Wishing for a Dip in the Creative Pool

“If you think of the universe as a vast electrical sea in which you are immersed and from which you are  formed, opening to your creativity changes you from something bobbing in that sea to a more  fully functioning, more conscious, more cooperative part of that ecosystem.

[. . .]

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.” (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

Today my wish may seem personal, because of my own dreams of becoming  a published author along with other creative aspirations. However, this wish goes beyond the personal because of some things I believe. I believe that there is energy that joins all life. I believe in a common pool of thoughts, experiences, and ideas–creative sparks–that some are able to access better than others. That pool contains the essence of creation. I believe that everyone has access to that creative pool, but some have cut themselves off and denied their own creative souls. I believe everyone is creative, although creativity takes different forms and is expressed in different ways.

I believe that living a creative life makes life worth living.

This doesn’t mean  that every person needs to be an artist or a writer in a traditional sense. It means that I wish for everyone to be able to access the power from that creative pool in order to enrich their lives. I wish  for everyone to be able to touch their inner child–for children are much closer to this creative energy–or dip into their hidden dreams to embrace their bliss beyond the day-to-day exercise of living.

I wish that everyone had the opportunity to swim in that creative pool, because I also believe that if we can recognize the things that connect us, we can find new answers to the problems that plague us. We will be less afraid of things that are different from us, because we will see  difference is another form of creativity, another expression of meaning drawn from this pool of energy that joins us.

“Why should we all use our creative power . . . ? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” (Brenda Ueland)

Sometimes I ask myself why I keep writing everyday. Why, when it seems like I will never break through to sell an actual book or to have my words read by more than a handful of people, do I keep trying? Why do I have pages and pages of creative writing, of short stories, of novel starts, of poetry, of journal entries, of essays that will never see the light of day?

The answer is  simple, writing is my way of accessing the energy within the pool, energy that connects me with all life.

There have been rare occasions when I so completely lose myself into the pool that I hardly know  the words that come out. Someone, something, some form of energy pours through me to write something that is beyond me,  even though it contains my words and my style. I love when that happens. I love when I lose myself to the flow of energy, of creativity and of words, and never notice the passage of time.

Some of my best work comes out of those moments. Some of my best blog posts have come out of those moments. For example, this piece of fiction entitled The Moon Calls.

Sometimes my dip into the creative pool leads me away from words and into directions I never expect.

The Storyteller

Today I wish that everyone would be able to experience the power of this creative pool and recognize what it really means . . . simply that we are all connected by the power of creation.

Who is ready to jump into the pool and go for a swim?

 

Wishing for Internal Harmony

I bet you thought my next wish would be for world peace.

I don’t want to waste birthday wish  magic on something that, at our present stage, is impossible. It’s not that I don’t want some kind of peaceful resolution to the conflicts that plague us, but that I simply don’t believe that humankind has developed enough to be able  to overcome our innate greed, protectiveness, war-like sensibilities, or our desire to define ourselves by an “us and them” mentality.

On an individual basis, however, I believe we can work toward peace and harmony. I believe that peace begins within. If individuals have confidence in who they are, what they believe, and where they fit in this world without trying to force those same thoughts and beliefs onto others, then they have taken a step toward creating a more peaceful world.

Today another good friend is celebrating her birthday. Tanya is an amazing woman who impresses me with her own inner confidence and  faith in herself. I wouldn’t describe her as peaceful (she’s more like lightning contained in a bottle), but her inner peace always gives me hope. So today I borrow from her birthday wish magic to wish for internal harmony for all.

Tanya and her son Eli two years ago, finding peace in the pool.

Tanya and her son Eli two years ago, finding peace in the pool.

This wish actually comes from reading a comment on my post yesterday, a comment that made me ask some serious questions about myself. Am I too close minded when it comes to religious extremists? Do I practice what I preach when it comes to not trying to force my opinion onto others?

The comment refers to a post I wrote a long time ago called “Hell is Living in the Bible Belt” where I express my disdain for the religious road signs that dot  the highways throughout Kansas and Indiana. I re-read my own post to ask myself these difficult questions. In the post I say that I believe in freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion. I also say that I envy people who have true faith because I’m not sure what I believe. In reality, I have no problem with the signs that say things like “Trust Jesus” or “Jesus is  love” or contain actual quotes from his words.

I have more of a problem with signs that say “If you don’t find Jesus you will burn in the  boiling fire pits of hell for all eternity!!!!!!” (Okay, I never saw a sign with those exact words, but you know what I mean).

