Reverse or Rebirth?

Reverse or Rebirth?

It’s been almost four months since I relocated from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

It was a huge deal to close my private therapy practice in Berkeley and release my coveted Mills College counseling position, let alone leave a community that I’d lived in for over twenty years and an irreplaceable tribe of friends!

Nevertheless, it was time for a change.

After getting divorced last year and all that disappears in your life when your marital status changes, it was time for something fresh. New territory has a sort of healing balm to it. Free of haunting memories, life is created anew.

At the same time, creating something new in the middle of your life can feel overwhelming, especially because rebuilding takes time and our egos are constantly reminding us of what was.

I’ve seen this pattern show up for a lot for people who have chosen to start over, as well as for people who were forced to start over when their companies downsized or contracts dried up. I’ve watched colleagues and clients alike, struggle with this. Somewhere along the way, we were taught that success is linear. We ascend the corporate or success ladder. Our models and metaphors only allow for three options: we are either up, down, or moving laterally.

Obviously, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that “up” is the only acceptable option on the ladder and that if we aren’t climbing the ladder, then our worth as human beings is lessened, similar to how stock is valued on the market. Our value is rising, staying the same, or becoming worthless.

Clearly it is time that this archaic, patriarchal, practice be tossed out like the torture chambers and thumbscrews of the Dark Ages. If we want to create a fair and equal world we must first stop defining our worth and our income and class status. This is radical social change.

Last week a new client said to me that she felt like she’s been in “reverse” since being laid off and trying to find her next path. There was some static on the phone and I thought she’d said “rebirth.” Rebirth actually made more sense to me because when we clear away all that we’ve been, opportunities for something new to come through us are created. Sometimes communications like this can be quite synchronistic because this reframe helped her begin to see her circumstances in a new light.

Do you need a miracle?

Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love, a book read and quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech in 1993 (see full quote below) talks about how miracles can simply be a change in our perceptions or thinking. “A miracle is a release from internal bondage.” In this time of recession and change, a miracle can be how we choose to see or think about our circumstances.

Another new client of mine, a successful actor, is also going through a dry spell. I reminded him of Ellen’s career path, how she appeared to lose everything in 1997 when she came out as a lesbian. Her show was cancelled, her relationship ended, and she became depressed. Her trajectory of success was anything, but linear, it was more like the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card, where she went from the top of the world to under it. However, like the seasons, she made it through the darkness of winter and a dark night of the soul, planted new seeds for her life and today has cultivated even greater levels of success while being even more authentically herself.

While I’m sure that some part of Ellen wished she didn’t have to go through those periods that looked like she was going in “reverse,” sliding down the proverbial chutes and ladders of success, she’s shared that it was the power of those dark times that helped her grow stronger spiritually and emotionally.

Cycles of Rest and Success

Since so many people are experiencing this sense of going in reverse, we can reframe this reality and see ourselves as going through a rebirth. Let’s stop buying into the artificial linear model of success and back into seeing things in a more cyclical organic way.

We need periods of letting the old go, experiencing the vast emptiness of winter in our lives, so that a there is space for new life to come through. The fields don’t bemoan that they are failures because they are empty in winter, and neither should we. While we have less certainly about the length of cycles in our lives, we can trust that if we plant seeds, when the conditions are right, our lives will bloom again and we will gratefully reap the harvest.

So join me in continuing to know that you are loved, you are supported, and you are intrinsically worthy and worthwhile, no matter how much money you make or used to make, or whether or not you are one of the many Americans who’ve had to file for bankruptcy or had your home foreclosed on.

Don’t let these experiences isolate you with shame and don’t for a minute believe that you are a failure.

Let us judge ourselves and others by the content of our characters, not the contents of our bank accounts.

As always, if you are struggling with any of these concerns and would like some support please contact me for a free coaching consultation to see if coaching would empower you during these life transitions.

With love and true equality for all,

Davina

Marianne Williamson Quote from A Return to Love used in Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural Speech

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This is a powerful book and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already! I used to give handouts of this quote to my inmate clients at the federal prison to remind them of their intrinsic value and that the truth of who they were was not the dark things that they’d done, but the light of love in their hearts, and to stop pretending that they were “bad asses,” if you will, and start being their true lovable selves.

