writingmybrain

writing, practice, contemplation, poetry, journal, clinics, salons, spiritual, possibilities, gratitude


Silence

Enter the silence of your Soul.
There, truth resides waiting to burst into openness.
Pay attention to its cadence.
Its quietness will set you free and show the way to live your life with choice and intent.

REFLECTION
 
Readily we think silence
Energizes, and it does however,
Finding that quiet time means
Leaning into it—gracefully
Each moment, which calls for attention,
Clarity, consciousness and communication
To ourselves—especially when
Insights bring a certain uncomfortableness naturally,
Ordinarily, however when we choose awareness over
Numbness every time, stillness emerges wondrously. 
Trees
 
Tending gardens and trees
Rejuvenates our connection to the whole
Energetically speaking. Digging
Earth, composting witnesses’ cycles
Soothes our very soul, bountifully.
 
Haiku-July-2020

Writing Practice: Acrostic Poem

Pick a word (or more, a sentence even) that resonates for you. Take the first letter of the word/s or sentence and write them vertically in your journal. Start each line with a word that also begins with the letter of your subject. Do it quickly then take the needed time to hone as you choose! Enjoy. Within process, gems surface.


Embracing Imperfection

I am building a deer fence around my garden. It all started with a pile of dirt dumped in my yard last summer when my son was reconfiguring his back yard.  It came in two dump trucks— full— one good dirt, the other considered great for back fill. Recently my daughter took the backfill to use to grade a slope away from her house, the other remained with me.

Since coronavirus and possible food disruptions here in my neck of the woods, I have thought it prudent to transform the dirt into a vegetable garden. Here deer are rampant and graze unmercifully through the garden year-round. So bushes, trees, flowers, anything green in fact are considered food.

Before any grass greens, before they leave town to birth more deer, the ones that remain become entirely indiscriminate. They are in survival mode, and while I don’t appreciate the damage they impose, who can blame them? Who encroaches on whom? Our gardens are fair game for these creatures.

To my garden and mind chatter. First I rounded up pallets. I have heard that some people in the neighbourhood call my place the Pallet Palace. Why? You’ve guessed it. I use pallets—a lot! I enjoy the aesthetics as well as their versatility. They are born for re-purposing and that appeals to me greatly. Surrounding the dirt with pallets wasn’t hard although my physical limitations made the progress slow.

I knew I must elevate the pallet surround to prevent deer from eating any food grown inside the garden. With chicken wire and necessary 1”x2”’s in hand I set to work. Up until this point I was happy in my process, although with one hand that doesn’t grip and physical limitation, I frequently meet challenges— usually quite openly. I am used to it, and for the most part appreciate my ability to move through the challenge until earlier this week when monkey mind and judgement came out to test my resolve.

Simply, my back neighbours had a similar idea to build a garden with raised beds and a deer fence. Between them there are six pairs of hands and a carpenter! My mind chatter escalated with comparison and judgement. It got so loud I had to quit my own fumbles.

Now, I know my daughter and a friend will come to help. Didn’t they do an awesome job! However, what I found interesting was how mind chatter, monkey mind created such nonsense, and how easily I believed such prattle, even though I knew it was foolish. I was crippled by comparison of my own making.

For example: my neighbours were doing a good job; theirs looked so much better than mine etc. All none-sense. Of course each garden is different; much like how each of us is different. It is our differences, in what we do, appreciate, think, resolve, and pay attention to that makes us who we are. My neighbours were busy in their process, as I had been until crazy-mind entered.

Fortunately I had the wherewithal to stop and contemplate what was really going on for me, and find a resolution for myself.  Taking that time-out was and is essential for our health and wellness. Without the time for contemplation non-sense can escalate so much it can overwhelm us, and cause dis-ease in our emotional or physical bodies.

It is important to stop, take time, and discover what mind chatter is really showing us. It is about embracing our imperfection and loving ourselves regardless that makes a difference for us individually and collectively. Finding our balance connects us all, and the pen remains my faithful tool!

