The Book Chronicle 9, and Listen to the Silence: It is a political act to have an inner life.

Listen to the Silence, acrylic on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2021

Hello dear friends,

Happy New Moon, the first moon of summer! What kinds of energies are starting for you? I’m working on Chapter 9 in my book, the 2nd to the last chapter. It’s on Embodiment, and it’s here that I’m realizing that the working title of the book, Making Meaning, Making Soul: Developing an Inner Life as a Political Act, is just right. It’s when I think about, feel about, listen from the inside of my physical self, that I know how childhood trauma has formed so much of who I am, and who so many are. I explore how the structures of power in the home echo and compensate for the lack of power outside of the home. How silence and cooperation is enforced. How the status quo has been built out of certain numbers of us living in captivity, “held” by those who love us. The auto-immune issues as one consequence, chronic pain as another, and yet other issues are the consequences, but also the scars that are the badges of surviving, and thriving, and not colluding in silence and hiding. For so, so many of us, we’re doing pretty damned good, all things considered, and in pondering who we are, what we’ve been through, and what we want for all our children, are creating a new way of thriving in this toxic world. Another political consequence of embodiment is the color of my skin. How I am seen and treated, how my body is seen and treated, is charged with meanings that have participated in the sufferings of those with a different amount of melanin in their skin. So much to write about, so much to listen for.

I did this small 8″ by 8″ painting this month — witnessing to how much sitting in silence it takes to make sense of the blobs of intuitions and insights that swirl around us, hiding in plain sight. It is daring and it is a political act to put into words what is inchoate in our flesh. I started with the intuition that I was in the middle of something — something having to do with my life force and the blood of my flesh:

Then came the blobs, and shapes:

And then finally the words that helped me know what the painting was about:

Dear friends, know and grow, grow and know. Be willing to sit in the no know, the not knowing. It’s not fun, but it’s wondrous to experience what Walt Whitman said “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

p.s. I was interviewed by the New York Parrot Literary Corner a little while ago about my poetry. Have a listen:

The Book Chronicles & More: May 2021

Gratitude book, watercolor on paper, March 2021

Dear Friends,

THE “& MORE”: Coping with the Pandemic Blues has really been a chore in the last couple of months! I just want to go out for coffee with a few friends —- please?!?! Because I could so easily enumerate what was wrong with life, I decided to make a little accordion book of 100 plus things that are going right in my life. Number One of which is that I and my family are well and we have enough of all that we need.

I had no idea if I could come up with more than 100 things to be grateful for, but it was actually very easy. And I did feel better after I made this little book. I started with some basics that I used to teach Liberty about: that because we have indoor plumbing, central heating, and hot and cold running water, we have a more comfortable and “richer” life than kings and queens had only a couple of centuries ago! And it really is a blessing that our electricity is reliable enough that we notice it only if there’s a very occasional blackout.

I totally recommend making your own little book of Gratitudes. Now it sits on my bookshelves, in front of a few hundred books (another gratitude!), and reminds me that these, too, are true in my life.

THE BOOK CHRONICLE: I HAVE FINISHED CHAPTER EIGHT out of 10 chapters! I keep chugging along, following the plan that I put together at the beginning of the project. This was the chapter on SILENCE, and it includes a dozen ideas for entering silence for both beginners and the more experienced, for people who consider themselves spiritual and those who who just want a renewing rest. Here’s a couple: I start with a basic sitting practice, then describe 3 or 4 ways to meditate, but I also talk about sitting and watching a snow globe settle after you’ve given it a good shake. Or if you don’t have a snowglobe, putting a tablespoon of dirt in a jar of water and giving that a shake. It takes awhile for it to become calm again, and that’s a good metaphor for how our inner attention and our nervous systems work.

