'We Seek the Teeth' Short Film Wins Film Festival Prize!

We are so delighted to share that our new short film, 'We Seek the Teeth', has just won 2nd place at the Recovery Street film festival (https://rsff.co.uk/) in September 2019!

‘We Seek the Teeth’ is part of our new Creative Pathways to Healing and Meaning programme and is a powerful exploration into the trauma and healing that can be found through connection with the landscape and the power of landscape and words. 3 of the film crew, Doug, Caspar and Steve are all in recovery, as well as Ali, who is featured in the film, and is also part of the Next Step programme for current Write to Freedom participants, exploring the healing of addiction and trauma through the creative process.

Community Fundraising Midnight Walk!

A midnight sponsored walk, 10 miles from Exeter to Exmouth, this past weekend - the Write to Freedom Tribe community literally going the extra mile to raise money to support the work that we do.

“Such a beautiful time together. The walk was a beautiful thing indeed! Walking through the night by the estuary in the stillness was just perfect. Big gratitude for J’s organising, A’s amazing pit stop cafe (kelly kettle was on), W and J for supporting us on the walk, and M for always getting involved. All tribe walkers were awesome… that goes for the four mutts too!

Thanks also to Morrison Utility Services who supported us with the high vis jackets and also financial sponsorship!”

To add your sponsorship support please contribute here - https://www.gofundme.com/f/joanna039s-campaign-for-write-to-freedom

W2F Tribe Crowdfunder

The Write to Freedom community has put together a crowdfunding campaign to support the addiction recovery work that we do. Please take a look, donate if you feel to, and share amongst your networks.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/joanna039s-campaign-for-write-to-freedom

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Personal Stories from people who have attended a residential:

"I was very fortunate to attend a Write to Freedom residential. I am in recovery from alcohol addiction and was blown away by the experience I had - the support, the connection, and how it helped me and continues to help me in recovery ." J

"I am a recovering alcoholic, I've been going to AA meetings and working the 12step program. As part of my recovery I was told about Write to Freedom. I was lucky enough to go to the residential last June after having that experience it has played a big part in my recovery. Write to Freedom helps others from all over with different kinds of addictions. I can't put into words how many people these guys have helped and continue to help. Not only is it making a difference to the individual but also the community." J

"I am a recovering alcoholic and addict and have been sober for 3yrs and 5 months. I lost my husband through alcohol and his suicide 3yrs ago. Write to Freedom gave me a spiritual awakening in nature and release of pain I was carrying with me. All this was through the beautiful people whom bring this all together. I came with fear and sadness and left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, through honesty and guidance, they helped me step out of the darkness and into the light. This is the most amazing charity that everyone whom is suffering could go on, with their continued dedication every month there after, for mentoring days that keep us all connected. I will be forever grateful." E

"Write to Freedom has proved to be an invaluable step in my recovery. When finding sobriety but not finding life and reaching a plateau this residential has been pivotal in enhancing my outlook on life and resolving much of what has been holding me back. An amazing staff team, you feel held and safe whilst engaging in transformative work. Thank you Write To Freedom team." C

"My life has taken an extremely positive direction since I attended the residential weekend with Write to Freedom and continue to take active part in fantastic mentoring days once a month in the beautiful Dartmoor. I have met like minded people that are always there for me and know I'm not alone or feel lonely amongst other people . I was full of fear, anxiety and distrusted the world and all of its contents.

At Write to Freedom I found an abundance of love , support and most importantly people I trust and a secure place to learn about myself and the beautiful world I live in." T

Welcoming In January… a Mentoring Day on the Moors

Ali Chapman

I had a real sense of physically pining for the moors, my home and my people.

I wanted to shake off Christmas: eating food I wouldn't normally eat, being indoors too much and all the rest!

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I shook a little off around a roaring fire with friends, I shook a whole lot more off with a childlike jump on the high moors shouting out and laughing, welcoming in myself and the New Year.

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Happy New Year Everyone...I'm alive.

Photos by Emma.

The Healing Power of Addiction

Caspar Walsh. November 2018

As a kid, I was into war. I watched the movies and made the sound affects while holding invisible guns; the usual stuff. But when do normal childhood games move into something darker? When does the need for power move beyond the imagination of play?

Having a dad in prison, being removed from too many schools and an absent mother, left me feeling deeply powerless. Not in the way I would eventually understand in 12 Step Fellowship as powerlessness but a sense of having none of my own personal, healthy, life giving power.

My birthright: to know I am welcome here, that I have something loving and real to receive; kindness, consistency, a roof, food. To know that I have something unique to bring to the world. But before I could experience or realise these things, my need to numb myself against the onslaught of the darker world took hold, claws in deep, for decades.

I moved from the fantasy worlds of play to drug and alcohol in my early teens, believing chemicals would give me a sense of control and power. The opposite happened. It was all about giving away my power to something darker back then.

