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Category Archives: Random acts of Blogging

Permission to Break Rules

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blackout writing erased
Blackout Poetry…

What? Poetry? Eek, let me run!

If that’s what you are saying, hang in for just a sec. I know poetry scares the heck out of many people. Writing it scares them even more.

But this activity does three things:

  1.  You rediscover the wicked awesome feeling of breaking self-imposed rules and ideally bring that into the rest of your life.
  2. You discover you actually can explore writing poetry and in the process have a curious self-discovery aha moment.
  3. You awaken an appreciation of poetry, for those of you who’ve not really had that experience yet.

The image is a little inspiration for you – blackout poetry created by a few writer friends who joined me yesterday at Squilax Hostel for a writer’s retreat day. Each of us had our unique approach; from simply ‘blacking’ out words to highlight the chosen ones; to writing the chosen words onto the page; to decorating with felts and images. Our poetry also includes writing in words that weren’t on the page and glueing words from other pages when we needed them.

There simply are no rules. However, I’ve noted in workshops where I’ve introduced blackout poetry,  it takes a lot of encouragement to help people understand this. They struggle with trying to make something ‘poetic.’  They’re surprised that they don’t have to use just the words on the page – that they can add words from elsewhere, or simply write in words that are missing. It takes a few minutes of encouragement but once they realize they can do anything, it’s amazing to see their energy lighten up, their eyes sparkle and their creativity blossom.

The clincher that gets people inspired? Affirming over and over that THERE ARE NO RULES.  Our minds so often go first to things like: Am I supposed to do it this way? What’s the right way to do this? I don’t want to do it wrong. (This is also true in making life choices.)

Once given permission to break rules (self-imposed or otherwise), it’s like the mind and soul are ignited. Creativity leaps up yelling “Yay! I get to play!”  and wondrous discoveries happen. (This is also true in making life choices, by the way.)

The How-to’s of Blackout Poetry:

  • Take a page from any book or magazine. (If wrecking a book is against your principles, please know that I, as an author, would be proud to donate pages of my book to your blackout poetry. Or, go to your used book store and ask what books are going to the dump. Yup. That happens. You can give that old book new life)
  • Lightly circle words that stand out as you scan the page. Leave these words visible as you ‘black out’  the other words or create a design that highlights your choice words into a poem.

Seems so simple, yes? It is. A simple thoughtful process. Self discovery and poetry can be this simple, this mindful, and this profound.

Hell, you could even make origami cranes out of the paper leaving a couple meaningful words visible.  No rules, after all!

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I’d be so happy if you would share your blackout poetry here. Or even share what the process was like for you, if you are shy to share the image!  In fact, let me encourage you. If you share in the comments, I’ll do a draw for some cool prize. (Maybe my book, so you can turn it into black out poetry. Ideally, you read it first. It’s quite good. ~shameless promotion~)

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The get together yesterday was to test out Squilax Hostel’s potential for writing retreats. We all agreed it’s a very unique and inspiring location. Besides poetry, we all worked on other writing projects, plus we had tummies full of good food and coffee.

I’m excited to plan future retreats! Are you interested?

Finding Magic, Hearing Crashes on the Rooftop

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painted christmas tree

 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”   

ROALD DAHL

 

 

Christmas: it is a celebration of magic, with choices of what that means to each of us…

  • A celebration of the Spirit of Santa, love, family, friends
  • A celebration of spiritual events of many cultures and endless centuries that seem to all coincide with this time of year
  • A celebration of the magic of our earth, the sun, and the galaxy creating seasons, now turned Winter on the solstice.
  • Other (I’m sure some of you have other)

The earth, the universe, the spirits, all the magic – it does just fine on its own without our interference. The gift given to us as mortals is to have the opportunity to notice and truly feel the magic; expand our limited thinking to become a conscious part of it.

And there is a way. At Christmas: there’s another celebration that is key – the children. We need only learn from the children, who know so much more than we who have grown up and had it knocked out of us by some false sense of ‘reality’ and ‘fitting in.’

Innately, we know the children are our gifts and can teach us the magic. At Christmas, we most honour them and their belief in magic, than we do anything else during the season. We act as if it’s our adulting job to humour their imagination, but that’s not true. We do it because we still want to believe and, for the majority of adults, only through the children can we vicariously connect with the magic. Still, we knock it out of them as they grow because as adults we’ve grown a bit stupi… er… less wise. We just follow like sheep with what happened to us.

