Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poke Holes in the Clouds

Trungpa Rinpoche advised pausing to look at the sky or stopping to listen intently. He believed in using gaps in life and called it, "poking holes in the clouds."

Take time to notice the space between breaths.

Discover a gap between thoughts.

                  Stay in a moment of awe.

                                  Relish an instant of curiosity.

Pause for creativity to take over.

Remain present without negativity or judgment.

Find a pen in the clouds and write into the mystery.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Language of Friendship

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

John O’Donohue, author of Anam Cara, celebrates the soul that shines like a cloud around the body. He feels that when you become open, appreciative and trusting with another, your souls flow together.  

O'Donohue writes, "Friendship is the sweet grace that liberates us to approach, recognize and inhabit this adventure."

In Celtic spirituality, the anam cara friendship stimulates the richness and mystery of life. The Irish believe an individual blessed with anam cara, has arrived at a sacred place.

Friendship becomes an act of recognition, response and reciprocity. It involves belonging. 

Photographs and cute sayings abound in the search for an explanation of friendship. Writers often delve into friendship's concept using abstract descriptions. What does C.S. Lewis mean by, "value to survival"? To communicate, a writer must show instances of emotion and affection.

Examine a situation of friendship to demonstrate its intensity and meaning in a scene that shows how individuals connect. Write to reveal how a friendship looks, feels, and sounds. Let taste and scent have meaning in a relationship. Reveal how humor and play energize friends.

With words, share meanings.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Have a Doodle Day

A coloring book fad has taken flight these days. Do you remember when you used colored pencils or crayons to fill in the swirls and patterns of a coloring book?

Clinical psychologist, Dr. Scott M. Bea, finds that while coloring the focused attention elicits pleasure and calm. Bea says, “Adult coloring requires modest attention focused outside of self-awareness. It is a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves. In the same way, cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing.”

During the coloring process,when moved away from our self-focus, attention shifts from thoughts from the past or worries of the future.

The brain working on a simple activity tends to relax without judgment getting in the way. Individuals remain in the present moment as a meditative exercise.

The outcome of coloring is predictable and can't be done "wrong." It does not test capability.

Writing with a doodle type of spontaneity may also accomplish a similar focus of energy.
Learn to doodle as a moving meditation. 

Try this adventure for several pages.

Play and amuse

After the fun, write about the experience.

How did your mood alter?

Were you able to keep going without judgment?

Could you color
outside the lines?

Did a variety of colors enhance the experience?

What words did
you add?

Flee expectations.
           Fly into the spaces.
                 Flow outside borders.
                      Find a rhythm of lines, angles, curves, and words.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Write Change?

The idea of change evokes a clink of coins or the challenge of behavior alterations. What's difficult about it? 

Our minds and bodies never remain the same. We change our clothes, hair styles, life styles, cars, housing, friends and underwear . . . .

What doesn't change?  So, why do we resist it? Possibilities and experiences await.

Explore your notions of change. 

Take five year segments and write about what change created.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Play with Punctuation

Play with punctuation.  After you've responded to each of the ten choices, do a freewrite to combine them.  Let your life sentences emerge.

Observing your life:

l.    Describe a comma (a pause) you've experienced.
2.   What felt life an ending ( a period).
3.   Include a parenthesis ( ).
4.   Use an action verb to push the punctuation.
5.   What connection has a semi-colon made for you?
6.   Add a dash of -
7.   Entertain ellipses to begin or end . . . .
8.   What does a colon offer your list of fun or fantasy?
9.   Question the quesion mark that appeared before a choice.
10.  In what situations do you feel possessive like an apostrophe?

Have fun and live your life as an exclamation point!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Meraki Moments

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun. 
- Picasso  

Meraki [may-rah-kee], a Greek word, refers to the bliss you feel when engaged in a task you love and do well.

Similar to “ardor,” meraki refers to one’s own creations. During the writing process, effort and creativity mingle into words. In this way one approaches them with meraki.

Choose a favorite pastime and experience its abundance in writing. 

Sail into a meraki moment. 

Write with all your heart today as you break into smiles.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Memories

‎"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." 
              ~ A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas*

The season stimulates memories in the form of anecdotes, conversations, and relationships. Events turn over and over in the heart and mind. Will the memory fulfill itself in the events of the moment?  Will those who have left return home to celebrate?

What do you wish for to complete your holiday celebration? 

Would you request a return from a deceased relative for the day? 

Will you return to a childlike self for the festivities?  

Do you require a day of youthful pleasures? 

Do you recall when someone told you about Santa Claus? 

