In the Presence of Writers

This fall I took a writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard with the legendary, Nancy Aronie, who I have deemed a “Literary Guru”. As a writing teacher she moves fluidly, dancing gracefully through her life, sorrows, pain, and joy in such a way that it invites and inspires her writers to do the same. Nancy has the uncanny ability to create the space that allows each writer to submerge themselves in their memories, dreams, disillusionment, and prayers to evoke words, prose, and stories that made me weep, laugh, and applaud with astonishment and joy. Nancy creates a safe place for each writer to slowly shed their cocoon and emerge into the brightly beautiful butterflies we are constantly struggling to become. She allows us to become the writers we have each longed to become. Every day each person was required to write from one of Nancy’s daily prompts and no one disappointed, although collectively we bemoaned, “what would we say? Could we even write about ‘that’?” “Am I even doing this right?”.

These amazing writers showed up with their humor, their heartbreak, their tragedies and they wove a web of stories that enthralled and entranced everyone within earshot. As the rain steadily pounded the studio’s windows, these unique voices, shared their eloquent prose, poetry and purpose. They told stories that made me feel honored to have sat among the last vestiges of  fall’s, leaf-colored, canopy, in the in bleak ending of November and weep with unabashed abandonment. Tissues were quietly passed from person to person as we heard stories of suffering, and so much sadness that people have endured in their lives and have lived to tell about it. Each testimonial and written word was as individual as the writer but the collective experience of being human beings trying to navigate the morass of our own childhoods, teenage angst, and adult lives made me long to comfort them in some way. The best thing I could do was to sit silently, breathe deeply and bear witness to their incredible stories and then applaud like I was at a rock concert when they were finished.

You could hear a pin drop as each one of us were preparing to read our words, tell our stories and share our hopes and dreams and often revisit the very pain that had brought us there. Each voice was as distinctive as the writer. There was a richness, a catch in their throat honesty and the willingness to endure, that allowed us to be  swept away into their worlds and into their shared moments of dreams, triumphs, successes and sorrow. At the beginning of each class I was sure that we had heard the best writing and then I would be lulled, lead, and laden anew with fresh tears as even deeper stories emerged and these brave souls bared their spirits and shared their lives with such courage, writers who were strangers to me no more.

All writers were funny, raw, theatrical, heartsick, loving, imaginative, vulnerable and unflinchingly truth tellers who sat in a sacred circle and bared their underbellies for the rest of us to see. What I heard was a cacophony of vibrant voices, experiences, and writing styles, but these were WRITERS, true artists. No one else could have told their stories and shared them with 23 strangers with such rawness, profound honesty, honor and grace. Each voice, each piece was an expression of what that writer brought to the group and it could not be duplicated by anyone else. That is what being a writer is about, I suppose. Telling a story that only you know the intimate details of and making us see, feel, and step back into the piece with the same clarity and tangible, tactile feelings that the writer sees in their mind’s eye. It is the ability to draw other people along, to envision your steps, your views and your emotions that makes someone a talented writer and an artist.

As I sat listening, laughing, and languishing in empathy, sympathy, and pain, I realized, this is writing. Each person is responsible for telling their story, their way, with no apologies. Each writer’s words and voice lent itself to the story being told and on some days I wondered how it is that we have all survived. If you’re a writer, you put the pain, sorrow, and longing on the page and you tell your story because invariably the other people reading or listening are sharing in the triumphs and losses, just as your exquisitely chosen words intended to convey. It’s like writing music, the tempo, the melody and the visionary, inextricable placement of each word delivers the listener to another world, another layer, where you are the star and we are the audience, there unseen, unknowing, and unaware of where this beautiful song will lead.

I have been changed by this class and as my favorite quote reminds me, “When I move, Providence moves with me.” Stay tuned as I write about the other revelations that have emerged from this one simple act of stepping out on faith. It turns out, getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself, and standing in the presence of greatness allowed me to find a bit of my own greatness amidst the crowd of writers that I now call friends.

#writers, #gratitude #inspiring

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Reflections
Reflections

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving day filled with family, love, laughter, and Joy.

Today is a day for reassessment, reflection and resolution. To look around at the blessings in our lives and to be thankful for those who sit at our beautifully decorated tables, to be aware that some people have no table to gather around with their loved ones, and for those we’ve lost, whose spirits now reside beside us at our table of gratitude and love.

Thanksgiving is a perfect reminder that though our lives are often filled with challenges and strife, our numerous treasures are always closer than we think. Today, hopefully we are sitting across from all the people we love and whose presence in our lives are the real gift of this season.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and I am thankful for the guidance, lessons, art, laughter, joy and love I have received from each of you. I will keep all of you in my heart as I say Thanks.

