Writer, author, memoir teacher. I write about the connections we find by giving each other the time and space to be heard.

A Pilgrim’s Progress

(Associate housing, Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL)

I’ve been thinking about pilgrimages lately. First, because I read Shawn Herron’s lovely book, A Thousand Miles to Santiago, about his journey along the Camino in France and Spain. Second, because I’m writing my next novel about the pilgrimage to the church of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa, Poland. And third, because I like to walk and all the noteworthy pilgrimages seem to require traveling on foot.

And fourth, because last month, I went on a pilgrimage to myself. I don’t like late winter here in the Northeast, with its gray skies and bone-chilling temperature. But I do like Florida when it’s not so nice here at home. And one of my favorite writing communities held a retreat there in March. If you’re a reader of my blog, you already know I am easily distracted and constantly trying to make room in my life for my writing and contemplative practice. This was the ideal time and place for me, and though it was not without some anxiety, I am pleased with my progress.

I made progress on my novel by going to the public library in the morning to write for two hours. (I need quiet and just can’t write in Starbucks – the music is too loud and I can’t not people watch!)

I made progress on my anxiety. I drove myself 200+ miles in an unfamiliar car on a six lane highway to the retreat center on the Atlantic coast where I shared meals and writing with people I had (mostly) never met. I walked and meditated every day, and sometimes meditated while I walked. I lived alone for over a week in a resort condo near Ft. Lauderdale, managing my days with no one to report to or work around. I learned quite a bit about how I handle being alone.

I came home refreshed and renewed, grateful for my people, my comfy house and my elderly affectionate cat.

So far, I’m keeping up with the daily writing and meditating and walking. Every day, a little more progress.

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