Right Words, Thank You Claudia Schmidt

You can’t pray for light and curse the dark, they’ve been lovers for a long, long time. – “Bend In the River” by Claudia Schmidt The right words at the right time can change the course of a life. This has been true for me. But it is not just great teachers like His Holiness the Dalai Lama who helped me “turn my craft around” at times I needed a redirect. Lyrics, set to a melody, have been the tap on the shoulder (or whack to the head) that have made all the difference. When I lived in Minneapolis (1982 … Continue reading

Writing Lies that Tell the Truth

My first, and still a favorite book of mine on the writing craft is John Dufresne‘s book, The Lie That Tells The Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction. It happens to be a resourceful “self-help” book for all writers as well. John, I am excited to say, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Writer’s Institute at the UW-Madison, where I will be teaching and offering critique for writers. “When a story is based on autobiographical material there is a tendency to be slavish to the facts. You write a scene because ‘that’s the way it happened.’ Well, we don’t care … Continue reading

How to Love The Writer’s Life

You probably know what I am going to say. If you want to love your life as a writer all you have to do is: write. Yup, you called me on it. But there’s more (hey, I’m a writer and a therapist, of course there’s more!) The more is this: When we stay with our writing we come to love it, warts and all. When we take the time to write, we discover so much about ourselves, the world we are in, and the worlds we create through our writing. Because writing benefits the body, mind and soul (check out … Continue reading

What Am I Going To Do?

What are you going to do with this one precious day? When you lay your head down tonight what will you be happy that you did or experienced today? As a writer, the joy likely comes in “having written.” Spending time in nature is a good idea too. Aldo Leopold said that there is nothing that a good walk outside won’t cure. The best ideas for our writing projects often come from a nice walk outdoors. And, a moment with the realization of your importance . . .

Here: What’s Truly Possible

Is what you want possible? In any given situation what is truly possible? I use to say that my therapist saved my life. Now I understand, he helped me to see life through the lens of possibility. Possibility is a powerful energy. When we experience something as possible, or see the possibilities inherent in a situation, doors open. And they open wide. It can be a bit of a chicken and egg thing – we explore something, experience some positive results and then witness what is possible for us. But to even explore something we have to know, if even … Continue reading

Because, Writing is Your Destiny

You have to write. When you don’t write you feel that tug to get back to it. But you wonder and wander . . . can I do this? Can I create something unique in this sea of books? What’s the point? Who am I to write this book? And, how am I to create something that is both unique and meaningful to others? “We never sit anything out. We are cups, quietly and constantly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of … Continue reading

Experience the Magic of Words

Send a thank you to someone through the post.   Share time with others, reading.       Reading makes you beautiful.     Write your own fairy tale.   The one with the most imagination wins.   And don’t forget to use your ruby slippers.    


“Mom, you won’t like the movie, there’s no story,” my daughter said to me when I wanted to go to one of the latest superhero movies. I love superhero stories. Believable ones. And the believable ones always have a great narrative. I use to tease my daughter that I was a superhero by day donning my cape while she was in school. But she too was the superhero navigating those hallways and dealing with certain unhappy teachers. In  Ruth Ozeki’s book, A Tale For The Time Being,  Zazen practice is referred to as a superpower. The ability to practice Zazen … Continue reading

Writing for the Reader

Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: What do you seek? “Enlightenment,” replied Daiju. “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked. Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?” Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.” Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”          –Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones   I begin my book, The Zero Point Agreement with the above story. In opening up to “your own treasure house and using those treasures,” … Continue reading

Feel Haunted by Your Past? Here’s How to Free Yourself

Our life is a storied life. Basically, we are either living “reruns” of old stories or creating and living the story of now. I can only answer the question “What am I to do?” if I can answer the question “Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?”  –Alasdair Macintyre, Scotish philosopher   We are haunted by our past until we consciously choose to give up an old story of ourself and live in the story of now. Eckhart Tolle refers to this as the “power of now,” I understand it as the STORY OF NOW. The power of now is about … Continue reading