Portrait of a Creative Mischief Maker: Cynthia Leslie-Bole

By Karen Mireau, Publisher and Founder, Azalea Art Press

Recently my publisher friend Karen Mireau started writing a series she calls “Portraits of Creative Mischief Makers”, and I was surprised and honored to be the first person she profiled. Below is her piece to give you an idea of what she sees as my strengths.


If you’re interested, you can check out Karen’s publishing services at azaleaartpress.blogspot.com. CLB

Sometimes we simply must take time to celebrate those around us. Today, I am called to tell you about someone who has had an immense influence on my creative life since moving to Berkeley.

You may already know Cynthia Leslie-Bole, the founder of Hummingwords Writing Workshops. Cynthia has a professional background as a certified AWA (Amherst Writers and Artists) writing method coach as well as 25 years of corporate communications and lifestyle coaching experience.

If you’ve had the good luck have your path cross Cynthia’s, you probably feel as strongly as I do that you have experienced a very rare angelic presence — one who is constantly anointing you with love and light and energy and inspiration. I suspect that she has this effect on everyone she meets and on anyone who has the honor of working with her, but she has been particularly influential in supporting and helping to clarify the work I am now doing. Here are a few of our adventures that I would like to share with you.

Since meeting Cynthia several years ago, we seemed destined to get involved with all sorts of creative mischief. Our first project, collaborating on a Hummingwords Playshop for Children at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, was a tremendous experience. We were even able to coax Ruth Bancroft out of her usual seclusion to take part in the event. The level of art and writing that poured forth during that day took everyone a bit by surprise, I think; but in great measure it was due to Cynthia’s ability to immediately connect and guide the students towards their most inspired efforts.

Enlivened by that day, but with no particular agenda in mind, we embarked (or rather drifted) towards a kind of intuitive voyage that led to nurturing and mentoring young artists and writers. Adults started feeling this energy also (warning: it’s contagious), and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, several writers Cynthia had edited also were on the road to becoming published authors through Azalea Art Press. What fun synergy that was and is!

This creative wandering about led to a meeting of the minds with a friend of Cynthia’s, Mary Tuscherer, and the founders of VoiceFlame: Creative Education for Women (http://www.voiceflamewriters.org). VoiceFlame is a nonprofit that encourages women in Malawi, Africa and America to manifest their creativity in practical ways by offering scholarships and hands-on instruction in the AWA writing method.

The writings and testimonials of the women from Malawi, in particular, have encouraged others to go with Mary to Africa and take part in what is an amazing experiment in female connection and expression. Our role – to help VoiceFlame edit and publish a population of women whose voices, up until now, have never been heard – is a very simple one in relation to what the organization is accomplishing, but I think I can speak for Cynthia in saying that it has already been a most uplifting endeavor.

All through this, Cynthia has been there for me as a personal guide as well as a collaborator – listening, advising, helping me trust in my own process. There is so much more to say about Cynthia and hopefully many adventures to come, but here are a few more things that I have personally observed about her along the way.

First, it is evident from the moment you meet her that Cynthia is a profoundly intuitive individual. As a writing facilitator, she has the ability to pinpoint where our strengths and weaknesses reside. She then does the extraordinary – she reveals how our goodness and our art can spring from either place. This simple lesson: knowing that our light and our darkness are not mutually exclusive, makes for a kind of indestructible creative freedom. But it takes a very special kind of guidance to allow this to truly flower – and Cynthia has the compassion as well as the strength to be this kind catalyst.

This is so powerful, I can barely put it into words. I have witnessed her working with elderly people and young people and all ages in between, and she is equally adept at getting to the heart of their literary concerns and addressing them in very tender, practical ways. She is also a fiercely exacting and meticulous editor (exactly what you want in that regard) and also a very fine author in her own right, too. Ask to see some of her poetry — it is simply extraordinary.

Her awareness and mindfulness shows up in everything she does. In between advising what now seems like a small army of creative souls, she also is a stellar wife and the mother of two teens/young adults. Imagine that! Living in teenage land AND having the energy to help others grow as creative individuals. And oh, by the way, she’s also a Reiki Master!

If you know Cynthia, I hope this will serve as a reminder to send her a note and tell her the story of your friendship with her. (We would love to hear it too!) She is a powerful force in the universe and she supports all of us so unselfishly and so well, that it just seems right to take notice.

If you would like to know more about Cynthia, you can read more here — I think you will be most happy that you did!

~Karen Mireau