Free Spirits and The Sense of Belonging in Wendy Brown-Baez’s Catch A Dream

This week’s post is a guest post from author, Wendy Brown-Baez, on her book tour for Catch A Dream.

What if home is not where we come from but where we feel we belong? What are we willing to give up to stay?

In Catch a Dream, Lily reflects on traveling: “Is it because I don’t believe in borders and want to cross them freely like the birds do, without nationality, without history, without strife and war, the barriers and borders of separation?”
After years of traveling as a free spirit, Lily has a deep inner longing to put down roots. She states that she wants to be free to travel like the birds do, without borders, and yet there is also the intrinsic human desire to belong, to be part of a community. Is it possible to have that connection with a place that is not where we happened to be born? At what point do we give up freedom to travel and explore in order to land?
Lily has this uncanny connection to the land of Israel although she is not Jewish. The combination of her fascination with Jewish history, the strength of family all around her, and immersion in the cycles of Jewish life inspire her to plant roots. But the reality is that she must either convert to Judaism or marry an Israeli citizen in order to stay permanently. The laws of immigration were decided by the religious parties when Israel first became a state: their objective is a Jewish nation. Neither option appeals to her.
She wrestles both practically and philosophically with how to stay where she feels she belongs.

This is so relevant to today’s discussion about immigration. People give up homes, leave behind families, communities, a career or profession, the security of living where you speak the language and know the culture, to start over somewhere else. Some immigrants never lose their longing to go back. Others sink down roots for generations in their adopted country. Sometimes immigrants are escaping war or oppression or extreme poverty and it can be very dangerous to make the crossing, even to the loss of life. And to go back is also dangerous and can mean arrest or death. Political asylum can rescue someone in this situation but it can also exile them. But sometimes we reach the limits of what we can give up. Sometimes the price is too high.

I wanted to stay in Israel but if I converted, my son would have to convert. He wanted to return to the USA where he spoke the language (although fluent in conversation, academics in Hebrew were hard) and he wanted to play football. I came back to the states planning to return but then I started thinking about the mandatory army service which he would be obligated to do. As a dedicated pacifist, it didn’t sit well with me. Could I go against my beliefs to fulfill my longing? In the end, I just couldn’t. That price was one I wasn’t willing to pay. Life moved on but I carry with me the beauty of the land, the heartbreak of the conflict, and love of the Jewish people and Jewish traditions, in my memories and in my story. I have also learned that when we plant roots, our friendships deepen and our circles of connection develop. “Grow where you are planted,” is a saying I have often contemplated since leaving Israel.

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About the Author

 Wendy Brown-Báez is the author of a poetry CD Longing for Home, the full-length poetry collection Ceremonies of the Spirit (Plain View Press, ’09), and chapbooks: Transparencies of Light (Finishing Line Press, ’11) and Elegy for Newtown (Red Bird Chapbooks, ’14).  She has published both poetry and prose in numerous literary journals and anthologies, both in print and online. She received McKnight, Mn State Arts Board and Saint Louis Park Arts & Culture grants to bring writing workshops into non-profits and community centers.

Wendy has facilitated writing workshops since 1994 including at Cornerstone’s support groups, the Women & Spirituality conference at MSU Mankato, Celebrate Yourself women’s retreats, All About the Journey healing center, The Aliveness Project, Unity Minneapolis,  El Colegio High School and Jacob’s Well women’s retreat. Wendy received 2008 and 2009 McKnight grants through COMPAS Community Art Program to teach writing workshops for youth in crisis. The project at SafeZone and Face to Face Academy developed into an art installation showcasing their recorded writings. When it was noted that students’ reading scores improved, she was hired as Face to Face’s writing instructor.

In 2012, she was awarded an MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to teach writing workshops in twelve non-profit arts and human service organizations. She continues to teach at Pathways: a healing center, in Mn prisons, and in community spaces such as public libraries, yoga studios, churches, and cafes.

Wendy has taught memoir at MCTC continuing ed and through Minneapolis community ed.

In addition, Wendy has managed shelters for the homeless and visited incarcerated teens. She is trained as a hospice volunteer and as a facilitator of Monologue Life Stories. Wendy studied alternative healing, ceremony, and spiritual traditions with Earthwalks for Health and lived in Mexico and Israel. She has collected wisdom teachings from these diverse cultures, as well as written memoirs of her adventures.

