, where we hurt, what questions we hold secret, our desires and our fears. We write about our beauty and courage, which also takes a vulnerability. We share our darkest and brightest moments. Then, when we are willing, we share our stories, our vulnerabilities with the world through the written word. And once our vulnerabilities, our truth are in writing, it’s there for everyone to read. Once we have taken our truth and put it out there, we are transforming the world one word at a time.
What are you afraid of? Write about that.
What have you ignored or avoided? Write about that.
What is the name of your abuser? Write his/her name down.
Who or what rescued you? Write about that.
What are your secret shames? Write about that.
What do you want to believe? Write about that.
What do you hope for (that might surprise others)? Write about that.
What do you regret? Write about that.
What and who have you left behind? Write about that.
How has your Higher Power shown up in your life? Write about that.
What or who has shut you up? Write about that.
Who hurt you? Write about that.
How are you courageous? Write about that.
Who or what do you miss? Write about that.
What do you have to brag about? Own it. And write about that.
THE WELL OF GRIEF
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,
turning down through its black water,
to the place we cannot breathe,
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering,
the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.
By David Whyte, https://www.davidwhyte.com/essentials
Join other yogis and writers on an exploration of our vulnerability: Rise! Yoga & Writing for Transformation. facilitated by myself and yoga instructor, Molly Chanson (the Yogi & the Writer). Friday afternoon through Sunday morning next week! Live, distant experience. Still room for you.
I consciously crossed my first threshold in 2014 when I began my turn through Julie’s Wheel of Initiation. For me such thresholds are both a physical and metaphorical crossing point, a marker of transitions.
Looking back, I am able to say that since crossing that threshold my life has never been the same.
My journey through the Wheel of Initiation led me to leave a ten year marriage behind, brought my spiritual and religious life together in unexpected ways, and ultimately led to a remembrance of my inherent wholeness. When I first completed my turn through the Wheel I was hoping that somehow it would lead me to a place where I could kick my feet back and chill out in some enlightened bubble of bliss.
Turns out the spiritual journey is more of a spiral and with each turn of the Wheel we are merely brought to greater depths. The initiatory vow and spiritual principles I agreed to live by were immediately put to the test, and far from feeling like I had arrived at a place of certainty and comfort, I became more adept at swimming in the waters of liminality. Years were spent “between and betwixt” an outdated identity and the woman I was becoming with each brave step I took towards fulfilling my highest creative potential.
Writing and publishing my first book Love at the Threshold was an initiation over another threshold. A long awaited outer expression of an inner transformation that I toiled at for years. Writing this book enabled me to weave back the broken pieces of my heart and stake my claim as an initiated and grown adult.
When I say that this time period between 2014 and my book being complete brought me to my knees, it would be an understatement.
The pain of living out of alignment with the truth of my soul, the fear of letting go, the deep wounds of ancestral trauma that I uncovered during this time, and my inner child that cried out to me from the depths of my psyche, brought me through one hell of a Dark Night. All this through the process of writing this book.
I did what Julie writes about in the Wheel of Initiation and held tight to that sacred thread while the life I had planned crumbled before my eyes. (Making room for what was arriving on the other side of the threshold).
While Love at the Threshold is not inherently political in nature, I cannot separate it from the landscape in which it was written.
To have released my first book to find myself not even a month later living through a global pandemic, and a threat to our democracy in which all notions of working together for the common good seem to be a relic of a lost past that honestly maybe never even existed shows me that while some of us will listen to the whispers of the Soul that edge us toward becoming whole and better versions of ourselves, many of us will resist these changes until life creates the necessary circumstances that bring us to the razor’s edge, to our own personal and collective thresholds.
At this moment in the journey, some of us will fail to cross the thresholds we find ourselves, preferring a comfort of the known to the unknown, even if the known is utterly toxic and counter to our collective evolution.
With a global pandemic that has revealed just how interdependent and essential each and every one of us are, and the deep wounds of this nation coming to the surface where they can actually be healed, I can’t help but to imagine how beautiful this world could be if we as a people mustered up the courage to cross the threshold and leave behind everything that is counter to love.
Writing our way through the darkness and difficulty can be transformative and and initiation -- to cross the threshold within through our writing can bring a transformation without for ourself and our readers.
