Monday, 29 August 2011

all or nothing

Do you find there are areas of life in which you easily adapt "all or nothing" thinking?  It is listed as one of the ten cognitive distortions that cause stress, anxiety and depression (yes, I'm a psychotherapist),  I find with the writing of my novel I really adapted "all or nothing" writing. 


Today is the two week anniversary of the delivery of the big, bad semi-trucks that dropped off boxes and boxes of, uhm, stuff.  Our local hospice charity now knows us as we pull up to their back door for deliveries since packers packed mucho stuffo that we would never have shipped across the Pacific.


On the week one anniversary of the semi's arrival, or there about, my book was returned from an editor . . . marked up and ready for me to tackle the revision.  It is right here sitting in front of me, with a copy of Deepak Chopra's "Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" on it as if I really think the manuscript can soak up the positive mojo in that book.  Crazy.  


I am convinced that I will reward myself with my book revision when we are nice and neatly tucked into our main floor.  


We are almost there.  


I unpacked my "creative den" yesterday which is why I am allowing myself to sit at this desk and type this out.  Bedroom and closet to go and permission to revise will be granted.


All in all because of functioning in this manner I could have written my book in a month if I would have written in binge sessions consistently.  Certain tasks would have to be completed before I let myself write with abandon and most of the book was written in compulsive 5-10 hour sessions.  The cool thing about that, however, was that I would be away from the story long enough that it was new and fresh when I went back to it so I never got to a point where it felt stale or boring.


Those writing binges are a real high as those of you that write know-- during those hours the characters come alive and the journey takes twists and turns that you never imagined.  As a writer your adrenalin rushes and there is anticipation and excitement that no substance could ever replicate.


Now, it is the anticipation of that buzz of writing that keeps me going.  


And the plan is when the revision is done I reward myself with starting a new journey (ie story or book which is already baking).


Inconsistently yours . . .

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

why does it rain and rain for some people?



Send love and compassion to this woman and her baby . . . and follow Michael Franti's link to send a donation if you can.  Click HERE to get to Michael's link. 


This is an update posted by one of Tika's friends posted on Michael Franti's website


Tika Update

For those wondering how Tika is doing: I was with her last weekend- she has had her surgery which was a success, and the cancer hadn't spread to the nodes (great news!). She has been healing from this mostly well, but is currently working through a secondary infection on one side. The doctors are on it and she will power through.
Before discovering this, she had to make it through David's birthday (Aug 10th) and celebration, his Mass and reception (on their anniversary- Aug 13th), be told of the infection on the 15th, then be in the hospital for a procedure on her birthday, Aug 19th. And still, she powers on.
A very difficult chain of events for anyone, but after this year, it boggles the mind. I can say she is doing well and on the healing path thanks to friends, family, and all of the kind wishes everyone keeps sending her way so KEEP 'EM COMING! I also wanted to mention that she has a phenomenal support team behind her on a daily basis that keep her and Indie loved and cared for 24/7. I want to thank them 'cause they rock, and greatly deserve it.
I also want to send a million thank you's to Michael and the Spearhead posse for sharing this story and keeping her afloat with love. Thank you.
Oh, and can I just say if you haven't checked out Michael Franti and Spearhead please do-- he is the real deal. I have had the fortune of meeting him a couple of times (in DC at CARE conference & backstage at Ravinia).  Michael Franti is the essence of an insightful blend of compassion and articulation and gives the best hugs ever. Then . . . there is his music.

Michael, you are a true example of Karma.  It has been divine to watch your positive energy and giving nature (finally) bring the attention your amazing music and mission deserves.  Rock on my birthday bro. (it was a delight to see we shared the same bday!)
Michael is so generous with his time and care of others as you can see below. . . 
michael talking to my son & me
my son luke otwell & michael before he took him to the stage to try his guitar (sweet)
 me, michael & another amazing singer/songwriter Anna Fermin (THE voice of Chicago)


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

and she was

the giant truck arrived yesterday.


and today.


my body is sore.  


and my mind?  


my mind says 






we.
are.
here.  


we live in new zealand.  


the world was moving she was floating above it and she was


(yes, i'm channeling talking heads . . .  songs singing in your brain are good for times like these)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Support Teen Writing


I'm a StageofLife.com blogger


I would like to ask you to take a moment to support teen writers.  Click HERE and read some of the entries that high schoolers have made regarding their experience with Bullying.  Leave a comment and vote for your favorite.  There are some wise words.


Support teen writing!


Full time writer experiment update:

I am greatly enjoying time with our friends from the US exploring the beautiful outdoors of the Northland in New Zealand.  They are with us for five more days.  The containers of our belongings that have been making their way over the Pacific ocean arrive at our home on Monday and Tuesday (GASP);  what a challenge it will be to settle in with so many possessions after living such a simplified life for 3+ months.  

