After a two-year hiatus, I’m returning to Esalen

I'm kicking off the holiday season by going back to Esalen in Big Sur California tomorrow to take a five-day poetry workshop with Joseph Millar. But I've made up my mind already. Just being back at Esalen after a two-plus-year break is all that matters. Of course I love being there to write. But what I really I love is just being there - period. I've worked with Joseph many times before, usually when he leads poetry workshops with Ellen Bass and his wife Dorianne Laux - a fantastic trio of poetry brilliance. He also helped edit a lot of the poems that appear in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. He has a wonderful gift for honing in on the good and what can be improved about the poems he hears and reads. Here's a little information about Joseph that I lifted from his website: Joseph Millar's first collection, Overtime, was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. Millar grew up in Pen … [Read more...]

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The gratitude challenge

My Facebook friend, Dorothy Sander, invited me to take the five-day gratitude challenge and I accepted. That means for each of five days I need to post three things I'm grateful for and invite three people to join the challenge. This was a real challenge for me because I don't normally think about my life in terms of gratitude - especially in a list. I've thought of benefits and gifts that have come my way. I also very much appreciate my family and friends who have stuck with me through some extremely tough times. So it's not as though I'm ungrateful. I just found it hard to put the words down. Even so, I have completed my list of fifteen. Three went up on my Facebook timeline yesterday, three went up today, and I will post the rest in the next three days. My Grateful List  For being with my godson Hugo and his brother Oscar and their mum and grandmum this morning. We got to show 4-year old Oscar the paleontology exhibit at the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. What a … [Read more...]

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The talking rock

My five days of writing at Esalen at Big Sur, California were some of the most wonderful days of my life.  I wrote five poems and heard some valuable new writing information, of which I plan to share with you over the next couple of weeks. Esalen is getting more and more into the twenty-first century. They've added Internet service in the dining room; this is where everyone congregates whether there is a meal or not.  We were lucky to have the same Internet service in our meeting room as well. However, there is no cell phone access anywhere on the property. I usually take a walk first thing, as I do at home. Last year I saw a young man, probably an Esalen staff person, standing on top of a large rock by the side of the highway talking on his cell phone. So I decided to investigate and, sure enough, I got cell phone reception.  It was not the best, with  only three little bars, but it was definitely enough to make a call. Also, it helped that the young man told me which directio … [Read more...]

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What’s happening this week

Whew! It’s been a long and hard three months – actually two weeks short of three months – but well worth the effort. After Lucky Press went out of business on April 30, I was fortunate to find a new and most wonderful new publisher Dream of Things in record time. Since then – about the early part of June – we have been working at getting the book and all the ancillary products ready to go. I think when this Friday comes along, when I’ll have a new paperback edition and updated bookmarks in hand, I’ll breathe a big sign of relief. They will be ready just in time for my book selling opportunities over the weekend and next week at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference where I’m participating on two panels and during my annual poetry workshop and retreat at Esalen, Big Sur California. What great timing for a stay at Esalen! It’s a perfect place to unwind. Because I know how tired you must be at hearing all of this stuff since April 30, I’m bringing a real breath of fresh air to C … [Read more...]

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The famous black bomber jacket

It’s getting cold enough for heavy jackets especially when I go to the gym early in the morning. And I have the perfect one – Paul’s black bomber. I've written about it, I have vivid memories of Paul wearing it, and since he died I’ve worn it many times. But, I’ve never shown it off until now. I’m happy to say it still looks fresh and new – no major holes, no fading. I guess it likes hanging in my office closet, transformed from the closet Paul once used. Hopefully, it will stay in this condition for many years to come. How about that orange lining? Black Bomber Swaddled in this black bomber jacket all weekend, I am safe from the Big Sur chill. It’s too large for me. And that’s okay. It was Paul’s. I bought it for him years ago at American et Cie on La Brea before he went crazy and decided to leave us way before his time. I like how it snuggles me, like he’s in there too giving me a hug. It’s the only piece of his clothing I have left. I’ve given away the rest: his f … [Read more...]

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Back from Esalen Institute (Big Sur, CA)

After almost a seven-hour drive, I arrived home Friday evening after a wonderful five days of writing poems, chatting with old friends, hearing some brilliant poems by very talented poets, soaking in the hot sulfur baths, walking Highway 1 north to the South Coast Center, and eating healthy Esalen garden food. Unfortunately the long drive home in sometimes very heavy traffic almost erased all that Esalen wonderfulness. I did take a few photos so I'll have reminders. This time, rather than take the usual Big Sur ocean and cliff scenes, I gravitated to the many succulent garden areas on the property - some in pots and some in the ground. These gardens were new to me. Like the rest of us water-challenged gardeners, now Esalen is also doing its part to conserve. Of course I couldn't resist the little white Buddha or the tree masks I passed everyday on my way back and forth to my workshop room. … [Read more...]

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Esalen (Big Sur, California) here I come!

I’m looking forward to going to Esalen at Big Sur, California on Sunday. I’ll be there for five days to attend a poetry workshop led by Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar. I’ve taken this workshop several times before so I know what to expect – lots of poetry writing, sharing what we write late each day, and always very gentle, encouraging feedback. I’ll also know several of the people there. Like me, they are Esalen and poetry junkies. Although I usually like to go to Esalen at least once a year, this will be my first time in almost two years. Perhaps the work of my book got in the way last year – definitely a poor excuse. Because my mantra is always: “Take care of myself,” I never should have let myself skip a year. But I’ll make up for it very soon. Usually I go to Esalen without my husband, Bob. The last time he went was to celebrate my sixtieth birthday there. Here’s the piece I wrote about that time over a decade ago. Turning Sixty As sixtieth birthdays go … [Read more...]

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