My favorite part of the chapter was coming up with a variety of postmodern and very secular koans to include. Koans, as you probably know, are from the Zen Buddhist tradition and they are short statements or little stories that are not rational nor logical, but that if you meditate on them, may very well help you to bypass all that right-brained activity and have a sudden realization. It feels like a flip into another way of thinking/being, almost as though your brain just got out of a car wash! So here are two I included: “I ask my friend, ‘So are we crazy or intensely sane?’ She replies, ‘Yes!'”; or, “When there’s no place to go, how do I get there?” And here’s one that’s a little more serious: “‘Good God!’ screamed the woman as the bomb dropped from the plane.”

The next chapter is on reflective practices from the point of view of Embodiment, where I’ll talk about knowing, resting, and abiding in our physical selves, which are too often limited and achy and not working quite right. Then the last chapter will pull it all together where I assert that developing our inner lives is, indeed, a political act that just might “save the world” in the only way it can be saved, each one of us at a time. With the emphases on “one” as well as “us”.

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

The Book Chronicles: March 2021

Resting in My Nest (c) 2017 Cat Charissage, acrylic on Canvas

Dear Friends,

Happy New Moon! Only another week to the Spring Equinox —- the year moves on, the heavens spin. The pandemic continues. Sigh.

I’m in Chapter Seven of THE BOOK. It’s about Dreams, nighttime and daytime, and the stories we tell ourselves. So much I want to include —- so much I have to leave out! The Book is already close to 200 pages, and I have 3 1/2 more chapters to do. I’m sure editing will cull lots; but on the other hand, I may remember way more that I wanted to include.

The whole book, Making Meaning, Making Soul is about the inner life, and how cultivating an inner life clarifies our values, our power, and our commitment to creating a world where all of us can have a home and all that we need to thrive. So, cultivate your inner life and change the world!!! We need more than superficial changes or new laws or environmental legislation here and there. Our challenges are great, and things may get much worse, to the point of breakdown of all systems, before we rebuild from the bottom up. We can’t navigate the future with a mindset of the past; it’s guaranteed not to be sustainable. So I’m hoping the book will have encouragement and instruction to use even the hardest of times to grow, cultivate, and then curate the world we want to live in. High hopes.

On a personal note, my old ways of being, of writing, are not sustainable in my life now. I used to be able to encourage myself (make myself? force myself?) to just sit down and crank it out. The writing came out good enough, sometimes even quite good, and the job got done. But I don’t live like that anymore: I don’t WANT to, and my dear body won’t let me! I have to write this book with the same spirit that I am advocating throughout the book: to live reflectively, to be exquisitely conscious of myself and my world, choosing my actions in the light of what I can do to help, and what I can do to care for myself in the same way I would want any person, any beloved child to be cared for.

That means transforming my relationship with time, and that’s just not an easy thing to do! I have to step out of self-imposed deadline, step away from cracking the whip and driving myself to produce (to produce the book and the half dozen other “very important” projects I’m involved in!) To trust that treating myself lovingly WILL translate into a fountain of abundance filling up and spilling over, even if the fountain is a very small one. Productivity, speed, greed, and striving are false gods, though you wouldn’t know it from our culture, nor the evening news. My social media feed and email bring more and more and more, and much of it is important and even helpful, due to my skill in choosing good people, good organizations, and good scholarship to hear from. In trying to get a handle on all this, I haven’t written on THE BOOK for a week —- and that’s actually been a very good thing! I’ll get back into a good rhythm soon.

Meanwhile, we carry on, in all senses of “carry on”, living, loving, resting, investing our energy into nourishing ourselves and others. Tell me, what is your relationship with time? How do you live a reflective, intentional life?

