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Monthly Archives: April 2016


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For several months now, David and I have been on a quest to learn about bamboo. Our initial consideration of bamboo started with problems we’ve had with neighbors. The houses on two sides of our property are situated very near the property line so  they loom over us, creating a distraction in what is, otherwise, a very natural and serene property that promotes deep connection to nature. Our home and outbuildings blend into the environment with dark, rustic wood, while one of our neighbor’s houses (the closest and most prominent) is bright red–a beacon you can’t help but notice and that feels rather invasive. More problematic has been the way the man living there is overly focused on anything we do and feels entitled to judge, attack, reprimand, and cause trouble in manners that show not only a lack of respect, but ignorance. In short, we live next to Mrs. Cravitz (with a mean streak).

So we put up a privacy fence – which I’ve wanted desperately since the first day we moved here. The problem has been that a different neighbor, one we much respect, wasn’t receptive and reacted negatively when we began putting up a fence, so to keep harmony, we stopped the process even though we had invested heavily in (as part one of a two part plan to get some privacy) the materials. To be honest, with such an expansive space, fencing Heartwood was a bit too pricey for us considering all the other projects we undertook. But eventually, we felt we had no choice but to put up the fence when the problematic neighbor got even more nosy, and started shooting guns whenever he saw cars parked here, just to disrupt us (which he bragged about online). His dog was coming over and digging under my chicken coop too, which worried me because a few seasons ago, the dog came over and killed a few of my poultry. I was uncomfortable even going out into my own pasture because, after a year of voiced threats and cyber bullying, I feel he can and will do whatever he can to cause us harm. The point is, eventually we had to admit it was time to create a barrier and reclaim our privacy and our right to live without interference or fear from others….. Sigh…… a fence was at least a start.

Anyway, once the fence was in place, we decided perhaps we should screen off some of our more troublesome spots with quick growing bamboo. Bamboo has a bad rap as many people consider it an invasive species that runs rampant in a yard, destroying fences and causing other problems. But this sort of troublesome bamboo is “running bamboo”, that spreads quickly and in every direction through root runners . Clumping bamboo is another story all together, and while it spreads and grows larger to some extent, it is easy to control and stays where you put it. It is a perfect tall screen if you need one, and is beautiful, sounds amazing, and has very positive associations in a zen/yoga community. Not all bamboo is equal, and clumping bamboo is a bigger investment of time, energy and money than the easy to collect running bamboo, but worth the trouble in our opinion.

Some bamboos grow up to 100 feet in three years – a few species can even grow a foot a day in peek growing season! Bamboo is a renewable resource, with shallow roots so it can be planted near a septic etc… It’s considered “lucky”. And it is beautiful with many varieties to suit each selected planting area. David researched bamboo, and as a gardener and scientific sort of guy, became a walking bamboo dictionary. We have gone to two bamboo farms to talk to specialists and see different species, to see, touch, and listen to different varieties before daring to invite it to our beautiful property. From the start, I am concerned with maintenance and keeping up with the demands of any landscaping choice we make because I am the primary gardener who is chief pruner, weeder and decorator. David’s role is more the heavy work, the planting, watering, big pruning, building……

So we went bamboo shopping, each with our own agenda and concerns. We fell in love with the black bamboo, the gigantic bamboo, the golden bamboo and stalks that grow in blue or reddish tints. We’ve had great conversations with bamboo enthusiasts and specialists who share stories of how bamboo saved relations with neighbors, created amazing landscape features and offered them a livelihood. David even talked whimsically about turning our pasture into a bamboo farm as something we could do on the side when we hit our old age… but I talked him out of that. Just not the direction I believe we are made for in this phase of life. Anyway, it’s been a bamboo fest at our house for months – and as always, it is fun to learn something new and be engaged in a new project.

