I have never felt so heard, seen, and gotten. I was warned turning 40 might be hard. But I was so distracted by magic and awesomeness on Book Mama Linda Sivertsen's Carmel writing retreat last week that the hardness (if there was any) was akin to a diamond.
I read my work and they flipped. Nothing better than that.
I keep thinking of Nic yelling, "JENN!!" through tears, while I read. This is a gift I will cherish forever.
And their work? AMAZING. I can't wait to read every single one of these women's books. That is the understatement of the century.
I thought I was going to Carmel to work on my book and heal the last of what needed to be healed around losing my Mom. But what I realized riding along the Pacific in Cindy's car with the windows down is that the part about my Mom was already healed. This trip was about me and stepping into my light by sharing my stories and writing and being really heard. I woke up to something I suspected was there but was too afraid to look it in the face. I was ready to accept mediocrity (sort of -- let's be honest, sort of) if I needed to. But thank GODDESS I didn't have to.
I didn't think anyone would really be interested in my stuff (and not everyone has to be and that is OK, too). I thought because I had a good life I had my pie-piece and that was that. I'd gotten slammed for dreaming before. Why dream more? And then a tribe of dazzling women and I fell together, seemingly, because I invested in myself, and they in themselves, and suddenly -- BOOM! Dreams alive. Dreams getting fueled.
Once in awhile I have these moments where I feel like Marty McFly as his transparent body becomes solid again and he starts to reappear in that photo as his parents begin to realize they are, in fact, going to have sex with each other. And this was one of those moments (But the only sex was figurative, as I gently inserted my words into their aural cavities and they liked it, and then they reciprocated with their words. And so forth. Listen, that's really not a weird analogy considering "intercourse" is defined as "communication between individuals."
The whole week was full of those moments. I feel solid again.
Lest you think I shine on wax on rave on brag too much, but speaking of feeling solid, I'll have you know we also all pooped (at least I think so). We did so much processing (and eating cheesy carbs) and talking about feelings that it reminded me of when my Mom was first sick and started going to therapy. She got healthier in the head as her body got sick. Anyway, after an intense therapy session she dreamt she pooped a TON, and felt she was getting rid of a whole bunch of psychic shit.
So when I majorly pooped on the retreat after we all processed (and talked a lot about "Rising Strong," Brené Brown's new book), I joked that I was taking the Brené Browns to the Super Bowl. Luckily, so as not to stink-out my roommate, Cindy, I always carry matches in my going away kit. Fire does wonder for literal and psychic excrement, turns out.
I'll still be unpacking this experience (the retreat, not the poo-poo) for who knows how long. And when I get home (we're traveling back from Boise today) I can't wait to dig into my book. I have a huge list of ideas but feel focused enough to get going on each one: polishing, excavating.
It's time to watch what happens when I stop being Polish and start getting REALLY Polish.
^I just wanted to see how that would look on the page. Not as good as in my head, it turns out. #pierogiesforever
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.