Sunday, July 31, 2011

Warning Signs

Have you ever had a premonition?  Did you feel a foreboding before launching into a situation?  How did you react to this intuition? Trace these feelings in memories.

Write about warning signs and how you avoided or embraced them.

Develop a character who follows your lead or makes the opposite choice. Choose a name and what the person wears during the sequence you write about.  Follow this character through the situation.

Does a story emerge?  Do you discover new ideas concerning how to approach life as a result of writing this persona?

Have fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Accomplish with Enthusiasm

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."          - William Shakespeare

What will Enthusiasm accomplish for you today?

Try writing a response to each letter.  Once you have a concept for each, set a goal. Develop ideas to reveal what it will take to accomplish the goals. 

E    energy level increase
N    Never doubt yourself
T    Trust the process
H    Humor helps
U    U can do it
S    Smile
I     Imaginate
A    Alleviate worry
M    Master disaster

Share your attempts and accomplishment with us!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Write the Way

The Master leads by emptying people's minds
and filling their cores.
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know,  everything  they desire.
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.  - Lao Tzu

Lau Tzu's Tao Te Ching or Book of the Way is a guide to the art of living.  Wisdom requires working for the good with effortless skill that comes from flowing in the moment and in accord with the Universe.

Tao focuses on wei wu wei - doing not doing.  It is not passivity.  A trained athlete enters a state of body-awareness. The conscious will does not intrude and the body moves by itself.  The highest form of action occurs where the poem writes the poem, the game plays the game, and the dancer is the dance.

The doer has vanished into the deed. The fuel completely transformed into flame.

Today, take advantage of Lao Tzu's philosophy in writing:   Empty your mind of concepts, judgments and rigidity.  As you begin your freewrite,  feel supple, adaptable, and push the pen with endurance in mind.

Lose everything you know and just write.  Once in the stream of words,  you will feel the power of relenting to process. Notice a feeling of harmony by the way ideas fall from the pen.  The more you let go, the more your clear insights follow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What is Life?

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time; it is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
     - Last words of Crowfoot, Blackfoot chief

Writers have the ability to reveal feelings, thoughts and conditions.  The use of imagery creates a way to share life experiences far better than the abstract words: beauty, love, fear, courage.

Write today to express your notions about life.  Avoid mentioning the abstract word you wish to describe.  Bring the reader into your world of beauty or love with details and sensory imagery.

Make us feel your expression and connect with it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Writing

Wander at ease, without vexation. - Buddhist saying
Make a daily date with yourself to freewrite.  At least ten minutes will make a difference that you'll recognize in only one week.  You'll want to return to the page for self-expression.

Freewriting practice releases tension and taps the subconscious for buried notions.  It requires spontaneity and a natural state of awareness. Being natural requires attention to details and sensory input. It provides entry into areas of possibility where creativity lurks. The longer you go; the more you'll glow.

Writing with a fountain or rollerball pen will facilitate the process. Discover a pen that permits fluidity. Use colorful inks to add to the enjoyment.  Write in a notebook or journal with paper that welcomes the ink.

Begin with a breathing exercise.  Sit comfortably.  Breath in through your nose for six breaths and out eight breaths.  Do this three times.

Focus on a blank page then close your eyes for one complete breath.  Now you're ready.

The Heart Sutra says, "There is no wisdom and no attainment." Although practice may be trying, even physically painful, if your heart is carefree, nothing will bother you. A carefree approach does not mean not caring about how you practice; it means considering anything that happens as natural. There may be some pain, but there will be no suffering.

Free the mind and thoughts and avoid trying to control them.  Let  go and flow in and out of ideas that travel to your pen. Let the wandering throughts lead you. When a wild sentence arises, follow its lead.  Do not be afraid that you're moving into new territory.  Open the floodgates of your mind in all directions.

Don't stop writing when you've run out of ideas.  Describe your hands or what's outside the window.  Just keep going. When you stop in frustration, you will train yourself to do just that. Stop only when you feel the ease of the writing flow and do not want it to end.  Then you will condition yourself to return. Stay positive and carefree.

