January 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!

"And now let us welcome the New Year,  full of things that never were." 

                                                                                       ~Rainer Maria Rilke

 


For many people the new year is synonymous with new beginnings, but for those of us who live in Southern California, which was struck with devastating fires in December, we're feeling even stronger about new beginnings.

What has unfolded for me during my owntwo-week evacuation, has been a time of deep reflection and contemplation. While preparing to leave my home, time was of the essence, and the surge of adrenaline was akin to what I felt when working as an emergency room nurse years ago. Emergency situations not only help us prioritize and think about what's important, but they're also reminders of the fragility of life. 

While I was away from my home, I was unable to do any creative writing. My creative juices were busy responding to emails around the country from those who were concerned about us. Now that I've settled back home, I feel compelled to write about new beginnings, and what they mean to us. In the past, when people have said that their life has gone sideways, I've suggested that "its time to clear the slate." In simple terms, times of upheaval are opportunities to start anew. When considering starting anew, I tend to reflect on what was learned from my past experiences, and what they have taught me. This is akin to Buddhist psychology in that everything is impermanent and fleeting, which includes our possessions, our lives, our loved ones, and even our universe as a whole.

Knowing that everything is impermanent is a gentle reminder for us to be more mindful and enjoy life. My dad, a Holocaust survivor, always advocated to "looking at the glass half full, instead of half-empty." Doing so can awaken a sense of compassion and gratitude, and is also might inspire you  to contemplate what is truly important to you. What a great way  to kick off 2018!


EXCERPT FROM WRITING FOR BLISS: (p. 106)

Sharing Stories to Heal

"Sharing the stories of your difficult times [such as living through the fear of fire]can also guide others in navigating their own journeys. How you navigated your journey can serve as a road map for those who might feel lost during the process. They might be too close to their lived experience to be able to figure out how to handle it. Witnessing your experience can greatly help them.
 
Those who are deeply wounded physically, psychologically, or spiritually often lose their voice in the process, and sharing their stories helps them reclaim that voice as a way of healing. As Frank (1995) says, "The voice speaks the mind and expresses the spirit, but it is also a physical organ of the body" (p. xii).

There are not many people who have not navigated some difficult time in their lives. After encountering such times, you will see that telling your story is a way to healing and survival. Writing your story activates the narrating part of your mind and thus can increase your sense of well being, whether you share your writing with others or not.
 
Viktor Frankl openly shared his Holocaust story in his book  Man's Search for Meaning  (1959). This book deeply resonated with me because my father was also a Holocaust survivor, having spent five of his most formative years, from the ages of fifteen to twenty, in the concentration camp at Dachau. When Frankl was asked why he wrote the book, he said that he wanted "to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones." He added that sharing his story would be helpful even for those who were in despair."


Creatively yours,
January Writing Prompts 
  • Write a poem about how you spent
    New Year's Eve.
  • Write about your favorite memory from 2017.
  • Make a list of your intentions for 2018.
  • Write about your favorite season.
Recently Published Works

"In My Imaginary World" (poem). Poets Unlimited. 
November 30, 2017.  

"Try This Fun Way to Be More Grateful This Holiday Season."  Elephant Journal.  December 1, 2017. 

"Writing Letters for the Holiday."
Psychology Today. December 6, 2017. 

"Letter Writing During the Holidays." 
Thrive Global. December 8, 2017. 

"Healing through Writing" (article). Coping with Cancer. November/December 2017.

"An Intimate Way to Help Cope With Loss During the Holidays."   Psychology Today. December 25, 2017.

"Holiday Refrain." Poets Unlimited. December 25, 2017.



Workshops + Book Signings + Presentations

January 6, 2018
"Writing for Bliss" (Workshop)
Mystic Journey Bookstore
Venice, CA
To register: Click here
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January 13, 2018
"Writing Is Bliss" (Workshop)
Vroman's Bookstore
Pasadena, CA
To register: Click here
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January 27, 2018
"Writing for Bliss" (Book Signing)
Barnes and Noble
160 Westlake Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, CA
Event details: Click here
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February 2, 2018
"Writing for Bliss" (Reading and Celebration)
Ikat and Pearls
40 South California Street
Ventura, CA
6-8 pm
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February 23-25, 2018
"Writing for Bliss" (Workshop)
1440 Multiversity
Scotts Valley, CA
To register:  Click here
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June 17-22, 2018
"Memoir Writing" (Workshop)
Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Santa Barbara, CA
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June 30, 2018
"Writing for Bliss: Finding Joy Through Personal Writing" (Workshop)
Open Center
22 E. 30th Street
New York, NY
To register:  Click here
INTERVIEWS / VIDEOS

"Positive Perspective Platform. Inspiring Thought Through Leadership."
(interview).  The Native Society.  December 11, 2017. 

SUGGESTED READING 

 Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright

This book is many things, including being extremely well written, informative, accessible, and enlightening. I am someone who doesn't necessarily align with any particular spiritual or religious group, but, rather take snippets of different groups that resonate with me. To date, many of my sensibilities aligns with Buddhism, mainly because of it's belief in impermanence, compassion, and gratitude. 

This book includes a discussion of meditation from many different perspectives. Since many of my students often ask me questions about meditation, I'd like to share this passage: 

"Here's what I've noticed about thoughts that intrude when I'm trying to focus on my breath. They often seem to have feelings attached to them. What's more, their ability to hold my attention-in other words, to keep me enthralled, to keep me from noticing that they're holding my attention-seems to depend on the strength of those feelings." (p. 115). 

This is one of the most provocative books on the subject. 
Special thanks to my son, Josh, for the gift of this book. He just knew.
 

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