“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

This week at our inside writing group, we posed the question: “On whose shoulders do you stand?” As always, some women chose to respond directly to the prompt, while others chose to address whatever lay on their hearts that evening.

And as always, I am humbled by the intensity and variety of writing that emerges in that charged 20 minute silence, hands scribbling across the lined page oblivious to the chaos beyond the not-quite-closed door. One woman writes almost entirely in questions, a kind of extended lament one cannot read without feeling her sense of lostness within alongside her determination to define herself. Another celebrates the many shoulders on which she stands, clear that without them she is nobody; but with them, she has a chance. Read on and feel their words in your heart.

I search to be something better. I wander aimlessly, unsure sometimes of where I am truly meant to be. I struggle. I battle and I’ll never know when I might need that shoulder to lean on. Sometimes I find many excuses as to why not to do something. In other words, talk myself down on doing things I know will help me in the long run. My soul aches to be reassured as I continue on my journey to find Me.
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whole of chaos


credit – arik baltinester

Last week we planned a theme around ‘wholeness.’ Must have had an inkling of what was to transpire after chow the night before group. To wit, the unannounced and immediate emptying of Echo unit, dispersing the women to Houses 1 and 2, and a few to Bravo.

A number of our writers had been living in Echo. But aside from that, this kind of dramatic change shakes up everyone. Creates a ripple effect. New balance of power in each unit. New roommates. New squabbles. The reawakening of old issues. And above all, the ongoing reminder that nothing inside is secure. Not where you’ll be sleeping at night. Not with whom  you’ll be sharing a meal or shower. Not even, in some cases involving moves, whether you’ll have your few allowed possessions with you again.

Needless to say, the chaos of that dramatic change in the status quo led to an evening of extreme unsettledness. We had women dropping in without signing up, perplexed at the patient explanation that everyone needs to sign up ahead of time. It’s part of learning personal accountability, which we take very seriously. Then there were the couples who felt the need to see one another, to reassure themselves they were still OK despite the seismic shifts swirling around them. And there were others who merely sought release from the stress, needing to giggle, mock, blame, and otherwise let off steam. Which also means there were regular writers who felt the need to leave a group that was quickly unraveling like the chaos that had so recently preceded it.

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