Freewrite:  Begin your writing sequence with a question about your natural self.  Each day for seven days, write to a quotation or word to generate the flow.  Remember, stop when you're joyful and don't want to stop writing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Attention to Simple

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak
                  - Mary Oliver

Discover the simple today.  Take a notepad and walk outside into your garden to notice what summer brings. Look under a stone for creatures that wriggle.

Listen to birdsong and other sounds from the neighborhood.  What scents arrive on the breeze?  Become aware of silence.  What surprises arise around a corner?

Make notes about the connections within the sensory output around you.  Do you find "...the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak?"


The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.  
- Maya Angelou

What does it mean to feel free when chained by responsibilities in life?  What cages can you slip away from?  What bars of anger, remorse or denial can you slip past?

Write today about moving past your cages to a sense of freedom. Why fear the unknown?  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Write About a Bird

"I pray to the birds.  I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward.  I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day - the invocations and benedictions of Earth.  I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear.  And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen."
                                                - Terry Tempest Williams

Did you know:

Coins in Greece had engraved owls to keep a watchful eye on commerce.

The sun is borne aloft by eagles every morning.

In Norse mythology the god Odin has two companions. The Ravens three were sent out every morning to travel and gather news of the world.  They returned to his shoulder at dusk.

In Native American myths, the thunderbird was the grandson of the sky spirit who created the world.  The water spirit tried to rid the world of people by flooding all the land. Then the people traveled to the highest hill and prayed.  Thunderbird came to fight the water spirit sending a great bolt of lightning that split open the earth and drained the water spirit saving humankind.

Crows and their raven cousins have held a spot in mythology as symbols of occult knowledge and power.  Associated with the otherworld, war and death,  these corvids have accompanied figures such as Apollo and the Celtic goddess Morrigan.

Creative Write:  Choose a bird to write about. Consider what's happening with the osprey in the above photograph.   Tell a story, begin a conversation, get into bird.

Befriend an Emotion

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course. only those who have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these things.   - Emily Dickinson

Decide to make friends with one of your adversarial emotions.  Name it and say, "Hello, friend."

Escape with your buddy today to encourage a writing experience.  Decide where you will go exploring.  

Introduce this new friend to the zoo.  Enjoy a walk on the beach.  An exotic visit to a tropical isle might encourage novelty.

Share your experience with us.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Supernatural Experiences

      "From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us." (Old Cornish prayer.) 

      Technology and science reveal visible aspects of an "unseen" world that surrounds us. Special cameras have discovered a heat-sensing organ in the pits near the eyes of rattlesnakes. This organ enables them to "see" warm-blooded prey that would be invisible to human eyes in the dark.  We know bees and birds can see untraviolet light to which we are blind.
      Who's to say what else might be out there on the periphery of our senses?

      Have you ever had a supernateral experience difficult to explain by rational means?  Would it make a story or poem with more exploration?

      Investigate the supernatural realm in your writing today.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creative Risks

What does it mean to take risks with your creativity?  Calculated risks predispose you to growth and opportunity.  Jumping into the process dissolves fear and worry about results.

Jewelry designer, Anna Balkan, a native of Ukraine, came by herself to New York City in 1992 with $100 and no job. She learned English, earned a college degree and worked in various leadership roles.

After twelve years in the coporate world, Balkan took a risk to follow her childhood love of jewelry design and started her own company.  Today she thrives doing what she loves.  Visit her online:

Examine risks you have taken in the past with your writing.  How did they work out?  Should you have pushed to the edges of possibility?  Why did or didn't you?

Write today about risk taking.

R -  Rise above fear
I  -  Initiate edgy ideas
S -  Satisfy curiosity
K - Keep it going, one stop at a time
S  - Say Yes! to variety

Friday, July 22, 2011

Challenges of a Memorist

Memiorist, Dani Shapiro wrote her first memoir, SLOW MOTION, capturing the details of her life of pain and chaos. She wrote with abandon; what she called a "no prisoners story." Sharing intimate details, she did not consider reactions to her writing in her future as a wife and mother.

All writers who share their personal narratives have choices to make.  Can they write with total honesty if concerned with future family and friends who might read the work?