Writing Practice:  Recently, have you encountered a similar example of dis-ease, mind chatter, or non-sense that has entered your awareness and became too loud to ignore? Write about it. What is under the noise, the language, the experience? Explore and communicate with it through the power of the pen. It is cost-effective and a great way to address niggles.         


Community of Connection

There is a new community of connection and it is growing….

Yes, April is National Poetry Month; and like thousands of others I am committed to writing a poem a day for the month. This will be my fourth go around. As an added bonus this year I wanted to explore Haiku, as well as freeform poetry, which is my go-to practice.

Haiku is an art, and by no means have I grabbed its nuances. I am grateful that with the extra time I find myself with during the coronavirus lock-down, I have an opportunity to write4health—all-ways and develop extra practice.

I find this commitment refreshing. I pay attention more ardently because I have chosen to write daily. In the confines of physical distancing writing proves a further challenge coupled with choosing no media to sidetrack me, or pump me full of hype. Of course I stay in touch with others and access information however, I make a conscious choice to avoid drama—to be honest—it’s for my health and wellness!

This may be considered selfish, and if that is your opinion, so be it—however because I am only one, there is much I cannot do. However, there are small acts of kindnesses and influences I can make daily among my small circle of contact—in conversations, in generosity of spirit, in leaving soup on the doorstep of a neighbour, making sure an elder gets food delivered to their door, or wave at a passer-by, smile, say thank-you to a fellow human who stands aside to let me pass by at a safe distance on the sidewalk, or bang pots and pans showing and sharing resiliency with others—meanwhile developing a stronger practice of connection.

Poetry—or any other form of writing—helps me to connect to that quiet, calm centre. It is from that place of solidarity, I can breathe in any chaos and drama, and let it go of it again on an outward breathe. From that place of connection with myself first, I am able to grow connection to others, and know I am not alone.

We are all One breathe and at this time it is of tremendous value to witness our interconnection between our acts, what we focus on—thoughts, beliefs, opinions, judgements, actions— and how we, and our global community will move forward with the changes we all face today and in the future.

Creative Practice: Grab that pen doodle, jot, make lists, mindmap, write, photograph, paint, draw, knit, carve, build, plant seeds, move your furniture around, create space, pack away unused stuff, or play with whatever brings you joy. Minimize listening and watching stuff that doesn’t serve your health and wellness. Bring kindness and respect to yourself and others.  

Photographs were taken this week in a driving excursion just five minutes from here—yes, in our neck of the woods, spring is in the air—and we are in celebration!


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Opportunity Knocks

We can live as a shell/waiting to crack or as a/dove waking to its song. Poem excerpt: For the Thousandth Time I Want To Know– Mark Nepo- The Way Under The Way

With uncertainty knocking on our collective consciousness in the guise of the COVID-19 virus we are also being called to how we choose to weather the storm. Will hysteria be our reaction, or will calm be our response and prevail?  We are being called to examine ourselves, family, communities, conduct, and culture and move in awareness towards recovery for the greater good.

We can only do this in baby steps; through observation rather than denial. The path is uncertain which is no different from everyday life; however because of the evidence of the virus we are being shown the very real nature of uncertainty which at its simplest is unknown. Consequently how we respond individually and collectively will influence the outcome.

I see this as a great opportunity to evaluate how I live my life. Educate myself rather than deny indicators; take precautions rather than give way to fear; create networks of interdependence rather than separation; maintain calm rather than panic, and with it take the necessary actions to maintain equilibrium in my own circle of influence.

My sway is a mere sand granule on the beach of life, but like a pebble is given to the pond, and that action brings ripples in the pond, I can only hope my words will empower others to maintain balance in this uncertainty; allow the unification of our actions to provide stability to the whole. It is all we can do collectively in such uncertainly. We are all interconnected.    

