A few weeks ago, I led the participants in an Earth Joy Writing Workshop in Ashland, Oregon, in the following exercise. Ashland is a town famous for play: they have a world-renowned summer Shakespeare Festival there, they often get visitors who enjoy the mellow side of life, and the residents love the way the mountains and forest (and deer!) come right to their door.
But after doing this exercise, many participants shared that they had actually forgotten how fun it is to play.
Try this, and see how good it feels to remember:
Go outside and recreate the action, the motions of your earliest gifts and talents as they were expressed outside in nature.
Allow your body to remember those early years of playing soccer, rolling down hills, making leaf rubbings and forts and fairy houses, fishing, swinging, swimming, climbing trees.
Recreate your body’s joy in expressing your talents, gifts, and early sparks of creativity in relationship with the earth.
Write about what you remember about your connection to the earth and how it may have changed over the course of your life.
What steps can you take in your life now to reclaim this connection?
This is a very busy time of year, especially for families as their kids and teens prepare to return to school.
Let me tell you a secret about what I used to do when my daughter went back to school after being with me all summer: I took a nap.
It felt indulgent. It felt naughty. Surely there was work I needed to do after making her a priority for three whole months!
That’s exactly why I did it.
Here’s your Earth Joy Writing prompt for this week:
Make a point of slowing down today. Eat your breakfast slowly. Take a long time getting dressed. Drive in a patient way. Do your work at a relaxed pace. (Maybe even take a nap!) Unwind at the end of the day by simply resting. Then, in the morning, write about how this feels. Experiment with slowing down and then record the results that come from feeling you have an abundance of time.
A couple weeks ago, I shared the following excerpt from Earth Joy Writing with the participants at the workshop I gave at the New Renaissance Bookshop in Portland, Oregon. I share it with you now, in this season of harvest, so you can reflect on your own definition of “enough.”
There is enough.
There is more than enough.
It is just that some people have too much.
As we make individual choices in our practice of Earth Joy Writing, we begin to understand the impact of these choices upon the planet and the people upon it. We begin to see that every small act of an individual is connected to the larger collective reality on earth. And our choices, our acts, and our beliefs begin to change.
We start to go beyond what is probable into what is possible.
We start to claim the power that we, like Dorothy, held inside ourselves all along.
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like earth.
There’s no place like the powerful place within your heart, out of which all is made possible.
This is what fruition means: seeing the fruits of your labor from all the seasons of your life, gathering these fruits together, blessing them and sharing them with the whole community, and taking them into yourselves where they may nourish and feed and provide sustenance for coming generations.
Go ahead. Share the fruit. Eat the fruit together. There is more than enough.
WRITE ABOUT THIS...
Write about a time when you didn’t have enough—food, money, shelter. What did you feel? How did others respond to you? How did it change you?
Then write about a time you had more than enough—food, money, shelter. How did this make you feel? How did others react to you? How did it change you?
What is the right balance of “enough” for you?
What would it mean to live with abundance?
**You may want to sign up for the bonus song, “Abundance,” on the Audio page, for inspiration!
I promised you that I would write again after returning home from the Earth Joy Writing book tour and honeymoon, so I'm keeping my promise.
Here's the most beautiful thing I've seen since returning: the Rose of Sharon planted during my daughter's infancy in lush, lavender bloom.
She is 15 now.
The tree continues to thrive in this, its third home.
Commitment takes time like this. Blooms can last like this.
It happens when we see every bloom as a gift.
I'll be blogging here every Friday to continue to guide you on your Earth Joy Writing journey. So look for the next post on August 14th!
Until then, I wish you bright blossoms wherever you make your home!
Earth Joy Writing is about coming home.
The earth is the home for our bodies.
Joy is the home of our spirits.
Writing is a home for our minds.
We can come home wherever we are. Like water, we can learn to flow.
Yesterday was the last Earth Joy Writing workshop on the Oregon book tour. It took place in Ashland, in a room of women who had forgotten how to come home.
