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Into the Fire

In 2013, I attended a writing workshop offered by The Sun, a wonderful literary magazine to which I've subscribed for over 20 years. Titled "Into the Fire," the workshop was held at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Perched on a steep hillside overlooking the rugged Pacific coastline, the location boasted a breathtaking view, healing hot springs, acres of environmentally protected landscape and great food, much of it grown in its own organic gardens. The workshops the Sun offered were taught by authors such as Cheryl Strayed, Michael Shapiro, Ellen Haas  (if you haven't read her best-selling Wild, I'd recommend you do so, sooner rather than later

The Sun workshop

Beryl's January 2019 Newsletter

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I began this newsletter on a glorious warm day in January and felt the need to reconnect with all of you, not because I had something important to say but simply because I’ve missed you. Today it is 10 ° F. Based on the paucity of my newsletters, it is clear that Inspiration departed and writers block took its place when we moved from our home on Lake Superior. During the nineteen years we lived within that magical landscape, it was easy to write. I’m saddened I’ve done such a poor job finding inspiration here.
Our new home is delightful. A residence for active seniors filled with warm and bright people who have become a family. It is a very busy, lively place. This busy-ness and immediate access to the many amenities offered by Metropolitan living, has given me an abundance of excuses not to write. When I was asked to help form a writers’ group here at RosePointe, I found a way out of my creative lethargy. I can’t sit by and let everyone write but me.
I have several thick red journa…

Put Away My Words and Pray

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I know a lot of fancy words.
I tear them from my heart and my tongue.
Then I pray. 
--Mary Oliver “Six Recognitions of the Lord,” Thirst

Dear Reader,

Yes, it has been awhile since you’ve heard from me. While I often meant to write, I kept putting it off, hoping for a time when my words would not muddle my efforts to make a meaningful connection. As a writer, I find it almost impossible right now to find the inner peace to write an uplifting newsletter. Not in the midst of what feels like a war zone. Not without sharing concern about the anger, prejudice, and violence seething throughout this nation and the world. 

The realm of domination, privilege, and power in which we now live is not the realm of love, compassion and mercy in which I believe. What I see happening alarms me. Democracy giving way to autocracy. I am not politically skilled but I can no longer stem the disquiet that erupts within me when I see the indifference of those in power to the suffering of others and when that power …

Free for Valentine's Day

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day--
the e-book version of The Scent of God by Beryl Singleton Bissell is Free February 9-13,
Ann Patchett called this memoir "A terrifying, passionate, and exalted examination of what it means to love with your whole heart. Impossible to put down.”

Fall 2017 Newsletter

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Monet's Water Gardens at Giverny France October 2, 2017
“All day I try to say nothing but thank you, breathe the syllables in and out with every step I take” – Jeanne Lohmann, "To Say Nothing But Thank You,"  Shaking the Tree
Joy flooded me the first time I read these words. They resonated within my soul. I have tried to live them even when tragedy strikes and the future appears uncertain and even frightening.  “Thank you” for  the beauty that surrounds us, the wonders of the natural world, the good and compassionate people that surround us, life and death and everything in between. To say “thank you” is to pray. It is hope and belief, courage and healing.
Life picked up speed soon after I last wrote and the dust billowed  up clouding my sight. Serious health issues and the sale of both our homes--one in Florida and the other our dream home on Lake Superior-- exhausted us as we said goodbye to old friends and raced to sort, sell, or give away the too much stuff we’d accumul…

Beryl's 2006 Summer Newsletter

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August 31, 2016 Four Weeks after Surgery While I was on a white water rafting trip with beloved Minnesota author Carol Bly, she happened to mention that she loathed cameras. Writers should be seeing, not taking photos, she reminded me. This comforts me because while I might have missed the opportunity to digitally record the glorious abundance of roadside wild flowers that graced northern Minnesota this year, I recorded them mentally. Golden birds-eye trefoil banked the roadsides. White daisies merged with thick swaths lupines in pink, purple and yellow. Black-eyed Susan, lacy cow parsnip, and bright orange and yellow hawk weed stippled the landscape turning every walk or journey into a fragrant, hopeful flowering of life. If you enjoy looking as well as recording perhaps you find yourself wondering, as do I, if our cement cities -- where so much suffering lurks behind walls of prejudice and fear -- could be transformed into places of compassion and empathy if more gardens and green …

Don't miss this book

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Kristin Hannah has given us one of the most powerful stories of heroism and love that I have ever read. The Nightingale captures the often untold stories of the French Resistance movement. The ordinary people who moved beyond terror to protect and save from the Nazi's a nation's honor and the qualities that make humans capable of true greatness.