Tag Archives: Geography of Now

The Sunday Reader: Sakura Edition

The cherry trees in Yokohama and Tokyo have been slow to blossom this year. According to the people who know about such things, the trees may not blossom as fully as in other years because our winter was not cold enough and our spring has been very cold. I’m no scientist and I’m certainly not a cherry blossom expert but I feel enormous gratitude to these trees for whatever blossoms they offer us.

A friend and I were texting about the blossoms the other day (we take this stuff very seriously in Japan) and I wrote: “It’s okay if full bloom looks different this year. The trees don’t owe us anything.”

The truth is that I don’t always blossom fully.

In late March I started a writing course with Martha Beck and here is the poem I wrote In response to our Week #1 writing prompt:


There was this time that I felt sad
but somewhere in that sadness
I suspected that my feelings
(my own precious feelings
that I’d spent a lifetime
learning to trust)
were lying.

How could that be?

With one eyebrow raised,
I turned towards my thoughts
which sometimes congregate
like a gang of thugs in the
darkest corner of my brain.
They looked embarrassed
as if they’d suddenly looked down
and found themselves naked
in Biology class.

Not so tough now.

I reached in and found
the sadness thought.
My inner wise-woman
held this thought up to the light,
pulled out her magnifying glass
and squinted, all truth-seeing.
That’s when the cracks showed up.
The fissures.
The fear
that caused the thought
that caused the sadness
in the first place.

For some time I carried
my Fearful Thought,
a small pitted seed,
in my pocket.
Several times a day
I sent it tiny love notes.
“Hello, dearest one.
I know why you’re afraid
and I know why you lied.
Patience, love.
Patience and peace.”

Walking home
from school one day
the Fearful Thought rustled
inside my pocket so I picked it up.
It was larger and had grown
a new green dress of moss.
The Fearful Thought whispered,
“I’m ready to be true.”

I planted the thought
at the base of a hill
where I could see it
every day and it grew
into a sapling and I sang
love songs as I went by.
“You’re doing such a good job growing.”
And the sapling drew
on all those good things,
the love and the sun and the rain,
and grew into a cherry tree.

At the end of March
each year, that tree
explodes with soft white truth.
The cherry blossoms dance
in the wind, each one connected
to the branch, each one surrounded
by joyful sibling-blossoms
that groove and sway
and call my name
as I walk home from school.

So I grew my truth like a sakura tree
and came to love my fear.

Of course, my hand was shaking as I hit “Post to Forum”. I wondered if anyone would read it or comment. I was seized with “not good enough” feelings which grew into regret which then morphed into something that felt a lot like panic.

Gently I called off my anxiety-induced take-off. I breathed deeply {inhale ~ exhale} and then followed my own damned advice.

“Hey, Monna. It’s not about how ‘good’ this poem is or how many people like it. This is you bravely and gently exploring your own inner life. This is about expressing what’s inside you. This is about making meaningful connections with other people through writing. As Brene Brown said, ‘The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.’ Your writing is about ME TOO. This is about you blossoming and there’s absolutely no way to do it wrong.”

There’s no way to do it wrong.

I spent a couple of hours reading and commenting on the gorgeous and astonishing writing of my fellow light-writers, more than 400 of them. It felt like dessert, like a hug, like sleeping in on a rainy Sunday morning.

There’s no way to do it wrong.

That’s also true about the Geography of Now.

Geography of Now begins Monday April 10th

Sunday is the last day to register for this online course and this will be the last time I offer the course in this way.

This course is for you if:
* You need an injection (or inoculation) of creativity in your life
* You’d like to pay more attention to the beauty all around you
* You want to take more photographs and go on some lovely photo-walks in your own neighbourhood
* You have a deep craving to write. (Please note that you can respond to the prompts with poetry OR prose.)
* You’d like to share your photos and writing in a super-supportive environment
* You want to practice gratitude

If you’re looking for a reawakening, here you go.

This piece was first published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these letters, sent every second Sunday, directly in your email inbox, you can subscribe here.

Join me in the Geography of Now


Hello, lovely one.

Two years ago I created my first online course, Geography of Now. I’ve decided to run it one last time this Spring.

Geography of Now is six weeks in length and will run from Monday April 10th until Friday May 19th. Every weekday you’ll receive, via email, a lesson along with a photography or writing prompt. It’s completely up to you to decide which ones you’d like to complete; you’ll find the pace that’s best for you. All you need is the camera in your phone (or a fancier one if you wish) and your favourite combination of writing implements: journal/pen or computer. We’ll have a secret + private Facebook group where people can share their photos and writing + comment on the work of your classmates if you’d like. My very favourite thing about both Geography of Now and Poet Laureate is the community created by the people in the course. The cost of the course is 75 USD.

If you’ve been itching for a CREATIVE PROJECT,
if you’ve been feeling a little blah and need an INJECTION OF JOY,
or if you want to spend more time NOTICING and FEELING GRATEFUL,
this would be a lovely course for you.

This will be the last time I’ll run the course in this way. It may be available as a self-study but I think the magic of this program is in the alchemy the participants and I create in our shared space on Facebook.

Pop on over here to learn more about the course + sign up.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the course.


What is the Geography of Now?

What is GON

Registration opened today for the Geography of Now.

This six-week eCourse begins on Monday 11th of May. There are 25 spaces available in the class.

