shifting shorelines

Messages from a Wiser Self
Shifting Shorelines Book, by Terry Helwig

1. Why do you think Helwig chose Mi Isla as the first chapter?  (Originally Mi Isla came much later in the book and was chosen as the first chapter well into the editing process).


2. Do you have a favorite passage? If so, what makes it special?


3. Which theme—nature, aging, or the ripening of wisdom—speaks most loudly to you? Why?


4. The author never mentions her island by name? Why do you think she chose not to?


5. The book is divided into three sections that correspond to the tides. What experiences from your own life reflect these tides? Ebb tide (low tide) reflects the outflow of life, times of loss and sadness. Slack tide (tide is still) points to a time of contentment, contemplation and being. Flood tide (high tide) focuses on times of fullness and gratitude.


6. What message would you offer to a younger version of yourself if you chanced to meet her (or him) along life’s shore? Is this a similar message you would offer your child? Helwig has a daughter. Why do you think she addressed her messages to herself instead of her daughter?


7. Helwig talks about the Gift of a Day with her girlfriends—a tradition she and her friends have kept up for sixteen years. Do you have a group of women (or men) with whom you have gathered for years?  What have you realized about fostering closeness with friends?


8. The author writes a great deal about nature. What fact or natural phenomenon most surprised you in the book?


9. How did you react to Helwig’s chapter Otter Mound where she buries the ashes of a photograph of her dad as a way of saying goodbye—even though he is still alive?


10. It is obvious that Helwig finds solace in the natural world. What special place or activity offers you solace and well-being? (Invite everyone to bring a picture of a place or activity that brings them solace. Lay out all the images in the center of your circle.)


11. The author talks about synchronicity being one of her greatest teachers. What do you think she means by this? Is synchronicity a place holder in your life?


12. Helwig affords symbolic meaning to things she encounters in the world—her sea pearl, her friendship shell, a piece of her grandfather’s tree. Do you have a talisman of sort that holds special meaning?


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