 

With Peace and Gratitude.

#Gratitude

Under the Bridge
Under the Bridge

Inspiration…

I wonder if bloggers know what an inspiration they are to other bloggers, myself included?

I have learned so much about courage, bravery, triumph, and honesty from reading and viewing people’s creative and entertaining blogs. The world of blogging allows for a connection, a commonality and mutual respect that has for most of us, far surpassed the introductory phase of a “friendship”. We share our lives with authenticity, humor, sadness and joy and we are all the better for it.

I am so grateful for the things I have learned from my online friends; gardening, photography, parenting, children, bucket lists, fear, art, challenges, writing, painting, poetry, literature, traveling, music, and the list goes on. From each post I glean a bit more insight into the blogger themselves and I have the utmost respect and gratitude for their contributions to the blogosphere as a whole and to me as a fellow artist.

It’s not easy to put your life and stories out into the world but it is amazing when the people you meet lift you up and encourage you to keep reaching for your dreams and to make the impossible, Possible.

In this online world of virtual friends and artists, I am a better person for having “met” each and every one of you. You inspire me everyday and in so many unexpected ways.

Thank You All.

Boats of a different color.
Boats of a different color.

 

Super Moon!

Super Moon
Super Moon

 

IMG_3042

 

Through the Trees
Through the Trees
Jordan's view
Jordan’s view

I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots of the Super Moon glowing in the sky as it moved closer to earth this weekend. My son Jordan said, “it looks like we’re looking into a hole straight through to the Universe.” When I looked at it that way, he was right, it did seem like we might tumble into the hole in the universe and be swallowed whole. Only a 9-year-old could conceive such a wonderfully fantastical idea.

What a great night we had riding around trying to find the best place to get a perfect shot of the sole beacon crowding out the night sky and its ever-present stars.  As Jordan said, “we are so lucky that we get to see, up close, that the moon isn’t made of cheese.” 

The last photo was taken by Jordan. who was surprised how fast the veil of darkness closed entirely around the earth, blotting out everything else except the Super Moon which glowed brighter as the night grew darker. It’s the greatest joy in the world to share your creative passions with your children and to see them get excited about the wondrous world around us. 

The world opens anew through the eyes of a child. I’m fortunate that my boys teach me that everyday. Enjoy the Moon!!

Camp Mom

Well, the kiddies are out of school, finally, and I foolishly thought I would be able to incorporate the kids summer needs, (read demands) and work and write and take pictures, and frolic on the beach and chill.  HA!

This year my sons requested they spend a little less time at camp and a little more time with me, “you know Mom, just hanging out together and having fun.” An idyllic image of us playing croquet on the front lawn, sipping lemonade, and laughing uproariously with one another, while the crickets and cicadas serenaded us, sprang to mind. Our summer vacation resembles none of this moments.

Realizing the true depth of my commitment, I discovered I had replaced the traditional camp experience, (with other people running the show) with my own version of Camp Mom. My sole role; to entertain my sons and sometimes if I am lucky, their friends and cousins too.

At Camp Mom, I have provided a bevy of exciting adventures designed to thrill and delight young boys of all ages. We begin our day lazily, debating what to eat and deciding if the choices offered are agreeable to their sensitive palates. While there is usually a menu, provided at Camp Mom, I am often barraged with suggestions that would enhance their eating pleasure. What chef doesn’t appreciate the culinary critique of a 9-year-old?

Then comes the endless questions, thoughts and concerns about our plans for the day. This is the trickiest part, as a miscalculated suggestion can create blank stares, and glazed eyes as they ponder the seriousness of my plans. As mentioned above, I make suggestions and they make adjustments. A canoe trip down the river was fun but apparently I overlooked getting seat cushions for their paddling comfort. I bet a real camp takes into account the comfort of their campers bottoms while they paddle away.

At Camp Mom, I offer campers; crafts, photography, games, water play with hoses or water guns, swimming in a pool or down by the lake, go-carting, roller skating, biking, boating, hiking, driving range, and water bumper boating, meals, drinks, snacks, ice-cream, eating out, sports, movies, and traveling.

This has all taken place in the past 3 weeks and I just realized the summer is just getting underway and I’ve used up all of my creative ideas. I have tried to coerce, cajole and bribe them to try another camp but they are having the time of their lives. Suspiciously, when I thought I could do no more, I heard my oldest son say to his brother,  “No one is a better camp counselor than Mom.” Hmmmm.

I haven’t had time for much else and I may have bitten off way more than I can chew. Who knows what will happen next year? With all of this been said, I do love spending time with my two favorite souls on the planet, even when they look at me with their beautiful bright eyes and innocently ask, “what did you plan for us to do today Mom?”