Full contact listening—writing about it keeps me resilient

When I was little, I was convinced the old white pine tree next to our home and the puffy clouds in the sky were telling each other the most amazing stories. I thought that if I could just figure out the right way to listen, I’d be able to hear them. 

Tell me.
You're so tall—
oh tell me 
your stories
please.

I promise—
I will stretch to hold them.

Determined and achingly curious, my small arms and legs climbed that pine tree nearly every day. I can remember feeling as if I was trying to open my senses like a sunflower—all bright petals following sunlight—so I could catch cloud stories and tree tales.

Clinging to the sticky trunk, right ear pressed to smooth bark, left ear tilted to the sky, nose filled with resin and wet air, I was a tiny girl antennae on a wind-swayed pine. 

That was my first experience of full contact listening (which I now realize is me listening with my body.)

Did I eventually hear the tree and cloud stories? I did!

In the years before other people’s disbelief eroded my trust in the stories my body heard, I co created countless tree and cloud and girl stories.

Tree and cloud and
me—I am tiny 
but fierce with
belonging.

Years later, after navigating the saw-toothed gift…

…of recovering from sexual trauma, I rediscovered listening with my body.

Now, I regularly sense the conversations happening in the ecosystem where I live.

trees and clouds,

whispering grasses 
and laughing streams, 

murders of crows tangle 
with chimes of wrens

booming bullfrogs and 
creaking katydids talk 
to the night. 

Because I love it…

I experimented with adding writing to my listening practice.

I discovered that if I’m willing to let my body transmute sound, rhythm, and gesture into words on a page, the hand-on-pen, pen-scratching-paper act of writing restores me.

Listening with my body + writing refills resilience depleted by the intensity of the times through which we are living.

It’s such a relief.

If I feel my resilience slipping…

I may choose to notice with a specific kind of nourishment in mind.

(My Remembering Breath poetry project is one of those ways I’m choosing to notice for specific nourishment these days.)

Starting July 20

I’m facilitating a six-week course all about this very process. Each week we will take our exploring, noticing selves on an adventure to discover more about what and how we notice and to cultivate a deeper connection to the seat of our noticing—our senses.

The class Listening with Our Bodies: Writing Toward Resilience, is hosted through the (amazing!) Transformative Language Arts Network and is designed to benefit word artists of all kinds: facilitators, coaches, counselors, activists, educators, and explorers.

It will nourish people working to make change in their communities, who have been stretched thin by life, or who are at a crossroads in their personal growth explorations.

Consider joining us. I’d love to write with you!

(I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have. Just use the handy contact form and I’ll get back to you swiftly.)

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