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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

New Beginnings, Old Promises

When I studied with Lucie Brock Brodio, she sent me heather taken from the Bronte property. Shortly afterward I placed the heather in a small bottle. It is one of many talismans I keep close. Postcard and poems, pictures and poems, a stone with one word carved into its surface: harmony. For thirty-one years I’ve made my living as a therapist. Last week I closed a 19 year old practice. This week I am living in one place. And today I opened my notebook at the appointed hour to recommit to my writing. While my writing has not been my living, it is my life. Reading and writing, drawing what I need from words. Once again, I made yet another vow to avoid distractions, not begin any new ventures. I have enough: the teaching of writing and Yoga Nidra, a small solo practice, and life coaching for artists.  No need to add labyrinth building. No need to add yoga teacher training. Take a book from the bookshelf, a favorite. Otherwise by Jane Kenyon. Open the page to any page: page 114, Who. read a few lines: these lines are written / by an animal, an angel, / a stranger sitting my chair…  I am a stranger to myself, my writer self. I begin again slowly by writing a handwritten note to a friend. Then I open my notebook and write a number of first lines until one resonates as truth. It takes many lines to locate the truth. All morning I work on a poem, sending a first draft as promised to my writer companion, Miriam. Then I open my notebook again and make vows, agreements, plans. Yes, they are still needed. My dreams are yet unfulfilled and there is much work to do. I always say one step, then one step. So much time passes between my steps. Not veering off the path, but necessary side steps, living a life: moving, divorce, death, marriage, moving again, children, grandbabies and dogs. Necessary travel. And silent retreat. Time spent by the ocean, in a field, downstream, on a ridge. But I return to my notebook, pen in hand, ink on my fingers. One step, one step. It is my way.

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