Breathe Deeply In Of Life

It is the first day of a two-month Natalie Goldberg online class, The Way of Writing: Opening the Practice of the Wild Mind, offered by Shambala Publications.

The writing practices of Natalie Goldberg have changed my life on several occasions. My brother, Dave, a fine writer himself, gave me a copy of Natalie’s book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, shortly after it came out in paperback, 1986? I have always loved writing, but I didn’t think he had noticed!

In the mid-90’s I was part of a magical writing group of women in Marin County, north of San Francisco. My memory is that we met every week for five years, but memories can be foggy. What is accurate is that that writing group was one of the most important chapters in my life, let alone my writing life. As suggested in a Natalie Goldberg book, we each wrote for 10 minutes on the same topic. We each then read what we had written with no comment, negative or positive.

What an incredible safety that provided. We seven or eight women became deeply bonded. We began to trust one another as well as ourselves. It was really not about the writing; it was about the inner lives and personal growth of a group of then 40-50-year-old professional women. Did I mention we were mostly lesbians? Living as a minority is hard for anyone, most especially Black, Latinex, Asian American women, but it was also an often painful struggle for women who grew up in the 50’s when it was still criminal to be gay.

Which brings me back to today, nearing the end (I hope!) of a life-altering pandemic, writing for the first time with Natalie. I am shocked to find there are more than 2000 other people in the class, across this country as well as in other parts of the world. But as we have had to adapt to so many changes in these challenging times, I am sure that there will be great life lessons as well as great writing pleasure and insight.


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