Thursday, June 30, 2016

Inspiration of John Muir

John Muir’s words inspire us to explore and connect with the natural world.

Muir’s lyricism and enthusiasm for nature propelled the revolutionary concept of environmentalism into the mainstream consciousness of American society.

His legacy continues, woven into the history of our national parks and the creation of a National Park System.

A Scottish immigrant, Muir felt the fascination of the American wilderness. He delved into the interconnectedness of humanity and nature.

Muir experienced the splendor and healing power of the wild in the timeless truths he shared.

By describing the glories of nature, he ignited a movement.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Develop Cognitive Reappraisal

A well-developed thought “is like a ski track in the snow. The more you ski down a path, the easier it is to go down that path and not another,” says Alex Korb, a neuroscientist and author of “The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”  

Psychologists call this path creation, "cognitive reappraisal." Individuals who develop intent and practice thoughts that stimulate stronger neural networks increase positive thoughts and a joyful brain.

Performing a cognitive reappraisal does not involve turning off negative thoughts. It is also not about turning untrue negative thoughts into untrue positive ones. 

The goal deals with reframing thoughts constructively, so they are based in reality. Thoughts are composed of a pattern of activity between proteins, chemicals, gene expressions, and neural connections in the brain. The more we focus on a thought, the strong the circuit grows. The mind, like the body, grows with repetition.  

Begin to practice by writing down negative thoughts as they appear. 

Then challenge them. Write affirmations: “I am creative.” “I am a good friend.” The goal is repetition.  

Reappraise negatives with creative possibilities.  

Develop a positive path.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Play with Scents

Top note: the fragrance first released when the perfume achieves initial contact with the skin of the wearer, predominating in the olfactory sense for approximately 15 minutes. White often these first notes of fragrance remind the wearer of a certain day of childhood, the smell of a camomile lawn or a spice cake or a sunny day. 
                                                 - from The Beautiful American by Jeanne Makin

Charles J. Wysocki, behavioral scientist at the Monelle Chemical Senses Center, says the nose can identify ten thousand scents. This means the nose knows more than the tongue which only tastes: sour, bitter, savory, and sweet. 

Expert sentologists have a brain map of odors yet limited vocabulary to describe them or make associations.Wine experts go creative in their descriptions of the "notes" when scenting and tasting fine wine. They describe a scent/taste of braised saddle leather, salted butter, blanced almonds, fig paste, even hoisin sauce. 

Writers have power over their individual chemistry. Those who enjoy a glass of wine can create connections beyond: red tastes red and white tastes white. With our linguistic sensitivities we heighten our ability to move into questioning what really describes: tangy, flowery, and fresh.
Consider connections you can discover describing tastes, scents and textures. Begin with a favorite beverage. How far out can you extend your observations? 

Malty with a hint of . . . . Doughnuty texture with the essence of wet brick. . . . Sea pebbles and burning rubber . . . . You do not have to taste each item. 

Bring in ways you connect scents with memories. Think back to a day in childhood.  Does one aroma return you to a relationship?  Connect a scent with a surprise.

You do not have to make sense, just make up scents.  Play to enrich your writing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Don't Wait!

I am so tired of waiting 
Aren't you 
for the world to become good
and beautiful and kind? 
                  ~ Langston Hughes

Don't wait!

Everyone needs to spend time to learn from nature.

Spread gratitude for the simple joys.
Bring a smile to troubles.
Let humor translate the ridiculous.
Take responsibility from the inside out.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Venture into the Unknown

"How will  you go about finding the thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?"  
- Meno

What does it mean to venture into the unknown?  Do you have the ability to find comfort moving forward without quite knowing where you are going? Are you willing to discover openhearted fun as you go in search of mysterious and impossible?

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

Writing about nature requires awareness and observation of interconnections. Often founded in science, the focus always returns to the writer's questions and observations. 

The challenge of the writer involves bringing the reader into the natural world. Nature writing evokes all the senses and delves into the possibilities regardless of the tragedies in the world. This writing puts hope, faith and possibility into concrete words and imagery. 

