Monthly Archives: August 2012

“a tough life needs a tough language”

It’s a late-sleeping good morning here, and time to head out into the world with an anxious puppy. But I am slowly (so as to make it last) reading Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, and I have these lines of hers to share with you all today:

…when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language — and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers — a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place. (p. 40)

So: that for today. Also, this: what’s the tough language you’re needing today? Can you grab ten minutes and write it out? Maybe you could tell me about the poems that saved you, and the poems that you wrote after that. Or about the people who said poetry didn’t matter, and what you say to them now.

Thank you for your wisdom today — your body wisdom, your psyche wisdom, for the wisdom of triggers and fears and curiosities. Thank you for all your inside brilliance. Thank you for your words.



where do we find our teachers?

silhouette of a dancing person, before a multicolored backgroundGood morning this morning. I’ve got a green Earl Grey tea this morning, which is nice and odd. I woke up from a difficult dream that involved my mom, and I only captured the very end of it, where I was in a bed making, spelling out the word AMAZING using my finger dipped in frosting and letting the letters dry on some hard surface. I was looking for housing in Crete, Nebr.

How have your dreams brought you into this day?

This morning I am thinking about other mothers, about teachers, about who we learn from when our parents aren’t able to be the ones who give us the lessons we need to move into and through life.

Anne Lamott talks about this in her book, Traveling Mercies. She describes the women who weren’t her own mother, mothers of friends, who took her in, who told her she was beautiful, who brought her through girlhood and womanhood with a steadfastness and encouragement, people you felt accountable to, whose opinion mattered to you, even when you were going to go ahead and fuck up anyway.

I am thinking about who we learn from.

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letting our wings emerge

graffiti of intricately drawn Monarch butterfly wings, bright orange and black and white, on a beige-painted cement-brick wallGood morning gorgeousness. Good morning quiet apartment, red candle, green and white and mint tea. Good morning sacred writing space. Good morning transformation.

What’s slowly stretching awake in you today? What in you needs a little extra love and sweet morning voice? Let’s say good morning to that part, too.

I feel both slow and explosive this morning, almost like when I have caffeinated coffee and the outside of me looks calm and orderly and steb-by-step, and the inside of me is a raucous freight train of energy, blowing out in all directions, kinetic and hyper. At those moments, the Watcher part is always a-wonder at how such energy could be contained, how I could possibly move so steadily from task to task when, inside, the Tasmanian Devil is dervishing.

But we do that all the time, don’t we? We behave like a particular self, an orderly self, in order to function in the world — we know our inside selves aren’t appropriate for polite society. Continue reading

the multiplicities of comfort

this body finds comfort out amid the trees — in the old oak groves, walking through the scent of bay or eucalyptus…

Hello and good morning! It’s late-ish for the blog post; I did my morning pages offline today, longhand in the notebook, then breakfasted and readied for a working day of writing. I notice, when I’m working at home, it’s easier for me to take myself seriously if I make like I’m actually going to work when I head into the little writing office–change out of pajamas, for instance; shower; eat breakfast away from the computer. These steps help me transition out of home mind into work mode; this is a new practice for me. I’ll let you know how it progresses.

I have a more today from FemmeCon 2012, a write from the Body Empathy workshop that Alex Cafarelli and I co-facilitated on the first morning of the conference. Our introductory writing prompt (after some movement and improv exercises to get to know one another and playfully ease into our bodies!) had to do with where we are, or aren’t, comfortable in our bodies.

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Unfurl your story! Fall workshops with Writing Ourselves Whole

We’re getting the fall workshop schedule together here, and I wanted to keep you informed as to what’s coming up!

Writing the Flood (our general-topic writing playtime!) meets every third Saturday of the month in Oakland;
Write Whole: Survivors Write (a writing group for women survivors of sexual trauma) begins its fall session on October 1; and
– the fourth quarter of Dive Deep (our advanced manuscript/project-focused group) begins October 7.

At Writing Ourselves Whole, we actively work to engage the stories that can be the hardest to tell or write, and create spaces intended to allow for risky writing and powerful support. All stories and experience levels are welcome! Read on for more info about these writing opportunities, and lease let me know if you have any questions or would like to register — I’d love to write with you!

Can’t attend any of these workshops but want to stay in the loop about what’s coming in 2013? You can join our mailing list here:

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do femmes get to be comfortable?

young woman/girl in a red tshirt looking through a view master toygood morning and happy Wednesday — what’s rustling around under the skin of your morning dreams today?

I’m thinking these days about what it takes for us to be comfortable in our skin, to be comfortable in our selves. There have been years when I felt like I would never be ok, in the world, just as I am, that I’d always be performing some version of myself in order just to engage with other human beings. Does that make sense? But I just came from the 2012 Femme Conference, where I had a very different experience of girlness/femaleness, community, and ease.

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What I said at FemmeCon

I had the pleasure of performing–along with other Body Heat luminaries Kathleen Delaney, Alex Cafarelli and Gigi Frost (with our amazing Lady Ms Vagina Jenkins backstage, being Organizer Extraordinaire)– last week at FemmeSPEAK, the spoken word event at FemmeCon 2012 in Baltimore. Each of us got four minutes to connect with a raucous, fierce and gorgeous crowd. Here’s what I read (a bit sexually explicit, just as a heads-up):

We deserve pleasure. This is what we have been healing for.

This is my love letter to a young hungry survivor femme (and by young, of course, I mean all of us: still learning to open, to lean, to reach, to feed ourselves).

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A shiny new look!

Just a quick note to acknowledge the reformatting around these parts — wanted to make the workshop information easier to find, and open up the formatting a bit. I’d love your thoughts on our new look!

xox and so many thanks for your words today.

holding our no and our yes

graffiti depicting a concrete wall being pulled back, like a page, to reveal the green wilderness behindGood morning good morning! Outside, the morning is just starting to uncurl itself around the city, and I’ve been up for about an hour, working on morning pages and now moving into this space. What’s beginning to unfurl in your body in this early part of your Friday?

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There’s a lot I want to write about here — I’m feeling grateful to be drawn back into these “pages,” this blog space. This morning there are a couple of things: more about what’s nonnegotiable and, too, what it means to write like a girl. Maybe I’ll start with the first, and move to the latter in a second post.

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what are your nonnegotiables?

graffiti of two people slumped, a little dazed, on the ground, while above them, a series of dancers cavort and undulateGood morning good morning — I’m here in my small writing room, with the stars casting their little light through the just-turned-open blinds in the living room behind me. All the spaces are quiet today, except my shoulders and lower back, which are singing songs of aches and waking and would like to stretch some more. Are there songs rising from places in your skin today?

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Quick update: August’s Writing the Flood meets this weekend, Saturday, August 11. Next month we’ll be back to our regular, third-Saturday-of-the-month schedule.

Also, don’t forget about the master class I’m teaching at the end of this month: Embodied Words: Writing Your Body’s Narratives, offered through Memoir Journal’s Workshop series. Saturday, August 25, 9am-5pm, at ArtJam in Berkeley. Visit for more information or to register!

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In a letter I received this month (have I written here about this letter-writing that I’ve reengaged in this year? A little bit — but we have to talk more about that), a friend talks about determining what her nonnegotiables are — in relationships, in friendships, in work — and about learning from and using the past, in an intentional way, to allow herself to craft a now-life that truly works for the deep her in this present, that will carry her into her brilliant next, her whole genius, her full blossoming possibility.

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