In my Spring post, "Self -Centered", I shared with you a writing seminar that I participated in during lockdown. I came across it completely by accident, serendipitous really, while listening to a podcast during my long run. The podcast host had participated in similar seminars conducted by this author and was raving about how it was really helping her manage her mental health struggles during this novel time. This all came about during the early weeks of quarantine, about mid-April, and my senses perked up instantly, urging me to pay attention. This news was important.
The Work, Play, Love podcast, hosted by couple Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas was promoting Laurie Wagner's free, wild writing seminar for 27 days. This series was designed specifically to offer a self-care and mental health outlet during these uncertain and unsettling times. Wow. How mindful, how aware, how considerate of a gift was this from this accomplished writer to bestow her tutelage unto a sea of faceless listeners, all of whom she had never met. It became instantly clear to me that this was an opportune moment to reunite with a deeply creative part of myself that I missed so deeply. There was no option to decline this invitation. I, as with most everyone in the world, was in desperate need of some serious spiritual comfort. It didn't take long to dismiss any initial reservations of performance anxiety. The moment I got home, I logged onto www.27powers.org and enrolled in the virtual classroom. At the very least, I will have proactively engaged in a daily dose of positive self-care. At most, I will have bravely reconnected with a creative outlet that could take me to places that I have longed to return to for years.
To regard this as a creatively enriching, sanity-saving exercise would be an understatement. Laurie's approach is just how it sounds; to write wildly and freely, and unleashing the subconscious. It is impossible to fail at this, which really eviscerates any limiting self-doubts. Each session, Laurie would share a poem that speaks to her and then identifies several "jump- off lines" from the poem for her students to begin writing from. Conversely, her students are free to identify their own jump-off lines from the piece, ones which uniquely resonated with them. Laurie reads the poem again. This simple act is so powerful in really settling into the soul, the heart of the piece. As she sends her students off with love and support, 15 minutes of continuous, open writing ensues. No agenda, no structure, simply free, unedited thought, without regard to punctuation or typos. If a block occurs, simply start a new line with the same jump-off phrase. The objective is to be messy, unstructured, wild, and give permission for the mind to fly free as a bird. This exercise is pure empowerment and release. From the very first lesson, I was instantly drawn to Laurie's style, her approach, and her spirit; she is deep, innately caring and authentic. I was amused by how easily I trusted this new friend, whom I had never met, in assisting me to unlock many years of subterranean thoughts and memories.
Laurie's suggestion is to embark on the writing practice every morning, first thing, while the mind is still free from the day's obligations and expectations. I actually chose to engage at the end of the day, as it was a therapeutic way to wind down from my hectic remote work day, as well as introducing a fresh habit to my essential bedtime rituals. I anticipated where my thoughts would likely take me and for the most part, I was correct, but there was also so much that came to the surface which I did not expect. The revelations were very welcome and very real. I am so glad I had to courage to go for this, despite my initial reticence. Each day, I looked forward to my new writing prompt and by day three, I was already dreading when day 27 would roll around and this healing journey would come to a close. I was so grateful for this opportunity. More than anything, it made the day-to-day of this pandemic manageable. I can only imagine how many people Laurie helped with her kindness, her knowledge, her support, and her guidance.
I had decided prior to the end of the series, that I would save each entry. I wanted to respectfully memorialize them, but also make them available for future review. My intent was to pick out my own writing prompts from my own wild writing, and hone them into structured pieces. While it was exhilarating to write so freely, there were definitely some zingers that hit the page, worthy of pause and further examination. So, I lovingly folded each entry, like I was sending an intimate letter to myself, and labeled them by day with its respective prompt. From there, I placed them in a large artist's journal, which will house special and important mementos from this unprecedented year.
The good news is that my writing did not come to an end with the close of the seminar. Laurie offers a monthly writing subscription, via Zoom, which I eagerly signed up for on day 28. While my writing is still in its infancy, my words to describe how special she is would not do her justice. I enthusiastically encourage you to get to know her better at 27powers.org/about. I think you will really enjoy her wild and attractive spirit, while considering unleashing your own. It is a tremendous gift to give to your very deserving self.
And sooner than later, I hope to share some of my own finished pieces with all of you.