The only way through this is through story.
The reading and listening to stories, and, the recording of stories onto the page all accentuate the meaning of our lives. Stories are bridges between worlds that carry us from one point of reference to another. Stories in all forms create bridges to what is truly possible: poetry, fiction, flash fiction, essays, letter to the editor, spiritual memoirs, How To books, articles, blogs, screen plays, animation, and graphic books.
Stories move our collective and individual life forward. Stories hold antidotes to our suffering.
A young woman I worked with in Jamaica was discouraged about her future, she was convinced she couldn’t get into the college of her dreams. She had one particular college she wanted to attend. Like me, her parents were not supportive of her dream. Like me at that age, she was not doing well in school. She felt defeated. So, I shared the story, a pivotal moment in my life of almost not getting into the University of Wisconsin:
I went to the admissions office and the woman told me that my documents lacked proof that I took algebra. I could not get in without proof I took algebra. I had attended Malcolm Shabazz High School and we didn’t receive grades back then in any traditional fashion. We took classes and got credit for each class. Before attending Malcolm Shabazz (then named Malcolm X) I had no intention of attending college until I experienced Malcolm Shabazz and fell in love with the idea of furthering my education. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an active part of the changing world. I wanted to be a social worker. Defeated, I left the admissions office and went over to the soda counter at the Rennebohm Rexall on State Street (yes, this was in the 70’s). At that time drug stores had counters where we could get a soda or lunch.
I sat down, head down over my fries and coke. I poked at the fries and sipped my coke. I couldn’t image waiting a year to attend college. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself or my life.
Then someone sat down in the seat next to me that changed everything. Can you guess who that person was?
My high school algebra teacher.
I told him my situation. He said that he would send a letter to the admissions office and let them know that I had taken algebra. So, I got in, and here I am sharing this story with you. I would not be sharing this story with you as a writer or counselor had I not looked over to see who sat down next to me.
Another pivotal moment arose in the moment I told this story to my client. I realized that this experience of getting into college could just as well have happened for the sole purpose of sharing it with this young woman. This experience, turned into story was no longer just for me.
Same with all our experiences that are shared in story.
These stories that act like bridges to reframe our experiences and reveal what is possible can come from others as well. Here are two of my favorites. One is metaphorical, the other I am told actually happened.
Once there was this woman who was trapped in a prison cell. She had been there so long she had forgotten how she got there. She was fed one meal a day. Her only joy came from the hour in the afternoon when the sun shone through her window. For that one hour she would pull herself up and enjoy the warmth of the sun on her face. This hour made living in the dark cell tolerable.
Had she looked around her cell when the light shown through she would have discovered that the door to her cell was not locked, and she was always free to go.
• • •
Gandhi was known for receiving people one-on-one to counsel them. He would often have long lines that stretched for miles. He would take the time to receive each of them till sundown. One day a man approached him who suffered from sugar addiction. The man had early signs of diabetes and wept as he spoke to Gandhi.
“What can I do? I can’t give up eating sugar, but it is killing me,” the man said.
Gandhi took a breath, looked at the man and told him to come back in 10 days. So, the man left and did return in 10 days. After waiting in a long line, sat down in front of Gandhi and asked, “Why did you send me away only to come back for help now?”
“I had to give up sugar first,” Gandhi replied.
I just returned from my yoga-walk with my dog Lulu. On our best days we walk to Stewart Park. On my walk through the park I let Lulu off leash, and as she runs (and too often rolls in something that has to be dead), I stop and wait for her and do a few yoga postures. Even a few sun salutations and bends and twists help restore me. Yoga, walking and writing are three jewels within my spiritual and writing practice. All three are restorative, and give me a means to explore and contemplate my life. They uplift me in dark times and always give me a way through challenging times.
At the end our walk we rest on bench donated from a local girl scout troop. Here we listen to the chickadees chirp across the trees to one another.
This past year I have partnered up with Molly Chanson to offer yoga & writing retreats (RISE!); A circle for healers (starting in January in Madison: The Shaman’s Body); trauma-informed retreats and practices (Hosting the Edge, in October through UW, Madison Continuing Studies); and, on-line courses and consultations.
We are the Yogi & the Writer.
