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I love it when a piece of writing catches my attention.

I am a fan and appreciative of long writing. I do not uphold this whole idea of bite size. Bite size has it’s place in the fast corridors of modern living but I prefer savouring and reading writing I am interested and passionate about. I am excited by sinking into a moving blog post, listening from start to finish to a podcast that is engaging and interesting. In amongst the onslaught of daily emails I do sit and regularly read and contemplate essays, writings and podcasts of all kinds. I am a curator of hundreds of quotes meticulously recorded on coloured index cards gathered from those moments of long listening or reading. 

So when I came across Joan’s personal essay ‘Trees I Have Loved’ (thanks to originally listening to a great podcast interview with Joan Leof and Nathan Ohren over at Journal Talk) which led me to her marvellous book Matryoshka: Uncovering Your Many Selves Through Writing.

I knew I was in the presence of another kindred spirit. I have a Matryoshka doll which I often share with people on workshops and talks when demonstrating how important it is to uncover our masks and connect to the source of our true selves. So I was intrigued by the title of the book and the symbology and metaphor of the Matryoshka doll.


I ended up connecting with Joan online and shared with Joan the tree book I have been carrying around for a good few years that I have literally more or less written in my head but have not fully yet committed to the page. Joan’s essay on trees prompted me to get this project birthed. Joan has generously agreed for me to share her tree essay on the blog. You can read the essay Trees I Have Loved by following this link

Then, if this wets your appetite for more then head on over to her website to purchase a downloadable pdf copy of the book or Amazon where you can savour the collection of her personal essays on life.

Reading Matryoshka was one of those perfect reading moments when you are riveted to the spot and each essay you read strikes a chord for different reasons.

The essays are life affirming, challenging, stretching and inspiring and all very real and true to life. I noticed my whole body paying full attention as I read, nodding and shaking as I noted all the places where Joan’s stories deeply connected in some way with my own and still fully engaged when the experiences were different. I felt awakened as I journeyed with Joan through each of the essays. Each essay had me running to the page to write and capture my own story in words.

The reflective questions at the end of each chapter are thought provoking and stimulating and just working with one felt like it opened so much up.  Joan’s writing felt hearty and whole, enveloped in having walked through both the dark and the light and coming out illuminated at the other end.  Each essay felt like a flow of writing that had been mined from the heart and the soul.

See what you think. In the meantime enjoy Joan’s words and if you want more head to the links above and purchase a copy of Matryoshka (which has a beautiful front cover of a Russian Matryoshka doll) and enjoy the depth and wisdom of her essays as much as I did.

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