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Why Today’s Best Choice was Writing in a Cafe

by Judy Stone-Goldman on February 26, 2015

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I am at Simply Soulful Cafe & Espresso in Madison Park, Seattle. I have come here to write. By hand.

Writing in a cafe used to be the underpinning of my life when I lived in Seattle a few decades ago. Cafes were plentiful (cafes with personality and individuality, not just Starbucks on every corner). My morning routine sat firmly atop writing, with the cafe environment a holding space for me.

A holding space — a space where you are safe and can get to know yourself more deeply — is essential for writing. It’s a container for the self, a place of safety and freedom to experiment. The British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott (who is famous for the concept of the transitional object), described how a mother creates a holding space for her child as she bathes, holds, and cares for her child in daily routines. Through this physical and emotional holding environment, the child can explore and develop, both externally and internally, without being overwhelmed by the frightening and infinite possibilities of the unknown world.

writing-by-hand cafe holding space

Writing is easy in a good holding space

We all need holding. We all need safe containers within, where we can reflect, question, explore, play. I forget this sometimes when I flail around in unbounded space and emotional turmoil. To remember, I just need to do what I did this morning: come to a cafe, open up my notebook, and settle into the space where I am held.

Questions for Reflection: Where do you like to write, read, or reflect? What does the concept of a holding space mean to you? Where do you find your best holding space?

Writing Prompts: “I feel safest in exploring myself when I ______” (then keep writing); “When I think of a holding space, I immediately think of ______” (then keep writing); “I’d really love it if I could create a holding space for ______” (then keep writing); “This post makes me want to begin writing ______” (then keep writing).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz Gow March 1, 2015 at 11:32 am

What a lovely blog Judy
I use to go to a café too and have not done this for quite sometime. Actually when I think about it I have 2 love spaces, actually more if you count outside and do not use them for me. What a wonderful reminder. Love your blogs and glad you tapped into your safe place. I will definitely revisit mine. Many thanks. xx


Judy Stone-Goldman
March 1, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Hi Liz, I think we all need to adopt the phrase “love spaces” for these wonderful spaces that hold use securely. Hope you will be revisiting all the spaces that contain, support, and nurture you. xxx J.


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