I find those signs especially unappealing when hurtling  down  the highway in a machine. (Did I mention that Nathan, Sarah and I had a very near miss the other day, when an  accident  happened right next to us?)

I have the same problem when a fellow Jew tells me that I am not Jewish enough if I don’t ___________. In other words, I have no problem with people believing what they believe and talking about what they believe, but I do have a problem with being cursed or told I’m going to hell or told I am inferior because I do not believe the same thing.

I try not to do that with my own words.

Today a friend posted this on Facebook.

The message against bullying is one that I believe. I don’t think its right to make fun of others. I don’t think its right to make jokes about others. I don’t think its right to judge others based off of one aspect of their personality or appearance. However, I wouldn’t share this post on Facebook because of the last line. Telling someone they will be heartless if they don’t share the post is bullying.

Telling someone they are going to hell if they have doubts or don’t believe the same thing as you do, is bullying and threatening.

Telling someone that their love is going to damn everyone simply because you believe it is sinful, is bullying, and threatening, and unfair.

What does all of this have to do with inner harmony or peace? I think that believing in something is important. Having a moral compass and following  it with confidence is priceless. Having faith  in yourself and your thoughts and dreams is invaluable. However, if you feel the need to push those beliefs on someone else in order to validate them, then you have not achieved inner peace or harmony.

I suppose that simply writing about these things could be seen as an act of trying to push my beliefs onto someone else. Or teaching about arts and  theatre and their value to society could be seen as trying to validate my own belief system.

The difference lies in expectations. I don’t expect my words to change people’s minds or thoughts. I don’t expect everyone to leave my classroom passionate advocates for the arts. I do hope that my words or my lessons encourage people to think, or question, or wonder.

I don’t ask people  to think the way I think in order to be my friend or to achieve some specific goal in the after life. I don’t say “If you think differently than I,  then I will not talk to you, tolerate you, or have anything to do with you.”

Inner peace comes from the  ability to say, “I believe this, they believe something different. Their belief doesn’t hurt me, my belief doesn’t hurt them. That is all.”

Now, I’m not saying I’ve achieved this inner peace. If I had, I wouldn’t have worried about the comment on my post, or worry at all about what other people think of me. I would just be who I am.

That is why I make this wish today. I wish for all of us to achieve inner harmony. To find that place inside ourselves where we can be content with who we are without trying to change anyone else or justify our beliefs on the backs of someone else. Only through that could we ever hope for world peace.

 

 

Wishing for Equality

Today I choose to use Birthday Wish power on the big issue of the day:

Marriage Equality!!!

I choose to write about this today because today is the birthday of another wonderful woman/blogger/friend, Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizon. She is also one of the few bloggers whom I have met live and in person.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy's post about the experience. Click on the image to read that post.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy’s post about the experience.

Kathy and her partner Sara are two  of the most amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women I’ve ever met, and I have met a lot of amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women.

They are also one of the most loving and supportive couples I’ve ever known.

Kathy and Sara

They, and so many like them, deserve to marry if they wish.

So today I choose to use the power of birthday wishes, tapping into the power of Kathy’s birthday, to wish that the Supreme Court recognizes that equality for all doesn’t mean equality for only the people who look/think/act/love and behave like one group who wants to define and control everyone else.

Equality for all looks like equality, plain and simple.

How to (Not) Annoy a Jewish Teenager ( WCGU)

I haven’t joined Julia’s 100 Word Challenge for Grownups in a while, but I thought I would this week. Check  out the challenge and read other participants by linking  on this image.

  1. Make Passover her favorite Jewish holiday, including special plates and the chance to eat Kosher for Passover cake for breakfast (the only time cake for breakfast would be allowed). Make all of her favorite foods. Fill the house with matzah.
  2. When she is in high school, schedule musical technical and dress rehearsals so they coincide with Passover. Be sure to bring lots of chocolate Easter candy to entertain the cast. Make her wonder why it must be Passover as she keeps looking at all of that chocolate.
  3. Bring  her a box of chocolate covered Matzah.

Click the image for a link to kosherkindom.com’s recipe for chocolate covered matzah.

Dear World . . . Using the power of Birthday Wishes

It’s still my birthday month, plus today is the fabulous Andra Watkins’ birthday, which multiplies the power of birthday wish magic in immeasurable amounts, so I have a few birthday wishes I’d  like  to share.

But wait, you say . . . if I share the wishes then they won’t come true. The wishes I want to share aren’t my personal, private wishes, but wishes that affect many other people. So maybe, if other people agree with my wishes and we all use the power of wishing and birthday magic together, some of the wishes come  true.

