Jena Schwartz - The Writer Within

Episode 27 July 01, 2021 00:47:35
Jena Schwartz - The Writer Within
More Happiness Less Suffering
Jena Schwartz - The Writer Within

Show Notes

Jena Schwartz is an amazing author, coach, and advocate for social change. She also happens to be the "go to" editor here at the More Happiness Less Suffering Podcast, as she edited both of the poetry books created by our founders. Listen in as Jena helps us discover the writer in all of us! 
 "I work with so many people who struggle to value their writing if/when it's not "productive" or clearly "going somewhere." Our society is so outcome-oriented and product-driven, norms that are nearly impossible not to internalize yet are so detrimental to our creative selves". ~ Jena Schwartz
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight Speaker 1 00:00:07 LA and I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange county, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast as always. We are so grateful to have you join us. And today we are very, very excited. We have a special guest who is actually very dear to both mine and Casey's hearts. Um, today we have Jenna Schwartz who is a poet. Um, she's published several of her own books of poetry, a writing coach, um, and an editor. And we are so honored to have you here with us today. Jenna, thank you for joining us. Speaker 2 00:01:02 Thank you so much for having me and for inviting me. Yeah, it's really great to be here. Of course. Speaker 1 00:01:09 Yeah. And so, you know, I would love to just start by kind of sharing how Jenna and I came to know one another. Um, Jenna actually was the editor of my book of poetry selves and also helped Casey with the editing of his book of poetry, becoming water and Jenna and I have a very special relationship because I actually wrote my first poem in one of Jenna's writing groups. And that was just a few years ago, actually in my late thirties. And, um, you know, sometimes people will ask like, oh, how long have you been writing poetry? Or when did you start? And, um, I'll always say that actually my first poem was at the encouragement of Jenna who just suggested, why don't you try writing a poem. And, uh, and that eventually evolved into a few poems and more poems. And then I actually had the privilege and honor, when it came time to put the book together and edit the book to actually go visit Jenna in person in Amhurst. And we actually got to meet in real life and, um, and put it all together, like with actual paper, actual paper and pen, and it was a beautiful experience. So yeah, I'm very, very grateful for, for Jenna, because she's been such an integral part of my journey from, from start to finish. Hm. Aw, Speaker 2 00:02:36 Thank you for that. Yeah, that is just one of my favorite stories. Um, or combination of stories. And I remember so vividly both your first poems and also you, of course, you coming here, um, for us to meet and work on your book and yeah, it's like that. I so often encounter people who say like, oh, I can't write poetry or, oh, I don't write poetry. Oh, I'm not a poet. And you know, with a little prompting, I think, I really do think like there is there's poetry in all of us. Speaker 1 00:03:13 Yeah. Beautiful. A little bit of prompting and also just the safe space that you create for so many. Um, virtually a lot of your groups are, are virtual through Facebook, but you create such beautiful, diverse, safe environments for people to take creative risks and try new things. And, um, I think, you know, that that environment that you create is a big part of what supports people on their, on their creative journeys. We would love to hear just, you know, I always joke as a psychiatrist, I always like to hear how things began. So yeah. W I know, you know, you're talking to us from Amhurst today, but we'd love to hear just a little bit about your childhood and your background, you know, where you grew up and how you, how you got to the place where you are today as a writer and editor. How much time did we Speaker 2 00:04:14 Wait when you said as a psychiatrist? I, my, I couldn't help, but flash doc, you know, lying on the, you know, the fainting couch and, um, uh, my father actually is, so my, my dad's a Shakespeare scholar and I'm also pretty steeped in Freud and Freudian psychoanalysis. So I grew up with like pretty heavy on the Freudian stuff, which is, which is not really my thing now at all. And never particularly was, but in any case, um, tell me about your father. So, and my mom was a dancer and actually both of my parents are teachers, educators. Um, so, you know, I think it's safe to say that just growing up by, you know, it was definitely in a household of, um, you know, that, that had, uh, that what's the word I'm looking for. Um, just believed in the value of the arts. You know, there was a lot of dance, there was a lot of, um, you know, we took music lessons from a young age, um, and