A child has a brilliant imagination. And, people, it is imagination that is the key to a higher level of connection and knowing. Children ARE wiser and more attune to all that is, than we adults who lose it and then think we are the teachers. No, adults, we are not the teachers. Sure, we can teach good eating habits, and healthy choices, and math and spelling and much more. But not spirituality, not ‘knowing’, not intuition, not inner wisdom, not imagination. Kids are born with all of that. We could, however, be the expert support systems who both learn from the children and support and encourage their way of being.  (And yes, grown ups can relearn… more on that below)

When the child hears the reindeer on the roof, or is certain Santa is in the home – they are right. They’ve connected at a higher level to the extra magic that arrives at Christmas. They can feel it in a way they’ve heard in stories – because Spirit does what it can to help us mortals recognize there is so much more to our universe than what we can see with our eyes.

A scuffling of reindeer hooves heard so clearly in a higher consciousness moment between child and spirit – there is nothing more real than that.

I am fortunate to have had enough otherwise inexplicable magical experiences to allow me to not entirely grow up into an unbelieving adult. And it is because I believe, that I heard the crash on the roof and scuffling of hooves in the wee hours of Christmas this year. It is because I still believe that, (after listening briefly in an adult way to make sure no one was crying), I could simply fall back asleep with a smile on my face.

If you have found the magic, celebrate. If you are searching, find a child. If there is no child nearby,  take yourself back to you childhood. Let go the thought: “It was only my imagination.”  Sometimes a simple writing trigger like the following can be all you need to reconnect:  “I remember that moment of magic when…”

Merry magic to all!

~~~~~
Ps. Those magical experiences I mentioned? I just couldn’t let those stories go unwritten: “Beyond All Imaginings – a magical memoir”

 

Children are brilliant… how to learn from them

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Children are brilliant. Adults… not so much. Sorry.

We’ve forgotten that if we put a tutu on our head for a wig, and an oversize blazer around our waist, we can shift our thinking into that of a mermaid. And if a mermaid were thinking through our problems, ideas, ways of being.. she certainly would trigger some unique ideas. Way better ideas. If we kept the wig and blazer on, we might even turn those ideas into actions!

 

Writerly – Why? What? What’s next?

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Hello my favourite people who follow the blog I am most likely to keep up!

You may have noticed I’m getting to put all my creative passions into a new project: Writerly Kits.  Coaching, creativity coaching. Writing. Painting. Pottery. Coffee. Ships. Alternate Identity Trading Company. A hint of magic.  Insightful contributions from grandchildren. And especially, supporting others to find their best way to get to the things that truly matter. That matters.

I’m delighted by this project. Only the endless learning around getting the word out there is a bit of an … um… endless learning. Ha ha. But I’m learning.

I’m sharing what’s inside these Writerly Kits. Just thought you’d like to know more about this crazy project.
I’d absolutely love to hear what you think about this concept, and would appreciate any ideas you’d like to share.  Thanks in advance!

September “Imagination Gone Wild”  2018 Kit Reveal

Imagination Gone Wild!

The Theme: Landing on doorsteps now, an  experience that will take your imagination and intuition to a whole new level!  Really, this is a gift for you from your imagination.

As creative folks, I know you already have a good imagination. You already do think outside the box. But, we do end up creating a new box – it’s a weirder shape than the average box  but it, too, can use some wild ways to take it up a notch;  for writing our books, for making it easier to get to our writing, and even more, to enhance all we do in our lives.

What’s included:

Birchwood Kit: Value $40

Writerly Notebook and Planner: Value $44  An unusual twist –  getting to use your imagination to help you get organized and focussed in a way that makes sense to you. Our imagination is everything – including key to making those typically logical left brain functions work better!

For your planner, we’ve included:

  1. Birchwood engraved notebook covers, designed by us and created by Kyle Rankin and Kamloops Makerspace.
  2. Dividers with a pocket, an old fashioned library card,and an oldstyle luggage tag.
  3. Sections:
    1. Weekly planner pages
    2. Creativity and imagination builders
    3. Quality plain paper
    4. Lined paper
    5. Post-it dividers
    6. Art paper
    7. Torn paper (with a purpose!)

Sharpie Fine Art Pens:  Value $5 The best thing Sharpie has made yet, we think!

Alternate Identity Trading Company Cards: Value $12  A collection of wild characters nagged to be included to assist writers as they take their imaginations to a whole new level, or ten.

Character stickers: Value $4  Explore traits, quirks, and even sleeping habits of the characters in your stories, (or even in your novel mind!) Great moveable stickers for your writerly notebook!

Zack’s Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans: Value $5   Locally roasted and loved and wow to kicking your imagination in gear!

Zack’s Costa Rica Blend Coffee Beans: Value $4  A favourite in town!

Imagine Calm Lavender:  Value $5  To calm that wild mind when needed. Grown, harvested and created by children who also sprinkled extra magic on top.

Do Not Disturb Door/computer hanger:  Value $ 6  Fun, isn’t it?

Letter from Indie Author, Dennis Staginnus:  Priceless support and encouragement

Letter to and from your imagination: $3

Green Tea packets: $1

Wood Kit total retail value: $129

Kraft Kit total retail value: $89  (1st and 4th kits are wood, 2nd and 3rd  kits arrive in our beautiful kraft manuscript size box, repeating)

All for subscriber price of $68 (or less if you choose 6 month or yearly subscription options)

This kit is too precious not to make available for a little longer. Check it out here  

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What’s Next?

Arriving on your doorstep just in time for
Hallowe’en and NANOWRIMO

Not kitschy Hallowe’eny – this classy kit arrives at a perfect time of year to make friends with your creative monsters and the book that haunts you.
This is the boost you’ll love to get your damn book done!

