During Such Times, What Matters?

Many of my writerly friends and students have contacted me recently discouraged and confused. What does any of “this” matter?, they ask. “Who cares what I write about?” Besides, they claim, “my story is not unique.” Let me respond first with a personal story. I found myself looking in the mirror lately with dismay. I see an old woman.  At the core of me I know a truth: that I am aging, and that I am doing a fine job of it. With the awareness that all judgment involves projection I looked around me. What do I see when I look at others? Do … 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

The Magic of Morning Pages by Susan Eaton Mendenhall

First thing in the morning. Three pages in long hand. Everyday. These are the basic guidelines of a writing practice called Morning Pages developed by Julia Cameron. Years ago I discovered Julia through her book, The Artist’s Way. I felt stuck in my life and her process of writing to break through creative blocks renewed me with hope. Perhaps this practice could give me direction. Morning Pages are not about being brilliant or artful or even making sense. It’s just putting words on paper as they come into consciousness. Julia Cameron makes a case that writing in long hand slows … Continue reading

Getting Into It

I was a cat person, until I married Bill, who came with two dogs. Now I am a dog person. Soon after Lydia was born, and both Bill’s dogs had died (and my cat companion, Targhee), we decided to get another dog. (What child doesn’t want a dog?) Still not a full blown dog person, I had several rules: Dogs stay in the kennel or outside.  (I soon relinquished that rule and our dog Zafu lived in the house.) Dogs stay off the furniture.  (Well, our now blind dog Cookie has a favorite chair.) Dogs never, ever, ever sleep on the … Continue reading

Better Late Than Never (Or Not?)

For me living the active life gets down to conversation and community. I emphasize doing spiritual and creative work in circle, whenever possible. I hold all my classes in circles because we are all teachers, we all bring something unique and meaningful to the whole. As a leader, I learn too from those who show up and share their wisdom. Writing, relationships, and spiritual practice depend upon our showing up in an on-going conversation around our ideas, intentions and questions. One of my circles is “virtual.” We meet on-line for a virtual writing circle around 5 am to write together. Community is felt … Continue reading

The Writer’s Tree of Life

A central meaning associated with the Tree of Life is how life itself began. It further symbolizes the origins of all creation and origination and how everything is interconnected and dependent. The Tree of Life shows us how life is created, becomes manifest and then nourishes other forms of life. So then, how does a writer come to manifest him or herself as a writer? Where is your Tree of Life? How do we create our writing and then bring it to life, nourishing ourselves and other living beings? We design our own Tree of Life as a way to … Continue reading

A Healthy Dose of Doubt

Doubt can be an enriching and favorable state of mind. The old myth around doubt and curiosity – that it killed the cat, and that it will get you in a heap of trouble, is not only outdated but a myth that intends to control the congregation. Keep naughty kids in line. Make you uncomfortable and unwilling to challenge what you are told. In his commentary on Aryadeva’s Yogic Deeds of the Bodhisattvas Chandrakirti tells the story of a ship’s captain whom an ogress captures. (It could just as well been the other way around – the captain captured an … Continue reading

Pivotal Moments: Use Them or Lose Them

An active life is strewn with them – pivotal moments that are crucial to the forward movement of life. These moments don’t make life meaningful on there own, ­––we make life more meaningful with them. Perhaps the best story that demonstrates a pivotal moment is my encounter with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1995. I enjoy viewing my life in reflection of such moments especially when I am discouraged or feeling reluctant to stick with my spiritual and creative path. It is one moment that helped me to keep moving forward and to trust the efforts I put into … Continue reading

Unveiling The Story

This next series of my blogs will be on Spiritual Journaling and Creative Writing to accompany my class–  Spiritual Journaling: Writing Your Way to Enlightenment. The practice of journal writing for me has always strengthened my spiritual practice and improved my writing practice. For me the two paths are synonymous, hence, Spiritual Journaling. “Writing above all, is seeing clearly.”  Peter Mathiessen, Letters from the Wild You are welcome to join me and take your own pilgrimage using your journaling as a means to travel. Let’s begin with searching for a story. How willing are you to pay attention until the plot of the … Continue reading

The Impossible Task

“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.” –Dag Hammarskjold   I feel quite blessed and content in my life but know that through inevitable difficulty (loss of loved ones, or simply through the process of aging for examples), I will experience the pain involved in living. What I have also discovered is that life, when truly lived is full of impossible tasks. I make sure to walk the labyrinth-spiral in our prairie every day at sunrise the week up to my birthday. My fifty-fourth birthday was this past August 16th. I take the time … Continue reading