where we go from here



When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. – Malala Yousafzai

It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent. – Madeleine Albright

You can be the lead in your own life. – Kerry Washington

Every week, we come together to write. Writing is a mirror to our own thinking. Of course, each piece is only a fraction of our own image – the corner of an earlobe, the tip of a toe, or the ends of our hair, but never the whole picture. Our shared work is to witness each other’s process as we each gather the pieces to form a whole picture. And with that picture, each of us can move towards a clearer future for ourselves.

For centuries, tarot cards and other similar practices have been used to provide this partial mirror. When we look at the cards, most often, we are told what we already know. This week, I brought in goddess cards and as we passed the cards around the table, each writer sighed a sigh of recognition. They said, “Yes, this speaks to a force in my life.” Each writer used their card to reflect on an aspect of their growth and used it as a touchstone to predict their own future.

In the pieces below, you will read the accounts of three writers and reflections on their cards – how each image gave them strength and inspiration to follow their path toward wholeness.


Change? Cycles? Both of these have so much in common with me.
I am and have changed so much in the last 8 months
that I have been locked up that it sometimes scares me! I used to
look for the drugs to take that pain away and now I look for my supportive
loved ones, people that care about me to help me through these times of pain,
to help me with the pain that I’m having. I have finally broken that cycle
of looking for the drugs, getting the drugs, doing the drugs, and then starting
all over again. This change and the break of the cycle makes me feel
so alive, so real, so human again; that I can’t believe that I gave so much
of my life to something so awful. Continue reading

two sides of the new year

Stamp Engravers

Stamp Engravers

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” Criss Jami

When all things seem to fail, stand on your inner strength, shovel today’s challenges for your tomorrow’s freedom.
― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

You’ve got a chance to start out all over again. A new place, new people, new sights. A clean slate. See, you can be anything you want with a fresh start.
― Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
After working together to care for the container of our circle last week, we discussed fresh starts for this year. For many, this prospect was exciting and refreshing – we discussed what we look forward to and what plans and resolutions we have for ourselves as January continues. For others, though to reflect on the past and, in some cases, what is difficult to move beyond.

In the pieces below, you’ll see a many views of the new year. It aligns with our discussion of Janus, the two-headed Roman god – the poetry reflects perspectives that look ahead, look back, and tell the story of everything they see.


Two faces,
two places.
A mix of evil and good.
You think you know where I stand
but it was never where I stood.
You see the dark,
I am the light.
What you think you see,
well, it isn’t quite.
You see behind,
I look ahead.
We paid my dues,
I’ve made my bed.
What you see with your eyes,
that isn’t my soul.
It isn’t the story that you’ve been told.
They wounds still heal,
and time moves on.
I’ll play the game.
I’ll be the pawn.
What you can’t forget
is I am the Queen.
I’ll fly by night and steal the scene.
I’ll always win.
I’ll never fall.
I took off running from a crawl.
Was that checkmate?
Yes, I think so.
The game is mine.
Now watch me go.

AG Continue reading

what we remember



I don’t need a holiday or a feast to feel grateful for my children, the sun, the moon, the roof over my head, music, and laughter, but I like to take this time to take the path of thanks less traveled. – Paula Poundstone

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance. – Philip Andrew Adams

The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory. – Gary Zukav

Group this week was not easy. It is no secret that this time of year is difficult for many. Our theme this week was celebration and solstice and while it was appropriate, another implicit theme of the evening was remembrance and a somber honoring. Our writers miss their families and their children. Bringing up memories is complex. It is painful and joyful at once. It triggers both happiness to share these memories and a visible sadness.

Writing can hold that. By the end of our group, we concluded there. We worked through some of the most complex and challenging realities we experience throughout the year. We had it on paper and then held it in the open space of of the circle. We made room to witness each other and ourselves in the winter quiet.

Below, you will hear their stories. I hold them next to my story this season. I hope you do too.


Giving birth to a verdant future.
That’s my hope.
Time of pain, I did have a lot and it’s kept going.
I wish that it produces something, hopefully,
Fall yesterday, winter today, with the snowflakes
like a clean, white lace, so gorgeous.
That’s joyful, don’t you think?
Laces, snowflakes, I love the complexity of those. It attracts
me, my eye like the monarch butterfly.
I can’t stop looking at those silhouettes, one so white
and fragile, the other one so fragile and colorful,
both so “light” that they can stay in the
space for a period of time. Determination!
So special!

It’s bringing me happiness just to look at them.
Some in winter, some in summer,
spring, and fall. I’m going to continue to be
more hopeful for my future.


*** Continue reading

in preparation



“Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide.”

“Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.”

“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness
and thus to open doors of hope.”

Last week, we wrote on the peace and hope we find in this season and how to prepare. How does somebody prepare for peace? Often, in winter and before our various winter gatherings, the preparation is in food and gifts, clothing yourself to bear the weather. On the inside, we prepare differently. The writers say that the holidays are a difficult time for them, being separate from family and these traditional preparations. They explore finding new rituals to honor the season. We prepare by writing together, calling up and sharing our traditions and memories, and bearing witness to each other.

In the writings below, you will hear a few accounts of their experience to which we bore a snow-like witness, their words as footfalls on the page.


Before long, I will celebrate Easter,
a most holy Christian holiday.
I will smell the ham cooking.
I will set a beautiful table.
I will be so busy; I just can’t wait.
And I will focus on the ride home
chauffeured by my son in
his lime green Geico car.
Three smiling faces will greet me:
Nick, Angelo, and Abigail.
I wonder if that trip will be quick
or will it seem to last forever.
I picture my front door of red
adorned with a brass knocker
that displays a welcoming pineapple.
My hands will surely be shaking
as I grab the shiny ornate handle,
my cheeks will burn
from the constant smile on my face.
My heart will rejoice as
I take my first step,
over the threshold, a tear will fall.
I am joyful and triumphant.
This is my last Christmas here. Hark!

*** Continue reading

kindness first to ourselves



“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ~ C.G. Jung

“By surviving passage of doubt and depression on the vocational journey, I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.” ~ Parker Palmer, Let your Life Speak

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

In last week’s group, we focused our attention on compassion. So often, when we discuss the word “compassion” or “kindness” we think first about what we do for others, how we show these qualities to other people. We forget that in order to offer it others we must first give it to ourselves.

And even when we do offer it to ourselves, complications remain. Our hearts, like long-wailing infants, are surprised to be lifted and keep crying out, keep asking questions. In the pieces you’ll read below are two writers’ accounts of this. As they explore the idea of self-compassion, they are confronted with fear as much as their sense of self-love. As a group, we recognized that, just like everything else, to get good at giving yourself kindness and self-compassion, you have to practice.


You never know from one day to the next,
what will happen? Who will you become?
Minds seem to go blank,
I would like a fire to mesmerize me,
maybe the wind will carry me away.
Worry is intense, terrifying, blinding
will that pattern be explained?
All the years, where have they gone?
Waiting to shout: I’m ready, are you listening?
It’s me, I’m here, waiting.
Do you hear me calling?
Am I speaking in tongues?
I’m here, it’s me, are you coming?
I’m ready now to start a new life. Will you come?


*** Continue reading