Like most of the books that I am inspired by, I have already gone to town with my yellow highlighter pen highlighting the sage words on the pages. You can also check out more of Marianne’s work at www.marianne.com and her interviews with Oprah.

What are you telling yourself?

Today I started my morning at 7:00 AM leading my Writing As A Spiritual Practice Class-10 Days of Sacred Awakening.

Today was Day Three-Writing and Self-Love.

So after a brief clearing out of the mental cobwebs and trash from the day before, we launched into positive self-affirmations and positive self-talk.

Most of us are quite familiar with negative self-talk, “Hey, you really screwed that up!” “What were your thinking?” “You sounded so stupid!” Our internal gremlins speak to us all the time, those nasty little inner critics that tell us we’re not good enough, that make us doubt ourselves, that can keep us from trying new things or making changes. Starting your day with loving self-talk really throws those inner gremlins for a loop.

So today we focused on writing self-loving things, affirming our worth and knowing that we are loved by life, that we are beautiful, that we are talented, special, worthy, and precious.

What would 30 minutes of loving words a day do for you?

A thousand wishes!

What would you do if you had a thousand wishes that would come true?

I would wish for peace, for more love and gentleness in the world, for more time to make art for everyone and less judgment about what art is. I would wish for clean drinking water for everyone. I would wish for more trees and less pollution. I would wish to be able to speak at least 10 languages. I would wish for healing from all the hurts of the past, the ones others felt I caused them and the ones I felt others caused me. I would wish for more than enough food, love, and joy for everyone. I would wish for an end to abuse. I would wish for an end to GMO foods and corporate greed. I would wish for equality for LGBT people. I would wish for connection and community. I would wish that everyone loves what they do in the world and feels loved and supported.

I could go on and on.

Stop and smell the flowers!

Life is beautiful, especially when we are in the flow trusting that the Universe has our back. When I trust the Universe to take care of me, that’s when I want to stop and smell the flowers and gaze up at the beautiful sky. When I have faith, that’s when I am present.

So, what does it take to put our faith in the Universe, knowing that there is a perfect, Divine plan for each and everyone of us that takes into account all our talents, passions, and joys?

Practice.

We must practice affirmations, we must practice being mindful of what thoughts we think and what words we use in our discussions. We must practice focusing on what is going right and not what is going wrong or missing. We must practice appreciation and gratitude.

These practices will get us out of fear and back into the flow and joy of life, the nectar if you will!

So, stop and smell the flowers and let the essence fill you with peace!

LGBT Pride at the Pentagon

Last week I spoke at the first ever institutionally organized and federally-funded, backed, and supported LGBT Pride event at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, a part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

This was huge!

I spoke about the history of LGBT federal employees and the importance of coming out in the workplace. The national affirmative action theme for LGBT Diversity Awareness was “The Power of Out at Work!”

I worked for the federal government for 13 years for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as I said before, this was huge!!!

This month alone, the federal government has made great strides in recognizing and respecting LGBT rights and diversity.

When I arrived at the prison, I was greeted by a straight man who lead the overall affirmative action program at that facility and also by the co-leader of the LGBT group. After clearing security, I was taken to a room that was decorated with rainbow colored ballons, signs with LGBT pride symbols, and explanations of the symbols origins.

I was told that the inmates were allowed to participate in this project and painted the rainbow flags, pink triangles, etc. and made the signs explaining the history. I knew this was an important step forward to because it meant that the LGBT inmates had a chance to feel proud and included, truly radical in a prison environment, since most prison environments are known for their homophobia.

The notion of “The Power of Out At Work” is a complicated one for LGBT federal employees because during the years 1953-1985, “homosexuality” was considered incompatible with government employment and LGBT employees were fired from their positions and “open homosexuals” were denied employment.

Here’s a bit of what I shared that day:

We have made such great strides in our country and continue to do so, but let me contextualize for you what once was the plight of the LGBT federal employee.

In 1951, the U.S. Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department issued a report on “The Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government.” In this report, 91 people were identified as gay and fired.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which required that all federal employees determined to be guilty of “sexual perversion” be fired. FYI Sexual perversion meant an LGBT federal employee. Hundreds of people were fired, quit, or committed suicide.

