Category Archives: inspirational poop

Hellooooooo! Weekend Workout: We Got Talent

Wow. It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get back to it, but life kept happening. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say the circumnavigation included a computer death, a back injury (unrelated to the computer death), 3 elementary school visits (also unrelated to the back injury), a flashmob, a haircut, completing my latest rewrite on a new novel (yay), a dream about a roller coaster for executives. And this:

steaming jar of

The back injury happened while falling into a pile of logs trying to retrieve this one for my garden:

garden log

Okay, the part where I carried this by myself to the car may have exacerbated my back injury a bit. But lookie how cool my garden driftwood log is! And my free beach log only cost me $300 in massage and chiropractor expenses!

So, while I was grumbly and lying around recovering, I entertained myself by watching 2 seasons of The Killing - a really fantastic series (oh, but don’t tell my husband I watched season 2 without him) and inspirational youtube videos of X Factor auditions.

I’ve never watched X Factor, American Idol, The Voice, or any of these other singing shows, and I don’t think I’d watch a whole show or a whole season. But what I loved over and over again was when the person auditioning  took the judges by surprise. I loved when what they expected was turned on its head.

A few of my favourites included:

Jeffery Adam Gutt
Panda Ross
Tate Stevens
Luke Lucas
and from Britain’s Got Talent, Charlotte and Jonathan

The list goes on, really (I probably watched 100 videos). And it’s made me think both about expectation and inspiration. We can’t help but to judge people the moment we see them. It’s human nature. And I find it completely inspiring when my own expectations are blown out the door.

YOUR WORKOUT

Literary agent Donald Maas, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, says that to make your characters universal, you have to make them unique, which sounds like an oxymoron. But, he explains, that our uniqueness is the universal thing about us.

What’s unique about us might be a talent – a small one or a large one or a quirky one. Remember in BREAKFAST CLUB when Claire (Molly Ringwald) placed her lipstick between her breasts and put it on without her hands, claiming it was her only talent? John Green’s protagonist in AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES  has a talent for making anagrams.

What is your character’s talent? Is it integral to the plot or a bonus character trait? Does your antagonist or villain have a talent as well?

1) Pick one of your characters to use for this exercise.

SET YOUR TIMER for 7-10 minutes.

Start with the line:
If my character had nothing to do all day, he’d occupy himself by…

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

2) SET YOUR TIMER for 10-12 minutes.

Start with the line: My character is most proud of the way he…

3) SET YOUR TIMER for 15-20 minutes.

Now write a SCENE in which another character comes upon your character doing this thing at which he or she is so talented.

Make the scene awkward for the character by either a) making the character ashamed of being caught, or b) making the person who catches him in the middle of this thing either critical or snide about it.

Start with the line: Character X walks into the room and laughs …

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

1 Comment

Filed under inspirational poop, truth and beauty, weekend workout, writing exercises, writing life

Find Your Tribe!

A friend of mine recently observed that this has been the year for me of finding my tribe.

It’s true, and it’s a very important thing to do, for everyone, but I’m thinking specifically for artists and writers and other creative types.

At the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend, YA author Laurie Halse Anderson referred to us as the Island of Misfit Toys. Remember that place from the old animated Rudolph flick they showed on TV every year? I laughed because I’ve often thought of myself as one of those misfit toys. Since junior high school,  when all that insecurity begins.

Creatives tend to be the oddballs. The weirdies. The ones who think differently, feel awkward in social situations . . . can anyone out there relate to this? I was a square peg in high school. I didn’t belong to any particular clique. I was smart, too, and got good grades, which can also be a hindrance in high school (in the U.S. at least). I mean, I got teased for being smart by many of my classmates. I got bullied on a few occasions (physically threatened twice). I wrote poetry. I bought clothes from thrift stores and cut pieces out of them (my favourite shirt was a Mobile gas station shirt that had the name BRUCE on it – not very PC, but I loved that shirt). My friend Dawn and I would freak our make-up and clothes and lurk around Pier 39 scaring the tourists.

Even as an adult, I’ve walked into a crowded room and felt like that 14 year old misfit. Not hip. Not cool. Not happening.

