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Every winter I give my blog over to alums of Haven Writing Retreats who have all come to Montana to dig deeply into their creative self-expression, using the powerful and transformational tool that is writing. Leading Haven Writing Retreats is my way of giving the support I was either too stubborn or too scared (likely the latter) to give myself in all my years of writing. It is my deepest pleasure and honor to offer this powerful program, which is really a writing retreat and a writing workshop in one, to people who long to learn how to write a memoir, how to write a novel, how to become a writer, how to write a story, how to start a book, or simply how to find their unique voices and stories…and set them free! The Haven Writing Retreats community is all about continued support, and the annual Haven Winter Blog series is one way that we offer just that. My blog is their blog, and in it we parse the creative questions that so many of us have.
This year’s theme is one of my favorites so far: ”How do we give ourselves the permission to be creative in the first place…and what does that look like?”
In the next weeks, while I go into the winter dormancy of Montana and give myself my own permission to write, these Haven alums will be diving into their heart language to share with you how they show up for themselves creatively. I hope you enjoy their posts. I will be chiming in with some of my favorite winter recipes along the way
so stay tuned, stay warm, making a nice cup of something soothing, and “lend an ear.” From Haven to you. yrs. Laura
Now Booking 2016 Haven Writing Retreats in glorious Whitefish, Montana:
February 24-28 (one spot left)
Here I Am
“You have permission to be you, speak your mind, tell your truth!”
Said the voice in my head.
“Who’s that?” I wonder
Setting me up, telling me lies, urging me to be a fool
again and again.
“Please listen, it’s me, your real self, your best you, your soul’s voice.”
I hear the faintest whisper
“Who?” I grasp at the thought
With false hope, resigned to a story that’s not mine
time after time.
“You make the rules, you’re ready to shine, it’s your time!”
She shouts at the sky.
I remember you, I pause
My joy, my passion, my cause…I see you there
Twirling your hair, biting your nails, discovering your worth.
“Yes! That’s it! Come on now my love, be out loud, you’re enough!”
She says with some fire.
“Will you take my hand?” I beg
It’s so hard to be brave, make my way, share my gifts with this world
Risk my heart and be sure.
“Of course I will! Let’s go, now Feng Shui your soul, make us believe,”
She beams as we jump together and soar
“Here I am!” I exclaim
I have something to say, something to give, something to share
I dare to be more!
“Now you’re on track, aligned and on purpose!”
She pushes from behind
“I’m going, I’m going,” I resist
And the words flow from my core through my wrist to the pen
Here I am!
Here I am.
Permission to Be Juicy
How do I give myself permission to live life creatively, have a voice, tell my stories and set them free? In other words, how do I show up for my creative self expression on a consistent basis.
It all began with Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy—SARK—and the advice I read in her book “Succulent Wild Woman.” In the shape of the letters and vibrant colors printed in this book
I soaked up her advice: “Bathe Naked by Moonlight”; “Paint Your Soul”; “Let Your Creative Spirit Rush – Flow – Tumble…Out of You.”
A friend gave me this book when I was in need of something fun and crazy and giving myself permission to live in the embrace of a warm bath with mango fizzies and Boccelli crooning love songs in Italian.
“That’s nice,” you might say. “But what does it mean when you feel blocked?”
In my aerie in the back room of a B and B I owned in Annapolis, I read that book every night. Then I scribbled fragments of gratitude in green ink while pink cups of magnolia blossoms danced on the ends of elephant-gray Us of their branches. I pressed a pencil between blue lines in the same room when freezing rain in diagonal pewter streaks blurred browned blossoms who dared to bloom too soon and winter recaptured spring
It is to that determination, that woman of fourteen years ago, I turn whenever I feel as though my imagination is parched and any creative ideas I thought I captured in my gossamer net of magical evocative words seem to blow away.
Why that woman? Because her (my) marriage was crumbling. My hopes for a dream time of being a princess or famous personage of an old city of brick sidewalks and eras of gracious living were shrinking in doubt and fear about my own ability to survive inside of or outside of a relationship of decades. While I was watching my partner bore inside of himself on his own voyage of darkness, the bamboo leaves in the garden next door whispered in the snow and a hawk waited on my fence for me to notice him and the night air delivered spice-scented sleep on salted breezes. Odd muses perhaps, but real.
My “what ifs?” pale in comparison to the notes I wrote myself every night before turning out the light—notes of something, anything for which I could express my gratitude. “Dear Carolyn,” I would write, “today I watched blue crabs swimming up to the surface of the bay by the city dock. The air smelled like sea.” Or “Today, after the rain, heart-shaped puddles lined my walk on the way down to meet a friend for coffee.
If I could write then, as the many faces of despair surfaced like black and white photographs appearing after negatives are exposed to paper and then washed in developer, I can find words now.
“But what if you can’t find the woman in the back room of the inn now?” you might ask.
Then I look for her outside my window in the rose-gold Alpen glow after a winter sunset. Or open a window and listen to aspen leaves quivering like green castanets. Or, stare at Orion while soaking in my hot tub and pray for just one word. I often feel dull when I can’t come up with anything new for “moon” beyond “ the moon is a pearl button.” But then one word leads to another and another and after my skin shrivels and all the moisture is sucked out of it by warm water, I dry off, grab a robe and pick up a pen and notebook. “Moon” I might write and then keep doodling and noodling while I play old songs in my head and wish for a fairy to tap me on my feet with her wand and shazam! I could think of something no one has ever thought of before for “moon.”
If the moon is full, I “breast” the moon first and let its light—reflected light—glance off my skin as though I’m wearing nothing but voluptuous pearls.
“Eat mangoes naked. Lick the juice off your arms.”(SARK) I did that once. (Note-try this in a bathtub.)
Maybe a fairy did tap me on my feet—at my birth. Perhaps she gave me an extra dose of some exotic spice. A spice that shakes itself all over me when I feel like my creative self is hiding in a bear den and will bite me if I try to pull her out.
Am I consistent? No.
While it is true that no one on a regular basis is saying “hey, that poem you wrote was great!” I still believe in fairies. Something whispers “Write!” Therefore, I do.
- Carolyn Hopper
2016 Haven Writing Retreat Schedule: