Posts Tagged ‘summer’
Posted June 21, 2013on:
Being able to slow down is one of the gifts of summer. Authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil of Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude remind us that summer can be a time of ‘sweet rest’: “Sweet rest is not a matter of zonking out. It is not a mere passivity but a kind of passionate waiting in the moment.”
Cultivating ‘sweet rest’ can lead us to a feeling of interconnectedness, a sense of the sacred. How do we get there? Artist and writer Lucy Curran offers us three practices.
Stop, Repeat, and Thank You
When life gets busy, it sometimes feels as if there’s no time for the sacred in the midst of everything else. However, if we rush through life without pausing now and again to ground ourselves and reconnect with our spirit in whatever way we know how, life can begin to lose its luster.
In case this sounds familiar, here are three practices that have helped me reconnect with the sacred in my life. I hope you will find them useful, too!
Pausing for a moment to simply breathe can be a revolutionary act of healing and empowerment. I sometimes do a quick body scan: how am I feeling in my body? Are there any places where I am holding tension or where there is discomfort or pain? Without trying to “fix” anything, I bring my awareness to each point of tension in turn, and focus on breathing into each with the intention of creating space and ease there.
It is tremendously powerful to have a positive phrase, vision statement, or mantra that feels sacred and inspiring, and that you can repeat to yourself at least once a day, every day. I have a “personal contract” that I repeat out loud to myself every morning, (while I wash my face!) It goes like this:
“I am loving, kind, and grateful, trusting in my heart and in life!”
I developed this contract as part of a workshop at Wings Seminars in Eugene, Oregon, and I have found it to be tremendously useful. I treat it as a sacred practice, and it serves as a reminder of the person I believe myself to be, and also the qualities that I aspire to live out in my life.
Developing a gratitude practice has been completely transformational for me. I simply write down a list of ten or more things that I am grateful for in my life. Some days it takes a little longer than others (let’s face it: we all have challenging days from time to time). Eventually, though, writing out the list allows me to shift my focus onto the myriad ways in which things are going well in my life. In other words, the practice helps me remember my true priorities and allows me to focus on the positive.
Making space for the sacred in the midst of daily life is not only important: it’s imperative. Whatever your beliefs or practices, finding a way to reconnect with a sense of the sacred provides energy, healing, and fuel for a better and more impactful life lived from one’s deepest values.
Lucy Claire Curran is a freelance writer and artist living in San Francisco, California.
Posted June 20, 2012on:
Dedicate v. 1. To set apart for a special use. 2. To commit (oneself) to a course of action. 3. To address or inscribe (e.g., a literary work) to someone. (Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary, 2nd ed)
Spring possibilities are about to cede to summer pleasures. I’ve been ruminating on the importance of spring cleaning for your writing life and have covered the first two steps—reassessment and reorganization. The third step is the most powerful one—rededication. To rededicate ourselves to something we deem as special in our lives strengthens and amplifies our commitment.
Weeks ago, I posed a question to writer friends: What is one thing that you’re doing, giving away, rearranging, reassessing, reorganizing, etc., to support your writing life? Michelle Wotruba, is a ‘day dreaming mommy’, blogger and my online writing buddy. She offered this nugget:
I’m going thru my ‘Magical Maybe’ folder and seeing what is really in there.
The ideas that I’m no longer interested in I’m tossing.
The ideas that I like I’m setting “mini coffee dates” to start on them; if by the end of that date I haven’t done anything but drink my coffee, I’m going to toss those.
I’ve realized some ideas I like but now I’m looking at them in a fresh way. Those are the ideas I’m going to start with; we’re skipping the coffee and going on a “dinner and a movie date.”
I’m always looking for new ideas in my “Magical Maybe” folder; I usually save those for a dessert date but not always.
I just love Michelle’s ‘Magical Maybe’ folder (and wish I had one!). Michelle’s comment suggests that we periodically sort through ideas, concepts, and themes, rededicating ourselves to the ones with the most juice.
Rededicating ourselves to our writing life sends a joyful message to our creative self. Remember, our creative self loves to be wooed. Its language includes ritual, ceremony and demonstrative acts of appreciation.
Here are some areas of my writing life that I’m rededicating myself to this summer:
I rededicate myself to using the most routine occurrences as story generators.
I rededicate myself to cultivating delight in the writing process.
I rededicate myself to finding new ways to dialogue with inner resisters, critics, evaluators, judges and committee members and either work with them as allies or assign them to a different job.
I rededicate to asking ‘what if?’ and then daring myself to come up with an answer!
I rededicate myself to looking at revision as a way to honor my writing by keeping the right words and setting the rest free for another day.
I rededicate myself to asking daily, ‘What wants to come forth in my writing’?
I rededicate myself to becoming educated about the changing nature of publishing.
As you move into summer’s rhythms what areas of your writing life would you like to rededicate yourself to?
At the close of the summer, I’ve been rummaging through several journals containing writing from the past year. At the end of a writing workshop last December, my instructor gave us a stimulating prompt. The prompt was: ‘The writer I was meant to be’ and we had ten minutes to free write about it. I wrote the following:
“The writer I was meant to be writes with the courage and sophistication of James Baldwin
-the irresistible beauty of Gish Jen
-the depth of Ursula Le Guin
-the creativity of Ntozake Shange
-the honesty of Alice Walker
-the fearlessness of Walter Mosley
-the precision of Sheri S.Tepper
-the humor of Jonathan Lethem
The writer I was meant to be encompasses the qualities of writers I admire above. It [a writing career] takes craft, training, persistence and subtlety. I’m still working on it! I’ve written probably under a 100 beautiful pitch perfect sentences in my fiction (even though I have written a lot!). Hmm, maybe a new goal for 2011?”
In the ensuing discussion, everyone shared remarkable insights about the distance between the ‘writer that they were meant to be’ and ‘the writer they were’ at that moment. We bemoaned and laughed about this distance and congratulated ourselves for what we had already accomplished. After I left the workshop, I thought about that ’100 beautiful sentences’ line. I made an intention for 2011. I wanted to generate a lot of writing, but also aim to craft more beautiful sentences. I felt this was a worthy goal. I haven’t gone through all of my writing this year and evaluated how many beautiful sentences I’ve crafted. But, I know that holding this intention during the last ten months has helped me pay more attention to the quality as well as quantity of my writing. And, I’ve found myself writing more poems, a pleasant surprise, and enjoying using language in fresh ways. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Stanley Fish’s provocative and helpful How to Write a Sentence (and How to Read One). It is a spirited meditation on sentence craft. I highly recommend it.
So, as fall approaches and we turn naturally inward, I pose to you these free writes: ‘The writer I was meant to be…’.Try that for ten minutes and then try ‘The writer I am right now at this moment’ for ten minutes. Compare the two lists and reflect on patterns, similarities, differences, challenges and opportunities.
And, finally have you written 100 beautiful sentences this year? Is that an interesting or worthy goal for you? To answer this question might mean making some time to pour over your journal entries, blog posts and other writings. I see you curled up in comfortable warm clothing, as the leaves are turning outside, with a cup of soup near by and lavishing attention on your prose.
These exercises might seed something in you that ripens later this year or in 2012.