“Soul Work”: An Interview with Mindy Weaver-Flask

About a year-and-a-half ago, Mindy Weaver-Flask and I took a graduate class together in Indianapolis. She is a mother, a wife, a writer, a high-school-English teacher, and also manages to run her own business: Women Writing for a Change. Upon meeting her, it was apparent that she is the kind of person to move beyond pleasantries and get to someone’s heart. I appreciated that in her, and we have since become friends. Here is the transcript of a conversation we had.

Me: “You are passionate about what you call ‘truth-telling.’ What do you mean by that and why is that so important?”

Mindy: “This idea has taken over my life. It came from my life mentor, who is a writer. She said good writing can’t be about surface stuff; it has to be about deeper truth.”

Me: “Tell me what it means to have a ‘mentor.’ If I were to sit in on your time together, what are some of the things I would see or hear?”

Mindy: “Well, my mentor is a person I’ve connected with ever since my older sister — who was graduating — marched me down to her room and said, ‘I can’t look out for you after I graduate, but she will.’ Even after I left high school, we’ve stayed in touch by phone, e-mail, letters, and in person whenever we can. She’s my greatest influence and the best teacher I’ve ever known. She’s created a safe place for me throughout my life ever since, as well as helping me as a teacher and even — not necessarily physically — through the birthing of my children.

“It’s made me want to be a mentor to others. And sure, I have students who still call me or invite me to their wedding. It’s community building, really. Living without these relationships, I’m not sure I’d be able to go as deep. It’s so easy for people to get caught up in the self that we don’t see others as important sources for us.”

Me: “What does it mean to ‘feel safe’ with a person?”

Mindy: “It means the space is confidential and non-judgmental.”

Me: “Do you have a favorite memory with your mentor?”

Mindy: “I remember reading Marge Piercy’s poem, ‘To Have Without Holding.’ It gave me such an urge to share who I really am, to do soul work with her.”

Me: “You also talk a lot about consciousness; can you define that for us?”

Mindy: “I think about it in opposition to disengagement or even projection. When we’re conscious, we’re really present to whatever it is; we’re intentional.”

Me: “What are you intentional about?”

Mindy: “I’d like to think I’m intentional about hope, intentional about my writing practice, and intentional about seeing my students as people. It’s scary to say this, but I’m also intentional about facing fears.”

Me: “What fears are you working on facing?”

Mindy: “One recent example that comes to mind is that I’m scared of bees, so I recently bought a beehive. I’m kind of a nut, Chris.” (laughs)

Me: “Last question: do you have a favorite book? What is it and why?”

Mindy: “Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a coming-of-age novel, and there’s just so much to like in it: truth-telling, social commentary, race.”

Me: “Thanks, Mindy. Hope you felt safe here!”

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