Saturday, May 28, 2011

Writing About Our Differences

Who hasn’t felt “different” at some time or other? For much of my life I thought I was the “different” one, the one who didn’t fit in. As time has passed, and especially as I’ve become hooked on reading memoir and teaching hundreds of people to write their own, I’ve discovered that this feeling is widespread, if not quite universal, and that it is not inherently bad.

I felt different from the day I began first grade and realized that all the other children knew somebody. In fact, most of them knew at least half the class. I had just moved to town and didn’t know a soul. I felt like I’d been dumped on a different planet. They played with each other at recess. Not only did I not know any of them, I had grown up in a neighborhood lacking other children and had no idea how to play with other kids, so I stood on the sidelines, watching and trying to figure out how recess worked. The differences continued to compound until in high school I became the 1960s equivalent of a Geek Girl. Ultimately I realized that these differences became the quirks that make me Me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing Makes Thinking Visible

A flash of light darted past me and lit on a leaf. Following its path, I saw a dragonfly, bright, shiny, and luminous as a brand new car!

Dragonflies take my breath away. I moved cautiously toward the leaf for a closer look. As soon as I drew near, it flitted off, darting across the clearing. Time stood still as that dragonfly flitted through the woods, teasing me with a game of “Catch Me if You Can.” It refused to show off its ephemeral beauty for more than brief seconds.

Finally it tired and posed for a picture, allowing me to capture it with my handy pocket Panasonic. I must confess that like many life stories, my picture was adequate for my purposes, but not publication-worthy. This picture, taken by Sean Morgan, turned out  far better.

Only after I downloaded my photo onto my computer was I able to study the dragonfly in detail. The picture stays still, and it sticks around as long as I want to peer and ponder it. It fits nicely with my growing collection of bug pictures, including ladybugs, grasshoppers, butterflies and some gorgeous spiders. (Yes, I know. I have certifiably weird fascinations.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Which Wolf Do You Feed?

In a recent interview with Doug Parks, host of the Conscious Activist teleseminar series, Bruce Lipton told a short story from Spontaneous Evolution, a book he co-authored with Steve Bhaerman:

A Cherokee elder was talking to some kids and giving them lessons. He said, “Within me right now is a terrible fight.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the kids.

“Within me I have two wolves fighting. One is the wolf of love and peace and the other is the wolf of anger and war.” And he said, “It’s not just in me. It’s in every one of us.”

The children thought about this for a minute and one child asked, “Tell us Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

“Whichever one I feed,” he replied.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beyond the Finger Pointing

“It was all your fault.”

“Yeah, right, you were such an angel!”

“Both of you always ganged up on me!”

“Well, you were always asking for it.”

“Mom always …“

“Dad never …”

Stressful conversations like this are common in many families, and even more families would have them if it weren’t for all the elephants in the room. Despite — or perhaps because o­f — their obvious potential for escalating stress, these conversations offer rich opportunities for reaping healthful benefits from expressive writing.