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Haiku Friday: Forever

PhilosophersToday my haiku is from January 30th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Philosophers, Scientists, and Other Ponderers, one of a 7-book series. You can now purchase this book on Amazon here.

The haiku topic for today is “Wings”:

if we’re so evolved
why then fears’ bloody mucus?
where are our white wings?

 It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here.

Writing Tip: The Voice or The Spirit

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Next month I’m teaching my writing class called Writing as a Spiritual Practice, which was the first writing class I ever taught, almost fifteen years ago. I loved and still love doing this class, and the participants seem to love it too.

I have noticed over time that the folks who attend Writing as a Spiritual Practice often come because of the word “spiritual” in the title. They are wonderful people. We have a great time exploring topics like “absurdity and the forbidden” and “sensory details – it’s a daffodil, not a flower.” We write our guts out. And then we play with them. (Not literally, of course.)

A few years ago I noticed that some people are put off by the word “spiritual” so didn’t come to these classes. I’ve always believed that all of us are “spiritual” – that is, we have a spirit – even when we don’t think of ourselves that way. But many people see the word “spiritual” and think someone is going to shove a religion or an occult belief down their throats. Yet these “non-spiritual” people have great stories, heart-felt ideals, and just as much poetry inside as anyone else. Also like anyone else, they often had trouble liberating those poetic voices inside them.

So I changed the title of the class to Finding Your Voice. No one seemed to be turned off by the word voice, and all sorts of people started coming to this class. They came because many of us have writing voices that are muted, stilted, confused, or strangled by expectations. Finding Your Voice and Writing as a Spiritual Practice are exactly the same – they’re about freeing those voices so that your message – whatever it is – can get out. After all, what good is your wisdom, beauty, or brilliance if you keep it locked up inside?

Nowadays I offer this class under both titles, changing the title to suit the audience. I’ve found the “spiritual” attendees are often quite noisy, happily sharing funny stories that make everyone guffaw; and the “non-spiritual” attendees often share the most ethereal poetic visions of connection and belonging.

Voice, Spirit, Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I think it’s exactly the same thing.

If you live near Seattle, Washington, you can sign up for this class here.

Compost: Be a Hurdler

hurdlesI wrote an e-book I called Ghost Stories for Real Ghosts, which is a compilation of blog posts and online articles I’ve written for my own blog (www.FromtheCompost.com ), the Blood Red Pencil (http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com), Biznik (www.biznik.com), Writers’ Village (www.writers-village.org), A Storied Career (www.astoriedcareer.com), the National Association of Memoir Writers (www.namw.org), and others. The 42 chapters cover writing in general as well as ghostwriting in particular, and describe and explain the joy and pains, challenges and opportunities, of being a writer and a ghostwriter – which are not the same thing. This compilation e-book, like my e-books Getting the Work and Doing the Work, is only available to participants in the Learn to Ghost program. (www.LearnToGhost.com).

However, here is one of those chapters, which I called “Hurdles” as a freebie. It’s about the hurdles I had to leap over when I started my ghostwriting and freelance writing business. Entrepreneurship is hard. But it is also exhilarating.

Hurdles

Although it had been my dream since childhood, I did not become a full-time writer until I was middle-aged. It was a scary decision, and many co-workers, acquaintances, family, and friends thought I was completely bonkers to give up a well-paying job for a nebulous dream. Even after I proved that I could indeed support myself by writing, they thought I was nuts to continue with it. “I’d never do that,” said my former co-workers. “Are you sure you can keep jumping over all the hurdles, especially at your age?” said one of my helpful aunties. “Aren’t you worried about the future? What will happen when you get old?” asked one of my closest friends.

Ah, those hurdles. They are there, you know. But I found that the hardest hurdles to jump over were all in my own head. Worrying about whether I’d spend all my savings and end up on welfare, worrying about pleasing my clients, worrying that no one would hire me, worrying that I’d embarrass myself and my family by failing, worrying worrying worrying.

I’m not sure you can ever banish worry entirely. It seems to be part of who we are as humans. But I have learned to replace much of my worry with trust. On good days, and even on average days, I trust that the universe wants me to succeed. I trust that if I do my part, the universe will do its part.

But I confess that on bad days I might revert to worrying. There have been days when I’m sure the proverbial bag-lady is hanging out in my closet, waiting for me to fail so she can lend me her shopping cart. I start to think longingly about handy things like salaries, medical benefits, 401Ks, sick days, and vacations days—you know, all those “guarantees” that I used to have.

And then I remember that the word guarantee represents a total illusion. No amount of worry will guarantee success. Worry does not work. One of my favorite quotations about worry is by Peter McWilliams: “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.”

I also remember those people in my life who have supported me in this crazy dream. Especially my two grown daughters, who have been kind enough to tell me they have been inspired by my mid-life leap, and when they get to middle age, they will know how to do it right. It is comments like these, from people I love and respect, that remind me that we are all teachers for one another. We’re not here for ourselves.

Haiku Friday: Forever

Philosophers

Today my haiku is from January 23rd of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Philosophers, Scientists, and Other Ponderers, one of a 7-book series. You can now purchase this book on Amazon here.

The haiku topic for today is “Forever”:

look around right now
there is nothing more than this
forever is now

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here.

Writing Tip: Dogs Already Have Spirit

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Alex Terrgi here. Instead of taking me on a leisurely evening walk on Wednesdays in February, my human will be leaving me alone in our house with just The Cat for company. (And if you knew The Cat, you would know her company is no consolation.)