During the McCarthy Era and the Red Scare, the hunt for Communists in the United States, there was also the Lavender Scare, which was the hunt for LGBT federal employees. It lasted from 1953 to 1995. Before it was over, more than 10,000 Federal employees lost their jobs!

Check out this new documentary entitled Lavender Scare. Click here to watch a youtube clip!

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Even when LGBT people did heroic deeds in service to our country, they were denied recognition.

A Gay Marine Saved a President from an Assassin

On September 22, 1975 when Sara Jane Moore, who was once an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin where I spoke, took aim president Ford in San Francisco, she was quickly disarmed by a man named Billy Sipple. (See Geri Spieler’s book Taking Aim At the President).

Sipple was a decorated Marine and Vietnam Veteran. He was also a gay man. Sipple was not out at work and not out to his family and he asked the press to keep his sexual orientation off record. However, obviously President Ford had access to that information and this was likely the reason that Sipple was not given the recognition that he deserved.

According to Harold Evans, author of The Imperial Presidency: 1972-1980, Harvey Milk publically took issue with this and a few weeks later, Sipple received a brief note of thanks.

Before 1995, an openly gay person could be denied federal employment.

I was hired by the federal Bureau of Prisons in June 1996. I stated to the Office of Personnel Managment (OPM) investigators that I was openly gay.

It was documented in my background check and verified when they interviewed my landlord and my former boss. It’s amazing that only one year before I could have been denied federal employment simply because I am not straight.

Today, an openly gay man now heads OPM!

Thankfully our country is finally coming to respect diversity.

In addition to the invitation to speak about LGBT rights at the federal agency I worked at for 13 years, the week prior LGBT servicemembers were acknowledged for their contributions by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta who thanked gay and lesbian service members and LGBT civilians for their dedicated service to the nation. Panetta said You can be proud of serving your country and proud of who you are in your uniform.”

On Friday, June 15th, President Obama spoke at a reception marking LGBT pride month where he invited LGBT people, including LGB servicemembers and their spouses and partners, to the White House! A historic event after last year’s repeal of DADT.

President Obama subtley reminded us to vote for him this November when he said we still have a lot to do, but we will get there! As long as I am in the White House, you have an advocatefor an America where no matter what you look like, where you come from, or who you love, you can dream Big Dreams.”

Why being out at work is important!

Employees that are out and trust their employers are happier, stay with the company longer. LGBT people are highly motivated, well-educated, and dedicated employees.

I, of course, had facts and figures to back this up, quoting from a Center for Work Life Policy study that reported that:

* LGBT employees are “a highly desirable labor pool. Ambitious (71%) and committed (88% are willing to go the extra mile for employers). Forty-eight percent of LGBT respondents have graduate degrees versus 40% of their straight counterparts).

* LGBT employees who are not out reported significantly greater feelings of being stalled in their careers and greater dissatisfaction with their rates of promotion and advancement.

* LGBT employees who are not out are 40 percent less likely to trust their employer than those who are out.

* Employees who remain closeted and isolated are 73 percent more likely to leave their companies within the next three years.

I passed out a flyer of the Pride event at the Pentagon to show them just how serious the U.S. Government was now taking LGBT diversity. I swear my own mouth was open when I passed it around. I’m still utterly in awe of the fact that we are finally here!!!

I reminded them to think twice before telling gay jokes and I ended the talk with a quote from U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton in her recorded message honoring LGBT pride month:

“We will not rest until full and equal rights are a reality for everyone. History proves that the march toward equality and justice will overcome barriers of intolerance and discrimination. But it requires a concerted effort from all of us. No matter how long the road ahead, I’m confident that we will travel it successfully together. Wherever you are celebrating this month, I wish you a happy Pride.”

I too wish all of the employees at the Pentagon a Happy Pride tomorrow!! And may we all feel proud for our accomplishments as a country and continue to celebrate and live our lives out loud!!

We’ve come a long way baby!!!!

Happy Pride~
Davina

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Quick, write down what came into your mind?

Maybe there is more than one thing.

Maybe there’s a whole string of things you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail.

What if it didn’t matter if you failed or not? We have so much pressure on ourselves that we shouldn’t even bother trying something unless we are going to be perfect at it. After all, who wants to look stupid? Yet, it is always in the journey that we grow, the destination is only a part of the equation.

