The Gift of the Open Group for Bedlam Farm
Almost a year ago, one of my favorite authors, Jon Katz, began a group for creative people on Facebook called the Open Group for Bedlam Farm. Its sole purpose is to foster and encourage the creative spark that dwells in each and every person in an atmosphere of positivity and acceptance. This group of amazing writers, artists, poets, etc., has become very dear to me…a virtual family that I have yet to meet in person. In baring our artistic souls to each other, we have bonded in truly beautiful and meaningful ways.
I am a musician, and I have always channeled my creativity through my clarinet. However, I realized that- like my mother- I love to share stories and take photos. I had begun a book on my clarinet mentor as part of my creative research for my university teaching position, and had become stuck. The ideas weren’t flowing, and it felt as if I was blocked. I stared at the computer screen day after day in a futile attempt to get my creative juices flowing again to no avail. I finally decided to step away from the book for a while, to get some distance and focus on my teaching and performing.
When Jon Katz added me to the OGBF, I tentatively began to share stories, primarily about my relationship with my mother. I shared photos, trying my hand at poetry, writing longer stories, branching out to other topics. Through the unfailingly encouraging environment of this band of creatives, I stretched my wings, gained confidence to continue trying new things. I was also inspired by the talent of my new friends, and touched by their heartfelt encouragement. They adopted my mother, giving a ninety-two-year-old woman a new lease on life with their kindness.
At the encouragement of Jon, I started this blog and have faithfully posted to it. Mr. Katz created a Ministry of Encouragement, as we call ourselves, a gift that is sending countless ripples of beauty and good out into the world. I feel humbled and blessed to be included in this wonderful group.
On the first day of May, I decided that it was time to get back to work on my book, ready to finish what I had started. I set a schedule for myself and sat down at the computer. I was thrilled to find that as I read what I had already written, the edits and ideas flowed as they hadn’t in almost a year. Where before there had been stress and frustration, now I felt excitement, elation. I also felt confidence that I could now finish the book by the end of my summer break. I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and my mind. The almost daily writing, as well as the many lessons I learned from reading the work of my fellow writers, opened the floodgates.
And so, I offer my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Jon Katz and my friends- no, my family- of the Open Group from Bedlam Farm. You have changed my life, made me a better person, inspired me, taught me. I can never repay you for your many gifts of compassion, encouragement, humor, friendship, and always, your amazing creative spirit. Attending the October Open House at Bedlam Farm is a pilgrimage that I am compelled to make. I look forward to hugging my dear friends, laughing and (probably) shedding a few tears with them. And of course, to kissing Simon’s nose. Thank you. Thank you, my friends.