Over the Mountain in October (October Newsletter 2017)

Please note that this is an excerpt from my full Whitney French Writes newsletter. You can read the full newsletter HERE or subscribe to my monthly newsletter HERE to receive these messages directly in your inbox.

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I've gotta take on some mountains this month.
Even when I'm not ready for it, I gotta go for it.

October is always elusive for me. I adore autumn, hands down my favourite month, but October is always an especially delicate month for me in my personal life. There are shadows of events that I have tried to push past but October pulls me back to that place. It's also the business-versary of Whitney French Writes, and when my first quarter begins. It's never one emotion with October, it is mountainous, I've come to accept. 

The thing I noticed while hiking in Banff for long periods of time is the way that my legs respond to hard impact with the ground. Continuous and relentless force. And I'm heaving through because of that peak, that apex is the goal. So that too is delicate and mountainous and a whole lot of weight and surreal energy and looming shadows in my everyday. It's hard to shake. My mantra to myself, a la Happy Business New Year, is to be a badass. 

Climbing up a huge mountain…feel like a badass
Cranking out tonnes of workshops…feel like a badass
Listening to my intuition and chillin' out…feel like —

So I'm looking for space in my mind to let balance be part of my mantra too. To be reminded to catch my breath a bit. I'm going to make it to the top. Hopefully. It's just at a pace that serves me best. 

How do you pace yourself in your busy (or not so busy life). I'm curious to know what is successful for you when you are up again a scary mountain. Does breathing deeply help? Maybe having a climbing buddy? Or even planning out the hike so you don't burn out.

Either way, I love love love hearing from you. Let's stay connected. Let's keep climbing, fam.

Until next time,

So Long Summer, Send in September (September Newsletter 2017)

Please note that this is an excerpt from my full Whitney French Writes newsletter. You can read the full newsletter HERE or subscribe to my monthly newsletter HERE to receive these messages directly in your inbox.


Consistency.


Autumn is my favourite season. Many mourn the end of summer but I welcome fall weather. I also welcome a chance to cool down and keep things consistent. I do admit this summer has been tricky and as a result I have not been as consistent with my newsletters as I want to be. At first, I got down on myself, then I got anxious when a month and a half would pass. Then I stopped and tried to remember, why did I start this newsletter in the first place?

Connection. 

I (used to) love sitting down and getting geared up for my newsletters. Somewhere along the way, it became a habit. A chore. But I lost sight of the purpose. I get to share with you dear reader, not just about what's happening with me, but also what's happening with you. So I want to usher in the new season with lightness and gratitude to everyone who's followed so far. Look at all the loving messages I've received in my inbox from real readers like you:

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Write here…

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I adore you all. Every like, open, comment brings life to the work and re-reminds me that this is how I connect with others. This newsletter is a blessing and I have been fortunate to be sharing and building meaningful connections when folks since 2012. After reading these amazing responses, I am falling back in love with my newsletters and I am recommitting myself to being consistent. And I'm always down for more responses, more feedback, and love on your end...if you feel compelled to.

Is there something that you do, either artistically or professionally that you used to love but it has become a chore? How can you fall back in love with that thing? How can we practice consistency together? Until October (and maybe even sooner) I'm out...

Frenchie hugs!

Shazaam Poetry Slam at St. Teresa School

On May 31st, the students from St. Teresa Catholic School threw down a most epic in-class poetry slam. These grade eights, after six days of brainstorming, writing, and practising created a repertoire of poetry. Topics ranging from sports, moving away, their favourite pet rock, hunting, overcoming fears and going to high school. It’s always a pleasure running these types of workshops and with my fabulous co-facilitator-in-crime, Ebti Nabag we were able to explore both written and visual arts so students could express their fullest selves.

 St. Teresa student writing their spoken word piece

St. Teresa student writing their spoken word piece

The Shazaam! program is a unique spoken word and photography initiative within schools through Lakeshore Arts which allows professional arts to work with students and teachers to examine identity through in visual and performance arts. Lakeshore Arts really hosts incredible workshops for the community.

 

Emotions were high on that final day of the program: some students were beyond enthusiastic, and ready to show off their stuff. Others, a bit more intimidated by the stage were nervous but still confident and determined to share their story. Once all the pencils were used up, all the words written, all the prep and practice was complete, they were ready. The slam was on!

 

It was an honour to be the host and our judges were blown away by the talent, performance and the content of the poems. Some of the highlights from our winners include:

 

“the insecurities we have

do not define us

the colour of our skin

should not divide us.”

 

 

“once you find who you are

don’t think you’re forsaken

be yourself in this world

because everyone is taken.”

 

Congratulations to our slam winners: Elijah, Dominika, Natalie and Mackenzie.
Special mention to: Szymon, Raquel, Sarah, and Zach.

 Our slam champs right here!

Our slam champs right here!

It was a very special day. After the slam, the students were buzzing and celebrating, and most importantly, supporting each other throughout the whole process. Sometimes I can be sceptical about the whole “art as competition” thing, but these young artists were like a small community, uplifting one another instead of fighting to be number one. That was the real highlight for me, to see how unique and special each poem and each person was and how all the students made space for their peers to shine.
 

