Legacy Letters and Spiritual Awakenings

I recently attended a Sisterhood Retreat at Camp Chesterfield. I have been curious about that place since finding out about it a few years ago. When a friend casually mentioned Camp Chesterfield during our conversation, I couldn’t believe I had no idea that a spiritual camp existed (since 1886!) just a few miles from my beloved Mounds State Park that I go to all the time.

I wanted to visit Camp Chesterfield immediately, but I hesitated because of my conservative religious doctrine where seances are taboo! Instead, I signed up for their mailing list and went on about my life. When I received the email about the Sisterhood Retreat, I thought it would provide a perfect opportunity to check the place out. So, I signed up with an open mind.

My adult daughter attended opening night with me, but when the spirit of past powerful women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and Kuan Yin spoke to us through the Mediums, it freaked her out and she refused to return!

I, on the other hand, was fascinated. I mean where else would you ever get the opportunity to hear words of wisdom from saints and women who have paved the way for us to stand on equal ground? Even if it was inspired by the Medium’s meditation on these women, it was divine messages delivered in the most entertaining format I have ever seen. I was spellbound. It literally felt like I was in a vortex. I thought they should record it for millions to watch on YouTube or take their show on the road to enlighten the world!

The whole Sisterhood Retreat was about light and love. The leaders of the event came across with authenticity and authority. Gentle spirits with a fierce passion for helping us be the best version of ourselves we can be. I can best describe it as a spiritual awakening. None of us would ever be the same. We came face to face with the infinite possibilities within us and the calling to shine our light in a world of darkness.

One of the event leaders, Reverend Vicki Corkell, did a presentation on Ethical Wills also known as Legacy Letters which, as a writer, was something I was eager to learn about. How had this not come across my radar before either?!

Rev. Vicki shared some examples of legacy letters with us, including President Obama’s touching letter to his daughters. Her presentation inspired me to create my own legacy letter to my family. I started by writing in the journal we made in the previous workshop!

I’m glad part of my legacy is a passion for learning, a cat’s curiosity, and an open mind to discover the fun experiences and life lessons that awaits on the other side of the comfort zone!

 

Meet Me in Montreal

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I followed an email link from Leonard Cohen’s family that led to a star-crossed love song the legendary song writer recorded called Traveling Light. I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy of songs and poems written for a poet’s love interest. I don’t know why it matters, but for some odd reason it does. Perhaps it’s lust to be a writer’s muse or maybe it’s immortality I seek?

Leonard Cohen’s songs get to me. His words and poetic rhythm unlocks a door in my soul where heartbreak, loneliness, and regret reside. His music wafts in and waltzes toxic emotions to the surface so they dissipate rather than destroy me. What a cathartic gift and legacy.

My late spinster aunt loved to listen to Gordon Lightfoot. She had all his CDs and would go to his concerts whenever he was within four hours driving distance. I never understood her fascination with him until now. He must have been her lyrical soul doctor like Leonard Cohen has been for me. God bless the music makers for they set our spirit free.

Hopefully, the stars will align for me to make it to Montreal in November. For someone with no stamps on their passport, like me, what an adventure that would be! What is life if not a daring adventure and celebration of using your gifts to the fullest as Leonard has shown us can be done with style and grace.

What follows is the email I received regarding the upcoming Memorial Tribute for Leonard Cohen. Meet me in Montreal to celebrate the life and music of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our generation!

The Cohen Family presents
TOWER OF SONG:
A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO
LEONARD COHEN

ELVIS COSTELLO, LANA DEL REY, FEIST, PHILIP GLASS, K.D. LANG,
WESLEY SCHULTZ AND JEREMIAH FRAITES OF THE LUMINEERS, DAMIEN RICE, STING, PATRICK WATSON, ADAM COHEN AND OTHERS TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF ICON’S PASSING

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6th 7:30 PM
BELL CENTRE, MONTREAL

The family of Leonard Cohen invites fans from around the world to join them, along with renowned musicians, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec in celebrating Cohen’s legacy for Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Nov. 6, 2017.

“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed: ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event do it in Montreal,’” said singer-songwriter Adam Cohen “I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”

The event will benefit the Canada Council for the Arts, the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec, and the Montreal Arts Council.

