Follow Your Writing Bliss

 

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“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy. Memories, thought, and feeling are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”

 From Flow: THe Psychology of Optimal Experience  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

 

“Keep your eye on the prize.”

I think of that line from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every time I realize that I have wandered away from my writing path. I usually get a feeling of uneasiness that something is just not right. It happens when I think I need to commit to projects that do not serve me any longer or when I think I should do something that does not fill me with joy.  Goals that were once important to me but not anymore. That is when I need to keep my eye on what is important for me at this moment in my life.

Time is limited. The days, weeks, months and years fly by.  I need to always be conscious of living my most creative life as I define it, not by what others tell me I should be doing. 

When I focus my energy on what I want to be and where I want to be, I know I am on my true path because it fills me with joy.

But how easy it is to chase that squirrel around and around in the backyard.   I know, I’ve watched my dog.   

And myself.

Energy flows where attention goes.

Summer is for Adventures in Writing

 

 

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Last month my husband and I went up to Ely, MN to retrieve a canoe.

My 18-year old son came back from an adventure in the (BWCA) Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

He went with two canoes and three friends. He returned with one canoe but still three friends. It was the kind of trip that would always be memorable.

After swamping the canoe and unable to retrieve it, they left it. A passing fishing boat came by and brought my son’s stranded friends who were on an island back to shore.  All of them were safe and also full of smiles.  They all agreed they wanted to do a trip again.

When we picked up the canoe, my husband said looking at all the dents, “Those rocks did a real beating on them.”

My son will always have a story to tell and maybe even write about.

Summer is the time for adventures and for exploring new places.

It’s the time for wearing bright colors and painting toenails or spending time nose deep into books and hitching your mind up to a cloud to just daydream.

And it’s the perfect time for capturing those moments by writing.

So whether I am in a canoe fighting strong winds or  in a hammock daydreaming in my backyard,  I will have my journal ready.

Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project, once said, “The days are long but the years are short.”

So true.

Just Write…

 

 

Writing Matters But So Does Lunch

 

 

View More: http://ebvisuals.pass.us/dylan-senior

 

It is June and that means graduation season for many of us including me. This week my 18 year old son, Dylan, is graduating from high school.

And until today, I have been making his lunch.

I am not sure why I kept doing it.  Teachers used to tease him about. But he didn’t mind. It was really more for me than him.

I told myself that I had to make my own lunch and it wasn’t a big deal. And that it was one less thing he would have to do knowing there were finals and presentations to finish. He’d rather sleep anyway then worry about making a lunch. 

As I put together the photos for his Open House, I wondered how the years flew away from me and how he grew from a boy to a 6’ 5” man he is today. Lately, I have been calling him Shaggy (from Scooby Doo) because of that fuzzy mound of hair that has congregated on his chin.) 

I am still in a bit of a daze that graduation is upon us. This fall he will be moving out of the house to attend college. And I will be an empty nester. 

A little sadness settles in.

Yet, what seems to be a bit of synchronicity I stumbled upon these words by Kahlil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.

 I needed to read those words.

The words written by Kahlil Gibran helped me as I transition into a new life without Dylan home.

Writing connects you to others and to the world.  And it can help you make sense of your own world and of your life.

It also reminded me how important it is to write to the people in our life. Writing from the heart can bring joy and comfort to you and to others.

That is why I write.  Sharing my words and my feelings has always been important. So instead of making a sandwich for Dylan today, I will write him a graduation note and tell him how I feel about this special day.

 

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”    —Albus Dumbledore

Don’t Want Everyone to Read It

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Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgement difficult.    

—Hippocrates (460-400 B.C.)

A woman in my class once told me that she was unhappy that her classmates. She said that they did not understand her writing.

“It never happened. It was fiction.  They just don’t get me,” she said.

It reminded me of my own critique classes where I got a whole gamut of different responses to a single piece of writing. Some people said a metaphor was great while others said it was cliche and I could do better.

Who do I believe?

A long time ago I came across some words of advice by a writer. It makes complete sense when dealing with a critique of your writing.

Essentially the writer advised , “don’t want everyone to read it.”

We are all from different backgrounds and have many different life experiences.

We also have different tastes.

What you write will not appeal to everyone. Not everyone who reads your work will understand it, and not everyone will like it.

But that’s OK.

Any comments made constructively and respectfully can be helpful to a writer. In the end, the writer gets to decide what to do with those comments.

It doesn’t mean that you should stop writing or that you are a bad writer.

The most important thing we can do is to be brave enough to write our stories and  to write what’s in our heart. The more we write,  the better we get.  That’s what counts.