But at the SCBWI conference, I immediately felt like I belonged. It was one giant celebration of childhood misfitness. Of all the gritty things that have bombarded us and made us the writers we are today. The ones who can articulate that awkwardness. Whose characters speak to the minds of children going through the same dang things we went through, whether we place them in a dystopian future or a fictional past.

When you find that place that feels like home (and I’ve found it other places as well, like at FaerieWorlds this summer!) I believe it not only means you are connecting with your purpose and passion, but you have found a safe and supportive place to be authentically you.

Seek out those like-minded people. Seek out those who celebrate who you are and your successes, and who empathize with your misadventures and misteps. Boo to people who shut you down. Boo to people who zap your energy.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to bring that kind of light into your life, and to shine it back.

Find your tribe!

3 Comments

Filed under every day angels, inspirational poop, truth and beauty

Weekend Workout: Making the Daily Matter

This isn’t my regular kind of weekend workout. This one is about getting refocused for the New Year. (now that you’ve let go of all the junk that was holding you back)

I’ve been thinking about why I have been “dragging myself” into this new year. Part of it seems to be a feeling of having lost my way. I find myself asking questions like, “Am I on purpose? Am I following my bliss? Where did all the passion go?”

Eleven years ago I moved to Eastern Europe and traveled around for the better part of a year. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I was full of every kind of emotion, vulnerable and open, writing massive amounts of poetry and doing a lot of, dare I say it, “soul-searching.” Everything was about experiencing the here and now, living one adventure to the next each day, even if that just meant taking a tram to a new neighborhood store. And even though there were periods of utter loneliness, I was totally alive in that loneliness.

I can’t remember the last time I felt like that and sometimes it’s like I’m just going through the motions to get to some abstract reward at a later date. I decided I wanted to remember how to live in the moment and to have those moments support my purpose, which in turn nurtures my higher self.

But do I have to physically leave the country in order to be alive and passionate about what’s in front of me in the here and now? Even though, while I was wandering about Eastern Europe, I didn’t know what I wanted to do next in my life, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be, doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I knew that it was serving some sort of higher purpose and that whatever was next for me would appear at the right and perfect time.

I think most of us would like to know that in all things we do we are serving our more “actualized” self. But that’s such an abstract idea. How do we serve our actualized self on a daily basis? Isn’t most of life about the mundane?

I wanted something physical I could look at every day to remind me of how I can do this. With each action, I can serve this higher self. Inspired by this idea, I ended up drawing this:

This demonstrates to me how I can view the small or “mundane” things I do on a daily basis as “serving.” Serving others, serving a higher purpose, serving a life worth lived. And by “serving,” my creative self is inspired and expressed (because serving, to me, is an act of love, and acts of love are necessarily creative).

Then, I started filling in each level of the pyramid. That’s when things got exciting.

Things to do on a daily basis: self-talk, read, write, communicate to my loved ones, play, rest, organize, appreciate, etc.

Things I do to serve: teach so that I inspire, write so that I connect, perform so that I open others to express, etc.

How this manifests creatively:  expressing myself through my stories with a true, radiant, and fearless heart, open wide to the joy it brings, connected to the divine

What would it mean to sit in my actualized self: balance, peace, joy, unity, connection

I actually have an image to put at the top, something I drew from a divination deck. I was going to post it here, but this is my personal image. I want you to find your own.

For a BLANK pyramid click: Actualized Self BLANK

I highly recommend this as an exercise this weekend. Using words and images, demonstrate how on a daily basis you can serve your higher purpose. What does this LOOK like to you? What do you see yourself doing? Your second and third tiers may be something other than what I’ve decided, but keep the bottom tier as the daily self, because I think that’s where we have to start, and the top as the actualized self.

Enjoy the process! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face or your money back.

5 Comments

Filed under inspirational poop, random poop, serious play, truth and beauty, weekend workout

The Best Year of My Life… Seriously?!?

If someone told you that you could have the best year of your life, would you

a) fold your arms across your chest and go, “oh yeah? okay, give me the best year of my life.”

OR

b) jump up and down excitedly and shout, “awesome! what do I need to do? Tell me and I’ll do it!”

If you answered A, then this post isn’t for you. Well, actually it is for you, but you’re not ready. So, bugger off. Go on.

