Finding solace in a writing prompt

Life coach and therapist Patty Bechtold blogs about finding solace in a writing prompt at

Finding solace. Last month I was talking with a friend and she used the word solace.

I remembered it was a word I loved. The essence of it. The sound of it, the way it lingers on your tongue.

I thought about two books I’d read in the Before Times that had solace in their titles: The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich and The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel.

I couldn’t quite remember the full definition of solace.

So I looked it up.

Solace: comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.

Well, no wonder I was drawn to the prospect of finding solace.

Clearly I was in need of it. Nearly everyone I knew was in need of it

Just about then I started paying attention.

It’s not that I went looking for it exactly. More like I let myself be open to it.

I sensed it in the conversations I was having with dear friends.

I felt it in the cool breeze on my skin.

It was definitely there in George’s purr and Dave’s hugs.

But who knew solace would find me in a writing prompt?

Just a few words from Terry Tempest Williams: I want to learn to speak the language of…

Mary Reynolds Thompson gave these words to us as a writing prompt in the WildScribe nature journaling class. I grabbed them with gusto and wrote about learning to speak the language of the wild turkeys that wander the headlands here in Mendocino.

Little did I know the prompt would stay with me, though.

But one day it found me again as I gazed up at the sun and began to write

I want to learn to speak the language of the eternal sun.

I want to know what it’s like to rise at dawn and bring the earth to attention. To be the evergreen trees whose needles shake off the mist of deep night and move ever so slightly toward the rising sun.

I want to know what it’s like to be the fogged window panes cleared by the sun’s warming rays. 

I want to know what it’s like to bring the world awake, to speak the language of the hummingbirds taking their first sip of nectar, springing from their nest to investigate what today’s sunrise brings.

Or to be the wild turkeys and curious cats and tentative deer who come out to feed in the first morning light.

The sun has called to me this summer, over and over.

Even hidden as it is behind clouds and fog here at the beach. But I come outside on most days even when it’s cloudy and foggy, even when it’s cold, because the sun’s presence is always apparent.

Right now I feel it. I raise my face to it. It fills my eyes and nose and lungs. Caresses my arms and face. Lights up the page I’m writing on.

And there’s something about the sun here that’s so different from the sun in the valley. 

It is strong but muted. Fierce yet gentle.

I want to learn to speak the language of strong and muted, fierce and gentle.

To simply be, without needing to push or strive or force. Seeing all the moments that are available to sit back and observe, sit back and flow, carried by the gentle rays of an ocean sun.

To find that gentle dawn light inside of me. To know that finding solace is as simple as stepping out the back door.

It’s been a long time since I’ve risen at dawn.

I was thinking the other day that I’ve seen many more sunsets than sunrises. But there’s a beach down the road where I believe you can see both the sunrise and the sunset, a rarity here in Northern California. 

Yet this beach is positioned just so, slightly angled and I think you could walk on the beach at sunrise and feel the sun’s rays when it first enters the day.

I want to learn to speak the language of the sun’s rays when they first enter the day, when they first enter me.

Patty Bechtold

Patty Bechtold

Welcome. I'm a Santa Rosa therapist and life coach, and I help women who feel like something’s missing in their lives or themselves. I specialize in self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief, life transition, and women's groups. On this blog I write about different approaches to help you find your way back to your deepest wisdom. Thank you for being here.