During a time when my partner was severely depressed, writing became a powerfully cathartic way to express my emotional turmoil. Writing my heart onto the page was a source of deep self-awareness and intuitive guidance. My women's poetry group was my circle of support when my partner took his life. I began to perform poetry by memorizing it and acting it out dramatically in order to create an intimate connection with the audience.
The idea of writing circles came after the devastating loss of my son, also from suicide. I wrote toward healing after living through shattering grief. Writing became my spiritual practice and teaching a way to pass along my process.
Dreaming of how to combine my passion for words with a desire to be of service, I wrote: "I could facilitate writing groups
for people who have suffered or are suffering. I could help people access
their deepest thoughts and fears because I have
been through it all. I was still on the quest for answers and I
found them everywhere--even in the heart of a stranger as we leaned closer in
empathy. Everyone has a story. Everyone has grief somewhere in their family story, and finds courage to go on, keeping
their raft afloat on the sea of life."
I have facilitated writing workshops since 1994, including at Cornerstone's support groups, the Women & Spirituality conference at MSU Mankato, All About the Journey healing center, The Aliveness Project, Unity Minneapolis, El Colegio High School, and Celebrate Yourself and Fabric (formerly Jacob's Well) women's retreats. I received 2008 and 2009 McKnight grants through COMPAS Community Art Program to teach writing workshops for youth in crisis. The project at SafeZone and Face to Face Academy developed into an art installation showcasing their recorded writings. When it was noted that students' reading scores improved, I was hired as Face to Face's writing instructor.
In 2012 I was awarded a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to teach writing workshops in twelve non-profit arts and human service organizations. I continue to teach at Pathways: A Healing Center, in Mn prisons, and in community spaces such as public libraries, yoga studios, churches, and cafes.
I was awarded a Saint Louis Park Arts & Culture grant to facilitate a writing group that exhibited their writings in local businesses and community centers.
I have taught memoir at MCTC and Minneapolis community ed. programs.
In addition, I managed shelters for the homeless and visited incarcerated teens. I am trained as a hospice volunteer and as a facilitator of Monologue Life Stories.
I studied Indigenous healing, ceremony, and spiritual traditions with Earthwalks for Health and lived in Mexico and Israel. I have collected wisdom teachings from these cultures, as well as written memoirs of my adventures.
My passion is to lead writing workshops for those who may not think of themselves as writers but have a story to tell. My teaching method encourages dedicated writers to develop and sustain a writing practice and guides their story-telling skills by offering feedback and craft tips. I believe in the power of words to transform our lives and our world. I believe that writing fulfills the soul's longing for connection and meaning and my motto is The shortest bridge between us is a story.
photo by Nazara Matos