Saturday, January 31, 2015

Birds and Worry

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. 
- Lao Tzu

Our bodies supply a wisdom all their own. They express this through the signals of comfort and discomfort.  

Live your moments.  
Put your attention on what is.  
Accept the present moment as it unfolds. 

Don't struggle.  Avoid living in the rear view mirror.

Take time for silence.  Quiet your internal chatter.  Grow big ears to really listen to others. You will respond with insight as a result.

Use your ability to say NO.  Mean it.

You're going to have "dip" days.  Look up at the clouds. Notice movement in tree tops.

Relinquish the need for approval. Don't rely on the audience. Believe in yourself.  

You will feel freedom in that choice. Build your self-acceptance through positive actions and choices.

Watch your anger reactions. When you react with rage to any person, situation or circumstance, recognize you struggle only against yourself.   

Lighten up. Control your Power.

Remember, Birds never worry!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Creative Journey

Creative work is never easy. It becomes unpredictable with its own surpises. It nurtures an unfolding.

Once having traversed the threshold, the artist moves in a dream landscape of curiosity, where fluid, ambiguous forms arise. He or she must survive a succession of trials.

Joseph Campbell described the artist as a hero. He meant the person of myth who embarks on a journey of discovery — including self-discovery. A hero risks in order to pursue a full life.

Campbell wrote:

You enter the forest 
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else's path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else's way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.
  - from A Joseph Campbell Companion

Writers must dive into an interior world and find the courage to reveal the discoveries in their art. They visit the darkness, channels, and textures of the unexplored mind.  Writers avoid trails previously taken and move within discomfort to seek something wild and refreshing. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Egg to Communication

Discover ways to break out of your shell with words.

Will you amuse or amaze?

How does your selection of vowels and consonants hatch through the cracks?

What does it feel, look, taste and sound like to break beyond barriers?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Child Mind and Words

Do you recall your childhood association with words? Did you create names for animals and plants? Did you tell stories?

Where’s your child’s mind today? Do you still have a loving relationship with words? 

Frederick Smock, a teacher of creative writing, learns daily from his students to think with a child's mind. One student astonished him with her words when she wrote from the point of view of a coconut. “I never have to go on vacation because I carry the waves inside of me.”

Today, expose yourself to possibilities and let your words scurry around corners and under bushes. Look into the sky to capture connections. Consider all your areas of knowledge: animals, insects, gardening, travel, economics, and relationships.

Communicate the awareness that makes your days and nights glitter. Let your words flee and flourish. Delight in metaphors to tell your stories.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Story of Sunrise

A wise man asked his pupils, "How does one tell when night has ended and the day begun?"
"Is it when you can see an animal in the distance and know whether it's a sheep or a dog?" responded a pupil.
"No," said the wise man.
"Is it when you can clearly see the lines in the palm of your hand?"
"No," answered the wise man.
"Is it when you and look at a tree not too far away and tell whether it's a pear tree or a fig tree?"
"No," the wise man replied.
"Please tell us when," asked his pupils.
"When you can look on the face of any man or any woman and see that they are your sister or brother. Until then it is still night."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Awaken and Write

In Japanese, the term, “yugen” approaches an appreciation for the subtle and profound. It can exist in a suggestion such as a few brush strokes or through images in words. 

Something arouses an awakening of inner thoughts and feelings. 

A moment of awe arouses a reverence for nature. The next level requires an expression in words.

The eye catches the instant of a sailboat on the horizon and makes connections. 

Messages sprout from orchids.

Awaken to a yugen moment and write.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Check Your Track Record

Imagine a day when gravity pulls extra hard.  

If you find yourself in a experiencing a challenging situation, stop for a breath or four. Slow down and become observant. 

When caught up in a tense or negative situation, diffuse the energy with a hearty laugh.  In the middle of the chaos, just start laughing. It will energize the brain, provide relief to you and others near you.

If frustrated, count your Gratitudes.

Accentuate the Positive. Think of all of the good times you have enjoyed. Let the sadness offer a different perspective to write about.

Avoid Judgment. Your thoughts plus your choices affect your life.  If you have overreacted, try not to place blame elsewhere.  

Keep a strong awareness about how you feel in situations.  Allow yourself to control how you react through self-realization. Stop and walk outside yourself for a view.

Choose what you want for an outcome, not what happened to you.  

When confronted with what does not work, look at what works. Bolster self-esteem by remembering how far you have come to get to the situation.

Check your track record and write about it. You've sailed through adversity before.  Find your buoyancy!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Tony Hiss writes in Wonderlust from “The American Scholar,”  “Deep travel has a distinctive taste. It often surprises us, stealing over us unawares. But it can be sought out, chosen, practiced, remembered, returned to.”

Hiss mentions the need for wonder to bridge into deep travel. “You slow down, you may stop altogether. You’re lost. You’ve got to find, and soon, some way to proceed, and so your senses are wide open, for the time being, everything and everyone is a potential source of information.”

