we could work there together, we could support each other

graffiti of a bee nestling into red clover
check out this fantastic commissioned graffiti in Inverness!

Gorgeous first meeting of the Fall ’10 Write Whole workshop last night — one of those meetings that leave me so damn grateful to get to be in this work. Declaring Our Erotic starts on Thursday night: pass the word, will you? That’s going to be a joyful space!

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This morning I would like to stay in bed until my body decides it’s time to get up, not the alarm — I’d like a long, hot bath to loosen my muscles and self into morning, I’d like a quiet breakfast I eat at my table rather than at a computer (or, in this case, at a meeting), and I’d like, then, to come back here to my desk at home to spend the day communicating with folks about writing workshop-related matters. Maybe a break in there for some time in the garden, weeding, deadheading, seeding new greens…

It’s going to be one of those days where every half-hour is scheduled, and so, just for right now, I’m envisioning something different.

Days like today, I have to remind myself that every part of my life is intentional — it doesn’t feel that way when my day job gets demanding, but I have this job for a reason. It’s funding the rest of my work, it’s funding the workshops and workshop space when they’re under-enrolled, it’s funding me in that work: the workshops barely cover the space and the materials/snacks. It’s also giving me connection with other folks, a place of some community, work that’s off the page, which I need sometimes. I get frustrated that my time isn’t all my own, which means (when I’m frustrated) that I’m not getting to do only what I want to do every minute. And then I remember (I remind myself) that I want to be in this job right now (health insurance is good), and so I am doing what I choose — which is a pretty damn big privilege.

Yesterday, though, too, I fantasized about putting out a call to the people I know who are starting new TLA-related work* (writing workshops, theater groups, drama therapy, maybe, or spoken work classes) and saying: Listen, if four or five of us pool three or four hundred bucks a month, we could afford a decent sized office space, with a few different meeting rooms, with a kitchen maybe, with our own bathroom, with a waiting area that we could decorate with plants and hangings — and we could work there together, we could support each other, we could have weekly office meetings where we get to write for five minutes and then talk about what’s happening, what changes need to happen around the space, what’s going on in our work, we could…

This is something that a handful of AWA-workshop facilitators, including myself and my friends Peggy Simmons and Chris DeLorenzo, began visioning a few years ago, and it’s an environment that I’d still like to find myself working in in the not-too-distant future.

I want that space, and that community. After coming back from the Power of Words conference, where I was a small part of a great team, I’m suddenly feeling isolated — granted, this isolation was entirely cultivated. Working alone at my day job gives me the kind of flexibility I need, and in the rest of my life, I’m growing a writing workshop organization from scratch, which meant doing a lot of the work (at least, for the first few years) alone. But I like being able to bounce ideas off people, and being able to do the work together: many hands make light work isn’t a joke. It means the work goes further, faster (which is maybe a bit scary sometimes).

One of the things I always loved about working at a non profit organization was the weekly staff meeting. Seriously. Even when the organization was embroiled in heavy drama, I loved the chance to get together and see everyone, hear what we each were doing. I sort of get that now with my friend and colleague Peggy: we talk every week about our work, and once a month we can get together over coffee.

So today I’ll be in lots of meetings, and though I won’t be meeting to talk about writing or AWA or TLA (these things I’d prefer to be spending my time on), I will be gathering with other people to discuss something important to us, to grow a new piece of work, to celebrate work well done. And after it’s all done, I’ll get myself to the yoga studio and stretch and sweat myself into today’s practice and my desires for tomorrow.

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A prompt for today? Maybe give yourself 15 minute — take 7 to write about why every bit of what’s happening in your life right now is exactly right (!) for where you’re hoping to get to, and then take 8 to write a vision of a year from now, or three, when you’re doing just what you want to do with your days.

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Thank you for being here, for reading, for the thick power of your words and the work they continue to do, even after you’ve moved on.

*And what does it mean to be Transformative Language Arts related work? After several days in Vermont spent discussing that very question, I don’t have a definitive answer for you. The TLAN website defines transformative language arts as “all forms of the spoken, written and sung word as a tool for personal and community transformation.”  In my work, I think of TLA very broadly: as any intentional application of language for change or growth. Intentional conversation can be TLA. Poetry and poetry workshops can be TLA, any AWA writing workshop is TLA, Playback Theater is TLA … it’s as broad as our human engagement with language.

http://www.tlanetwork.org/