A year later, I’ve returned to Whidbey Island for another PeerSpirit writing workshop. There are thirteen participants this year, all of whom have been through the initial workshop before. We are led by Christina Baldwin, whose writing and teaching I adore. I’m staying in the same house as last time, the same room even. I just got here this afternoon, and I’ve already done the beautiful run to the beach that I enjoyed so much last year. It’s good to be back in this place.
Part of the tradition of these workshops is that we open our sessions by meeting in a circle and offering objects that we place around a candle in the center of the circle. The center of the circle holds our space when we aren’t together – when we are off writing on our own. Each person brings an object relevant to her project. I brought an object that is very unlike me. I brought a Beanie Baby.
Years ago, my sisters collected Beanie Babies and gave various ones to me. I didn’t want a massive collection, but I did keep seven of them. Each one that I kept stood for something important that I want in my life. Here is my collection:
They stand for peace, luck, love, fortune, wisdom, hope and my niece. Most are obviously representative of those things – the little tie-died bear with the peace logo, the green bear with a shamrock, the white bear with a heart, the panda, the owl, and the praying bear. The little penguin represents my niece to me because I picked it up at her birthday party one year when she was really young. She’s a special kid. (To be clear, my nephew is special too, but he wasn’t born when the Beanie Baby craze happened.)
Tonight, I offered the peace bear to the center of the circle.
I write for peace. I write when I am muddling through something and need clarity. I write when my heart hurts. I write when I can’t say in person the things I want to say. Writing is incredibly therapeutic to me. Generally speaking, if you want to know when I’ve struggled, look at when I’ve written most. The less I write, the less I need to write.
This past year, I’ve written a ton. I’ve needed to. My heart was shattered into a million little pieces and I couldn’t have a face-to-face conversation with the one person who had the power to ease the hurt, so I wrote. The writing has helped me greatly. I discover what I think when I write. I identify things that matter to me. I console the parts of me that I sometimes tend to ignore.
This week, I’m at Whidbey Island in a very different state of mind than when I was here last. I was freshly wounded last time around, and my time here helped me start the process of healing. This time, the wounds aren’t fresh. They are well on their way to healing, but they are still somewhat there. I’m here to make peace with them.
It’s really good to be here.