Make Your Own Bible

Writing, above all, is seeing clearly. Peter Mathiessen, Letters from the Wild Since the age of sixteen I have relied on spiritual journaling and the I Ching to navigate the ups and downs of my life. Spiritual journaling uses journaling and personal inquiry to investigate our life circumstances, deepen our spiritual practices, increase our awareness, and open up to our creativity. Self inquiry through journaling is a method used for thousands of years and is recommended as part of the treatment for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-abuse (cutting). Many remarkable books, such as A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, come from a journal. Journaling accesses the inner teacher … Continue reading

How to Band A Duck

In the above image my daughter releases a banded duck. She has been trapping and banding ducks with her father since she could walk. Banding is a way to capture part of a duck’s story. We discover their migratory path, where they live, but mostly banding tells us a story about their survival and mortality. To band a duck, we first have to rise at predawn to wait in the brush while one person sits in a blind to shoot the net over the ducks. Then, you take a hold of each duck, band it with the help of others, and finally, you release the bird back … Continue reading

Ask Yourself This

Recently I was asked whether what I am writing in my novel is story relevant? Or, is it only writer relevant? At first, this question stopped me. Then I thought — right!, if what I write doesn’t move the story forward then it’s not truly relevant to the story. The subject may be important to me but not to the story and therefore not to the reader. Sometimes my writing gets into all sorts of topics that are not truly relavant to the story or theme of my piece. I find myself writing around the topic, creating more back story, or … Continue reading

The Thing About Marriage and Writing

Everyday I discover common ground in living a true spiritual life with that of living a true writer’s life. Take marriage and writing. A lot of people “get married,” and then, well, that’s it. They view themselves “as married,” with nothing left for them to do to create a marriage. Marriage isn’t something they “do,” it’s something they “have.”  They are “in” a marriage rather than making a marriage. Big mistake (albeit a common one). Marriage isn’t a possession; marriage is a relationship. We make a marriage. And, a true marriage, like all relationships, is just as much about the “other” as it is … Continue reading

Wire Your Brain to Compassion & Wisdom

Here is a simple but powerful meditation that helps unravel our negative habitual and reactive postures. This simple meditation helps “hardwire us to wisdom and compassion.” The effort only takes a few minutes a day. This trains your mind while imprinting the memory of love on the psychophysical level. Research has shown us how the brain is pliable and responsive to such mind-training. This meditation gives your brain a positive memory to retrieve when life’s circumstances trigger a pain story. This simple practice assists in the undoing of negative belief systems (and assumptions) that are hardwired into us. Our brains are wired to take care … Continue reading

Words from Your Writing Sherpa

My life is full of writers. I am called to help writers, write. I was called to climb this mountain myself first, and back in 1989 published my first book with Doubleday. Over the past 20 years I have written and published 10 books, wrote columns for magazines and local papers, been actively writing a blog; while I continue to fill up pocket notebooks and journals.  I presently work independently as a writing sherpa and through the UW-Madison, Continuing Studies as a writing instructor. I am also finishing my “final” draft to a novel, along with a couple other writing projects. I love … Continue reading

Writing To Remember

This old tale was handed down to Clarissa Pinkola Estés. She shares this in her little book: The Gift of Story. For me, this tale is about writing to remember and the power of passing on our legacies through story so others can remember too . . . The beloved Bal Shem Tov was dying and sent for his disciples. “I have acted as intermediary for you, and now when I am gone you must do this for yourselves. You know the place in the forest where I call to God? Stand there in that place and do the same. You know … Continue reading

What To Remember When Writing

  What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte   In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake, coming back to this life from the other more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world where everything began, there is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans.   What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.   To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to … Continue reading

The Wish-Fulfilling Mandala (Or how not to mistake a rope for a snake)

The wish-fulfilling mandala is a simple tool that allows you to manifest your intention. You will experience immediate results through the use of this mandala. It’s a simple practice to transform negative mind-sets and experiences to allow for direct spiritual and creative experience. It facilitates the transformation of pain stories, difficulties, and resistances into a way of living that is inspired by intention. It’s a wish-fulfilling tool. Begin with the center circle. In this circle identify a strong assumption or pain story you hold that you know influences your inner and outer landscape. Identify something that you are struggling with. This could be about how you view yourself … Continue reading

What To Write About

Later today my daughter and I head out to register her for college. So I want to get my weekly writer’s blog done and out to you before we go. But, what to write about? (Something we writers often ask ourselves as we stare at the empty page or screen). I just spent a week with 14 (most amazing) writers at Write-By-The-Lake. Should I write about that? Last night I met up with 8 writers from the Spring Green area as part of the Write Your Story Project. I could write about that. Or, how we live a storied life, about this month’s … Continue reading