How might you transport yourself in words over the miles and years?  

Bring memories to the fireside and write.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!" ~ Charles Dickens.

*Full Dylan Thomas text:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Celebrate the Book Flood- Jólabókaflóð

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. The Nordic island with a population of 329,000, loves to read and write. They publish five titles for every 1,000 Icelanders. That means one in 10 Icelanders will publish. The majority of books are sold from late September to early December. 

On Christmas Eve, Icelanders exchange books during, jólabókaflóð, the "Christmas Book Flood."

Iceland's literary history dates to medieval times. Landmarks of world literature, including the Sagas of the Icelanders and the Poetic Edda, are still read and translated.

Designated a UNESCO City of Literature, Reykjavík has a population of 200,000 people. Within that small group, the city's library's book loans total 1.2 million in a year. A popular TV show in Iceland, Kiljan, is devoted entirely to books.

According to Baldur Bjarnason, a researcher who has written on the Icelandic book industry, "If you look at book sales distribution in the U.K. and the States, most book sales actually come from a minority of people. Very few people buy lots of books. Everybody else buys one book a year if you're lucky. It's much more widespread in Iceland. Most people buy several books a year."

Bjarnason continues, "The book in Iceland is such an enormous gift, you give a physical book. You don't give e-books here."

On Christmas Eve enjoy the power of the book flood. 

Take time to cuddle with chocolate and a fun book.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Discover Shapes and Colors

Let the effects of color inspire you to
delve into shapes and edges

Make discoveries in circles and squares.

What happens in the glow?

Write into the dark spaces.

Escape into the heart of the matter.

Swirl into words like hexagon, triangle and parallel.

Which moods reside on the edges?

What sits on a toadstool of green?

Find the lizard in white.

Does a story or poem tease?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Reflections of the Wild

Wilderness is not an extravagance or a luxury, it is a place of original memory where we can witness and reflect on how the world is held together by natural laws. 
-Terry Tempest Williams

For writers the unknown territory always looms. 

The idea or the story lurk somewhere in the desert, on the prairie, high on a mountain, or in the backyard of the mind.

How do individuals move into those areas of wildness and live at the edges of the mysterious? 

Where do writers learn to extend the boundaries of the self? 

Creativity and the resulting writing require the permission to be lost. In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit explains, "One does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, chosen surrender, a psychic state achievable through geography." 

Solnit continues, "That thing the nature of which is totally unknown is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost."

Awareness achieves results.

Annie Dillard advises - keep your "shutter" open.

Ask nature a question and write about it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Celebrate Winter Solstice

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Berthold Auerbach

Winter solstice occurs on December 21st. The Romans celebrated Brumalia as a winter festival. It also became known as Saturnalia (the “waxing of the light") to honor Roman Gods, Saturn, Demeter and Bacchus.

The festival included feasting and merriment to celebrate the victory of the sun over the cold and darkness of winter. 

Everyone celebrated with dancing and carousing.

Enjoy the season's rhythm.
                     Celebrate a winter festival of fun. 

Wriggle Your Funny Bones

Consider how humor involves the ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life. Express the ridiculous and preposterous. Add more funny bones to your life.  

Types of humor:

Irony involves an intended meaning just the opposite of what is expressed.
Parody occurs where the writer imitates a piece of writing for comic effect or in ridicule.

Sarcasm expresses, in the form of irony, an intent to cut or wound.
Satire writing holds up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
Wit uses ingenuity and swift perception to evoke laughter.

Humor writing mingles the writer's point of view with an attitude of humor.  Humor evokes a sudden change. The writer should convey a contrast: the reversing of the normal and abnormal, expected and unexpected.

To develop a strong sense of humor, examine what's funny in yourself.
What quirks, habits, biases and outlooks do you have?  You'll discover a perfect source of material.

Make it funny, keep it funny and don't pass up any opportunity to make it funnier. Humor self-generates. Make your readers laugh. Once they've started, don't let up.

Do remember, humor is an iffy business. What will make you laugh might roll off your readers.  Stay in pursuit of what tickles your funny bone and don't give up.

Have fun writing and playing with these ideas:

l.   What irritates you about others? Exaggerate their shortcomings. Reverse and examine your own dislikes.
2.  What misfortunes have you experienced. Notice the tricks that fate has played recently.  
3.  Your flaws make laughable material. Write a few jokes about yourself.
4.  People laugh at two things: surprise and misfortune. Surprise humor leads in one direction and then takes a turn. Intermingle surprise and misfortune.
5.  Consider ways to use exaggeration or understatement to convey a situation.

