Day 2 of Beth Bornstein Dunnington’s most recent Big Island Writers’ Workshop/LA edition happened back on August 5. Life has been a whirlwind between then and now, but I wanted to say a little something about the experience, even if delayed.
This was my first time participating in both days of the workshop, and I’m not gonna lie. Day 2 kicked my butt. By the end of the first day, my head already felt like a piggy bank that had been emptied out by an uber-enthusiastic 4-year-old. I wondered what I was getting myself into with a looming Day 2. I hadn’t been writing much and was worried. Could I sustain the required concentration, energy, and enthusiasm to fully participate in another 8 hour day of writing and reading aloud? Would I have anything interesting left to share?
I’m relieved to say the answer to these questions was yes!
My trainer at the gym often reminds me as I squat, thrust, and lift my way to improved physical health that the point of circuit training is for the second round to be harder than the first. Muscles become fatigued and then have to work even harder, thereby achieving maximum results. Big Island Day 2 was much the same, in the best possible way.
Most of us have written together many times. Yet, as a community of beautiful humans, we carry personality foibles into the space, whether conscious or not, intended or not. To name a couple of mine: a habit to compare my work to other peoples’ and a nagging, underlying sense of general not-good-enoughness. These tendencies have dramatically reduced over the years of my self-care journey, but they still exist. No matter how many times I participate in Big Island, I second-guess my ability as a writer. Are my words worth sharing? Then, I remind myself that Beth creates a safe place, less for craft work than heart work, and my nerves calm. Write true, I remind myself and the rest takes care of itself.
(Here's a shot of the Day 1 group.)
When we're open to it, life has a way of providing what we need when we need it. Back when I signed up for both days of this workshop, I didn't know that my writing adventure would be thrown another curveball or two. I couldn't have foreseen how much I'd need the extra support, the positive reinforcement that typifies a Big Island experience. I took the plunge anyway, because part of my self-care practice has been choosing activities outside my comfort zone, activities that help me grow and expand my awareness. Each day, I left feeling lighter, more buoyant and rooted to myself and my beautiful companions.
Participating in Day 2 also reinforced for me that we heal in community, and there are no short-cuts. On occasion, I still find myself longing for the day I will wake up and proclaim, “A-ha! I’m cured!”—when I no longer experience feelings of self-doubt, judgment or discontent. An unrealistic expectation, I know. I even asked a fellow participant her thoughts on how we could speed the process along, forgetting (again) the whole point of the journey. Day 2 reminded me to be grateful for the gifts of the present moment, which were in abundance over Big Island weekend, gifts of heart and soul and compassion. Each time we wrote, read, and spoke back individual experience transmuted into collective empathy. This is one path to increased love and joy.
We create our tribe, and it isn’t necessarily populated only with the people closest to us or those who are part of our every day lives. Outward life circumstances can be disparate as possible, AND we are still more alike than we are different. Bearing witness to and celebrating our imperfections, struggles, and triumphs link us together as we navigate this messy, gorgeous, profound thing called life.
Ripples from Day 2 continue to flow into my life and help me navigate a self-care journey that deepens the connection between my heart, my head, and my life, and, hopefully, at least sometimes, the page. As I chip away at the protective wall I constructed around myself decades ago, I sense an expansiveness I can’t quite define and am excited to learn more about. I'll be attending next month's workshop where there'll be another Day 2 and even a Day 3. New adventures with my writing tribe, additional opportunities to explore the fruits of a beautiful Big Island butt-kicking.