Teacher, horse farmer, mentor, poet, Christine Gelineau understands dwelling on this earth. Here we see how poetry breathes as she greets spring's first full month with a meditation on the hard and the soft of being fully alive.
April loves a challenge, choosing to split
the slab of winter-hardened earth with the
silk tongue of a crocus. She casts the stiffened
brooks as her fandango dancers. At first
they crack and groan, call her the cruelest of
taskmasters but April persists, persuades:
the streams ripple, sequined and agile. For
April even forgotten roadsides can
ruffle out in a froth of forsythia,
waving brash wands of membranous stars
that glitter like eternity, then float to
the ground, a wasted galaxy melting
into the land while this uterine
muscle of a month bears down, rousting
the fetuses each from their dark havens,
thrusting them naked and mewling into
the hungry light. The least of April’s exploits
is lulling us: we are so eager to
ignore the hollow echo of the daffodils’
blare and the lithe red tulips’ throats of snow.
Woods urges her readers to nurture their spirits and embrace their creative energy by becoming Bold: A “Brilliant, Outrageous, Luminary Diva.” Each chapter outlines a way to be more mindful and brave in embracing and nourishing the creative self. At the end of each chapter, a few blank pages present space to write answers to prompts like: “I am so very grateful for…” “The most powerful Possibility Question I can craft about my past is…”
This book is certainly useful and thought provoking. If you’re reading it while battling the post-winter blahs or a grouchy funk, you might be moved to sneer or scoff at her upbeat tone. Take a deep breath, stay patient with the frequent appearance of the overused word “Diva,” and read on. Even in the grouchiest, least creative mood, a reminder to breathe more deeply, and take time to for reflection and for caring for yourself is a good idea, and might help you feel better.
Unlike many self-help books, Woods’ guide also urges focus on the body, not just the spirit. Devoting a chapter to nurturing care of stretching, breathing, diet and exercise, grounds the guide and balances its perspective. Also, the exercises and questions Woods poses are mostly concrete, but general enough to inspire creative thinking about the ways they relate to a reader’s particular life experience. Throughout the guide, Woods tempers soul searching with playfulness, inviting celebration as well as reconciling with the past, and describing the healing nature of gathering friends for a fun and tasty dinner. A chapter on “Making Mud Pies” is more clearly tied to finding ways to be playful and whimsical with creative, almost childlike activities.
Among the more powerful reminders to nurture your spirit and self are Woods’ chapters about going on retreat, and her recurrent theme of being brave enough to move to the spotlight in your own life. It can be hard for busy women to set aside even a day or two for quiet reflection, which Woods acknowledges. Her guide to setting up time and space for a retreat is straightforward, and includes a writing prompt that addresses “what might get in the way of me taking my very own personal retreat.” Woods also acknowledges the difficulty many women have inviting change into their lives, especially changes that push them into the spotlight. Acknowledging how difficult that can be helps her guide be grounded, yet inspiring, and definitely useful to women at any stage of their creative life and process.-- Elizabeth Willse, Contributing Editor