This work together is an expression of our shared desire to work in collaboration with others, to reach out to a diversity of writers and yogis and to strengthen our own resilience through such collaboration. We also have a project poet: Kimberly Lempart who brings her poetry and magic to our work. (See last weeks blog for some of her poems.)
Our next retreat: RISE! YOGA and WRITING Retreat for Transformation arrives this July in your home! Join us for a LIVE, on-line experience with us, the Yogi & the Writer.
“Yoga offers kindness and compassion to a tired body, a body exhausted from all the negative self-talk and striving. Yoga invites our heart open, and lends an ear to our forgotten soul.”
— MOLLY CHANSON
“Writing can be our gateway to understanding and awakening ourselves and the world through the transformation of our world into word.” Julie Tallard Johnson
RISE! YOGA and WRITING Retreat for Transformation
Yoga and Writing practices to OPEN MIND, BODY, AND SOUL.
July 24, 25 and 26
To Sign Up: RISE!
During this restorative and empowering retreat, come back to your true self on the mat and the page. We combine yoga, breath, meditation, and writing prompts to explore our stories and to live our most authentic and fulfilled life. Experience a radical awakening to your inner yogi & writer, trust your inner teacher, and to tap into your resilience, balance, and flow. Gain insight through explorations of mind, body, and word. Walk away restored, inspired, empowered, and with a toolbox of yoga and writing practices.
This is a LIVE on-line experience with the Yogi & the Writer. We will be recording the sessions for your future use. Schedule: Fri, Jul 24, noon-8:30 p.m.; Sat, Jul 25, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sun, Jul 26, 8 a.m.-noon.
To Sign Up: RISE!
Last time I sent out a Zero Point blog (an intended monthly blog) was shortly after my brother Rick died and I wrote about how we often don’t know what to say in our losses and grief. (Thank you for all the reach-outs and kind notes.) Six months later I ask myself, what now?
Should I even write a blog?
I feel an erosion under my feet and am not certain of where to step next, or how.
When I sat down to write this, Netflix popped into my in-box with: “We have a new show for you!” I have, I admit, binged watched a few shows this past year. (One worth my and your time is The Good Fight.) But, overall I am stuck with what to do. How to respond to what is going on right here in my own neighborhood and country. I texted a friend in North Carolina with the message: “I’m wondering, when I am lying in my bed too old to move, what will I wish I had done?” Not done with my life, done now, in this time of environmental, social, economic and political crisis. A time where everyone around the world lives with the pandemic. A time where we are on a threshold between something we have hardly named to something yet to be named.
I spent the weekend gardening and landscaping. Which is a passion of mine. As I dug up ferns from another’s land to transplant them into my yard, it felt good to work hard, get dirty and be outside. My yard is my canvas and this work tends to something inside me.
Am I beautifying the world and neighborhood? Or is this just an expression of my white privilege? How does it serve to do such simple and pleasurable actions in such tragic times? Is donating money, wearing a mask, making masks, giving food to the local pantry, sharing a poem or writing a blog, and simply being kind, enough? Should I join the protests? Put up more yard signs? Try and get my novel published? Or, sell my house to go join up in some real cause? Which cause? And, how will I let this whole experience change me in a good way? If I stay put I have to continue spending a significant amount of my time making a living. Is that enough?—to stay put and continue with, what up to now, has been meaningful work? I tend these questions like possible transplants. Who am I now? Where do I belong? Where is the best place for me to be?
How can we be present for both sides of a difficult conversation?
I want these questions that we hold to open us up to our imaginations so that we can see what is possible.
I guess that is my prayer now. To let what’s happening open us.
“A life that wishes to honor its own possibility has to learn too, how to integrate the suffering of dark and bleak times into a dignity of presence. Letting go of old forms of life, like a tree practices hospitality towards new forms of life.” O'Donohue, John. Eternal Echoes, HarperCollins.
John O’Donohues message resonates with me, then again, isn’t this ability to even tend to my being present part of my privilege? The thing is, dignity of presence can and has shown up in the most difficult places. Like those 5 black men who circled a police officer who got separated from his comrades during a recent confrontation. There are everyday heroes and heroic moments that are taking place, during these disturbing times. Let’s give that our attention too. Let our “dignity of presence” give us a way to contemplate the questions we need to explore, and to consider what we might do differently.
