Welcome to my blog..

"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty

When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.

I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.

As of September 2013 I started teaching writing as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While was blessed for the opportunity, after four years of being an adjunct, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in NYC and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again. As of 2018, I also started leading writing retreats to my beloved Orkney Islands. If you ever want two weeks that will restore your soul and give you time and space to write, get in touch. I am leading two retreats this year in July and September.

I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.

I now work full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, editor and writing retreat leader. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.

Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.

For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

In 2017, I launched a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. You can also contact me through that site.

In May, I directed my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which now includes an award-winning chapbook of my short-story White shoe lady, which you can find on the sidebar. I also have become a certified yoga instructor in the Kripalu lineage. What a year!

And FINALLY, I have created a website, which I hope you will visit, The Unadapted Ones. I will keep this blog site up, since it is a record of over 8 years of my life, but will eventually be blogging more at the website, so if you want to know what I am up to with my writing, teaching, retreats and so on, the site is the place to check (and to subscribe for updates). After eight years I realized, no, I'm never turning into One Thing. So The Unadapted Ones embraces the multiplicity that comprises whomever I am, which seems to always be shifting. That may in fact be reality for everyone, but will speak for myself here. So, do visit there and thanks for coming here, too. Glad to meet you on the journey...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Moonshots, yoga, and writing retreat on Westray

I woke up to see a post of the broadcast from the Apollo 11 flight to the moon fifty years ago. Watching bits of it made me cry. I remember watching it with my mother back in 1969, tired because I was 6 years old, she was waking me up to see Neil Armstrong step on the moon. They looked so fragile, black and white snowmen ghostly, bouncing lightly on the surface like they might fly away, but there they were on the moon, and the adults were excited. I think to me at that age it seemed like a dream. But I knew it was important.

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

Maes Sand

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

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