About Cynthia G.

Cynthia Gregory is an executive coach, nonprofit consultant, and creativity coach living with a menagerie of two among the vineyards and coastal hills of Northern California.

J Camp Day 15

getting lost
“Get lost,” she said, closing the door with a dramatic flourish, something she’d harbored fantasies of but had never actually done. “Bye-bye,” she said, to the oak paneled door, bowing and backing away as if to attest to the gravity of the moment. She hadn’t thought about it. They had been talking, then hotly debating, which evolved into a rant, an argument, several accusations, and ultimately, a crossing of a line in a sea of sand she hadn’t known existed until now. She had tolerated the small crises when they arose, and met them with compassion. Still, when he tried to sneak something in: a package, a golf bag, a box of detritus, she called him on it. “Please remove it asap,” she wrote in dutiful, polite emails, paper trails of the millennium. There was always an excuse, high dudgeon. So much drama! For a lawyer, she expected something more. Something somewhat more dignified. The debris of one marriage, two marriages. It was too much. “Storage was never part of the deal,” she said, when she found a rental van backed up to the garage, discovering a deceit he had hoped to conceal until the deed was complete and then what could she do but protest inertly? “My brother in law moved,” he lamented. “It’s only temporary!” he cried. How did he manage to pass the bar? How had he survived this long in a liberal hotbed of assertive women and sensitive men? His mother had coddled him. His wives enabled him. “I told you. This is not your storage solution.” Then it came to her that all the times when she said no, he had feigned concern but had ultimately rejected her protests. In his head he muted her voice, her opinions dismissed as irrelevant. She didn’t want to be that gorgon, but now she craved to be heard, to bear the weight of relevance. “Go now,” she said gently, to herself, bowing and backing down the long hall toward the kitchen. Go. Now. To that place of lost treasure.

J Camp Day 3

Three Wishes

If she had known there were only three wishes, she would have chosen differently. Obviously. But there had been no instructions, no bullet points. It was another example of the inefficiency of the system. Some opined that the system had grown too big for its own britches, that the safety measure and stop gaps had gotten out of hand. Cynics said the lawyers were behind the crack down. Others insisted the problem was created from a complete lack of imagination. Governor Moonbeam was retiring after eight decades of public service. Some said he would be missed. He told his successor, young Kennedy, “don’t screw it up.” She presumed he meant the ten wishes stockpile of surplus gold. But there were no guarantees, if the three wish rule was enforced. So far, everyone operated on the honor system. She was down to one wish. The books said choose happiness. The ads said choose gluttony. She was pretty sure there was some middle ground. One wish. Puppy breath. Snow. Public nudity. Art. Music. Zero gravity. Invisibility. Hemingway in his Spanish Civil War days. Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. The Columbia Gorge at sunrise in her living room every morning. Polar bears. Bumble bees. Tree toads. Wild salmon. Stories, stories, stories.

J Camp

Journal Camp Day 4: My Happy Place

There are so many. But for today: my happy place is winter on the upper Bay, a ribbon of asphalt stitched between Sonoma and Marin. The morning drive may kill me one of these days as I become so distracted by the silver light falling out of a low gray sky, rays bouncing like liquid mercury off the tidal flats. To the east, the twin points of Mt. Diablo hover on the horizon. To the south, Mt. Tam, and west across a low stretch of water and the Richmond Bridge, partially obscured in gauzy clouds, the cityscape of SF. It’s nearly unbearably beautiful. All shades of silver, grey, blue. Some days a boa of fog snakes along the Napa or Petaluma rivers. The hills are emerald this time of year and dotted with black angus or with ewes and lambs. This scene is so far removed from the spectre of Sonoma on fire last year: skies brown with ash, the rubble of grass fires charred like a scar from hell. The air now is soft, full of water. The edges of the geography blurred with humidity. When I tell people my commute route, they TSK. “That road is terrible” they say. And I say nothing. I’m not interested in the road. There is a 180 degree carpet of awesomeness rolling beneath the wheels of my car. Let them think what they will. I treasure my vista of Oz in the distance, over the water and partially obscured by droplets of water suspended in air.

a gift for fiction

Eight out of 10 people believe they have a book in them. Do you need help getting yours out?

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Journal Camp Day 30

Finding my voice

Finding my voice took some practice. For the longest time I wailed: I want to be a writer! Some very good friends said: So? Write. So? I did.

I once had a cra-cra writing mentor who—I learned later—had been using heroin while she taught us and which in retrospect makes so. Much. Sense. Anyway, that writing teacher was brilliant, which explains how she could teach while zonked out of her mind, or fighting the pangs of opiate hunger while she taught, which also in retrospect makes so. Much. Sense. Well, this brillint writer/teacher said: just write. Don’t’ try to make sense of it, your subconscious will connect the dots. Best writing advice I ever got and has served me well for years. Maybe it takes that reckless, dangerous behavior to get to the really good stuff, because after all, writing is a physical act. Writing is a physical act that brings the immaterial into physical being. No, it is not simply mental or imaginative. Writing. With a pen and paper, is really writing. If I were super famous, I would expect a landslide of email contradicting that point, but this is my process and one which incidentally, requires fine motor skills, and a good pen moving across reasonably fine paper to translate neural impulses that form into thought in one part of the brain while another part of the brain parses the sounds of Mozart on the Dot and finches in the hedge outside my window. Physical. Here. Now. Finding voice takes practice. If for nothing else, to discover belief. It takes familiarity with your own voice to learn to believe it, and to believe that others might believe it, too.