Like the plants I dig up and then transplant --- I need to tend to these rising questions while they are uprooted, otherwise they may wither and dry up. Sooner or later, they need to be replanted. Soon enough we will be called to make some choices of where to place our self. We are being called to be at this threshold with each other and live such questions. I know that most of us will cross this threshold in our own way both alone and collectively. What are your questions? What calls you to explore while at this threshold? What holds you in the old world? What draws you toward your new horizon? (What is your new horizon?) At this threshold there are opportunities to discover and recognize what it is we truly want, are capable of, and who we are, now. And who we can become as writers and citizens.
I do invite you to keep writing that blog, or poem, or book and to hit the send button. (from where ever you might be.) In my writerly soul I know that you staying in this conversation in this way matters.
“Imagine young men and women in your country and neighborhood being routinely sent to war, working in hospitals to deal with a pandemic without safety masks, or confronting such daily horrors as hate crimes, gun violence and sexual assault. Imagine further that those in power expected these young people to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the economy, false patriotism, and revenge, at a time when guns, money, and autonomy outranked dignity, community, and justice. Imagine further that you chose to act against these injustices to serve your people as best you could and defend humanity and democracy. “ –the first paragraph to my upcoming book, The Clue of the Red Thread. which I rewrote this past month.
Each of us, to different degrees, are living with uncertainty. In our writing it's the uncertainty, with a promise of arrival into some certainty, that keeps the reader reading. In our day-to-day lives we tend to resist or panic when uncertainty arrives at our door.
We can approach our life as if it is a very good read. We can face our uncertainty. One way to do this is to live with intention. Write with intention. Not goals mind you (which we tend to use to hit ourselves over the head with, like if I had the goal to write 10 pages or lose 10 pounds). And definitely not with flowery affirmations (which research has shown only works if we already have a solid self-esteem.) Intentions give us direction while at the same time living creatively with uncertainty.
We need to have a sense of where we are going -- what direction we are facing. (Where are we taking ourselves or our readers?) A hope for some future arrival. So the paradoxical nature of uncertainty means living intentionally within these times of uncertainty.
Intentions help us to live each moment open to what we want in this scene, or what we want to experience or explore in this day. In our writing we face uncertainty with an understanding of our intentions (what our theme is); in our life we too, have an understanding of our present themes.
Live with uncertainty by naming and living your themes, your intentions.
Instead of having the goal to "unclutter my life," (as I face my own uncertainties), I hold the intention of "I live with what brings me joy." Does this book, shirt, utensil bring me joy? No? Out it goes. This intention also helps create room for what's next. A crowded house or life can hold us back. Another intention and theme for me is: I bring love to this. I believe love cures all wounds. (And a good walk outside). So instead of having the goal or affirmation to "be happy," I intend to bring love to this. With these themes I do have a sense of where I am going and how to get there -- a more spacious home and life, and one abundant in love.
Intentions are simple thematic statements, with a verb (an action word) after the I statement: I give: I live: I encourage; I discover: I bring... I live an abundant writer's life. Then we use this to direct our stories on and off the page. (For more on living with intention see my book: The Zero Point Agreement).
In your writing let yourself meet up with all the uncertainty that arises in the writing itself and let this uncertainty bring (good) tension to the page. You are promising the reader an arrival at some point of certainty, where most, if not all the questions will be answered and promises kept. Just so in life -- you will arrive at some beautiful place having stayed true to your intentions in the face of uncertainty.
FREE VIRTUAL WRITING RETREAT DAY: June 5th. Contact me to sign up. Room for 10. Will include writing prompts, meet up for lunch and a closing sharing circle.
As a writing sherpa my mentoring is focused on getting you to your summit (and to all the base camps along the way). This relationship is just as much a psychological and spiritual relationship as it is an editorial or instructional one. I mentor you as a writer so you can write. So you will make that climb and finish that book or blog series, or collection of stories and poems.
Who and how we are as a writer comes to the page and translates into something meaningful for the reader.
There are many internal obstacles along the way. I have encountered many myself. So, instead of telling you what shoes you need to make your climb, or what to pack in your backpack, I help you find those questions and answers within yourself. I will of course give you my ideas and show you some of the best paths to take. But ultimately you will make your own. The paths too depend on if you want the athletic route or the scenic? And how in shape are you for this particular climb? (What might you need to do, to prepare for this climb?)
