Grounding

From the waist down, imagine your body like a tree trunk.  Grow your roots downward, down, down.  Let these roots sink into the very core of the earth.  Through this grounding cord, release what doesn’t serve you.  Bring up the healing energy of the earth through the soles of your feet, up through your legs and thighs to your tailbone.  Then, loop it down again through the grounding cord.  You are connected.  Overhead, stream down the light of the heavens through your crown chakra and downward through your central channel, downward once again through your grounding cord into the earth.  Align yourself and be in your own center.

Visualizations such as this one taught by Wendy De Rosa, author and teacher, are so helpful in claiming and reclaiming one’s inner balance in chaotic times.

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Writing poetry is another way to get grounded.  Poetry taps into the present.  What are you feeling?  What do you need?  Where are you NOW?  What are you doing NOW?  Poetry lends presence to something that needs your attention in the moment.

To be effective as a grounding tool for your thoughts and feelings,  you have to spend time with poetry.
I’ve noted this before–that haiku is a poetic form that invokes presence.  Each haiku stands alone–a complete expression.  Yesterday morning, I wrote these:

I wake to sunrise
Quail Ridge defined by treetops
Can I trust this day?

To be present now
To cut loose from old trauma
To see this sunrise.

Yesterday’s smoke gone
The body a lightning rod
Remember to ground

Treetops etch the sky
Grateful to see a far ridge
Breath is a wonder

Newly awake, I
feel the bittersweet uprise
of wordless feelings.

Bitter with the sweet
a favorite chocolate treat
I savor it now

There is no one way
To be a human being
There is you…and me

Accepting what is
I turn from yesterday–past.
Have I learned from it?

Writing Prompt:
How do you get grounded when there is chaos?
Is it working for you?
Have you tried the grounding technique above?
Have you tried poetry?
Share what you have learned about grounding.

How Introspective Are You?

Writers, one would surmise, are introspective people.  They witness things in their environment and within themselves.  They frequently process what they witness by writing it down.

Introspection:  “a reflective looking inward an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings” Webster’s Dictionary

According to the same dictionary, it’s about “self-examination, self-questioning, self-observation, self-searching, soul-searching”

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To elaborate on this, those who tend to be introspective do interface with their environment.  They go out into the world and have experiences.  It is then necessary for them to have downtime to process deeply in order to glean the lesson, meaning or the gem in what they have experienced.  Writing is one valuable  link to self-awareness and self-acceptance.  It enables integration.

As a writer, this introspection infuses the writing that you share publicly with truth bred of  inner work.

Does that make any sense?

We’re all unique.  I have friends who  extract information and learn very differently than I do.  There’s room for all of us, isn’t there, to be who we are?

Writing Prompt:
Be an observer of yourself in comparison to one other person.  Notice how you best process and integrate your experience.  Notice how the other person appears to process and integrate.  No judgment, only observation.  Write about it.

 

Cultivating Your Craft

In an earlier blog, I shared some crafting tools with you.

It is helpful for a writer to develop a love of crafting.  For me, this involves reading my work with both a critical (in the best sense of the word) and an astute eye.  It brings to the fore another type of creativity.  The sculptress in me comes forth.  There is a molding and modeling that involves checking the flow of my writing, the correctness of phrasing, the precise wording.

I like to think of this crafting as  that conversational process between me and my art of the moment, cultivating my piece.  Once I’ve got a poem, for instance, to the place where it says what it has to say, then I begin the serious cultivating.  I do the necessary weeding out of words, tangent ideas, letting go of extraneous fluff–the unnecessary editorializing, perhaps relinquishing the best line and the side shoots that belong in another poem.  I consider the shape of my poem on the page, punctuation (or not) and line endings.  I add in the precise words, the expansive and inclusive ideas, the culminating moment(s), the snap it shut conclusion.  And don’t forget the title.

To cultivate is to nurture and help grow into its optimal self. When you cultivate something, “you work to make it better.”  The word once referred only to crops that needed tending, “but the meaning has widened.  No matter what is being cultivated, the word implies a level of care that is reminiscent of gardening.  To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, an understanding of what is being cultivated, and a lot of patience.”  from Vocabulary.com

One other thing that occurs to me is when you’ve brought your piece to the point of saying “it’s done,” especially if you intend to put it out in the world, have a trusted and learned person read it.  Ask for the type of critique you desire from him or her.  Being able to share your work within the safety of a trusted writing circle is also a boon.

 

Grieve Deeply, Laugh Loudly

pic2We’ve heard this, right?  In order to feel the joy, you have to feel the sorrow.  If you shut off one part of yourself, you are shutting off being fully alive.  How you relate to your emotional life is going to affect your writing and creativity.

Poetry has been the greatest facilitator of the big emotions for me.  Journal writing and painting are close seconds.  I’ve learned that as I’m able to be present with an emotion, I then pass through that territory.  I come out the other side intact and a bit more integrated.

