The Care and Keeping of Jennifer Belthoff

Photo by Jennifer Belthoff

We're hosting a Week of Care and Keeping in celebration of The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls: A Manual, which hits the postal system on Friday, 11.25.11. I invited a few of the creative souls who pioneered this conversation with me in live workshops (and first edition manuals) to share some of their experiences, as well as some of their own Care and Keeping moves. Today we have with us the kind and generous Jennifer Belthoff:

Everywhere I travel my favorite pen and notebook go with me. I may be going to the public library, over to my parents house for dinner, or out for a ride in my car and deep inside my bag you will find these tools.  These two basic elements are my guides. They assist me with digging into my soul, sorting through my daily life, and helping me to heal. Without them I would be a lost traveler, wandering around in a fog and not seeing myself or knowing what truly moves me.

Life can be very fast paced with time slipping away quickly, but one thing I have learned is that we must take time for ourselves. Time to tend to our heart. Share our stories. Pour our soul out and examine the contents. We must sit quietly with our thoughts and allow our feelings to run deep inside of us. When we are constantly running from one thing to the next we lose sight of what is within. It is what is living inside that needs to be tended to--these feelings and emotions lead us through our daily lives. They take us on our journey. 

When I experience something emotionally moving I know in order for me to step forward I have to write it out of me. I have to sit down with myself and allow my hand to move over the paper. Stringing together words in ways I did not even realize I was feeling. This is how I tend to my soul. This is how I take care of my heart. Writing is my healing practice. 

When I push aside my notebook and do not pick up my pen for awhile I can feel it inside of me. I tend to become easily irritated, on edge, impatient. I get cranky and upset. Tears welling up in my eyes as I sit there wondering why am I feeling this way. It is in that moment that I must pick up my pen, even when it is a struggle. 

We have to dig deep inside of ourselves. Sit down with ourselves and do the work, really listen to what we are saying. Jen’s The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls gives me the space to show up. Taking me to the places I need to go. Asking the questions I  need to be asked. 

The stars aligned for me and I was able  to take Jen’s class in person at Squam by the Sea last year. I sat in a room full of women who arrived hesitant and nervous. But as the class was coming to a close everyone was relaxed, open, and sharing their stories. Jen has this magical way of opening people up, really listening to what they have to say, and making you feel like you are home. 

I learned about the importance of letting go and giving voice to those secrets we have been holding onto for so long. Tossing my secret into the sea I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulder. I no longer had to carry it with me. I continue to practice this in my daily life, going to my favorite spot in the woods and tossing my worries and fears into the stream. 

I also learned how important gratitude is. There is so much goodness swirling around us each day. Taking the time to recognize what is good makes it that much more sweet. I try to stop each day and take a few minutes to think about what I am grateful for, allowing these thoughts to sink deep inside of me. 

Being in the presence of Jen is such a gift. Her love and caring spills onto the pages she writes and finds its way deep into your heart, even though she is not physically in front of you. She guides you on doing the one thing that is vital to your daily living: taking the time to tend to yourself. It may not always be easy to clear the space, but every time I do it I feel so much lighter and happier after. I am grateful for being opened up to this way of living.



Jennifer Belthoff inspires people to show up as themselves and stand firmly in who they are by spilling her heart onto the page, over and over again.