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Catching stories in North Carolina

May 21, 2016--With Christina Baldwin, author and pioneer of circle practice.

Christina Baldwin, author and pioneer of circle practice is placing a sacred scarf in the middle of our rather large oval of chairs. A candle goes in the centre. The circle comes to life. We are here in Kanuga just outside of Ashleigh, North Carolina in what appears to be the greenest place on earth. Waves of spring rain splash the windows that line the hall like a car wash. A deep dark forest watches from the sidelines as this sacred gathering of journal therapists, workshop facilitators, writers, poets and artists begins to speak. A hush fills every corner of this temple to story as Christina wraps her arm around an empty chair next to her and tells us about the women she is saving it for: those who are not free to be here; who would find it it too dangerous to be here; who can't write because their stories are bottled up inside; and the list goes on. We are here to talk about "story catching." Story, she tells us, is a map that gets shared. Such anecdotes, adventures, chronicles and dramas usually meet the page in the same way. There is a traumatic event or a life of chaos that we simply must sort out. Such happenings must be thought out and shared with others for our reassurance. Having made it safely to the other side of the trauma/chaos we become survivors. We begin to integrate the event into our lives and finally reach new territory where compassion and acceptance are shared and our stories gain meaning. We are at last at peace in a state of grace and tell the world how we have been metamorphized as a result of the journey. The stories that get one person through, she tells us, get other people through. Story is the shortest distance between strangers. As Christina suggests, most of you who come to my journaling workshops, come because you are still in the process of making meaning out of your stories. Some of you choose to close the book before meaning is achieved, but most join the circle to neurologically organize your experience. When you cannot get your life to behave you arrive at the journaling sanctuary to digest your experience. To keep from going crazy. The point is the story is not complete until it is caught. Until a speaker and listener hold hands and witness the survivor's journey. Until you arrive at a new place of resilience. Where you understand so you can withstand.

If you open the map of your life what stories do you see that come from your experiences? Be sure to look at all of the stories you carry: personal, social and spiritual. Christina Baldwin's is a writer and seminar presenter of 30+ years experience. She has has written the following books: Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice Calling the Circle, the First and Future Culture The Seven Whispers, A Spiritual Practice for Times Like These Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair (co-written with Ann Linnea)

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