Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Change | Story Prompt: from the book “Voice In The Wild” by Laurie Sarkadi

Write It Out: Instruction Video

‘John’s words are fresh in my mind four days later as people around the globe paused at noon New York time to communally mourn those who died in the maelstrom of fire and twisted steel of September 11th. I choose to sit atop a sunny high point on a giant whaleback rock a short canoe paddle from my house, knees stacked directly over top of one another with my legs pointing behind me — the yoga pose of nobility. My two big dogs at the time, Shinto, a female wolf-Malamute cross; and Prince, a purebred Rough Collie male I adopted from the pound, lie panting and wet nearby, always insisting on swimming when I canoe. Facing east with my eyes closed to the still blue water and cirrus clouds that stretch before me, I concentrate on the souls of the victims, visualizing them as white figures rising up from darkness and asking that they be put to their best and highest good and find a safe place from which to do this work.

Blackflies buzz around my face. Eventually, I unravel my legs and walk into the forest. I briefly check around for cranberries, then notice Shinto looking up. There’s a raven on top of a spruce. Despite the stillness and quiet, I haven’t heard the usual fhwoomp fhwoomp fhwoomp of the powerful wings beating overhead. I turn my back to it and crouch down on the lichen-covered rock to relieve myself. But the raven flies right in front of me, lands on a nearby tree and starts “talking” to me.

It croaks, caws, gurgles, blips, bloops, coos, tut-tuts, screeches, wonk-wonks — a one-sided conversation that lasts several minutes. I remain still, listening intently. Eventually the raven flies back towards the spot where I’d been sitting. I follow. The bird’s communication skills remind of a woman in Yellowknife who told me she kept answering her landline phone, only to hear a dial tone. She later discovered a raven outside her open office window had been imitating her phone’s ring tone.

Ravens, like myna birds, are renowned for their astonishing array of vocalizations, including the ability to mimic. They are master tricksters.

I sit down and begin writing in my journal, but the raven once again flies directly in front of me, landing on a young birch just a few meters away. It leans in closer, as if wanting to share something particularly intimate and begins another lengthy dissertation. In all my years of living in the Arctic wilderness, I’ve never experienced a raven acting this way. I have a strong sense that the bird is somehow related to the worldwide prayer…’


There are writers whose work reaches out and touches you, right in the heart. This writer, with this book, has done that for me. Even more curious and delightful is that this book was lent to me from a friend, because she thought the book was “…absolutely asking to go to you!” (Thank you so much for sharing, I’m buying my own copy now!)

One of the most important things for me in my work with Write For Wellness is to encourage everyone to write, and bring in the natural world. Even more precisely, to pay attention, be curious and connect to the natural world that is all around us and allow it to help us find wellness. In her book, Laurie Sarkadis has written a kind of guidebook on how to make those connections. She shows us how doing so has helped her, and those around her.

We can’t all be accomplished in the same ways that Laurie is, but we CAN all look for those connections around and within ourselves. Through doing so, I am positive that not only will we find wellness, we contribute to saving the world. The magic that appears as we do so is bonus.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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