The theme of the workshop was Slow, Play, Listen.
Using exercises from the book, we slowed down. We played like children. We walked like foxes, we listened like deer, and we watched like owls.
We can be aware of loss and devastation and at the same time see that there is still so much here.
In fact, I have found that by opening my mind, body and spirit to what is gone, I can be more present for the journey in front of me.
In my last blog post, I wrote about the half way pause that happens to writers when we are working on a long project. The pause is necessary.
You entertain the possibility of something new. Maybe abandon the plan and start over. Go someplace exciting like California. It's very American. We love to start over.
But the problem with doing this, as a writer, is that a book can only become a book when it's done.
So I stuck to the itinerary I printed out before leaving. And when I asked Siri how to go, she took me down the same road I'd seen on the map and happened upon the morning before.
As the road headed up into the mountains, I knew I'd made the right decision. I'd had a dream about this drive years before.
In the dream, I was driving north in the Pacific Northwest. My soul mate was beside me.
In the dream, I knew I would head north. And then I would come home.
It was a dream about Earth Joy Writing. It was a dream about the book tour. It was a dream about the honeymoon. It was a dream of coming home.
How do you know when you're Earth Joy Writing on the right road?
Your dreams come true.
And you strike a power pose.
This will be my last post until I get home and then I'll blog weekly to continue to guide you on your Earth Joy Writing journey.
In the meantime, listen to an audio meditation. Watch a workshop video. Order the book if you haven't yet done so.
Slow. Play. Listen. And watch as your dreams come true. I can't wait to see your power pose!
Yesterday in Eugene, I taught one of the principles of EarthJoyWriting: begin with what you don't know.
We don't have to know where we are going as writers, or humans, to start out on the road.
Take a train. Or a road. Follow the sun. However you go, write with your hands. One word at a time.
You will figure it out as you go.
Soon you will begin to roll.
And then the skies will grow dark. Sunset or smoke from wildfires will grow.
At this point, you will be on your own.
About half way through something big- a writing project or a trip on the road- you will have a decision to make.
My writer friend, Ashley, told me this many years ago. I experienced it while writing my dissertation, and my novel, and every book I've written since.
It's the half way pause.
Do you stop where you are, stick to the plan, nibble the ground below?
Or do you abandon the plan and go where your spirit wants to go?
We are at a half way pause, a crossroads, like this. Today is the last EarthJoyWriting workshop on the book tour in Ashland, Oregon. And we have about another week out west.
I saw this road on a map when I was planning this trip. And this morning, while looking for coffee, there it was.
The land holds so much history. Memory. Wisdom for our minds, spirits and bodies.
Take time to pause and decide where you want to go.
People ask me how to be a writer. Here's my short answer: listen to others and then follow your intuition.
I did just this yesterday. My friend, Amy, who spent the summer in Portland, told me to head to the falls. So I did.
But she told me to drive in a different direction. And instead I followed my intuition and found this lavender farm.
And then this was my first view of the Columbia River Gorge.
And this was my second.
I kept following my intuition and headed off the route toward a mountain top. I didn't know where I was going. You don't have to, either, in order to keep going as a writer.
Even when you're in the woods, there will be light to guide the way.
And this is what you'll find when you keep climbing.
Look around when you get there. You will be rewarded with long distance vision and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you reached the summit on your own two feet.
And then you can head back down and follow the advice of wise ones again. The waterfalls and rainbows from your dreams will be right in front of you.
I have seen a rainbow almost every day on this trip. It's starting to get common.
This is how life works when you follow your dream: a state of grace will enter your everyday vision.
You'll keep following your intuition. Stopping to pay attention.
It's a little like being in heaven. Except it's right here on earth.
The EarthJoyWriting book tour continues today in Eugene and tomorrow in Ashland. Check out the Book Tour page for more information.
Both free workshops will be held at public libraries. Remember my wise friend, Amy? She's a librarian.