Okay, now that those A people are gone…

I think most people tend to want the outside world to make them happy. If only THIS would happen, then I’d be happy. I learned a long time ago that it’s the other way around. I have to get happy first.

A friend of mine desperately wants to find a partner. She’s even said to me, “oh, it’s easy for you, you have a husband.” I nearly burst a gut laughing. Yes, I just found a husband and suddenly life was great! I told her marriage is hard work and I’ve fantasized about the freedom of being single. I know plenty of unhappy married people. She wasn’t too appreciative when I told her that she needed to get happy first. Then she’d find the perfect husband.

Think about it… happy people make happily married people. Grumpy, bitter, resentful people… not so much.

The most important thing I’ve learned over the past several years is that I am the one responsible for my own peace and happiness. Stuff might happen out there, stuff that I consider bad, hurtful, wrong, immoral, but I am the one in charge of how I let it affect me. And, more importantly, how I let all those righteous feelings stop be from getting what I say I want.

I am in charge of my own success. I am the only one standing in my way. Trust me, if you made an effort to honestly look at how you stand in your own way, and then really get out of your way, I bet you’d be more successful then you could ever imagine. The ways I get in my way are sneaky ninjas. I have denied, justified, blamed, and made excuses. Many of those excuses I didn’t even REALIZE were excuses because I thought they were the truth.

In Debbie Ford’s book The Best Year of Your Life, she challenges readers to get out of their own ways and create the best year of their lives for themselves. My GBF and I took her up on that challenge. But preparing for this new best year took some time.

The first chapter is on setting your intention. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It took us a week after we realized what a huge responsibility we are. Having this intention and being committed to that intention meant for an entire year we could no longer blame anyone else for anything. Not only did we have to stop denying the ways we sabotaged our own success, we had to do something about it. We had to take action. There would be no excuses.

One of the things Debbie tells readers to do is to post notes all over the house that say “this is the best year of your life” as a reminder. Did you just cringe a little? Yeah, me, too.

Most people live with other people. And a lot of the time we care about what they think of us. And sometimes we don’t do things just because they might think we are stupid or silly. As I was showing my GBF the signs all over my house. I pointed to one in my bedroom and said – I hesitated with that one. You know, cuz Baby might think I’m being silly.”

“Would you rather he think you’re being silly or would you rather be happy?” he asked.

The sign is still on my nightstand. There’s one on the refrigerator, too.

6 Comments

Filed under do something different, inspirational poop, my gbf, on my bookshelf, serious play

Start the Year with Kindness

Several years ago I had the privilege of working for Puget Sound Community School in Seattle, WA. At that time, the school was only a few years old and had no fixed address. Classes were held in different places on each day of the week (from a retirement home to a community centre to a church to a frat house). Mondays we had field trips and/or community service and on Fridays students had mentorships in the community. There were no grades. Discipline happened democratically. The kids were amazing. I was having so much fun I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to work for them.

The founder and director, Andy Smallman, is a visionary educator, although I don’t know if his down-to-earth nature would call it anything other than passion. And his passion is contageous.

While I was working there, Andy facilitated an online “Kindness Class” – a way for the larger community to be involved with the school’s program. The assignments involved committing random acts of kindness and then sharing and discussing them.

He hasn’t run the class in several years and was inspired to bring it back last fall. Little did he know that when he did, the idea would spread around the globe!

We promoted [the Kindness Class] here and on the PSCS Facebook page. The idea spread and 250 people signed up. Steve sent a press packet about it to The Seattle Times. Their education reporter, Linda Shaw… came out and did a story (http://tinyurl.com/yct838d) that appeared in last Sunday’s paper. Local TV station channel 13 then did a quick news story on it last Sunday night (http://tinyurl.com/kindnessQ13 & http://tinyurl.com/KindnessQ13-Take2).
…I have been made aware by people interested in joining future classes that the Times article has been featured in newspapers in Raleigh, NC (http://tinyurl.com/y9o8n45), Greensboro, NC, Jasper, AL, Dayton, OH, Springfield, OH, Ontario, Canada, and likely others. It’s also making the rounds on Twitter, most notably having been “retweeted” by Deepak Chopra. And today it became the “Idea of the Day” on bestselling author Dan Pink’s blog (http://tinyurl.com/y8goczb). I’ve had people from as far away as Australia ask to join.