Much respect to the Shazaam crew, Thom & Alessandra for their incredible support and Kate for the photography. Big up Ms. Fortades for allowing us the opportunity to work with her students AND for her amazing rubric rap (so fly!).

If you are a teacher or principal interested in have a Whitney French Writes workshop in your school, book a workshop HERE. Or, if you are interested in the Shazaam program, check them out at www.lakeshorearts.ca

 

 

Immature -- I'm Mature

I'm mature
(
Im)mature
Immature


I made it to another decade. Give thanks. It's a blessing, and yet I feel like now is the time to level-up and adult-up hard now that I'm 30. I look to the sky, to my ancestors, to Creator for guidance.

I'm a kid at heart!
How am I gonna pull this off?

And who are the ominous "they" with their societal expectations of me now that I've been breathing on this planet and took thirty trips around the sun? What does this say about my small business? What does this say about my writing? What does this say about how I interact with people...or my returning Tetris addiction?

It's self-imposed pressure but pressure nonetheless. I feel like all my clothes are things that a twenty-something wears, or a teenager wears, or a really small senior citizen wears. And it's not just the perception of looking young that I'm insecure about its the perception of acting young. 

I'm so over my twenties very much excited to join the Dirty Thirties but there's a lingering feeling that I'm not mature enough. This all came up on me so suddenly, although I've been calling myself thirty since I was 28. 

Some musing I suppose. It's weird writing about age because it's just a number.

And I'm not "freaking out" about aging. Hell, my first gray hair was celebratory in my household (ask my sister) because it means I made it! As someone who lives with chronic illness and has visited too many hospitals, trust me when I say, thirty is a milestone and it's survival. 

But I can still be a kid, right?

I need validation, darn it! (how childish)

 

Tree Sessions — First New Moon Workshop

 We got really creative during the last Tree Sessions Vernal Equinox Workshop. Now I'm inspired to do another one in honour of the New Moon in May

We got really creative during the last Tree Sessions Vernal Equinox Workshop. Now I'm inspired to do another one in honour of the New Moon in May

I’ve adopted a New Moon practice of writing down the things that do not serve me, and burning them in my toilet. Surely, I’m not the only one playing with fire in my bathroom on a Wednesday night. This ritual for cleansing was showed to me by a woman who goes by the name of Healthy Diva and later I saw different iterations popping up in various blogs and books on transitions. Some call it ceremony, others call it witchcraft, some even refer to it as gypsy tricks but either way, I cannot deny the magic in watching the fire peel at the material holding the things that I fear. Those negative thoughts, the self-talk curl and sizzle under the flame. That moment of release is what I now long for as the next New Moon approaches. I get amped. I get to press that refresh button. I get to start a new cycle.

 

But I’ve noticed something. These deeply personal practices rarely involve elements of my writing practice. Despite being a person who uses words not only to create a career but also to create a sense of the world around her, I’ve overlooked the things that do not serve me in my art. And let me tell you, there are a lot of things I could write on that paper: imposture syndrome, inspiration anxiety, financial stress, deadlines, picky clients or your run-of-the-mill work crisis. None of these things have made it to the blaze. That changes tonight.

 

Yes, the New Moon was yesterday, and I celebrate with lessons and dialogue with friends and community. Tonight is the burning.

 Photo credit: Noah Silliman

Photo credit: Noah Silliman

 

Tree Session has had three fabulous runs: Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox, all in which I’ve met and shared space with such unique writers in the city. Usually, I’d wait until the Summer Solstice to run another workshop but I was so fired but from the last one, I can’t wait. I’m cheating. Shout to the lovely Nerissa who inspired me with the idea to follow the moon. Hence, New Moon in May:

 

 

On May 28th I invite new and returning writers to celebrate New Moon in Gemini. This lunar cycle begins in deep spring burgeoning on the cusp of summer. It is my intention for us to move deeply into our writing practice. Here we will honour the subtle transition, observe that space of not-quite-spring-not-quite-summer. We will gather in the company of each other and warm to the in-between.

 

When I started Tree Sessions, I made a commitment to self and community to ease into the magic of such transitions. I made a contract with self and community to replace productivity with patience. Replace schedules with cycles. Replace timelines with transitions. I admit it started off ok, but old habits need constant ritual to keep me grounded. I need this Tree Session just as much as my participants do (maybe more!). To stay true to my commitments, I’m branching off into new territory, and it feels natural to want to explore not only the unique energies of the solstices and the equinoxes but to hold space for lunar rhythms also.

 

Use this New Moon phase in Taurus as a month marker. A celestial save the date if you will. We are one full cycle away from the next Tree Sessions. Get yourself geared up, mentally prepped, spiritually engaged to come together and refresh our writing practice. It’s not easy work. But I guarantee it’ll be fruitful.

 

Let’s burn up what’s holding you back. I hope you’ll join me.

Registration is now open
Email for inquiries: whitneyfrenchwrites@gmail.com
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