In the end-of-course survey, I ask participants to define what this course is. The responses to this question have made me giddy with joy and, more importantly, I believe these insights may help you if you are thinking about taking the course.

The Geography of Now is…

“An amazing 6-week online course where you get an email Monday to Friday with a short discussion and an assignment to photograph things, write about them, think about them and become more aware of your surroundings.” ~ Mary Wallace

“The yoga of creativity.” ~ Cheri Rauser

“A safe and thorough exploration in gradual, thoughtful, do-able exercises to stretch and explore different themes in writing about self, other, present moment, photographs, beauty, aspiration and play. A very well organised, fun journey of self exploration and online community support. Hats off to Monna for her beautiful design, and effervescent vigilance with our March 2015 group. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.” ~ Jenna McAsey

“The Geography of Now is a course in daily reflection and mindfulness. It helped me to look at my local area with new eyes – kinder and more adventurous.” ~ Anita Wadsworth

You can learn more about the course and register here.

I love this course; it’s the online class I’ve always wanted to take!


Geography of Now starts March 9th


To be at home
where you are,
to notice,
to photograph,
to write,
to feel grateful.
To fall back in love
with your life.

That’s the Geography of Now.

The course starts on Monday March 9th.

Learn more here.

Letter to My Inner Editor


The thing about you,
Inner Editor,
is that you always say
you’re just trying
to help.

That’s your story.

But you arrive
way too early
for the party.

You barge right in.
You never ring the bell,
take your shoes off
at the door
or use the lovely slippers
I’ve left out
for my guests.

You walk through
my writing house
{that fragile little space}
with your muddy boots
and your six pack.

I watch you
grow big
and bloated
on my writing fears.

Shame is your favourite dessert.

But you are not welcome here.
Not yet.
Take your beer and get out.

After I’ve finished my novel,
my glorious first draft,
I’ll invite you back
but we’re drinking champagne
and you will have to wear those slippers.

My writing house,
my rules.



I’m from long days spent laying in fields of tall grass.

I’m from hay and straw
and rubber boots
and more cows than people.
I’m from a long tree-lined laneway
canopy green in summer
where once my middle sister
challenged our dad
to a race and he ran so fast
it felt like magic.

I’m from a small black dog named Poncho
(the result of an inter-species tryst
between a French Poodle and a Mexican Chihuahua)
who loved to cuddle
but suffered terribly
at the sound of bursting balloons.
We discovered this fear
at my parents’ New Year’s Eve party
and I learned that people
could be divided into two categories:
People who wanted to pop more balloons
and those who wanted to help the dog.

I’m from Anne of Green Gables,
Harriet the Spy,
Little Women,
and Nancy Drew.
I come from the Vernon Public Library
where I’d sit on highly glossed hardwood
and read
until it was time to go home.
I could take out as many books as I wanted.
Librarians have always been my friends.

I’m from yellow and white checked curtains
on the windows of my 5th grade classroom.
I was always staring out the window.

I’m from my grandparents’ camper
and a trip to the Provincial Park at Fitzroy Harbour
with all seven grandchildren.
We assembled meals in the tiny kitchen
like playing house.
In the wavy heat of long afternoons
we walked barefoot in the river
and collected the roundest smoothest stones.

I’m from the hockey rink in Metcalfe
where my friends and I
witnessed the Jets and Hawks battle
and discussed important matters
which players were the cutest.

I’m from the epic bonfire at Diana’s house
the night we graduated from high school
and from toast and jam in the morning.
The last time we were all together.

I’m from novels as a food group
and early morning lectures
with professors who were once Jesuit priests.
I’m from figuring it out
later than most
that not everyone likes school.

I’m from the kind heart of a man
who carries an orange knapsack.

I’m from passports and visas and packing and moving and searching for things I already had.

I’m from salsa dancing and being mugged in Cali
and Christmas posadas in the hallways of school
and Mexican folk art and chilaquiles in San Miguel de Allende.
I’m from buying avocados at a market in Barcelona
where the woman always asked
what are you making
when will you make it?
I’m from cava and green olives.
I’m from tuk-tuks, phad thai and mango
and a South East Asian city of angels
where I’m a happier tourist
than a resident.

I’m from a land of extraordinary suns
rising over Mount Fuji.
I’m from Family Marts and the art of bowing
and eathquakes and tsunamis,
from courage and
the preservation of order
in times of immeasurable loss.
I’m from courtesy
and harmony
and Hello Kitty.

I’m from introversion
and taking risks.
I’m from the Internet
and writing novels.
I’m from long decadent talks about the meaning of life.

I’m from making and collecting art.

I’m from travels.
Pablo Neruda’s houses in Chile,
falling down houses in Valparaiso,
broke-down palaces of Budapest.
The golden light in Rome
and sexy green Cyprus trees in Tuscany.

I’m from Paris.
{Surely, in some other life, I must have lived there.}

I’m from luck, hard work and gratitude.
From hope.

Hope, long days, fields of tall grass.


Geography of Now: Scholarship Winners

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Giving this course away is such lovely fun!

I’ve discovered that I like giving things away so much that it may prevent me from becoming a great business person. {I can live with that.}

Two people received two nominations each so I have offered scholarships to both of them.

Congratulations to Hiyori Takashima and Zoe Page.

This six-week e-Course begins on Monday 19 January and you can learn more and register here.

I’d love to have you join us.