Tuesday, March 26, 2019

“Boy Do I Have An Answer For You. Your first 15 Minutes Are Not Wasted.”

A comment from a fellow blog reader/writer:

“I was interested in how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?”

Okay, here goes. This is one of my favorite writing techniques. For those who have heard me speak of it, sorry to repeat myself, for those who haven’t, come, get on board.

This technique was coined by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist Way. It is writing your “Morning Pages.”

Writing Morning Pages is a mind dump.

Morning Pages are an exercise is to write out what’s on your mind, that junk that likes to cycle and recycle.

Morning Pages are those first pages writers used to crumple up and vigorously heave into the wastepaper basket. Now, with the keyboard, we are missing that satisfying crumbling and throwing, and I suppose ripping the paper out of the typewriter has a satisfying ring to it. Using the keyboard is the same sort of writing though, without the throwing or ripping. 

Writing your thoughts instead of allowing them to circle allows you to put a period at the end of a sentence. Our fingers get tired of writing the same old thing over and over. That’s punishment, like sending a kid to the blackboard to write out the error of their ways. 

So, write for those 15 minutes, all the junk you don’t want anyone to see. Keep them or delete them.

You’ll find that after writing those few minutes, that you have exhausted your mind’s ramble, and something of importance begins to worm its way in.

I look at those pages as a sort of meditation/cleansing. And it tells your muse you mean business.

After I heard that the simple act of writing longhand (cursive) brings forth creativity, I now think we ought to write our morning pages longhand, Probably compose that way as well. But, we probably won’t. It’s easier to type, as I am now doing.

Apparently, there is a mind/brain connection with the act of writing with a pencil or pen. The movement of the arm connects the brain somehow, it is a feedback system.

I believe so strongly in Morning Pages that I think non-writers ought to use them, specifically those individuals who will tell a story, then retell it, then tell it again. 

They have a mind loop.

I know they have a need to tell particular stories, for they have some latent emotional impact, often trauma. It’s a sort of Post Traumatic Syndrome. One psychologist commented, “Tell your stories as often as you want, but I think 10 times is enough.”

Put a period at the end of the sentence. 


Thursday, March 21, 2019


March 20, 2019

Oh, I missed it.

I was going to hit the first line of this post on 2:58 P.M the exact time of the equinox here in Eugene, Oregon.  And the exact time that the sun’s rays will land on the equator. However, I was distracted by a phone call, and now that moment is past.

Moments go like that.


Vernal Equinox photo taken from space. * (Day and night)

Well, I’ll notice what time the sun sets tonight, I hear it will be exactly (or nearly) 12 hours after it got up this morning. Today we will have equal light and dark, don’t know how that will affect us. Maybe it will help our serotonin/melatonin balance, or screw it up. I don‘t know which.

The chickens were affected by the length of daylight and began laying even before the great snow of the winter hit. So they are more in tune to the light that the temperature.  And now the daffodils are dressed in their spring yellow. And the purple crocuses that thought spring was here about a month ago, found that they had jumped the gun and ended up under eight inches of snow. They bounced back and are giving it a second go.

I love spring.

It’s my favorite time of the year. The flowers burst out, the silky leaves on the trees push themselves out of those winter sticks.

How do they do that?

And wonder of wonders, the peacock is back. He had been missing all winter. I was worried that something had happened to him. You know my peacock story—how one has appeared at three different houses before we moved into them. And a peacock in Junction City?  I would never have thought it.


Showing up again.

It makes me wonder about power animals.  Long ago, in a guided meditation, the peacock came to me as a totem animal. And when he—always a male—started showing up at soon-to-be-moved-in houses, (Riverside California, Marcola, Oregon, and Junction City, Oregon). it really made me wonder about the nature of reality.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

—William Shakespeare.

I didn’t intend to write about chickens and peacocks. However, my fingers took on a life of their own, and I had to tell you about our little farm.

It’s only one-third of an acre, but I have mentioned that we have four chickens, and one, Chick-a-Dee, the Margaretta drinking hen, has been free range for the past year since she lost her sister and became a pet. I finally made the choice, “Who do I please, her or me?”

Video of chick-a-Dee drinking a strawberry Margaretta,  photo taken by my daughter.

Chick-a-Dee is now off the back porch and into the chicken yard. My husband and I made a tube run connecting the two yards, so if there is any argument they can go to neutral corners.

And I have a clean back porch.

This morning, sitting in my car, drinking my latte’ before running errands, I began reading (again), The WAR of ART, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.  Read that book. That man is a genius.

It doesn’t matter if you are involved in some creative endeavor—but I suspect you either are or wish you were, for creativity abounds in people. And you’re a people.
Pressfield labels the enemy of creativity Resistance.

“Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine.” And we’re not alone in this resistance, many a fine fellow has bitten the dust.

Pressfield takes the audacious approach to ask: “How many of us have become addicts, drunks, developed tumors, and neurosis, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell-phone used, simply because we don’t do the thing that our hearts, our inner genius is calling us to?”

His belief is such that if suddenly we all took the step to pursue our dreams, every shrink would be out of business, prisons would be empty, alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, junk food would be not more, as well as cosmetic surgery, infotainment business, pharmaceutical companies, domestic abuse, and dandruff.