Tower of Song will mark the first anniversary of Leonard’s passing and commence a week of celebrations honouring Cohen in Montreal. As previously announced, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal’s new exhibit, “Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything,” will open to the public November 9. The exhibit was approved by the late songwriter before his passing and will celebrate Cohen’s life and work. Select media and top tier Tower of Song ticket holders will be invited to a preview of the exhibit on November 7.

TICKETS ON SALE THIS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd AT NOON (EDT) AT EVENKO.CA AND 1-855-310-2525.

If You Really Knew Me

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I attended a writing workshop yesterday led by three fantastic facilitators (Lorraine Marshall-Rey, Michael Brockley, and Jeffrey Owen Pearson). The workshop title was “Writing the Lonely Life” and the topic was loneliness, being alone, and writing. I will attend a writing workshop on any topic. I like to keep my claws sharp. Plus, I meet the most fascinating people at writing workshops. There seems to be an automatic trust among kindred spirits. After a few minutes getting to know each other, we put our vulnerabilities on the table like scalpels during open heart surgery.

One of the ice breakers the fantastic facilitators used was an exercise called “If You Really Knew Me”. We went around the room telling each other what they would know about us if they really knew us. We discovered that one of the facilitators (Mike Brockley) has over 700 “conversational” ties, each one with a theme or story. We learned that a couple writers struggle with depression, one writer just graduated and feels lost, another one used to be in a cult. I shared about overcoming a phobia of escalators and using that same fear-facing strategy to publish my writings that I had spent years putting in a box or throwing away.

After I left the workshop and thought more about the exercise, I thought about some other things I could have shared, like how I have a touch of OCD that prevents me from letting any canned goods be upside down in my cabinets or how I would rather read and listen to the rain than watch TV or how I redirected negative emotions of an abused childhood to write and publish books to help others that have gone through the same thing.

But then, if you really knew me, you would know I wouldn’t want to mention anything that seemed like bragging. It is a fine line we walk between sharing our stories to get to know each other better and staying silent to avoid sideways glances and shoulder shrugs.

Of course withdrawal is where loneliness begins and thus the need for workshops such as this one where we learn about anaphoras and ghazals, pair up to create couplets, dance, laugh, birth poems, and make new friends that helps fill the abyss of loneliness with the connection we all crave.

Write on.

WriterKat

Below is a poem my new friend Helen Townsend and I created at the workshop. We both created couplets separately, then when we paired up to put the poem together, we were in awe of how one line seemed to be responding to the other, almost as if the inner voice of strength was talking one through the fear (which was a word we both came up with when asked to list the cost of loneliness). It was a fun exercise. 

Defeat

I want to step out into light

but loneliness keeps me in a shroud of fear.

    Take off your eye glasses

    De-focus your fear.

I am a fist

of pain and fear.

    Twirl your precious stones

    let your fingers forget fear.

My face hides a

self-imposed prison of fear.

    Walk outside in inside-out-socks

    Your feet splash puddles of fear.

My strength is here

I don’t feel fear.

 

 

Honorable Mention

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“There is no dishonor in honorable mention.” ~ Mike Rothman

There was a time when honorable mention felt like losing to me…

“If she can’t win, she doesn’t want to play.” My cousin said those words about me when I was ten years old or so and a group of us kids were playing red rover or some similar game that I decided I didn’t want to play for reasons I don’t even remember. My cousin continued his berating, “It has to be her way or not at all.” He was talking to them about me right in front of me. I was furious, stomped back into the house and slammed the screen door to make the point that I was mad which probably just confirmed his point to the group. My cousin’s biting words stayed with me all these years. I think about it from time to time. Am I really that rigid that I don’t want to play if I can’t win? There have been many times in my life when I felt like that was true. I have never been into sports perhaps because I know I can’t win without training and I have no desire to train for any athletic event, not even hippity-hop when I was in the fourth grade. I was always last to get picked for the team and I really didn’t care. I would rather be sitting by myself somewhere coloring or reading a book.

Writing is a different story, sort of. I want to the be the best, do my best, but often feel like I fall short which used to prevent me from entering writing contests or attending big writer conventions where MFAs and bestselling authors abound. I remember the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Conference. I felt so inferior after coming home from that event. It took me months to get beyond my self-imposed limitations of thinking what makes me believe I have a chance of getting published when there are so many great writers who are struggling. Thank goodness self-publishing became popular and easily accessible or I would have probably never pursued publishing my writing.