My human says this is just because she is “facilitating” a class called “Writing as a Spiritual Practice.” If you live where we do (near Seattle) you can sign up for this class here.

Trying to make me feel better about being left alone with The Cat, she said one writing exercise she’ll try is to ask her students to “write about yourself in the voice of your pet – your dog, cat, bird, hamster, or goldfish. What don’t they understand about you? What do they know that no one else does? Let them tell some of your secrets.”

Well, maybe that will be good for the other humans in the class, but I don’t see what good it will do me – my human already writes about herself in my voice, and she knows that I have plenty of spirit and don’t need to practice.

(She doesn’t write about herself in the voice of The Cat, though. I think that’s because she’s afraid of what The Cat would say. The Cat can be really nasty.)

And I don’t see why she needs to “facilitate,” whatever that means. Sounds like one of those fancy human words that really just mean “talk a lot.”

But all it means to me is that the Wednesdays in February will be lonely.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: What is Better, Dogs or Sheep?

AnimalsAlex Terrgi here. Yesterday my human read me this haiku for her Animals book:

breathe deep, get ready
rich smells of distant rabbits
thick upon the ground

Isn’t that beautiful? Rich smells of distant rabbit … it made me drool with happiness and then it made me sad cuz I thought of my sister Goody Beagle, who can’t smell rabbits anymore because she’s dead. She loved rabbit smell – actually she loved all smells, and I miss her a lot. Sigh.

So then today I was ready to be happy and sad again when my human read her haiku to me, but instead I got this:

the Hill of Tara
sheep graze above Irish bones
white blobs in gray mists

 I met a sheep once. It was big and stupid and smelled bad. I don’t understand why the human would write about one. The only thing I liked about this haiku was the bones part. I like to dig up and chew on most bones, but I don’t know what Irish bones are, maybe they are bad for dogs, like my human says chicken bones are, every time she throws them in the garbage. I don’t think she’s ever had Irish bones for dinner, though.

I must have looked puzzled over the sheep and bones haiku, because my human smiled at me and said, “You’ll like tomorrow’s haiku, Alex. I’ll read it to you now.” So she did. This is it:

learn life from a dog
curl up at the feet of love
all your needs are met

Wow. Just wow. She does know how important I am! She knows why I’m here, in her life! She really sees me. I felt so good after she read this haiku that I rolled all over the carpet and made happy sounds.

She promises to read me this again tomorrow. January 20th will be a good day.

If you want to read more of my human’s poems about dogs and other creatures, you can buy A Haiku Book of Days for Students of Animals, Birds, Insects, and Other Teachers here.

Haiku Friday: Guilt

Philosophers

Today my haiku is from January 16th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Philosophers, Scientists, and Other Ponderers, one of a 7-book series. You can now purchase this book on Amazon here.

The haiku topic for today is Guilt:

no judgment. no guilt.
no should. no musts. no have-tos.
wouldn’t that be great?

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here.

Writing Tip: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.59.04 PMI love to teach because teaching teaches me. One of my favorite class offerings is “Writing as a Spiritual Practice, a 4-week, once a week class I’ve been facilitating for about 15 years now. It’s always surprising when you delve deep – and this class does that. My short term goal for the class is to communicate my passion for writing so others might share it. My long term goal, grandiose as it sounds, is to do my bit in healing the world by providing a conduit and space for the many varieties of storytelling.

It’s an experiential class in which we do in-class writing exercises (yes, I mean “we” because I do them too), and reading aloud what we just wrote. Reading aloud yields somewhat paradoxical results – it allows you to claim your voice as yours, and it also allows you to let your voice go free, without attachment or judgment. We get to explore who we are, at our core. What could be more exciting than that? I can hardly wait to teach it again.

So if you live in Washington state, I’ll be facilitating “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” at the Woman Spirit Center in Bellevue on 4 Wednesdays in February, beginning February 4th, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Get more information here

Compost: Lists

listsHere’s something I wrote a few years ago, about what to do when your mind goes blank. Don’t tell me yours never does, because if you do I won’t believe you. Here is one way I deal with that awful blank page or screen, when suddenly your mind is as blank as the screen.

What to do? Be like a Boy Scout – be prepared. If you know this will happen to you (it happens to every writer), one thing that might help is to have a prepared list of things you are interested in. Make this list when your mind is NOT blank, but teeming with too many subjects that interest you. What is actually on the list doesn’t matter, as long as you have an interest, and preferably a passion, for the subject. Don’t elaborate, just write them down. Then save this list!

Here’s a list I made a couple of years ago. Some of the subjects I’ve already written about, others I no longer have an interest in. But others are still fertile ground waiting for me to plow through them.

Bee-keeping. Paganism. Candle-making. Hippies of the 1960s. Growing large zucchini and making zucchini boats. Spider webs. Starting a new business. The role of grandmothers. Aromatherapy. Community softball. Bungee cord jumping and those insane enough to try it. Television sitcoms and what they show about us. Siamese cats. The psychological effects of constipation. What you can learn from Alzheimer’s victims. Square dancing for round folks. True love and what it doesn’t conquer. The long shadows of lies. How Google is eliminating wonder. The sex lives of worms.

What is on your list?

Haiku Friday: Pattern

PhilosophersToday my haiku is from January 9th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Philosophers, Scientists, and Other Ponderers, one of a 7-book series. You can now purchase this book on Amazon here.

The haiku topic for today is “Pattern”:

set down a pattern
acts of kindness and of strength
keep your pathways clear

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here.