Workbook: Section 1: Loose Ends
Here is Section 1 of the Workbook, which corresponds with Chapter 1 of the story.
You will need a lined notebook and a pen for the writing exercises. I own a timer that allows me to clock my writings. You may want to purchase one for yourself, but all you really need is a watch. Later there will be other kinds of exercises requiring different materials. The reasons for writing these exercises are: (1) to see your words on the page, (2) to express yourself in writing and verbally, (3) to vent, (4) to recall events from the distant past, (5) to allow your subconscious to speak to you—if you let go and don’t think too much, (6) to learn more about yourself, and (7) to have fun. If you find you are dredging up material that is too painful, you should seek the assistance of a professional therapist.
So let us begin. In the following exercises, I want you to write about Wonder and Regret—the theme of “Loose Ends,” the first chapter in this book. Pick one exercise from this section, and then if you have time, a second one.
Exercise 1: When I was young, my mother told me a story about her mother, who sliced an apple across the middle and showed her the star formed by the bisected apple seeds. That small incident awakened my mother to the wonders of nature. As an adult, she wrote a poem called “Star Flower in the Fruit.” Similarly, my mother cracked open pieces of slate and showed me fossil ferns, and I’ve been a nut for fossils ever since. Can you remember something your mother did to awaken your sense of wonder? Take out your notebook and pen. Write for at least five minutes. Try to write longer and see where it takes you. It’s okay if your writing turns away from the topic and goes in a different direction. Read aloud what you wrote, even if you are alone.
Exercise 2: Do you believe in fairies? Have you ever seen a fairy or something that other people don’t see? Write for ten minutes about your experience.
Exercise 3: In Chapter 1, my story begins when my mother is dying, and I cannot tell her I love her. Not only can I not utter the words, but there’s unfinished business between us. I’ve never come clean about the anger I harbored toward her. As a result, I’m not clear about my love for her either. If your mother is gone, do you have any unresolved issues or regrets? If you do, make a list. Pick out one item that has some energy in it and write for at least ten minutes. If you have no regrets, write for ten minutes about why you have none. Now read aloud what you wrote.
Exercise 4: Scars. Most of us carry scars from early childhood—physical or psychological. I have one obvious one. The end of my right index finger is missing from playing “Zombie” in sixth grade. I ran through the cafeteria doors as another kid was running toward me and my finger was caught in the hinge of the door. Psychologically, I carry the scar from my parents who told me repeatedly, “Don’t speak unless spoken to.” Women my age remember that one. Do you? Take your notebook and pen. Think about either a physical scar or a psychological scar and write for at least fifteen minutes. Tell how the scar happened and how it has affected you throughout your life. If you still want to write more, address the scar you didn’t write about first, and now write about it. Read aloud what you wrote. If you’re with a friend, it is okay to talk about your experiences, but don’t say, “Oh, your writing is so good.” This isn’t about writing well. In fact, I encourage you to write what you might consider “junk.” If you start thinking you must write well, that will stifle the flow!
1. Take off your adult hat and park it at the door when you write. Put on your imaginary Mickey Mouse ears or your Harry Potter wizard’s hat. Now you can write without the inner critic chattering away in your ear.
2. Walk outdoors for ten or twenty minutes before you sit down to write. Breathe deeply. This will shake the wrinkles out of your brain. Blankness is good, for it allows your subconscious thoughts to come forward.
3. Don’t mark out sentences that sound stupid and awkward. It’s important to keep your pen moving.
4. Don’t stop to think. If you can’t think what to write next, repeat the last few words over and over until something new pops into your mind.
“Loose Ends” is about my awakening to the unseen world. It is about wonder, trust, and faith. It’s also about the birth of conflict. Writing can help us recall early memories. In this resources section, I bring you a classic book on writing and my favorite books on fairies.
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, (Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1986). This is Goldberg’s first writing book, a slim volume that every writer needs in her library. It defines the kind of writing that we do in this workbook of exercises as “writing practice.” Natalie Goldberg lives in Taos, NM, and gives writing workshops. For a complete listing of her books, tapes and workshops, see her website: www.nataliegoldberg.com.
Healing with the Fairies, Doreen Virtue, (Hay House Inc., 2001). Doreen Virtue is best known for her book, Healing with the Angels and her angel cards. She is a spiritual doctor of psychology who teaches about angels and fairies in her workshops and audiotapes. This book is the true story of her introduction to the fairy realm at a critical stage in her life, when she broke up with her first husband and met her new husband, who was a true soul mate. She credits the fairies for guiding the two of them together. Virtue also has developed a set of forty-four fairy oracle cards. Her books and materials can be obtained through many bookstores and her own website: www.angeltherapy.com.
The Real World of Fairies, Dora Van Gelder, (Quest Books: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1977). This little gem is a true first-person account by a young woman who later, as Dora Kunz, cofounded Therapeutic Touch. This is the most enchanting book I have ever read about many kinds of nature spirits: earth fairies, garden fairies, tree spirits, mountain fairies, water fairies, fire fairies and air fairies. As a young woman, Van Gelder could see and talk with these fairies. Her descriptions are unforgettable.