I like words…

I like sentences. Big, beautiful sentences so long and thick you can wrap them around yourself and keep yourself warm in the winter. Yeah, those. But I like words too. They go together, you know, words and sentences. I like to make them move with rhythm, sing and dance in a way that you fall into them as if you’re hypnotized by them and you never want to leave them, you just want to sway back and forth and keep reading until you slip off of your seat.

It takes time to create those. They start small, like these. Then you have to let them sit, like yeasty bread, and let them rise. You leave, come back, lift the towel, pinch and poke at them, and leave them again thinking, “I know it can be better than that.”

Then you have to sit down with them, you have to get to know them, talk to them, talk through them, try them on, and break them then mend them, try this and try that. It’s frustrating too, I know. You fight with them, want to give up on them, want to trash the whole thing and sometimes you might leave in tears with hopelessness tearing at your soul, but then you come back on another day, maybe an overcast day that holds the threat of rain, and you sit down and talk it all out once again. Maybe this time, this time, it works. Someday it will.

Then you’ll move on to the next sentence.

This is writing. It hurts. It cuts giant gashes filled with jagged edges through you. It scars. It gives you nightmares and makes you curl up in a ball and rock not so gently back and forth.

But it’s also the only thing that pushes you forward, fills the empty spaces, gives you purpose. It keeps the dark shadows at bay and protects you from the harsh world.

Wellness Writing Prompt

When I first came to yoga, our instructor made fish pose a regular part of our sequence. And for so long, I disliked it. It was uncomfortable – and I thought possibly unsafe.

matsyasana or fish pose

Fish pose, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a pose in which the person lays flat on their back, but then lifts their upper back and head to place the crown of their head on the floor.

This pose, or rather the dislike of this pose, inspired a story titled Matsyasana. It is the very things which make us uncomfortable, which may (or may not) be connected to other, deeper things, that we must explore.

When I started looking at Fish Pose from a different point of view – thanks to the story – I understood what the pose could be. For me, it became about looking at life from a different point of view. Sometimes we get stuck in our discomfort. If we don’t or can’t move past it, we will never find what is on the other side. And nothing is as bad as being stuck – anywhere or in any way.

The first writing prompt for the group Writing to Wellness is to approach this topic in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a yoga pose, but consider a position which makes you uncomfortable and write about it. If you’re perplexed, begin by attempting to describe the pose or position, then delve into the part of it that makes you uncomfortable – either in a fictional or non-fictional way. The point is just to start thinking about it and writing about it. This group is a safe place. We will support one another in our individual journeys. Feel free to share or ask for feedback.

Self Care and Writing

This year is a year of self care. The people I’ve met and those I’ve chatted with are seeking self fulfillment, searching for growth; it is a year of healing.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. We are a well. Empty wells can not serve or help others. We need to refill our wells, take care of ourselves in order to be any good to our children, our spouses, family, or community.

We can heal through writing. We can find ourselves and our purpose through exercises meant to expose our deepest desires and inspire our motivation.

Many years ago, I met a woman who was in so much physical pain, she could barely walk and used a cane to get around. Through our semester together, writing exercises, guest speakers, and the process of opening up, she found what was eating away at her. Once exposed, her physical pain began to resolve. She walked with much more ease and moved with more freedom than she’d felt in years.

We can heal through writing. We can resolve our deeper issues. We can discover our purpose. I’d like to invite you to a group Writing to Wellness . The group is on facebook for the moment as that seems the platform where we can not only post and respond to writing prompts, challenges, and answer each others’ questions, but we can also do live writing groups, which I’d like to do at some point. We can also welcome speakers and post videos there.

Please feel free to join. I invite you to respond to prompts, receive writing feedback, and take part in a community dedicated to healing and wellness. Negative comments, trolling, and other uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.

Four Ways to Grow as a Person

Do you know people who don’t change, they stay the same, saying the same things, thinking the same narrow thoughts? Dealing with these people is challenging. It is a great fear of mine to get stuck – to narrow as I age instead of continuing to grow.

This is my theory to never get stuck or to get out of being stuck is to embrace these four suggestions:

  1. Read everyday. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter what you read; in some ways, it does matter. Read far and wide, don’t discriminate. Magazines. Sci fi. Young adult. Horror. Literary. Self help. Reading builds intelligence and empathy.
  2. Write everyday. Even if you’re not a writer. Journaling, writing down thoughts, dreams, ideas, or even what happened in your day is a way to reflect on yourself and your life. Self reflection helps us grow. Especially if you are a writer – write something!
  3. Forgive. Forgiveness if not for the person who wronged you. It’s for you. Forgiveness sweeps the dust from our souls. To forgive does not always mean to forget, and it certainly does not mean to allow the person to wrong you again. Forgive and move on.
  4. Gratitude. Be thankful for where you are in life or for the power to change where you are. Be grateful for your health, the roof over your head, the motivation to grow, the inspiration to follow your dreams, the desire to work toward your goals, for the bird song, the blue sky, the rain, or that you’re one step further away from what you don’t want and one step closer to what you do.

I’ve known too many people who have lost out on a real life, a happy life because being stuck is more comfortable than change.

These suggestions are only a beginning, but they are a good start or to continue on a journey to become a more open, intelligent, and sensitive person.

Creativity is a Well that Must be Replenished

Thanks to Joe Plummer from Carbon Radio for asking great questions in this author interview!

Head over to Medium.com to read the full interview!

How do you think about creativity?

