writingmybrain

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Big Shit in Our World of Instant—

Bobcat in my yard…what a gift

The first duty of love is to listen—Paul Tillich

Listening is an act of love; however I am split between contradictions. One being, the act of listening really means paying attention, and paying attention really means listening with both attention and focus, and the second being—trust my silence—for a different time.

An act of listening is something I find myself appearing to do, however my mind wanders. It wanders in a multitude of directions: what is really being said; how do I respond to this in kindness and respect; how do I navigate this expression ; what do I have to offer in this situation; to name a few of the things going on simultaneously in my head.

I consider myself a problem solver. When someone talks to me, I am ready to find a solution to their situation or dilemma and provide feedback that may or may not be in service. Repeatedly, especially within my family, I am reminded they are not looking for a solution; they just want to be heard.

This is a constant reminder to me, to stop with the interjections, pay attention to what is being said, and hold-off saying a darn thing. Be silent. I have noticed that waiting for right timing to respond takes time, often weeks, maybe even months before that particular person is ready for a response, or can actually hear what is being offered. And I have to remind myself that perhaps that time will not arise, and be willing to let it go.

This is a challenge; hold my council. Be silent. There are two things at play with me over this: simply I may forget what I wanted to say and second, in the event the topic arises again, will I be able to respond in the moment?  But the cool thing about this unrest I experience, I also know that when I breath into my heart, wait, then move into trust, my heart will express itself through my voice, and what needs to be said, will be said.

The challenge lies in the instant need to get, give, and receive feedback whether it is on one of our varied devises or in person.  It seems to me, because it is so difficult, that holding council is the true gift of love. What I mean by holding council is by waiting for another time, trusting that what needs to be said, will be said, and breathing into the heart to provide the necessary words of expression—big shit in our world of instant.

Taking and giving that space is essential for our mental and physical health and it is really, in my view, my first duty to love. The second is to listen and void all my questions, hold back my own words, and trust my heart to lead me to the right time when that person is able to listen and a mutual conversation arises out of love, listening and hearing.

Writing Practice:  When you find yourself faced with wanting to give guidance, hold back, listen to what is being said by the other person, breathe deeply, again and again; breathe deeply. Wait. Stay silent. Speak if you are so moved.  Journal your experience; how did this new practice feel? What did you discover?  Is the practice something you are willing, ready, and able to integrate into your life? What are your challenges, break throughs, and insights? Journal some more.   


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Trust Your Gut

 

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I made a comment to a friend the other day how much I love to take photographs. It is a passion I had before my accident, and after five years of recovery and learning once again how to take photographs with one hand, I picked up a camera once more. However my comment was more along the lines that how I love a purpose to taking photographs. Of course, I have one—many in fact.

As a former journalist, photo-story was part of any composition. During the early years of recovery, getting to hold the camera still with one-hand, and focus was all about practice, again and again. I could (and still could) use a tripod, but hey, there’s something quite magical about taking a photograph with one-hand and not jiggling it to a blur. There’s a part of me that still loves the challenge, the unexpected, the magic. It makes my heart feel at peace, time disappear, and it’s like I’m dancing with what is before me. It is similar to writing and poetry, two more of my passions.

I recently read in an introduction to his book Critical Path. Buckminster Fuller included an article by his friend, e.e. cummings, the poet.

A Poet’s Advice

“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t. A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.”

Poetry and photography, for me, are felt journeys. In the book—Three Brains—How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Health and Identity by Karen Jensen, ND, she says—

“In today’s modern world, we are encouraged to focus mainly on our head brain. But we also need to use our other two brains to process our feelings and listen to our intuition to help keep us in balance.”

I am encouraged by this book because it explores the value and importance of all three brains—gut, head, heart—to work in unison for a healthy mind, healthy body. It honors the gut brain which is that part of us that is instinctual, intuitive, unselfconscious, immediate, practical, and direct.

I know from personal experience that one of the gifts of brain injury is what I now call the felt sense, which is also known as gut response.

