My Valentines to You, Love Julie

Accidents   She said, “There are no accidents.” I didn’t know how this could be true. how can everything hold meaning? dark accidents made beneath shadows, discovery of a dead chickadee under the apple tree, red-blooded accidents of visitors from the past, wine spilling, i didn’t mean to say that, in that way, it was just an accident, golden accidents of passion, down by the horse barn out of sight, a secret is discovered, the timing of your visit, what filled the emptiness when you were gone, the rippling accident of water splashing over the edges of the bowl that I carry to put out the fire. … Continue reading

Be The Cause of Your Life

“It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else . . . you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” – Eleanor Roosevelt I work with a lot of writers, mostly creative nonfiction writers who want to share personal experiences … Continue reading

Finding What We Already Possess

Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise from outward things; whate’er you may believe there is an inmost center in us all where truth abides in fullness; and around, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, this perfect, clear perception which is Truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it and makes all error; and to know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without. Robert Browning, from “Paracelsus” I have written in journals since the age of 16, which is … 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

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

Is That So?

It’s a powerful thing and a great accomplishment,–– to write and live your own story. Sometimes I write a story out so I can better live it. Sometimes I try a story on for size and see how it fits. I write to explore, understand and transform ideas. Rewriting the written word, and reframing my life, are tools that keep me focused and content. An exercise I suggest for writers is to take a favored myth or teaching story (such as the one below) and rewrite it, reinvent it as your own. Use it to transform or reframe something you … Continue reading

Several Lines About Stories

Everything is story. How we interact with the stories inside us and around us become us. We are our stories. Sometimes the story of our self matches up with other’s story of us Sometimes not. All good stories have tension. This tension can be dark and frightening or bright and inspiring Or both at the same time. All good stories give us resolution. The best stories keep us moving forward; keep us reading and writing our own stories. There is always a villain So the heroine can arrive and save the day. Too many clichés kill a good story. Too many … Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Place in the World

  Morning has broken Like the first morning, Blackbird has spoken Like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing From the first Word. Eleanor Farjeon, “A Morning Song,” in The Children’s Bells Our spiritual and writing practice may include visits to sacred sights or time away on retreat. However, we need practices that can be used in our everyday life. We can’t rely on “special occasions and places” to fulfill our spiritual or creative intentions. We want to be able to make sacred pilgrimages within our hearts and minds, and within the … Continue reading

We Are Made of Stories

“Among animals, it’s eat or be eaten. Among humans, it’s define or be defined.”  –Thomas Szasz We are made of stories. As David R. Loy writes, “We make stories and those stories make us human.” It’s not so much our consciousness that sets us apart from other sentient beings, such as the animals, but the stories we hold, write and live. (To order Loy’s book click on the above cover). Most of the stories we live have been passed down to us. The story our parents, or church, or childhood friends have of us may no longer be true. In … Continue reading