If you have not finished you manuscript or gotten your ideas down fully onto the page, that is where we start. Your first summit is finishing your novel; writing those blogs; finishing that collection of poems or stories. I sherpa-mentor you there --. A lot will be learned along the way. And as you write, your writing will improve.
It takes courage to finish. Where there is courage there is a vulnerability -- emotions of fear, doubt, incompetency and uncertainty. We will confront these together and let them enrich the writing experience and your written word. Everything you experience on your climb is great material for the writing -- . When we write we are visiting or revisiting places in our selves or in our past that may bring up stuff -- again, more material for the page. It takes a strength through vulnerability to be a writer.
Vulnerability is a necessity to every conversation on and off the page.
My hope for you, and myself, is that we have the courage to finish what we started on the page because these stories and poems need to feed the hunger in this world.
Once you have made it to the top of your particular summit, you may want me as your Writing Sherpa-Coach, where we go deeper into the meaning and message of your writing and how you want to deliver your stories.
“And if you decide not to read anymore, hey, no problem, because you're not the one I was waiting for anyway. But if you decide to read on, then guess what? You're my kind of time being and together we'll make magic!” ― Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
I am not sure how anyone can get through a life without poetry. My first poet was Carl Sandburg. I still have his Wind Song book from my teens. I have to open the pages now ever-so-gently or they will fall out like wings to the floor.
My People by Carl Sandburg
My people are gray,
pigeon gray, dawn grey, storm grey.
I call them beautiful,
and I wonder where they are going.
Poetry should be part of every project. Or, better yet, we should hire a poet to help with our comings and goings in life. Molly Chanson and I are offering retreats and programs on the transformation of our pain stories into our life-giving stories of resilience and initiation (The Initiation). We have a poet, Kimberly Lempart, a poet and writer extraordinaire who is our project's poet. Here is a message from her and three of her poems. (She is for hire!)
I have always loved writing poetry. I used to write poems in my teens and early twenties until alcohol took over my life. I couldn’t write anything then. After I got sober I began writing again. First short stories then a memoir. Poetry came last only because I didn’t know if my poems touched other people like they touched me.
My writing Sherpa, Julie Tallard Johnson, turned me on to David Whyte, John O’Donohue and a collection of poems by sacred voices from the East and West called Love Poems from God. These books and my writer’s circle opened me up and ignited that old fire in me. I began to write poems regularly and with such passion. I heard friend’s dreams or experiences and turned them into poems. Poetry is so profound and exciting.
The Way Out
Deep inside of me
Somewhere in a quiet, fragile part of my heart
There is a spotted orchid blossom
Slowly opening against all odds
It fell from the stem in a moment of awakening
Inside of this tender blossom
There is a writer like a tiny, precious bird
Peering out and beginning to notice the world
And herself with an all new perspective
Desperately trying to find her way, her voice, her rhythm
Her mojo is gaining momentum, swirling, swiftly forward
The writer sees herself inside of a sad, scared girl in jail
Fresh maroon scars all across her forearms like letters
In another language, a secret message for the cutters
Capped off with a cigarette burn on her wrist
Like an exclamation point at the end of her jail sentence
I see her because I am her and she knows it
It fills me with hope and makes all of it
Every second of the anguished and tormented life
The hate, rage, loneliness, unpaid bills, devastated mother, manipulation, lies,
Heartbroken girlfriend walking on eggshells, unending thirst, constant stench,
Lost jobs, unanswered phone calls, frightened dogs, bruises, ambulance rides,
Handcuffs, courtrooms, married men and woman, hopelessness,
Worthlessness and the huge empty hole inside every single fucking one of us bearable
And worth it, if I can reach this girl and show her the way out
There are no hugs in March or April
There is no touching at all, not even the innocent brush of a passing finger
Or the feel of an infected hand in my pocket as you put my matches away
I can feel your embrace
Melting heart pose as we stand together
How we fit together so perfectly, your arms around my back
My arms squeezing you tight, as our chests press against each other
The thin material of my tee shirt inadequate armor
For the way our hearts feed on each other
The way they recognize themselves
Your crooked beat so quick the friction lights a fire
Our hearts ignite and liquify in our tattered bodies
The fire burns within us, cauterizing our wounds
Our melting hearts pour out and over, soon to drown us
You cup your hands and feed yourself
Our eyes connected in that moment and through the centuries
We are saving ourselves as we quench a thirst
Of a lifetime
She glides in the sea of the night sky close to the Earth, full, wet, glistening
Perched over my shoulder she whispers to my inner essence
She needs me to open the nest of my body to prepare for flight
The moon pressures me to cry, to embrace the emptiness
Like the waves of the ocean coming home
She releases me back into the Earth
The heavy presence of dark ancestors surround me, frighten me
I feel the divine echo of my shadow coming back to me
The Earth’s breath pulsates calmly under my feet
The sacred circle is formed as primal energy illuminates my soul
My heart bursts open, every cell delighted in the dance
The boundlessness of all worlds, times and spaces is found
There is honor in the spaces, in the breath that hosts my wholeness
An absolute knowing of the eternal integrity, as I become the healer
I am the observer as the moon becomes my way
She carries my laughter through the channel
Until I become the channel
there is room, yes.
