#continuouspractice – A month and a half in {with a message}

20150124_135956000_iOSAs I mentioned last time I wrote, I’m participating in #continuouspractice with Saundra Goldman this year. Today was day 46 (of 365), and I thought I’d check in briefly.

The top question I’ve been asked is where I get my prompts. I’ve kept a writing prompt notebook for the past 8-9 years, collecting lines and phrases from others’ writings, books, poetry, songs… any turn of phrase that captures my attention at the time. Natalie Goldberg has suggested keeping a running list in the back of your journal, as a way to jump start your brain/writing any time you need it.

I’ve also been noting how interesting it is to show up for the exact same practice – just about every day (I’ve missed two days so far) – to see how it is that *I* change through the course of practice. How these twenty minutes sometimes are a fight, sometimes a wide open space to see where my brain is. Sometimes, it’s fiction; sometimes, it’s the past; sometimes, it’s the future. Always, it’s something that needs to pour through me.

Today, I went for a self-date to Barnes and Noble. I had already done my writing practice, but I wanted to work on a draft of a blog post for a friend’s blog. And I wrote. It was a stop-start beginning, but I started just writing, getting out of my own way. And, toward the end? Toward the end, it felt like words were pouring through me. They were not of me – but they came through me. I needed to hear some of it; perhaps someone else out there does, too?

Voices rising into a song of truth, fire and ice, burning away the unnecessary, freezing the stereotypes that we might join in collective smashing – burn it all down, forget whatever they say is “normal” and acceptable, allow truth to reside in your heart, show up for yourself, let the transmissions flow through, don’t shut your voice down, know there is possibility in it all.

You don’t need to center your chakras, or keep calm, or listen to everyone else’s voices to hear your own. You need to write that story, you need to tell your truth, show up for what matters. Allow it all to spill on the page, with abandon, without caution. Let yourself simmer in the truth, let yourself see what is truly there, and then release it. Do not hold too tightly, because none of this is yours. This is all truth. Find your way home. Know you’re home now. Know your truth is valuable, necessary, rich. Show up. Show up. Show up. Allow yourself the chance to heal, because you are worth it.

In deepest gratitude for this gift.

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Weekend Treats

So, with my intentional Facebook use, I find I’m on a whole lot less. Which means that I don’t always see the links shared there (which is one of my favorite, though rabbit-hole, parts of social media). Most of these were pulled from my Bloglovin’ feed, which I have trimmed down tremendously. If there is a blog you think I would love, leave a comment (yes, even [especially] if it’s yours).

Links of the Week

When Too Much is Also Not Enough by Mara Glatzel
Yes, there’s always at least one post from Mara. It’s because she hits the nail on the head, each and every time. (What would be your first step to return to yourself? Such a powerful question.)

What if Your Passion Becomes a Chore by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
This really spoke to me, especially as I (still) sometimes beat myself up about not teaching contemplative writing, etc. But, recognizing that my passion was in a different space gives much more space (and compassion).

To Be White and Reckon with the Death of Michael Brown by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
A call to White folk to keep unpacking your knapsack of privilege and what that means.

Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter by Jamie Utt at Everyday Feminism
A powerful look at why saying “I didn’t intend to hurt someone” isn’t a valid excuse… and some possibility of what to do.

Living the Subtle by Miriam Hall at inside space
This: “That’s the kind of subtlety I am talking about. Seeing the whole picture, watching, looking back with wide eyes and open glances, with as little blame as possible to see how we arrived here.”

Praying for My Life by Mara Glatzel
How do you measure success in your life? What does it mean to you? Again, powerful questions.

What You Really Mean When You Say “I’m Not Motivated” by Laura Simms at Create as Folk
A powerful reframe of motivation, as well as a gentle kick in the pants to do what is important.

The Creamy Kung Foo of of Writing True Stories by Laurie Wagner at 27powers
A reminder to me about the power of stories to create community and reflection.

Open for Business! by Heather at Heather since November
A lovely ode to what makes our art OUR art and why we must do it. Also? Her jewelery is beautiful. Take a peek at the shop!

An Announcement, an Experiment, and a Contest by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Talkin’ about quests, their importance, and a fun contest (contest entry ends Sunday at midnight PST)

9/11 Thoughts by M. Fenn at skinnier than it is wide
Some of the words M. Fenn wrote in 2001 about 9/11; haunting in how they still ring true today.

Reboot or Die Trying by David Roberts at Outside
Powerful powerful experiment of going offline, socially, for a year.

Healing Self-Doubt by Tara Brach
Powerful dharma talk about self-doubt from last fall. An hour long, but so worth it.

Why One Life Hack Can Change Everything by Tamara Star at elephant journal
A really interesting look at the phrase “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Gave me some food for thought.

Musical Interlude

This is becoming my anthem for when I feel worthless, when I feel like there is nothing that I can give that is worth anything. A way to bring me back to myself.

Weekend Treats

Hunh, I had this saved, but not yet set to publish, because I hadn’t completed it. Here I am, two weeks later. Enjoy. (And, at this point, the blogs I follow on Bloglovin’ currently.)

Links to Share

White Supremacy & Fear: The Cracks In America’s Foundation No One Will Fix by Addye B at Butterfly Confessions
Deeply rattling, because of its deep truth and deep challenge to White America. So freaking powerful.

Brave by Anna Meade at if i had a voice…
A reminder that brave is not just about jumping willy-nilly into things.

Loosening the Tether of Perfectionism: A Note to my Younger Self by Mara Glatzel
This… so many times over.

Welcome the People by Mandy Stewart, writing at the Secret Rebel Club
A beautiful reminder of each person’s worth.