So let’s blow out some candles, find a falling star, and make a wish or two for the good of all:

There's powerful birthday wish magic in Andra's decadent looking dessert.

There’s powerful birthday wish magic in Andra’s decadent looking dessert.

 

Wish #1: Educational Sanity

“Whimper, whimper, whimper.”

I pull myself out of my hard-won deep sleep (after a 3 hour bout of insomnia) to the sound  of my daughter whimpering as she crawled into my bed for a  morning snuggle.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?”

She buried under the covers moaning and mumbling something.

“What? I don’t understand?”

“I’m not ready for MCAS long essay. I wish we didn’t move here. I wish I went to school where I didn’t have to take  these tests.”

“These tests are everywhere Sarah. You’ve taken them everywhere, they are  just more emphasized this year.”

“But Massachusetts is in the name of the test.”

“Well, yes, but every state has these stupid tests. That’s the problem. I just want you to do your best and not worry about it. These tests mean nothing about you as a student.”

“I feel like I’m going to fail.”

“I’ll be proud of you if you just try. I don’t care  about these tests. They have nothing to do with you and everything to do with a broken education system.”

“I’ll try, Mommy. I’ll try.”

Okay, so maybe this wish is a little personal. My heart breaks when I see my daughter losing the joy of learning to her stress over achieving some mandatory score on a mandatory test that proves nothing than the fact that these kids know how to take tests. They aren’t learning how to think, to be creative, to challenge themselves . . . they are learning how to take tests.

I wish for a complete education overhaul that does not treat education like a business and teachers like servants who only win rewards if they prove numerically that students are improving, when we all know learning can’t always be proven by graphs and charts. I wish for an education system that embraces creative learning, challenges and questions societal norms, and incorporates all the things I’m passionate including learning through the arts.

Does anyone else wish for some educational sanity?

Wish #2: Governmental Sanity

Okay, since I’m already wishing for the impossible,  I might as well wish for the ultimate impossibility of  a sane and functioning government here in the United States. I am probably naive. I simply do not understand why greed and hatred have such a powerful hold over officials who are supposedly elected to represent the will of  the people. I don’t understand why a body of people can continue to get paid and not fired when they aren’t doing their jobs. I don’t understand why 1/4 of 1/3 of the government (as in 1/2 of the congress which is only one half of one branch of the government) has held us hostage for so  long and can demand unrealistic cuts in the name of more money for the richest few in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal, and get away with it. I don’t understand why we are still fighting for equality for women in 2013. I don’t understand why immigration is such as an issue in a land full of one time immigrants.

I don’t understand anything. I feel we are being ruled by insanity lately, although I must say that some of the people I know who are labelled as “insane” or “crazy” would make wiser choices than many of our elected officials.

It’s a simple wish, bring some sanity back before the US. government destroys everything.

More wishes to come . . . 

I don’t want to overwhelm you with my long list of “soapbox” birthday wishes, but I will explore more for  the next few days, until my birthday month is officially over (although I am actually celebrating into April when I go to my birthday concert so maybe the wishes will continue).

If you knew the power of birthday wishes or any wishes would work, what would you wish for to make this world a better place?

Dark Reality and My Writing Journey

The young girl lay in her bed under a dusty rose comforter with delicate white flowers. Stuffed animals graced the sides of her bed, while extra blankets folded over her feet made her feel safe and  secure whenever she fell asleep. The early morning sun began to sneak in through the window over her bed, despite the curtains pulled across to block out the light. 

The girl clutched her covers around her. She had been awake for  a while now, before the golden light seeped into the room. Despite the beauty of the morning, she didn’t want to turn her head toward the empty bed across the room–deserted by her older sister when she left for college a few weeks before. She wasn’t afraid of the empty bed, but of what she had seen on and  around that bed upon waking up. 

I can’t look. What if they’re still there? She knew she had to look. It must have been a dream. I imagined it.

She turned her head.

It wasn’t a dream. She saw the bodies piled on her sister’s bed–emaciated bodies with dark circles underneath dead eyes and bald heads. Next to them was an even bigger pile of skulls and other bones  in a jumble. 

She wanted to scream but couldn’t find the breath.

She stared in shock for several long minutes, rubbing her eyes and blinking in the hopes that the nightmare would end. She couldn’t find her voice to call out for help.  After what felt like a long fifteen minutes the image shifted. The piles turned into the reality of her bedroom. The bodies turned into pillows and clothes she had put on her sister’s bed. The bones turned into knickknacks and collectibles on her sister’s bedside table.

