Gratitude

So here we are. The season of gratitude. Thanksgiving.

We know gratitude:

  1. Enlarges us.
  2. Boosts our immune system.
  3. Connects us to beauty.
  4. Keeps us rooted in the present moment.
  5. Pushes away criticism and jealousy.
  6. Embraces the giver as well as the receiver.

How do we make our thank yous more than platitudes?

  1. Make it general. Don’t expect anything back.
    • Thank God or the earth. “Even after all this time the sun never say to the earth, “You Owe Me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” (Don’t know who said this.)
  2. Make it specific.
    • As the March Hare said, “Say what you mean.” Mean what you say.
  3. Find a tribe of gratitude givers.
    • on Facebook, Richard Paul Evans hosts a GratiTuesday (I’ve not read his books but met him at an event – super nice guy!)
  4. Give 7 hugs a day.
    • After a hug, we feel so warm and cuddly, then we’re able to say grateful things.
  5. Woke up today!
    • What else could we ask for?

Some of today’s thoughts were inspired from #spiritchat — a soulful Sunday morning Twitter chat about a spiritual topic. The tweets fly fast and furious. This morning, I couldn’t chat because I had to borrow a camera from a friend.

This is the second reporting/photography job I’ve had in a couple of weeks. (Am reporting on an East Village Korean church for the Interpreter magazine.)

So grateful for friends (and their generosity!)

I’m also grateful for:

  • twitter (social media) and #spiritchat
  • photography work
  • the sun warming me
  • the crunch of dead leaves beneath my feet
  • the warmth of hugs
  • my great health
  • my optimism
  • old and new friends

Check out the founder of spirit chat, Kumud Ajmani’s blog.

What are

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...
New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

you grateful for?

Teaching Trials

I am teaching a blogging workshop on Thursday night at New Work City in Chinatown. You should come, because it’s going to be awesome. And I need some support. I’m looking forward to teaching adults, because I’ve had some struggles with my middle schoolers.

I’m chagrined about my creative writing class in the after school this semester. I’ve had some challenges. And I just want the kids to write, damnit. I want them to sit quietly with pen and paper in hand and go for it. I give them great creative writing prompts, and I give them fun assignments. And we’ve gone on lovely field trips.

But still, they throw carrots at each other and scribble on each other’s worksheets. And in the last class, after a trip to Shake Shack, no less, one girl poured salt in another girl’s hair.

I don’t know if I’m not keeping my kids busy enough. Or if I am being too hard or too soft on them. I love them but I don’t understand them. And I overheard one girl tell another one that I hate her and I told her, “I don’t hate you, I love you, but I don’t like what you do.”

And it’s freakin’ after school, so it’s supposed to be fun. Let’s respect each other. And let’s get creative. Let’s write.

On my pinterest board, I reminded myself: The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.

I try to remember that. And I do give them a lot of love.

My friend thinks I should start calling parents and washing my hands of the kids who act up. But I don’t want to give up. I have faith in these kids. They just have to write more.

If only they’d write about their lives, I know they’d know themselves better and feel better about themselves. And maybe stop goofing off.

That’s why I blog — to know myself better and to feel better about myself. And to stop goofing off.

While I am feeling unhappy about my after school teaching experience, I’m hoping that my adult students on Thursday night will be a little more manageable.

Blogging workshop at new work city on January 9, 2014

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Blogs to Follow

I’m humble. I don’t want to brag about our awesome upcoming writing workshops. (Yes, Kelly Wallace and I are leading some workshops on blogging.) But let me brag or blog about my friends’ blogs.

Blogging is about sharing the wealth of your knowledge. I wish more of my friends would blog because it’s fun. I like finding out what my friends are thinking. Here are three recommendations from some of my besties. And these are my friends IRL (in real life!).

Kelly’s blog – check out her recent post on forgiveness. She says, in considering forgiveness and remembering some childhood shit, “Right now things are a little like my morning run: muddy.”

Linda Bloom’s blog – Linda’s an emptynester so check out her take on how Modern Family depicts the college years.

Jolain’s blog – Jolain comments on fashion. She does all the artwork herself. I love her drawings.

My friends are creative geniuses.

Jolain Bowen illustrates her fashion blog

They have stories to tell and pictures to share. They have opinions I value.

For a while, my friend Dan posted on a blog about everything he ate. It was interesting because I never realized he ate so many sardines. It got me interested in eating sardines.

Dan discovered one secret to getting readers to check out your blog — mention chocolate (not sardines!). I will try to gain readers by bragging about my friends’ blogs. And I will resort to chocolate if necessary.

Revising

pages from my art journal

I love the creative process. I love the brilliant idea as bright as a candle flame. The revision process? Not so sexy.

I wish I could fall in love with rewriting. These tips for writers as they revise at Necessary Fiction really got me thinking. Here are a few useful ideas from the post:

  • write the plot on sticky notes then organize in columns
  • retype the whole thing
  • change fonts
  • make sure what your character wants is an impediment to what others want
  • raise the stakes
  • get rid of introductory clauses

I am in love with the short form. I love blogging. I sit down. Write for 20 minutes. Add a photo or two. Hit publish. Done! Go about life.

For me revising is endless. There’s no Done!

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I now have two half-baked novels written during the months of November (2011 and 2009). Due to their unwieldy length, slightly more than 50,000 words, I can’t bear to open the first chapter. Just maybe if I set out the plot on colorful sticky notes or cut up my scenes with scissors, the story could emerge more like a work of art, a collage, than a mess of incomplete plot points.

collage – perhaps upside-down?

I have been crazy making collages lately. I get into a Zen mode and throw paint and color and images down on paper or on discarded library books.

Done! I love the haphazard process and the chaotic result. Maybe I could see the process of revising my writing as a visual art project.

As the blogger Matthew Salesses says, “a lot of these thoughts are about seeing. Remember: re-vision.”

I, too, can repurpose, rewrite, rethink, rewind, rework, and revise. Re-vision.

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WordPress WordCamp

After last weekend’s workshops, I felt a swift kick in the pants about my blogging habits. I realized I need to up my game and move from amateur status to pro. I’ve been dabbling and I need to commit.

In the workshop, “Triple Your Post Frequency,” Andraz Tori of Zemanta said blogging is like working out — You need to make it a habit, break a sweat, and sometimes hire a coach.

The workshops opened my eyes to the number and variety of people working with WordPress, our blogging home. A ton of hat-wearing dudes and chicks are using WordPress as a platform to develop websites. (I love the word platform, I always think of the public park district pool and the platform from which I jumped (and others dove) into a cool summer pool.)

The pre-party for WordPress WordCamp speakers and organizers at the Mad Hatter.

My workshop was on the topic of Social Media and Social Movements. When I saw my time slot, 9:30 am, I worried that it was too early to get enough activists to make the workshop lively – as I’d built in time for small-group discussion.

Thankfully, about a dozen bloggers showed up — including Ron Suarez, an Occupy Wall Streeter.and Yangbo Du, a global social media guru.

At the end of my workshop, a bunch of people started trickling in. Cool! Had word gotten out through Twitter how much fun we were having? How awesome my workshop was? No, Frederick Townes, lead techy for Mashable, was speaking in the room after me and people were jockeying for a good seat.

No matter. I’ve committed to posting more regularly. I am going to post on this blog every Sunday and post on MBCoudal My Rules every Friday. And then post on My Beautiful New York and Health and Fitness whenever the spirit moves me.

Because, much as I try, I cannot schedule or legislate my creativity. My muses are wild; they cannot be tamed.

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