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My month in review: June 2023

Frau sitzt am Fluss und schreibt
I'm starting my 2nd year as a blogger and creative writing mentor. Like last year in June, it's time for a monthly review, because in June I had a lot going on again in terms of writing!

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By the way, here is the link to my first monthly review a year ago: My month in review: June 2022

Table of Contents

1. The Writing Flow Circle - writing with wonderful women

Writing. Writing with wonderful women. Sharing with each other. Laughing. Crying. Since January, my Writing Flow Circles have been taking place several times a month, online and together at the big kitchen table in my new home Schwanenstadt, Upper Austria.

In May and June we traded the kitchen table for the forest and the lake.

Four women and my eight-year-old daughter walk through the forest with open eyes, ears and hearts, their notebooks in hand. We write by the river and we write with our backs leaning against a tree. My notebook reads:

My tree and me, the smell of wild garlic and moss. I am so happy to live in nature. What incredible happiness, from the concrete wasteland of Barcelona and NYC and DC and Vienna, I now live right by the forest. The forest protects my soul, it generates oxygen for the air and for my soul. It speaks to me without fear or stress, it finds peace here. I am happy about my weekly bouquet of flowers from the market, about the wild garlic blossom that is just tucked under my arm, like the head of a cuddling cat.

After writing, we stay seated, eating strawberries, and chatting, exchanging ideas. Our texts, shared with each other, go deep, allow a glimpse into what the other is moving, dreaming, crying about.

"Steffie, Thank you for your writing, it is so good to know that you are not 'abnormal' and that you can manage to stay true to yourself! This is so encouraging!"

Women sitting on a blanket and writing
Writing Flow Circle in the forest and chatting in the garden
Writing Flow Circle at the beautiful Attersee

2. Start of my book project

For a long time I thought about it, started again and again, discarded. But now I have found the right company and am starting my book project with a beating heart.

I have a big deadline: My book will be under the tree at Christmas.

The beginning is bumpy. With great motivation I start the introduction and the first 30 pages. I spend a long weekend alone at Lake Fuschl. It is a wonderful me-time.

When I’m back home and sitting on the terrace with my girlfriends, a horde of children (our children) romping around us, one of my friends asks:

„So, how was your writing weekend at Lake Fuschl?“

Before I can answer she continues, „When we saw your husband on Saturday he told me that today was the best day of your life! And I asked him if he would like to talk about it….“

I laugh heartily. I know my husband knows what I meant by that. And this is what I have in my notebook from that day at Lake Fuschl:

Today is one of the happiest days of my life.

I feel completely at home.

I’m standing in the warm late afternoon sun, looking down at the impossibly turquoise lake below me.

I have a slight feeling of hunger, pleasant.

My warm skin.

The pen in my hand glides over the beautiful notebook lying open on a wooden railing in front of me, the lake below.

I am whole. Completely in my being alone here by the lake, the quiet of the day, no inner stress, no mental load, no children, no person wanting anything from me. No demand. Just me and myself.

Knowing that my kids are fine at home, that we will see each other the day after tomorrow.

No guilty conscience. Just pure love inside me.

I don’t want to say that my everyday life is not nice and that I am not happy. I have made my everyday life so that it doesn’t take away my strength anymore, that I am fine.

But, it’s those days for me, treasures that completely fill me up and refuel me. Their rarity is probably a big part of their magic.

On such days I write like a madwoman, ideas appear without compulsion, they have room to come to me.

For that to happen, I need such days of being alone, of letting my mind wander, walking, reading, writing. And at the end of such a day I am dead tired and incredibly happy.

And then I enjoy it even more to sit together with friends again and to chat and laugh.

A few days later, I get my first reaction from my book mentor: „I can tell you’d like to write a novel,“ she says.

And I start again with the introduction. And then once again.

My daughter accompanies my work with great confidence. Will you pick me up early from daycare today? she asks me one day. I pick her up and she starts to work: My book cover.

I show her the different working titles. She immediately decides on one and there it is: Write yourself alive!

At the end of June I finally found my writing voice for this book. Now it can really start!

Writing in notebook at the lake
I take 3 days writing time at lake Fuschlsee
My book cover that my daughter wanted to design IMMEDIATELY

3. I simply love freewriting with kids

At the end of June, I’m saying goodbye to the 23 4th grade children with whom I’ve been free writing regularly for more than half a year.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to be able to accompany them on their journey from „I don’t like writing“ and „I don’t know what to write about“ to „writing is fun,“ „the stories are so funny,“ and „I look forward to writing.“

Each child wrote me a letter, and I gave each and every one a notebook for their summer stories.

Letters and Sunflowers on a table
Letters for me from my freewriting children

In June, I had another wonderful writing experience with children: My friend Holli asked me to write with kids from difficult family backgrounds at a summer camp in Colorado. And that’s what we did! I was zooming in on a church where 10 kids were sitting (and half lying) in pews, writing intently about wands and crocodiles.

„They totally loved you and the session— as did I! All but two of them wholeheartedly embraced the chance to put pen to paper and just free their minds. The two who were not so participatory were the same regardless of what I asked them to do 😂. Your session was a total success and the kids even thought about creating a drawing/painting to accompany their writing."

Laptop screen with children writing
Freewriting doesn't know boundaries

What else happened in June

  • I think I have at least 300 selfies of my daughter on my phone…. She constantly carries around a piece of wood that she branded as HER phone in the fall and painted herself. Cover image: a cat.
  • And then I have so many more photos of pages from my notebooks. I’m sure it will be years before I read through and type it all up for my book….
  • In June, the weather is finally nice, and we spend time with friends barbecuing and at the town festival.
  • Carrying home a school cone for her little brother? No problem for my daughter 🧙‍♀️
Mädchen mit Schultüte auf dem Kopf
Steht mir das?!

Preview July 2023

  • The first week of July is all about my son’s kindergarten graduation (last Monday in kindergarten, EVER, last Tuesday in kindergarten, EVER, you get the point :), my daughter’s many trips during the last week of school in 2nd grade, and packing for 5 weeks in Denmark 🥳 In between, of course, working and writing.
  • The last 3 weeks of July we are visiting my parents and relatives in Denmark, south of Copenhagen. I am sooooo looking forward to it! Before that, we have about 1000km of highway ahead of us.
  • This vacation will not be spent lazy, because I am writing a book, and it does not write itself. In July I will write two chapters.

Starter Guide Freewriting ABC: How to get started with Freewriting so you can discover what is truly important to you in this present moment!

Do you sometimes feel an impulse to run away from it all? To escape from your stressful job? From the endless demands of your family?

I know from my own experience as a working mom that we don’t spend enough time nurturing our own minds and souls. We tend to prioritize everyone else’s need above our own.

I am so glad that you are willing to say Stop! Take a deep breath and get ready for this wonderful experience.

I have prepared this Starter Guide with 3 simple steps for you to experience freewriting. There is no pressure to write well, it is all about letting go of thoughts, clearing your mind, and discovering what is truly important to you in this present moment.

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