You can find Wendy Brown-Baez at:







Catch A Dream Book Summary

A woman’s healing journey begins in a country embroiled in relentless turmoil. In Israel, the first Intifada has just begun. Palestinian frustration for a homeland erupts in strikes, demonstrations and suicide bombings and Israel responds with tear gas, arrests, and house demolitions. Lily Ambrosia and Rainbow Dove arrive in Haifa with their children on a pilgrimage to sow seeds of peace. Lily’s fascination with Jewish culture inspires her to dream she can plant roots in the Holy Land. She falls in love with the land itself, with its people, and with Levi, a charming enigma, dangerous but irresistible. Eventually, she is fully immersed in Israeli life, earning her way as a nanny, hanging out in cafes with friends, and attending Yom Kippur in the synagogue. Her son rebels against the lifestyle she has chosen and war with Syria looms on the horizon. Will she be able to stay? What does she have to give up and what will she be able to keep?

Print Length: 196 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: BookBaby (March 24, 2018)

ISBN-13: 9781543925579

Catch a Dream is available as an eBook at BookBaby and Amazon.

Catch A Dream Book Blog Tour Dates (in Chronological Order)

May 21st @ The Muffin

Grab a muffin and a cup of coffee and read Women on Writing’s interview with author Wendy Brown-Baez and enter to win a copy of the book Catch a Dream.

May 22nd @ Memory Revolution

Jerry Waxler relates to the main character in To Catch a Dream as if she was a real person. His post reflects on lessons learned in this fertile ground between “memoir” and “fiction-based-on-fact.

May 22nd @ Memory Revolution

In a second post, Jerry Waxler will share Wendy Baez’s own words about the choices she made to publish her true life story as a fictional novel.

May 23rd @ World of My Imagination

Exercise your imagination over at Nicole’s blog The World of My Imagination where she reviews Wendy Brown-Baez’ book Catch a Dream.

May 24th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Make sure to stop by Jill Sheet’s blog to read Wendy Brown-Baez fascinating guest post on conflict and peace. The author answers the question – is peace possible without forgiveness?

May 24th @ Rebecca Whitman’s Blog

You should also stop by Rebecca Whitman’s blog where Wendy Brown-Baez talks about free spirits and belonging. What if home is not where we come from but where we feel we belong? What are we willing to give up to stay?

May 25th @ Margo Dill’s Blog

Come by Margo Dill’s blog to catch another guest post by author Wendy Brown-Baez. This moving post is about motherhood and how can we be a good parent and yet fulfilled as a woman?

May 26th @ Mommy Daze: Say What??

Come by Ashley Bass’ blog to check out Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on trauma and healing. How can we stand up for ourselves? How can we reclaim our voice when we have been silenced by trauma?

May 27 @ Beverly A. Baird’s Blog

Make sure to stop by Beverly’s blog to find out her thoughts about Wendy Brown-Baez book Catch a Dream.

May 29th @ Mari’s #JustJournal! Blog

Stop by Mari’s blog to read Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on journaling and self-reflecting writing. A must-read if you love freewriting or journaling!

May 30th @ Story Teller Alley

Come by Veronica’s Story Teller Alley blog and find out how Wendy Brown-Baez book came to be in the Story Teller Alley feature “Where Do Stories Grow?”

June 1st @ Words from the Heart

Come by Rev. Linda Naes’ blog to read Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on the topic loving someone who is not good for us.

June 2nd @ McNellis Writes

Come by Margaret’s blog when she shares Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on the subject of travelling in countries during times of unrest.

June 3rd @ Margo Dill’s Blog

Stop by Margo’s blog where she reviews Wendy Brown-Baez book Catch a Dream.

June 4th @ Mommy Daze: Say What??

Come by Ashley Bass’ blog and find out her thoughts on the moving book Catch a Dream.

June 5th @ Madeline Sharples’ Blog

Take a look at Wendy Brown-Baez guest post over at Madeline Sharples’ blog where the author talks about writing to heal. A must read during these troubled times!

June 7th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Stop by Kathleen’s blog where she shares Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on writing authentically about difficult or painful topics.

June 8th @ Words from the Heart

Take a heartwarming journey over at Rev Linda Naes’ blog Words from the Heart to find out her thoughts on Wendy Brown-Baez book Catch a Dream.

June 14th @ Become Zen Again

Come by Shell’s blog Become Zen Again where she shares her opinions on Wendy Brown-Baez moving book Catch a Dream.

June 18th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Stop by Wendi Huskin’s blog Strength 4 Spouses where she shares Wendy Brown-Baez guest post on writing to heal.

June 22nd @ Strength 4 Spouses

Stop by Wendi Huskin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on the book Catch a Dream. A must read for your upcoming summer vacation!