I like watching GLEE. Yes, I get that those kids are trained actors and singers. They are also role models, real life role models of young people who pursued their dreams of dancing, singing and acting and are DOING IT!

REAL LIFE KIDS who FOLLOWED THEIR HEARTS into the arts and they play kids who are doing the same-following their BIG DREAMS!

Imagine what your life would look like if you were following your BIG DREAM! Maybe you are already following your BIG DREAM, living your BIG DREAM.

I started following my big dreams and they got even BIGGER!

So what if you claimed an even BIGGER DREAM for your life and stood it in and were willing to take those small steps and the BIG LEAPS towards your destiny?

What if 5 years from now you looked back from the mountain top of those BIG DREAMS with a feeling of satisfaction and new desires moving through your heart and soul? How would that feel?

My big dream 12 years ago was to write a book. Since then I’ve published two non-fiction books, a short story, a memoir, a poem, and published several articles in LGBT and psychology magazines and journals. I’m proud of myself. Writing and publishing a book seemed so far away once.

Now, I’m ready to be a New York Times Best Selling Author of both fiction and non-fiction books. I’ve written two awesome novels that I’m ready to share with the world and I want to write and publish non-fiction books that support my readers in loving themselves even more, believing in themselves even more, and having the tools to get through tough times and courageously live the authentic lives they came here to live. So, I am claiming and standing in my BIG DREAM!

My work as a psychologist in a women’s prison for 13 years, my leadership within the marriage equality movement and my coaching people to design the lives they’ve dreamed of has all boiled down to one clear message: we must claim our power, be our true selves, and love ourselves unconditionally.

I want to support you in stepping into living your BIGGER dream, taking that leap of faith, and living your authentic life.

I have two FREE events coming up that I’ve designed to help you do just that. I want you to join me for one or both of these tele-seminars if they speak to you.

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“How to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!”

FREE Tele-Seminar

May 28, 2012

7:00-8:00 PM PST

Click here to register!

 

This is for LGBTIQ people and straight allies who find themselves still hiding and holding back. Stop being apologetic for you are and start flaunting your truth! Start being the real you in all conversations and in all ways!!!

You are here to live out loud and love out loud. You will never be able to lead with your heart and live from your heart if you can’t live your truth out loud and if you can’t boldly trust who you are or who you love. Goodbye internalized homophobia, hello radical self-acceptance!!!

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“3 Secrets to Finding Your Voice and Sharing Your Message!”

FREE Tele-Seminar

May 30, 2012

4:00-5:00 PM PST

Click here to register now!

You have a message to share! You have a gift to give!

Find your voice and find out what you are wanting to give voice to and why your voice matters!

Come join in this prelude to also finding out if you have a book in you. I bet you do!

 

Remember as R. Kelly sang, “If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it. I believe I can fly!”

It’s time to BELIEVE!

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If you are unable to attend, sign up anyway, and you’ll receive a FREE recording of the tele-seminars.

You can check out the tele-classes and workshops I’m offering this summer.

Click Here for The 3 Month Come Out Courage Coaching Program!

Click Here for The Manifest Your Manuscript Summer Program!

Come feed your soul with the Seduce Your Muse Writing Workshop and Retreat in Venice Italy September 1-8th.

Click Here to Register Now!

Live, love, dream big and BELIEVE!

Davina

Did you hear about me and Oprah?

Did you hear about me and Oprah?

Usually, I’m the one following in Oprah’s footsteps. I’ve kept a gratitude journal, read Eckhart Tolle’s- “A New Earth,” etc.

Now, Oprah is finally following in my footsteps, by literally walking on hot coals.

I walked on fire my first time back in 1999 at Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” Seminar. Hey, it only took Oprah 13 years to catch up with me on this one.

I’m proud of her and I got to re-live my fire-walk experience on Oprah’s “Next Chapter” TV show that she filmed with the man who introduced me to the power of coaching and transformed my life–Tony Robbins.

Oprah was just “going to watch” and do a story on Tony’s UPW Seminar. She ended up surprising herself, and Tony, with her courage when she walked on hot coals last month outside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Today, I can boast that I’m a four-time fire-walker, including walking a 40 foot fire-walk in Hawaii at Tony’s “Life Mastery Workshop” in 2000.

There is nothing like fire-walking!!!

