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Category — The Power of Writing

You Are Here

What are your most basic questions? My first question has always been “What’s going on here?” Then “What’s really going on here?” Sometimes not easy questions to answer, but important to whatever comes next.

Don’t you love the maps found in large shopping malls or office complexes? The first thing you see is the circle with the X inside it saying “You are here.”

“Oh,” you say, “This is where I am, so now I know which direction to turn to get to where I want to be.”

Without the knowledge of where you are, you can’t know how close or far away you are from your destination. Just so, it’s important to know where you are in the great scheme of things in life. This question presupposes that you know something about the big picture and something about your destination (destiny).

And within these questions: “Who am I?”

My mother always told me, “Just be yourself, and you’ll be fine.” But who is that self? And how do you find out? [Read more →]

September 10, 2008   4 Comments

Listen

“Only connect,” wrote E. M. Forster. How to be connected in a world that seems to be pushing all of us toward disconnection with stress, information overload, long work hours, and the breakdown of community social structures that no longer function? In the past, most new acquaintances would be introduced by a friend or close connection so that you knew something about that person and his or her background.

Connection makes life rich. To have happy and nurturing connections is to live a life of joy and fulfillment. Easily said, but sometimes difficult to do. One of the best ways to connect with someone is to listen. Listen with all the resources at your disposal.

That means not interrupting. Paying good attention (not reading the newspaper or playing video games), giving eye contact and “squaring off,” facing another person directly, not looking over your shoulder. You might want to draw the other person out by asking “Is there more?” or “Can you tell me more about that?”

When Frank and I met 16 years ago, one of the first and most important things I noticed about him was how intently and acceptingly he listened to me with his whole being. He mirrored my feelings on his face and provided a comfortable “container” for me to open up and be myself. It was a wonderful, comfortable feeling.

When someone is angry with you, good listening alone can often restore the peace. Just hear the person out. Let them express their feelings freely. Wait. Let the anger dissipate. Only then do you say what you want to say. Give them several chances to get the anger out until it’s exhausted.

And the same with someone who is upset or anxious. Listening is a healing balm. Often that’s the main thing someone wants from you. A good listening.

I grew up with an extended family who all listened to me, and I am privileged to be able to listen to my sister, Charla, as she inspires me by walking courageously and confidently through her cancer testing [Read more →]

September 9, 2008   3 Comments

And In A Moment, Everything Changes

The phone rings. It’s my sister, Charla, with news from her mammogram and other tests. Cancer.

Suddenly nothing is the same.

A new life story for us both as we walk this new path. I want to be with her (at least in spirit) and support her as much as possible. How can I be most helpful? What can I do? I can’t do what I most want to do: [Read more →]

September 1, 2008   No Comments

How Do You Know When a New Life Story Begins?

Sometimes you plan for new life stories, carefully laying the groundwork, planning, getting information, journaling possible new futures, visualizing, taking it step-by-step.

Sometimes a new life story develops gradually, growing and gaining strength beneath the surface. “Roads not taken” often do that. For one reason or another you consciously take a path and leave others untaken, then over the course of months or years, that path reappears, often in a different form giving us undreamed of possibilities.

Sometimes a new life story “happens itself upon us” in an instant. A chance meeting, a letter, a phone call, a change in a relationship, an illness, a promotion, and suddenly everything is different. Everything [Read more →]

August 26, 2008   1 Comment

Creating Thinking Time

During a recent visit, Barak Obama and David Cameron—Leader of England’s Conservative Party—discussed the importance of not getting bogged down in details. “The most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking,” said Obama.

After all, we all need planning time, time for reflection, decision-making time, problem-solving time, and time for “simply being.”

The big question is: [Read more →]

July 31, 2008   No Comments

The Two Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

Henry James got it almost right. Those two words are surely summer morning, not summer afternoon.

A summer morning cool, heavy, washed with dew and birdsong and with the promise of untold delights ready to unfold. Who knows what a day might bring?

First go get the newspaper from the mailbox near the road, then check all the little gardens. They’re all looking a little better, and the soil is gradually coming to a lovely, friable state

The weather is so crisp this morning that I have two thoughts: [Read more →]

July 27, 2008   6 Comments

Time to Write

The clear sunny morning promises heat this afternoon. Rolled out to check the gardens and think how many things I’d like to be doing outside.

Writing awaits, and I want to finish some work before I play. I did pick thyme, sage, and rosemary for tonight’s as yet unknown dinner. Lentil soup perhaps. I think of Virginia Woolf’s diary: “One acquires a certain power over [Read more →]

July 5, 2008   3 Comments