whatever, you know, we were interested in, in terms of expression was, was pretty much encouraged. Speaker 2 00:05:24 And I was, I was always the writer, you know, it's just interesting. I think it's definitely something that just must have somehow come in with, um, because even as a kid, poetry and writing were and music and language, all of that is what I gravitated towards. Um, so I was born in Buffalo, New York, and then when I was nine years old, my family moved here to Western mass to Amherst, Massachusetts. And this is where I, you know, came up through high school and then I Amherst and went around a bunch and lots of life happened. And then I moved back here, uh, eight or nine years ago, um, in 2012. So I'm back here for the time being, and as far as how I got to where I am and what I'm doing, it's, it's, it, it would be definitely way too much story to try to cram in. Speaker 2 00:06:17 But I would say that, you know, hearing you describe, um, Monita your experience in some of my writing groups. And you've been in, in many at this point, I think over the years, um, from, you know, poetry to memoir writing. Um, it's interesting to hear you describe it because what I realize is it's really my joy, like the, the work that I do that, um, I've always been someone who loves connecting with people. Um, you know, I remember in Buffalo when I was a kid and I never remembered definitely how old I was doing anything in Buffalo, but I always know it was under nine. So, you know, it was somewhere maybe, maybe like fourth grade or something like that. Um, I wanted to learn sign language and, um, there was a school not far from us. Um, I think it was a school for the deaf and they had some kind of class and I did a class and my partner was this older woman. Speaker 2 00:07:17 I remember her as being really elderly, although, you know, of course now I realize she may have been my age, my example, that is, um, and it's interesting just reflecting on that, that I think for me, I've always really loved connecting deeply with people and I've always loved writing. Um, and it took, you know, it took a long time for, for those, for those threads to sort of find their way to together in terms of my livelihood and my work life, um, and having my own business. So, you know, over the course of the last 25 years, maybe probably longer, um, I've kind of gotten different experiences, you know, with coaching and, uh, I've always been writing, but writing was often kind of, um, in the margins. Um, so in my professional life, there were many times where people didn't really know I was, you know, certainly didn't know I was a poet. Speaker 2 00:08:26 You know, that was something that was just kind of like always in me, but not necessarily in the world. And that was kind of a source of, of, uh, angst for me. Um, that sense of disconnect, like I really longed for there to be more, uh, integration of the things that I really loved and that felt like the truest expressions of me. Um, so when I started meeting writing groups that kind of led me back into coaching just little by little, you know, gradually over these years of, of just sticking with it. Um, and, you know, just continuing to put myself out there. Um, this, this work has kind of flourished and, and a real community has really grown up, um, inside of it and around it. And I, so I feel like not only do I get to support a lot of people, but it always feels very, very clear to me that I am really supported, um, and surrounded to, um, by so many people who, who I feel like encouraged me to keep doing my thing. Um, so it just feels really, really reciprocal and, and kind of beautiful in that way. Wonderful. Speaker 0 00:09:41 That's awesome. It's so neat to hear, like you say, it's something that you came in with. I always think that's interesting on it. Wouldn't we look at our childhood and those innate things we're drawn to, like, why is that, um, maybe a bit of a metaphysical thing, but I always find that interesting. And, um, and the other side of that is, you know, you, you do the coaching and I'm curious for you, the writing comes really naturally, and then you also teach people, you know, like we, we heard with, with, uh, manesha, maybe they don't think that they're writers, it doesn't come naturally. You know, so as a coach, how do you kind of draw that out and, and help people find their creative mojo, there might be listeners out there thinking, oh, I'm not that creative, but you have a lot of experience with trying that out of people. Speaker 2 00:10:43 Yeah, it's a good question. And before I, um, respond to that, I just want to add one thing about the coming in with it, because I was thinking a little more about it as you were reflecting on that, like the medic physical part. And I, I think there is something to that, you know, like the mystery part, which is fascinating. Um, and then I also feel compelled to add like the privilege part of, I