Growing up, Catherine Ann Jones loved watching the sky.
“Cloud gazing was an important part of my childhood,” she says over the phone from her home in Ojai, near Santa Barbara, California. “As a child I used to lie on my back in the grass or on the roof and just watch clouds. That was the start of developing my imagination, the beginning of my writing muse.”
Jones found great success by following her creativity. Starting out as an Broadway actor in New York City, she was soon writing plays as well as performing on stage. She later channeled her talent for theatre toward the silver screen, moving into screenwriting. She found success with her first movie, The Christmas Wife, following it up by writing Unlikely Angel for none other than Dolly Parton, the famous country-singer-turned-actress. Added accolades came from writing episodes to the long-running Touched by an Angel television series.
From the Hollywood hills to New Mexico’s hammocks
Jones was enjoying the kind of star-studded success that most people can only dream about. But the stress of working in the pressure-cooker of show business was taking it’s toll on her.
“I was exhausted from my work in Hollywood,” she explains. “And then I developed a block — a creative block for writing — which I didn’t usually get.” She decided she needed a break, and headed for Santa Fe, New Mexico, to visit friends.
“They had one of those big old-style southwest houses,” she recalls, “with a courtyard in the middle and hammocks hung up.” Having always had an affinity for hammocks, Jones climbed in, laid back and began watching the sky — just as she had done countless times as a child.
In her book, The Way of Story, Jones recalls what happened next:
“Unexpectedly, the energy shifted, and everything seemed to brighten. I was held by something beyond my limited self, and I heard a clear voice from within, the title for this book: The Way of Story.” (Jones, 2007, pg. 190).
At the time, Jones recollects, “it was as though someone was whispering in my ear. And I knew intuitively then that I was to write a book — something that I had never done before.”
A hammock helped me ‘think outside the box’
For Jones, the revelation that she would write a book was just the perspective shift she needed. “One reason I was blocked was because I had assumed I would be writing a play or a film or a tv script,” she explains. But once she realized that she had to follow the path of an author, her perspective shifted.
“The epiphany was that I needed to think outside the box, outside of what I had done before,” Jones explains. “We have to be open to what is trying to come through ‘now’, and not just assume we will keep doing what we did in the past.”
Jones credits the hammock in the courtyard in Santa Fe with helping her overcome her writer’s block and ignite the creative spark. “By lying back and gazing at the sky and clouds, for me that opened a portal where imagination, inspiration and insights abound,” she says.
Hammocks ‘enhance our ability to be reflective’
After her revelation in the hammock which led to The Way of Story, Jones didn’t put down the author’s pen. Her subsequent books: Heal Yourself with Writing, Whose Story Are You Living?, and Freud’s Oracle were all received to critical acclaim. Her website wayofstory.com draws readers from around the world, and her fame has made her an in-demand speaker, consultant and mentor.
When asked if her story offers a take-away message for hammock lovers, Jones agrees. The hammock’s design, she says, allows people to reflect, to tap into their innate creativity. “It enables one to totally surrender to the moment, to be fully present,” she offers.
“We are all driven either by past or future, and it’s so important to have time when we just stretch out in a hammock and be totally in the now – because now is where amazing things happen.”
Catherine Ann Jones is an award-winning author, playwright with thirteen plays produced and screenwriter (The Christmas Wife; Unlikely Angel; Touched by an Angel series). A Fulbright Scholar to India studying shamanism, twenty years teaching experience at The New School University in New York City and University of Southern California Film School in Los Angeles as well as the Esalen and Omega Institutes, author of The Way of Story, Heal Your Self with Writing (Nautilus Book Award 2014), What Story Are You Living?, and Freud’s Oracle, and writing workshops both here and abroad. For schedule, online courses, blog, & writing consultant service: www.wayofstory.comThere are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?