We chose a few species that will grow successfully in our area – the soil and the climate is appropriate for success for these varieties – and we had to forego a few because we are just a few degrees too cold here (black bamboo.). We planted a dozen quick growing tall plants in front of the fence to mask the red house. We planted spreading blue bamboo by the labyrinth to create a privacy wall to deepen meditation practices. We planted gigantic, thick bamboo behind the yoga center to create privacy and because we adore the sound when wind rustles through the bamboo once it is grown. It is like a living wind chime! We have plans for more varieties and starter clumps when we can afford it, and David has plans to start his own cuttings from a friend’s property when the season is right – something he wants to do partially because it will save money, but also because he is enthralled with learning new things and wants to enjoy the experiment factor.

When we visited Ringling last week, we marveled at an intimate sitting space outside the museum that created what felt like a room in a bamboo cave with pathways leading to private benches. They had a few banyan trees too make it even more spectacular, but even so, the bamboo was magnificent.   The shade, the privacy and the beauty of the space was deeply inspirational, and the moment we got home we picked a place to create something similar.

David has worked hard planting our bamboo. He had to dig huge holes that he filled with a mixture of peat, manure, soil and plants. He then ran new irrigation to each bamboo area to assure we nurture our new living wall. He checks the plants every day, tends them, waters them and talks to them. I have to believe our bamboo is happy here.

Now, all we need is patience. In three years, we will have transformed our terrain yet again, changing some of our empty pasture areas into tropical garden rooms that will create spaces rich with opportunity to seek solace and quiet alone in nature. I’m delighted to report that our bamboo has already grown a foot taller in the first month. Not thicker yet – but research has shown us that it will take new shoots for that result.

Life is ever changing, and so is the landscape. It is a joy to be a part of the process, treating our property like a work of living art. One idea always seems to lead to another….. and since it is spring, the creative juices are flowing like wild at Heartwood. I look forward to every stage of the evolution and what we learn along the way.

Love Where You Live

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Years ago, when I was young, I moved to New York City to be a dancer. I loved the city. I loved the energy of the bustling commerce, the sophistication and art, the opportunity to make dreams come true, and the endless diversity I witnessed in people and things to do. I never saw the city as a concrete jungle or dirty, overcrowded pit of despair as New York has often been called, but as this marvelous open canvas upon which I could color my life and paint a world of creativity and unique experiences. I was deeply happy to live in a place where every day an adventure popped up unexpectedly and opportunity abounded for me in regards to my art, my career, community, and personal growth– and this was before they cleaned up Times Square!

Then, I married an actor who had grown up in Long Island. He was a lovely man, but he had a different view of the city. While I saw an exciting place unlike anything I’d ever explored before, he saw the familiar, a place far removed from the beautiful beaches and open stretches of land in Florida (where he went to college). He constantly talked about how he hated the city. He hated that you had to wait so long in the DMV to get service, or that the streets turned to mush after snow fell. He hated that people begged on street corners and you had to hold your personal belongings close or you might get mugged. He constantly pointed out the flaws in our home town.

As our years together clicked along, this constant focus on what was negative about New York encouraged me to change perspective. I became increasingly aware of the threatening element of the city and what I once viewed as a fascinating mix of diverse people suddenly seemed a den of weirdo’s with misplaced priorities. I never hated New York, but inevitably, my love of the city turned into something less respectful, because the appreciation and wonder I once felt had been overshadowed by the strong opinion of someone I loved. If he was unhappy in the city, then the city had to go. And when we had a baby, I felt no choice but to escape, least I subject her to this negative environment too.

We moved to Florida.

I loved Florida. I loved the warmth, and the beaches. Perhaps I wasn’t privy to the same exact kind of opportunity, because here I was not forging a career as a dancer anymore, but as a new business owner and a new mother, Florida seemed a place where the community could support my long term goals for happiness. I loved the tropical nature and the art that seemed to penetrate all corners of Sarasota. I loved that you could visit the county and the beach in a single afternoon, and see sophisticated Broadway shows on tour, just as easily as you could hang out in a bistro outdoors and hear street musicians. Sarasota had farmer’s markets and festivals, and boat races and more. In a way, everything I loved about New York was here, if I just made time to enjoy the seasonal opportunities. I felt lucky to have landed in a place with such profound diversity and opportunity.