Later Shapiro would feel concern about her husband's and son's reactions to her past writing.

Shapiro writes, "I'm proud of, and the artist in me would like to think that I would have written it no matter what.  But, the mother in me isn't so sure. I might have stopped myself, for fear of what he (my son) might think some day.  Certainly, it would have been a very different book, bearing the marks of time, maturity, experience."

What do you think about the consequences of writing life truths as a memoirist?  Would you write the details about life experiences that may not cast you in a positive light?  Should you whitewash your stories for future reception?  Do you believe a fiction writer faces the same challenges if family members or friends believe they have been used as characters?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Prickly Side

Do you become baffled by the behavior of your "other self" - the prickly side?  This personality procrastinates, arrives late at appointments, leaves dirty dishes in the sink and clothes cluttered about?  Often this character feels disorganized, devastated by clutter and frustrated by deadlines.  Writing projects stay in the computer or hide in the writing journal.

Writing helps to keep you in the moment. Push your Positive self to write a vision of accomplishments. Begin by writing objectives in a special journal and set time limits.

Examples:  Fifteen minutes for clearing your desk. Fifteen minutes to write your goals.  Stop at the time limit, do not go over or under.  You may need to begin with ten minutes to avoid frustration.

Identify the messages your prickly side sends. Name this persona. Write three to five items you wish to confront and begin a dialogue.

Add what you will do with clutter, unused items and overstuffed shelves or closets. What about files of ancient paperwork?

Demand: Stow or throw.  When you grab an item make an immediate decision.  If you must, store items of questionable need in a box.  In two months, if you haven't needed the item, toss the box without peeking

Learn how the prickly self stops you from doing what you really want.  Write about it.

Live in the moment to allow your conscious mind to set the agenda. When you focus on the now, your prickly side can't lead you astray or back to unfocused patterns.

Celebrate tiny steps. Applaud yourself for beginning the changes you wish to pursue.

Try this for a week and share your observations.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Odysseys of Discovery

"What you really value is what you miss not what you have."  Victor Luis Borges
While reading, THE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET  by Bobbie Ann Mason, I  thought about life's myriad odysseys of discovery.  What draws writers to stories that follow a journey's process?
This novel, inspired by the experience of Mason's father-in-law in World War II, involves a B-17 co-pilot, shot down over Belgium in 1944. He received help from the French Resistance network to escape across the Pyrenees to Spain, and then to England.   Marshall, widowed and forced into retirement from his job as an airline pilot in 1980, returns to France to find those who helped him evade the Nazis.
Marshall's curiosity focuses finding Annette, the girl in the blue beret who guided him. Her family hid him for weeks while the network of conspirators arranged his escape. Marshall’s odyssey of discovery sets him on a new life course.

Creative Write:   Return to a place back in time.  Use writing to resolve misunderstandings, conflict unresolved, or as a way to relieve yourself of a burden.  How might your older, wiser self write about it?

Consider these ideas in writing your odyssey of discovery:

Return to a time of intense conflict and confusion.  What's your view now?  How would you rewrite the events?  What would you do differently or not?

Write about a relationship that ended abruptly.  Does it requires rekindling in writing?  Where will it take you?

Return to a time of family unrest and travel through it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balloon Theory

Observe your flexibility today.  If you compare yourself to a balloon, what do you need?

What color and shape do you desire in a balloon?
Define a context or an event for your celebration balloon.
Is it time to add or let out some of the air?
Do you need to drift with ease or soar above the clouds?
What if you let the breeze take you, attaching your string to a branch?
Will the birds admire themselves in your sheen?

Work with a metaphor to measure your need to adjust mind, spirit and body.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Will You Write?

Margaret Atwood presents several one liners about her need to write:

To record the world as it is.  To set down the past before it is all forgotten.  To excavate the past because it has been forgotten.
To satisfy my desire for revenge.  Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. 
Because to write is to take risks and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive.
To produce order out of chaos.  To delight and instruct.
To please myself.  To express myself.  To express myself beautifully.
To create a perfect work of art.  To reward the virtuous and punish the guilty; or – the Marquis de Sade defense. used by ironists – vice versa.
To hold a mirror up to the reader.
To paint a portrait of society and its ills.
To express the unexpressed life of the masses.
To name the hitherto unnamed.
To defind the human spirit and human intergrity and honor.
To thumb my hose at death.
To make money so my children could have shoes.   