Our brains are designed to fear fire and our bodies learn early on not to touch to it. That’s why walking on fire is so powerful!

The fire-walk is a show of courage over circumstance, to not let fear stop you from moving forward in your life.

How often do you get stopped from taking action in your life because you are afraid?

We are afraid of failing, looking stupid, making a mistake. Our fear can keep us stuck, our fear can keep us from going after our dreams or from making positive changes in our life.

Not everyone needs to literally walk on hot coals to know that they can overcome their fears, but it sure feels awesome to do it! And if you don’t believe me, ask Oprah!

For some people, finding the courage to speak their truth is their fire-walk. I have several amazing clients who realized that the reason they never felt like they “fit in” was because they had been born into a body that did not reflect the energetic essence of who they really were. Because society places rigid expectations on people based on whether or not they are male-bodied or female-bodied, for these brave souls, their fire-walk was declaring to themselves, loved ones, and co-workers what their true essence was and dressing and expressing themselves in a way that was true to their authentic selves.

For others, their proverbial fire-walk, might be coming out about some other personal truth. For example, I was recently at a writing workshop where a woman “came out” as “psychic” and talked about how this gift had frightened her at times and that she feared that she would be judged or rejected for sharing her truth.

For some, a fire-walk might be leaving a professional career to pursue an artistic endeavor, ending a relationship, following a spiritual calling or traveling internationally.

Every one of us has some growth edge, some place where we are hiding or holding back and afraid to step forward into our authentic selves or a greater expression of who we are.

What is your fire-walk and will you take that first step?

If you are feeling called to make a change in your life, please contact me. I am here to help you take that first step and support you in your personal transformation!

Much love,

Davina

How to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!

How To Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!!!

Come Out!

 

After two years in the making, I finally finished creating my newest program called “How to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!”

Buy Now

This 6 CD set program and workbook is the first of its kind!!!

The program combines my more than fifteen years of experience as a clinical psychologist and leader in the LGBT community to empower LGBT people and their families to claim their truth and authentically express who they are in the world.

There are no other coming out programs like this!

The program consists of eight hours of recorded material; including coming out coaching and exercises, guided imagery, and empowering interviews.

You’ll learn the 5 Secrets to Coming Out with Confidence:

● How to Talk to People with CONFIDENCE About Who You Are So They’ll Want to Accept You!

● What to Say When Someone Tells You “It’s Just a Phase” or “You Can Change.”

How to Feel Great About Yourself Regardless of Other People’s Responses.

● How to BREAK THROUGH the Closet Door!

● The Most Important Secret to Coming Out!

PLUS four inspiring interviews:

“Saying Yes to Your Truth” with Rev. Deborah Johnson, Author of Sacred Yes and Your Deepest Intent

“How to Survive Being Outed!” with Dr. Isaac Namdar, Author of In This Day And Age: A Community at the Crossroads of Religion and Homosexuality

“How to Breakdown the Closet Door!” with former California Senator Roy Ashburn

“Don’t Get Bitter, Make It Better!” with Pastor Marcos Apolonio, Kinship International

For more information, go to:

www.comeoutintoyourpower.com

2012 is a Leap Year and the Year of the Dragon!

2012 is a Leap Year! 

It is also the year of the Dragon which means it is a great year to be bold! 

And what could be more bold than joyfully going after your dreams and listening to your heart’s desire?

Perhaps like me, you inherited the belief that to be successful meant working long hours and really pushing yourself towards success. Work first, play later, if at all. Following your heart, being playful and really enjoying your life was for losers or dreamers, or at the very least something you could look forward to after retirement–early retirement if you played your cards right! That model does not have to be true.

I had the good fortune, the last year of the Dragon (2000), to attend Tony Robbins Life Mastery. I say good fortune, because I used my retirement funds to pay the $10,000 to attend. It seemed utterly insane at the time to almost everyone in my life, including me, so it took a huge leap of faith to make that investment at 30 years old. It was one of the best investments of my life. The things I learned by taking that leap paid me back ten fold, both literally–cash in pocket–and figuratively by showing me what is possible when I stopped playing small in my life, said “yes” to my dreams, and took action towards my highest vision.

Some actions can be simple like reading positive affirmations out loud every day, while others are bigger like signing up to run a marathon or taking Spanish Immersion in another country.

