*edited with brilliant idea from a patron below. Xo

Lovers,

I have some big news to share with you!

And some things to say about connection. The kind of thing I struggle to encapsulate in the blips of social media. I want to remember that I, that you, that we are so much more than a snapshot of a moment or a word burst of emotion or opinion.

So thank goddess for this space here, and thank you for being here with me. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

News-wise, this summer is erupting with exciting and meaningful travel for me, which of course, I can’t wait to share with you in story and image here. I want you to be part of this adventure, and I have a handful of ways you can climb into my suitcase! Don’t worry. There’s plenty of room. 

The short version is Irish Castle in August and pilgrimage to Sicily in September. Even this version makes me pause to get up and do a happy dance, plus pinch my arm to make sure it’s happening.

It is happening, and I’ve decided that the theme of this summer will be CONNECTION. That along with writing, that’s what I’ll be devoting myself to. 

I’ll be honest. Right now, it often feels more comfortable to shut down, tune out, and close myself off. It’s too much. Too much violence, greed, cruelty, destruction. And, I know that closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears and singing the Smurfs theme song isn’t going to make it all go away. I know that it’s a privilege to be able to even consider ignoring it. And I know that if I’m not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem.

I struggle to know what my part of the solution is. And I struggle with the oversimplified language of problem and solution. What I do know is that remembering wholeness heals. Remembering that we’re in this together. All the parts of me. All the parts of you. All the parts of them. Of us. The humans murdered in churches and schools and just walking down the street. The western tanagers and robins and hummingbirds making a ruckus in my backyard. The fir trees and leafy trees and butterfly bushes and irises. The coyote that eats cats in Mike’s parents neighborhood. 

Yes, wholeness hurts sometimes, a lot of the time. But it also heals. When I boarded the #14 bus at the end of March on Hawthorne Street, and the driver lurched forward before I could sit down, my face slammed into a metal bar next to the seat. To my shock, one woman murmured “sorry,” but no one else on the packed bus acknowledged what happened. Except one man, across the aisle, who took the time to look into my eyes, and ask, “Hey, are you okay?” 

I could only nod, but his acknowledgement allowed the tears to stream out of my eyes so my body could get some release and grounding. 

I’m so grateful for that man, that question, the reminder that in that moment of pain and shock, I wasn’t alone.

I want YOU to know that in this moment of pain and shock, you aren’t alone.

I want you to know that in this moment of excruciating beauty or the simple pleasure of biting into a perfectly crisp tart apple, you aren’t alone.

I want you to know that in this moment of overwhelm in caring for the other people in your life, you’re not alone.

I want you to know that in this moment of watching the spider crawl across your ceiling and listening to the clock tick and feeling inexplicably like screaming, you’re not alone. 

We’re here together. Intertwined. Connected. And participation or “doing something” can be as simple as asking, “Hey, are you okay?” Presence-ing connection. Making it real for someone else. Not allowing the perpetuation of the lie that if we just keep our heads down and keep going, we’ll be fine. 

So, connection is my word of the summer. 

When I started this story sanctuary a year ago, at the heart of it was this: I want you and me to feel less alone in this world. By being vulnerable with you, by celebrating the intimacy I treasure with other humans, mourning the loss of connection when it happens, and constantly seeking ways to authentically relate with all the life around and in me, with tenderness, curiosity, reverence, and playfulness. 

Because of connections, this sanctuary is still here, and magic is unfurling this summer.

First came the week at the Irish castle in August, an adventure coordinated by my amazing friend and fellow Gateless-trained teacher Tina, who in addition to being amazing, is also a patron here with us (thank you Tina!). She has gathered a group of wondrous humans to come together at a castle in County Limerick, to take turns facilitating creative salons for each other and soaking up the magic of our environs.

Then came an opportunity to go in September on a pilgrimage to Sicily, a chance to immerse myself in the culture of my southern Italian ancestors, in food and ritual and slowing way the F down to savor the business out of everything. Led by the phenomenal MaryBeth Bonfiglio. In addition to morning rituals, experiencing food as sacred pleasure, and surrendering to the mountains and the sea, I may also learn from a shepherd how to make cheese. 

And then came the thought that if I’m going to fly all the way to Ireland in August, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to fly home and then three weeks later fly back to Sicily. So, magic is in the works for the in between Maybe in Ireland or Italy, but maybe also in Scotland or England, or who knows! 

So how can you be part of this with me?

1. Simply by being here. Reading. Continuing as or becoming a patron. Commenting so I know my words are reaching you and what’s happening in your part of the world. I’m certain that food and adventure and connection themed writing prompts and reflections are coming, and I always love when you share your thoughts, creations, and dreams. 

2. Joining the “La Famiglia” tier as a patron. I created this special temporary tier for patrons, both because these adventures require practical funding, and because I know they’ll be so rich that I’ll have special things to share. I’ll likely keep this tier up through the fall/early winter. So if you’re new to the story sanctuary and want to jump in there, grazie mille! And if you’re already here and are able to jump to a new tier for a few months, I’d be delighted and grateful.

3. Airline miles. One immediate need is for me to get my plane tickets. I’ve already had a couple of beautiful souls offer to share flight miles with me, one of them another beautiful patron here (thank you, beauty!), and if you have any travel miles you’re not using to add to the mix, I would be over the moon. And over the ocean, in an airplane. Right now I have some Delta miles and Alaska Air miles to use, about a quarter of what I’d need for one way of my travel to Ireland, or home from Sicily. Or if you have a bunch on another airline that you’d like to contribute, please let me know. I welcome all possibilities with open, grateful arms. 

4. European connections. Last but not least, especially as the middle part of my trip evolves, if you have any European connections—places to stay OR people you love who might want me to do one of my DIY writing residencies, like the ones I posted about last summer, OR places I might facilitate a retreat or workshop—I’m all ears.

5. Invite others to the sanctuary. Brilliant new patron Melissa-thank you so much!-shared this post on social media, and that reminded me of one more way you can be part of this. If you know others who would appreciate being here as patrons or just following this adventure, people who already know me or people who don’t, please invite them! Send them a link. Share a particular piece of writing that moved you. Spread the word. This could be on Facebook, or a text or email, to one person or ten or whatever. All of that is enormously helpful.

I’m so grateful for the connections we have here and the connections that brought us here. I want to celebrate them, and welcome with reverence and delight the new relationships that will no doubt come from my travels this summer—with people, with landscapes, with food, with time, with being a global citizen. 

I’m grinning and tapping my feet with the jittery anticipation of experiencing and sharing it all with you, because it matters. I don’t know if you know Elizabeth Austen’s gorgeous poem “The Girl Who Goes Alone,” but the last line of it comes to mind right now.

‘The girl who goes alone says with her body/the world is worth the risk.”

Despite the word “alone,” that poem for me is fundamentally about moving beyond fear and into connection. Going out anyway and saying this world is worth the risk. That’s what I’m saying. This world is worth the risk.

Also, I want to know what connection means to you? Slowing down. Looking people in the eyes, looking people in the heart. Reaching out instead of shutting down. Asking a question with genuine curiosity instead of sealing up in assumption. Does it matter? What’s on your mind and heart about it these days? What would you add to the conversation? What else would you recommend I put in my heart suitcase for the summer? 

I love you, with all the love.

Jen

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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 48 exclusive posts
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Writings