Today, take time for wonderlust. Notice the questions that arise from everything around you. Move through the day with all your senses to make the extraordinary appear. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hunt for the Moment

Desire does not bring poems. The hunted can only abide how opportune the killer's lunge is and how deftly sharpened its blade.  
Richardo Pau-Llosa
Poet, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, writes of the inspirational moment as a "hunger of the stalking mind."  He feels creativity requires a hunt for the moment it cannot grasp, let alone pity. Pau-Llosa likes to use parables as metaphors in his poems. 

What obsesses a writer in the moment that jars from the onslaught of every day thoughts and feelings?  Can we hunt for topics or stalk them until they relent?  Will they behave if trapped or captured this way?

Beyond becoming a stalker of experience, stay ready for gleams that beckon. Notions might not connect immediately. Become the collector and collator of their sparkle rather tracking them like a hunter.

Save experience, surprise wonder in a kaleidoscope to twist, turn and view the assimilation of color and shine. Eventually a series of clicks will shift and sort.  

A progression of gleams arrive and dovetail or flee. They relish the freedom of flight.

Keep a notebook for moments. Let them sort and combine at a later date.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Project of Self

Dorianne Laux writes, "I am still hard at work on this project of the self. The solitary self, as well as the self in relation to the world and the unknown universe we swirl around in, uncertain of our purpose or future. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is beauty? Why is there suffering? Where is truth? I tried to arrange them in a shape, find a path for them to travel to make clearer those questions. I write to know the questions." 

I pursue experiences as an odyssey into words, leaving the comfort of understanding to delve into ways to discover a wisdom of well-being. This happens by thrashing about in the wilderness and forests of the unknown.

I've stayed bouyant in boats; slashed at the sea with oars. I've waited in the lighthouse, shining lights to discover what resides in the currents.

What vehicle will I take today?  If I go on foot, by car, boat or train, amusements spring on every sensory level.

Each time I decide on the destination first, I become surprised and distracted by attractions along the way. Should I stop for a carnival? Sticky my face with cotton fluff and a candy apple?  Where will the merry-go-round take me as I change to a different lion, tiger or horse to ride?  I never feel satisfied and want another round.

I taste a notion like a lozenge. My tongue flicks it about until it melts. It dissolves and words arise. They flutter and flicker at my lips and beg for release. I taste the flavor of their feathers and sigh. They baffle, energize, and frighten. Some hide as ink soaks into a finger. 

Tomorrow I'll ride the train with my face pressed against the window ready to hop off at the next astonishment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Swords into Flowers

Buddha sat under a tree and was attacked by the forces of Mara, the lord of destruction. The story reveals that as they shot swords and arrows at him their weapons turned into flowers.

What we regard as obstacles can teach us when we feel stuck.  What may appear to be an arrow or sword we can experience as a flower.

Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality.

Write to discover ways to turn today's swords into flowers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sync with a Set of Six

"The news is where they begin with, "Good Evening," 
then tell you why it isn't." 
- Robert Forbes

How do we maintain a Zest for life when the news bombards us with everything negative that undermines contentment and promotes anxiety?

Avoid the media for a day.

Sync each day with a Set of Six:

Awaken and smile your life alive.

Add a gratitude.

Give hugs for health and healing.

Flip the focus when a negative thought arises.Visualize and verbalize its opposite.

Launch into laughter and silliness for survival.

Make time for solitude surrounded by nature.

Develop your own Set of Six.

Monday, January 19, 2015

NOW or Delayed Attention

How do you spell procrastination?  Friends have told me they wait for a reason; it's not delayed attention.

I laugh and wonder why one doesn't do what needs doing in each moment.

Someday. Around to it.  In a little bit.  How would one's life alter if the delayed attention got flipped to NOW?

Consider if you are a NOW or delayed attention writer. What would happen if you write regardless of content? Just fling words across the page or screen.

How does delayed action help or defer results?

Write about it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Living in Exile

"I am in exile. Like everybody else, I live in a world that is given to me - I am thankful for it. "
                                               -  Paul Goodman

Language reveals who we are. We do not feel different until someone makes our difference known to us.

How have individuals mislabeled you? Make a list of words that you do not feel "at home with."

Write about the kind of exile you feel.
How do you use words to take charge of your life?
Recall a moment of difference when you felt like "other" and write about it.
Consider the way you are "at home" or not at home in words.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Put Your Worries to Work

Why Worry? Birds never do. 

Tibetans have a saying, "If there's something you can do
about it, why worry?  And, if there's nothing you can do about it, why worry?"

Birds Never Worry! They just do what needs doing!  If you're a habitual worrier, put those worries to work.

Find a shoebox or a container you can close with a lid. For a week, keep a notepad with you. Write down each worry that trespasses or rages through your mind. Put each in the container, close it and then let the worry go.

In a week, before looking into the container, write about the worries you have placed inside. Can you even remember all of them?  Then, open the container and read the notes. How many of your worries happened?  How did you deal with the worries that did occur?

Revisit the worries to discover the creativity they will generate for you. Write these worries into a story or poem. Worries keep our minds moving in aimless directions. We need to harness them as workhorses for our writing.  Consider the writing possibilities they will generate.

Take charge of your worries in this way and you'll always have writing material.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Energize a Dying Art

On Saturday, January 17, promote Send a Handwritten Letter Day.