Many people have told me that they would like to write a book. They have a positive message or a life-changing story that they want to share with the world, however, they don’t know how to get started. They think writing a book has to be hard work. Again, that limiting belief shows up that the good stuff has to be hard.

I’ve found that I am more productive and creative when I am enjoying myself and letting the creativity flow through me. I’ve written four books that way. I remember hearing Tony Robbins talk about how he wrote his first book in 4 months. I was so inspired by this, that I set out to do the same. I actually wrote and published my first book “Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage” within 9 months of saying “yes” to the editor of Alyson Books.

People would ask me, “How many years did it take you to write your books?” I almost felt apologetic when I told them it only took me 4.5 months to write my first book and 3 months to write my second book. The publication process took the most time. It was beyond their conception of what was possible. They truly believed that writing had to include suffering or grueling bouts of writer’s block. Again, when I am enjoying myself, the creativity is unstoppable. It is like tapping in to a well that just continues to flow, all I have to do is make the time and space to receive it.

I wanted to share this truth with other writers and healers to support them in tapping into this joyful creative flow–and that’s why I created the Seduce Your Muse Workshop in Italy.

I wanted other writers, coaches, and healers to have the opportunity to enjoy the process of writing and to see the grace and ease that flows forward from the creative well, when you are in alignment with your self and your soul. Your muse needs play, beauty, relaxation,  and inspiration and then your cup runneth over. It is the “hardwork” of toiling that saps your creative juices. This is true whether or not you are writing a book, starting a new business, or creating a new program or product. Playfulness + vision + intent + action=inspired successful creation.

Here’s what  a few Seduce Your Muse participants said:

“Seduce Your Muse unleashed my creativity and refreshed my writing. Davina creates a safe space where you can explore the new realms that writing can take you into. She is a competent coach who encourages us to become whom we want to be and helps us to let go of what no longer serves us. I will recommend Seduce Your Muse to others and yes, I would love to do this again.”— Jacqueline B. Canada

“Top notch retreat. High value for price! I would recommend Seduce Your Muse to others. You relax more and can be even more of your true self. Intimate and safe. Vacation-feel away from it all in a really unique and distinctive location. Very inspiring, stimulating and helped me get unstuck and writing again.”– Yessica, Amsterdam

“I loved the variety of different types of writing and of the creativity and coaching exercises that brought out different dimensions of my self. It was very powerful! I loved the combination of being in a beautiful, magical, fascinating place – and awakening creativity and being creative is incredibly juicy and satisfying. Yummmm! Davina has a wonderful capacity to coach, to support and draw out essence and life force! I loved her playfulness and sense of drama – and our full moon walk night with masks.”–Laurie, California

“I would definitely do this again! I will be recommending this to other “kindred spirits” who would be able to receive and learn from Davina’s gifts. Davina is both inspirational and great fun. She clearly knows and loves this city. Seduce Your Muse was very well organized and Davina kept the pace moving in time. I loved Davina’s coaching for inspiration! Seduce Your Muse jump starts your writing: Venice awakens your soul.” –Sharon, Ottawa

I’ve included more information about Seduce Your Muse and an article from one of last year’s participants called “Should You Seduce Your Muse?” to help you figure out of this adventure is for you.

It is the year of the Dragon, I know you have something to unleash. I invite you to take a leap and join me in Italy. Come Seduce Your Muse in a  one-of-a-kind experience that you will always treasure.

Ciao,

Davina

Should you Seduce your Muse in Venice? by Sharon Irven

Should you Seduce your Muse in Venice?

by Sharon Irven

“Travel is like love: it cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.” Pico Iyer

The answer to whether you should seduce your muse in Venice (or any other far away location) depends on why you would want to leave home and your cozy writing space in the first place. Are you feeling stuck in your work, forgotten why you launched such an ambitious writing project, in need of some new stimulation or just plain wanting to get away? For me, having the distinction of living in the second coldest capital city in the world, I felt that I had endured too many days of jaw dropping cold weather last January when I heard about Davina’s workshop.

Christmas was over and coincidentally, so was my marriage. I had spent the previous month talking to lawyers and other creatures from the dark side, so I desperately needed a change. Most of my friends had already escaped for warmer climes: Florida, Texas, even Goa, where can I go? It was too late to get reservations for a cheap trip to Cuba (half of Canada must already be there); a Caribbean escape felt way too decadent. Besides, I’m not much of a beach bunny, preferring to learn something new on holidays, and I don’t mean new places to shop. Now that I have more time on my hands, I wanted to get back to my writing.

