This time, seeing the image of the earth from their tiny little return rocket, all of the fragility, all of the beauty flooding into me.
And I am here in Westray, Scotland (part of Orkney Isles), my spiritual home, writing and writing and writing, about my yoga journey mostly, which was and is rocky, not at all a happy, clappy ride into bliss or whatever. But working with the Yoga Sutras and seeing their depth, so grateful for the transformation I experienced during the yoga teacher training at Kripalu, which feels more real the further away from it I am, because it was not a rosy time. It was a really challenging time, with some amazing moments, but through that rough road I transformed.
The Yoga Sutras embody an experience I had many years ago, a sudden illumination early in my sobriety, but one that I did not have a strong enough container to launch me into transformation. Instead it was there to save my sorry ass through many years of hurling myself into what Rumi would refer to as "mean-spirited road houses."
But it did save me, because I did not drink again. I am alive, and now, only now, do I feel I have any of the tools I need to begin to embody the reality that was shown to me so clearly and yet so shockingly in 1987 at a bus-stop in San Francisco of all places. Not the primary location one would choose for a life-altering spiritual experience, but there you go. My life is nothing if not filled with the spiritual smashed up against the quotidian—to be perfectly honest I would not have it any other way.
So what does the moon landing have to do with any of this? Moonshots I suppose, those moments you shoot ourself out there wondering where it will lead but knowing you literally have nothing left to lose other than either a sense of being stuck or some other prison cell you are finally ready to leave.
And now, because one of those moonshots for me was starting this writing retreat in Westray, I am reaping the benefits of one such leap of faith. Here now writing with other women who are also writing, for many hours a day, in a house that is silent from 9am to 5pm, a luxury all of us love, the luxury to Not socialize or respond, but instead to be absorbed in one's own thoughts and writing. For women especially, socialized since the gate to respond, listen, receive, mirror, etc., this is a gift. We need to allow ourselves time to sink into our selves and Selves, our voices, our own ideas, listen to the subtle shifts, Not perform, Not make someone else feel better and etc.
Everyone seems to be having breakthroughs with large projects—the kind you cannot wrap your mind around without large chunks of time and space. My breakthrough is simple: I am writing. After months of grief-induced silence, since November, I can write again. This alone feels like a huge gift. It's a bit creaky, of course, but it's happening and ideas are flowing out of me. Of course it's just a draft and will need lots of rewriting, that's a given, but that is also totally OK.
I also did the final edits on White shoe lady for Nomadic Press, so that will be coming out as a chapbook in the near future. Not sure of the timeline, but you will of course hear of it. I don't think I wrote a blog post when won the Bindle Prize (their chapbook contest) because it came as such a shock. This was a story I wrote here in Westray last year and was rejected all over the place, though some were 'nice' rejections, from places like Granta, so I had some hope...but also felt despair because I had been submitting it for months. So, if anyone out there is a writer, please use this as inspiration and Keep Submitting your work.
Also, hot tip: yoga and meditation to start your day helps. A lot. So honored to lead that most days here, and some days on my own out behind the house, Orkney wind energizing me, breathing me alive...and sometimes Qigong as well, gathering the energies, bringing them back inside and writing all day long.
Today I have been editing an excerpt from the book project I am drafting in hopes can be legible for a reading tomorrow. We shall see.
And of course the beauty of this place cannot be overstated. Some photos below. All are from or near the house. I could not feel more grateful. This place is a gift. This place is my home. So is New York City. Go figure.
|Maes Sand, the beach a few minutes walk away|
|Puffins here and below! A cycle ride away.|
|The extraordinary water of the North Sea where it meets the Atlantic - crystal clear|
|The retreat house, overlooking all of the above|
|Sunset close to 11pm|
|View outside my window at 3am—in the summer it never gets truly dark|