Once I self-published, it was like breaking through an invisible barrier. Suddenly, I could say I was a published author. I began to see myself as a writer. I continued to study, read and write, becoming a little more confident with each poem and story I wrote. I began to enter writing contests, only a few that meant something to me. I remember the first time I won a writing contest, it felt like I won an Olympic gold metal. All I won was some random poster from the 70’s that became ashes along with all my journals, poems, stories and books when my house burned down a couple years ago.

After the fire, I got a new perspective about what is really important in life. I no longer wish to accumulate things. I would rather accumulate memories. I no longer write to “win” a contest or get published. I write to say what I feel I have to release into the world. If it resonates with someone, that is wonderful. I love when that happens both as a writer and a reader. But, I’m no longer in competition for the coveted “best-seller” title or winning any awards. I write because it is who I am and what I have to do to quiet the voices in my head. I write because I love the written word. Passionately.

When I got an honorable mention at the recent Mounds State Park Poetry contest, I felt that twinge of “first place” memory and smiled inside because I am in the game now, playing, having fun, right along with all the other writers who submit their art for something that is important to them.

Being willing to step outside your comfort zone and writing from your heart, that’s what makes you a winner!

Write on.

Kathy G

 

All Roads Lead to Our Destiny

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I am editing the paperback version of my memoir, “Looking for Lucky.” In one of the scenes I describe my boyfriend at the time as someone who looked like Robby Benson in Ode to Billie Joe. That made me curious about what Robby looks like now and whatever happened to him. What I discovered from a simple Google search shined light on pieces of his life that are important in my own life. Things like education, teaching, writing, romance, God, faith and spirituality…

The thing that has stayed with me most is how he and his wife who he calls his “best friend and life partner” are growing old together. They both have gray hair now which is a stark reminder of my own mortality. I sometimes think my young self is trapped inside an aging body. I suppose many people do which explains the billion dollar anti-aging industry. Seeing Robby aging with his wife is romantic and poetic.

Speaking of poetry, that was another surprising discovery. When I visited Robby’s website, I noticed a book written by his daughter Lyric Benson Fergusson who spent eight years in a monastery. The book title gave me a slight gasp, but then made me so curious to read it that I went on Amazon and purchased it immediately. The book is FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited! I love poetry and I enjoy learning about how other people see God and spirituality.

So here I am on a familiar road that leads to enlightenment, spirituality, God, poetry, writing and the wonders of life. It’s a beautiful place to be and reminds me that all roads lead to our destiny!

Write on.

Kathy G
#WriterKat

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year WriterKat friends! Did you include writing in your new year resolution plans? I did. I have several writing projects in store for 2016…

January 2016
My memoir Looking for Lucky launches in soft cover. The Kindle ebook version is available this month for FREE! It was actually a draft that I had to upload by the deadline in order to continue selling on the Kindle Select platform. That is a very effective way of getting past writer’s block and procrastination! A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to organizations that help runaways and homeless kids.

April 2016
Break The Cycle Volume III: Recovery – This will be the last in the Break The Cycle of abuse anthology series. Submissions are accepted through the end of January 2016, then I will get to work on putting it together for publication. If you are interested in contributing poems or short stories, please use the submission form at breakthecyclebooks.com

July 2016
Guerrilla Book Marketing – I am also a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach who has helped other writers promote their books. In this book, I will share some fun and free ways to sell more books!

November 2016
A top secret personal development book. Be sure to subscribe to my email list to be the first to know the juicy details!

Some of my writing projects for this year aren’t technically writing, rather the business side of writing. Writing books is great but isn’t the point to get people to read the books that you write and hopefully, pay a few bills or support your favorite causes! How do we make that happen? There are a zillion ways and I plan to tap into some fun and effective ways to market and sell books this year starting with a local authors meetup this Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Gas City library. If you are an author or aspiring author who is interested in meeting other writers and picking their brain about how they market their books, in addition to learning about some exciting upcoming opportunities and events for writers, you are invited to join us!

Write on,

Kathy G
#writerkat

P.S. Check out Hoosier Authors to learn about the new Indiana poet laureate!