Our words will also connect to someone.  But only if we write them.

Always believe that writing matters.

Writing Is Not Foolish

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I hear those voices in my head almost everyday. You don’t have time to write. There are more important things you need to do with your time. You are no good.  What do you have to say?

Why bother?

But today I decided that these words will have no effect on me.

Why?  Well, it’s April Fools Day!

When the words try to return tomorrow, I will remember what  my mother used to say, “April Fool’s past. You’re the biggest fool at last.”

Those negative voices do not serve me and are not real unless I let them in. They are truly the fool.

So I will continue to write and invite in my muse. Fill myself with what makes me creative and happy.

I hope you will also leave the fool behind when you write. There is no room for negative voices interrupting what you love to do, today or tomorrow.

But since it is April Fool’s Day, I cannot let the day go by without a good joke:

 

What do you have when you throw books into the ocean?

ANSWER:  A Title Wave

Write on!

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DO IT. WRITE

906fddf4-abdf-49b4-a459-99dcc00f2138-e1534100557250.jpegI bought this button at a flea marked many years ago. I still like its simple message.

There is nothing special or elaborate about writing.  It doesn’t take any expensive equipment and it can be done almost anywhere.

Yet some days may go by and nothing will be written. Life will get in the way.  I think to myself I need to write about this when I have more time.  But if I am not careful it will fade away.

There have been times when I have looked back at my journals  for a specific event and found out sadly that I did not take the time to write about it in detail or even at all.

I think to myself, why didn’t I write about that?

My life is in the details of my everyday world.  I need to make space to write about it as much as I can.

No one will put that pen in my hand.  There is no ceremony or recognition banquet to go to after I take the time to write.  No one cares if I write or not.

But writing is important to me.

That’s why I keep this button.

Just do it.  Write.

Writing in an Itsy Bitsy Notebook

When I was a teenager, I carried around a tiny notebook to write down my thoughts, ideas, poems, and stories. I bought a bunch of these notebooks at Woolworth’s. They were only about 3” x 3”in size and were spiral bound with a picture of a wild animal like a fox or deer on the cover. They were perfect because I could write really really small and take it everywhere I went. I could capture everything that happened in my teenage day.

I also felt these tiny notebooks were very inconspicuous. I could write without drawing
attention to myself or like in the case of my nephew David, my tiny notebook was not as easy to steal. I also didn’t want others to know that I liked to write.

Why?

I was embarrassed. I felt it was a nerdy thing to do as a teenager like listening to Wayne Newton albums (although I did that too). Real writers, I told myself were supposed to have this successful quality about them. You just couldn’t pick up the pen and put down words unless you were already a successful novelist.

Then if people saw you writing, they might ask if you had been published or if you were writing that “Great American Novel”  because isn’t that the goal of all writers? I often felt on the defensive and a little embarrassed to be impersonating a writer. Who was I but a 17-year old kid? I wasn’t allowed to be a writer, yet. So I hid my little notebook.

But that changed.

I’ve graduated into writing in journals of all shapes and sizes and I write everywhere and I don’t care. My nephew also does not care about reading my journal. In fact I believe 99.9 % of the world could care less about what I am writing unless I was writing about them and then maybe they might care a little. And just try reading my handwriting now!

I no longer care if people know I write. And sometimes I still get the the silly questions about where I have published and if I was working on that Great American Novel.

Writing is a practice. Writing helps me make sense of my life. Writing is so much more than just trying to get published. It goes deeper than that.

It’s a part of who I am. It’s what I do.

And it’s what more and more people should do too.

Write!

It’s worth every itsy bitsy notebook I’ve bought.

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Lake Moment

My accidents tend to happen when I am rushing or thinking about something in the future so I am not paying attention. Then silly things happen like I get my fingernail stuck in the underside of a bowl’s rim. If I don’t move slowly I’ll rip the nail across in a not so pretty and painful way. 

How did that happen?

