June 1st, 2012
The biggest problem for most of my clients (and face it, my family, too!) is procrastination – putting off that which you could do today because something else got in the way. Procrastination is often the result of distraction – we are pulled away from the to-do list because we haven’t fully committed to what’s important. If your daily list is filled with things you think you should do (or with things someone else thinks you should do!), it’s time to reconsider the big picture. What are Your goals? What matters to you?
Take some time today to write for five or ten minutes on what you really want to accomplish in your life. Make a list of your biggest dreams and desires. When you’re finished, compare that with what you are doing. Do they match? If not, it’s time to let go of the shoulds.
Here’s a technique devised by my friend Carolyn Koehnline (www.confrontingclutter.com) .
Write this sentence at least fifteen times, filling in the blanks as you go:
I want to make space for ______________________________________________
so I’m willing to let go of __________________________________________________
When you now what you want, it’s easier to let go of what is in the way. Don’t put off having the life you want now.
No More Procrastination!
Have a great week and let me know how you’re doing! I AM a coach – and I can help you!
May 27th, 2012
A coaching colleague sent me this youtube link yesterday and I’ve watched it a half dozen times already.
It reminds me that the people who make a difference in the world are those who speak out. Writers throughout time have made it their business to share ideas with the world through language. You may agree with the world leaders and politicians- or not. You may quote the teachers, the song writers- or not. You may glorify or vilify the artists or the scientists…but whatever your beliefs, take time to pick up your pen and write. The open exchange of ideas creates change.
Why not be one of the crazy ones? I know I am.
May 21st, 2012
In this hi-tech age, many people ask me: Is it okay to write on the computer? Call me old-fashioned, but I think writing by hand helps the imaginative process flow. Of course for today’s young people, thinking and typing seem to be simultaneous. I cannot do it. When I get to the computer I’m in edit mode – that old delete button is just too darn handy. Give me a pen, please. Author Paul Theroux agrees with me. In this week’s Wall Street Journal Word Craft column (http://on.wsj.com/LoVI0C ) he cites evidence from neurologic studies that show ‘handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing.” (see also Newsweek, January 2012). Refining small motor skills actually increases the brains cognitive power. In addition, Theroux believes we consider each word more carefully when we write in longhand.
Whether it’s a bigger brain or better word power, one thing is for sure: hundreds of classics were written with pen and ink. Next time you’re stumped or feeling blocked, take out an old-fashioned writing tool and start making some lazy circles on the page. Something is bound to show up. Let the ink flow!
May 19th, 2012
Spring is always a time for change and contemplation. New shoots appear in the garden; flowers sprout beside the weeds. I spent the weekend pulling weeds, thinning dense patches of spreading ground cover to use in patching bare spots. Cultivating is a healthy activity for me – a chance to let my mind wander and really connect with my ‘roots’. Here’s a wonderful poem about roots… and thoughts.
whatever you have to say, leave
the roots on, let them
And the dirt
Just to make clear
where they came from
Copyrighted Material. Used for educational/therapeutic purpose.
What’s dangling in your mind these days? What wants to “take root” in your life?
May 11th, 2012
So many people tell me that they “can’t write poetry” – I say ” Of course you can! If you can speak, or think and write, you can create poetry.” I think what people really mean to say is that they can’t write poetry that looks like the forms they learned in high school. Today I discovered a wonderful site with directions for writing simple poetry. They even have a free Twitter application (TwiHaiku) that lets you share your thoughts, feelings, views, and ideas in a brief poetic manner. TwiHaiku – Twitter Poetry, is a free Twitter application that lets you share your thoughts, feelings, views or ideas about anything in a poetic manner. Check it out – and share your poems here if you like! I don’t tweet but I can listen! Enjoy…
here’s the link to Different Types of Poetry: http://www.makeliterature.com/blog/different-types-of-poems
September 29th, 2011
Did you know that it takes 572 peanuts to make a jar of peanut butter? According to an NPR report yesterday, America is in the midst of a peanut crisis. We are running short of peanuts and the price of peanut butter is rising. While this may not be a catastrophic event, the peanut shortage is an indicator for our current economic situation. As households budgets decline, families are returning to peanut butter as a major source for inexpensive protein. While I found this information interesting what really caught my attention was the actual number of peanuts it takes to make a jar of peanut butter… 572 peanuts. Not a pound, not 16 ounces but a specific number of discreet nuts to be ground to a smooth consistency and poured into a jar. That’s amazing – and that’s detailed reporting.
As writers we want our work to be captivating and memorable. To accomplish that we must pay attention to details: naming names, identifying locations, being specific instead of generalizing. I remember yesterday’s article because of a single detail – the number of peanuts in a jar – and with that detail as a key phrase in my mind, I am able to recall more of the article’s content. Whether you’re writing for publication or for personal pleasure, remember that life is in the details. Be interesting, be specific….and be remembered.