Sadly, my marriage didn’t survive the change of climate when we altered our life to fit Florida, but I felt very at home here and loved my town and community, so when my soon to be ex left to return to New York, I stayed. Florida was good to me. I was successful here.

Eventually, I married a dancer who saw Florida differently than I did. He complained that there was nothing in our town but restaurants and malls. He hated the fact that, in his opinion, the seasons don’t change in Florida. He missed snow and fall leaves. He thought the suburban people were boring and superficial and the houses in neat little neighborhoods lacked character.  We had children, and as we strove to afford entertainment for 5 people now rather than 2, he constantly pointed out that Sarasota is nothing but malls and movies and restaurants that were expensive. We were in that stage of life when a couple is exhausted from raising a family and running a business, so frankly, all we did was go to malls, movies and restaurants because anything else seemed too much work.  I loved boating and the beach, but he wasn’t much into that sort of thing because he didn’t like what the salt water did to his curly hair. I was runner, and I spent what time I could outdoors. He was an avid gardener always trying to turn our Florida backyard into a North Carolina looking landscape – which of course would be disappointing since you can’t fight nature’s regional design, but despite our time outdoors of our own selecting, we insisted Sarasota lacked the connection to nature that we longed for. Our lives felt narrow from living in this stifling place, so we determined we needed to move.

We moved to the Georgia mountains.

We thought Georgia was so quaint and held the promise of real opportunity. Instead of spending money to go to indoor activities and organized entertainment, we found things to do that were free, such as outdoor festivals and walks in the woods. And since we now were “retired” and didn’t have to kill ourselves to run a business or raise a family, we had time and energy to live more expansively. We believed we finally had real “things to do” because we took note of, and pursued lots of diverse opportunities for low-key, inexpensive activity. The truth was, there was so little to do without malls, restaurants or movies, without art, or diverse people, or expansive thinking, or educational programs other than a few craft classes at a local folk school, that we had no choice but engage in those more subtle things that were available if you bothered to get off the couch to enjoy them- like taking walks or making crafts at home or visiting a local park to listen to local musicians.

In time, the shadow side of Georgia proved that real opportunity (in our art ambitions, forging a liberal community, or work) truly was lacking in this region of the world, and when our life imploded, I had no choice but to leave. If you can’t make a living where you live and the people around you cling to a different mindset, thus alienating you from deeper friendships, you are headed down a spiral that will eventually cause more grief than moving and starting over involves. So, as much as I hated to do so, I returned to Florida.

I had a hard time coming back to the place I had left with such arrogance and assurance because I had convinced myself there was nothing here but cookie cutter homes and superficial people and nothing to do but malls, restaurants and movies. But when I got here the second time around, I spent more time outdoors – at the beach and visiting farms, and seeing the art of Sarasota. I took some classes and enjoyed conversations with interesting, stimulating people. I discovered a huge community of like-minded liberal people who loved art and organic living and yoga.  I was constantly shocked at how much there was to do, and how little it cost. I felt like Sarasota must have changed, but deep down it was obvious. I had changed – changed attitude at least. These things have always been here. I just didn’t embrace them due to the limits that come with always having small children in tow.

In time, I met and married David. A man who LOVES Sarasota. David sees Florida as a place brimming with opportunity. He loves the weather, the tropical plants, the beach and the bay. He loves the water, the farmland, the orchards, the art, the sophistication, the music and the diverse people. He loves that Florida is intellectually stimulating, with classes, meeting groups for just about every interest, museums, public non-profits, festivals and more. He constantly expresses appreciation for the career opportunities, varied lifestyle choices, diverse, open-minded people, varied architecture, and the endless entertainment available to us here. Just about every day, David tells me how grateful he is that we live in such an amazing place, and he constantly points out the merits of Sarasota with true joy, keeping me in a state of appreciation too.