This simple unrestrained response of what “pops” into mind, or out of one’s mouth without social boundaries is a good device I have grown to appreciate. It can be disruptive, it can be disturbing and it is certainly unpredictable, and often surprising.

Its gift is instinctual, intuitive, unselfconscious, immediate, practical, and direct, and I have learned to appreciate that uninhibited awareness. The gut became my indicator of how to be in the world. Of course none of this was in my awareness as first however; I did know it as a gut response, learned to trust it and later identify it as a felt sense. I named it at first as incongruence.

Today when my gut responds to an external situation, I know to trust it, listen, and take time to digest what it is being communicated to me.

Weird hey? Not really. By the same indicators I write and photograph now. My gut is a navigator of terrains. It intuitively knows things that my head has to ultimately grasp and articulate through language. My heart is the compass by which I travel the terrain. Together they’re a great team, and I feel blessed for the opportunities that arise because of the team work.

Writing Practice: Trust your Gut Writing—Go outside with your journal and pen. Find a quiet place that works for you. It could be a park, your backyard, a lake, a picnic spot. It could even be a mall where busy-ness is all around you. Start by jotting down things around you that “pop” into mind, a visual clue, a felt sense: words, phrases, observations, emotions. Write them randomly as they arise. No straight lines necessary. When you feel you have completed this, stop, breathe. Even close your eyes. Breathe. Keep breathing in awareness until you feel you are ready to go back to your journal page. Circle those words, impressions and phrases that seem to leap out at you. Breathe with awareness; pay attention to any indicators from your gut. When you are ready—begin to write. This may be an insight about health and wellness for you; it may be a journal entry or a poem. Just write—trust your gut writing and enjoy. No need to read it or edit. Just tuck it away for another day and time.

 


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Let Our Root Systems Nourish

june15-blogOn the- job-training for a hero….Theoretically I know I am a heroine but today it is a story and I choose the concept alone, rather than a gender specific term. Why? Because I choose it, and on this glad-its-raining-day the earth is being nourished once more—plus—really, the story is not about me.

The earth has been parched having leapt from winter where there were deep snows to summer with its harsh heats. Somehow, within the transition spring was leap-frogged over preventing moisture to seep into the earth gently, nourish the soil, heat up the earth and gradually allow roots to grow deep in search of sustenance strengthening their growth.

A common comment I hear this year is that starter plants have poor root systems. From experience I have planted tomato and pepper plants, and I am uncertain they will survive because the usual maize of roots are lacking. I am hopeful—always hopeful—that with gentle rains that seep into the earth, growth with emerge, and the heat of the sun will bring a strengthening and growth.

Gardening like so much of life is unpredictable, and in its changeability there is much to be grateful for—like the possibility of seeds, the optimism of life held within each seed for growth, fruit, and propagation. I am perpetually in awe of what each seed holds, and given the necessary ingredients for emergence—light, moisture, heat, attention and time—how it transforms and gives such abundance and nourishment to us individually and collectively. It is a magic of sorts that is often bypassed in our rush to the grocery store to find this and that.

Digging in the dirt, connecting to the earth, allowing its mark to touch our faces as we brush hair away from our faces, let the soil get under our finger nails, embrace our feet in our shoes is such a simple joy—one we can all experience when we choose.
Just like seeds have an irresistible accord to come into being, I see that we also have this pull. I am struck by the agreement that seeds, birds, animals, fish and insects all have within their DNA to come into being when certain conditions are met.

This year I almost didn’t garden. In part due to a physical disturbance, in part due to water restrictions, deer grazing and my own reticence, that could be named apathy, but then I chose differently. It didn’t begin with a decision per se—it was an awareness of sorts that grew.

I looked at my raised beds, looked at their possibility, saw the compost that an eighty five year old woman hauled and spread for me in those beds last year with gratitude, saw the hokey deer fence I build last year—an entirely intuitive endeavour with found and recycled materials—and started to plant seeds, water a little, and began to appreciate my connection to the dirt. It’s life force just waiting to be embraced by me, seep into my bones.

