5 Things on a Deserted Island

My five favorite things are:

  1. coffee
  2. my journal
  3. my bike
  4. my iphone
  5. books (on kindle or paperbound)

But if I had to live on an deserted island, I know I’d have to take one more thing — sunscreen. Because my dermatologist would yell at me more than she already does if I showed up at my twice-yearly appointment with even more sunspots.

In terms of non-things on my island, (in addition to my immediate family, of course), I’d also want to take my book club and my writing class because we never seem to run out of things to say about what we write or read.

I’d also like to take Manhattan to my desert island because it is a treasure trove of beauty, especially on a foggy day like today.

Man, today was bea-ut-i-ful — so perfect for a bike ride through Central Park. Scroll down for a few more pics.

On a writerly note, I was going to post a memoir piece about my Norwegian grandmother that I wrote in the my Monday night writing group, but suddenly it felt too personal. Any way, come to a writing workshop if you want more personal writing. Check out the workshops at: http://www.bootcamp4writers.com/

Central Park leaves
This whimsical art installation of Eight Giant Red Snails from the Galleria Ca ‘d’Oro and Villa Firenze Foundation as part of the REgeneration Art Project.
Any place more beautiful than Central Park on a foggy day? I don’t think so.
He da man, Shakespeare in the Park

Creative Writing Improves Health

Through a screen, this is this morning's view as I write in my journal.

I write about feeling unnoticed or unappreciated; I also write about feeling grateful and lucky. Today’s list was long.

One of the things I’m grateful for is this daily habit of writing. I journal every morning.

Here’s why:

Writing provides clarity. I come to the end of my three pages of handwritten catharsis with a deeper understanding of some of the puzzles of my life. Nothing’s resolved, but the clean sheets are hung out to dry. I can see what I’ve got.

Journaling improves health. The physical effects of journaling are similar to the effects of meditating. My breathing slows down. My attention turns inward.

Writing documents the journey. I can reassure myself that things aren’t that bad, or confess that they are worse. My written words, once laid out, give me a benchmark if I should ever look back. But I never look back.

Journaling taps into my unconscious. Writing first thing in the morning, I dump my dreams on the page. They make no sense, yet are telling me something, some bubbled-up, mixed-up message. In looking at my dreams, I take the position that I am every character. I am more than me.

This blog is about health and fitness. Journaling is part of my mental and psychic fitness. It is my therapy. And journaling every morning is cheaper and more convenient than talk therapy. I began this morning habit ten years ago following the path of Julia Cameron’s guidebook, The Artist’s Way. I heard her speak years ago at Marble Collegiate Church. Loved her then. Love her now.

I write a lot more about creative writing at my blog, The Connected Life. http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/ There, I document unplugging the kids from their media and all things writing.


3 Simple Rules

When I used to do stand up, I would tell myself 3 things right before I went on stage:

1. Be yourself

2. Have fun

3. It’s important

And I am trying to tell myself these same 3 rules at the start of every day.

I did not sleep well last night. One of the darlings came into bed with me at around 2. She’s nearly as big as an adult so she woke me. We have no air conditioning. It was  hot. I tossed and turned. Then I  moved to my daughter’s now-empty bed. I’d heard an antidote to insomnia is changing rooms.

As I walked in the hall, I heard the television was still on. My husband stays up way too late into the night, sometimes until 3 or 4. Then of course he falls asleep in the early evening hours when you’re talking to him (blame the Parkinson’s). Hearing the television just made me feel all sad and jumbled — my life, my restless night, my work. And I couldn’t wait until morning so I could dump all my thoughts, worries, dreams, into my journal.

1. Be yourself. Because there is a unique point of view based on a unique life’s journey. And for whatever reason, this is my journey. This is mine.

2. Have fun. Because I seriously believe that we are put on this earth to give and experience joy. The goal in life is to be happy, joyous, and free.

3. It’s important. Because I can easily dismiss my point of view, or expect that I am less than. But what I have to say is important.

I did fall asleep in my daughter’s bed and woke to write all this in my journal.

Why I Am Happy

This morning, like every morning, I awoke before the family. I sipped my coffee, scrawled in my journal, glanced at my smart phone, and scanned The Times’s headlines. I felt connected and happy.

I wondered, Why am I happy? I ask myself why I’m unhappy, because that needs fixing. But my happiness usually goes unquestioned.

I figured, My happiness is from my relationships. I have good relationships.

My weekends are usually an accumulation of pleasing others (the kids). Yesterday, there was enough in the day that pleased me too. I watched my son’s basketball game, sitting on the gym floor chatting with an old friend and making a new friend.

I went to Chelsea Piers for one of my daughter’s camp reunions. I ice skated and chatted with the Treetops Camp family. In the evening, I attended my friend’s art show and chatted with artists about deep things. (I see that in the day I chatted with a lot of other adults. Happy!)

Then I came home from the art event and watched Mike Leigh’s ‘Happy-Go-Lucky.’ (Usually the kids monopolize the television. But I had prepared them: “I’m going to watch a movie tonite.”) The film’s heroine is a happy, giggly, silly teacher who tries flamenco dancing, trampolining and learning to drive. (Sally Hawkins = brilliant.)

The day also was happy because not only was there a lot of chatting. But I had pockets of Me Time in it too. I walked in the rain to the St. Agnes library. For five minutes, I sat in a cozy chair and read a weekly news magazine. And the library is where I borrowed the movie, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky.’ New York Public libraries so rock.

My #1 rule is Pile on the People. And it’s working out.

I joined a Facebook group of bloggers who post every day, because at times I need a push to write these daily blog posts. I was reading one post http://peterweis.com/inspiration/what-should-you-really-be-doing/ because the title intrigued me. (It prompted this post.)

I think I am doing what I should be doing. Making others happy in a way that makes me happy too. Happy.  And happy-go-lucky.

Writing about social media

I have spent my entire evening writing a prayer service on technology for a daylong retreat.

I want to go to bed AND I want to keep up my daily post. So I’ll cheat (repurpose) and include here a bit from my retreat booklet.

I want the retreat goer to ask, What does social media do to your soul? (This may or may not make it into the final chapter.)

Assignment: take 15 minutes to quietly reflect on how we give or receive words of love through social media. Write in your journals these three writing prompts.

I was cursed by technology when ….

Then I was blessed by technology when…

Now I know I can write words of love through cyberspace by…

To toot my own horn here (without blowing it), I was pleased with the nice response to my creative writing prompts on this blog last month. http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/creative-writing-prompts/ Thanks to Dawn Herring, @JournalChat and #journalchat for choosing that post as the post of the week.