Rainer Maria Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet said, “Go into yourself.  Search for the reason that bids you to write.  This above all, ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: Must I write?  Delve into yourself for a deep answer.”

Creative Write:  Imagine yourself in an isolated location. Consider Atwood's responses and how you might reply. Use the following or create your own scenario.

You're at the top of a mountain in a Zen-like teahouse with food and water.  You have three days alone.  What will you write?

You have three days on an island with fruit trees, fresh water, and fishing equipment.  What will you write?

You find yourself isolated for a day in a hotel room in a city of discomfort.  What will you write?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Sense

Have you discovered a state of enhanced awareness?

In Japanese, the word, 'yugen'  captures an essence of truths too deep for words. It may include sensations where mystery and ecstasy linger. Awareness races through the blood and elevates the mind's perceptions.

It involves delving into the middle of wonder as images reveal in layers.  A flash around a corner awakens the experience. Sensations or memory fragments may trigger linked discoveries.

A gleam of light dapples the room. It brings scents of tuberose and stargazer lilies on a breeze from the garden. The Sssush and spill of water burble from a fountain where birdsong lingers.  On the horizon a sailboat with spinnaker extended, slides above water.

A cricket's rubbed legs receive translation by moonlight.

Stay open to a 'yugen' sense of amazement.  Follow the imagery in writing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to See a Tree

During childhood, I spent most of my free time in trees.  Climbing into a 30-foot magnolia provided my view of nature's magic.  Butterflies visited along with ladybugs.  Ants left trails to follow.

I escaped from my bedroom window by climbing down a jacaranda. A eucalpytus tree grew from three trunks that enclosed a space for hiding.  My body fit with just my head peeking out.  Oak trees also invited my climbing adventures. I adorned my friends with ribbons, balloons and flags.

Pine trees coated me with sap.  Apple, citrus, fig, and avocado trees provided treats. I marveled at the aromas and tastes.  All seasons revealed opportunities to investigate the bounty of wood near my home.

Because of my friendship with trees, I believed they never died.  I watched them transformed into doors, furniture, sculptures, and stationery.  I collected decorated boxes that opened with a rush of scent.

Have you ever paid attention to a tree?

How to See a Tree

At first light, three men entered the forest.
The axeman downed a tree riddled by insects
seeing it worth only fire wood.
The logger brought a chainsaw with greed in his smile.
He would sell lumber and make a fortune.
The woodsman searched all day
playing fingers over bark and limbs.
His nostrils filled with scent of tree,
he honed planks suitable for
instruments whose living notes
might please a weary world.

Creative Write:  Describe a childhood experience in nature that provided insights.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Self Care and Writing

Are you your own Best Friend? 

Studies have revealed that individuals who overcome great difficulties have a trusted relationship with themselves. They know that if all else fails, they have what Saint Peter calls the "inner man of the heart." 

How do you use writing to self-balance? Do you journal when challenges arise?

Share a writing technique that helps you return to your core strength.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Pen is Mightier

Have you ever written a Letter to the Editor to communicate your concerns with: environmental issues, politics, world affairs,  or the media's sensational approach to journalism?

Choose an area above.  Define the problem as you view it.  What solutions do you have?  Add humor to make your point.

Raise your pen and write your might.

Share your writing with us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beyond the Light

Imagine a writing spelunk into depths that reveal a variety of moods. Write from lightness into caverns of darkness.

Begin with sounds of confusion,  a taste of confidence, and the scent of ecstasy. Notice reflections. Add color and texture.  Strike a match.

Discover details beyond the abstract words as you dig into the writing meander. Let the mood wandering lead you to investigate areas and ideas left in dark places.