I rounded up the usual suspects on-line, consulting trusted web sites and blogs for escape ideas. I knew about a writer’s retreat in Chile that is popular with Canadians (our winter is their summer, so handy) but the facilitator was a poet. Although I love poets and poetry, I don’t see myself writing it. In another blog, I found an intriguing reference to a ‘seduce your muse’ writers’ workshop. Following the links, the stunning pictures of Venice on Davina’s website seduced me, instantly. I had always thought of Venice as a tourist trap (it had not ranked high on my bucket list) but it did look gorgeous in those pictures. Besides, I had heard that Venice was sinking so it felt like I should experience it before it goes. And the price was right. The timing fit too – being in March allowed enough time to get my passport renewed.

I forwarded the url to three fellow scribes and there was a lot of interest; only Jacqueline could see her way clear to attend with me. OMG, cue the rockets; we are going to Venice! We did not realize then how useful this sojourn would be to support our writing aspirations.

Before we immersed ourselves into attracting our muses, we spent a day wandering about Venice acquainting ourselves with all its considerable charms.

We happily got lost amidst the narrow streets (some ending abruptly at canals with unprotected entrances: heads up!), we browsed in shops selling everything imaginable (shoes, gloves and handbags especially caught my eye) and noticed, on every street corner, a gelato shop. They are as popular as Tim Horton’s are back home in Ottawa.

The next day we checked into the comfortable apartment where our workshop was taking place. Did I mention spacious? It had a fully equipped kitchen, handy for making breakfasts (one of the participants created three lovely gourmet meals for us here), a living and dining room where most workshop sessions took place, two sparkling ceramic bathrooms and sleeping quarters for up to 5 people. A tiny balcony off the kitchen opened onto a canal: one day we watched a ‘near miss’ between two gondoliers heading in opposite directions around a tight corner. Thank goodness for skillful maneuvering! Compared to the cramped hotel rooms that one usually encounters in Europe, it felt like we were staying in the Taj Mahal. Jacqueline joked that one almost had time to eat lunch moving from the bedrooms to the living room.

As a way to launch the workshop, Davina guided us through the city on a full moon walk. Clearly she knows and loves this city: we loved seeing the full moon hovering over the centuries old buildings and shining on the canals. What a wonderful introduction to this magical kingdom. It was also an opportunity to invoke the spirits of other creative geniuses associated with Venice: Ezra Pound is buried at nearby San Michele Island; Browning wrote ‘O to be in England’ while living at the palatial Ca Rezzonico that overlooks the Grand Canal; Antonio Vivaldi was born and composed his fabulous music here, just to name a few. We invited our artistic muses to visit us here in this mystical city of shimmering canals and car-free streets.

So what did we do to nurture our writing muses during the seven days of the workshop? We shared our dreams as writers, responded to creative prompts, either from Davina’s imagination or from the majestic surroundings, we practiced writing different forms (I’m still not a poet) and, under Davina’s gentle prodding, set new writing intentions for ourselves. After we got home, Jacqueline successfully applied for (and secured) a spot in the coveted Banff Creative Writing Studio. She attributes her Venice experience for giving her the resolve to do so. I decided to break out a partially completed novel that was in hiding amongst the dust bunnies.

Davina had designed a workshop schedule that allowed for an agreeable mix of personal and group time. In between writing sessions, we toured the city, either as a group or alone, exploring all the traditional sights, like San Marco Basilica, the splendid museums and galleries, jewelers’ and artists studios. We went for two relaxing gondola rides, a bit like canoeing, only someone else is doing all the work (sometimes they sing too). We dined al fresco in the sunny campo; one evening we attended a classical music concert by candlelight at a lovely renaissance church filled with art. We had an amazing holiday.

There were tears when we said our good-byes at the vaporetto stop, en route to the train station. We were sad to see our group go our separate ways to Canada, California and Amsterdam. Hope we meet again, preferably near a canal and under Davina’s inspiring leadership.

To attend Seduce Your Muse or to learn more go to http://www.seduceyourmuse.com