Odd. I am happy, living a full, expansive life filled with opportunity and adventure in the very same place that I once saw as limiting. What a revelation!

This isn’t a blog about spouses killing the vibe of a place, but about how each of us must take responsibility for our happiness and protect our authentic opinions. Naysayers can influence your view of the world, and that is sad. There are no boring places, only boring people, and when we look for amusement externally, or when we are too tired (or lack creativity) to make life adventurous no matter where we live, we get what we deserve.) What I want to say is that loving where you live has mostly to do with HOW you live, and that is up to the daily choices you make.

Anyway, this week, David and I went canoeing. We rode our bikes to enjoy the amazing spring weather. We’ve been to a movie and to a restaurant for a lovely meal out. We went to the Dali museum in Tampa last week to see a fantastic “Disney & Dali” exhibit with Neva, but since we are watching our spending, we followed this up with a visit to the John and Mable Ringling Museum on Monday (It is free to the public on Mondays) to walk the grounds, enjoy the landscape, see the renaissance art and the two new exhibits – the silk art of Muslims and the new Japanese modern art room –without spending a dime. We read on our hammock, had a glass of wine in our garden, and later, lay in bed to watch Game of Thrones. Tomorrow we plan to go Strawberry picking at a innovative farm around the corner with hydroponic systems we want to reproduce here. I devoted time this week, as always, to building my business , which thanks to Sarasota’s enlightened community has endless potential. David talked to a few people about new job opportunities. I hosted an amazing weekend with 4 workshops celebrating body, mind & spirit and enjoyed the company of like-minded people that were fun to share conversation with.

How could I ever have thought there is nothing to do in Sarasota? Taking off the blinders I realize I can’t find enough time to fit all the things I want to do in a place so brimming with beauty, opportunity and grace. Work, leisure, study… it is all nurtured here.

We see what we choose to see, and by our view, we create our world. A life of opportunity begins with having a positive attitude and making sure the company we keep supports our appreciation for life’s grand diversity.

I live in an amazing place with someone who will never let me forget that. It is so good to love where you live.



Balancing & boating

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On Wed. I had a group of wonderful yoga teachers graduate from their RYT-200 yoga teacher training. On Friday I was set to begin a yearlong advanced training – my favorite yoga program to teach because it is such an organic process and each year the program forges a different path depending on who is enrolled.

Due to the start and finish times of these teaching endeavors, David and I decided to enjoy the day off in between. We did a little work around the property in the morning to take advantage of the miraculous weather, then stopped ourselves (which wasn’t easy) realizing that once in a great while we deserved to enjoy the day without the work element. We put down our pruners and picked up our paddles to go canoeing.

David has wanted us to get out on the water for a few weeks, because he recently bought two new high end, hand-made paddles to go with our light-weight, well-made, (albeit vintage), canoe. He spent quite a bit of time researching and choosing what kind of paddles he wanted to buy.  The new paddles are perfectly sized for each of our arm to waist ratios, perfectly curved to enhance the draw, and perfectly weighted for racing (although he  doesn’t race anymore, at least not when he’s out with me.) He commissioned them from a paddle artist, I kid you not.

I’d be happy with our old plastic, beat up paddles because frankly, I don’t know the difference between a good paddle and a large plastic spoon, but I have to admit I enjoy seeing how much pleasure David derives from something as simple as his owning a prime paddle to enhance his great pleasure of being outdoors in a quiet boat.