When I play in the dirt, I connect to the earth. I remember that I too am part of the DNA of it all, and taking one step at a time towards that reconnection is something I can do in simplicity. Here was a choice I could make to the earth, for others, and myself because when I allow that connection and reconnection I know my reason for being. We are all one, and an invisible thread connects us all.

Writing Practice:
My almost two year old grandson loves to play with two things at the moment. Dirt and rocks! Throwing rocks into a river, a bowl, a hot tub (!) making mud pies, smearing dirt on sidewalks, going barefoot in dirt, sand, mud etc. It is experiential, tactile, science and so much more. He is learning about the world. As adults we often loose this connection through busy-ness, business, and life!
Make a connection to the elements (singularly or jointly) through touch, sight, smell and sound. Journal your experience, insight, consideration, outcome, connections, memories and emotions. How does this outcome impact your health and wellness? Offer choice to you? Move you forward? Express you?

For more information about writing clinics please go to write4health.ca

 

 

 

 


Earth’s Manifesto

Do you wake at night and wonder
at the groan of Gia?
Is she labouring under neglect?
we impose by our disregard?

At first I thought it an excavator
moving the earth, digging
through landscapes of indifference—
then I thought—how unusual to be working
under a night sky—then I wondered
if it were the voice of Gia, I heard
speaking, or the sound of planets
taking communion—only to be heard
during a still night—

Of course I wondered
at my sanity—really tho’ what if

It is the groan of Gia speaking
in sounds we choose not to hear
during the day—are deaf to—
tuned to another frequency?

It is at night, I hear it—the voice
persistent. I hear heaviness;
a call for recognition, for help perhaps,
or—is it a hum for humanity asleep
to wake-up, tune in, listen—or—

just plain happiness—hum,
humming along? I wonder

©April 9, 2018—angela simmons

Poster: Earth’s Ten Commandments: text ©1990 Ernest Callenbach; illust. ©1990 David Lance Goines; Celestial Arts

Writing Exercise: On Earth Day (April 22) find a quiet place-preferably outside, take out your journal, or sketch pad and embrace the five senses, capture them on paper in words or image. Take photographs. I particularly like what I call 360 degree photography. I take a light chair/stool into a natural area, place in a space I can swivel my butt around on in the chair/stool, and contemplate what I witness. I am always delighted at what is revealed to me from just that one spot as I slowly (in a meditative, reflective  space) rotate. Later choose an image-or series of images-and write capturing again your experience. I feel certain that these practises-or one of these practices-will move you to personal and planetary health and wellness.  Here’s another thought-make every day Earth Day. It is in our hands…

 

 


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Whip a shitty…

Recently, I heard this great phrase—to whip a shitty (re-articulated by TAD Hargraves from Marketing for Hippies.com ). In his take he voiced that when we get stuck simply start, begin. The word commit means exactly that—start, begin, and whipping a shitty is simply getting something down on paper— then from there re-write, recraft. This could be a sales letter, a life letter, a personal letter. Bottom line- get unstuck by beginning one letter at a time, one act at a time. The overall arc of anything can bog us ALL down and the only real way to move that stickiness is one action at a time.

When we “think” perfection first time around, drop it- whip a shitty—get “it” down and let go of anything resembling perfection. I often think of Brene Brown’s book—The Gift of Imperfection— and remind myself of the gifts of imperfection constantly as I stumble and pick myself up with so much of my life. When it arrives on my doorstep in lets say a blog, my website (write4health.ca) and I’m tweaking here and there looking for that perfection (which largely lies in my head), I am going to embrace the shitty, get unstuck, and remind myself that perfection is an illusion- because truth be observed- one persons perfection is another persons imperfection—so let it go and do your best.

That reminds me of a funny story I read once—tell me, what person woke up one morning and said today, I am going to do my worst. All the best or worst amounts to, is polarity. As human be-ings we all live somewhere within the split and it varies from day to day. My sense is that we, certainly I do, need to whip a shitty more often and release perfection into the outer realms of imperfection and embrace it.

