Writing in troubling times…….


winter lakeAlthough the lake here is full at this time and we have snow on the ground, there is not the same calm and safety for many people and communities that we know. Perhaps you or someone you know is personally affected by the fires, floods, earthquakes indelibly changing the landscape, or perhaps the  news brings it into your awareness with brutal immediacy. In these troubling times, when there are natural disasters affecting so many people and communities, it is so easy to feel paralyzed and helpless whilst simultaneously wanting and needing to offer something in whatever way we can.

So I was delighted when my friend and colleague Mary Reynolds Thompson suggested that we record a series of free audio mini-workshops on Writing for Resilience: Shifting your Emotional Landscape.

You can listen to the first of three mini-workshops here.

This episode offers a three-part writing prompt emerging from our joint work on the relationship between Inner and Outer Landscapes. The intention is to help you ground yourself in these troubling times, whatever challenges are facing you.

We hope it may be useful to you or someone you know.

Writing holds a special place among the activities that people use to calm and heal themselves. It is physical, patterned, organised, rhythmic, and directed at a goal. But it is more. It also creates meaning as it flows.

from Surviving Survival: the Art & Science of Resilience by Laurence Gonzales



Spring Landscapes


Spring in Arizona
Spring in Arizona

I’m just back from speaking at the Center for Journal Therapy symposium, Passion to Profit, and the National Association of Poetry Therapy annual conference in Arizona. The temperatures  contrasted (96°F in Arizona, 33°F in Colorado), as did the landscapes. It’s always wonderful to connect with your community and these meetings were particularly stimulating and full of creative energy. 

Mary Reynolds Thompson (no relation!) and I facilitated our workshop called Literature, Landscape and Imagination at the NAPT meeting. Reading literature and inhabiting landscapes are both acts of imagination, framed by our perspectives and our perceptions. In her book Reading Middlemarch Rebecca Mead says:

Spring in Colorado
Spring in Colorado



..”when I read her [George Eliot’s] books I am restored anew to that place of childhood. She shows me that the remembrance of a childhood landscape is not mere nostalgia for what is lost and beyond my reach. It does not consist of longing to be back there, in the present; or of longing to be a child once more; or of wishing the world would not change. Rather it is an opportunity to be in touch again with the intensity and imagination of beginnings. It is a discovery, later in life, of what remains with me.” p253


Journal Prompt:

Think about the spring landscapes of your childhood. Choose one which has a particular resonance for you right now. Think about how old you were when you inhabited it (however briefly – perhaps a holiday place, perhaps your home). Who else was there?

Write about it in the 1st person, present tense, use the language of the senses to evoke your experience of it.

Read it through and write a few sentences of feedback (e.g. When I read this I notice…..When I read this I feel….. )

What does that place have in common with where you are now?


You can't photograph wind....

In contrast with snow-silence now comes the wind-screams. All night the wind found some aperture which sounded like a banshee, a chain-saw, a dentist’s drill, the hound of the Baskervilles. All night….

Although Ted Hughes was talking about the Yorkshire moors in his poem Wind, it could be this Colorado mountain too when he says:

This house has been far out at sea all night,

(Click here to see the rest of the poem)

I had to cancel writing group this morning because of snow – not new snow, the last snow which the wind re-deposited in new drifts, new crevasses, new ramparts. As fast as we shovelled  or plowed so the wind undid our work. A Sisyphean task?

So here’s the opening prompt we would have used in group this morning:

What has the wind been like for you this time? What has your experience of such extreme wind been been like before? What is the wind saying to you? Where will it take you?

Tracks in the snow: bobcat, turkey, rabbit

I’d like to think that bobcat, turkey & rabbit walked up the drive together one morning….

2 Upcoming workshops in the Boulder/Denver area:

The first one, in March, hosted by the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute, is for therapists and healing professionals:

Boulder Psychotherapy Institute Presents:

Therapeutic Journal Writing and Existential Psychotherapy:

An Intimate Relationship

Saturday March 24 2012 – 10 am – 5:30 pm

for more details click here

The second, in April at locations in Boulder & Denver, is for everyone (including therapists!). Mary Reynolds Thompson joins me to present:







for more details click here