Returning To Old Habits

I’m house/kitty-sitting for a friend at her small studio in Santa Fe. Outside the sky is a blue I don’t have a name for and the cottonwoods along the Santa Fe River glow golden yellow. I came here after two weeks in Greece, a journey with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and our friend, to celebrate my birthday and for me to return to some of the places I’m writing about in my memoir. My time in Santa Fe is also a writing retreat and a time of solitude.

This morning, writing at a desk that faces outside where an apple tree offers up its ruby fruit for the birds, I wrote what I think might be the beginning of my memoir. Yesterday I wrote what might be the end. This may seem strange to write the ending before the beginning, but it’s not really. I started in the middle sixteen months ago and have been working toward the end ever since. Besides I’m still in notebook draft (notebook #9) and everything will probably change anyhow as I lift all this from notebook to computer and begin working with manuscript drafts, which will also be numbered and subject to change.

It feels good to be writing daily again after not all those days traveling around Greece. In fact I hardly even wrote in my journal while we were gone, which is really strange for me. I’m a daily journal writer. It’s how I have begun my days for decades. Journal, candle, cup of coffee (or two or more).

I forgot what it’s like to be a writer with a kitty accomplice. This kitty–Rumi–has much to say and doesn’t hesitate interrupting. But she also curls next to me as I write, especially when I sit on the daybed, and purrs. I haven’t lived with a kitty since my own Rumi was hit by a car five years ago. This may change when I return to San Diego. I like talking to someone besides myself. Sometimes cats even make a show like they’re listening.

Old habits that feel new again after a few weeks’ break. I’m even back to my morning yoga practice. My body says thank you.

What about your habits, writing and otherwise? Do you ever take a break from them? Do you find it difficult to return or does it feel like coming home again?


When plans get changed

If you know me at all, you know how I love to get away for a writing retreat. Alone or with someone else; far away or close to home; couple of days or couple of weeks. Longer. I’ve traveled the world with my notebook in my suitcase; and taken my camp chair, a bottle of water, and an apple down the block to Balboa Park. I’ve retreated at spas, resorts, and cheap motels; on ships, trains, and in RVs; in tents, borrowed apartments, and others’ houses in home exchanges. I’ve packed up notebook and intention and gone to tropical islands, a cabin in the woods, and rented flats in riotous cities. I’ve gone to fishing camps, on a rafting trip, and more than a few jazz festivals where the music was my Muse. I’ve retreated in my living room, my bedroom, and my own back yard.

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Capturing Wild Women in a Retablo

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.

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