Much love and many blessings to you,

Cat

The Book Chronicle: Wildflowers in February

Hello dear friends,

I’ve been posting on Instagram rather than here on this blog, but decided to copy out my latest post to include here:

The Book Chronicle:. Halfway through Chapter Six! But it’s been minus 28 degrees here, so I had to take a break and paint some wildflowers under a full moon! Thought I’d tell you about all the work before the writing. Well, first I had to live my particular life and learn a few things. Then about a year and a half ago I started to write down any ideas I had of what I wanted to say to people, one idea to an index card. I have index cards everywhere! Once my pile got to be over six inches high I read and reread and reread the cards some more. Like ideas went with like, and categories were formed. Then some tentative chapters suggested themselves and slowly, with more rereading, a structure for the whole book began to appear. All through this, every new idea was written down. Then I took a chapter and reread those cards for maybe the fifth time. Then started to put them in an order. All through, I imagine various of my friends, including you, sitting next to me saying “Hmmm. . . Looks interesting. What’s it about?” And finally, I tell you! Like I’m writing you a l o n g email. I hope you get to read it sometime soon!

Living in Both Worlds (new painting)

Living in Both Worlds, acrylic on canvas 16′ x 20′, Cat Charissage (c) 2020

Hello dear Friends,

I know I’m not the only one who is weary of covid-19 and the restrictions needed to bring transmission rates lower, but at least I have time to paint! This is another donated old canvas that needed about 4 coats of gesso before I could paint my own painting over it. It had a lot of textured paint on it, with a very strongly textured line horizontal line almost 1/3 of the way from the top edge. I thought I would use the canvas as an experimental abstract painting, and I wish I had photographed the first few iterations of the painting. Nothing seemed to be working, though I did like the blue-green layers where the figure’s head is now. I had used a thin brush to draw a curving line over the colors I had laid down, and then realized that I had inadvertently drawn a profile of a face. I decided to go with it, and the painting became more figurative than abstract.

photographed on a slant to made the golden hair more visible.

The woman’s face seemed to be peering into our world from another world, and the roses painted themselves. I think I was thinking of the stories of Our Lady of Guadalupe and how in the midst of a gloomy winter, when Juan Diego brought the image of the Lady on his tilma (cloak) to the bishop, asking for a church to be built where the Lady had appeared to him, fresh roses fell out of the tilma onto the floor. It was the miracle, after three visits to the bishop, that convinced the bishop that Juan Diego actually had seen Our Lady.

That image appeals to me — the promise of roses in the middle of winter; the promise of blessings coming when so needed in the bleakest of times. With the division of the canvas into sections by the previous textured paint, I saw the red roses as coming from the other world, almost in potential, then being transformed as they take on full definition in this world. To me, this somehow portrays how we live in this everyday world at the same time as we live in a spiritual world, and sometimes the worlds leak into each other in surprising ways. My teacher and mentor, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, speaks often of those of us who endeavor to live consciously in both worlds at once, and I like to think that beauty and blessings and goodness can move back and forth between realities.

Living in Both Worlds hair detail, acrylic on canvas 16′ x 20′, Cat Charissage (c) 2020

Her hair is made up of DNA Strands of the “Living in Both Worlds” life, and is filled with stars, symbols, messages in code. When one lives in both worlds at the same time, life is blessed with golden light, though sometimes we don’t see the light as it flows behind us, benefiting those who are around us, even if we can’t see it ourselves.

Living in Both Worlds, white rose detail, Cat Charissage

This painting symbolizes much for me: making something new from a canvas meant for the garbage, starting out with one intention but going in another direction when seeing something new (seeing the face profile), DNA strands encoding instructions for life, blessings with elements from many stories (the roses). Even the White Rose has more symbolic reverberations, as it was the name of a student movement of young people in World War II Germany who protested the Nazi regime. Sophie Scholl, her brother, and several others were executed for their activities, but live on as examples of the courage to speak truth in oppressive times.

Sometimes, though, one just can’t explain it all in words. If I could have, I wouldn’t have needed to paint it.

Happy New Moon, this week before the Solstice when for those of us in the northern hemisphere the sun comes back. After Dec. 21, each day will have just a little bit more sunlight, bringing us out of the cold and snow into a new planting season. I hope you can take a few days between now and the new year to rest, hibernate, reflect.

