Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator

My Journey

My Journey

I’m a deep listener who cares deeply about helping people heal old wounds to live more authentic and satisfying lives.

I loved being a therapist, but I closed my practice after my second child was born to focus on raising my children. Now I help people grow and change through my writing and workshops. People are amazingly resilient! Writing is a natural way to find out how resilient you are – and sharing what you write inspires other people to feel hopeful and resilient. 

 

portrait2.jpg

As a creator, I love to imagine myself into the world of a photograph to learn the secrets it has to reveal, and use them as a source of inspiration for all kinds of writing.

Photos have a lot to to show and tell us about our life stages and  family of origin. That’s me in the middle of the portrait my mother hung over our fireplace. My parents lived in this town for fifty years, raised five children and grew into old age together here. My mother died here. My  father lost mastery over his memory here. Family relationships, how they endure and how they change over time - the tumult/the bliss - are at the root of most of my writing.


As you can see from my photos, nature deeply nourishes my writing.

My roots are in this beautiful New England town where I was born and raised. Nature renews my spirit daily, in every season, in the Charles River Woods where I live and explore with my labs, Suzi Q & Charleston. So many of my poems are inspired by what I see and feel there, wondering what it means to be a woman in her fifties, a mother of young adult children, a wife of over twenty-five years, a daughter of aging parents, a sister, a friend, a writer and teacher.


I believe in new beginnings.

Every one of us has known or loved an addict or alcoholic. I’ve always cared about helping addicts and their loved ones find hope and recovery. I was fortunate during my Master’s Degree training to have an internship at a state-of-the art residential treatment center for addiction and codependency, Spofford Hall, on a beautiful lake in New Hampshire. After graduating I joined the clinical staff of the adolescent unit, running group therapy sessions for teens and family members.

I loved this work but soon was itching to channel my expertise into prevention services to teens. Many of my plays and poems have since touched on this experience, revealing themes of healing the past and rising from ashes to begin again. This is also how I met my husband — helping young people. Freedom from Chemical Dependency is a non-profit educational resource for students that changes lives, and when FCD hired me, it changed mine. I traveled to independent schools around the US, from Bell Buckle, TN, to Phillips Academy in Boston, to Santa Fe, NM providing a substance abuse curriculum tailored to each school. This is a picture of the young man I met while working at FCD. They paired us so often on projects we became best friends, and by the time they sent us to Santa Fe we were in love.

The year before I married my husband Frank and moved to Florida to open my private counseling practice, I loved providing substance abuse assessment, prevention and treatment to college students at Brown University Health Education.


What we can’t accomplish alone we can with the help of others, and I believe in the power of support groups. And writers also need support to grow!

A creative life is risky business, and every writer needs a support system to thrive. I wrote my first short play – inspired by an original poem – when I was forty years old without any guidance. I soon found a playwriting group in Boston, Playwrights’ Platform.

I was afraid to open my mouth for the first few meetings. I hung in, and soon was asked to become heavily involved as a board member. As President, I coordinated a variety of play development activities supporting dozens of new playwrights and Boston area actors and directors. Small first step, big impact.

Developing my full-length play, Weekend at the Dreaming Cloud, was uniquely rewarding. My award-winning play was inspired by a traumatic death of my boyfriend when I was teenager. I used original letters he had written to me to develop his character in the play. As a winner of the Susan McIntyre Play Festival, Weekend at the Dreaming Cloud had a dramatically moving weekend production in Nashua, NH.


A scene from my play Everything Blows Away.

A scene from my play Everything Blows Away.

After building this confidence, I wanted to share it. So I founded and produce an annual play festival to support women writers.

It’s hard to get a play produced, period. But, the facts back up our feelings – if you’re a woman playwright it’s even harder. There’s an international cultural bias towards plays written by men. Our Voices, now in its 10th year, began as a grassroots effort, inspired by the International Centre for Women Playwrights and the Fund for Women Artists, to give the stage to women to tell their stories.

The funny thing is, as a kid I was frozen with shyness and full of inhibitions. But as an adult I discovered I love to act through my training in psychodrama and playback theatre.  I love supporting young people to find and express gifts and talents they don’t realize they have.


Some of my plays and monologues for youth are inspired by diaries I wrote for my children. Like lots of writers, I began by simply keeping a journal.  

When I have a personal or creative problem, I pick up my pen to begin solving it. Writing helps me embrace, rather than resist change, and, more than that, it helps me accept – and appreciate – what I cannot change.

In my diaries for my children, I wrote directly to them, rather than about them. This has undoubtedly made me a better writer and a better parent.

Writing directly to my children in the diaries is a natural instinct I followed to save the stories of their lives in an intimate, compassionate, playful, respectful and tender way. They each have their own stack of diaries, all about their lives from birth, written in my handwriting.

 

This is a picture of one of my
son Landon’s diaries. He’s 28 now.

 

February 5, 1994 (Age 6)

. . .While riding in the car you overheard Daddy say the word “sex,” and you started saying that he had said a “bad word.”

I said, “Sex isn’t a bad word. Sex is where babies come from.”

You said,“ That’s not where babies come from.”

“Then, where do they come from?” I asked.

“From artists,” you said.“They draw them then paint them and then they put the picture in your tummy and it turns into a real baby.”

“Oh—where did you learn that?”

“I just knew it."


This is a picture of one my daughter
Perri’s diaries. She’s 24 now. 

 

November 6, 1994  (Age 2 ½)

A week or so ago, in the early morning, just after taking Landon to school, we were walking up to the house from the car when you saw the bit of moon over the house. You said: “When Daddy gets home he’ll get it for me, and I’ll hold it in my hands and I won’t break it.


This is a picture of one of my
daughter Franci’s diaries. She’s 19 now.

 
 

March 6, 2000 (Age 3)

Peering inside the cassette player, I see a pile of pennies. Daddy let you hang out Sat. in my car while he washed it, and now I see that you have used my pile of pennies to break everything in my front dash that you could get to. “Take a bref, Mommy,” you tell me. “Take a deep, deep bref…"


 

Here’s the book cover of Before You Forget, a book I wrote about this very experience of writing diaries for your children. I’m sure our first lab, Flash, wished I’d kept one for him too, but I had to draw the line somewhere!

 
 
 

Every writer needs plenty of unconditional approval. I’m grateful to Suzi Q & Charleston for theirs every day.