Last weekend I co-led a writing workshop, with Anne Simpson, called “Listening Within.” Five wonderful women writers spent three days with us at the Trappistine Monastery in Rogersville, New Brunswick (my favourite place to retreat). We delved deeply into what wanted to come forth through meditation, writing, mapping, and sharing our words. We also had some great laughs and a wonderful fall walk together.
We talked about the role of the inner critic (to edit once the work of the writing is done!), who our champions are (those who see us and support us unequivocally), and what rituals or practices we have in place that nurture our creative selves.
Since the workshop, some of the women have written to say they have initiated new practices to nourish themselves. Two women are starting their days reading other people’s words – a different kind of food with their morning coffee! And another has decided to expand her appreciation practice and send an email or letter of thanks to a special person in her life every day.
I came home newly smitten with poetry and toying with the idea of writing a poem a day for a little while. Synchronistically, an artist friend, who wasn’t even at the retreat, had the same idea! So, we’ve have created a FaceBook group called The Thirty Day Poetry Challenge.
Last weekend’s retreat was amazing on a number of levels, and made me even more aware of the tremendous role we play in each other’s lives. It’s been making me think of the myriad ways we can support each other, and be supported, if we only take the time.
I’m remembering the writing contract that a friend and I created with each other last year as a way of being accountable to someone else for our commitment to writing. Another writer I know sends out one postcard a day as a way of staying in touch but also sending love and sharing ideas. Yet another writes letters to an artist friend with found words (like other people’s grocery lists). They mail each other the poetry the found words inspire.
The common denominator here? Community. And the importance of connection. Surrounding ourselves with those who see us, appreciate us, and adore us for exactly who we are is one of the kindest and smartest things we can do for ourselves.
It might be helpful to make a list of the people in your life. Who are your biggest champions? Who “gets” you? Who supports all of your passions and ideas, no matter how crazy they sound once they leave your mouth and enter the world? And on the flip side, who drains you? Who do you kind of dread spending time with (and then feel guilty because you don’t want to see them)? Who feels more like a habit or an obligation than a joy?
I think we’ve all had the experience of someone who used to be an important part of our lives moving out or moving on. Sometimes, this is our choice and sometimes it is theirs. We are all constantly changing and growing. It’s important to ask yourself: who do I want to spend time with now? It might not be the friend from grade school who has been by your side since day one. It might no longer even be your mate or the family you grew up in (never a fun realization!).
How we choose to spend our time has the power to expand or constrict our energy, our creative output, and our joie de vivre. Today, ask yourself: Am I feeding myself the experiences and people who nourish me and help me grow?