Good morning from Coupeville, Washington, on the glorious Whidbey Island. It’s just after 7 here. I’m here with six women, and three of us are awake so far. The coffee is brewing – my contribution since it’s really the only thing I know how to make – and I’m thinking back to what an incredible evening we had last night. Joanna made a taco dinner for us, and Kristie made blackberry cobbler from fresh blackberries that she picked on a walk. Afterwards, we sat around the living room reading to one another the things we’ve been working on. Being in a circle listening to the stories of women I love is perhaps my most favorite way to spend an evening.
I started doing circle gatherings with women (and one man) back in 2007 when my friend Rey and I signed up for an Artist’s Way workshop led by Jeanne Guy. I loved it and Jeanne so much that I’ve continued to do workshops with Jeanne, and I’ve met some incredible women through them. Sometimes we spend evenings together. Sometimes we spend weekends. The group of women I’m with right now came from a week-long workshop I did on Whidbey in December of 2012 and December of 2013 with another leader I adore whom I met through Jeanne. It’s good to be back together. Our time together has felt magical.
I love good stories, but I love even more getting to hear good stories in the voices of the writers themselves. I’d love to hear Janis or Gretchen read anything, but hearing Janis read her own words or Gretchen read her own words is better than any gift I could receive. These women offer up beautiful little pieces of themselves, and I take them in and hold them in my heart long after our time together has come to a close.
I’ve been to lots of workshops, and I’m not always bold about reading my own stuff to the group, but this is a safe circle of women. I read last night. What I read wasn’t brilliant, but it was from my heart, and it was written from a place of genuinely wanting to solve something I’d been wrestling with in my mind. I felt heard and held.
Time with these women is a pure joy. As much as I didn’t want to leave Dave this weekend, I’m so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity. I’m grateful Janis rallied us together, and I’m grateful that Gretchen, Bridget, Joanna, Kristie and I were all able to be here. We are six very different women, but when we come together, we create a circle of openness and trust that feels like the sweetest of homes. I’m so full here with them.