think we all, like really every human, you know, comes in with some, with some innate talents or gifts or, you know, things that are kind of, um, maybe, you know, need to be like tapped and nurtured and encouraged and watered and all of that, you know, kind of with the right conditions. And so having that piece, um, is something that's so not consistent, you know, in our culture, particularly depending on, you know, what resources a person has. Speaker 2 00:11:42 So I think it's just important to acknowledge that I also grew up in an upper middle class family, you know, where there was, there was, uh, the ability, you know, me to have lessons in things or summer camps or, you know, um, higher education. And how would things have unfolded for me as a writer? You know, it doesn't mean I didn't work hard or, you know, struggle or whatever, but just to, just to kind of name that as, you know, part of how I've kind of come to where I am at this point in my life feels important to me. Um, and that's just how I think at this point for me, like sort of personal and political things are all so completely inseparable, um, that I think it's good to just kind of have that be in the mix in the conversation. Um, so your question about how to draw that out, so, right. Speaker 2 00:12:39 Cause if someone, if it doesn't come naturally, you know, um, or if someone's like, Ugh, you know, writing is torture. And I told my teeth at one by one, you know, I think some of it is like letting that be okay. You know, almost like for the, with, you know, I'm thinking about just talking with both of you, has me thinking about like meditation practice and you know, how some of it is sort of, I think about not being at odds necessarily with that. So in other words, if it's a struggle, like kind of softening around the struggle, you know, or noticing what, um, where the voices of, of like, you know, that might be negative or critical, get really loud and just practicing for small amounts of time. Seeing if, if there, you know, if there are ways to kind of try to bypass that. Speaker 2 00:13:36 Um, so in practical terms or functional terms, you know, doing times free writes is, is one way I think of just creating pockets of space, where a person can experience maybe a little more, little more mobility, almost like more freedom in getting words on the page, um, and time and, and kindness, you know, externally, but external kindness that I think can kind of begin to help a person nurture their own inner environment of kindness towards themselves. Um, cause a lot of that I think is a really is like defenses, you know, like I don't think people just naturally are born and think I suck at writing, like that came from something right. That, that belief or that fear or that wall, um, probably grew up over time in response to outside things. Um, and so I think in given time and sort of like, um, kinder, if that stuff can start to relax a little, then everyone has things to say, you know, or write or express. Speaker 2 00:15:01 Um, and sometimes even realize they might enjoy it or be good at it. But yeah, I think some of it too is just not feeling like they have to be perfect. You know, I think a lot of us feel like, oh, well if I didn't get it exactly right. You know, my first try forget it. Like it's just too hard. And so just having that permission, um, and that's a word that comes up so often is just giving ourselves permission, you know? And, um, and it's funny cause it's like, why should we need permission? And yet, you know, it's a powerful thing to either receive permission from someone else or ideally like be able to kind of give that to yourself, um, just to, to not be good at it. That's really probably the, now that I've said all that, I think that's kind of the bottom line is just like giving permission to people, to not worry about being any good at it. And it's amazing what that will free up. Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:16:05 And I think it's so interesting because I think one of the challenging aspects of, you know, I shared, you know, being in some of your online writing groups and one of the things that I think you do so well in those groups is I think one of the things that naturally happens is we read what other people write and we're like, wow, that was really good. I don't think what I have to write is nearly as good and that, um, that natural comparison and how that, you know, kind of feeds the internal self-critic and, and you know, how we actually overcome that in the context of the group to be able to sort of still right, despite the fact that, you know, maybe we don't feel good enough or maybe we don't feel like it compares to what other people are sharing and actually to do it any way, I think is such a powerful practice, um, of, of sort of saying, okay, well it's perfectly okay if it's imperfect or, um, not as polished as we want it to be. Speaker 1 00:17:11 There's still value in me putting words on the page, there's still value in me finding a way to share. Um, and, and I think you do a great job within the groups of, of helping people to navigate that, that comparison and that inner critic that that comes about as a result. Um, in fact, one of my favorite groups of yours is actually a group called, um, the sound of real life happening. Um, I'm not sure if you are still doing those. I think you are right now, actually. