Doing by Not Doing

I thought I was retired from running the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. But life happens, and so do medical crises. So I’m back as Acting Executive Director, scrambling to pick up the threads of all the detailed tasks that make up a successful conference and continue weaving them into a sweetly patterned braid.

I’ve done it before, several years of befores. My challenge is to keep calm, level-headed, unstressed. I know that to do my job well, I need to take time to do nothing.

This morning Tony and I took one of our favorite walks: from Laguna Point at MacKerricher State Park south along the cliff edge to Virgin Creek Beach, then footprints on smooth wet sand to where the water of Virgin Creek ripples and glitters as it crosses the beach to the sea. There we leave the beach and, picking up our pace, take the weather-beaten old haul road back to the Laguna Point parking lot.

View from my front porch

This afternoon as I sit on my front porch, a white-crowned sparrow is singing from a nearby bush. Hummingbirds are working over the purple Mexican sage and yellow sticky monkey flower in front of me. I hear chirps from newly hatched Stellar’s jay chicks as a parent flies in to their nest in the wisteria vine. A violet-green swallow has come and gone from the porch corner cavity where they’ve sometimes nested. Two stems of dry grass dangle from the cavity. Not a good place this year. I warn them in my mind to  beware the predatory jays.

Inspired by a talk a year or two back by Lewis Richmond, author of Aging as a Spiritual Practice, I am learning to meditate. It’s hard to push away the clutter of to-do lists, but I think I am making progress.

The mission of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference is to offer a place where writers find encouragement, expertise and inspiration. As executive director, my encouragement comes from the support and expertise of a wonderful team of volunteers, some of whom have been helping to run the conference for nearly all of its twenty-five years. My inspiration comes from the beauty of the pattern I braid from all these threads of tasks in my hand, its colors imbued with the memory of sea and headland, forest and garden, its thread tension even, unmarred by crises.

For the sake of all the writers who leave Mendocino Coast Writers Conference inspired by the supportive atmosphere the conference team creates, I can do this.

12 Responses to “Doing by Not Doing”

  • Alice Richards:

    Beautiful poetry with so much scientific accuracy. Facts that do not spoil the rhythm.

  • Thank you everyone for your gracious comments. I feel very loved and supported.

  • KATE:

    Beautifully expressed. You are kind and generous to the core. You are an inspiration to me. I am so grateful to know you.

  • Meditation! What a grand idea. I’ve started hanging upside down (unfortunately–must be done in garage staring at Les’s tools), but I wonder–could seeing the world wrong-side-up count?

  • Becky Bowen:

    That is thoughtful and wise. There’s something rewarding about doing the right thing–which is so often the hardest thing. You can do this (you’ve done it so well for so long)and you will be brilliant. More birds……less stress.

  • Sandy:

    You are an inspiration, Maureen! Always have been!

  • I love how you choose to settle back into the nest of leadership you left some time before, refurbishing it, making it cozier perhaps than previous years. This is a lovely conference, bringing together folks who love to, and are afraid to (same thing), write their hearts and minds onto paper. You are such a kind and intelligent spirit. Thank you for helping to make it happen, and happen with grace.

  • Judi:

    You inspire me!

  • Donald Shephard:

    An important reflection on the natural world and how we may usefully learn form it and embrace it for our own and others’ fulfillment.

  • Katy:

    We’ll try to keep your meditation moments growing. Thanks for taking up the traces again.Happy wanders.

  • What an elegantly reflective offering, Maureen.
    This is exactly the kind of meditative writing that carries its message as much through content as by way of its pacing and mood. Thank you.

    *And I remember taking that same delicious walk with you and Tony! I look forward to revisiting the experience.

  • Nona:

    I will,take my inspiration from you, Maureen.

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