~WHAT I LEARNED IN GUATEMALA~
I recently returned from a writing workshop/retreat in Guatemala. Let me just say this: the scenery was stunning. The location and people were warm, colorful, and in most cases: inspiring.
Reflecting on my time there has generated this list of things I wanted to be sure to share.
The idea of a retreat is to:
Renew, recharge, reconnect.
We’ve been running ninety-to-nothing for a long time now. We’re pandemic-weary, covid-fatigued, and anxious to connect. A retreat should afford us the opportunity to do that.
Self-care might be a big buzz word these days, but…
What about creative care?
We must take care of our creative person, the vessel who does all of this inventing.
My Reiki therapist recently noted my sacral area (the seat of creativity) was ‘ping-pinging’ with activity, but was eclipsed by something dark–a sheathe. That’s a problem. That darkness…well, it needs to be lightened. Her suggestion?
It doesn’t have to be long or involved. 5-10 minutes is all. A deep breath. A few moments alone. Releasing energy actually allows more to bubble up. We are a conduit of activity; we channel creativity through ourselves to make art. We are the instrument. Personally, I fear I may crash soon. Why did I get to that point?
Why not take care of me? Why not take care of YOU?
Am I doing this? Are YOU?
It became clear for me in Guatemala that they answer was no. I cannot be a receptacle to creativity if I don’t feel cared for. I cannot be imaginative and forth-giving if I don’t feel emotionally and physically safe, supported, and nurtured. A creative who feels drained cannot produce.
Deep work must begin.
My plan is to commit to:
Nature always grounds me. I’ve gotten away from this practice because, quite frankly, the gym opened back up. I was no longer ‘forced’ to exercise outside. The gym was warmer. No icy patches to slip on. Now that it’s spring, the weather is better. Immersing myself in the tiny intricacies of nature will do me wonders. Tip: alone. No friends. Maybe no podcasts. The sounds of nature, children at play, my own thoughts. Perhaps music.
A Creative Check-In.
I’m not sure how I’ll do this. Reiki? Journaling? Meditation. Yoga? I already do two of these things regularly. Can you guess which I need to work on? Maybe this means I zone-out, ask myself: ‘what are you doing to fuel your creativity?’
Eliminating Toxic People.
Let’s face it: some people are not for you. You are not for everyone. There’s no rule that says you must force any relationship. If it doesn’t feel right, step away.
Spending Time with Those who Nurture & Support.
It doesn’t have to be that you are adored and your ego stroked all the time. But a creative individual requires her ideas to be heard, supported, coaxed, challenged in a way that brings insight and a spark. Find the sparks–the motivators–in your life. Here’s a group of some of my sparks.
Other, self-explanatory things.
Eat right and regularly. Fruits and vegetables, plenty of water. Graze. When the blood sugar is off (from lack of water, sleep, or food), we get wonky, cranky. Who can generate creative things then? Move thy body. It could be daily walks, yoga, or more intense cardio; I always feel better with movement. Sleep more. Be mindful about how much time is spent on social media/looking at screens (it wears me down, makes my eyes tired). Rest when tired. This doesn’t mean sleep. It might mean staring out the window at the trees or listening to instrumental music. It might mean reading for pleasure.
The Bottom Line:
As we awake from our winter slumber, we’re reminded of the aches and pains, those things we haven’t tended to for awhile. Are you honoring the instrument that is YOUR creative force?
You can’t be everything to everyone everyday.
Rest. Read. Nap. Write. Spend Time in Nature. Surround Yourself with Nurturing Souls.
Let me know what you’re committing to! Respond here in a comment, or find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
~Leslie : )
After nearly a decade of bringing great authors and their books right here, every Wednesday, I am shifting my focus a bit.
You can find all of my bookish suggestions, reviews, and more on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing reels and blurbs about books, what I’m reading, and even writing.
Want something from the archives? Just go to the search/magnifying glass on this website and type in the author or title you’re interested in, I might have it!
Here’s a glimpse of what you might have missed on Instagram:
Psst! You can share this on Twitter, too. Tweet
Keep scrolling to learn more:
MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness & Memory is ‘making the rounds’ with publishing houses. This book has been in my heart for years. It’s about my mother’s devolve into psychosis when I was 10; the body, mind, houses and homes (she was an interior decorator), our estrangement, breaking the cycle, her suicide, my complex grief.
It’s time for this story to make its way into the world.
Learn more about MODEL HOME in this Psychology Today Q&A with Caroline Leavitt.
~Represented by Catalyst Literary Management~
I’m grateful for this essay with Read Her Like an Open Book, which goes into some detail about the authors I’ve hosted over the years as well as my writerly journey. You might like this post I shared in December 2021 about an end-of-an-era
Occasionally, I’ll have an author interview published in a literary journal. I’ll be sure to share that with you, too.
- In conversation with Mary Laura Philpott, author of BOMB SHELTER: A Memoir in Essays (Atria Books, April 12, 2022). This interview originally published in Hippocampus Magazine, March 2022.
- In conversation with Siri Hustvedt, author of MOTHERS, FATHERS, & OTHERS (Simon & Schuster, December 2021) This interview originally appeared in The Rumpus February 21, 2022.
- In conversation with Dr. Galit Atlas, author of EMOTIONAL INHERITANCE (Little, Brown Spark, January 25 2022), Hippocampus Magazine
A conversation with Kim Adrian, author of TWENTY-SEVENTH LETTER OF THE ALPHABET to appear in The Florida Review. This one is unique from a structure and theme perspective.
Also! An interview with Marie Myung-Ok Lee in The Millions about her novel, THE EVENING HERO, available in May from Simon & Schuster.
Later: In Conversation with Maud Newton, author of the highly-anticipated ANCESTOR TROUBLE, to appear in Hippocampus Magazine, likely in May.
And…a conversation with Jokha Alaharthi, author of BITTER ORANGE TREE: A Novel in Adroit Journal.
I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, on Wednesdays, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications. On Fridays, I’ll share any recent published fiction in this space as well.
There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.
Did you know I dabble in photography?
Several pieces have been published in journals and some recently published in Invisible City, the MFA magazine of San Francisco and also Memoir Magazine.
I was recently accepted to the Kenyon Review Summer Writer’s Workshop and will be working on CNF with Terese Marie Mailhot, which will be a thrill and honor.
I’m also busy visiting local bookstores, checking out cool towns, architecture, snapping photos, and you know…all kinds of goodness that brings me joy.
What I’m reading:
DON’T WORRY: 48 Lessons on Relieving Stress & Anxiety by Zen Buddhist monk Shunmyo Masuno.
What I’m listening to:
My inner voice and intuition. You know how sometimes the universe just ‘calls’ you? Well, that’s happening. Sometimes the world brings you things–you’re destined for and there’s something like that right now in my life. Also, in yoga, there’s a mudra about focus, patience, self-confidence, and intuition. It’s about mindfulness. I’m trying to keep all of that at the forefront.
In the meantime, catch me on:
Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.
. Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.
Let’s walk this bookish path together.
Find me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Bookshop.org. Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.
Learn more HERE.