“What can anyone give you greater than now…” Poem excerpt: You Reading this, Be Ready—William Stafford from The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind, and Soul; by William Sieghart

Writing Practice: In this technological age even in our isolation we are connected. Not in the interpersonal sense at the moment.  So with the view of staying close to home I am taking the opportunity to sort through boxes of journals and other such ramblings that have accumulated over the years. Sort and discard. Declutter. Only keep the relevant and resonant. Sort through photographs, images, books, papers etc. Keep or let go.

In the event you also have accumulated “stuff” to sort through, high cupboards where things have accumulated, boxes that haven’t been opened in years—take this time to sort and let-go. Now write about your experience in any form you choose [journal, story, poem-making, art, imaging, photography etc.] on how it feels to let go and refresh your living space given this opportunity. I’d love to hear from you.  Email me at: writingmybrain@gmail.com Happy sorting!


Summoning Angels

Summoning the Birthday Angels

This year because it is 2020 we all have a unique opportunity for vision and hindsight simultaneously:  20/20 vision and 20/20 hindsight; with it, perhaps a little insight also.

It comes at a time in our lives and in the life of the planet where we can look forwards and backwards concurrently—see our wisdoms that we can embrace or let go, and find new ways in service to the future and upcoming generations. A unique point of view indeed! And the choice is in our hands.

My eight year old granddaughter made me a card for my recent birthday. When I asked her about her picture she said “you are summoning the birthday angels.” I was moved at both the images and her use of the word—summoning.

Contemplating her choice of words I see we can all summon those angels whether it is for birthdays, gatherings, meetings, celebrations or hard-hitting topics like global warming, health and wellness, or crisis that touch us all deeply in one way or another.

We are not alone in our singular or collective struggles. We have the capacity to reach-out to one another in our families, community, or greater circles of influence. Sometimes alone, we feel isolated yet in the act of reaching, we find connection and an opportunity to communicate at a deeper level.

lt is a choice we make on all these occasions. A choice to listen and to know also it is irrelevant if my opinions are shared or contradictory.  It is in this one act of awareness I can move through 2020. In doing so, I am able to embrace my future rather than constrict both my present and future.

It is in the reaching out, listening, and deep connection where change and acceptance occurs; knowing my interconnections are what being human is all about without judgement. Judgement separates me rather than unites me with others. Acceptance unifies and allows me to recognize my humanity.

So, I for one will summon the angels for birthdays, gatherings, meetings, celebrations, and for hard-hitting topics like global warming, health and wellness, or crisis that touch us all deeply, speak my truth in a kind and respectful way, and listen above all else to those that do, and do not share my perspectives. It is a choice I can make, and an act I can take.

Writing Practice: Write, journal, or create a poem on how you will summon the angels in 2020. Cut, rip out words, phrases, or pictures from magazines or newspapers—go to the recycling centre for these or use your stash—now create a collage that represents your summoning in either your journal or elsewhere. Post your creation visibly as a reminder.  I have my granddaughter’s picture on the fridge!   


Counting Blessings

This is a collage made ten year ago to motivate me once I was able to walk up straight again.

Yes, it is the time of year we not only count our blessings, take stock of our year, how we have gifted, and been gifted, we also look at how we would like to give back in the coming year.

“…tell the story of what you have wanted…and the story of what you’ve been given.” Mark Nepo

Although Nepo’s quote speaks of wants and needs, I think it has very little to do with acquisition and everything to do with our life’s journey, how we contribute to the whole, and how during times of reflection we move in the direction we are pulled regardless of desire or drive. It is, about letting go of preconceived notions and being in the flow of life, and gratitude—no matter what.

Here’s my story of what I think Nepo addresses. At the moment I have several manuscripts eighty percent complete. The twenty percent remaining is causing me angst. Each time I give a manuscript to my editor, she reads it, makes notes, some corrections, and returns it. Each time, I think I’ve got it, yet I learn there are rewrites.