Voice Lessons by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
Reminders that sometimes, shrinking into nothing isn’t the plan. There’s more to it.

I Will Stand by Bethany at Midwife of Words
A deep reflection of empathy, right here.

Living with Intention by Mara Glatzel
Looking at the question of “What do I want from this life?” A hard, necessary question.

#AugustMoon14: Set an Intention by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray
A beautiful follow up to Mara’s post above, about being clear on our intentions and claiming then… even when we may not see it at first.

The Spiritual Art of Saying No by Courtney E. Martin at On Being with Krista Tippett (Blog)
This sends shivers down my spine each time I visit it. It’s helping me learn to cope with not being able to do everything.

This is Your Brain on Silence by Daniel A. Gross on Nautilus
A great reminder as we head into the latter part of the year, which tends to be stressful in so many ways.

In the Aftermath of Ferguson, Stay Angry and Stay Woke by Kara Brown from Jezebel
Reminders that Ferguson is one incident that, sadly, is not uncommon. It’s vital to stay woke.

Blessing for the Jaded Healer by Brandy Walker at brandyglows
This speaks to my heart, and is something I need to bookmark for when the going gets tough.

Musical Interlude

This is probably one of my favorite songs by Florence and the Machine. I have never seen this movie, nor really know anything about it. But Florence Welch’s voice? Gah. Gets me in the gut every time. (Drumming Song made its own visit more than a year ago. It’s worth a revisit, if you’re so inclined.)

Waxing, waning: Honoring my own process

School has begun. In all honesty, it started about two weeks ago with getting geared up at my graduate assistantship, with leaving my part-time job, with my new internship orientation. All signs pointed to the beginning.

And I looked honestly at my life and realized that there are so many ways that I lose time – through Facebook, through randomly surfing the web. I realized that one of the things I need to be this coming term is much more focused. In face, that’s kind of a meditation word for me right now. Honing myself in on what it is I am pursuing and what it takes to do that. (One of the posts I will share in tomorrow’s Weekend Treats has really spoken to me: The Spiritual Art of Saying No. Good stuff.)

Focus in on the goal(s). What is my intention? What is my focus?

It’s meant looking at my own patterns and learning to do things a little differently. I deleted Facebook off of my phone and iPad. I have logged out of Facebook on my laptop and have a complicated password I have to look up any time I want to log on. My time on Facebook is now becoming more intentional than it was before. I have started cutting down on the number of people I follow in Instagram.

It’s amazed me how much time and space has opened up. How I’m trying to trust my own voice and intuition, rather than seeing what’s most popular on my feed. It’s meant less wandering around the internet, but when I do? It’s more intentional. It’s more focused.

I’m entering a new phase of life – personally, professionally. I am learning to stand in my own power – my own intuition, my own knowledge – and trust that. This is part of the unfolding this year holds for me. I am not unwilling to hear others – I am less likely to brook bullshit, in some ways. I am more willing to make waves – even a little bit – which is huge for me.

There is a shift, and part of that is recognizing my work patterns and my world has a rhythm that I want to learn to listen to. That rhythm includes this space. Because I want to learn to balance Everything Ever… and yet, I have to be able to be present in ways that are fulfilling and encouraging my work – not detracting from it.

So, in that turn – I will not be on Facebook (personally or through V+R) much. I will blog when I feel it’s appropriate and in service. My intention is to give my all when I show up… and allow things to rest when I can.

Leaning into the waxing and waning of this life, and embracing it, rather than fighting it.

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The power of story: Drawing in or drowning

Over the past few days, I’ve been diving into Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, after a requisite reread of The Shining. (NB: Doctor Sleep follows one of the main characters from The Shining.) Diving in as in having a hard time putting in down to do what I need to do – make dinner, get out of the door to make a lunch date with a friend of mine.

fca6410e73713976eef90ae0f3a3a911While I was driving to said lunch date, I was thinking about storytelling, as I am wont to do, and realizing… the power of storytelling isn’t just in giving us voice. It has the power to draw us in – show us new things about our world, give us new perspectives, or put our lives into a perspective we may not have been able to see before. Stories allow us the opportunity to be seen, as well. (More on that later this week.)

The other power that storytelling has is to serve as places we drown in… As a bibliophile, and as someone who likes to stick her head in the sand when she doesn’t want to deal with something, stories written by others have often served as a way to drown. In those times, I compulsively reach for more (usually fiction), devouring it and then moving on to the next one. There is no absorption, there is no thinking about how this may expand my perception of the world.

In the past few years, I’ve come to realize this tendency to drown in stories, rather than allow them to draw me in and learn from it.

What does this matter, honestly? Isn’t fiction for fun? Isn’t it just mind candy? I guess, for me, the answer is more complicated than yes or no.

It’s both.

One of the ways I am trying to learn stay awake is to learn the ways I fall asleep at the wheel of this life. How do I numb out, rather than be drawn into my life, so that I may stand in my own truth and allow myself to be fully present? I think about Natalie Goldberg and the writing practice that I am drawn back to, time and again. The line I’m thinking about is in reference to not identifying with one’s own work, but … perhaps it is relevant here.

Don’t identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture. (from Writing Down the Bones)

Good writing allows me to see my world through awake eyes, when I am drawn into storytelling, moments those writers were awake, too. Good writing also has the power to allow me to drown, just be swallowed into world and fall asleep (bad writing can do the same thing, but that’s another post all together).

That is the power of good writing. And it’s part of my responsibility as a writer and a human being to stay awake enough to be drawn into this world, to witness others’ moments and to share my own.