My full-time writing has turned part-time for my friends' visit but I as I continue with my experiment I am truly harkening back to the name of my blog and beckoning for balance.  I will continue to write throughout the chaos!

Write On!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Calling all Writers- all ages and stages

I blog on StageofLife.com
There is a great website out there called Stage of Life that covers developmental stages from high school to retirement.  I am a roaming editor (ie I fill in and write a welcome piece for any stage that is in need), having started as a contributing blogger.


This website is another way to get your writing and your blog or website out there.  Come share with us.


HERE is my recent contributions and NO I really do not belong in the "having a baby" stage of life.


Come on over; the writing (and exposure) is fine!


Write on!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Be the Bliss

Excuses.  We all make them.  We all have them.


I have lost count of the number of people I have met since being in the Northland of New Zealand for a mere 3.5 months who, without great means, stopped making excuses and followed and chose to live their bliss.


We have just returned from traveling north in the Northland of New Zealand.


Towns are few.


Population is sparse.


Meaningful moments are many.


Within this trip was a hidden theme: embrace the life you want to live.


We met Lynette who had moved to Rawene from Auckland a couple of years after visiting there and feeling her heart and creativity being pulled to return.


Rawene was the second city founded in New Zealand and is a port town; suffice it to say it saw its share of action.


At low tides she began collecting very old pieces of broken glass and she makes amazing works of art out of the varied colored, shaped and sized shards of glass.


Her gallery is also her home.


This is a woman that followed their heart.


The bright blue building on the photo on this linked page is her space called The Glimpse Gallery: you can get a glimpse if you CLICK HERE
Bowing to Lynette for living her dream.
Lynette Bradley - The Glimpse Gallery
Clendon Esplanade
Mosaic artist, also pottery, books, hats, embroidery, scenic cards, calendars and more.  Open Tue-Sat 10am-4pm  Sun 10am-1pm over summer.
Ph 09 4057 886 M: 027 3602448
E: lynetteb@slingshot.co.nz



We followed a sign that said WWOOFERS and Smoked Mullet and met a delightful man that fished, raised sheep and lived off the land.  


These are the moments I am treasuring in NZ . . . you happen upon locals that give you a glimpse of their life and then point you to where to go next.  He showed us his huge smoking room which I would liken to a sauna.  He encouraged my little boy to play with the baby lambs and then insisted we find the "Gentle Giant" down the road who is puzzle maker.   


Incidentally if you are not familiar with the term WWOOFER and you know people that would like to travel the world or you are interested in finding an affordable way to do so while being immersed in the land and local culture you might explore WWOOFing as an alternative.  New Zealand is full of WWOOFing opportunities.  Here you can lean more about: WWOOFERS.


Following our kind fisherman's advice we followed Route 12 south on the way to Waipou Forrest, home of the largest and most revered Kauri trees, and we saw the sign for Labyrinth Woodworks.  We took the winding gravel/dirt road approximately 5k up to the Gentle Giant's home and he greeted us, standing outside, barefoot and holding a chain saw; it was a sight to behold. You can link to his site HERE.
My friend, artist, musician, composer, producer, Umedia president, writer Dave Cain with Louis in the shop.
Dave is around 6ft tall.
Louis is barefoot.
Louis' wife spins wool from their sheep and knits clothing as well.  This shop had wood work of Louis and others and games and retro toys . . . all kinds of fun and imaginative items.  


If you've ever wondered where "the middle of nowhere is:" this is it.


Louis says he has had media coverage from all over the world.  He was kind and informative and shared himself with ease.  


Here was an article hanging in the shop:
Louis and his wife have built a labyrinth on the mystical property where friendly, beautiful peacocks and chickens roam free.  You pass over a stream covered with Calla Lilies and yes, you feel like you are in the enchanted land of the hobbits, finding yourself in a beautiful green expanse that leads to the large gate directing you to the maze. 
Find the 2 peacocks.


No zoom required for this friendly fowl


He especially loved standing right by my car

Standing on the bridge




Glimpse into the vast maze


A friend that migrated to New Zealand from South Africa years ago told us recently that in this simple country you will find many simple, magical moments that you happen upon.  This trip was definitely a perfect example of what she described.


My point of this post is more than to just share my journey of the last couple days, but what I and my fellow creative travelers took away from this enlightening trip.




  • If you have a dream of how you want your life to be, start living it . . . even if it is one baby step at a time
  • Stop making excuses that you can't afford your dream. I was traveling with two other travelers who have seen the world on a shoe string budget when they were very young.  How? They made travel their priority, seized opportunities, saw open doors rather than impossibility.
  • Remember that our world is full of stories of artists and writers who have made the choice to live their dreams.   These two people I have highlighted from our trip North could not live in a more remote area but radiated pure energy and the desire to live their own truth.  People (and even the media) find them.
  • Every time you are compelled to make an excuse of why you cannot create, create.  Soon the creation will outweigh the excuses.
  • Trust your inner drive and creativity and seek out opportunities that speak to you.
  • Be the creative bliss you want to be.  Live it.  Breathe it.  Be it.




