Monday, February 29, 2016

Take a Leap . . . Feb 29

Julius Caesar created leap year to account for the fact that the trip around the sun doesn't conform to a neat package of complete days. In 1585 Pop Gregory XIII tried a new calendar. After that leap years have occurred in years divisible by four except for those divided by 200 and not divisible by 400.

Individuals born on February 29 are called Leapers.

What to do with an extra day?

Take a Leap. Commit yourself to a day of writing about something out of your realm.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Write Your Guest House

Guest House
      - Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi makes points about life's randomness and how to deal with it.  

Everyone lives in a house with four rooms physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Acceptance, gratitude, and laughter help us achieve balance when challenges arise in our rooms.  

Write about your unexpected visitors and how they expanded your knowledge of yourself. Use dialogue and humor to delve into these concerns.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Just Five Morning Minutes

Rather than a jump right out of bed in the morning, give yourself an extra five minutes.

Set your alarm or ask Siri to remind you when the time has expired.

Lie in bed for the five minutes in silence. 

Keep your eyes closed and let favorite colors float in. 

Listen to your breathing as the only sound. Begin with breathing in four and out five breaths through the nose.

Imagine unfolding like a bud to greet the sun. Take in a favorite scent.

Remind yourself of what creates the most fun in your life or the greatest success. Then think about all that you will accomplish today. 

Focus on a joy or passion. Pick a dream or goal. Let them energize you.

Feel one Gratitude.

Applaud yourself when you have achieved the five minutes of bliss.

Feel the joy if you went over the time limit.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Speculative Design

The idea of Speculative Design has taken flight for Ben Bratton. Bratton explains its whimsical thinking, “Although impractical, it gives us a new way of thinking and new perceptions. It helps us to re-imagine and re-engineer the physical world.

Bratton continues, "It has no practical function other than to get one to think about conventions that govern the design of objects, spaces and systems.”

The three speculative design projects listed consider ideas beyond the ordinary. They involve problems to solve even though they are not real projects.

The Cloud Project involves a truck that shoots sugar, flavoring, coloring, and cream into the clouds to product a snowfall of ice cream.

The Fish Project farms colorful fish that contain chemicals released from their bodies to neutralize poisons in polluted water after a toxic chemical spill.

The Heart Project implants an electric eel in the chest of a heart patient so in the event of a heart attack the eel can shock the heart back to life.

Using creativity and speculative design, what type of project would you create?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three Things for a Writer

Recall an experience.

Observe it with the senses.

Imaginate to push it further.

Do a freewrite.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing Practice

Following the routine of a writing practice assists to shape thoughts, feelings, and adjust behaviors in all aspects of our lives.  After a period of time and word enthusiasm, we learn about ourselves and how to excavate ways into challenges with words.  This takes advantage of the brain's ability to form new habits. 

Scientists used to believe that after childhood development, the brain remained fixed. Nothing replaced brain cells as they aged o
r became damaged by substances.  

Now we know from PET and MRI technology, that the brain can add neurons as a result of our activities.  

It can reshape itself throughout life.  As we increase an activity, the more connections the neurons discover. The wiring strengthens.

Yogis have experienced this neuroplasticity in their practices. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali explains how steady practice without interruption builds habits over long periods of time.  Even though the way to remove bad habits by replacing them with good ones sounds too easy, the discipline of writing works to enable neural links.

As writing practice increases over time, it becomes a new habit that competes with old ways of thinking, doing, and problem solving. It systematically energizes the ability to feel what's happening in mind, body and emotions. When writing probes into the psyche, it guides many areas of life.  

Writing with the senses, we become involved with awareness and even taste food in a different way.  Touch, scents, and hearing heighten along with sight and perception.  We learn what provides a thrill and what it takes to remove angst and frustration as we write from mood to mood.

If we reach for a pen when frustrations or other emotions set in, we will return to that habit rather than worry. 

Writing just 15 minutes a day will energize the brain into new wiring. 
Focus on a writing meditation today. Begin with a concern and write until it deepens your awareness or another idea emerges.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Animal Stories

What do you say to a white egret about its yellow feet?

Where and how do a turtle, squirrel, or pelican learn to relate in the world? 

Do you have a favorite animal to use for storytelling?

Or, have fun with writing from an animal's perspective.

Play with the development of a fable or poem and stay open to insights that arrive.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lost in Socks

Do you even wonder about single shoes? Some sit alone on the sidewalk. Others arrive in the gutter on a busy street.  How did they escape their mates? Who left them lonely on the highway?

What about socks lost in the laundry?  Some hide scrunched in towels.  Others wrap around underwear for comfort. Should we wear mismatched socks to attract the soles errant?

We develop comfort zones in our writing. Once in a while, we need to delve and take risks to push boundaries. Writing grows when everyone experiments.

