The basement of our home has just the right balance of natural light which pours into the south and southwest facing windows with the hunkering into the earth, incubation, that is provided by the cool north facing wall. The basement has an eclectic vibe as it serves as our library/den, my temporary office and meditation space, a second guest quarters, and most importantly, my space to write. And as I sat here this morning meditating on gratitude I couldn’t help by let my eyes sweep the room catching a glimpse of the hundreds of books that line the walls around me. We have built ins, stackable shelves and free standing bookshelves all filled with a variety of fiction, non-fiction, biographies, instructional, graphic, historical, comical, educational books. At least a third of them I have read, another third I have flipped through and the rest are waiting for the right moment to be opened.
I have several Stephen King books as he was my father’s favorite author and at a young age, after I said the Shining was a very scary movie and my father said, “read the book”, I began to flip through his early works, carefully turning the discolored pages that had been sitting on my father’s bookshelves collecting dust since he had finished reading them years before. The Talisman is still one of my favorite books to this day – I’ve read the 768 page book several times, one of King’s longest novels, and I still cry, sweat, and feel my heartbeat race every time I read it as if it were the first time. I was fortunate to fall in love with many classic novels in high school from Oliver Twist to The Good Earth to Animal Farm to Grapes of Wrath. Many of my classmates rolled their eyes when we were assigned yet another novel to read. I couldn’t wait to get home and start a new relationship with the characters on the pages. When I was in college, I let Oprah’s Book Club determine what I would read and fell in love with the beautiful and eloquent penmanship of Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines, and Eckhart Tolle. Some of these authors, like Barbara Kingsolver, have followed me into my adult life. Over the past few years I’ve read several books that fire up my activist spirit when discussing our global climate challenges, over consumption and the food industry. Much gratitude to Michael Pollen, Thomas Berry, Bill McKibben, and James Howard Kunstler for speaking the truth, really put it out there in blatant honesty what we all need to know to make real change in this world. I’ve also read many yoga philosophy and permaculture technique books as part of my studies but more importantly, I’ve embraced them as the foundation of my own explorations and experiences in wellness for humans and wellness for the planet, the bedrock of my life and business practices. And of course authors like Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert who courageous shared their very real life experiences and who influenced me to wake up and experience my own.
I had the great fortune of attending a writer’s workshop last August at the Omega Institute for one week with Cheryl Strayed. I mean, here I was just two years after reading her book, the book that gave me just the right amount of hope to leave my current situation, get lost in nature, and find myself on the other side, and I was going to be writing with her for the week. It was very surreal. Cheryl had a way of holding the space for us to feel safe and be truly honest that I felt free to write from the depths of my soul. I can remember one night in particular, staying up very late, getting lost in my own words, as I finally wrote the truth about a snapshot in time when I was so confused and lost in pain. The next day, as if knowing there were words to be shared, she offered to us the opportunity to read what we had been working on. I immediately shot my hand up, knowing that writing it was one thing but speaking my truth was quite the other. There, in a room with forty other people I had just met a few days prior, I shared my story, coughing back the tears, trembling through my words, letting it all pour out of me and off the pages. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.
Today I am so grateful to the authors who have shared their stories, courageously walking the path of creative expression without care or worry of the outcome. I am inspired every day to write because of their work, not as a goal to have my book sit on the shelves of others basements and libraries, but to embrace the artistic flow, the creative experience, the release, and the healing.