These lilies grow wild in the pastures, along the roads . . . all over. 





Saturday, 6 August 2011

It's Saturday Somewhere (Whangarei, pronounced Fawn' ger aye)

In New Zealand it is the weekend.  It is Saturday.

I consider myself "off."

I will share a bit of what is happening in my now.



We are surrounded by 100's of newborn lambs.  They are a delight.  They frolic and act like little idiots.  When they nurse their little tails wag a million miles an hour. 
They get me high.
You know how they say that the first time you smoke crack you are addicted? My friend Jan is addicted to the lamb-crack already and she is why I took these photos this morning, the first time she was able to see our surroundings in the light of day.

 These are our American friends Dave and Jan Cain.  They will be here for around ten days.  I'm interested to see what that does to my "first time writer experiment" which I am journaling.  If it helps, Dave (artist, musician, meditation and energy healer, writer) just looked across the room at me and . . . oh, he's psychic, did I mention that . . . he says, "Becky I see you writing."  As I continued to type I responded, "Yes, I am . . . or are you being psychic and you mean in the future?"  "Yes, I see you writing all the time, long term.  I just see it."  Well there then.  That bodes well for my being a full-time writer experiment. 
Thank you Guru Dave.

Here is Whangarei waterfall where we went today for a moment of zen.

I am near obsessing about ego and creating.  Does ego help or hinder?  Does egoless art/writing/creation exist?  Can we create better if we can put ego in a gag and bury it underground in a box with a very small breath hole?  Let's discuss later.

Until then.

Write On.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Obsession Part Deux (because that's what we do- we go on and on): Ways to Deal

Disclaimer: no decapitation occurred in the shooting of this
photo.  I think.  How counterintuitive would that be?
Realizing yesterday's post struck a chord with our writer/artist-tribe we now visit some obsession relief techniques.  These are only to be used when obsession is working against you, not when it is doing the tango with your muse.
To review:
  • creative people have active minds
  • active minds are difficult to turn off 
  • anxiety's primary symptom is the inability to turn your mind off
  • do you have anxiety (personally i hate diagnostic boxes)?  we all do at times, but good for you if your art has become your medicine
  • use your obsessions for good and not evil . . . stay away from self-deprecating inner dialogue
  • hence- you can choose what thoughts to put in your mind but that may take some training
Here we go:
  • do you have difficulty relaxing because your brain is working over time?
  • is falling asleep and staying asleep ever a problem?
  • does your life feel out of balance because you are so driven?
Some tried and true methods to beat the crap out of anxiety OR rotten rumination:
  • Here's some irony for you- keep a note pad with you and if you are ruminating about an idea or a task you are afraid you are going to forget WRITE IT DOWN.  I love my iphone for this and voraciously use the notes feature.
  • Keep the note pad by your bed so when you are having that recurring thought that is interfering with your sleep or if you have that inspiring idea or dream that you are so afraid will flee you can WRITE IT DOWN.
  • I know if I say to meditate regularly a percentage of you will roll your eyes.  But what if I say to make it your job to keep your breaths regular?  Trust me on this, I could write a book about how and why this works . . . just do it.  Note your breath throughout your day.  Writers can be the worst.  We get caught up in an inspiring idea we are typing away and guess what else we are frequently doing?  Holding our breath.  And what does that do?  It activates our sympathetic drive (yes the stress gas pedal in our body).  First, just start noticing that your breathing . . . you will be amazed at how irregular it is and how frequently you stop breathing.  Next, make an effort to keep your breath regular- 5 or 6 counts in and 5 or 6 counts out.  The bonus?  This is also very important for overall health (Again, the book that could be written; I'll stop.  Just trust me.)
  • Choose the thoughts that you put in your mind.  If you've had a rejection or are just self-rejecting, STOP. Take some time to focus on that easy, even breathing and choose the more positive thought to put in your mind, "I write with ease," "My writing brings me joy," "I am a successful writer." This simple practice is multi-faceted: you are calming your autonomic nervous system with your even breathing, you are using a form of self-hypnosis by putting your intention into your mantra and you are practicing "thought substitution," which will control negative ruminations.
  • For sleep?  Again, start with the easy relaxing breath.  Center your mind, relax your body and with each breath count backwards from 100.  If you have sleep problems so this EVERY time you go to bed; don't wait for it to be a difficult sleep night.  And save this trick ONLY for sleep because you will be training your mind-body to go to sleep when triggered by the counting of the breath.  We want that happening in your bed, not the board room.
  • And don't forget to move. Get up and go put your feet on the earth regularly.  Set a timer if you must. Walk. Run. Sit and breathe.  Stay connected with the cosmos.  It's easy to disconnect when we spend so much time in our heads.  Your mind and your body needs the earth-energy.
That's enough for today, even though here are so many more simple techniques, and enough to help you get over any obsessive humps.