~~~~~

And this is what was in our first ever Writerly Kit:  “Seaworthy”
July 2018

Item by item reveal, plus a sweet box opening video here.

When things are crappy, how can I make it fun?

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My home town in British Columbia has just hit the worst air quality in the world. In the world! This is due to the outragious number of wildfires in our province. My poor province.

I have this little trick I use when things are crappy. I ask myself “How can I make this fun?” or “How can I make this funny?”  Not to make fun of a difficult situation, but because approaching challenges from a different perspective can give an answer otherwise unseen, or can simply lift your spirits.

Today, this is what happened.

retreat apocalyptic

P.S. Please do a raindance for us!

Imagination Gone Wild

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gone wild themeWow, time is flying and I’m planning the second Writerly Kit!  Imagination Gone Wild.  Those following here can already imagine how much fun this is for me.

I get to use my imagination creating all that this kit is.  It’s like I’ve found the perfect work: Doing the things I love: coaching, creating, imagining, sprinkling with magic and supporting others to live that life/passion/idea, AND write that story, that matters to them. Sigh.

As long as I keep reaching people, (oy, that’s the marketing end. Not quite so fun, though, Instagram is more interesting than I first suspected), Writerly Kits really is a great place to put my energies.  Imagination as our second theme is also a perfect fit. I’ve been an advocate for imagination, in work, play, story, art, since the 80’s!

Here’s the tidbit about our latest theme. Enjoy!:  

As creative folks, I know you already have a good imagination. You already do think outside the box. But, we do end up creating a new box – it’s a weirder shape than the average box  but it, too, can use some wild ways to take it up a notch;  for writing our books, for making it easier to get to our writing, and even more, to enhance all we do in our lives.  You and your imagination are going to have an extraordinary time together.

You’re going to need the unusual coffee included in this one, and the very original and unusual magical item.

I’ll say no more.

(Actual contents aren’t posted until boxes ship out the end of August, so subscribers have their chance to explore their writerly kit. Don’t we all just love surprises? )

www.writerlykits.com

Join me on instagram?  @writerlykits

 

What is this magic of which I speak?

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book-1012275_1280What is this magic of which I speak? My wish for you to find your magic? This magic that people mention in testimonials? This word, ‘magic’, that seems to be associated with me and my work, even if I have moments that I’m not so sure it’s a fit?

Okay, it’s a fit. My memoir, Beyond All Imaginings, tells the tale of several years where being in the creative process through tragedy and loss opened the door to a realm of magic that may seem fantastical, but is, in fact, true.

Rolling Stones playing on unplugged stereos? Yes. That kind of magic. Enchanted beings sharing their stories? Yes, that, too. Where connecting with family on the otherside becomes a normal? And can be for anyone? Yup. That. Where synchronicities lead to answers in our daily life? Yes.

This post isn’t meant to be about promoting my book but I’m sharing this here because my memoir does tell the story of magic and the creative process.  And it does touch the hearts, and open a little door to magic, of those who read it.
What an amazing book! Powerful story of tragedy, discovery and rebirth. I laughed and I cried and was so delighted with the magic! JL Whitehead please keep writing books!”

Herein lies my passion for all that I do; my knowing that the creative process – the way that people can access that brilliant part of them – is not simply a way to feel a little better in life. It’s the way, especially those creatively inclined, to open the doors to all that they can be, to find the answers to questions that otherwise can’t be answered. (Logic will never reveal the hugeness of who you are. It lives in the world of ‘fitting in.’)

And once that door is open, it doesn’t just stay open while you are writing, or painting, or potting, or singing, or inventing. The magic of it all becomes a part of your whole life. Synchronicities, insights, aha moments, and a contentment knowing that you are more than what we are traditionally taught we are –   that extraordinary feeling that shifts us, fuels us, helps us find our way through struggles, brings us joy and makes life a way better  and more magical place to be.

That’s the kind of magic I’m talking about.

 

 

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