I went to Mexico a few days before my December writing retreat to learn to create retablos with Judy Dykstra-Brown. I’d met Judy at our writing retreat the year before and was enchanted by her art—walls of her beach house hung with a small portion of her retablo collection. Judy creates visual stories in these small niches whose ancestry is in the Mexican “laminas,” small oil paintings on tin, wood, or copper which are used in home altars. Before I left for Mexico, Judy suggested I think what story I wanted to tell with my retablo and to bring items that I could include in the niche.
2015 was a year of the Wild Women. My book, Wild Women, Wild Voices was released in April, and much of the year centered around the book, completing the final steps before publication, the actual release, and in many months following, promoting it, celebrating it, and celebrating wild women in general. My “story” would be Wild Women and my retablo would be in honor of the book and what the idea of Wild Women means to me.
Remember when you were five years old and didn’t know you “couldn’t” sing? (I write this for me, the girl who dreamed of growing up to be a singer, the one who couldn’t carry a tune even if she had a peach basket.) Remember when you were given paints and a piece of paper and you just sat right down and made a picture? And you liked it. You liked the doing of it, and you liked the picture you created as well. You gave it away as a gift and felt good doing that, too.
Here’s another writing exploration from my book, Wild Women, Wild Voices–Writing from Your Authentic Wildness
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. — Miriam Beard
My father was born under the sign of Sagittarius, the wanderer of the zodiac. . . . And though in astrology-speak, I have Sagittarius rising, I blame my wayfaring ways on my father. He’s the one who sat me down on the sofa with the invitation to “come have a look.” He spread the big green pre-World War II atlas across both our laps and took me on a tour of the world, page by page, map by map, finally coming to the solar system, the pictures of the planets bright against a deep, black sky. I tell him Venus is my favorite and that one day I want to go there. “I’ll be a Venusian,” I say.
The Universe,” Daddy says, tracing a finger over the inky expanse. “Nobody can say how it came to be or how big it is or where it begins or ends.” He and I fell quiet then, on that scratchy brown sofa, dreaming dreams of natural-born travelers.*