Today is the first day of Hanukkah, a celebration of the miracle of light. In the Hanukkah story, when it seemed that there was no more light left, the light kept burning until a new reserve of oil was ready.Even in dark times, we have access to more light than we sometimes know. At this dark and busy time of year, it’s important to remember the miracle of not only the external lights, but also the internal.To honor the light that is within each of us, I want to share a poem by Mary […]
I want to share with you two poems for the holiday season, both by Native American women.These poems are in the spirit of what I think is best about Thanksgiving–our celebration of the earth’s harvest and our connection with the earth, with one another and with ourselves. The first is a poem by Linda Hogan, The Way In Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.Sometimes the way in is a song.But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, woundin […]
Sometimes people ask me what to look for in a creative writing class, so I thought make a list of some of the most important qualities to look for and why.1) attention to process/emotional support and attention to product/ craft2) supportive community3) good readers,...
Today I want to share some words from Audre Lorde’s essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” to help inspire us to honor our own voices.
Over the past weeks, I’ve been writing about the importance of speaking and writing the truth. We might see this historic moment as a struggle between the truth and lies: is climate change real and worthy of our attention or is it a hoax? Does it matter if supreme court justices lie under oath? do we listen to the voices of women who are speaking the truth about abuse they suffered? is it programs like social security and medicare that bankrupt a country’s purse and moral […]
Why we need to take action (photo credit: By Cameron Strandberg from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada) I’ve been angry these past weeks. And under that anger is also fear and sadness. But instead of letting that stop me, I’m trying to let those feelings fuel me. In the Kavanaugh confirmation, we saw a blatant disrespect women’s voices and bodies and for truth itself. This week, a very alarming new report also came out about the state of our climate&mda […]
I want to write a slightly different post today.I talk a lot about the power of our voices and the ways in which, when we are centered, we can take more meaningful action.One of the questions I often wonder about and find myself in conversation about is how our voice can be used to effect change. I believe that everything we say—and do—matters and has an impact. I believe that smiling at a child makes a difference, that writing a poem makes a difference.But today I want to wri […]
Most of us remember daily diaries from when we were kids. If we were girls, our diaries may have had pretty pictures on the front and a little locket. But what was outside wasn’t really important. It was what was inside that mattered. Little did many of us know that our journals actually helped keep us healthy–not only emotionally and psychologically but also physically. James Pennebaker, a social scientist and researcher at the University of Texas, has done groundbreaking work […]
Many years ago, when I was writing my dissertation and struggling with the section I was working on, a friend reminded me that Thomas Mann once said, a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for other people. This quote helped me: it reminded me that writing doesn’t always flow naturally for writers; that if I was having a hard time, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t meant to be writing or wasn’t a “real writer.” When w […]
Many years ago, my therapist asked me, “do you see the glass half full or half empty?” I generally liked and respected and was helped by this therapist, but her question really bothered me.I went home and wrote a poem about that question—I imagined a mountain pass where two different girls walked. One girl walked over the pass unscathed, and the other girl stepped on a landmine. Would the correct question to ask those two girls be, do you see the world half full or half […]
I’m delighted to publish a new essay, “The Single Most Powerful Tool for Healing: Tell the Right Stories,” on Tiny Buddha. As the title of the essay suggests, the essay is about the experience of healing from trauma and the importance of having good narratives for this work. It felt vulnerable to write this essay—and that vulnerability is what the piece itself is largely about. So often, we’re quiet about our challenges, cloaked in shame about the things that hur […]
Mindful Art-Making, Re-Imagining the Future, Living up to Our Potential and Talking about Generative Scribing with Kelvy Bird
Kelvy Bird’s image–activating potential How do we respond to challenging times? How can art-making help us literally see differently so that we are able both to respond accurately to the present and to re-imagine the future? I’m delighted to share a conversation/ interview with Kelvy Bird about her new book Generative Scribing: A New Social Art for the 21st Century in which she discusses just these topics! Full disclosure: I coached Kelvy on the process of w […]
Sometimes I used to think that bringing yoga and writing together would water down both the yoga and the writing, but that was because I was still operating in a traditional mindset that wanted to keep mind and body separate. Now I can’t quite get back into that old mindset, but I can tell you that when we bring our mind and body together, we are able to tap into our full power and authority with ease—we’re no longer just standing on one foot trying […]
Sometimes my students ask me whether it’s okay to write from anger. I tell them, of course it is. Anger can be a good motivator. Often we have good reason to be angry, and our anger can help us be social justice warriors. It can direct us towards making change. So write from anger! Put it all on the page, and then after you have your first uncensored draft, revise it before publication so that you don’t say anything you regret. I want to share with you a piece I p […]
writing in Greece As Gabriel texts back images from Patagonia (they’re amazing!), I’ve been thinking about some of the places I’ve visited and how big and wide and multiple the world is and also at the beauty of connections over vast distances. This brings me back to one of my perennial questions/ objects of wonder: our capacity to embrace all of it. Yet again our news is full of suffering. And there is also so much beauty and love. I have written about ho […]
Last week Gabriel graduated from high school!I have a lot of emotions. Writing, as usual, helps, and so I’ve taken out my journal again. When Gabriel and Simone were babies and toddlers, I kept pretty good journals about what they were doing and how it was to be a mother of young kids. As a young mother, I was both writing for myself in the moment and writing for my future self and the future self of my kids, who would look back on our writing. Now when I read those ear […]
Start with these journal prompts and you’re well on your way to some deep reflection and to better understand where you’re at in your current season in life.
Why the stories we tell and listen to matter Hello on another beautiful spring day in Cambridge!As graduation day gets closer, I’ve been thinking more explicitly about what kind of world our children are going to enter. How do we make sense of the violence and injustice and also make space for the wonder and beauty? If you’ve heard me ask these questions before, that’s because they’re life-long questions for me, always at the center of what I do, as a mother, an activist, a coa […]
The word “rest” has a Germanic root that was a measure of distance: after traveling a certain distance, one needed to stop and rest. The very concept of rest, then, was inseparable from movement. When we depended, for travel, on our bodies, or the bodies of other animals, rest was built in. One could, literally, only go so far without stopping to rest.Rest is a core human experience; better rest leads to better immune systems, less inflammation, lower stress, slower aging, greater cr […]
Most of the literature that we read and the news that we consume is dominated by trauma. Indeed, it’s almost as if “news” and “stories” are defined by their trauma quotient: if there is nothing violent, tragic or disruptive, there is nothing to report, no plot line, nothing to grab the readers’ interest. But what effect does this have on us as readers, individually and what does effect does it have on us as a society? Studies on mirror neurons have shown that in primates,&n […]