We like to go to a different body of water each time we canoe if possible, and there are tons of choices in Florida, with many very close to us. This time we went to the open water access at Lake Manatee Fish Camp. On this gorgeous Thursday afternoon, we had the water mostly to ourselves. We rowed around the shore to birdwatch (David has been a birdwatcher for years and can name every species by recognizing their calls even before we spy their color or size). As always when we are in the wild, we were Alligator watching too, and for the record, I saw the first which means I remain the leader in the life-long “Who saw the first Alligator” contest. We saw a few 12 footers floating on the surface of the water, and were startled when we were only a few feet from a grassy marsh and suddenly right next to the boat, a huge stretch of grass rustled loudly and ominously revealing we clearly had come too close to a VERY large resting alligator who took exception to our invasive conversation. As the perfectly calm shoreline burst into loud sound and movement, I felt like I was in a horror movie, with a monster ready to attack from the dead quiet forest.  I went into slight panic mode and even David agreed we’d best get on our way and put his newfangled paddle to the test. Thanks to his expertise and his superior paddles, we shot out of there in a flash.  We laughed about it moments later, but for that split second,   I was more than a little uncomfortable, I admit.  But since all’s well that ends well I can now say any day in nature is made more memorable with a touch of excitement, so I was glad of our close proximity to danger (if you can call it that). The adrenaline rush served to keep us more “in the moment” and the only suffering that came as result was my having to listen to my mother’s worried complaints on the phone when I accidentally shared that we saw a few alligators on our day off.

It was a wonderful day. I often think of what it means to live a life in balance, and carving out time in our busy hard-working life to enjoy a little peace and adventure is hugely important to avoid the oppressive feeling that the world is passing you by while all you do is stick to the daily grind. I remember years ago, feeling I had to escape Florida to ever make room in my life to enjoy nature or down time. I moved, and all the sporty, life enriching experiences I imagined were forthcoming never manifested.  What I learned by that period of life is that your life can be whatever you chose to make it, wherever you live because it isn’t the surroundings that make your life peaceful, or organic, or natural or pleasant or fulfilling. It’s your mindset and having the discipline to not put off tomorrow what you deserve today. I’m not implying that we should be self-indulgent and irresponsible with our time or resources, but it is just as detrimental to be chained to work as it is to be the kind of person who lazily avoids doing what it takes to keep life working.  The world offers whatever you need if you can just stop making external excuses, and instead see that the remarkable opportunities that abound wherever you land on the map.

Today, I am back at work with a packed 12 hour teaching day with both a RYT-200 & a RYT-500 class  in session. Since I love what I do, this is more a joy than a cumbersome demand, but I also know that I am fueled to meet the demands because I paused yesterday to revive the soul and just breathe.


Creativity Abounds

I have been thinking a lot about creativity lately. Partly, this is because I’ve begun writing a new book –a non-fiction book on the craft of writing for spiritual growth (journaling and memoir). In consideration of how I want to structure the material, I’ve given a great deal of thought to creativity and how it manifests in a person’s life. When I teach journaling I often recommend the book The Artist’s Way and ever since reading this deeply inspirational text, I’ve seen every single person on this earth as an artist. The joy I found in embracing my own creativity without guilt has gently shifted my vision for Heartwood too, so we are doing more and more to introduce spiritual crafts and art as a means of personal growth here as an extension of our yoga programs. I think one of the surest paths to spiritual awareness and finding one’s center is through artistic expression – and there are endless possibilities for creativity.

For years, I lived with an artist who unintentionally yet undeniably made me feel as if artistry was some kind of competition – and if I wasn’t going to be the best, I should just leave that game to the super players. The general consensus was that I was a great dancer and choreographer, and a pretty good writer, but since I was only expert in those subjects, all other art was better left to experts in those fields. I would dabble in crafts, such as fiber arts, cooking or sewing, but I was careful to voice a disclaimer to make sure no one thought I dared think I was actually GOOD at this stuff. It was as if only the most talented of people were allowed into the secret club of the gifted in each field. Thankfully, my entire world opened up the day I let that foolishness go and embraced my artistry as a non-denominational, all-inclusive, member of the human race endeavor. Now, it feels like my entire life is a work of art – everything from my writing and gardening to the way I run my business, dress or clean my house. Yes, when you see life as a blank canvas begging for color, everything you do begins to feel like an act of creativity.