Watch for registration details for the next “Playing With Words” online workshop. Begins January 2012 through the Therapeutic Writing Institute. 8-weeks of fast, fun, and poeticly sourced exercises to add zest to your writing and deepen your personal experience with language as a tool for self-expression.
August 8th, 2011
For the past several weeks I’ve been having some fun teaching an online course titled the “Joy of Writing” for the Therapeutic Writing Institute.
In my business as a writing coach and workshop facilitator sometimes I neglect my own creative process. Playing with words is one way to juice up my writing in a short time frame. Most recently we’ve been working with ekphrasis – the literary representation of visual art.
For centuries, writers and artists have held a dynamic conversation relating poetry to art and art to poetry. John Keats’ classic poem Ode on a Grecian Urn is a famous example of ekphrastic writing. Many 20th century poets continued to find their inspiration in art – most notably W.H. Auden (Musee des Beaux Arts) and William Carlos Williams (Landscape on the Fall of Icarus and The Dance) who each based poems on the work of Pieter Breughel the Elder, one of the Dutch masters.
If you are seeking inspiration for your writing practice, why not try your hand at ekphrasis? If you are lucky to live near an art museum or gallery, take a field trip to explore the artwork available. If not, Google one of the many major art museums and browse their online collection of old masters and contemporary art. You’ll find plenty to stimulate your imagination.
Here is a list of possible starting places for your writing:
- make up a story about the history of the painting.
- Write a story from the point of view of one of the people or objects in the painting
- Imagine that someone is missing from the painting. Write about who is missing or why.
- Write the story from the point of view of someone or something outside the painting.
- Write a detailed description of the painting itself; comment on situation, color, imagery
- Write a dialogue between characters in a painting (My favorie for this is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawk)
- Write about the artist who created the painting. What was s/he thinking while painting? How was the day going?
- Find the smallest object in the painting; write about it.
- Begin with: If I were the artist I would change . . .
I’m sure you can find many more prompts to begin your exploration of art through writing.
Have some fun – enjoy some art! Love to hear your comments about the process.
For more information about online courses with the Therapeutic Writing Institute visit http://twinstitute.net
August 5th, 2011
Enjoy this video clip by Sarah Kay as she speaks her poems and talks about finding a voice through spoken poetry. Includes great tips on writing from life – why we tell our stories.
July 20th, 2011
I’m at a writing conference this week: From Passion to Profit –learning about success strategies and how to become slightly famous. What I love most about writers conferences is the time in between when we gather for meals and conversation. This morning our breakfast conversation drifted from foods we love to strange foods we’ve eaten to a movie about a woman who wrote jingles and slogans to feed her family. (I think the name of the movie is “Prizewinner of Defiance County”). One of the prizes she wins is a shopping spree at a grocery store. It got me thinking: what would I do if I had five minutes and a shopping cart?
Writing ideas are everywhere – just sit and listen deeply to the conversations around you. What intrigues you? What captures your interest or curiosity? All of this is fodder for your writing practice.
Here’s how our conversation flowed during the thirty minutes we shared at the breakfast table.
Five minute shopping spree
Most unusual foods
Awful horror movies
Really scary horror movies
Polio and vaccines
Lethal bacteria and hospitals.
(Yuk! how did we get there? )
Pick a topic, set your timer for five minutes and write!
June 29th, 2011
Too often we fall prey to labeling: not good enough, didn’t work, a failure….
Rumi says even if you find only ruin and failure YOU are the bright core of that. That’s a hard philosophy to wrap my mind around. Who wants to be at the heart of failure?
This week I was encouraged by the possibility of hiring a house cleaner. After six years of managing kids, career and household on my own I decided that a house cleaner was the one thing I could do right now that would make the biggest difference in my life. Based on a referral, I interviewed and hired a nice young woman who seemed keen to help me get organized.
Looking forward to indoor help, I tackled my outdoor projects with enthusiasm – no longer feeling guilty about neglecting the dust bunnies curled under my bed. I knew I had time to rearrange the sprinkler system, plant the shrubs, put in some flowering plants for color because the cleaning lady was coming to take care of the inside of the house! I even found time to restore order to some of the rooms laid waste by all the recent moving in and moving out of my adult children and their furniture.
Throughout the weekend I eagerly sorted the landscape and redirected the odds and ends around the house. My available time expanded and I accomplished more than usual. THEN the cleaner called to say she’s not coming; she’s taken another job with less work and for more money. Bummer!
After hearing her phone message (yes she dumped me by voicemail!) I registered mysincere disappointment by caling her a few names – then got back to business. I looked around and saw that I had already begun creating order where chaos had once reigned. I was able to relax and be at peace with what was not yet complete.
Instead of focusing on what’s not working, I shifted my gaze to what is working.I found the bright core in my failure to secure household help: I had stopped stressing over what seemed to be an enormous workload and taken satisfaction from completing many small tasks.
Next time you’re feeling defeated by failure, check your perspective. Find the bright core – the silver lining – in whatever is happening in your life.
Today’s writing prompt:
What’s working in your life today?
Where do you find encouragement or inspiration?