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by Cathy Bruemmer

When I give tours or orientations I am frequently asked, “Are you a writer?”  I’m not a writer. I’m a reader.   One of my rare pleasures is a chance to read a book from cover to cover in one day, preferably in my pajamas.  On a recent solo trip across the country I found myself shocked that the flight was almost over.  This happened BOTH WAYS.  All it took to transform the drudgery and discomfort of coach seats was a couple of good books and some earplugs.  Because I was traveling with my son I suppose the fact that I didn’t have to provide snacks, entertainment or listen to a few hours of chatter about the latest development in ski technology played a part in the feeling of a time warp.  But what made the trip a pleasure was the opportunity to enter a different world, to hear a new story. The gift of a good book is something I am deeply grateful for.

Books have been essential as escapist therapy since my childhood but even in the Internet age I prefer reference books when I need to learn something. Digging into the bewildering world of behavior therapy I came across a line I love by Jim Lehman.  He said,  “Stop comparing your families inside story to other families outside stories”.  What a liberating thought, so simple and logical. It got me thinking about Hedgebrook and the women who come here with stories to tell. Who find in the freedom from distraction, the support of the community of writers, in the safety and solitude of a cottage designed and built for writing that they can write their inner stories.  It is an act of incredible courage to give your stories to the world.

When lending me Debra Gwartneys book, Live Though This, a good friend told me it would make me feel better about my life.  In one of those magic Hedgebrook moments I gave Debra an orientation the day I returned form dropping my son off at the same wilderness program her daughters had participated in.  I never said a word to Debra but I felt a solidarity that comes from the shared experience. The fact that my son begged to go off into the wilderness with some therapists for a few weeks of deep introspection was a piece of cake compared to her story.

So I want to express my thanks to all the women of Hedgebrook who have unflinchingly told their stories.  Thanks for making us think and especially for making us laugh. Thanks

Cathy Bruemmer
About Cathy Bruemmer


  • Louise McKay
    6:47 PM - 12 December, 2011

    Thanks for articulating so beautifully the impact that Hedgebrook has on those of us who don’t consider ourselves writers. I’m a reader too, and so grateful for the books, stories and articles that have transformed my life!

  • genine lentine
    6:55 PM - 12 December, 2011

    thanks, Cathy~ it was wonderful to see Hedgebrook for the first time w/you, as if the garden itself were giving the tour, but the garden itself cannot drive a golfcart. xo, g

  • Mary Tang
    6:59 PM - 12 December, 2011

    Dear Cathy,

    The nurturing of Hedgebrook helped us write the hard stuff, but know that you are a big part of that nurturing. Your food garden gave me the greatest solace during my six weeks at Hedgebrook.

    The presence and care from the farm team kept us going. Thank you!

    Love, Mary

    P.s. You are a writer!

  • Jackie Shannon Hollis
    5:21 PM - 13 December, 2011

    Oh, it is so nice to hear you here, Cathy. For me, you are one of the wonderful memories of Hedgebrook.

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