the a-to-z of writing

Today’s DP Challenge, with the addition that I once learned: one of the 26 sentences must be 100 words long.

credit - visualnews

credit – visualnews

Always written, Been driven to write. Create. Delve. Explore. Fanatic, even, about writing things down, writing into things, writing things out, writing myself into greater clarity. Greater clarity: yes, that’s the core of it all. How to connect with the who and why, to unravel the mystery and put it back together in some semblance of coherence. I love words, actually. Juxtaposing sound, meaning, rhythm; playing with words and their placement on the page; listening to the meaning beneath the obvious. Knowing that it’s a safe place and free, breaking out of the known into new territory or retracing steps of history, it’s beautiful and challenging and joyful and hard. Like anything worth doing in life. Mother would have loved that observation, as she often said ‘life is real and earnest.’ Not that there wasn’t some truth to her grim declaration. Only that it lacked originality, optimism. Personal passion. Quixotic leanings that are more resonant with me. Resonance – another aspect of writing that I love —  the AHA! and YES! that arise from reading another’s work, especially published authors whose words either reflect or clarify my own inmost experience or perhaps reveal something new to me, or show or teach me something completely new which might be scary or fascinating but nonetheless wakes me up and sharpens my senses, sometimes even to the extent of encouraging me to try something out of the ordinary myself, something that pushes me into new internal or external territory; or just to try something for the sheer joy and sound of it. Sound. That’s a lot of what writing is for me. Undulating rhythms, staccato notes, pregnant pauses, trills and flow. Variety. Whimsy. Xylophone epiphanies. You get the picture. Zealot that I am, I love words.


why women write

The boundaries of what has been considered the feminine world are systematically revised and refigured through our story-telling and the creation of our own narratives.

photo from incarcerated women's writing group, VT

writing inside VT;
credit – burlington free press

And isn’t that precisely the point?!!! We write to connect to one another, affirm our experience, learn that we are not alone in our life, our world. This age-old snarl of women’s words, women’s experience, women’s history continues to tangle and unwind year by year. Writing by writing. Woman by woman.

So let the unwinding begin with words  from Gina Barreca:

Women write from a commitment to the idea that words, as much as actions, have consequences.  Naming—defining the world through words—has power over the universe and draws the universe into every life.  Women have a particular and complex relationship to language; because they have for so long been barred from acting on their ambitions or rebellions, they have turned to language as a way of dealing with and influencing the world.

We create, construct and tell our stories to own them.

What are some of the reasons YOU write? Please share in the comments, below.

chasing connection

This week my TEDWeekend inbox brought me 20 incredible photos and the moving words of Camille Seaman, storm chaser.  Storm cloud images like abstract paintings. Wise words about our interconnectedness. With gratitude, I share some of her words and images. Be sure also to check out her TEDTalk.

What does it mean to be a good ancestor? What does it mean to be a citizen of Earth?. . .  I have come to know that we are all connected no matter how many lines, borders, languages, divisions we try to create. In the end we are all on this planet together. Our bodies are made of the material of this place.

“If you came to know that you cannot do harm to any other being or thing without doing harm to yourself, you might make different choices.” Continue reading

sunday reflection


clouds reflected in pondSummer hasn’t quite yet started for me. Or rather, it’s started and moved in fits and bits. Not just heat settling and then dissipating. Events, too. Weddings. Retreats. Reunions. Helping family move. Planning the launch for the book of writings from the incarcerated women we work with. Acclimating the new rescue kitty (OK, she’s three but so t-i-n-y at 7 pounds she looks and feels like a kitty), reassuring the resident rescue dog. Oh, and did I mention writing . . . ?

By next week (my calendar assures me) I’ll ‘be on vacation.’ Meaning, I hope, writing more. Lots, in fact. But between now and then, let this small token suffice:

Retreat Reflection

You pass through me
breeze and breath, sorrow and joy
the rippled lilt of the mirroring pond.

You grow in me
grafting roots, limbs, the whole
living tree of us reaching toward light.

You live in me
your words the bread of our communion
your laughter the wine that lifts my spirits.


end of re-treat

a moment of quiet reflectionAnd treat it has been – over and over and over again – silence, community, perfect July weather, abundant fresh food, laughter, self-care, tears, hands and hugs, power words, poems, laments, songs, skinny dipping . . .

As we gather our things to go our separate ways, to re-enter that other world we usually think of as ‘real’, it is my hope as facilitator that we each will take with us the memory of all this treating and re-treating of self, will take it seriously as a possible (and desirable) way of life. To treat our Selves as if we matter – which we do – even if/when we fail to act that way.

And so I offer you from this magical place and time a poem which emerged from one of our mirroring themes – hunger. And please share your comments, your own experiences of inner hunger, ways in which my words resonate (or do not!) with you.

Feeding our Hungers on Retreat

What shall we find in this place,
where hunger is banished at the first sip
of fragrant chai, cumin and garlic

transporting us to the Greek Isle
of our tastebuds; where the music
of bees buzzing in milkweed dances us

dizzyingly downhill, children curious
as we cavort through meadows
strewn with words, our hands clasped

across our lives. How shall we shelter
one another in our vulnerable vessel
of shadow and light, the ones we bring

forth from need and its filling? There are no words
for the hours that have flown, the breeze that has lifted
our veils to reveal our true hungers, fed in the sharing

of both bread and soul, communion’s sweet wine
lingering on our lips as we chant and sing
our rivers of words in passing harmonies.