She was back into reality, but she knew it wasn’t a dream.Dusty rose bedspread

***

A few days ago I mentioned how the mini-series The Holocaust helped me recognize the power of words. In a comment on that post the fabulous Kathy mentioned how the Holocaust influenced her desire to become a writer. Kathy’s words and images on Lake Superior Spirit never fail to inspire me and give me moments of peace, so we are all blessed by the fact that she found inspiration in the horror.

As did I, but I’ve also found challenges because of it. For you see, that little girl under the rose-pink bedspread was me. That vision or hallucination or glimpse at memory was mine, and I was wide awake.

The miniseries sparked a sort of fascination within me, where I wanted to learn more and understand more about how such horror could happen, how mankind could be so cruel based on things so invisible and meaningless–differences in culture, in belief, in race. I became a voracious reader of Holocaust literature, starting with The Diary of Anne Frank and moving up to more mature and adult fare. (I was a very advanced reader). I talked with Mrs. Sekler, my Hebrew School teacher and the  only person I knew who had the blue numbers etched into her arm.

Until the day I saw the bodies and the bones.

I told my parents what happened,  and they said I had to stop reading Holocaust literature. They said it was probably a dream, fueled by the books. So I stopped until I was an adult and could handle it again.

What does this have to do with my writing journey?

I know my biggest flaw as a writer, if I want to make it as a successful author of fiction, especially YA/NA, I need to be willing to write darker material. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of eerie or creepy pieces, and my characters often have a dark side. They aren’t always flitting with fairies and riding on rainbows. However, I could never have written The Hunger Games because I can’t get myself to write about young people killing young people. I can’t write the descriptive and violent darkness found  in so many successful books these days.

I’m blocked when it comes to that stuff.

Yet, in a world where this cruelty exists every day, in blatant and subtle forms, I have to confront my own inability. I live in a country where a loud and powerful minority want to maintain their flimsy and mostly imagined supremacy by limiting the rights of others to things like healthcare, marriage, control of their own bodies, and the right to worship as they please. How is that different from the desire  to have a “Master Race”? I live in a world of rape-culture where the victims get blamed and the rapists get glorified. I live in a world where people are murdered by guns, while others cling to their rights to have weapons built only for the purpose of killing lots of people as quickly as possible. I live in a world where women are tortured and brutalized every day for reasons as meaningless as the desire to become educated. I live in a world where people are still judged by the color of their skin, the way they worship, the language they speak, or the way they dress.

I live in a cruel world.

If I want to become  the writer I dream to be, I need learn how to write about that world, in the  voice of that world. I need to embrace the possibility of seeing the darkness, the violence,  the pain with my own waking eyes, and then combating it with the power of my words.

This is my challenge to myself. This is my writing journey.

Celebrating the Craziness

I have been unable to continue the celebration for the past few days (week) due to the unexpected demise of my computer which lead to the unintentional (but necessary) purchase of a new one and the wait for it to get loaded and things like that.

All of this happened, of course, just two weeks after  the unexpected demise of a car and the  unintentional (but necessary) purchase of a new one.

In other words, just when I thought we were back on track financially, craziness ensued. So today, as the final entries in my list of 45 things to celebrate about my life, I have decided to celebrate some of the craziness.

36. The crazy day my Mom sprinted across the airport to get my wallet/purse to me on a plane, back in the  days when an O.J. Simpson-like sprint through the airport was allowed, and Simpson himself wasn’t a criminal. For the long version of this story read, Telling My Own Story . . . it Begins.

37. The crazy day in Japan which started with  me in a kimono learning tea ceremony, and ended with me dancing in the arms of a man dressed as a woman under the watchful eye of the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). For the long version of  this story read A Strange Day in Japan.

38. The crazy 10-day canoe trip during the time I was getting my MFA at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I mentioned that I had taken some courses in puppetry, which inspired the leader of the trip  to challenge the group to create sock puppets and perform in the middle of nowhere. Each person had to create a sock puppet of another member of the group. Truly bizarre.

Photo by Steve Kramer

Photo by Steve Kramer

39. The crazy fact that in the first seven years of our relationship (5 dating, 2 married) Nathan and I never spent a full year together, as one  or the other of us traveled or lived in other places. Even now, we spend about a month apart or more each year.

40. The crazy fact that, despite multiple moves and yard sales related to those moves, I cannot let go of boxes of books that I’ve gathered over the years,  some of which I’ve never read. I really need to let them go.

41.The crazy fact that, other than Canada, Nathan and I have never gone to another country together despite all of our separate travels, multiple journeys to Hawaii, and dreams of travel.