Creativity is a well that must be replenished. Creating a space and time for oneself and one’s growth will keep the well abundant. For me, the replenishment requires an inner focus, quiet spaces around me, lovely views — not necessarily when I’m writing, but before and after. Trips to the local art museum, beach, or the woods will recharge me. When I’m running dry, I know there’s something scratching at the bottom. Some parts of me or my needs I’ve neglected or ignored. I get too distracted by the outside world. There is so much we must do in this modern time and too many easy diversions. My soul counts on the regular activity of writing, it’s like a cleaning out of my mind. It keeps me balanced and happy. Without the regular practice of creativity, the soul cringes and starts to fold over on itself. If it’s been too long, it’ll be a rough restart. Rocks and dirt come first but, if we keep at it, our well fills again and the water becomes clear and plentiful.

What Does Writing Mean to You?

It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”

I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.

What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.

(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).

Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.

She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”

I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.

I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.

Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?

To Infinity and… I’ll Stay Here, Thanks

Richard Branson flew to space, then Bezos and his blue crew. A friend of mine wondered about their choice. I said, hey, they’re filthy rich; they’ve been all over the planet. They need something new.

Those who know me know I love travel. I have a deep seated need to experience new spaces, new places, new cultures and people.

For a sliding moment, I felt sorry for these billionaires whose only novel rush might come from a space flight; however, I rejected that thought quite quickly as reductive. They have the cash, why not fly to space?!

And what about the lucky soul who won the extra seat from the person who had to cancel? (First, imagine that! No refund on that ticket!)

I, like many of you,, cannot afford to go to space. But would I want to? I have to ask myself this question. I used to dream of winning publisher’s clearing house, occasionally wish I could guess those lottery numbers. Hell, I’d take finding a wheel full of cash along side the freeway. (I’m not sure why I would ever be on the side of a freeway looking at tires, but stranger things have happened.)

Given the current state of the world, I’m concerned about getting on a plane because of all the f’n nutty people acting out after a year of being locked in. Everyday someone’s being an asshole, refusing to wear a mask, smacking a flight attendant, or trying to open an emergency exit while in flight (did you see the woman duct taped to the seat?!), and getting yanked off a plane by the police.

Bottom line – I’m not ready to fly in our atmosphere. I’m not sure I’d want to fly out of it. Then I heard the trip to space was only ten minutes long. Ten minutes? I’m risking my life for 10 minutes? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When can I spend a week up there? Call me when they have a Starbucks and a CVS. Kitchy shopping. Trinkets to bring home. First painting done in space. Where I can sip space tea next to an asteroid crater. Hike the lunar landing site. Let me know when we can see how real aliens live and tour old space ruins.

I guess there’s still plenty to see and do here. For me, anyway. The natural beauty of New Zealand awaits. There’s an owl sanctuary in Spain, cocoa farms in Costa Rica, the ruins of Pompeii.

I’ll be here. Gaging my luck, I’ll plan my next flight to NC to see my bestie.

Maybe someday space. But not now. I’m writing.

The Beauty of Forward Motion

At the beginning of the semester, there’s an effervescence in the air on campus. The air around us is charged with positive energy. Thousands of students are buzzing with dreams and goals. They are brimming with the excitement of forward motion, their brains producing dopamine, which seems to affect everyone around them.

The excitement of learning, of trying new things, of working toward something new is like a drug, makes one giddy.

Excitement is lost in routine. Some people go on about their lives, thinking they’ve done everything they need to do and they’ve reached a place of comfort. And they get lazy in that comfort, forget to be open to new adventures.

I asked someone recently about Geocaching. I think of it as finding a treasure, accomplishing mini goals; my brain already releasing happiness hormones in response to the thoughts of the challenge overcome!

His response: It sounds childish.

Yes. Maybe. And isn’t that exciting? The very beauty of youth is excitement at every new adventure, big or small! It’s an energy wrapped up in an overflow of snapping and bubbling. And it’s engaging and enigmatic!

Forward momentum – new challenges – it is what keeps us young.

Einstein was said to have been working on a new theory even on his deathbed. After he passed, his brain showed a lack of plaque. Plaque the normal brain develops with aging.

Writers are all about the new and exciting. The next scene, the next chapter, the next story!

Have fun, engage that childlike excitement, set new goals and accomplish them or fail them – it doesn’t matter – just as long as you keep moving forward!

Do you write better during the good times or the bad times?

During bad times, some writers seem to pour out a more substantial amount of work. If the pain and heartache are authentically transformed on the page, the work touches readers.

Some writers in history seemed to have sought out heartache and drama through alcohol, affairs, or other. As if their creative bent fed off their self induced suffering.

But a writer needs to produce when things go well, don’t you think?

I’ve heard of many “one-hit wonders.” Their first novel, fraught with the strain of life’s challenges, zings. But then, sitting back with their big, fat check, they are unable to produce.

My hardest times are relieved through poetry. As if words are squeezed out in some sort of rhythm that requires the concise, mystical format of a poem.

But I recall good times, great times, when my writing poured out too – the excitement of new challenges on the horizon lit up the page.

What do you think? Do you write better in good times or bad times?

A fondness for 4am

4am

The world is different at night. Those early morning hours before the sun rises, it seems no one is awake, no one is moving around ready for the world.

Even if you live in a big city. Maybe you hear some far off traffic. A train somewhere in the distance. Still it seems the world is your private microcosm.

There’s not much one can do at 4am. There are no appointments to keep. No errands to run. No one to call. Polite society (and even maybe not so polite society) are, too, in their own little secular places.

It’s quiet, mostly. It’s serene. The crickets are quieting. The birds are stretching.

All there is to do is reflect, to write, to enjoy the chill in the pre-dawn air, and the peace that has not yet been disturbed.

It’s a special time for us, artists, writers, thinkers to belong. We are separate but together.

I’ll (not) see you there.