Humor brightens inclement weather and enlivens attitudes. 

Enrich your life with lines to produce laughter.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Find Down Time

Einstein said there are only two ways to live your live your life
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
I get into trouble in my life
When I fail to treat my time as precious.
When I succumb to tasks, crisis, disputes, social obligations
Doing things not unique, not interesting, not the product of thought.
Reacting to the ups and downs, tossed to and fro
By this and that, very little of which is significant.
Trying to get lots done
Rather than unique work of quality and beauty
Which takes focus. And re-work.
My life has a flow, my work power
When I create my life, rather than react to it
Live my own rhythm.
Work to manifest my beauty
Which starts with downtime,
Starts with building inner momentum, inner power.
Beware, I say, of
Tranquilization by the long term insignificant
By the trivial.
- Roderick MacIver

During the Holidays, many feel the frenzy and need to deal with, "tasks, crisis, disputes, social obligations."  Reactions occur which take away from life's possibilities.

Read Roderick MacIver's words again and consider how to move into your own flow and rhythm.  Create your life rather than react to it, as he recommends.

Find downtime during this season of busy. Search for inner momentum and true Self-Power.
- Rod MacIver

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Color, Words and Rewiring the Mind

Do you ever feel challenged to do something opposite of what your mind seems to lead you to do automatically?

Take a look at the words above.

                  Say the colors out loud, not the words.

Observe what an effort it took just to focus the mind to change your way of thinking!

Your brain wanted to read the word as you battled it to say the color.

It's the same when you struggle with the negative thoughts that arrive when your monkey mind jumps around. The same way you worked with colors and words, focus on a positive and concentrate until you override the negative.

Changing negative thought patterns takes mind control and diligence. 

You can do it. You just practiced.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Good Deed

How far that little candle throws its beams. So shines a good deed in a naughty world. - William Shakespeare.

Write frustrations across the page or screen. When you have exhausted the words - Stop.

Move your mind and writing into another direction. 

Write out a few gratitudes for simple pleasures.

Breathe in the scent of a rose.

Respond to a "naughty world" with a good deed.
Absorb the colors of sunset and the goodness done.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hear the Voices

After the loss of my parents, what I miss most is that I can't remember the sound of their voices.  - LuAnn Williams

Voices stamp an imprint. 

         We clutch spaces between words. 
                  Often we miss the roars 
                           or tiny calls for assistance.

Friends and family leave us in a sound chamber if they create distance by geography or emotion. Connections evolve over time. We re-attach with the lost ones. Relationships renew on a new sound system.

Where curiosity lurks, we gain insight. 
My father's chuckle still dances in my ears. Piano tunes remind me of my mother's fingers on the keys. 

When searching for a voice, recall a friend who has passed. Listen and find laughter. Does the rise and fall of the voice have an operatic quality? Recall sounds of wonder when watching the flight of a seabird. Words of advice and admonishment always resound within a melody of love.

Write to recall sounds and voices to recapture a relationship.  

Notice insights gained along the way. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Life with O and P

Where do Optimism and Positivity fit in life? 

Individuals use the term, "Pollyanna" for overly optimistic people who dismiss reality. To understand the true meaning of the reference, one needs to read the 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter, considered a classic of children's literature:

In addition to revealing Pollyanna's ability to excite others to positive attitudes, the novel presents Pollyanna's challenge. As a result, her positivity takes a dive. She struggles to resurface. Will her mindset kick in?

That's the point. As a mindset, Optimism does not diminish reality. During times of struggle, its energy engages ways of problem solving offering patience, perspective and perseverance.

The O and P Effect begins in the Power of Positivity. 

In medicine, the placebo effect provides hope for a patient's ability to thrive. Research on its benefit focuses on the relationship of mind, body and expectations. If a person expects a "cure" to do something, then it's possible that the body's chemistry can engage to cause positive results.  It's all in the belief of one's Optimism and the Power of Positivity.

Experts indicate a relationship exists between how intense a person expects to have results and whether or not results occur. The stronger the feeling, the more likely a person will experience positive effects. 

Thoughts require action to accomplish results.

Consider the O and P Effect:

Approach all situations with Optimism and a Positive attitude. 

Ask questions for Optimistic action. Turn your challenge into a question. In how many ways will I Produce results?

Work on Patience with Optimism.

Push beyond frustration.

Enjoy the Process that Produces the Product.

Add more Ps to your Potential: Presence. Poise. Praise. 

Let humor out to Play. 

Pick up a Penny on the sidewalk.