22 Oct Writer recounts steps in writing journey
by Susan Peterson
Twylla Alexander’s journey as a book author began by taking steps — literally. It started in July 2004 at the Shrine of St. Therese in Juneau, Alaska, when a friend suggested they walk a labyrinth. She discovered that unlike a maze that is designed to confuse with tricks and dead ends, a labyrinth has only one path leading from the entrance to the center and back again. Walking it helps to quiet the mind and body, something Twylla needed at that time in her busy life. Little did Twylla know then how that experience would shift the course of her life years later.
Achieving long-term goals was not new to Twylla. She and her husband both enjoyed successful careers in education. They traveled extensively and even lived abroad in multiple countries with their growing family of three children. She had an online blog and published numerous magazine articles. Yet, she still felt a longing for something that would let her explore her inner self. Years after walking her first labyrinth, she had an “ah-ha” moment and realized she could combine her love of writing with the pleasure and serenity she felt walking a labyrinth. The seed was planted; she set the goal to walk 50 labyrinths in 50 states.
While walking paths in all the states would be challenging enough for most of us, Twylla chose to set additional parameters. She decided to walk only outdoor labyrinths created by women on their own property. Twylla knew that through the women’s stories, she would discover common threads to her own. Thanks to the online World Wide Labyrinth Locator, she was able to locate women in each state who met the criteria. She asked them the same four questions: What was your first labyrinth experience? What prompted you to want to build your own labyrinth? How did you build it? What value does the labyrinth add to your life?
Twylla’s journey and the unique stories of the women she met can be found in her book “Labyrinth Journeys: 50 States, 51 Stories” that was published in February and is available at amazon.com and other online book sellers. Reviewers note the engaging way she presents the many interconnections and new friendships she made and how she relates the development of her inner strength throughout the experience. Twylla began her pilgrimage May 2012 in Florida and ended it July 2014 in Hawaii, making a total of 19 separate trips.
Until this fall, Twylla and her husband Drew lived in the Springhill area, where she and her family created a 46-foot diameter labyrinth made of bricks and pea gravel. It was modeled after the one constructed at Chartres Cathedral in France around the year 1200. Although Twylla will certainly miss her own labyrinth, she’s grateful that there’s another one on the campus of Hendrix College only minutes from their new home.
Twylla’s labyrinth journey is still unlocking new passages for her. Now a Veriditas-certified labyrinth facilitator, she educates people about labyrinths, facilitates labyrinth walks and leads retreats for groups — particularly women — around the United States. The most recent was in South Dakota.
To locate labyrinths in the U.S. and other countries, visit labyrinthlocator.com. The site includes several labyrinths in the 501 area. More information about Twylla and her book can be found at labyrinthjourneys.org.