You’re Invited

cabin dogwoodOn May 21, my friend Margaret Riordan and I will be teaching an all-day, no-holds-barred class, titled, “Writing the Creative Chakras.” Margaret’s got the woo-woo (as I fondly think of it), and I’m bringing the writing. We’ll mix in some art and walking and lots else.

I’ve been thinking (and thinking and thinking) about this class and what I want for the not-yet-defined people who show up for it. The best way to do that, I’ve found, is to imagine what I need at this point in my journey.

First, I want to continue getting unstuck and into flow; I want to LEARN and PRACTICE that. (I can break this down into a looonnng list of things-to accomplish!)

Second, I’d like each student to leave with a framed-up and partially fleshed-out project–writing if writing is the goal, but any creative endeavor can be substituted.  This morning I came across this paragraph in Steven Pressfield’s blog, and it perfectly expresses WHY this is so important:

“This is why writing (or the pursuit of any art) is, to me, a spiritual enterprise. It’s an endeavor of the soul. The stories we write, if we’re working truly, are messages in a bottle from our Self to our self, from our Unconscious/Divine Ground/Muse to our struggling, fallible, everyday selves.”

My goals have everything to do with chakra work, as I understand it. I come at these things from a Christian perspective, but I think you can approach from any direction. Before it had names, it was all about standing still and listening. Anyway, I’m excited to learn more about how my body can help me make even more sense of it.

If you’re interested, email me at and I’ll send you the flyer. There’s a brief announcement (too) on my “upcoming events” page.

Who Am I?

cropped-bluebell.jpgI have been trying really, really hard to evolve. And it is freakin’ hard. For a long time I have been able to write a little bit and get by, because after all I was busy doing other things. Cut me some slack, I told the universe in those days. I’m dancing as fast as I can!

The solution to this “problem” of having more time on my hands, and more time to write must be (a part of my brain apparently thinks) to get busy again. At least, I keep coming up with schemes to be busier, to take classes and read books (and more books). I also come up with brilliant schemes to make money:

  • I could monetize my blog!
  • I could self-publish a new poetry book and go on tour to sell it! (As if that would make money!)
  • I could apply to teach at writing conferences!
  • I could write articles as a free-lancer!
  • I could become a technical writer!
  • I could tutor children at the library!
  • I could get a job at the mall selling beautiful shirts!

The list goes on. If I want to write, my brain is apparently rationalizing, then it can come up with a whole bunch of things for me to write. A mystery novel! A mystery novel for children! A book of writing prompts!

I don’t want to rule out teaching at writing conferences, or coaching struggling writers. I penthink I would get a lot out of doing those things. But I don’t need to busy-ify my life. What I need to do is write the books I’ve been given to write. Write and finish and submit them. 

To borrow from yesterday’s blogpost: I need to bloom where I’m planted. Some days I have no idea what that bloom will be. I worry that it is mostly going to be useful for mulch. But that’s the job.



Beholden and Beholding

dogwoodToday is Earth Day. We’ve had a warm spell this week, which meant walks on the beach with our dog and beautiful sunsets.  Last night, for me, it meant standing in a friend’s garden and wondering at her native plants like salal and skunk cabbage and Oregon grape and goat’s beard, at her cascara tree and the huckleberry and ocean spray.

This morning the sky is overcast, but it’s still pretty warm.  I’m sitting in my cabin. I’ve read my chapters for the day. I’m thinking about a class that I’ll be teaching in Snohomish in May and feeling led to write something about getting unstuck.

The first thought I have is that being unstuck is maybe akin to blooming. Outside my window, the big dogwood is blooming. But the tulips blooming in the yard are looking a little bedraggled. The ornamental apple in our front yard is long past blooming.  So blooming isn’t all there is to the process, is it? Gardeners know this, and it’s a lesson I’m trying to learn in my writing. You have to be willing to take every step of the journey. There’s the planting bit, and the waiting, the blooming (of course), but then the dying away of the bloom. There’s green after the bloom. There is fruit (not always the edible sort). There are bees and harvesting and mulch, too. To get the most out of a garden, you have to be present with and for all of it. You have to go out into your garden every day and see what it needs. We always plant a few tomatoes in our front yard, and my husband jokes that each tomato costs about $8. (Probably a low estimate.) But it isn’t just the fruit that gives us pleasure. The journey is worth it.

warofart_bookSteven Pressfield in The War of Art compares making art to having a child, and (yes) I know this can be a tired comparison, but I like what he does with it: “The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don’t create the new life, they only bear it. This is why birth is such a humbling experience. The new mom weeps in awe at the little miracle in her arms. She knows it came out of her but not from her, through her but not of her” (156).

As an adoptive mom, this goes double for me. When my daughters were born, when I first held them, I knew that I had been granted a front row seat to one of life’s great mysteries. My friend didn’t create the plants in her northwest-native garden. But she has nurtured and arranged and sustained it. She didn’t have to answer this call. (And think of all the parents in the world who neglect or ignore or abuse their children. Think of neglected and abused patches of ground.) Anything, paid close attention, can be one of life’s great mysteries—a garden, or writing.

The wonder isn’t partly in the beholding. It’s all in the beholding.





Your Inner Critic

I was planning to share a passage from Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual (which I highly recommend), but then I found this post at the blog, Two Writing Teachers. I am compelled to share it instead.

And for a poetry assignment, after reading the post (about teaching 6th graders; a good speed for me today), write a poem about your inner critic. What kind of ewww face is she making? What’s your response?

“It’s okay if you’re laughing. The kids also thought this was hilarious.”