Much love and many blessings to each of you,

Cat

New Painting, new moon: From Chaos to Home

From Chaos to Home, acrylic on canvas, (c) Cat Charissage, 2020

Dear Friends,

At this new moon, today is a grey sky, there are ugly remnants of snow and ice left from last week’s blizzard, and it’s the middle of November, the cruelest of months. We’ve got about 3 years of Canadian winter to look forward to until green leaves appear again. Thank the heavens for paints and books!

The painting was intended for my innards, and for the world. I painted it just after the election was (tentatively?) over in the U.S. The canvas is one gifted to me by another artist who had painted over it twice. I then painted over it in heavy body paints, several coats, to add to the texture. I liked the feeling that my intention was being placed on a canvas with lots of experience, lots of things it has already gone through. Kind of like me.

The gold sweeps from the woman’s hair up and then around the chaos, and then up and around the cosmic egg. Movement, blessing, creativity. I tried to get that in the photo of it, but my present skills just couldn’t pick it up. The crescent moon will be just like in the painting in a few more days. Looking forward to MORE than just 3 years of winter!

From intention:

To details:

Feel free to borrow the sentiment, if needed. Much love and blessing to each of you. Thank you for being in my friendship group; thank you for your support.

Cat

New Moon: Thinking my Own Thoughts

Intentions for sovereignty of thoughts

Happy New Moon dear friends,

About a week ago, I was chatting (on Messenger) with some friends who were sharing some Facebook posts that were claiming some wild facts that were very seductive. I could feel the provocation intended, the desire to know if those facts were true, the yearning that they were pointing to a conclusion that I would dearly love. In other words, I felt myself get sucked in. I spent a couple of hours that day talking about it all, and my attention was totally rivetted.

Being that it’s the October before the November election in the U.S., there were many posts claiming all sorts of October surprises. I’m not a big FB person at all, but I couldn’t avoid it. The newspaper that I do read had its own pile of seductive “maybe” stories (maybe true, maybe not. . . ) Recognizing propaganda whether intended or not, I decided then and there that I did not want my attention hijacked with all the different attempts to manipulate my psyche. I’m now on day 6 of a 101 day media fast and, instead, devotion to my inner depths. I allow myself to look at the headlines on the front page of the newspaper, and that’s it. Instead, I am focussing on depth and practices that will help me towards wisdom (hopefully). There really are only a certain number of hours in any day. This will take me into mid January. And by then I hope I will have discerned exactly how much of the chaos and frenzy I want to allow in.

I used to think it was my moral duty to be as well informed as I could reasonably be, so as to make responsible decisions about not only voting, but choosing which issues I would expend my energy and resources on. I haven’t shifted on that, I’ve just given up the idea that FB and most media available to people will tell me the truth. Oh, some may sincerely try to, and some media is definitely more accurate than other ones, but I’ve come to believe that the only truth I can be assured of in a news item is that somebody, somewhere, wants me to think that something happened somewhere, at sometime. And that the more frenzied the reporting, the more I wonder what’s going on that the frenzy is distracting me from.

I’m learning more and more to focus on what is within my reach. Who are the people and the issues around me that I might actually be able to help, to influence in good ways? I try to pay attention to the truths I see right around me, and leverage my energy into real help and action rather than anxiety and argument about issues I cannot personally influence whatsoever —- such as an election in another country. There are so many what-if’s; I’ll wait until the dozens of what if’s manifest into something I can personally do something about. I already have a handful of issues I deeply care about, and keep myself informed about them through actual people and organizations I know, and contribute when I can.

I believe deeply in freedom of thought, and we can’t have that freedom if the noises of (dare I say?) brainwashing are screaming all around us. I’m walking away from it, as much as I can. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll find out who won the election even if I never read a newspaper again. (I swore off of TV news long ago, refusing to participate in “if it bleeds, it leads”. Seeing the effects of war, neglect, and cruelty assaulted my nervous system, and I want to remain able to act and speak, not silenced by vicarious traumatization and the craziness of a video of terrified children followed by a commercial for dancing batteries or ring around the collar laundry soap.)