The art of cursive writing fades into history. Elementary schools have stopped teaching it.

Many children today do not know what a fountain pen looks like. 

They may not know how to address an envelope.

Within a few years, the United States Postal Service will close. When that occurs, how will handwritten letters fly from writer to recipient?

Take time today to surprise a family member, friend or two with a handwritten letter. 

Ask for a return gesture.

How to begin?  

Use a fountain pen or a pen that flows color on the page.  

Express a gratitude. Add an amusement or experience of the day. Share an amazement using sensory imagery.

Energize the dying art of letter writing.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Gift of the Present Moment

Do you spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror?  Use your time in present moments of movement.

Enjoy the present as a gift and keep your eyes ready for amazement. Let your ears take in all of life's music.

Taste the breeze as it arrives. Notice the flavors of color. Breathe in the scents of magic around you.

Gather moments to write your present chapter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How would you spend . . .

A Maxim
     by Carl Dennis

To live each day as if it might be the last
Is an injunction that Marcus Aurelius
Inscribes in his journal to remind himself
That he, too, however privileged, is mortal,
That whatever bounty is destined to reach him
Has reached him already, many times.
But if you take his maxim too literally
And devote your mornings to tinkering with your will,
Your afternoons and evenings to saying farewell
To friends and family, you'll come to regret it.
Soon your lawyer won't fit you into his schedule.
Soon your dear ones will hide in a closet
When they hear your heavy step on the porch.
And then your house will slide into disrepair.
If this is my last day, you'll say to yourself,
Why waste time sealintg drafts in the window frames
Or cleaning gutters or patching the driveway?
If you don't want your heirs to curse the day
You first opened Marcus's journals,
Take him simply to mean you should find an hour
each day to pay a debt or forgive one,
Or write a letter of thanks or apology.
No shame in leaving behind some evidence
You were hoping to live beyond the moment.
No shame in a ticket to a concert seven months off,
Or, better yet, two tickets, if you were hoping
To meet by then someone who'd love to join you,
Two seats near the front so you can catch each note.

Read through the poem by Carl Dennis a few times. Notice the humor and depth.  Use it as a springboard for a piece of your own writing.


A past job. A friendship requiring renewal. When you took a chance for a new experience.

How would you spend a day writing about that last experience? How will you retrieve the wonder, the intensity and humor? 

Revisit the moments in movement and see where they take you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hypos and Hypers

The Hypos and Hypers

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. That is my substitute for a pistol and a ball. - Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Consider your "hypers" as well as what Melville considers the "hypos." What really gets to you?

What do you do when you feel frustrated and need a reprieve from life's challenges?  

How and what do you write when it's "high time to get to the sea"?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Write a Meraki Moment

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.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Becoming a Writer

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child."

These metaphors describe various stages in the transformation of human consciousness. For Nietzsche, nothing is static; all is in flux and becoming.

A camel is a beast of burden. It accepts a load and goes days through the desert without water. The camel-image seems to refer to the human tendency to confront the difficult out of a sense of duty.

We are constantly becoming writers.

Writers learn grammar and technique from others. We gain the tradition and culture of literature. At this stage we do not have the freedom to make our own decisions because we give our will over to what we believe, "we ought to do." By following the rules we move on a path for further refinement.

Then the lion-like spirit takes over. The creative freedom arises as a writer discovers confidence and rebels.

The lion becomes a child.  A return to innocence energizes. Now the writer can engage in original ideas without restraint. 

We may need to shuttle back and forth in the progression to gain the most in our writing.

Have you gone through this process as a writer from obedience through reaction to a child's wonder?  Where are you in the process? Do you risk and struggle with uncertainty?  

Develop a metaphor to describe your trip through camel and lion to child.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Connection with Your Inner World

The root of creativity is in the murky waters of deep imagination. Making contact might involve sitting quietly and looking out the window as the light comes. It might be gardening or long walks in the woods. Yes, [artists and writers] work hard, but first they connect with their inner world. - Roderick MacIver. From Journal Meditations: October 1-31, 2011

Adventure into your imagination.

The next time you feel frustrated with life or words, return to the places that provide inspiration.

Discover ways to attract ideas and connections.

Revitalize by listening and tasting.

Feel textures with your fingertips.

Breathe in the aromas of the day.

Look at the world from a side angle.

The activity process will enable possibilities to express around you.

Invite creativity to excite your inner world.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Worry a Poem That's Worried You

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

Consider a poem that troubles you. It evades completion and will not behave. Go after it.

Worry it and shake it out.

Ask questions:

How do you bring the reader into the beginning of the poem?

Where and how do you locate yourself in the poem? Or do you?

What word choices make the poem?

Do you use abstract words? Replace them with concrete imagery.

Have you read it aloud to test its rhythm?

In what ways do you make the poem intrigue the reader?

Have you made the heart of the poem clear?

Would a sound, a scent or a color help?

Does it need a sense of place?

Do you have a message to convey?

How do you end it?

After you've answered the questions, toss the poem in the air. Let the lines fall where they may.

Begin again with renewed vigor.

Revisit. Rethink. Revision.   Go get it!