To be an effective writer, finding a way to say “I feel sad” without explicitly stating “I feel sad,” comes with practice.

Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2011.  My parents had died six months apart following several years of their decline and concurrent family disruption.

“I stopped at Burger Express.  It seemed like a burger was called for.  Single patty with cheese, no special sauce, no onions.  Yes to catsup.  Yes to small fries.  No book to read.  Waiting for my order.  Staring out at the falling snowflakes.  Staring out at nothing.  Squinting and staring at signs across the street.  Staring.  The wait person calls my number.  I take the red tray and head towards a little tucked-away table.  A man sitting at the counter asks “Are you going to share half of that with me?”  I recognize an acquaintance’s warm voice.  I stop to say hello and tell him that my Mom died last week.  I am telling everyone it seems.  Now, the cook, cashier and waitperson at Burger Express know too.  He is sorry.  His Dad died a year ago.  His Mom, 84, lives an hour south of here.  Everything is so tentative.  He gives me a big hug in his bear arms.  “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” He adds “Seriously.”  I thank him.  How I’d like to be held in strong arms for half a day.  I think that would really help.  It gets old, this wrapping my own arms around myself all the time.”

In this short excerpt, do you get a sense of my grief?  Did writing about this help me?  In some odd way, yes.  I wasn’t in denial of these feelings and I found refuge through writing these words.

WRITING PROMPT:
How do you write about the feeling of sadness?  Typically, this type of writing is only for you.  Do you allow yourself to fully express your sadness in writing, poetry or painting or any other creative outlet?

 

 

What Would You Fight For?

Have you become “comfortably complacent?”  It’s neither healthy nor desirable to operate from the survival, amygdala part of one’s brain most of the time–the fight/flight and survival instinct.  If your basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are met, then, what would you fight for?

Several years ago I watched a BBC film on the Marine Iguanas of the Galapagos Islands.  I wrote about it in my journal at the time…

“The Iguana is a vegetarian.  It was forced to overcome it’s fear and discomfort of the forceful ocean, to dive underwater, down and down, to find its food–a type of algae or plankton growing beneath the sea.  It feeds for no longer than ten minutes and then it has to surface as the freezing water temperatures are dangerous to this heat-loving animal.  As the iguana swims against the waves to reach the rocky shore, it is harassed by the sea lions who chase, pretense of attack and dodge and dart (cat and dog-style).  No easy journey to supply a life-sustaining need.  That’s what life in the wild is–meeting a basic need–what’s for lunch?”

 

 

Writing Prompt:
All of that said, I return to my initial question…and I ask myself this one too…in these tumultuous times, What would you fight for?  Take some time today to consider and write about it.

Enjoy your day.

Renascence

When I first read, Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay, I was dumbstruck.  Millay was about twenty years old when she wrote this epic poem.  It seemed to touch on so many things that I had experienced over the course of my life.  The first two stanzas follow:

Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay

“All I could see from where I stood

Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.”
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When I reread Renascence over ten years ago, I responded to the question “What binds you” in five pages of journal-type writing.  I titled it “Hemmed In.”  Reading this piece of my own writing ten years later, many things have changed and many things have remained the same.  It reminded me of one of those time capsule writings that you reopen all those years later and rediscover yourself in another time and perhaps another place.  And, I could respond to the same question again today and see where my writing goes.
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Writing Prompt:
Using the line “These were the things that bounded me,” write your own Renascence style poem (or prose).  Start with your physical surroundings.  What is in your immediate environment?  Expand your writing outwards and follow where you are lead.

“My name is love…”

“My name is love
supreme my sway
The greatest god
and greatest pain,
Air, earth, and seas, my
Power obey,
And gods themselves
must drag my chain.

In every heart my throne I keep,
Fear ne’er could daunt my
daring soul;
I fire the bosom of the deep
and the profoundest hell
control…”

from Don Quixote Part II
by Miguel de Cervantes

L O V E

Love.  It amazes me that we fall in love.  As if it were a puddle, pool or lake.  Do we trip and fall? Are we walking, unawares, and suddenly we’ve fallen in loveInto love?

Everyone writes about love at some point, right?  Do they?  Do you?  How do you define what seems ineffable?  Intangible.  And, has attached to it one’s particular perspective on the definition of what love is.

When you say “I love you,” what are you really saying?

In the quote above, Cervantes has personified love–made it into a person with great power.

This poem, written and read by Edna St. Vincent Millay, surprised me on many levels.

First, the quality and tone of her voice.  Secondly, I had not read this poem before…listening to it for the first time, I felt a certain trepidation–where was she going to land?  And, finally, hearing the conclusion, I felt deeply moved.

Contemplation:
A poem touches us because we fit the meaning to our experience.  Does this feel true to you?  When writing, how do you personify love?