Four days to launching the class schedule for my inaugural month of teaching!
Between July 27 to 31, I will be posting the story of how I came to writing practice. This will hopefully give some context of what to expect and why I believe so strongly that we are all storytellers and why I believe in this process. Please leave comments and questions if there’s more you’d like to know.
I spent the years after high school in a state of flux. I lived in Pennsylvania, France, and Montana. Writing remained foundational to my experience. I always had my journal with me. It was often that part of my day – writing in my journal – that allowed me to let go of whatever I was hold on to.
In January 2006, I transplanted to Wisconsin. (Why I thought moving to Wisconsin in the winter is still beyond me.) I worked at a coffee shop there and one day a few months after moving, while going around cleaning off tables, I saw a sign for Contemplative Writing on the community board. The place it was being held was just a few blocks from where I lived and the cost was within in budget.
I was fortunate to study with Miriam Hall nearly every week for almost four years (three years in person and one online.) Her classes are what gave understanding to the root of compassion and space that following the WRITE rules allowed me. That what I was doing was writing, but in a different way than the academic writing I had spent much of 1999-2005 doing.
Contemplative Writing classes introduced meditation into the practice, along with more explicit discussions of resistance and compassion. I was fortunate to study with two steady groups of people in the three years I was in Wisconsin. The classes allowed me the inner and outer space to deal with what would be one of the hardest times in my life.
From Miriam’s contemplative writing classes, I was able to see that I could deepen, and therefore strengthen, the foundation I found in WRITE. By adding meditation, I learned that I could write “like a woman on fire” and not get swept up by it. I could stay steady in my practice. I could stay with what was going on – in my head, my body, and on the page. That it was all workable. I learned that resistance looks different at different times, and that sometimes, it’s protective. That sometimes, brushing away the dust is better than sledgehammering the walls down. That sometimes, you have to come at whatever it is from a different direction.
And all of those sometimes? I began learning to trust myself in what I needed. I learned that all times, showing up was the best thing that I needed. I may not always listen to that advice, but deep in my gut, I know returning to practice helps me with every other aspect of my life.
The compassion the classes cultivated helped me deal with a stressful job, an intense heartbreak, and the ultimate decision to move back to Maryland, after being gone more than here for nine years.
See you tomorrow for the next phase of of my writing practice journey: a new teacher experience and solo writing practice.