I’ve been in chemical recovery since 1988. Relationship recovery since 2001. Work and activity addiction since 2015. Despite the problems with non chemical addictions, I have also found identity, meaning and connection through my work and relationships, it’s a fine line to walk.

The way the world is, the way our species seems to be walking off the edge of a cliff, can be tracked back to addiction. To the dysfunctional childhoods of humans not loved enough; who then carry that lack of love into the rest of their lives. Creating dark strategies to cope with so much loss and grief and exile. Strategies that more often than not are connected to the accumulation of any kind of external power to fill the power voids inside. But this, true to cosmic form, is a black hole of fear and insecurity. No amount of gathering goods, cash, property, status will tend or heal these wounds to the soul. No amount of power over others will ease it. We will only ever want more.

Only love and care and patience will heal this wound. Only reflection, community and connection.

Take a look at the external manifestations of so many inner worlds. Like the wasted landscape of The Fisher King. The chaos we see on the outside, mirrors inner turmoil. Nature and how we view it is at the heart of this ravaged landscape. We aren’t, as so many believe, disconnected from nature. We may have simply forgotten and need reminding that we are nature. The sooner we realise this, remember this, the deeper our trust and respect for its healthy power will be. When we realise the love we have for ourselves, deep down, a love that has always been there, we will realise and remember our love and respect for the land. And within that, we will see and feel a loving power greater than ourselves and of ourselves; a power indistinguishable from inside or outside our skin. And we will instinctively choose to protect it, ourselves, the land, the earth and other beings.

The solution is in the trees and hills, the valleys and mountains, rivers and oceans. Walking into them, letting the cells of our bodies remember where we were born to be and breathe and connect. Less about the power of addiction, more about the healing power we can each derive from the story of our addicted lives, from embracing our grief and loss. The power to feel and connect and empathise. It’s all about remembering who we truly are, beyond the lies we tell ourselves. It’s about how to meet our human needs to feel real, grounded power. And when our needs are met, the next question is, what unique gifts can we bring to the world? How can we make a difference to the lives of others?

The Mindful Man - Caspar talks about his new book

An Interview with a Mindful Man…

…with Caspar Walsh about his new book “The Mindful Man: Words from the Earth”, published in the June / July 2018 edition of Reconnect magazine.

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Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us Caspar.

Where were you when you first had the idea to write the book?

I’d been given the book, Mindfulness and Surfing. Think I was reading it in the bath. It was the first time in a long while I’d held a book that looked and felt beautiful. I thought, ‘this is a publisher I could write for’.

The book isn’t a novel, it’s set up like a manual for the mind, with mindfulness exercises, and a travel through guide to feelings and emotions. What inspired you to present it that way?

I see it more as a manual to be human, how I dealt with an early life trauma and the ensuing madness that followed. For me, becoming truly whole is all about the relationship between mind, body and how we connect to the natural world. I walked, talked and meditated on what is important to me and broke that down into areas that I feel help us become human and whole.

It also contains a host of quotes, and prayers from luminaries down the ages. Which one is your favourite?

I spent days sourcing the quotes. They frame the ideas of the book. This one is a cracker: “In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Beloved.” Toni Morrison, winner of The Nobel Prize for Literature.

If you could only offer one piece of wisdom from the whole book to our readers, that you are most proud of having written, what would it be, and why?

No pressure! To see myself as wise? Not sure about that. Maybe at times, in a curb tripping kind of way. How about this: They (books) can be keys to the door, for sure, but reading alone won’t walk you through the peaks and valleys of life. Books are tool kits, manuals for self-discovery and understanding. They are not the answer. You are.

It must have been quite an exercise to complete, who are you most grateful for supporting you on your journey, and what do you remember them doing that most motivated you when you felt at the lowest point?

Without a doubt, Amber, my loving and tenaciously patient partner. If I’d known it would be as challenging to write as it turned out, I’m doubtful I would have started. She encouraged me to rest, take my time and not buckle under the pressure of seemingly endless edits. To remember that my life as a writer is a small part of who I am and what I offer the world. To loosen and lighten up!

If you were to describe the book in one sentence what would you say?

Feels like a ‘this is what I did next’ after my memoir ‘Criminal’, how I made it through, made sense of the madness, found peace and did something meaningful and adventurous with my life. It’s about how I got back home.

Read more about Caspar’s new book: www.wordsfromtheearth.co.uk

Explorations from a Mentoring Day - July

July's Mentoring Day took us to the Dart valley for a swim.

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Despite the attempts to get directions from locals to our destination - 'Courgette Island' - (What? It's not on the OS map?!") there were no courgettes to be found when we got there.  Fortunately, it remains a secret spot and there were some explorations with the other than human realm around the theme of Home - in ourselves and through our connection to them. 

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Here is a list of distilled qualities that came from the exercise:

Connection
Wonder
Juicy
Inquisitive
Beautiful
Life giving
Adaptability
Consciousness
Focus
Acceptance
Peaceful

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We very much look forward to seeing some of you there at future mentoring days.

Rebecca Card