Paula Braley (she,her)

What do I love? I love small towns and big cities. I love birds, and clouds, and waterways, wine, and farm-to-table food. I love watching dogs and cats, goats and chickens and their interactions with all manner of life. I love laughing and crying—embracing all depths of emotion.

I love music—anything from Ella Fitzgerald to Bach to the Violent Femmes; but my musical soul swelled most the day I stumbled past my youngest daughter’s closed bedroom door and I heard the chords of her acoustic guitar and her velvet voice covering Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah.”

I love storytelling. I love the intimacy of it—the writing and the listening. I love details—the ones that make me taste the air and feel footsteps as they drop. I love imagery and finding just the right words to evoke sensory experience.

I love River Writing—the bravery of it. I love the radical self-kindness this practice fosters. I love the invitation to “leave your inner critic at the door.” My inner critic resembles Sherlock Holmes—cloak and hat included. He’s fastidious and frequent in his criticism, so letting him sit outside for a couple hours a week is the kindest thing I can do for myself.

I love the call to presence we practice in the studio at the start of each River Writing session. Its grounding—and as a person who spends countless hours off the ground, (I fly up to 3 times per week), it’s more than luxurious—it’s vital.

Before joining the River Writing Community at its’ inception 5-years ago, I was a devoted fan girl of Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” and “Old Friend from Far Away”—both books continue to be great tools for opening my “writer’s mind.” I love that River Writing provides all of this, plus the added benefit of writing in community, which really is my jam.

As a River Writing facilitator, I’ll push myself to experience River Writing from a fresh perspective, sharing the words of some of my favorite poets as prompts, inviting you to join me in writing “the truest thing you can say” while we savor the invitation of imperfection. I’m hungry to hear your perspective—your experience and your imaginings—things only you can offer.

And in the spirit of sharing something about my own experience, in 5th grade, at 5’9 and 110 lbs, with lanky arms as my only advantage, I managed to slay all the kids as the unlikely arm-wrestling champion of my entire school.