MaryBeth Bonfiglio: Writing for Spirit's Sake
How do you start your day?
I have been working on committing to a dream journal. I do a lot of personal ancestral healing and tending to work, and I believe our ancestors speak to us through dreams. As a professional writer I sometimes forget to write just for spirit's sake, for myself, and this first-thing-in-the-morning dream journal is my way of doing so. I also get amazing things from it—pieces of stars that I bring into my writing for the larger audience. After that, if the kids aren't up needing me, I will get on the floor and stretch. My bones are now 45 years old and need deep attention. So I deeply stretch and then I sit and meditate for 7 minutes. If I have a lighter nearby, I light a candle for the ancestors. I meditate. I pray. I ask myself to bring the best self I can forward. I pray for my kids, that they have a healthy day. Then... coffee. With lots of cream.
What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?
Nature. Always. Forest trials. Nature brings me back to myself because I am not separate from it, I am it. And I go into it knowing that I am going back into, deeper within, my body. I sit in my yard if I don't have a lot of time. Remembering that there is land under me, holding me, reaching up and pulling me closer. When I connect with what is—nature—and breathe and anchor myself, it 100% of the time helps me ease the overwhelm. There are also some supplements I take to help my nervous system along. As a trauma survivor, I take a lot of preventive methods because I expect anxiety to hit me at random times. I love rose, milky oats, ashwaganda, and mushrooms. I micro-dose occasionally (taking small energetic amounts of mushrooms—yes the magic kind—to help the pathways of my brain to realign). It's very, very effective.
What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?
My children are all around me and happy, safe, and being creative. When I am writing.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently finishing up my MFA in creative non-fiction, so my list is long: Racial Imaginary by Claudine Rankin, Heartberries by Therese Marie Mailhot, Educated by Tara Westover, Exit West by Moshin Hamid, Notes From No Man's Land by Eula Bliss, Jane by Maggie Nelson.
What are you listening to right now?
Neil Young. Billie Holiday. Chronixx. Koffee.
What does nourishment look like to you?
I love to cook, so nourishment begins there. I do a lot of reclaiming of ancestral cooking. I knead bread; bread is nourishment. A table full of vegetables from the garden and everyone around it drinking wine. My husband smoking some meat out back. Taking in the green of the forest daily. Water. Water. Water. Knowing I can sleep. Knowing I have shelter. Knowing I have food. Reading. All the books. Being fed by other's writing. Knowing I am feeding others by writing. A fresh tomato in the summer. Herbs. The sunshine.
How do you make space for play?
I try to play in every moment of my life in what I do. I don't like to feel like I have to make space. Writing is play. Mothering is play. Working is play. It's an energy. Sometimes it's hard ass play. Sometimes it's not. I try and have fun in what I do, even in the hard conversations, even under deadlines. I don't always make it work, but I try. I want my life to be play—that feels like freedom to me. I feel like we have been told it's something separate. I find that a problem. I think it's a lie. We are alive, here, and we should be playful—even as we fight the hard fight for justice and life—we are worth joy.
What are some favorite mantras you cling to?
“Write like a motherfucker.” - Cheryl Strayed
Please share some words of wisdom you've learned over the years.
Hope is an action. Art is our birthright. Experience the mystery of this existence. Your body is your humanness. You come from way back people who knew things. We are all here, now, so we are made for this. Not everyone is experiencing the same thing. Use your privileges to make this place a fucking better place for everyone to live, breath, be free. Please. Please. Please. Raise your voices. Your stories are everything. Know when to listen, too.
MaryBeth Bonfiglio is a mother to three daughters. She is a writer, writing coach, intuitive, midwife, and folk/root worker, and she supports those who believe in uprising through their voice. MaryBeth loves to be with her daughters + partner in nature, cook and eat delicious food, listen to dancehall reggae, sit by fires, smash the patriarchy, and savor every moment of this sweet miracle of life. You can find her on Instagram and at her website.