A while ago my granddaughters (8 & 6) were waiting at the airport in the car for their mother to emerge from customs after a week away at a conference; they shot a lip synced video to the radio. They didn’t get stuck, they played. They didn’t care about perfection, they had fun. They didn’t over think it;  they whipped a shitty and I laughed at it on replay. It was great, imperfect and glorious.

This year-whip a shitty- I plan to!

 

 


An Art of Noticing

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“But then, Jane’s mother, seeing that her daughter cowered whenever they passed the tree, whispered in the child’s ear that the tree wasn’t about to devour them as they trotted by in the barouche. Nay, the gnarled old tree was in fact the manor house of the Fairy Lord—and instead of holding her breath as they passed, she should wave hello, and the fairies would lift the limbs of the tree, and it would wave back.”

An except from The Summer of You (2010) (The Blue Raven #2), Kate Noble—sited in The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass

This excerpt from The Summer of You reminds of three people I recently celebrated at their memorials, and their capacity to notice small details that made a difference in the lives of others.

Each one different, each one possessing this unique quality; an art of noticing. One a former one-room school teacher; another an environmentalist and park warden; one a crossword-puzzler extraordinaire and poet. Each one filled with passions that guided their lives, and each one offering this gift via eye-contact, conversation, and connection.

I am struck by how each one of these kind souls expressed an art of noticing and how much it meant to me to be a recipient. Often in my day to day busy-ness I listen and do not pay attention, hear and do not connect.

The Art of Noticing is a practice. It is both hearing, listening and connecting with attention. In a sense it is looking at a person rather than looking through, or past a person. I can easily find myself half listening, or waiting to move onto something else without attention.

The qualities I observed from these three individuals were: they stopped what they were doing, looked directly at me, listened with attention, mirrored something in our conversation, and made eye contact during our exchange.

Much like a parent re-directs a child’s fear or uneasiness with kindness, respect, and offers an opportunity to reframe a feeling, it seems to me the art of noticing starts with both kindness and respect and provides an opportunity for the recipient to reframe—for themselves—their misgivings in a new light as with the mother and child in the passage above. This gift and practice will be missed. Thank you for awakening this awareness in me with your passing.


The Art of Noticing

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After a break from blogging I am HAPPY to be back. Apologies for the long gap. Thank you for your patience.  

“But then, Jane’s mother, seeing that her daughter cowered whenever they passed the tree, whispered in the child’s ear that the tree wasn’t about to devour them as they trotted by in the barouche. Nay, the gnarled old tree was in fact the manor house of the Fairy Lord—and instead of holding her breath as they passed, she should wave hello, and the fairies would lift the limbs of the tree, and it would wave back.”

An except from The Summer of You (2010) (The Blue Raven #2), Kate Noble—sited in The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass

This excerpt from The Summer of You reminds me of three people I recently celebrated at their memorials, and their capacity to notice small details that made a difference in the lives of others.

Each one different, each one possessing this unique quality; an art of noticing. One a former one-room school teacher; another an environmentalist and park warden; one a crossword-puzzler extraordinaire and poet. Each one filled with passions that guided their lives, and each one offering this gift via eye-contact, conversation, and connection.

I am struck by how each one of these kind souls expressed an art of noticing and how much it meant to me to be a recipient. Often in my day to day busy-ness I listen and do not pay attention, hear and do not connect.

The Art of Noticing is a practice. It is both hearing, listening and connecting with attention. In a sense it is looking at a person rather than looking through, or past a person. I can easily find myself half listening, or waiting to move onto something else without attention.

The qualities I observed from all three individuals were: they stopped what they were doing, looked directly at me, listened with attention, mirrored something in our conversation and made eye contact during our exchange.

Much like a parent re-directs a child’s fear or uneasiness with kindness, respect, and offers an opportunity to reframe a feeling, it seems to me the art of noticing starts with both kindness and respect and provides an opportunity for the recipient to reframe—for themselves—their misgivings in a new light as in the passage above. This gift and practice will be missed. Thank you for awakening this awareness in me with your passing.