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah. And you know, in, in this group, the sound of real life happening, I'll let you share more about it, Jenna, but, um, we really write 11 things that are essentially true at any given moment. And I think it was one of my favorite groups because it was just about dropping into the present moment and sharing. And sometimes, you know, sometimes you're sharing something that's beautiful writing and sometimes you're sharing something that's just true in, in that given moment. But I really felt that that group was a powerful way to kind of work through some of those fears that people have around what, you know, quote unquote writing with a capital w is versus, um, just tapping into our internal experience and sharing from that place. Speaker 2 00:18:32 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think the comparing is so, wow. I mean, it's just, I I've encountered very few people who don't, you know, have to work with that in to some degree or another in some way or another. Um, you know, one thing I often say in groups is, is that it's kind of reminding people that everyone else thinks everyone else is amazing. And I actually come by that honestly, like I, I work privately with enough people, uh, in the groups that I've heard it now over enough years from enough people in enough different groups, that I'm pretty sure it's true. That it's just incredible and, and kind of studying, you know, like how, how we don't, you know, we just, we don't see our own. It's one of the beauty of writing, I think in a group is that it's like a chance to kind of like have your own power, the power of your own writing reflected back to you. Speaker 2 00:19:39 Um, in a way that's just really genuine. Um, because so often that is the case that, you know, everyone thinks, oh my God, that person's writing. It's amazing, but they're not thinking that anyone is thinking that about their writing. Yeah. So, uh, the real life happening group is, yeah. We write 11 things every day for 11 days. And, um, right now the group that's happening is, uh, on day, I think it's day four and it's just, it's such an open practice. Um, you know, that you really don't know, you know, there's no other, there's no prompts, you know, so you could have a theme for your 11 things. Um, you know, one person in the last group I led, did she themed each one to, it'd be like 11 things I want you to know. Um, or I think today someone did like 11 things that are awkward to talk about, you know, I mean, you could kind of have that, but my Eleven's are usually just a free for all. Speaker 2 00:20:37 Um, and I don't know where they're going to go. And it really is kind of a way to check in with, with oneself, you know, just like, where am I? Um, I remember Monisha, I hope it's okay to share, but your 11th almost always would start with like the time and like the exact time. So it'd be like, it's 1230, 6:00 PM, you know, and I'm, and maybe where you were sitting or, you know, but it's just like, it's very grounding, um, kind of, really, really right now, you know, kind of dropping until, like you said, um, the present moment. And I think from there other things then can kind of be merged. So, um, yeah, it's kind of a way to work through the layers. So you might start out more on the surface, but then find yourself kind of swimming. Speaker 1 00:21:30 Yeah. And I think a lot of the people who have been in the sound of real life happenings group still write those. Eleven's like, w we'll see on Facebook, you know, 11 things being shared. And I'm like, I know where that started Speaker 2 00:21:44 The other day. It was, uh, uh, there was something in, I think it was like on the Oprah website, it was like 11 books. You should read the summer or something. And I was like, Hey, Speaker 0 00:21:55 They got that from me, stealing it from me again. Speaker 1 00:22:02 Well, we would love to hear a little bit about your own creative practice, like kind of how you for yourself sort of carve out that, that time, because I know it can be difficult when, when creativity is part of your, your work and a part of you, you know, how you, how you prioritize that for yourself and what are some of the tools that you use for your own practice? Speaker 2 00:22:29 That's yeah, it's interesting because that's so true, you know, I think it's a challenge when something is, you know, when, when whatever your creative work is, it's also your work work. Um, and I definitely