David and I recently took a full day’s writing workshop with a renowned writing teacher who teaches Chilmark workshops at Kripalu , Omega, a few colleges, and many other places – Nancy Slonim Aronie. She is author of Writing from the Heart, a book more about the origin of creativity, how to unearth your voice and the right to write than she is about teaching the actual craft of writing. David and I had a lovely day, both in the workshop and on the break when we strolled downtown and stopped for an intimate, artsy lunch in a little bistro downtown. But though I enjoyed the program, much of the day I felt my mind waning from the course and rolling around how my version of teaching writing differs from what we were experiencing and whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not implying my writing courses are better or worse, but definitely different, and since I want to be both inspirational and informative, I had to give thought to whether my choices were effective for my students. A few of my writing students were in the workshop, and it was a fascination to me to watch them interact differently due to the different energy of the room. They too remarked on how different my class was from this one, and they thanked me for what I offer, without in any way judging either of our classes (which I thought was lovely). Having taken so many kinds of writing classes – everything from romance writing workshops to my literary MFA, I realize that every experience offers a different perspective and understanding of writing and writers. And they are all good. Teachers must employ creative ways to teach the love of writing too, which means there are many ways to get where you are going – all valid.

David and I have taken to signing up for some art adventures as our date of choice lately. Recently we have been taking art journaling classes at creative cove. We’ve had a ball painting, collaging and exploring art on the page as a precursor to adding poetry or other writing to a journal. I’ve enjoyed this so much I arranged a private lesson for us when my daughter came to visit, and she and I spent hours the following day art journaling on our own. My art journal is expanding, as I get more adventurous with paint and paper mediums.

So, as the walls of self-consciousness come down and I see that every effort to create helps a person connect to something deeply personal and often spiritual. I no longer see the art being created, but the act of creation as the ultimate point. And this is where I will begin my new book – not on how to write, but why.

Below a few pictures of David and I in class, and a few pages of his journal and mine as we explore the fun of expressing individual selves . . . together.

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The right to write

artist way

Today, I taught “Journaling for Deeper Awareness” a three hour introduction to creative journaling that explores new approaches to putting thoughts on a page to gain personal insight. I always have between 12 and 20 people in attendance and I offer the course about 7 times a year, so if you add up the people who have sat through my lecture, I’ve lead hundreds of people to the altar of journaling Many people tell me that once we turn on the writing faucet through this inspirational process, they simply can’t turn it off, and the words gush from them for months revealing all kinds of insight and healing. I’m told this course is one of my most powerful teaching endeavors because the way I introduce the subject – not as a series of exercises, but focusing on the theory behind the process –  really changes lives.

“All those emotions and all that history require space to percolate. . . . better out than in”, I always say.

Today a gentleman in the class said that he wasn’t sure whether or not my exercises and the material I presented was going to help him in any way, but hearing the stories of my past (which I tell with sincerity and lots of humor) has deeply affected him. He said, “I can’t tell you how much listening to your talk has helped me. I thought my divorce was the worst ever, but hearing you tell about your experiences makes me feel better somehow. There is something profoundly settling about knowing someone else has had a similar, or worse, experience. ”

I wasn’t sure if the idea that my troubling life experiences makes someone else’s life seem less horrible by comparison is something to be proud of, but the idea that one person feels I’ve helped them “hugely” has to be a good thing, right? And I always tell students about my negative experiences as an example of how to turn life’s upheaval around and find emotional balance and forgiveness through writing. So there is a positive curve to my stories in the end because the overriding theme is how writing saw me through darker times.

