Cool and unexpected.
Isn’t it delicious when life does that?
February 1, 2023—Waxing Gibbous moon in Cancer
We are, always, poets, exploring possibilities of meaning in a world which is also all the time exploring possibilities.
—Margaret J. Wheatley
Joyous Imbolc/St. Brigid's Day to all who celebrate!
This threshold between solstice and equinox always feels like the true start of the new year. To celebrate, I’m spending the day immersed in words—writing words for this first Substack missive of 2023 and reading the compassionate, truth-speaking words of Margaret J. Wheatley. (I return to her books over and over because the way she thinks makes me think. Do you have someone like that who inspires you?)
Spending the day this way feels like the perfect act to seal my intention to devote myself to tending and nurturing language that transforms. I’m finding hope in thinking about how this year I will be experimenting with nurturing transformative language in a few interesting, unexpected ways.
Not “struggling through it alone”
One of those ways is refocusing (or maybe finally focusing?) what I’m offering in this Substack space. Margaret Wheatley so clearly defines how I’d like to focus this publication in this excerpt from her still incredibly timely book Turning To One Another, I’m simply sharing it:
As the world grows more strange and puzzling and difficult, I don’t believe most of us want to keep struggling through it alone, I can’t know what to do from my own narrow perspective. I know I need a better understanding of what’s going on. I want to sit down with you and talk about all the frightening and hopeful things I observe, and listen to what frightens you and gives you hope. I need new ideas and solutions for the problems I care about. I know I need to talk to you to discover those. I need to learn to value your perspective, and I want you to value mine. I expect to be disturbed by what I hear from you. I know we don’t have to agree with each other in order to think well together. There is no need for us to be joined at the head. We are joined by our human hearts.
—Margaret J. Wheatley
I’d like us to co-create conversations so, as Wheatley says above, we’re not “struggling through it alone,” and where we can “think well together.”
For this year, I plan on focusing our conversations around this (eclectic-seeming) gathering of topics:
Nature, both human and wild
Language, our relationship to it, how it creates the cultures in which we live, and other perspectives as they arise
Writing as a practice for discovery and transformation
Cultivating and tending resilience
Being (even if it’s at some point in the distant future) a human of deepening years
Here’s how I imagine this will unfold:
I’ll write about what I’m seeing, feeling, learning, and noticing—my emerging questions, connections, realizations
You write back with whatever contribution feels right—continue the conversation, take it deeper, or move in a new direction
We turn to each other, listen and discover and, wrapped in genuine hope, expand our perspectives, maybe even spark some interesting collaborations, collectives, projects or ideas
We will do this all with respect, honesty, and compassion
What do you think? Up for having a conversation about having a conversation? Tuck your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to spend time with them, and by extension, you.
I never thought I’d be doing this: another cool and unexpected way to tend and nurture language that transforms
You might remember I’ve mentioned the Transformative Language Arts Network (TLAN) here before? They’re this diverse, interesting, creative, kind, community of word artists who make me feel like I’m among kindred spirits after spending nearly sixty years feeling like the weird kid in the corner.
I love the organization so much that in December 2022 when TLAN put out a call for board member applications, I took a deep breath (or twelve) and responded. I was curious, but not expecting anything more than maybe the chance to volunteer on a committee. Cue the unexpected.
I’m now a member of the Transformative Language Arts Board! (Also a member of two committees, and the newsletter editor.) I’m flummoxed and so very grateful to be part of this volunteer working board supporting everything TLAN does internationally for folks who use written, spoken or sung language to support transformation in people and communities. (Muppet arms! Muppet arms!)
Can you tell I’m excited?
Ok, that’s enough for this time. I’ll be back in a week or two.
May we all stay curious and *genuinely hopeful,
*What do I mean by genuine hope? I like Václav Havel’s definition: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
My ongoing Wednesday and Saturday writing circles: https://tracienichols.com/workshops/
Transformative Language Arts Network: https://www.tlanetwork.org/
Margaret J. Wheatley https://margaretwheatley.com/library/current-thinking/
Václav Havel https://www.vhlf.org/havel-quotes/disturbing-the-peace/
Adore this Margaret J Wheatley quote. Something I would long to aspire to, too!
Congratulations on finding your kind of community with the TLAN and getting on the board no less! YES to all you have said. Engagement through dialogue is hard to find but so appreciated by some - I happen to be one of them.
As you already know I am also a Margaret J. Wheatley fan. I so enjoyed her book Turning to Each Other as well.