What will you bring up to the light?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meanings of Love

This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love the more they give, the more they possess.   - Rainer Maria Rilke

From above, to a hawk, the bend must appear only natural and I for the moment inseparably a part, like salmon or a flower. I cannot say well enough how this single perception has dismantled my loneliness.  - Barry Lopez

When I say or write the word, LOVE, an amazement captivates my spirt; a flood of joy explodes in my chest.  This sense of wonder percolates and bubbles rocket up my arms and legs as I recall memories and moments of Love in all its forms. My mind sparkles from the word's immediate magic and connection.

My love of nature reveal ways of translating affection to individuals. When I offer my assistance, nurture and intensity of affection, it returns to me. As Barry Lopez writes, I feel loneliness disappear.

Love does conquer all when used to displace emotions of anger and dislike. The next time you feel irritated, launch a memory of what you most love. Observe it with all your senses.

Creative Write:  Write about LOVE today.  What does each letter represent to you?  How do you express your love in spiritual connections, to fellow humans, and to experience what provides pleasure in your life?

Motate your love train today in writing. List your top Five Loves. Write to them and share the experience with us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Week of the Sillies

Get yourself a Bubble Gun

A Week of the Sillies

When we take ourselves too seriously, we shut off the playground of the mind where ideas move and  laughter produces positive energy.

Take this week to follow simple childhood philosophy. Romp, get silly and play for FUN.

You'll notice that FUN becomes a bridge to Wisdom in your writing.

Tone your Silly each day of week:

l.   Each morning, don't jump out of bed. Stay still for two minutes. 

     Breathe in and let it out with a giggle.
2.  Each day make someone laugh till they cry.
3.  Chase a cloud with your nose and pick flowers with your toes.
4.  Write the silliest notion you have. One each day.
5.  Fall asleep by wriggling your face, add a smile and three Ha Ha Ha's.

Develop your own five Sillies.

At the end of the wee write about your silliest notions.  How many did you perform?

Get yourself a bubble gun!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nom de Plume

Our literary tradition abounds with writers who use pseudonyms.  An author writes as another for a variety of reasons.  Some have secrets to hide.  Others wish to delve into other genres or dabble in a dime story category to make money. Women write as men; men take on women's names.

Experiment with a "nom de plume" of your own.

Move into the musicality of names.  Go for a first name with two syllables, a one syllable middle name and a three syllable last name.  Or try names with 3-1-2 in syllables. Vary the cadence.

If you like flowers and animals:    Rosey May Marmoset
Try food and colors:     Hominy Seth Silvers
See what happens with a season and sensation or abstraction:  Summer Ennui
Combine a bird and an archaic name:   Aloysius Jay Canary

Creative Write:  Play with the musicality of a pen name.  Try the above examples or create two or three of your own.  After you have created the names, write a character sketch for each.  Freewrite from the personas to explore how it affects your writing.  

Free that alter ego or three.

Self Searching

     "It is no use trying to reconcile the multitude of egos that compose me. I cannot fathom them myself. I ask myself questions that I cannot answer. I find my heart aching when I expected to find it rejoicing, tears flow from my eyes when my lips were formed to smile. I preach love, brotherhood, and peace, but I am conscious of antagonisms, and lo! I find myself brandishing a sword and making ready for battle.. . I walk unafraid towards the Enchanted Wood where the foliage is always green, where joy abides, where nightingales nest and sing, and where life and death are one in the Presence of the Lord."  - Helen Keller, from Midstream, My Later Life
     Helen Keller felt she had a "Golden Chamber" inside.She kept a magic searchlight in her heart to guide her. As she struggled with what she called,"sinister doubts that lurk in the shadow" she kept moving toward her Enchanted Wood. 

     Creative Write: Approach your writing today to energize a search for inner power that provides a searchlight. Write within a nature metaphor to stimulate discovery of your Enchanted Wood.  
     Push the words to corral feelings of frustration and carry you into more buoyant emotions.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

To the Stars

"We had the sky up there all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened."
                                             - Mark Twain, from Huckleberry Finn

Imagine the first human beings who looked up at the heavens.  What story or poem would you create to explain "whether they were made, or just happened."

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Shakespeare Tale

After Much Ado About Nothing, I outlasted a medically-challenged time. Shakespeare's wisdom followed me around.  Receiving a clean bill of health, I declared nothing else could ruffle my feathers. Driving with full awareness, I breathed in renewed vigor, and arrived home in relief.

