This is where I am now…
The one minute ding…
“Not the eggplant,” she said…
Those seventeen words above have absolutely no relation to each other, and… they have everything to do with each other.
Earlier this month I was lucky. Well, not so much lucky as intentional. I experienced a week-long retreat on the coast of Baja, Mexico, just outside of Cabo San Lucas.
As I described where I was going to my friends and family I told them it was a “yoga and writing retreat.” That was not a lie.
We did yoga twice a day. We did writing exercises. We wrote in our journals. And we also learned about the structure of writing, the art of telling a good story, the alignment of our writing with our lives – whether we recognize it or not.
I have always loved to write, ever since I was a little girl, and recently I re-found (is that a word?) my love and appreciation for yoga. For years I have dreamt of going to some remote tropical location to just write and do yoga. Last year I verbalized this desire to my husband. This year… well, this year I went.
The retreat, called Embodied Words, was more than just a “yoga and writing retreat.” As the name indicates, this retreat was an opportunity to experience fully, down to the core – embodied – the words we speak, write, hear, feel, shout, whisper, cry. It was an opportunity to become aligned with purpose and mission. To slow down and be mindful of our bodies. To stop and give pause before we express ourselves. And to just let it all out, without thinking. Just write!
It’s difficult to explain the full capacity of the week. Although I am doing my best to share my experience with you and with my friends and family here at home.
Aside from Mexico being the perfect place to recover from having surgery four days prior. Aside from the beautiful warm weather and invigorating conversations. Aside from the mesmerizing sound of the ocean waves lulling me off to sleep each night. Aside from the refreshing salt water pool as my body soaked up the happy sunshine. Aside from all of that…
It was the most extreme self-care experience I have ever experienced. Far beyond any expectations or dreams that perhaps popped in and out over the years.
So where does writing a book come in?
Writing for me has always been a form of self-care. Even before I knew what self-care was! It is the way I release. The way I share. The way I dream. The way I heal. So it’s no surprise that being in that environment, surrounded with beautiful souls and the most delectable fresh, organic food my palette has ever enjoyed, that my creativity crept out of hiding.
I might be so bold to say that it not only crept out, it landed on the X-marks-the-spot!
I was as surprised as anyone to find out that I have a joy and a talent for writing children’s stories.
The book itself started as make believe stories I would sometimes tell to Brayden and Zack at bedtime. Too tired to get up and grab a book, not wanting to turn the lights on to read, I just made things up. Sometimes the stories were about the two of them. Sometimes the stories were about our family. Sometimes they were about this silly little dolphin named Squeaky. Those were the most fun stories to tell!
One of the writing exercises while in Mexico was called the One Minute Ding. Now I don’t know for certain if that is what it really is called, but that’s what I call it. Everyone started writing and every minute a new word was said that had to be incorporated into our stories. Every person got a chance to say a word as we went around the circle with fifteen dings. Every person had to use every word – whether it made sense in the story or not.
The pieces that came out of that exercise were quite impressive! Some were funny, some serious, some just plain stream of consciousness. Mine, was about Squeaky.
Not all of it was how I probably would have written it if I didn’t have to use some crazy, random words. But I managed to make it work, including the fajitas Squeaky and his friends had for lunch one day – fish, of course.
Writing that creative piece stirred something in me. It inspired and motivated me to actually write out the stories about Squeaky that I could remember telling Brayden and Zack. It put a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. It gave me hope and the openness to possibility. The possibility that “hey, I could write and publish these stories as children’s books!”
It didn’t take long for me to write out one whole, complete story. An afternoon by the pool and it just flowed out of me. Faster at times than I could even write. The paper scratched and scribbled as my pen zoomed from line to line. Some minor editing and by that evening I had the story typed and printed. Not only did I essentially have the makings of one children’s book, I had two other story line ideas that sprang from the one I had just wrote.
Writing these short, fun, creative pieces brings a new kind of healing to me. It brings the joy back into my heart. It brings the fun back into my life. It gives me a chance to express messages not only to children, but to adults as well, all within the wonderful experience of reading with your kids. Even writing this right now is causing my mouth to perk up a bit as the corners round up to the sky. A smile, yes. I’m smiling.
With a clear vision of how I see the book (series of books)… full color, bright blue hues and fun animated drawings… I’m now taking the steps to find an illustrator and pursue this joy-filled passion of writing children’s books. None of this would have even began (at least not this quickly) if I hadn’t allowed myself the time or space of my extreme self-care retreat in Mexico.
Who knows, maybe someday you’ll find Squeaky on your bookshelves.