- What does the title of today’s session at home beside the window suggest to you?
- If it was the chapter-heading in a novel you were reading, or in a memoir of someone’s life (your life? my life?), in what part of the book would it occur?
- Do any books that you have read, over your long life, spring to mind?
Three enquiries, and today we are going to use these questions for Golden ThreadWork.
But first of all (for Real Reasons, trust me!) I suggest we put down our writing tools [mine’s a newly sharpened pencil; what’s yours today?] on the blank page of your opened ThoughtBook. [My current ThoughtBook is A4 unruled; what’s yours?]
And if you are sitting comfortably and safely (please make sure of that now),
I’ll lead you in a guided visualisation.
Click on this audio, or read the text below it.
When you have found a comfortable position, you may like to let your eyes close, as if your eyes were a pair of windows, and you have just pulled down the lightweight, gauzy blinds.. Let the fabric of the blinds be soft. Let your eyes rest for a moment. Let them be soft, and the muscles around them can be soft too.
Imagine that you were sitting beside a window, in your favourite chair. You are comfortable, warm enough and cool enough. You have had enough to eat and drink, and you feel safe, wherever you are.
In your mind’s eye, and with your eyes still closed or at least relaxed, I invite you to imagine the seat on which you are sitting, in this “waking dream”, because it can be different from your “real” seat. Or indeed you might choose to be standing up, or even lying down.
Now start to notice the window that is nearby.
How near to you is it – within touching distance, or further away?
Are you outside the window, or within? You get to choose, and you have time to adjust what you are seeing.
Now, keeping your eyes soft, let them explore what sort of window it is, what its boundaries are made of, how large are the panels of glass, or plastic or other material. (And what openings there are, or is it sealed shut?)
Now it’s time to look through the window to what’s beyond, and describe to yourself what, or whom, you can see. How well can you see the scene framed by the window, or is it hazy? Do you need to clear away any obstruction to your vision? You can take a moment to do that now.
And you can become aware of any imagined sounds in your scene, perhaps even inviting in your senses of smell and touch.
Is there stillness or any movement, in what you are seeing? Watch what happens. Is the scene changing, and how fast or slowly?
As you watch and notice, are you aware of anyone, or anything, seeing you? If so, do they recognise you? Do they respond to your presence, perhaps speak?
if you want to, you can pause the audio here, and let the myth unfold further, all the time aware that it is only a story, only a dream.
Or, if you are ready to return from where you have been, first – with your eyes still soft – return to the home of your body, the sound of your breath going in and out, any other sounds in the present moment, the feel of your hands lying heavy in your lap.
And gently allow your eyes to open, as you re-enter the here and now, and let yourself arrive.
Welcome back, just like this.
Visualisation & recording © 4 June 2020 Kathy McVittie Labrum
I hope that you enjoyed that experience.
If you’d like to, I encourage you to pick up your pen and spill any words, images, impressions or meandering prompts onto the page in whatever way the Muse moves, without effort, obligation, or any need for outcomes.
If you found the visualisation difficult or unpleasant, let it go (unless you want to BrainDump it onto the page as a Letting-Go-of-Experience Dump. I invite you to do this very gently, respecting your own skills in taking care of yourself.
You can go back to this work at any time, to re-read it with a new perspective. Remember that you, as author, always retain the option of writing “I choose to let this go now” with your signature /date.
As ever, it’s OK to take a short comfort break – so we are free to move about, get a drink – then to return to the eager page for the promised Golden ThreadWork.
So returning to the questions we considered at the beginning of the session, we can tune into our gift of free-flow writing. Using any, or each in turn, of these enquiries as a starting point.
- What did the title of today’s session at home beside the window suggest to you when you first read it, as you arrived at today’s session?
- And what did it offer to you during or after the guided visualisation?
- How much were you influenced by any of the window pictures that I’ve included? Not at all? Somewhat? Very much? Which?