42. Related to number 41, the reality that every time we (or I) had an interesting opportunity to travel internationally, life would come crashing down on us making it impossible for me to go. Goodbye trip to Russia. Goodbye trip to Ecuador. One of these days.

43. I sleep with stuffed animals. Enough said.

44.My hair has a crazy mind of its own, curling one day, straight the next, and taking over the world another time.

45. Last, but not least. Me, Myself and I!

picture003

Celebrating Words

I believe that I am now on #35 of my Celebrating 45 list. Peppered throughout the list you will see my love of reading/writing/and language of all sorts.

Today, I want to celebrate the importance of words in my life. It has taken me a long time to admit this. I still blush or stumble when I try to claim it in person, but here goes . . .

I am a writer!!!

My love of words goes beyond written language. I love hearing and seeing language used with power and flexibility. I am addicted to Podcasts and TED talks, where master’s of the arts of writing and speaking fascinate their audiences with perfect phrasing, eloquent language, and an ability to manipulate language for sound and meaning A memorable phrase that lives beyond the moment of reading or hearing it, gives me chills. I thrill in those rare and wonderful moments when my own words–through some source outside myself–come together to create that indescribable perfection of consonants, vowels, and phrasing.

I just finished reading Don’t Let Me Go  by Catherine Ryan Hyde (excellent book with wonderful characters and plot that makes you want to know more).  Two sentences of hers made me yell (in my mind) “That’s it!!!”:

“Hard work can sometimes substitute for natural ability, but natural ability almost never makes up for not being willing to do the work.” (pg. 149)

“Sorry doesn’t mean shit. Not if you don’t plan to stop doing the thing you’re so sorry about. There has to be more to amends than just a word.” (pg. 406)

However, this post isn’t about celebrating other people’s words, as fabulous as they may be.

This is about celebrating words in my own life.

In 1978, when I was 10 years old,  I sat mesmerized and terrified by the television mini-series The Holocaust. 

This was in the midst of my own Hebrew School years, and the crucial years leading up to my Bat Mitzvah. Although I have since lost some of the religious beliefs, being a Jew was (and to some extent still is) an important aspect of my life at that time.

At a Hebrew School meeting after the series aired, the Rabbi met with all the classes to discuss what we had seen. I raised my hand and said, “It made me scared to be a Jew, but prouder than ever to be a Jew.”

On Saturday morning (I’m told–I would have been at the children’s service if I was there) the Rabbi used my words as part of his reflection during the service. This was the moment that I became aware that the right choice of words–even when you don’t know that they are the right words–can be magical, powerful and reach beyond the pages or the circumstances where they’ve been created.

My journey through writing started in school, with my first poems written in 1st grade along with a puppet play. My first book was a collection of poems and short stories that I hand-lettered and illustrated as a project in sixth grade, for another fabulous teacher who influenced my life named Mrs. Jorgensen. My first published work was a poem written bout a piece of art in a museum, that then got placed into some kind of literary magazine someone put out.

I have numerous starts and starts of stories, novels, poems etc. scattered throughout journals and gathered in three-ring binders. Throughout my life I’ve found solace and friendship in words, probably more than anyone even knew. Because of this it makes sense to me that when life began to fall apart around me (for reasons I won’t go into here) I turned to words–writing my first real book, joining a book club, and creating  a small writing group. The two women from that writing group convinced me to take the step into a then unknown world, the one of blogging. Over 756 posts (spread across several blogs) and thousands if not millions of words later, my life is filled with words. Some of them sing with the beauty I yearn for, but most of them are mundane and some are even cliché. However, words fill my life and sustain me, so a celebration of my life would not be complete without celebrating the words that fill it.

What are some of your favorite words? What quotes live on in your memory?

 

Celebrating the Actual Day

Happy pi day

Happy pi day (Photo credit: Lord Mariser)

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear me,
Happy Birthday to me!

I could write another long birthday post, but I won’t. I’ve already written birthday posts on this blog, never expecting my blog would survive this long. For past birthday posts visit:

I’ve gotten many lovely birthday wishes today. I also got a beautiful card from Nathan that made me cry . . . in  a good way. We don’t have major plans to celebrate today, partially because payday isn’t until tomorrow, and partially because my Tuesday-Thursday schedule wipes me out. I’m sure we’ll do something tomorrow.

Today we will probably eat some pie, because it is also Happy Pi Day!

One of the greetings that really tickled me today, even though it is a marketing thing as well, was that I got my own Google banner. 

Sometimes the small things make you feel special.

What do you do to celebrate your birthday? What should I do to celebrate mine?

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