A Bit About Me
Hi, I'm Dee (short for Tünde).
I’ve always loved words. One of my earliest memories is walking to the public library with my sister every Saturday morning to take out as many books as we were allowed. I'd tear through them before the week was up, supplementing them with books from the school library as needed. An older family member still loves to remind me how I could always be found reading on the front steps when I was supposedly playing outside.
I've worked with words my whole life, as a writer, editor, student of literature and teacher of writing. I’ve written and/or edited everything from technical reports, audit reports, medical textbooks and computer manuals to poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction.
Somewhere in there I managed to finish a B.A. in English Literature, then an M.A. in Women's Studies, and much later, a certificate in Adult Education. I've done corporate training, taught post-secondary English, and facilitated many small workshops in topics ranging from Reiki to HIV awareness to small business development.
Multi-passionate, pan-spiritual, I practise & teach contemplative writing with a Buddhist flavour.
I'm also an ADHD Writing Coach with ADHD myself. I help neurodivergent entrepreneurs whose work demands writing and who find writing so hard it's actually physically painful. (More about that here.)
About Me and
When I began leading workshops in contemplative writing in 2016, I'd been practising mindfulness meditation using Buddhist teachings for some years, but hadn't experienced the contemplative arts.
First I began learning about contemplative flower arranging, becoming part of the rotation of flower arrangers at the Shambhala Buddhist Centre in West Palm Beach, where I had just begun attending group sitting and taking meditation classes. That spring, I took part in a weekend of contemplative photography, called Nalanda Miksang, with Miriam Hall, founder of Herspiral Contemplative Arts, who taught not only Miksang but also contemplative writing, and who was to become my mentor and dear friend.
The first writing workshop I led at that Buddhist centre was totally seat-of-the-pants. I had no idea what I was doing. I'd agreed to lead the workshop in a fit of optimism that faded quickly, but I was nonetheless determined to follow through. After all, I’d made a commitment, and anyway, how hard could it be? I'd taught first-year essay writing classes! Government auditing teams! Way more scary.
Or maybe not. By the time of the Miksang retreat, I was nearing panic, but Miriam was so reassuring, warm and incredibly generous in sharing her wisdom, tips and resources that I managed to learn just enough just in time to lead the workshop.
I finally got to study contemplative writing with Miriam that fall, beginning my own training in earnest. Miriam also became a mentor to me, helping me create a writing life for myself, always with the utmost gentle compassion. She coached me in teaching practice as well, not only explicitly, but also simply by example. I still pay close attention to what Miriam does, how she handles various situations in classes and retreats, and how she holds herself in order to maintain a safe container for class participants.
Miriam herself had studied with Paula Novotnak, whose "Writing from the Center" classes included meditation practice, and later with Natalie Goldberg, whose landmark work Writing Down the Bones is the foundation for my own practice. Miriam's teaching draws on what she’s learned from both of them, and mine draws on Miriam's. When I asked Miriam if it was okay for me to teach using her practices and methods, she assured me that we all stand on somebody’s shoulders and that I had become part of the lineage of women who dive deep to meet their writing where it lives.
I’m now privileged to be sharing these teachings with students of my own. I’ve learned that we each bring our own flavour to the practice, but the foundation is unshakable: writing can be a practice just as meditation is a practice. We practise the way athletes practise. You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without building up your running muscles first. The same applies to writing.
So how has contemplative writing changed my life?
The practice itself involves accepting all parts of yourself on the page. I've learned to accept that sometimes my writing is luminous and sometimes mind-numbingly boring. I've learned to see that both are okay. Anything is okay to bring to the page. In fact, it's encouraged. On the page, I can be happy, sad, angry, annoyed, inspired, fearful, repetitive, brilliant.
I've slowly come to understand that it's not just on the page that I can allow myself to show up as I am.
It also involves accepting your process, whatever it is. I can write regularly or sporadically. I can write for five minutes or two hours. I can write whether I feel like it or not. Or I can indulge the whiny little voice that says, "Nah, I don't wanna." All of that is also okay.
Here's the transformational part: this acceptance has soaked through into other parts of my life. I've slowly come to understand that how I show up in my writing is how I show up in other parts of my life. I've slowly come to see that how I show up in life is also acceptable.
This radical self-acceptance has brought me more peace than I imagined possible. It's helped me navigate a new diagnosis of ADHD, which opened up a can of worms I hadn't been prepared for. It's helping me navigate a whole series of life changes, big and small, in ways that are more centred, more grounded, more resilient than I've ever been before.
In my life as in my writing practice, I've been learning to go easier on myself, forgive myself when I mess up, let go of things more quickly -- things I used to dwell on forever. I've learned to talk to myself more kindly, just as I would to my very best friend. I've also learned to hold myself accountable without beating myself up.
I'm passionate about this practice because it's done so much for me. I also know so many others who have benefitted from this practice, some who have used it as the foundation for writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction of all kinds.
I hope that by sharing what I've experienced in a way that allows you to experience something too, I can open a door that you may not have known was there. Whether you choose to walk through it is out of my control, but I can point the way. If you do choose to go through the door, what you find on the other side will be an experience that's uniquely yours, but you don't have to go through it alone. It's better with company.
So come on in. I'll put the kettle on.