We all need to assess how much “news” (gossip?) we need in our lives. At least consider whether limiting your intake to perhaps one report a day might be enough. Consider exchanging doomscrolling for a little silence —- and find out what you really believe, what kind of world you’re ready to work for.

The energy of the New Moon helps us to develop new habits. Just saying. . .

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

Home Retreat, Great Questions, and New Offerings

Acrylic on Canvas, (c) Cat Charissage a.r.r.2016

Dear Friends,

Happy first New Moon of fall! After a frenzy of work, I needed some down time, and increased pain, especially in my rotator cuffs and shoulders, led me to some rest and pondering. Good idea —– except I tried to do it at home, in the midst of daily life happening all around me. Well, I guess you can imagine how all that went! I had hoped to be the little me, surrounded by gold shimmer in the painting above finding some deep truths, represented by the large woman under the earth. Alas, I am just the little me looking and looking, not able to dig deep. At least I’m still surrounded by gold!

In other news I’m applying to this intriguing course from Bayo Akomolafe, “We Will Dance with Mountains: Let Us Make Sanctuary” https://course.bayoakomolafe.net/, and the application itself has these questions: “Tell us about some of your ancestors and teachers. Feel free to include ones outside of your bloodline and species.” “Tell us the tiniest bit about the histories that are being lived through you and the land.” “Please write a brief Statement of Intention, expressing your hopes for your participation, your personal goals, and why taking this course is important to you.” “Please share 3 questions that are alive for you and why these question matter to you.” “What communities are you a part of? Here, we think of communities as a group of beings you are in ongoing relationship with.” I admit I love it when even the application for a course starts me thinking new thoughts!

And finally, I am preparing for my Story Circles. The Poetry Story Circle is filled, but there is room in the second one. For your information:

“Regarding my own Offerings, I’m going to be offering two Story Circles on zoom. They are once a month (Sept. through June), 2.5 hour zoom gatherings on Wednesday evenings. I’ll step into zooming slowly, while also continuing to keep on with writing my book. My main mission in life is to assist others in the exploration of life’s Depth Dimensions and to self-expression in the service of self-sovereignty, healing, and intentional creation (of a poem, of a organisation, of an idea that changes the world).

“The first, “A Poet’s Words”, is close to full already. It’s the continuation of a group that’s been going on for 3 or 4 years. There might be a space or two that opens up, though, so again, if you’re interested, let me know. “A Poet’s Words” is a chance to help the rest of us learn to love the poetry that you love. At each meeting, one of us in the group presents a sampling of poetry, usually by one author but sometimes the poems are chosen according to a particular theme such as “poems of authenticity”, or “poems of encouragement written by women”. Whoever is the presenter gets to choose the theme. We have time for about 10 – 15 poems. The presenter also prepares 3-4 writing or simple art prompts, the goal of which is to help the rest of us move more deeply into the poetry presented, laying our own lives alongside the message of the poet. So the evening goes back and forth between reading poetry and responding to the prompts, sharing our writing or simple art responses, and discussing the poetry presented. This group has proved to be a positive, joyful, and supportive exploration into new (to us) poetry plus deep insights both into ourselves and into our fellow (soror?) members of the group. This group meets on the second Wednesdays of the month, starting Sept. 9 from 7 – 9:30 p.m. Cost: $150/10 sessions. If that is prohibitive for you I am open to barter or other ideas.