He had such a great response that he decided to run it again this term. I was so thrilled for Andy and PSCS that I signed up for the class, too. And, it’s not too late. YOU can sign up, too. It’s completely free:

…the idea is pretty simple. Each Sunday night I’ll post that week’s kindness theme via email and on a special blog set up for our class. Your job is to consider the theme and, in a way that is meaningful to you, act on it. After completing your act, you go to the blog and post what you’ve done so the rest of us get to learn about it. Imagine each of us interpreting the same theme each week in our own way and spreading ripples of positive action out in the world. It’s a revolution of kindness…


…As a virus, your acts will impact (some might say inspire) others, even people outside of the class. Being mindful, you’ll start noticing more of the kind things happening around you. You’ll become happier, more peaceful. You’ll sleep better. You’ll exercise and eat better. You’ll feel great. You’ll infect others with optimism.
How’s that sound for a way to start off the year?  Interested? E-mail Andy at pscs@pscs.org.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
-Scott Adams

5 Comments

Filed under cool poop, do something different, inspirational poop, truth and beauty

Pick a Challenge, any Challenge

August is a fine time to work your creative mojo. Everyone’s doing it! And they’re doing it in the form of challenges and experiments. Below are a few that I recommend.

Please let me know if there are any more out there in the coming month/s and I’ll add them to the list.

The 3:15 Experiment

Anyone who follows my blog with any regularity knows that I participate in the annual 3:15 Experiment every year. Basically, a shifting menagerie of poets (and prose writers, actually) wakes up at 3:15 AM EACH morning during the month of August and writes. Our goal is to write while riding a 1/2 dream state. Magic happens. We have a Facebook Group now. Join us.

August Postcard Poetry Fest

Started by Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers, the Postcard Poetry Fest challenges you to send 31 postcard poems, one for each day of August. They START it NOW if you’d like to participate… and I’m not sure you still can, but you can go to their website or FACEBOOK group and ask.

The rules say that on July 27th (tomorrow!), you write an original poem right on a postcard and mail it to the person on the list below your name. Starting on August 1st, ideally in response to a card YOU receive, keep writing a poem a day on a postcard and mailing it to successive folks on the list until you’ve sent out 31 postcards. I’ve never participated but some year I think I’ll write my 3:15 poems on postcards. That would be fun.

10 shorts in 10 days

This is a little invention of my friend Tod McCoy and myself. It happens irregularly (whenever we feel like lighting a fire under our butts). We write either 10 short films or 10 pieces of micro fiction in 10 days. This August we’re writing short scripts. Anyone out there is welcome to join us. There is no official website and no official place to post them, although if you’d like to post them on your blog and send us a link, that’d be swell.

We’re starting on AUGUST 10 and running until August 19. The rules are simple: Write a short script (or story) per day. Badda bing, badda boom. In the past our short scripts have run about 3-6 pages (in standard format). If you wonder what I mean by micro fiction, check out any one of my 56 Flavours stories, most of which were written during a 10 day challenge.

The 3-Day Novel Contest

This contest has been running for 30 years. It wins. I’ve only participated once, but had a blast doing it. Some day I’ll dig out the novel and rewrite it. It happens over Labour Day weekend (Sept 5-7 this year). They also have a Facebook page. If you want to officially participate, and for a chance at fame and fortune, you have to register, which involves $50. If you just want the challenge of trying something new and don’t care about official registration, I suggest forming a group and holing up somewhere in a 24 hour coffee shop together. Oh, yeah, the object is to write a novel in 3 days.

4 Comments

Filed under Calls for Submission, Collaborations, contests, flash fiction, inspirational poop, poetry, serious play, The 3:15 Experiment, writing exercises

Hello Mister Moon

moon

The other day I saw an excited little girl run out of a furniture store and look up into the sky.

“Mister Moon says hello!” she declared to her mother. “Hello, Mister Moon!” the little girl cried and waved at the moon.

Ah, to hear the moon…

3 Comments

Filed under every day angels, inspirational poop, random poop