Once I get over myself, I realise how fortunate I am to have someone that is a good editor and get stuck into corrections. Recently, I stumbled on another resource quite by accident. Of course many writers do this, but me—I am a tortoise rather than a hare—I get there in the end!

I had gone into a school for an author reading and struck up a conversation with the Learning Commons Facilitator (librarian). It came to light that I had written a YA novel. She wanted copies to hand-out to students. I was happy to do so. Youth love to give feedback and I knew this, but had temporarily mislaid the detail! That’s the reality of brain-injury, sometimes the knowing goes temporarily on walkabout until someone jogs it, and brings it back into place!

Another point here, is that with POD (print on demand) so much a part of the indie publishing industry, I was able to have twenty copies printed—so the book read and looked like one—and readers could hold it and write in margins etc. as they saw fit; an affordable way to have targeted readers provide feedback!

So what did I want rather than what I was given as Nepo asks?

Back in 2006 before an accident that altered my life, I wanted to write, travel and volunteer overseas. What was I given? An opportunity to find language again and through writingmybrain back to health and wellness receive—twelve years later—help from young readers; exactly what I needed when I needed it. Did I know it would take me twelve years? No. Would I change anything? No. Life has a tendency to give each of us, me included, what we need rather than what we want, and I for one am grateful.

Writing Practice:  Table Questions— excerpted from: Seven Thousand Ways to Listen; by Mark Nepo P.223.

Look at your life and begin to tell the story of what you have wanted or still want and the story of what you’ve been given. How do they differ? How are they the same? What has each taught you? write4health—Journal or create a collage of what you have needed rather than what you have wanted. Count blessings. It is the season. In-joy!


Meet Experience Openly…

“Listening is not reacting or responding but meeting experience openly, the way a lake is filled by streams.” Seven Thousand Ways to Listen—Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo P85.

What a beautiful image these words form for me. How integral it is also to the art of listening. I am inspired by its sentiment and realize also that I am far from finding that middle place and space of balance, yet I strive towards its intention.

Of course like thousands, we work towards that middle way, that balance. And yet, in interactions we are perfect in our imperfections, and can only be present when we are able. I find this lack of presence in daily activities, a great goal, yet so hard to either achieve momentarily and certainly to maintain.

In fact, I am hopeful in my working towards, but hopeless in my presence. Not because of anything other than I am pulled, like thousands before, after, and generationally in many directions that tug me away from what I’d like to work toward in myself first, and the community as a whole—be it family, friends or a public forum. I can only esteem towards this when I work on myself in an attempt to reduce my own glitches.  

I may be pulled to a text, a phone call, an email, an ad flashing up on my screen, a meeting, a family need, an atmospheric adjustment due to an outside influence, or simply pulled to respond, or react to something that intersects my path within the hours of my life. This is definitely an intersection. Another is in conversation. Presence often wraps itself in confusion, complication, circumstance, or complexity by anything that intersects that moment.

What I have come to realize is those intersections are all about choice. Even in the most seemingly difficult scenario there is choice. It seems bizarre, almost contradictory, but choice exists with both intersections and conversations. We can listen, we can connect, and we can be present — even in the most trying and grim times we face in our lives, and on the planet—yes, we do have choice.

As our best and worst, we remain one molecule; a droplet in a stream on its journey to the lake; to the sea.  We are part of the whole, one moment at a time. Listening comes from inside out, rather than outside in, and listening within our conversations for the choices, is one way to make a difference in our lives as well as those around us, and life as a whole on the planet. In making choices, we aim to listen well for the intersections and conversations and leap into the whole without reacting or responding but meeting experience openly as the stream meets the lake; the sea, and is part of the entirety.

Writing Practice: A Reflective Pause—Journal Question excerpted from: Seven Thousand Ways to Listen—Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo P.88.

Watch someone doing something they love. Listen to the motion and rhythms of how they work. Name and describe the song of their work. Journal this experience openly and be amazed.  