“The other group, “Bad Poetry and Mediocre Art: Why you should try some!” is a low-pressure, fun and explorative circle for poetry writing and simple art making. I call it “Bad Poetry and Mediocre Art” because unless you are a very experienced poet or artist (and perhaps they, too) those of us who want to try self-expression in these mediums often find that there’s a gap between our aspirations and our results, between our good taste and what turns up on the page. (see Ira Glass on the Creative Process https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2wLP0izeJE&t=28s) Many of us become discouraged and quit. I want to create an environment where we are given full permission to produce the worst writing and art in the universe, but to encourage our efforts with the same humor and compassion as we would encourage our young children in their efforts. We have to try and try again to develop the skills to produce work that matches our aspirations, and we are helped tremendously by a space where we’re comfortable and encouraged to pick up the pen or the colors again and again. And what do you know? You’ll most probably end up producing quite pleasing and quite meaningful work, worth saving and building upon. This is open to beginners as well as more experienced artists who might want to try a new direction. I will facilitate each meeting, introducing prompts and instructions/suggestions for writing or using the art mediums of watercolor, collage, and blind-contour drawing. You will have the choice each meeting to respond to the prompts as you want, with pen and words, or colors and images. You will be invited to share whatever you produce with the rest of the group in a supportive environment. Limited to 8 participants. The last Wednesdays of the month starting Sept. 30, 7- 9:30 p.m. Cost: $200/10 sessions. If that is prohibitive for you I am open to barter or other ideas.”

That’s it, dear friends! A little advice: if you need a retreat, schedule one somewhere away from home! 🙂

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

New Zoom program for Fall 2020

Circle Maze, acrylic on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2020 a.r.r.

Hello Dear Friends,

The New Moon of the 3rd moon of summer has come. We’re starting to make the transition from the heat of the summer into shorter days and thoughts of school. I’ve already gotten my back to school special: 10 packs of loose-leaf notebook paper at 35 cents a pack, plus a pile of 10 cent spiral notebooks, hopefully to last me and my writer son until the next year’s sales.

Regarding my own Offerings, I’m going to be offering two Story Circles on zoom. They are once a month (Sept. through June), 2.5 hour zoom gatherings on Wednesday evenings. I’ll step into zooming slowly, while also continuing to keep on with writing my book. My main mission in life is to assist others in the exploration of life’s Depth Dimensions and to self-expression in the service of self-sovereignty, healing, and intentional creation (of a poem, of a organisation, of an idea that changes the world).

Now that I’ll be using zoom, I welcome any of my friends outside of the Lethbridge area to join me. I still will be limiting each group to 8 members, the better to make meaningful connections in. Registration isn’t open yet, but if you think you might be interested in joining, please send me your email address so that I include you in my email announcing when you can sign up. Email me at catcharissage(at)gmail(dot)com. You can also respond to this post on FB to let me know. That letter will go out in a week or two.

The first, “A Poet’s Words”, is close to full already. It’s the continuation of a group that’s been going on for 3 or 4 years. There might be a space or two that opens up, though, so again, if you’re interested, let me know. “A Poet’s Words” is a chance to help the rest of us learn to love the poetry that you love. At each meeting, one of us in the group presents a sampling of poetry, usually by one author but sometimes the poems are chosen according to a particular theme such as “poems of authenticity”, or “poems of encouragement written by women”. Whoever is the presenter gets to choose the theme. We have time for about 10 – 15 poems. The presenter also prepares 3-4 writing or simple art prompts, the goal of which is to help the rest of us move more deeply into the poetry presented, laying our own lives alongside the message of the poet. So the evening goes back and forth between reading poetry and responding to the prompts, sharing our writing or simple art responses, and discussing the poetry presented. This group has proved to be a positive, joyful, and supportive exploration into new (to us) poetry plus deep insights both into ourselves and into our fellow (soror?) members of the group. This group meets on the second Wednesdays of the month, starting Sept. 9 from 7 – 9:30 p.m. Cost: $150/10 sessions. If that is prohibitive for you I am open to barter or other ideas.

