Jun 16

Summer Draws Near

Dear Friends,
Here in the Northwest, summer draws near softly: sometimes whispering with rain, at other times beaming with pleasure. Winds ruffle the chimes. For me, it becomes a little easier to stop during my daily wanderings and just listen, or look, or breathe. The sky keeps changing, and I feel myself changing too, shucking off a little the “to do” mindset in favor of a more spacious perspective.

And yet, of course, a different kind of “to do” sidles in: the “to do” of writing, of art. If I let it, this artistic “to do” will become just as onerous and stressful as the challenges of my workday life. There are so many “shoulds” that get in the way. The added challenge for us Northwesterners is that when the weather is nice, the pull to be outdoors is strong, strong, strong: an urge that can be the opposite of what’s needed to hunker down and write.

So, it was with great pleasure and relief that I received Midge Raymond’s summer newsletter from her website Remembering EnglishAs soon as I saw the subtitle, “How to Keep Writing Even When the Weather is Too Nice For Writing,” I was able to take a deep breath and say Hallelujah! Here is the tip that made me relax:

Aim to write for just 15 minutes a day. The idea here is that this is a commitment that’s too short to stress about, but just enough to get a little bit done, and it usually ends up being more than you think; I now aim for 30 minutes a day (if not even more). Granted, there are always a few things that don’t get done if the writing goes long, but it’s usually worth it! 

Midge also provides weekly writing prompts; here are her first summer prompts:

  • Describe the first time you saw the ocean.
  • Write for one minute about each of the following: firefly, watermelon, lake, sand, ice.
  • Describe your first sunburn.
  • Write about a summer night.
  • Describe your favorite summer food/drink.

Also, check out our Events and News page, for all the latest doings of The Pen and The Bell.
Here’s hoping your summer is both relaxing and fruitful,

Jun 02

And the winner is……


Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for all your lovely anniversary wishes. It’s so nice to hear from you.

And the winner of a free copy of The Pen and the Bell, chosen by a random number generator, is…..

GAIL VERSCHOOR!  (Gail, you can contact us via the contact form to give us your mailing address.)

In other news, The Pen and the Bell is hitting the road again and will be in Portland, OR, June 29-30.

  • We’ll be starting with a 2 1/2 hour workshop at the Portland First Unitarian Church, Saturday, June 29, 9:30-12.  In this workshop, we’ll be leading you in some simple contemplative practices and writing prompts to get you started on fruitful new work. $25 for church members; $35 for others. Details here.
  • Saturday night, at 7:30 p.m., we’ll be giving a reading at St. John’s Booksellers, 8622 N. Lombard St., Portland, OR 97203, 503-283-0032. We’ll share our writing from the book, as well as lead you in a simple writing exercise.
  • Sunday morning, June 30, we’ll be back at the Unitarian Church for a free reading and reception (with refreshments!) from 11:30-12:30.

Hope to see you in one way or another!  And as we enter the summer traveling season, here’s a wonderful quote I received from Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project:

 “After all, a vacation is not a matter of place or time. We can take a wonderful vacation in spirit, even though we are obliged to stay at home, if we will only drop our burdens from our minds for a while. But no amount of travel will give us rest and recreation if we carry our work and worries with us.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder

Happy trails,
Brenda and Holly