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Conversations with the Inspiring Christine Bayles Kortsch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Bayles Kortsch.

Christine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always been an avid reader. I started writing stories as a little girl, and never really stopped. I’ve also always loved traveling and experiencing other cultures. Those loves led me to degrees in English and Spanish, lots of time traveling (especially in Latin America), and later a masters and Ph.D. in English Literature with a specialty in Victorian literature and women’s studies. As an academic (I teach at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design), I’ve published literary criticism (books, essays, reviews). These days I’m publishing and writing fiction, personal essays, and nonfiction. I have a terrarium craft book called Tiny Dino Worlds: Create Your Own Prehistoric Habitats upcoming with Roost Books. For this kids’ terrarium book, I also did the project design, styling, and most of the photography. I learned so much and loved every minute!

I also teach Ink & Stem Workshops at the Denver Botanic Gardens and at private events and retreats. These workshops combine creative writing with succulent design and terrarium craft. I’m really passionate about helping people uncover their own inner reservoirs of creativity. I feel so honored when I get to help people tap into that part of themselves they’ve ignored for too long.

Let’s just say I love to learn and try new things. I love style, fashion, design, art, music, travel, gardening, photography, food, baking–these loves show up in all I do. I love nesting in my home and creating welcoming spaces for people to gather and connect. I also love to get out of dodge and travel like a free-spirited gypsy. In recent years I’m finding ways to go combine my academic training with my love for teaching and gathering people together in beautiful spaces.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Don’t get too boxed in with labeling yourself. Don’t let what you do define who you ARE. As an academic, there was a pretty particular path I was expected to travel. I was lucky to have early success. I published my dissertation and landed a tenure-track job right out of grad school. But a few years later, I ended up moving across the country, focusing on my two kids, and forging my own path with writing and creating my workshops. It was a big risk and took a lot of guts and soul-searching.

Never discount the value of pursuing your passions. When I look back, I see clearly that the moments when I followed my gut and took a risk to take a class, or go to a retreat, or push myself with my photography: well, those were the decisions and connections that opened new doors for me. If I hadn’t taken those risks to pursue my heart, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve met the most wonderful people simply by being open and trusting my intuition. I’m so grateful for that!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Ink & Stem Workshops story. Tell us more about it.
Maybe what sets me apart from others is that I’m bringing together things people usually don’t see as connected. For example: Ink & Stem Workshops combine creative writing, personal reflection, group process, and really gorgeous container gardening projects (living frames, succulent centerpieces, woodland terrariums). People might not see those things as connected, but to me, it’s about bringing together the hands and the heart, the mind and the body, creativity and analysis.

I’m most proud of my writing. I’ve written and published in several genres, and I want to keep pushing myself to try new things. It takes so much courage to put yourself out there as a writer and rejection is really hard, but I want to keep trying.

Also, with 15 years of college teaching experience and also teaching experience in Latin America, I bring a lot to the table in terms of teaching. I used to feel hesitant to be so bold as to say it, but it’s true. I love teaching! Experience really does give you perspective, a bit more compassion for self and others, and a desire to constantly evolve and improve. I love helping my college students think more critically through the craft of writing but I also love helping people discover the joy and freedom and messiness of creative writing, too.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
Hmmm, so many! I love my old favorites (Jane Austen, The Anne of Green Gables series, the Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf) because I notice something new each time I read them. If I’m down, I’ll pull out something by Anne Morrow Lindbergh or read some poetry from Keats, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Oliver–something to help me look at the world from a different perspective.

Podcasts: I love On Being so much. Also Real Food Whole Life and Raw Milk.

It’s not really a resource but getting outside in nature is my number one way to reset and do my best in life. I’m reminded of what truly matters. I feel connected to the deeper mystery of the universe, I feel awe, I experience beauty. We’re so lucky here in Colorado to be surrounded by such abundant beauty. Nature really refreshes me and helps me to be more creative and calm day to day.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.cbkortsch.com
  • Instagram: @christinebayleskortsch
  • Facebook: @cbkortschworkshops

Image Credit:
Christine Bayles Kortsch

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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