When I’ve had this happen more than once, it makes me think.
Slow it down. Pay attention to this moment not some moment in the future. I’m not there yet.
“We’ll get there when we get there,” I hear these words in my head.
I was in Duluth last week with my sisters celebrating birthdays. On our last day on Friday morning, I took an early morning walk along the wonderful board walk. A beautiful day for a walk. A downtown clock chiming out 6 am. There was a blue sky and quiet and a 64 degree temperature. The lake at my side. There was plenty of time. No hurry. The last I heard we would be leaving at around 10 am.
My sisters back at the hotel not wanting to go for a stroll. Their minds on getting home. No longer was the location important. It was time to go home. No longer were they appreciating the remaining time they had at a place they wanted to be just a few hours before. 
So an hour later I get a call from my sister, ” Where are you? Better get back the bus is leaving. We’ve packed the car. I want to get back before rush hour.” 
It was only 7:30 am and they wanted to hit the road. But no they didn’t. They just wanted me back to the hotel. It was only a two hour ride home but suddenly it was time to rush. We did not have to be back until early afternoon. My sisters minds now focused on the future and on an eventual stop at a casino. We had plenty of time yet it was time to hurry. I was not getting ready like they thought I should.
And I was on Duluth time. Location, location, location. I would not be staying at this hotel in the future and we were right on the lake. It was a blessing to be there and I was still there. They were no longer on Duluth time. Their minds on Father’s Day plans on Sunday, on posting to Facebook on their iPad, watching tv, eating dinner at 6 pm. My sisters were thinking about their future and not the last few hours we had time to spend together in a beautiful place.
I was happy to have taken the walk. My sisters probably won’t regret not spending that valuable time outdoors like I did enjoying the scenery that one last time. I knew I would not have this incredible view tomorrow when I took my city walk. 
It made me aware of how much we all rush to get to the next place or the next event when we decide our vacation is officially over when it really isn’t – not quite yet. Rush to the next moment as if this moment is just not worth paying attention to. Did my walk interfere with their future plans? No. There was plenty of time to get home and to even stop at the casino. That was where their minds were then.
We all get caught up in the idea that there is always something better over the rainbow that we need to rush to it and forget to look at what is right out in front of us and what time there is left to enjoy it.
Soon I will hear my sisters say how fast that weekend went. How time just flew by. When I think back about that early morning walk, I will remember how time seemed to fall into a synchronized pace and how peaceful I felt. Maybe I was not able to slow down time, but I was present enough to enjoy it.   

  

The Origami Bowl

It was just a small white box made by an usher. An origami box that was folded intricately into a series of folded triangle lips on each of its four sides. Deep enough to hold the various loose change that seemed to gather here and there in the office, from out of nowhere. So when it was commencement time for Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC) on May 21, 2003, there had been quite a few coins that were dropped into this tiny well. I was amazed by the strength of this copy paper box and its depth, holding a collection of dimes, quarters and nickels. I didn’t see a penny. Too rare to find, maybe?

The day of the MCTC graduation was cold and rainy. The commencement did not start until 7:00 p.m. but at about 2 p.m., a young woman with a light lavender and gold graduation gown folded with cap on top came into my office looking a little lost and a little early.

“Is this where the MCTC graduation is tonight?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “But not until 7 p.m.”coins

“I wanted to get here early,” she said. And stood waiting for more conversation.

After a little while she asked if there was a place to buy a bag of chips.

I sent her to a building next door but the machine was broken. I then sent her to another one with no luck there either.

“Well you know McDonald’s is only another block down,” I explained feeling bad that I had sent her to two different places.

“Well I really only have money for a bag of chips,” she said. “I just need to have a little something before graduating.” “Is there a gas station around? They have those cheese and crackers 3 for $1.”

She spotted the little box with money in it and asked “what’s that?”

“Oh one of the ushers made the box. It’s origami.

‘But I mean where did the money come from?”

“Oh it’s just money that has been found here and there,” I said.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,”

“Well its just spare change, you know,” I said.

No, actually she didn’t. I thought of sending her to the student union where she could get more places to pick for her money. I pulled out some of the quarters and dimes and gave her an extra dollar from the bowl. It was as much as I could gather.

She came back into the office a short while later announcing that a vending machine man gave her a free Sprite too after she went to the gas station.

I asked her who was coming to her graduation tonight. She said no one. Her family couldn’t make it and her boyfriend had to work.

Her dreams were to open up a retail shop and an even grander goal was, “to help all those people starving in Africa. There’s gotta be a way to get food to those people.” she said. “I’d really like to do that,”

As I look at that spare change cup today, I still think of her and I think of the times I had passed over a penny on the ground.

“Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.”

I had always been superstitious in a way not to pick up a penny. I was just being silly. I never thought until that day how a penny or even that handful of change meant so very little to most of the people I knew including me. For this young woman, each coin in that bowl meant a little more prosperity in her life. You just didn’t keep spare change in a bowl like that because there never was any spare change. I am sure she used every bit of spare change to get her degree.

At work, I occasionally clean out our lost and found and see all the lost items that are never claimed. Nice stuff too, but only the weird stuff gets claimed. People leave their nice mittens, even jackets. They just go buy another one. I wonder how it is that the people, who would never pick up a penny, still complain that there is never enough.