Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Christmas Greetings from Janet Riehl, the Move-Back Kid

Around the world in less than 80 years and back to the Midwest again. From girlhood atop a big hill to maturing into an all-around creative type. I now focus on writing and making books and maintain an this online weblog (blog) Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century ( where 400 faithful readers show up daily. In short, becoming a woman of letters.

After three years of commuting back and forth between Northern California and the homeplace in Southwestern Illinois following Julia’s death in 2004 and Mother’s in 2006, I looked ahead to the future and asked myself what was sustainable, where my heart was centered now, and what my priories were, and how I could stay close to them. It was clear I wanted to be closer to my father in his last cycle of life and the commuting stage for me had run its course.
Janet Riehl with “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary”
Janet Grace Riehl, a Woman of Letters

I made a graceful exit from Lake County at the end of June. Daniel and I parted elegantly…not attempting to carry on a long-distance relationship, but neither denying a friendship hammered out over nine years of living through some of the roughest ever for both of us and maintaining the ability to care for and care about each other throughout it all. We hosted a going away party at the Riviera Heights Club House for our friends amidst poetry, storytelling, dancing, music, and good food.

This year I began to travel places besides the shuttle service between Evergreen Heights to the Sacramento Airport and back. In Lake County I read “Generations of the Land”for the Land Trust. In Boulder, Colorado I was invited to give a “Write Your Way Through Grief” workshop for the Integrating Spirit and Caregiving Conference at Naropa. In San Marcos, Texas, Story Circles Network asked me to give my “Always Coming Home” writing workshop for their Land Full of Stories Conference. In Mountainaire, New Mexico Dale Harris invited me to be a featured reader for the Sunflower Festival and I performed “Big Butts Are Beautiful” backed by a conga drum and a girl group of a trio of feisty poets. In Marin County, California, I read my “Women of the World” piece in the new anthology “Hot Flashes 2: More Sexy Little Stories and Poems.” In Alton, Illinois, Pop and I gave the service for the Unitarian Church, using the text of my “Memento Mori: Life and Death Moment by Moment” talk. In November I returned to Northern California to see old friends and attend the Rigpa Fall Retreat at Konocti Harbor there, 5 miles from my old home.

It’s been good being back and using the Midwest as my base to move out from. I live in the Central West End of St. Louis which is the coolest of neighborhoods, pretty and fun…just perfect for a woman of letters. I have joined the St. Louis Art Museum, the Botanical Garden, St. Louis Writers Guild…hang out at Left Bank Books, the neighborhood library, and the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. It’s like traveling at home.

I visualized living here because it’s so near Forest Park, which is just about the only place our family ever went in St. Louis when I was a kid growing up on the other side of the river. Even so, if I didn’t have my country life with my father on at least a weekly basis, city life, so foreign for me, would not be a good fit. I attended my 40th Alton High School Reunion this year, and that has helped me see that over-all, I’m happy with the person I’ve worked to become as I get set to celebrate my 59th birthday this December 29th.

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1 Responses »

  1. Janet, beautiful Janet! As I remember you, you carried "home" around with you wherever you went. So glad to run into your life again (I googled you) and hear/see/imagine between the lines of your words! Happy birthday (a LITTLE belated, but since I haven't seen you since the early 90s, not bad) to you. Love your website, and look forward to reading through what a lady of letters has written! Love. Sheila

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