With your responses to the above in mind, continue:
- If it was the chapter-heading in a novel you were reading, or in a memoir of someone’s life (your life? my life?), in what part of the book would it occur? Grand denouement? Introduction of the baddie? Arrival of the Lurve Interest? Early childhood? Old age? Preface? Index? Dust cover? Review section in The Guardian (or another paper or magazine? You could try to improvise a sample or example.
- Do any books that you have read, over your long life, spring to mind? Could you give a resume of their flavour or plot? Or convey just how they appeal to you, or appealed to the child/ teenager/sophisticate/”grumpy ole man” in you? Perhaps we can include Film (Movies, Cinema) in this exercise…
- Now do you have any ideas for further window beside-ings you could explore, as prompts, as plot settings, as inspiration for poetry, song or music? For play-scripts, films? (You choose …)
- If I only had the time… or perhaps you do?
- And there are Further Resources available at the end, including a Brainstorm of window styles and vocabulary for you to augment, and a set of UnRules to bear in mind during Golden ThreadWork.
Last time, towards the end of the session, we were considering affirming phrases that we can recognise in our own writing and that of others. You may like to look through what you have written (or read) today, and identify any affirmations that are particularly appropriate and helpful for you to adopt.
Mine, which I garnered during a workshop recently at Cambridge Buddhist Centre, is:
And let’s not forget to close today’s windows with:
Today I am grateful for:
Here’s a Brainstorm of window vocabulary for you to add to. It would be much longer if it included window “furniture”, like blinds, shutters, curtain rails, tassels, hooks, passementarie …
The following took me ten minutes to come up with. Do add more.
- Eye-browed (in thatched cottages)
- Everest Double Glazing
- Rear (of vehicle)
UnRules for BrainDumps & Golden Threadwork
As the writer Natalie Goldberg has suggested (I introduced her books a few weeks ago), we loosen up the flow of our output by remembering some of these “rules” (that are there to be broken):
- keep the hand moving;
- don’t think;
- feel free to write rubbish (and to break rules);
- no need to be tidy, nor to edit, nor to correct as you go along;
- lose control and let go;
- be as alive & sensory & sensuous as you choose;
- be explicit & specific about the particularity of things (“Sessile Oak” rather than “tree”).
We may like to ponder on these between sessions.
Earlier on, I wrote:
I suggest we put down our writing tools [mine’s a newly sharpened pencil; what’s yours today?] on the blank page of your opened ThoughtBook. [My current ThoughtBook is A4 unruled; what’s yours?]Kathy McVittie 2020
Locate the square brackets (two sets) to see how I often use them (especially in my handwritten ThoughtBooks, and less so when typing) to identify activities or themes that – at the time – are a side-alley (even a distraction) and that I may still want to return to another time.
Now is that time!
If you were to describe, or at least report, what writing equipment you use for this work , and what your current ThoughtBook looks like, then please share your words here, via the comments box.
You might also add when you started that particular ThoughtBook, whether you use one side or both sides of each sheet, whether – and how – you annotate your journallings. As writers we are curious about other people’s writing habits, if only to reassure us that our own techniques are just as valid, and twice as unique.
Please indicate that you are happy for your comments to be published. If you just want to leave a comment for the team, then just add “not for publication” and we will respect that.
© 2018 Kathy McVittie
A generous window, to close with
There are many poems and writings about windows, and I hope that you have dusted down a few today. You may have a favourite “window poem” that you want to share. Please do!
From my own file,”Poems to use with others”, I’ve retrieved this one by Pat Schneider. I offered it to friends in a face-to-face workshop in the Garden Cafe of Cambridge Universtiy Botanic Garden. That was back in December 2018 when we were able to meet freely like that in groups, drink tea, eat cake, hug, and laugh at close quarters.
The good news (another for the Gratitudes) to East Anglian readers is that the Botanic Garden is hoping to offer ticketed, pre-booked admission to those who are already Friends, starting 9 June 2020, and to general public a week later. An opening gate into a garden, to close this weekend’s post.
The Patience of Ordinary Things
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
Pat Schneider (b. 1934), from Another River: New and Selected Poems, Amherst Writers & Artists Press