Remembering “Stories from the Heart I” – February, 2002

I’d been writing life-stories for about a year in 2002, when Story Circle Network announced its first National Conference: Stories from the Heart in Austin, TX. I, a shy  writer and rare traveler, made plane reservations to fly to Austin-Bergstrom Airport. I knew I needed to go–a strong nudge from the universe, I’m certain–and that my quiet life-style was not going to keep me home as it often did. Some women from my online writing circle 2 would be there–Marie Buckley, the facilitator, Kara Flathouse and Tricia Stevens, with whom I felt connecting threads–and I looked forward to meeting women in person that I knew, until then, only from the internet.

A heady three days well-describes my experience with the attendees, the workshops and leaders, the energy, the Open Mike readings, as well as seeing a little of Texas for the first time. I still recall many moments from that conference from arrival to airport departure. Yet, there is one now-favorite moment that I am reminded of each day when my eyes once again enjoy the beauty of these ceramic pieces in my living room.

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As door prizes were awarded during one of our luncheons, we applauded as each woman’s name was drawn and she stepped to the podium to accept a gift-wrapped package. Several gifts were presented and then I was stunned when my name was called. With delight, because I never won gifts, I walked forward to shyly accept my prettily wrapped gift.

Back at my luncheon table, I loosened the tape (yes, I’m one of those slow un-wrappers!), removed the paper and folded it up to probably use again, then opened the box, which was weighty. I peeked into the tissue within and lifted out one of the ceramic pieces in the photo.

Member Rebecca Roberts had crafted those pieces. Each contains seeds that are noted on the back: ginko, maple spinners, and the third has unfortunately fallen away. When I shake one as if it’s a rattle, the seeds within give a pleasant, unique sound, depending on the size of the piece and type of seeds within. I was initially thrilled with the beauty of these pieces and still am, noting them as another of the abundant gifts Story Circle Network brought me in those early years and during each year that followed.

When I arrived home in 2002 and continued to become more committed to writing, I grew to appreciate these beautiful pieces on a much deeper level. These days, when I pick up one of Rebecca’s pieces and shake it, I’m reminded that these beautifully-crafted pieces of nature, clay and seeds, are rich reminders that within myself are also seeds: for many more stories to write as part of my legacy.

 

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About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Gifts, Grace, Gratitude, Mystery, Simplicity. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Remembering “Stories from the Heart I” – February, 2002

  1. I’m so happy we have our Story Circle network and got to meet you when I braved the trip to this year’s conference. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful piece, Mary Jo! (And the ceramics are too.)

    Like

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