The other group, “Bad Poetry and Mediocre Art: Why you should try some!” is a low-pressure, fun and explorative circle for poetry writing and simple art making. I call it “Bad Poetry and Mediocre Art” because unless you are a very experienced poet or artist (and perhaps they, too) those of us who want to try self-expression in these mediums often find that there’s a gap between our aspirations and our results, between our good taste and what turns up on the page. (see Ira Glass on the Creative Process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY) Many of us become discouraged and quit. I want to create an environment where we are given full permission to produce the worst writing and art in the universe, but to encourage our efforts with the same humor and compassion as we would encourage our young children in their efforts. We have to try and try again to develop the skills to produce work that matches our aspirations, and we are helped tremendously by a space where we’re comfortable and encouraged to pick up the pen or the colors again and again. And what do you know? You’ll most probably end up producing quite pleasing and quite meaningful work, worth saving and building upon. This is open to beginners as well as more experienced artists who might want to try a new direction. I will facilitate each meeting, introducing prompts and instructions/suggestions for writing or using the art mediums of watercolor, collage, and blind-contour drawing. You will have the choice each meeting to respond to the prompts as you want, with pen and words, or colors and images. You will be invited to share whatever you produce with the rest of the group in a supportive environment. Limited to 8 participants. The last Wednesdays of the month starting Sept. 30, 7- 9:30 p.m. Cost: $200/10 sessions. If that is prohibitive for you I am open to barter or other ideas.

Speaking of new directions, the image I’ve included is in a new direction for me: abstracts! I’m not fully pleased with my work (so far), but it is a lot of fun to give myself permission to play and to experiment. This one I will at least keep!

With much love and many blessings to each of you,

Cat

Shall I zoom into the future?

My studio, where I offer my Story Circles

Hello dear friends,

At around noon today we moved into the New Moon. My journal for this Lunar Month is filled with orange papers with a side of yellow for this probably hottest month of 2020. 2020 — the year we won’t forget! For me, there are two aspects of the Social Distancing mandate of Covid 19 that have messed with my groove: both trainings that I would have had with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in June and October have been cancelled, and the ubiquitous presence of the video conferencing app “zoom”. Considering how others have been seriously inconvenienced or harmed with the whole coronavirus, though, my family has been very fortunate.

I’m in the process, at this New Moon, of thinking of my Fall/Winter offerings and how to make them happen. Since it is unclear whether or not we’ll be able to freely socialize by September, I’ve been wondering whether I should postpone, or not offer my Story Circles at all, or. . . .. (drum roll, please) deliver them over zoom?!?!?

As most of you know, I love working in small groups. By small, I mean between 4 and 9 people, sitting around my big table in my small studio, writing and sharing in person. With that small number of women, there are all the advantages of getting feedback from others yet still being able to create an intimate, respectful circle where we can share deeply. It’s as close to a “safe community” as humans are able to create, and the results are beautiful and powerful.

I’ve loved the in-person “vibe”. As facilitator, I can watch body language, where people’s eyes are moving, whether someone is upset or uncomfortable, and intervene or shape the next prompts to help all the members feel included and comfortable enough to share whatever has come up for them. My groups have often become smaller as the winter has gotten darker, colder, and more icy, or the seasonal illnesses kept people from attending in fear of passing the viruses along.

So shall I move the Story Circles to zoom? I’d like your thoughts on whether you’ve been able to create or partcipate in Sacred Circles online. How much intimacy is lost? Is it possible to bond and grow with others, online? Personally, I see how much I would miss by not being in physical proximity, and am hesitant to move it all online. Thoughts? Ideas? What might be the best number of participants? Or should I keep the number from 4 to 9 persons? (That’s my idea for now.)

I appreciate your input. You can respond here on my blog or on Facebook, or privately by email: catcharissage(at)gmail(dot)com.

As a quick preview, I’m thinking of 3 different Story Circles this year, each once a month (on a Wednesday evening) from September through June, 10 months. One topic will be “Telling Truths: Writing Free Style Poetry and Poetic Prose”. Two others will be “Dream Wanderings: Wondering about the Stories We Tell Ourselves” and “Making Meaning, Making Soul: Depth Dimension Practices for Knowing Self and Soul.” Responses will be either in prompted writing or simple art processes. (For those in the ongoing Poetry Circle, we will continue on as well.)

Thank you for whatever feedback you have for me.

Much love and many blessings,

Cat