notice, you know, during, uh, like last summer, I took a month off in August and I'm going to do that again this year. And just in the first few days, like I have this kind of rush of, um, space, you know, of, of space for my own creative work, um, that I was able to turn like really more fully to some of the projects that were kind of back-burnered. Um, and then, you know, when I'm, when I'm kind of deep in my work life, which is most of the, most of the time, there isn't necessarily that same kind of open space. So in that sense, I think it's good. Speaker 2 00:23:23 Cause I can kind of empathize in some ways like with, you know, most people have a lot on our plates, um, and it may feel like, well, I don't have time to write. Like, that's definitely one of the number one things that, that I hear people struggle with, you know, is where do I find the time? And so for me, like a lot of the practices that I have are probably similar to things I would work with clients around. Um, so just carving out those pockets and it, and it really depends on what, I guess, what a person's goals are. You know, if you're like, if you're writing a book, you've got a carve out, you know, a different kind of quantity of hours, um, to be consistent about. But for me, um, I, it's interesting like that question of what are my practices, um, cause I don't have a, I don't have one specific kind of constant, you know, where, where I do the same thing every day at the same time, for example. Speaker 2 00:24:29 So this morning I wrote for 10 minutes during a coaching call with a client who, you know, we, we covered some other stuff and then we have about 20 minutes left and he said like, Hey, my writing time got totally messed up this morning because of a work thing. And I said, do you want to set a timer? And so I came up with a prompt for us and we both wrote for 10 minutes and then we shared our writing with each other. Um, and so that was like, you know, so I wrote a poem like that was that, that just kind of, uh, that I, I told him, like I wouldn't have written otherwise. Um, cause I wouldn't necessarily have made that time. So writing in my own groups, you know, it's, it's the classic kind of teaching what you have to learn or practicing, you know, being a kind of a practitioner, I guess, along with being a facilitator. Speaker 2 00:25:19 Um, and it's definitely no small part of why I started leading writing groups was cause like I wanted to have a more consistent writing practice. So in that sense, I feel like I'm really just right alongside the people that I'm working with. Um, and then I have, you know, here and there, like in the last, just this year I started like not on a schedule per se, but I've started kind of just collecting magazines and catalogs throughout the month as they come in. And instead of recycling and one Saturday it's kind of come out to being monthly. I've noticed for the last several months I've been spending like a big chunk of a Saturday making a collage and just spending, you know, several hours on the living room floor with glue and scissors and in silence. And it's been so nice, like just a really meditative experience that is different from writing, which is good for me. Um, to kind of like, I think it's, for me at least nice to have some practice that's not, uh, based in language since that's so much of where I spend my time just to kind of get out of my head. Speaker 2 00:26:30 And um, and also just walking and running and being outdoors is I would say even though it's, it doesn't necessarily seem like an obvious connection. It's very much part of my writing life. Um, and my, because I think that's just like getting into getting into the body and actually like moving, um, so often opens up and I think a lot of people have that experience, you know, but just so often can kind of open up those channels that can get a little bit stagnant when you're just sitting at a computer all day. Speaker 0 00:27:04 Yeah. I think that's an important one. I know Maneesh and I shared that. Just like getting out and there's a part of me that wants to kind of get it done or, you know, have this energy. It could be with, you know, not just writing, but like any project that I have of being at my computer at the table, getting it done. And really what I need to do is go outside, go outside, go for a walk. I learned a long time ago. So I give a lot of Dharma talks and um, so I'm always prepping for talks and it used to be, you know, I would just kind of sit there, talk it out or figure it out or something, you know, and then I started going for walks and oh yeah, they just come easy. I go for a walk and, oh, it's just so easy. You know, I'll bring my phone along and I'll, I'll write down something. And of course manesha goes for a run I've been going for more, more runs and, and, um, motorcycle riding for me really, really, really helps. Yeah. It just breaks up just like you mentioned that