Poetry as Practice

“Poetry is the unexpected utterance of the soul. Much more than the
manipulation of language, it is a necessary art by which we live and
breathe.” Mark Nepo writing on the Nature of Poetry http://www.marknepo.com/

In my later sixties, I now recognize the heart of poetry, my heart of poetry. I began to express a deeper sense of connection through poetry when I was in my first decade. In fifty years of poetry, I have deepened that practice. Poetry is my go to practice when there is something unsettling in me, or in the world around me. An incongruence that I feel needs to be expressed in a form where I can digest it, move through it, and find resolution.

Yes, there is much to be unsettled about in our world at this time; much to be concerned about, much to find resolution about, within us and around us. How can we solve it? Many turn to spirituality, many turn to avoidance, many turn to numbing, many turn to denial, many turn to action. Each turning moves us past overwhelm to a place where we find either a peace, or further unsettling through acts and actions.

I have, through the years turned to poetry, perhaps as a form of resolution, but also as a form of expression—to tap into something sometimes I am consciously unaware of, bring it into my awareness, and release it into a concrete form; sometimes as an expression of contradictions, conflicts and confusion. Most of my work, or practice over the years was for my eyes only as a form of therapy for my psychological health and wellness. I am grateful for its presence in my life, truly a mainstay.

Because poetry has the capacity to reveal the rawness of our soul and spirit, the dichotomy and contradictions in our world, often we are shy to share because poetry makes us vulnerable. I can say this about myself at least. Poetry makes me vulnerable. Vulnerability opens me up for judgement, criticism or makes me wrong somehow in the eyes of others, and it hurts. However, I can also say that poetry elevates my sense of well-being, my mental, heart and spiritual health. And in turn revitalizes my physical health. Expression through poetry from the inside out has the capacity to bring forth, make sense of any chaos or crisis, and transform confusion towards hope. 

As I work with others using poetry as expression, observation, or a collection bowl of memory I am in awe of how the art is unique to the person, yet universal in its capacity to heal, reflect sentiment, and show ourselves to our self. Poetry is medicine. Medicine to our soul, and I recommend it to anyone wanting to explore the territory of the invisible. It helps us makes sense of what we face in our day to day lives. Poetry is not something that is to be known with our head as it was in school, it is to be felt through our senses and expressed through our unique voice onto paper. Poetry can be for our eyes only, or can be shared if you so choose. Poetry is a gift to ourselves.

Poetry Practice: Find a comfortable safe place and space. Allow the surrounding atmosphere to enter your awareness. Listen from inside out. What surfaces? Is there a moment in which your peace explodes through your senses; a memory, an emotion, an incident, an issue that just won’t let-go? Write from that place and get it down on paper. Write from the heart. Massage it much, much later if you so choose but right now, write for your personal expression and illumination. Repeat as the need arises.  In-joy.  


Summer’s Children-Part Two

Through play, we learn about ourselves and others around us—siblings, parents, friends. It all starts with how we play. Do we observe, get stuck in, wait, or blunder in, and see what’s happening as we go? How we play as children, provides indicators of what and how we will do our lives as we grow through the years.

I have been conducting an informal study on play for over fifty years. I started as a teenager looking after neighbour’s children. Three; the middle boy scribbled on walls, jumped on couches, threw pillows and defied everyone as he pushed boundaries. He defied preconceived notions and rules surrounding him. He exasperated his mother and his father dismissed him.

I found his capacity to play extreme as he pushed limits with a mischievous smile. He seemed defiant to see how far he could go. His ingenuity was captivating as he tested, re-tested and continued to test. I discovered his play was integral to what he expressed emotionally and later, how his life unfolded. What he felt came out in his play. As the young teen I was then, I witnessed links between behaviour, play, and attitude.