And how do I know it works?  Years of practice as a psychotherapist and seeing miracle results when folks followed recommendations.


Oh, that and remember?  I obsess.  (but I also smite those obsessions into submission when necessary)


Write On


PS. I'm on day 3 of a little personal project: Living the Life of a Full-Time Writer.  It. Rocks.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Anxiety & Art or Obsession: playing in a writer near you


Obsess: to haunt or excessively preoccupy the mind; to engage in obsessive thinking, become obsessed with an idea.


What is the primary symptom of (clinical) anxiety?  Not being able to turn your brain off. Worrying.  Having an incessant internal dialogue.  Obsessing.


While assessing one patient about his difficulty turning his thinking off, he responded, "If you mean the fact that I've taken apart two different pieces of machinery in my head and put them back together while we've been sitting here talking then, yes, I guess I do have trouble with that."


Writers and artists obsess.  There would be no story, no book, no piece without ruminating about the artistic process.




Writers tend to have an ongoing internal story in the works.  The desolate neglected house we zoomed by while driving in the country when I was a kid would prompt me to imagine about the lives of the previous occupants.  A lonely appearing older gentleman having a solitary lunch can launch a story in my mind.  You know the drill.



Does that mean all writers are inherently anxious folk?  Good question.


A writer/artist might have clinical anxiety but may be "self treating" it with the process of thinking about their art and/or craft.  Rather than feeling like they have no control and are being held hostage by their incessant internal ramble, they channel those thoughts into creative flow.


So here is the enlightenment of the day: the most effective type of therapy for the control of anxiety and depression symptoms is called cognitive therapy.  What does it consist of?  In a nutshell--controlling what you think. You capture and control the thoughts rather than the thoughts absconding and controlling you.


Anxiety ridden thoughts are full of fear and angst.  Depressive thoughts are, well, depressing.  Writers' and artists' obsessions are full of . . . creativity.


We also have the frustrated or blocked creator where thoughts get channelled into a repetitive vortex of self-flagellation: I suck; I'm not a writer; I can't think of anything; my creativity is dead; look at everyone else around writing and I'm stuck.  Clearly that circular reasoning will do nothing but lower one's mood and motivation.


Use your obsessive qualities to work for good and not evil.


Take control of what you put in your head.


Write.


Write when you are happy.


Write when you are sad.


Write when you are stuck . . . write about being stuck and how you are going to get unstuck.


And then there is the compulsion to write/create.


We'll stop here for now.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

get your om on

Today's Daily Om message was right on.  Check it out HERE.

enter job--exit ego


With this move to New Zealand there have been many unearthed treasures.  Sitting on my bed typing while looking out at the ocean harbor and Mount Manaia- one of the most sacred Maori spots in NZ- is nothing less than a miracle.

One of the most profound gifts has been the opportunity to pursue the life of a writer full time.  It is a bit of an experiment because I found when I was writing as an assignment for other publications there was always the ominous ego involved.  What will they think of the piece?  Is it good enough?  If I only had time for myself I could really do something with my writing.

Blame maturity or realism or the simple passion of creating but the process of writing and finishing my book has been the most ego-less writing I have ever undertaken.  While I heard other authors speaking of writing for the market and the pressure that added to their writing, I couldn't relate.  I was driven to write this book and I wanted to write if for myself and stay engaged with where the characters and story were leading me; I did not write with a goal of publication.

Enter ego.

After waking up several mornings to enthusiastic, praise infused emails from my critiquing readers of the "finished" novel I swelled with positive energy.  Do something with it . . . put it out there they tell me. (in reality, i felt as i had won the lottery just hearing that my characters and story had moved folks so and could now die happy)

When you contemplate the process of sending a novel out to an audience known for rampant rejection it is inevitable that ego will rear its persistent head (and rambling inner voice, as if I don't obsess enough already).

What to do?  Summon the energy and action to counteract ego:

  • I am not waiting for the acceptance of an outside entity to validate that I am an author. 
  • I am going to live the life of an author (more on what that means later)
  • If I get nothing more than the reaction of people I choose to share my book with, I'm down with that.
  • When ego enters and I have concern about finding an outside entity to represent me or "like" me I will turn that focus into my job as a writer.

It is an experiment of sorts.  I got my dream job.  Now, what do I do with it?

Stay tuned.

And if you are working on integrating more writing into your life please let me know how that is going.