that stagnant energy, you know, everything gets broken up and you're much more clear, you know, meditation itself is good, but that motion too is really good for creativity stuff. Speaker 2 00:28:36 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:28:37 On our last episode, actually with Somia dovey who, you know, recently, um, she wrote a book called well behaved Indian women and has another book coming out out. And we were, I think talking about in that episode too, about like writing when you're not writing, you know, that so much of the creative practice happens when you're not actually sitting in front of the computer. Speaker 2 00:28:59 That's so true. And you know, I think, you know, as we're talking about it, I'm realizing, I often feel like I might not ever write anything else ever again, like it's just, it's not, it's a very familiar feeling to me of just like, huh, like, am I ever going to write anything again? You know, like, there's this. And so there's this quality of like being available to the writing, um, that I think is kind of, um, it, it may be kind of a mindset, but I think that the movement keeps things just keeps things moving. Yeah. Yeah. And I think even if you physically move freely, like walk or cycle or run, even having like music on, um, things like that, you know, just like, I think kind of in invigorating or, or tapping into other senses, um, you know, listening to music or cooking or rearranging furniture or, you know, yesterday I went through all the books on my bookshelf, um, and managed to, I think I got 10 or 12 to get to let go of because you know, it's hard letting go when it comes to books. Um, but I think all of those kinds of things are sort of part of a whole, you know, sort of a whole way of living in creative spaces. Um, you know, even when we're not actively writing. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. But then also on the other hand, the writing doesn't have invite itself, you know? So the other piece is like at some point as, uh, uh, old friend of mine says like, you have to get your butt in the chair, you know, so there's that too. Speaker 0 00:30:47 Right, right. Um, Speaker 2 00:30:50 Yeah. So I think just having that balance of like, you know, fluid being fluid about it, but also grounded about it so that you're not just, you know, I think it's like rom Dass would say, um, something, I think he said something about like, you know, you also have to know your zip code. Like it's great to be all, you know, like, Ooh, you know, the universe and trusting the process and all of that great stuff. But then at some point you also have to get your butt in the chair, there's a code and write something. Speaker 0 00:31:19 Exactly. It seems like almost a taboo word. Like, you know, oftentimes, you know, relating this back to meditation, which is, which is discipline, you know, it's like, how do you manage creativity and discipline or something that's, that's supposed to be for self-care like meditation and then things like that. And, and, and discipline and discipline brings joy. You know, it brings freedom, you know, it, uh, it's, it's kind of looked at maybe some times a little negatively, like, oh my gosh, I got to be disciplined about this, but it's part of the balance. You know, the part of the balance is that we get so much at a discipline and we get so much out of knowing when enough is enough that we need to go play, you know? Yes. And no Speaker 2 00:32:10 Plan in place. Yeah, exactly what I was going, you know, discipline, like you said, kind of gets a bad rap or a lot of people, maybe not a bad rap as much as I think people are sort of, um, it's one of those things that I think a lot of us relate to as being bad at, you know, like, uh, you know, um, I don't have discipline around data discipline. Um, and one way to think about it that I really like is that if you have discipline, it's not only freedom. Like you use that word. And I love that because I often think of having freedom within structure, you know, that by having, by having some structure, um, and I have found this working with like poetic forms, like if I'm writing a sonnet and there's a very strict form, there's actually like a lot of freedom that comes with that because you get to play, but you've also got some parameters that you can follow so that you're not like a deer in the headlights, you know, with absolutely no sense of direction. Speaker 2 00:33:16 Um, so it can be nice to have some direction and some boundaries. And the other thing is that I think with discipline is that if you value something enough to put some sort of, to, to kind of make a house for it, you know what I mean? Like if you value something enough to, to say this is important to me, and so I'm going to make sure that there's time for it, you know, I'm going to make that a priority. Like I think that speaks to, it's just, it speaks to like the place it has in your life. So if you