Resistance hits us if we begin a new entrepreneurial business, start a new diet, a new spiritual practice, an exercise regime, the decision to get married, acquire more education, rid ourselves of some unworthy pattern, or to take a stand for something we believe in--to name but a few.

Resistance acts with the indifference of rain.

Fear feeds it.

Master the fear and we conquer Resistance.

Wow, I have to get busy. I have been resisting collecting data for our taxes.

Plunge in, I’ll see you on the other side.

*This geostationary operational environmental satellite image (GOES) East image was captured on March 20, 2019, at 8 a.m. ET prior to the equinox. (Photo courtesy NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS))Marc

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Wisdom Seekers

Today I’m picking up the talking stick.

In a little while, it will go to someone else--maybe you.

In the warmth of the campfire, we can tell our secrets. We can share our dreams. 

There while holding the stick, we cannot be argued with, interrupted, or ridiculed. 

The talking stick gives us time, and a platform to say our piece. 

Others may disagree with our statements, that’s okay, they will have their turn.

After a while we see each other for who we are—we are The Wisdom Seekers.

You know that the talking stick is a Native American practice. It’s a physical item, a decorated stick that gives the one holding it the right to talk. 

The others do not interrupt, make snide comments, or argue. After the first speaker is complete the stick passes to the next person who wishes to use it.

I saw the stick lying on the floor this morning vibrating as though it had been attached to an electrical wire. 

Yet, as I, with a quivering hand, picked up the stick I wondered if I would be thrown out of the group. I feared ridicule and laughter. You don’t know what you’re talking about some might say. You’re crazy, says another. 
Wait, you will have your turn. 

I know I’m not crazy. I know that there is a truth buried deep within me from old times, from ancient cultures, from present teachers, and from my own experience.

It is our duty to share what we have gained from the privilege of living on this beautiful planet.  (I am in awe. If you don’t value this planet watch “This Strange Rock,” on Netflix, and see how our earth is fighting for us daily.)

We have a duty to teach what we know and to counter the negative bias that permeates all of us as human beings.

You know how anything negative sticks like Velcro to Velcro. 

We can have one hundred positive comments aimed at us, but let one negative slip in and what sticks?

The negative!

The world preys on negativity daily. It feeds us with danger, with stories of war or rumors of more war, murder, someone falling or getting trapped, animal harmed, the atmosphere in danger, the ozone leaving, asteroids crashing into us, and the sun swallowing us up.

It’s enough to make a stalwart soul quiver in the closet.

But, we’re made of stronger stuff.

We know that for the 600,000 years of evolution that built negative bias into us, it helped us to survive. It kept us away from Saber-toothed tigers, for if we didn’t jump from danger, or learn what it was, or what its habits were, we weren’t there the following day.

Except our brain is not equipped to face tigers every day. It isn’t equipped to face the ills of the entire world on a daily basis. It’s too big for us. We evolved in tribes, a small group of people we could love, care for, and feel with. But the entire world? That’s overwhelm.

We can’t do anything about the past. We can, right now, be advocates for our own happiness. We have a big thinking brain, we can learn and grow from RIGHT NOW. 

When Marie Forleo asked Rick Hanson what the difference between the BRAIN and the MIND was, he said the brain is the hardware. The Mind is the nervous system that took those 600,000 years to evolve. It processes information.  For example, the brain sees the traffic light, the red, yellow, and green. The mind interprets them. 

We can use our mind to actually change our brain, for thought patterns leave behind lasting traces. “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” says Hanson,

 “Pat the lizard, feed the mouse, and hug the monkey,”
says Hanson.

The lizard is the Reptilian Brain, you’ve heard of that one. It is our primitive brain whose purpose is to see that we survive. (Fight, run, freeze.)
The mouse is the mammalian brain. It is called the limbic system and is the center of emotion and learning. 

The amygdala in the mammalian brain is the filtering system—the security checkpoint of airports. It scans for threats or danger, then it authorizes admittance into the higher brain, the neocortex.

The amygdala has no concept of time. Past, present, and futures are all one and the same.

That explains how traumatized individuals are stuck in the past. For them, their trauma is happening right now. And the amygdala was never designed to store long-term, but it does.

Hanson’s instructor said, to go ahead and repeat your bad experiences as long as you want. But 10 times is enough.

Sometimes the amygdala is called, the joyful amygdala for it has a wonderful characteristic. 


You can train your amygdala away from trauma. The more you know yourself, the more resilient you are.

The more resilient you are, the happier you are.

Find an opportunity to be happy. Stay with it. Feel the emotion. Allow it to penetrate your entire being.  Remember, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Too often we let the good slip past us, that compliment where we say, “Oh, that old thing.”

Stop, allow it to settle, allow those neurons to wire.

Find an opportunity to be joyful.

Be grateful. 

Emotionally Intelligent people use their thinking to guide their emotions rather than their emotions to dictate their thinking and behavior. 

Now, hug the Monkey. 

The monkey represents the primate, the higher brain, the neocortex. The monkey focuses on relationships. It is our need for social connections. Hanson says that LOVE is the multivitamin. 

We as humans are good at having experiences, so position yourself to go for the better.

 “Be happy for others, when you are happy for others, you will always be happy.”—Dali Lama

“Learning is the superpower of superpowers.”
—Rick Hanson