I decided to fix a feast for dinner. Salad the first item, I shook the salad dressing bottle to begin. Off popped the top, saturating me, the counter and floor in lemony delight.

"No Tempest for me," I laughed and cleaned.

After the dinner preparations, time to fill the bird feeders. The market had just discontinued selling seed cakes, so easy to hang.  Peter the Bluejay squawked for days to reminded me of the need for new containers.

With the new cylinders filled, I squeezed between the bushes to hang them in the Japanese Maples outside my window. Tripping over a root, the seeds landed under the tree for the rats' benefit.

"Ha, no Taming of this Shrew."  I signed and refilled the vacated tube. I will outlast this day, I declared.

Back at my desk, I took a breath and began using my paper shredder.  Suddenly growling and scraping sounds ground the machine's teeth in mid-chew.  Another breath and I reversed the chewers until a mellow sound finished the job.

Ha ha. Three's the charm, as the fairytales reveal.  I threw my fists in the air in a victory salute.

Measure for Measure, no Love's Labours Lost. It turned All's Well that Ends Well after the Comedy of Errors.

Creative Write: Select an author's titles to define your day or past week

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Show the Experience

The best way to write about an experience involves paying attention to the body and using physical detail.  Rather than tell the reader about love or anguish, show it in body language. Avoid abstract words and reveal emotions in sensory details. Rather than report the feeling, enact it.

Avoid your reader's comment, “Oh, this poet feels strongly about this.” Toss your reader into the full impact of the feeling.  Let readers experience all the related sensations themselves. 

Creative Write: Go for a visceral impact in writing a poem about frustration or joy.  What does it sound, smell, look and even taste like?  Grab your reader's attention and write a wild ride.

A Day of Self-Nurture

The relationship with oneself weaves through patterns and moves in cycles.  Habits can benefit or detract from well-being. In our busy lives, we often forget to ask ourselves just what's needed.  

From time to time, it helps to freewrite for self-nurture.

Ask yourself how to achieve personal enrichment today. How well do you care for yourself?  Begin with a focus on what will keep you steady and strong. What pulls you down?  Do you know when to ask for assistance?
Write to inquire about how you're really doing.  Go from the toes to the nose in your evaluation of body parts.  Then question the mind.  What needs to continue or change to provide balance and contentment?

Write the sensations, images and discoveries that arise.

After your freewrite, choose what you will do to nurture yourself today.  Enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Success Comes in Cans

I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them. - Pablo Picasso

I had split sets with my opponent during the finals of a California Juniors tennis tournament. A smoggy Los Angeles day, typical of the 1960's, the temperature crept into the 80's. We had a fifteen minute break before the final set that would determine the tournament winner.

Playing in heat always became my challenge but I stayed with a player above me in overall skills.  Head achy, face splotchy, I felt each breath shorten and send daggers in my chest. I could taste the dense air.

My father took me inside to air conditioning and placed a cooling cloth on my forehead. 

"I can't breathe," I sputtered, " I can't do this."
"Drink more water," he urged.  "You know can't isn't in the dictionary."
"Words. Words. Words. Give me a break . . ."  I pushed my chair away from him. Stomping to the window, I could feel anger invade my brain.  What good would this torture accomplish?  Another hour for what?
"You've come a long way today.  Just outlast her and don't think of the result," his words fluttered over as my ears closed.

Attitude meant everything to my father.  Where was his doting sympathy? Why didn't he understand that I should walk away and default? His lack of acceptance of my "state" flooded me with an intensity I'll never forget.  

Grrrrr. OK. If you don't think you can make it, fake it seemed to run through my frazzle of a brain.

Back on the court, I kept going, one hit after another. Time wore on and I could feel my opponent's fatigue.  It energized me as I kept up with the second top seeded player in my age group. 

When my final shot ticked just outside the baseline to end the game, my opponent and I stood and stared at each other for a moment, drenched in sweat and gratitude for the conclusion.  When we approached the net, she shook my hand and said something to the tune of how my confidence had nearly unhinged her. 