say like, I really, you know, I really want to write, but you never, right. Then you have to kind of question, how important is it really to you, you know, at a certain point. So I think there is something about seeing discipline as an expression of, um, I guess, a blood and really beautiful, really honoring it because I have to add to that, like, I'm really not disciplined. You know, I kind of go, whoa, like, you know, kind of from this to that, and easily can kind of flit around. Um, and like I said, I don't have like a steady, you know, I write from this time to that time. Um, so I think it's just a gray area to have like inquiry around, um, and not be rigid, you know, and just play with and see, you know, find what works for you. Cause a lot of people think I have to write every day, right? Like that's Speaker 3 00:34:51 A lie. Like if I don't write every day, Speaker 2 00:34:54 I must not be serious about it. Or I must not be a serious writer. And I don't really believe that. I think that it's a personal, I think people need to find their own rhythm. Speaker 1 00:35:04 I think it's interesting. Cause I think when you and I started, started working together, I think we did a few coaching sessions. And at that time when I was blogging more actively, I had mindful my, my, you know, my mindful Mondays post where every Monday I would, would share something. And, and actually we found that the structure of that I think was starting to become a little bit oppressive. And so actually, yeah, working with that, like you said, with a little bit of curiosity and just playing with that sort of structure, you know, how could we find another way to apply discipline to the practice that didn't necessarily feel oppressive? And, and I think, um, freeing myself from those mindful Monday posts was, was very helpful. Very, very helpful. Um, well we would love to, if you feel comfortable sharing, we would love to hear the poem that you, that you wrote today. Speaker 2 00:36:00 Sure. Put on a spot. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:36:05 That's exactly what I was trying to do. That's right. Speaker 2 00:36:09 So, um, let's see. Where is it? Just give me a moment to find it. Um, so the prompt which I ended up using as the title, I was sitting in the D at the desk, in my daughter's room, cause we just have like kind of musical rooms in my apartment as far as who was where and was using what space for zoom and all that. Um, and I just looked up at the wall where she's got a bunch of things and there was this one thing that said, it said, what will we see when we look back? It's kind of a mirror image. So I thought, huh, that's a good prompt. So I just suggested that prompt my client. And he was like, yeah, that's a good prompt. So we went with it. So the poem is called. When we look back, what will we see when the boxes are packed? Speaker 2 00:37:02 When the windows are clean, when the floors have been swept, when the flowers have bloomed, when we've removed our clothes, when the children have grown, when the prayers are complete, when the prisoners are free, when the seas have stopped rising, when the babies are smiling, when the ache has subsided, when the doors are closed, when the last locks have turned, when the guilty parties have paid, when we've gone all the way, gray, when we look back, what will we see the way the days and months blurred into seasons and how our bodies softened and our voices strengthened the choices we made for each other, the grievances we put away, have we made each other laugh and safe and stuck it out when running away might have seemed easier? The birds, the dogs, the books, the meals, the pain, the lost years, the finding and forgetting and finding again, all the while asking the impossible question. Where did the time go as if maybe someday an answer might present itself fleetingly like a center, just under the long horizon. You broke that in 10 minutes. Wow. That's amazing. Speaker 1 00:38:26 Yeah. Beautiful. Beautiful. What was that line in their eye? What did you say? The F the F it was the three F's the forgetting and the, oh, Speaker 2 00:38:37 It was the, uh, the, find it, the finding, the Speaker 1 00:38:43 Finding and the forgetting and the finding again, Speaker 2 00:38:46 The finding and forgetting and finding again. Yeah. That's so beautiful. So beautiful. The thing of writing that in 10 minutes is like, I really attribute that to, um, so many years of, of that's where the practice piece, like, I've just, I've been, you know, and I don't think it's, I, you know, when you read books about people who are, you know, the 10,000 hours or, you know, however many that with any, with anything, you know, whether it's basketball or meditation or poetry, it's just, the more you do something, the, the, you know, the more quickly you can kind of like go into that space or, or engage with that thing, or, you know, for lack of a better word, the better you get at it, you know? Um, yeah. As opposed to it being just like only the extraordinarily talented few, you know, I really think it's, it's less about talent and more about just time Speaker 0 00:39:46 And <inaudible> Speaker 2 00:39:55 Over time. So I've been consistently undisciplined for so many years. