Participant Responses to
Bless this Mess Workshop

by Norbert Krapf and Liza Hyatt

Norbert Liza

St. Mary of-the-Woods Retreat & Conference Center:

Liza and Norbert collaborated beautifully in their presentation, giving us a safe space to express ourselves. Loved hearing them read their work and play their music. -RC

This workshop provides an opportunity to acquire writing skills and techniques that can help a person process any and all of life's challenges. The facilitators provided unique insights and valuable writing ideas. -RJ

The timing of this workshop for me was perfect, a very positive experience to jump-start my writing and process a very complex relationship. -Anon

Highly recommend this healing workshop which empowers all of us wounders, wounded, and warriors with the courage to tell our stories. -MPH

Liked everything about this workshop. I like that the leaders shared their writing, old and new, and the handouts of prompts by Liza and (observations ) on voice and perspective by Norbert. The leaders truly are wise and welcoming to everyone.-Anon

Liked the dynamism of the group in the hands of skilled moderators. There was never a moment that lagged. Good humor, insight, intensity, honest sharing, and mutual support by participants. -Anon

Ball State University sponsored by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

Great mix of writing, reading, sharing, reflection. –KG

The presenters kept track of time and had a clear plan for the workshop, a blend of reading their work, writing for a long stretch, and sharing [reading in] small or large groups. –TM

The excellent instruction and structure of the workshop produced a surprisingly easy overflow of writing and thinking, new insights into old pain, and a more nuanced understanding of how writing can help. –CC

With a mother and father figure present, this workshop allowed me to explore the depths of a relationship I had previously kept buried. –KV

I don’t consider myself a writer, but this workshop has inspired me to begin reading more on writing as healing and setting aside some time to start doing it.  –PB

Liza and Norbert created a safe place to explore painful life experiences through writing to writers of all skill levels. This renewed my courage and strength to face my demons. –LS

This workshop was not set up like a teacher and student dynamic, which I found most helpful during discussions. We learned many aspects of writing that will I will definitely put into practice in my personal life and at work. –BT

Norbert and Liza were smart, kind, knowledgeable, well-organized, affirming, and fun. I hope to teach others as they taught me. –MM


Indiana State Library:

Wonderful job with the workshop! It was an honor to witness your work and the positive, creative growth you inspire in others. –Kristi Gmutza, Art of the Soul Center, sponsor

The workshop was a wonderful reminder that we as humans are more alike than different in this journey of life, connections, and our relationships. Really enjoyed the writing and sharing [of what we wrote]. –S.F.

Norbert and Liza offer gentle, therapeutic guidance to the hard work of writing about difficult relationships. –Anon.

This wonderful workshop offered authenticity and transparence from both the instructors. It opened a vein of writing that had long been stuck. –L.K.

This workshop is not about child abuse. It truly is about difficult relationships. [The facilitators] are doing it right. Like the leadership and the sharing of writing –J.T.

Amazing opportunity to kickstart your creative process regardless of preferred writing style and subject matter. A safe environment with honest feedback. –J.H.

Liked the group exercises, the authors’ (facilitators’) readings were lovely. A nice balance for such a short time frame. –M.A.

Enjoyed this and learned a lot. Very cathartic. –C.B.

Liked best the courage of the speakers to share their experiences through poetry which helped me find more confidence. You will take something extremely valuable from this workshop. –T.A.

Liked the nurturing quality of the facilitators and the group as a whole. The small groups after writing exercises [to share writings] were very good. Thanks to Liza and Norbert for their leadership and courage –J.P.

Best was the explanation of the processes by the facilitators as they explored their subjects and writing practices. –Anon.

This workshop gives you a chance to learn how to write in a positive, supportive atmosphere. I liked the expertise of the leaders and the time to write and share my writing. –J.G.

A safe environment to use [writing] to expose and express the soul, a wonderful opportunity to share brokenness in the language in which you wish it to be known.


I don’t think this workshop could be improved. It’s very well organized and very thoughtful. Liked Norbert and Liza’s advice on writing. –C.M.


John XXIII Retreat Center:

Liza and Norbert were both open and honest in sharing their stories, which helped the group get into their stories, especially the memories that needed to be voiced in writing. –JH

I really appreciated the music while writing and their sharing of wisdom and experience. Their stories helped illustrate examples of approaches to take and generated ideas for my poems and writing. –NH

I was inspired and challenged. The facilitators created a safe space for us to explore. The flow and pace felt good. –AC

Liza and Norbert foster an environment supportive of and coducive to participants entering a space where revelations occur and hope of healing surfaces. The atmosphere was more relaxed and comfortable compared to the Oldenburg workshop. –BM

I liked the safe space and constructive workshop environment, the music, and the openness of everyone involved, as well as the retreat setting. –WHC

The retreat gave me the freedom to take time to reflect on some areas of my life that were issues standing in the way of my happiness.” –HC

Writing and reading our pieces aloud in front of witnesses was healing and helpful. –FM

I liked the time to write, the opportunity to discuss in an open and safe environment, and the authenticity and credentials of the presenters. – Anon

There were good suggestions about writing, great handouts, and a safe place to explore, without judgement. – Anon

Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Norbert and Liza have themselves gone into dark places and written their way to healing. They served as gentle and reliable guides in pointing the way for me to do the same.   –B.M.

The most interesting writing workshop I’ve ever attended.  Great encouragement of combining deep, personal stories with creative process.   –G.S.

The relaxed readings and music [harp and guitar] helped me find my writing voice.  –M.J.G.

Liza and Norbert provided both excellent resources as well as education on the process of poetry as a tool for healing. Their openness and understanding led participants to an integration of themselves and poetry dealing with difficult relationships.  –D.G.

The workshop presented easy to understand ways in which to begin the writing process. The presenters shared their own experience, and how those experiences developed into a poem. I appreciated the relaxing music, and being able to share only the information that I was comfortable sharing.  –J.F.

Norbert and Liza bring the inordinate beauty of trauma redeemed in their own stories into the goodness of the Light; thus, I am encouraged to partake and enter into the intricacies of my own narrative holding both boldness and grace. –M.W.