Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing is Yoga for the Mind

After two cups of coffee this morning, I headed off to the gym for yoga class. Our group doesn't get caught up in the mystical aspects of the exercise. As a matter of fact, I pray through scriptures that seem to correspond with different poses. I can center my thoughts on the Lord and ignore the fact that my ankle is over my head.

As I stared at my toes from the downward dog pose, I realized that yoga and writing have a lot in common. (I couldn't come up with a verse besides "A dog returns to its vomit." Not very inpsiring.)

Writing and yoga slowly stretch me beyond what I thought was possible. With the right encouragement and determination, I go a little deeper. Writing demands that I ask myself hard questions and come up with creative answers. The only way to limber up the writing muscle is to push a little farther tomorrow. What will I write tomorrow? A novel? An obituary? A love letter?

Writing and yoga gradually strengthen me. I condition myself by toning my muscles with good exercises. Yoga-goers know that poses are more than just aesthetically pleasing. They burn those quads and make them strong. Crafting phrases into stories works much the same way. Can I revise objectively? Accept criticism? Will I be able to burn away the "fat" and trim down to a well-toned piece?

Writing is yoga for the mind. Tomorrow as I raise my arms up in the "Son" Salutation pose, I'll imagine I'm in the throne room of my King. Then who knows? I may write a song.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Positive Influence

My oldest daughter is applying for a variety of college scholarships. (Yes, it makes me feel old.) Each scholarship requires typical information about family background, income and insight into the student's goals for the future.

One particular essay she is writing is about someone who has influenced her life. The picture above shows all three of my girls and their dance teacher, Reggie, following a theatre production of Seussical Jr. I am so grateful for the positive influence that she has been for my kids - encouraging, challenging, mentoring.

Not only that, but I am blessed to know that my daughter considers me to be one of the people who has most influenced her in a positive way. We strive to be an encouragers and mentors to those around us, but often we do not know if our actions really affect people. Are YOU seeking to influence young people?

I have worked with teens in small groups and it is interesting to hear what they say about adults who have that positive influence.

"Kari never overreacts when I've done something stupid. She listens and know that I already feel bad enough about it."

"Dad leads me to solve my own problems instead of just dictating an answer."

"Elizabeth's mom is so cool. She knows that what I'm feeling is normal. I never feel like she's laughing at me behind my back."

"I can tell my mom anything. She's my best friend."

"I'm more willing to do the right thing because I know my youth pastor really cares. He really believes in me."

What amazing gifts we have to share with young people - wisdom, truth, hope. What will you offer to them?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creative Thinking

One of the greatest classes I took toward my Master's degree was a study of creativity. I was in my element! We took the Torrence Creativity Test, created games and learning centers for kids, and practiced creative problem solving techniques.

One of my favorites is a strategy called "In What Ways Might We..." or IWWMW for short. We would be given a situation (such as a cat stuck in a tree) and asked "in what ways might we" get the cat down from the tree?

Standard answers include: call the fire department, coax the cat with treats, and get a ladder. But when you run out of the normal ideas, what do you do? You get creative! You might go purchase a cat suit and sing a love song to encourage the cat to jump into your arms. Or what about renting a hot air balloon to lower yourself close enough to grab the cat. Of course neither of these are logical or the most efficient - but they encourage you to think outside the box.

Kids are great at the IWWMW game. As adults, we tend to shy away from the "silly" answers. Today I'm working on a fiction story that takes place in a fantasy world. I have a problem to solve, so I'm using this strategy to find a creative solution. You could use this method, too.

In What Ways Might We...

...get our kids to eat their vegetables? our credit card bills?
...exercise and enjoy it?!?
...make a decedent dessert for Valentines Day?
...remember to take our daily meds? (That one's for me.)

So, refill that coffee bowl, and get thinking!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Online Book Club

This morning's coffee (a German roast with a bit of real heavy whipping cream) was a real delight with my email. Each weekday I receive an email from Suzanne who shares an inspirational book with me.

Ok. Honestly I don't really know her personally, but after a year of daily "conversation" about good books, I feel like shes a kindred spirit. She's a fellow author and promoter of reading for enjoyment.

You can be friends with Suzanne, too! Each day she will share an excerpt from her book selection of the week. Readers from all over the country have enjoyed her amazing recipes and clever anecdotes about life in general.

As for me, I love all kinds of literature. Exploring new authors and relishing in well known selections just adds to a wonderful morning.

Click on Suzanne's link above to read with her this week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Life Happens After Grapefruit?

This was a strange morning. My sweet husband got our public school kids out the door while I stayed in slumberland. By the time I woke up, there was no coffee and much to do. I found myself staring at a cold, juicy grapefruit instead of creamy mocha goodness.

Healthy - you betcha! Invigorating? Warm? Caffeinated?

So what is life like after grapefruit?

I felt deeply inspired to go to yoga class after a three month absence. Unfortunately I only lasted about 20 minutes. I've had trouble with my back, and without a heavy dose of coffee, I wasn't going to make it far anyway.

After grapefruit, I ran typical errands - the bank, post office, library. All the while, I had this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. You know that feeling. The one where you can't remember if you turned off the stove or forgot an important medical appointment.

It's almost 3:30pm. I'm feeling a bit desperate for the chocolatey aroma of my favorite blend with a dab of fresh whipping cream on top. A small amount of grated dark chocolate sprinkled over the... Sorry, I got a little sidetracked. (No doubt a lack of concentration due to coffee withdrawl)

It seems that even random people have some sense of order in their lives. Maybe it's how you organize your coffee mugs or the route you take to the coffee shop. You might be the most creative, unpredictable person, but I would bet that you have some treasured routines that keep you afloat.

As for me? I can smell the hazelnut brewing. It's almost time to start my day...again.