He became a salesman, and a general all-round dare-devil; motorbikes, jumping out of planes, extreme sports. It was part of his play at four, and it manifested in his play at 14, 24 and 34 each time intensifying play. I’d hazard a guess that at fifty-four and eighty-four he will somehow push boundaries.

Of course, I’ve had my own kids since that time, have grandkids and have worked with hundreds of young people and I have to say, in general, how a child plays as a youngster is frequently a gauge for what they will chose as work and more importantly, what activities really make their heart sing—where time evaporates—sometimes called soul or spirit purpose.

On those occasions, where we cannot imagine doing anything else; that activity that wakes us in the small hours, get us up in the morning early on a weekend, even on holidays. Chances are—our spirit awakens us to this activity because even in its most challenging moments—it feels like play. 

This excitement is what I see in children, still. I see the adult they will turn into and those activities that bring them alive. I think the sadness of it all, is not that it exists in each of us—that is its gift— it is rather that so many of us ignore it, and feel the drive and perhaps obligation to do what makes most money, rather than allow our awareness to grab onto that one thing that makes us come alive. It isn’t easy that much I recognize. We wander around a bit, sometimes an entire lifetime, but when we arrive at that place that ignites us, inflames our heart, that is our happiness, our joy.

Perhaps it is a luxury of opportunity, yet I see it as an inner compulsion that we are unable to let-go of because it feels like play to us. It helps us to connect to ourselves. Our inner selves and if there is a luxury attached to it, it is the luxury of age, and having time to reflect, and give it breath in our lives. That play—perhaps not the actual play of our youth—but our attitude toward play, still exists in our lives as elders. I like to track it backwards now, see if I can guess what they did as a child, and see how it is reflected in their life today. Awesome stuff!   

Writing Practice: Remember a time when you were actively playing as a child where time seemed to disappear. Write from that standpoint; identify your feelings, thoughts, the activities themselves, and how your inner and outer landscapes altered, or didn’t, during the experience. If you can’t remember a specific feeling, or thought, imagine it as you re-tell the story. How does this reflect in your life today? Does it? If not imagine how it may have. Have fun with this; its play!


Summer’s Children – Part One

Summer's Children-2 copy

Summer is vital (we get to PLAY), energy is vital, combined there is no stopping us—any time of the year.

All we need is a simple unfoldment of time, experience with a dash of hutzpah then combine this with our know-how, open mind and our sense of curiosity—and in the words of my 98 year old former mother-in-law—bingo, bango. Her expression when something is complete or understood—my interpretation—you’ve got it, all is good, let’s do it, there you go… 

These six ingredients: time, experience, hutzpah, know-how, openness and curiosity individually or collectively give us the backbone to embrace our lives, the ups and downs and the ho-hums.

Last week I spent the day with two very wise elders’ also known and dubbed wrinklies by my elderly folks. As a boomer wrinkly myself, I am not insulted by either the name, or the implication. It’s true, wrinkles emerge. Reality is such, we are born, we die and it is what is done in the in-between times that can change the world, for better or worse, and that is a choice we make in each moment of our life, knowingly, or unknowingly slowly, at the same rate as our wrinkles surface. They are the indicators of time and a life lived fully. They are the contours that represent our journey.

One woman, born in Holland was nine-years old during the occupation of WW2, the other was born on the coast of Nova Scotia. One travelled over a mountain pass with a baby in a hand carved papoose on horseback to the back country with her Park Warden husband with four months’ supply of food; the other lived in the States, Mexico, Montreal each time following her husband in his work, learning the language, raising the family and adapting to the cultures. One became a well accomplished wood carver, the other a well-rounded pianist. Both hold the keys of engagement in a life well-lived, well-embraced and well-balanced.

Recipe copy

Writing Practice: What is your recipe for a good life? What are your six main ingredients? Play with it; bring joy into the experience. Create a visual representation of your recipe. Tack it on a fridge, on a mirror. Smile at it, embrace its sentiment. If your recipe alters, change it, write another. The choice is all-ways yours!