Take a look at characters in mythology. How would they interact in today's world?

Experiment with sounds of words on the page. Sing your writing. Try for color sounds and sights that taste a certain way.

Write in two languages at once - one word at a time. Does one language add to the other?

Make up words and see how far you can take them.

Find humor in mysterious places.

When you do a freewrite, your mind will carry you into a variety of experiences. Start by writing an emotion across the top of the page. Then let your mind go. After 15 minutes, begin with the ending and write a story.

Play. Play. Play. If you find your internal editor invading your playground, write yourself out of the judgment.

Nurture your freedom to risk and choose one of the above for a fun write.You can always write about those escaped shoes and socks.

Get lost in socks.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Make a Discovery

"A quote from W.S. Merwin: 'I have with me all that I do not know. I have lost none of it.' For me that’s where creativity dwells, that’s where the discovery is, that is where curiosity leads us — to that place of both not knowing and unknowing." 
~ Terry Tempest Williams

Begin writing about everything you do not know. Go for the questions. How will you extend your creativity to push barriers? 

Consider the artichoke. Imagine who thought to rake teeth through the leaves to eat the pulp?  

Who pursued into the sweetness of the heart past all the prickles? 

Crack open creativity.

          Where will you investigate? 

                           What hides that needs revealing? 

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have co me to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun n our real journey." 

                                     - Wendell Berry

Who holds a mystery to delve into?  

Push into a place of secrecy.

Ask why?

Dwell in an unknown. 

Make a discovery by pushing words.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Glass Question

A university professor visited a Zen master. The professor ambled on about the sutras he had studied. 

While the master silently served tea, the professor talked about glasses full and empty.

The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. 

The professor watched the overflowing cup until he yelled, "It's full! No more will go in."

"This is you," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

The third ancestor in china, Seng Ts'an, said, "Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions." If we empty ourselves out, let go, and cease to hold on to our views, the truth will come to us.

Consider the reality of an event from an optimistic or pessimistic perspective. 

When thinking of the future, why do we often see through the glass to what appears muddied?  Could we look through clarity of glass?  Might that reflect a shine?

How do you deal with the glass?

These exercises will help promote Optimism:

1. Focus on your sense of humor to provide buoyancy in all types of weather. Laughter strengthens the stomach muscles and releases chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, to elevate the mood.

2. When a negative emotion crosses your mind, write it down. How often do you write frustration, anger, worry or fear? What emotions counteract them? Give them names and write a dialogue between the opposites.

3. If you think of a troubling situation that could occur in the future, write it down and place it in a box.  In a week, open the box and notice how many things you fretted about did not occur.

3. Make three columns and list your three greatest accomplishments. In each column, write ways you accomplished these Feats of Fantastic. Keep the list with you and add to it. Include problem solving techniques, strategies and anyone you contacted for assistance. If you feel frustrated during a challenge, refer to the list to see how you succeeded in the past.

4. Take time weekly to write about what makes you feel good about your accomplishments. Also probe in writing choices that get in the way of what you want to achieve. Continue to ask what you learned about yourself and how you meet challenges. Bring these talents to a new situation?

4. Who is a Hero in your area of expertise or life in general? How does this person achieve success? How do you suppose this person greets failure?

If you spend time working on the above areas, you will develop Positive habits that will grow into your Best Friends during times of need.

What will you write about in one of the above areas today?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Write into Obsessions

"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle," said the poet Rumi.

Does your writing reveal an obsession with something amazing or amusing?  Do you write about aspects of life that confuse and confound?  

Obsession with writing itself provides material to write about. 

Make a list of three obsessions you would like to pursue that you haven't considered before.

Write from your point of view deep into a cavern of obsession. Also develop a character to fly to the flame.

Writers need obsessions to help them create works of wonder.  

Always add a spark of humor.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Power of Patience

By patience, we do not mean enduring—grin and bear it. In any situation, instead of reacting suddenly, we could chew it, smell it, look at it, and open ourselves to seeing what’s there.  The journey of patience involves relaxing, opening to what’s happening, experiencing a sense of wonder. - Pema Chödrön

The power of patience provides a way to learn to wander into whatever we meet on the path.

Observing wildlife, trees, and plants makes us aware of ways to care for ourselves.

"Nothing weaker than water. Nothing stronger than rock. Still, a slow flow of water can cut through mountains."
~ Zen Proverb

Persistence and determination overcome obstacles. Constant and unrelenting forces wear past barriers. 

A push into unexplored territory requires the patience of persistence. 

When writing, think one more line, one more paragraph, one more page.

In frustrating circumstances, take calming breaths. 

Attempt more effort to energize a situation the way you want it. 

Push one more step toward success. 

Persist the way the ocean churns to shore. Become relentless.

Outlast your frustrations.