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.

Writing lives at the edges of the mysterious.

Where do the boundaries of the self extend? 

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." She 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."

Wander without a map or compass.

Venture into the unknown and write about it. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stories of Good Intentions

We need stories that nourish like healthy food, clear air, pure water, and authentic love.

Stories of possibility encourage rather than bombard like the harangue of news narratives that show misery and woe.

Heroes in fairy tales need to explode upon the scene.

Beyond their magical gifts of invisibility, winged shoes, or a pot that brews a healing potent, these stores tickle imagination with possibilities.

Champions of these stories rarely receive their boons out of luck. They have performed kind deeds or unselfish acts to earn the right to be blessed.

How will the hummingbird save the forest creatures from fire? Beak-by-beak he takes dew from roses. The sparrow brings his flock to assist.

Search for stories that reward good intentions.

Make them up.

Beelieve in nature's nurture.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take an Alphabet Break

Feel stress and need a break from the ordinary?  See what happens when you verbalize the alphabet.

Take a walk. Begin with A and speak a noun. Author. Then go to B. Ballet.  C might become Cabbage. Keep moving through the alphabet with only nouns all the way to Z.  

Then use verbs. Start with Action. Go to Bat.  Crouch. Dive. Elevate. Fabricate. Generate. Hallucinate!

Then try it from Z to A.  

Avoid thinking too much as you choose the next word. Let the synapses fire in glee. 

After the verbal attempt. Do the same in writing by combining nouns and verbs. Don't stop, just write any word for the next letter.  Have fun, play and laugh.

Here's a start:

Afternoons the Babble of Creatures Directs Effervescence. Forests Garner  Harvests that Invest in Jelly.  Kindness Levitates Monkeys who Negotiate an Opinion of Pelicans in a Quandry.

Residents Select Turtles of Understanding. Victory Waddles on Xylophones to a Yellow in Zeith.

When you try this exercise, distraction along with concentration will help. You'll feel renewed and ready for your next challenge of the day.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Color Your Words

Avoid the obvious when writing about nature, sky or the color of the sea. Search beyond azure or baby blue to pique the reader's curiosity. Use color to describe experience and stimulate readers' imaginations.  Cliches such as "green as grass" or "emerald green"  do not evoke a unique view. Take out other colored pencils to write your scenes.

Create a mood, reveal a point of view with color.  John Updike describes the sad ambiance of a street with "old asphalt sidings the tint of bruise and dung."

Discover visual imagery to fit the style and tone of your writing.  Search for offbeat but recognizable items to stand for colors and more.

If you're waiting in a lounge during your car's oil change, look around.  Notice the objects, upholstery, arrangement of chairs and food.  Then search the items in the service bays.  Later when you describe boredom, bring these images into the scene. Let the taste of waiting room coffee add discomfort.

What do you notice when driving through the bubbles at a car wash? Keep track of the collage of color to use in writing.

Sandra Cisneros colors the world of her novel,Carmelothrough the senses of its 
Mexican characters. A church is the "color of flan."  A woman becomes a "fried tortilla color."  She writes of shawls black as Cototepec pottery, like the huitlacoche a corn mushroom or fresh-cooked black beans.  She adds flavor and texture with color and metaphor.

Avoid using colors to describe emotions such as unhappiness connected to blue. Consider what will provide a color of delight.

Look into white for texture, shapes and ideas. Do you find laughter in the rose?

Barry Lopez uses rainbow tints to described pottery such as raucous purple. coy yellow, belligerent red and ardent white.  Search the thesaurus for fresh ideas.  Then you can avoid using fire-engine red or white pearl.

Color Your Words:

l. Observe a colorful eatery.  What colors can you list?  Transfer them to another environment to show emotion.
2. Describe the sea and sky during a storm without using blue, gray or green.  Be creative and fresh with color choices.
3.  Show an angry man in colors to reflect his emotions.