stop living in your smallest self.
that's not who you are, always tight, pushing against
the limits of your poor little shell.
it takes no effort to see, really see, from here.
and you - salt and spark,
you step easily into greater heights
when you remember
there is room.
– Rebecca Cecchini, Wisconsin poet and project poet for The Red Thread book (every project should have a poet)
“You know how robins run about eight inches, then stop, cock their heads, and look and listen? If nourishment is there, they find it. My soul offers continual guidance and sustenance, if only I will stop and listen, often. Parker J. Palmer.
Try This: 15 Golden Minutes
We can start small. In fact it is best to start small. Many writing clients worry about not having any time to be creative, to write, to play their instrument, let alone be quiet and listen to themselves. Yet they are aware of this need to tend to self, to engage in things that truly feed them, that replenish themselves. Here is what I do and what I recommend any one who has lost this in their life. Identify 15 golden minutes where you will rest and listen, where you will write on your novel, or attend to that one creative, nurturing act that is for you. Fifteen golden minutes to journal. Fifteen golden minutes to be outside in the elements. 15 golden minutes to play on your instrument. Don’t commit to any more time than this – but do commit to this. Identify the time during the day you will give yourself these 15 golden minutes, whether it be something you commit to every morning or is part of your monthly calendar. You can though, choose a time that could segue into 30 minutes or more. When you pick your 15 golden minutes see if you can choose a time that could become more golden time for such nourishment.
And try this: Breathing and No Effort
“I get so angry every time you say that to us!” a client said to me during a session. She was also in my Red Thread circle at the time, where I offered this basic suggestion: to breathe and no effort. She was actually working on not feeling so responsible to everyone and everything. She was overwhelmed and tired.
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“Breathe into no effort, really pisses me off.”
“It’s breathe and no effort”, I said.
We both got a good laugh from that! For the whole intention of breathe and no effort is to let go of pushing and shoving our way through our life and instead, let go, breathe, let your natural way of being emerge. This allows for a gap in our doing and thinking, for small gaps of solitude through breath and effortlessness. Like the Robin, just breathing and noticing. This state of “just being” gives us a way to accomplish all we want. Every lesson we want to learn, every line we want to write, every idea we are studying, every spiritual practice and encounter can be approached with just breathe! and no effort (no force), just presence and engagement.
Breathe, let go. . . listen.
Find that worm.
All Write Wednesdays: World into Word
All Write Wednesdays is a blog about living the writer's life. Everything in our lives is material to explore & write about. Here, the spiritual path meets up with the writer's path. Read the All Write Wednesdays posts.
Zero Point Blog
The Zero Point blog shares teachings about living your life from the zero point. "I live life from my side." Like driving in your own lane. Read the Zero Point posts.
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I live in Mount Horeb WI where I walk my 2 dogs through Stewart Park, garden my corner lot, wear a mask in public (and a cape at night), where I wait for spring 9 months of the year. My recent book The Zero Point Agreement is my latest of ten. I do love to write! My up coming book: Clue of the Red Thread: Discovering Fearlessness & Compassion in difficult times comes out this fall, 2020 through Shanti Arts, Nine Rivers Imprint.