I didn't win the match but awarded myself a W over my self-doubts.  That gift of a day's experience has accompanied me into other areas of life.  It continues to befriend me in life's wins and losses.

Of course I looked up "can't" in the dictionary.  Yes, my father was correct back then; it did not exist.  Years later I discovered a small can with the label, "Success Comes in Cans"  to relaunch memories if I feel the "can'ts" coming on.  

Creative Write:  Recall a time of self-doubt.  What did you do to get beyond the can'ts?  Write about your can of success!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Fourth of July! Be a Proud American

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die. 
                                                           - Dwight D. Eisenhower       

The British, Dutch, French and Spanish inhabited America. Finally the British took over as the Power.  In 1765 The British government, under King George, passed the Stamp Act. Great protests arose from American colonists. Additional taxing further angered Americans.

In 1774 the 13 American colonies formed the First Continental Congress.  A Committee of Five (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman) prepared the first draft of the “Declaration of Independence” on June 11 to explain why the American colonies wanted separation from the British Empire. To become independent states, they signed it on July 4, 1776.

The committee chose Jefferson over Adams to write the first draft. At only thirty-three, he did not have the reputation of Adams and Franklin but he did possess superior writing skills.  With his “felicity of expression” as they called it, Jefferson excelled above the more ponderous Adams. Did they feel concern that, Franklin, good at coining aphorisms, might have included a joke or two?

Take time today to reflect on your legacy as an American.  Read the Declaration of Independence.

What do you think about the last lines?  "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

These men pledged their lives to secure a foundation for the United States of America.  Our military supports that pledge. Consider what you can do on July 4 to honor your American heritage.

Share what you feel proud of when you say you're an American.

Into the Terror-itory of Perplexity

Writing into uninhabited territory of the mind provides insights, unleashes creativity, and enables problem solving. It may feel uncomfortable at first but anxiety dissolves as one word moves into another and sentences propel the forward progress of ideas.

Do you recall a time in your life where you had a choice of turning right or left?

Did the path you moved on stop at a place with too many choices in all directions?

Did you choose to say Yes or No?

Did you make the easy decision when a more challenging solution would have provided more growth?

How do you feel about your choice-making abilities?  When you scan your life choices, which major decision points come to mind?

Make a list of five perplexities and write about what your life would reveal today if you had made another choice.

Do not judge or flavor the writing with right or wrong.  Just detail the different scenario and the person you might view today.

Follow images that feel confusing or ambiguous. Expand upon troubling thoughts as you dwell in the "terror-itory." Permit distaste or disaster to percolate into new vistas.  They will reveal areas you need to write through to provide clarity for future decisions.

After your initial freewriting, set your ego aside. Choose one of your perplexities. Create a name and assume a persona with different eyes. Dig into this alternate psyche and see which road he or she might choose.

You may discover a character for a story.

Feel the freedom as your writing meanders beyond the terror-itory.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Curiosity. Awareness. Wonder.  Creativity. Amusement. Wakefulness  (CAW CAW)

In a Zen story, tigers pursue a man to the edge of a cliff.  Grasping a root that extends from the cliff face, he climbs down toward the river below and holds on.  He'll either plunge to his death or the tigers will shred him.

He looks up at the sky, and notices a crevice that revals a plump and juicy berry.  He plucks and eats it, the juice dripping from his chin.

So, what if there's no juicy berry?  

Write a story of  choices in a challenging moment?

Consider beyond taming tigers, meeting angels, or jumping into a hot air balloon as ways to create a solution to the above.

Craft your own "teaching tale."  Keep CAW CAW in mind!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fifteen Minutes

The notion of everyone having fifteen minutes of fame comes from Andy Warhol. In February 1968 Warhol exhibited his first international retrospective exhibition at the Moderna Museet gallery in Stockholm. The exhibition catalogue contained his quotation. He actually said, "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes."

In later years, Warhol became tired of the line when interviewers harped on it. In 1979 he did repeat it, claiming, "my prediction from the sixties finally came true: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."  

Today's media exploitation of celebrities in sports, politics, and movies, along with reality t.v., makes Warhol seem quite prophetic.

If you had your 15 minutes, what would they reveal?  Write about your flurry in the spotlight.