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:40:03 So it just strikes me that, you know, yes. Like everything that you said about like all the time and practice that allows for perhaps the words to come to the surface, maybe more readily than had you not put in that time, but also just, yeah. That, you know, it strikes me that all of those words, you know, represent sort of, what's been on your heart and mind, you know, on the surface of your heart and mind, and like almost, there's just this feeling of they were, they were ready to be expressed. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:40:38 I was actually anticipating our call, um, you know, after I'd written that, and what occurred to me, I was thinking about the name of your podcast, which I love, and I was thinking about it struck like, you know, happiness and struggle. And I've, I feel like I'm, I'm, I have such an intimate relationship with struggle. Um, and I try to, I write about it, you know, pretty openly, um, cause I want more happiness, right? Like we all, who doesn't, you know, we all want more happiness and there's, there's no lack of struggle. And I think the writing is, is really where I, where I, where there's room for those to coexist. Um, so I think that's where, you know, a poem like that is a way to kind of acknowledge some of the really, you know, to kind of touch on some of the parts of life, you know, that are not happy or easy. Um, but also, you know, in this context of always wanting to try to move towards more contentment. Speaker 0 00:41:53 Yeah. It's so soothing. It's so soothing to be able to write about it, Speaker 1 00:41:58 Honored that that poem was shared first here. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And, um, and thank you just for, for sharing all of your time and wisdom, um, with us and with our audience and where can our audience find you if they want to read more of your poetry and all the beautiful things you have to share? Speaker 2 00:42:20 Um, a few places, uh, multiple places. So my website is where people can learn more about my work as a coach, see where I've been published by my books. Um, learn more about me. It's a person, you know, all of that's there. And that's, it's just my name, Jenna Schwartz with Jenna with one N J E N a Um, Facebook is somewhere that I share a lot. So people are welcome to send me a friend request on Facebook. And I also have Instagram, which is also my name. It's pretty easy to find me, um, across the board. It's pretty much just my name everywhere. And I also have a newsletter, which I send out on Fridays, um, which is a combination of sometimes stuff I've shared throughout the week on social media and some other musings and whatever writing groups I've got coming up, um, is that's where I put all that out there on Fridays and people can sign up for my newsletter on my website. And, uh, yeah, I'm always happy to hear from people and just really love connecting. So thank you so much for having me I've really feel honored to be on your, on your podcast. Oh, it was Speaker 0 00:43:35 Great. Thank you for all your wisdom. Yeah. You guys are so terrific. Speaker 1 00:43:41 We're, we're so glad to have all of our paths cross and all these different ways and to have your support and our creative practices and projects. So thank you so much. We'll have to have you back to continue the continue the conversation. I'd love that. Yeah. And you know, as always, we wrap up with a very brief meditations, so I will hand it over to Casey to do that. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:44:07 Well meditate a little bit. Um, yeah. So if you could join us, like always, if you are in a suitable environment, uh, please do, if not, maybe you could just listen to the words if you're driving or whatnot, just settling in, you know, Jen Jenna talked about the importance of keeping yourself permission, permission to not do something right. And we can utilize that here to just give yourself permission to be just as you are one of the most powerful and profound meditations it'll be, can do, allowing yourself to be just as you are and allowing the environment to be just as it is your outer environment. And then do your inner environment feeling tones. The thoughts, the sensations sounds pre-thing here doing absolutely nothing. And then feeling into that open spaciousness that nothing has to offer. And as we end, just wishing that all beings inexperienced, this spaciousness and in themselves may all beings everywhere with that exception. Maybe I'll be happy and free from suffering.

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