FREEDOM Right In On Time

It’s freedom we truly want. And fear. Freedom from attachment, freedom from anxiety, freedom from bad relationships, freedom from our habitual and negative states. We want freedom to create, to love, to speak up, and to be ourselves. We were born free. Yet, dependent. Those who raised us either trained us toward freedom or toward an increased dependency on establishing our worth and self-hood on outward validation. We all experience suffering; this is the core teachings of the Buddha: We suffer but there is freedom from suffering. (The Four Noble Truths). We have the capacity to bring forth lasting states … Continue reading

Don’t Spare Yourself

Okay, so… I’m still taking violin lessons. Along with my violin lessons I discovered another life lesson, as well as a good lesson for writers. If I want to learn how to play the violin, I have to be willing to play poorly. Like I remind my writing students all the time — be willing to write several shitty drafts before the story works, before you “sound” pleasing.  The enjoyment found in writing several shitty drafts, as well as playing crude on the violin, is indispensable to progress in both. I delight in holding an idea and seeing how it comes out on the page. I enjoy holding the violin and … Continue reading

Our Bridges to the World: The Art of Being & Writing

“You can perish in the famine of your own making.”  John O Donohue, Anam Cara Great scenes are like our souls––both depend heavily on the emotions and senses to reveal their true story. What is going on in a scene within our life or on the page needs an awareness and expression of our emotions. To write and live authentically means to be listening to the soul and “the body makes the senses thresholds of the soul.” (John O Donohue, Anam Cara) “A renewal, indeed a complete transfiguration of your life, can come through attention to you senses. Your senses are … Continue reading

Our Secret Lives

“After all, conventional wisdom recommends the divided life as the safe and sane way to go: ‘Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.’ ‘Don’t make a federal case out of it.’ ‘Don’t show them the whites of your eyes.’ These are all clichéd ways we tell each other to keep personal truth apart from public life, lest we make ourselves vulnerable in the rough-and-tumble realm.” –Parker J Palmer, Let Your Life Speak Writing is a true vocation for me. A benefit of being a writer is that I find clues to my own true nature’s voice in my writing. My … Continue reading

After The Final No

After the final no there comes a yes And on that yes the future world depends.                          – Wallace Stevens I led my first book, Hidden Victims Hidden Healers with this verse from Wallace Stevens.  I chose it to remind myself, and the reader, that there is a yes there, somewhere. You know as well as me, life is full of various versions of “NO:” rejections, pit falls, mistakes, losses, disappointments, misses, and more rejections. With the above book it took three years to find a publisher and I could have wallpapered my … Continue reading

Writing as Distraction

I had hoped that writing could be a distraction from missing my daughter. If wishes were fishes! “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride, If turnips were swords I’d have one by my side. If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans There would be no need for tinker’s hands!” So I tinker. I find, as all writers do, that writing takes us into our lives, our stories. Writing explores our possibilities, where we can become “intelligent tinkerers.” We tinker with an idea or an experience until something fruitful results. But we must not give up on our tinkering . … 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

Einstein Had A Day Job

Once Einstein graduated from college, unable to land a teaching position, he got a day job. By then he had developed a deep curiosity about the mysteries of life and no matter what he was up to, kept a conversation going with the questions he held about these mysteries.  He explored mathematics, inquired about how things worked, all which resulted in ideas and then of course, discoveries. “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” —Albert Einstein — To Carl Seelig – March 11,1952.  We start with a curiosity about some dream or question we have, we hold a … Continue reading