Hedgebrook, the Verb: A Dual Perspective

By Hedgebrook Staff

Categories: Women's Voices,

I wanted my mother to experience radical hospitality from the moment I started working at Hedgebrook two years ago.

As many mothers do, my mother has sheltered me and lifted me up with unique spiritual fortitude and unceasing generosity. My mother is a songwriter, poet, and massage therapist on Whidbey Island. In her work, the nurturing she offers is not soft and timid.

Like Hedgebrook, my mother’s work is radical and transformative.

Everything at Hedgebrook is done with intention and love for the writers. The chefs and housekeepers show me every day that radical hospitality only works if both the giver and receiver are open-hearted.

Last month, I decided to facilitate a week-long “residency” for my mother at her home.

I spent hours mindfully preparing her meals, imagining her happiness and creativity while chopping vegetables. I cleaned her home, picked flowers, and created an environment of safety and inspiration. Most nights, we shared conversation over dinner.

Providing radical hospitality is a powerful reminder that people already know what they need.

I honored my mother’s creative journey without question or examination, and I am a better artist because of that experience.

Beyond her parenting, my mother gifted me with the priceless experience of bearing witness to her personal creative journey.

Hedgebrook’s radical hospitality gave me a recipe for giving back to my mother what she gives to me. My wish is that you – as an artist and a human being – find a way to both give and receive radical hospitality.

It will change more than one life.

-Bonnie

**

Have you ever been ‘hedgebrooked”?  I have. I offer this brief recap of my experience to both honor the person who gifted me, and to shine light on just another bit of powerful magic floating around this world.

Radical Hospitality is a delightful game of ‘inward bound’ in which one person gets to be the star, the MVP, royalty, most honored guest, selected to take some time to turn their entire attention inward in order to access the jewel within.  During this time, someone else (or a group of people) gets to serve the honored guest.

My daughter Bonnie works at Hedgebrook and encouraged me to apply for a residency. In 2014, I applied and was not selected for a residency. I felt some disappointment.

Bonnie — who well knows Hedgebrook’s magic partly because she herself is magical — decided to gift me with a weeklong retreat of my own that she, herself, would support as much as possible.

The reality of something as powerful as Radical Hospitality, freely offered, produces a powerful feeling.  Wide-eyed confusion, bafflement, wonder. Someone is going all out for the singular purpose of supporting me in my quest to access my unique power?

I felt like Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp) in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, except radical hospitality was my drug.  Drugs have affected his sense of reality so much that at one point, even as he speaks aloud, he questions:  “Am I speaking?”

Are you feeling it? This is incredible stuff. Radical hospitality is rocket fuel for the entire being: body, mind and spirit.  Try these on for size:

“I believe that you have within you something unique and powerful to contribute.”

“I believe it so much that I will feed you, clean for you, give you some of my heart and mind space, check in on you, and fan your flame.”

“You don’t have to produce or prove anything during this time frame. Just attend to that part of you that is calling.”

And so, my daughter (and her sweetheart) showed up. They brought a giant bag of granola for the week, a lovely dinner, and a table arrangement with flowers, shells and a book of poetry. They made my bed and fancy-folded the end of my toilet paper.

I cried.

What did I write during that week’s time?  On the surface, not a lot.

I practice massage and bodywork, and what I really needed to do was to generate a studio menu, print literature, and website material. This is not easy.  How do you put into words the possibility of experiencing what the most radical hospitality of all: the Lovingkindness of the Universe, manifesting in our own body-being?

The best part of my “Hedgebrook” experience is that the magic continues. The energy of the support I received during that week of radical hospitality touches me every time I work on those studio projects.  Today, I finished the content for my menu which will help shape my website.

Below are the menu paragraphs that matter.  Many thanks to Hedgebrook for spreading radical hospitality, and to my daughter, Bonnie, for bringing it to me.

You are welcome
To keep all, some, or none
Of your clothing on during
All or part of your session.

I welcome all body types, genders,
Non-gender identifying, all ages,
And every part of you that thinks it is
Ugly or beautiful.

The spiritual nature of my approach
Guarantees rejuvenation of your
Body~Mind~Spirit.

Please come say hello!

-Dinah

 

About the Authors:

Bonnie StinsonBonnie Stinson is a filmmaker / editor / poet. She is part of a network of creative women working outside the binary, at the nexus of queerness, radical education, and creative resistance. Currently, Bonnie is working on a short film, UNACCOMPANIED. She was born in the Pacific Northwest, four days after Christmas, and lives with her partner in Portland, OR.

 

Dinah Stinson

Dinah Stinson is a poet, songwriter and licensed bodyworker. She practices massage therapy at her studio, Blue Sky Massage, and at the prestigious Inn at Langley. Dinah lives and works on Whidbey Island.

 

 


 

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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

 

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2 Comments

  • Becca Lawton
    2:04 PM - 17 March, 2016

    Beautiful and moving, Bonnie and Dinah! Thank you.

  • Sarah Ladip Manyika
    9:23 PM - 17 March, 2016

    Such a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

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