Recently, I was asked to be a contributor to the Sivana blog (an international yoga company that prides themselves on sharing eastern wisdom with western thinking customers), and I chose to write about journaling to clear your chakras (seemed an appropriate subject for that specific audience.) Mostly, I took a few of my favored exercises and turned them on edge to address the issue of blocked energies when the chakras are viewed as the 7 basic human rights. A few people who read the blog have written me with positive feedback. That was nice. (You can check it out here:

One Week To Completely Clear Your Chakras

I loved that being a guest blogger enabled me to extend my reach to share this process with others, and I found it interesting that the basic concepts of writing, be it journaling, blogging, letters or formal essays, can be used for healing no mater what angle you approach it from. Writing works – as a yogi, an artist, a writer, or every day person who simply wants to try something new for the fun of it.

I believe in what I am teaching, because the act of putting pen to paper has been the most valuable thing I’ve ever done to understand my place and purpose on earth and to work out the chaos of events that has at times left me feeling deplete of love, respect, appreciation or just tied in knots . Writing has shed perspective on my relationships, my history, my energies, my self-perception, my behaviors and my hopes for the future. I’ve been blogging for well over ten years, and thousands of individuals have read my posts. I always marvel when I look at statistics –not just friends, but strangers read my work and that realization impresses upon me that I must be responsible to the words I scatter. If someone will devote minutes of their life to reading a post – the least you can do it make it worthy of their precious time.

When I became single again after years of being married , I was ridiculed for my writing by a few people who consider themselves to be spiritually evolved, yet who felt they were now my nemesis’-a position which entitled them to attack me. The letter included no message beyond personal insults, so it served no purpose except as a contrived vehicle to hurt me. In a carefully worded e-mail I was told I have no soul, that I am a bad writer and that I will never have anything published – and that my years of steady blogging was a sign of my overblown ego, because no one cares what I think. The letter went on to attack my looks, my lack of talent, and my sexuality, as well as proclaiming that my children, my students, my parents, my ex, and friends, (if they were all honest) would have to admit they have all always hated me. Apparently, I’m clueless about how truly disliked I am and everyone else is in on the fact.

Lots of cruel things were said, but the comment about my writing was the only thing that stayed with me. That letter was a perfect example of how people who consider themselves soulful can so easily dismiss and belittle the spiritual journey of others. People who, by all accounts, should respect and care for you are often the first to attack your process if they want to silence you and/or rob you of your right to figure out who you are and what you believe rather than accepting that you may have feelings other than what they want to program into you .

I kept that letter for prosperity, and when I teach writing, I use that message as an example of how outsiders will judge and try to interrupt your right to explore you heart with writing by criticizing or making you feel ashamed for expressing your honest feelings. I want people to know that you don’t need permission or anyone’s blessing to research your heart and mind by writing, and no one can take this inward journey away from you by claiming you need measurable results (like being published) to validate your time spent writing. There is a book called “The Artist’s Way” that deals exactly with this issue, how people silence artists through attempts to shame them or point out that their talent is lacking (when talent is not something that can be measured or found lacking when it comes to personal expression). I recommend this book at every writing class I teach. (Funny thing -the person who instigated that letter to me has proclaimed that book to be their favorite for many years – kinda funny to think they value the message in regards to their artistic freedom, yet don’t feel the same respect should be afforded others.)

Anyway, I have long been a writer. I layer words in private journals. I blog, I write formal books. I’ve won writing contests. I’ve written garbage. Lots. And I have to say, I’m proud of it all. Every word I’ve ever written has been part of this amazing journey to explore life and how I feel about it. Some of my words are lyrical and hit the mark. Others flounder and are sentimental and stupid. But I see every effort to come to the page as an act towards self-knowing.  I wish for everyone in the world to have the gift of insight that comes with asking yourself questions and finding the answers through writing. I feel privileged that I can share what I know and believe about this process with others. Mostly, I’m proud that time, perceived success (or lack thereof), and other circumstances have never silenced me or made me second guess the rich value in writing. That is the message I want to share most with my students and the world at large. Write. It is not about what you actually produce, but what you learn by shuffling about words and letting them fall, uncensored, on the page.