A love letter about pain

This week.

It couldn’t have been more awful.  The terrible tragedy in Las Vegas, coming on the heels of a month of devastating natural disasters, was almost too much to bear.  People I know and love are suffering from these events. And on top of all that, I have a friend and a family member in the hospital—one dealing with surgery, one with the aftermath of being hit by a car.

My heart weeps.

And yet, on the other hand, things in my personal life are pretty good. I had a wonderful time in France, and got a lot of writing done there.  My agent is excited about my next project and still sending out the first book.  After a month of physical therapy and a cortisone shot, the pain in my body has lessened considerably and I’m walking more again.  I have great clients and fun upcoming teaching gigs. My family is amazing.

How to reconcile all this? How to exist, feeling grateful for what I have and yet heartbroken for the pain in the world?

While in France, I posted photos of all the things: the Mediterranean Sea by day and night, the phallic tower that rises above the water in Collioure, dogs and cats and beautiful old people. And all the while, back home, hurricanes and floods and fires swept the land.  Should I not have posted photos of what I was experiencing in deference to the disasters? Should I have included a disclaimer with everyone, something to the effect that I knew what people were going through and sent them love?

In other words, as I told a friend, I’m asking: what should my response be? How do I live in this world now?

Luckily, that friend was the very wise Patty Bechtold and she told something that really helped. She’d read it years ago, in the work of Robert Johnson. He likened such experiences as standing in the middle of a teeter-totter, with one foot on either side.   Balance. Getting comfortable with the gray area in the middle, even though most of us would much rather like things plain and simple, in black and white.

And maybe we just need to accept that this is how we must live now.

I’ll tell you what helps me live in the gray areas. Two things: creativity and connection.  I found solace in my writing this week. And I also found it in connecting with friends and family.  Maybe these things gave you solace, too. I hope so.

So here’s the only antidote I have to offer to make sense of the gray area: take to the page. Write your pain out. Or focus your energy on your current writing project. And when you are finished, go kiss a child, or a pet, or your spouse.  Call a friend; say hi to a neighbor. Email that aunt you’ve not talked to in a long time.

Creativity and connection. I’m astoundingly grateful for them both.

Why Connection is Important to Writers and Others

Hand_hands_shake_238808_lSo it turns out that connection is way more crazy important than we might have thought.

This probably doesn't come as a huge surprise to writers.  After all, communication is inherent in connection, and we're all about communication.

It's why we blog.

It's why we write novels.

It's why we read the writing of others.

Connection turns out to be a powerful theme in my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and it is also the topic of a guest post that I have over at Pomogolightly, Beverly Army Williams' blog today.    Hop on over there and give it a read!

Photo by pixelstar.

3. Only Write/Writing Abundance,Connecting, Continued

This is the third post of a projected very long series and future info product whose name is still under consideration (hence the dual titles above).  For background on what's going on, read this post. You might also want to read about the Writing Abundance system that this series is going to cover in depth.  You can do that here.  All of the posts will be readily available in the sidebar to the right, at least until I introduce it as an info product.


In the last installment, I talked about the importance of connection.  Connecting with supportive friends and family, connecting with your readers, connecting with other writers.  But most importantly, connecting with something bigger than you–the universe, source, the divine, your ancestors, a plan to save the world.  Think about it: God (if you believe in God, and most people believe in some variation of God) created the world, and so when we create, we are then most in his image.  I first ran across that thought in Julia Cameron's book, the Artist's Way, and I've been totally enamored of it ever since.


Or, think of it this way: why do we write?  Well, for most of us it it to share, in some way or another, who we are.  The best writing gets way down to the deepest essence of ourselves.  Some might call it our highest selves.  And I believe that that higher self is connected with every single thing in the universe, including God.  So when we are writing, theoretically all we have to do is call upon that connection to the universe to access that higher self and put it on the page. Conversely, when we're not writing, when the stories are piling up inside us, we're denying our divinity, and invalidating the very essence of who we are.

And that, my friends, is why connecting is so important to the writer.  Connecting means being open to receive, take what you get from that openness and connection, transform it and gift it back to the world.  When you open the channels to receive, you open mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  You are open to abundance, both in words and financially.  So, it will behoove you to find a way to regularly connect that is centered specifically around your writing.  Here's the basics, again:

1. Ask

2. Be open to receive

3. Act on what you get.

Easy, no?  I've even designed a movement by which you also get the body into action, always a good idea.  So stand up from your computer where you are reading this,  shake your ya-yas out, as we used to say, and let's do it.  You can also do a mental version of this same movement if you are at your desk and don't want people to think  you're nuts.  Then again, many writers often work alone, so it shouldn't matter.  Get your butt up, it will be good for you.  Here we go:

–With your arms at your sides, take three deep breaths. Slowly raise your arms above your head and feel the opening to the divine. Breathe deeply and feel the connection to your source; as you place your hands together and pull them down to your heart center imagine abundance, light, energy, and creativity pouring into you and filling your entire being.

–Now as you move your hands out from your body, allow that abundant creativity and energy to shine outwards into the world. Breathe deeply as you imagine your wonderful ideas, creations, and writing being shared with the world.

–Gently circle your hands around and bring them together again at your heart center, as you feel the energy of that abundance returning to you in gratitude, people reading and appreciating your work. Feel how their love fills you up again.

–Take a couple deep breaths as this new energy fills you up and linger for a moment on that feeling of fullness and abundance.

–Once again, feel the opening to God as you move your arms upward to the starting position and direct and share that abundant energy with your higher power.

–Repeat two more times. Do this movement every morning as part of your prayers or meditations. It’s great to do as part of stretching or your yoga practice. You can also use it as a focusing technique during the day, when you are transitioning to a writing session or you need to refocus after a distraction.

It is that simple and yet also very energizing.  It can be cleansing, too, a good thing to practice when you are moving between projects.

That's it for now. On Thursday, we'll talk some more about various methods of connection that you can use to support your writing habit.




The Art of Connecting

Yogassan-116592-m Yesterday's blog post was about the fine art of being who you are.  I didn't really mean to write a follow-up post, but as is sometimes the case, yesterday's post caused a lot of comment and got a lot of traffic.  Which always makes me realize I've hit a nerve.  And makes me ponder more about what I wrote.  Which often leads to me writing more.  This is why I'm a novelist, because I'm incapable of writing short.  My short stories are always 25 pages, and I've never, ever written one without thinking, maybe I should turn this into a novel.

But back to the subject at hand.

I wrote about how the most successful writers and entrepreneurs and creative professionals are those who are most gloriously themselves because we are drawn to them.  I don't know about you, but I love it when somebody is not only passionate about some strange interest but confident enough to talk about it.  Give me somebody blabbing on about his rubber band collection and the true meaning of rubber and I'll listen for hours.

I also wrote a little yesterday about how connecting with something bigger than yourself is the key to gaining this confidence in who you are and the ability to be yourself.  And I want to delve into that a bit deeper today.

What, you say, does being yourself have to do with connecting?  Everything.  Because it is through connecting with a higher power that we gain access to our higher selves.  And it is through our higher selves that we are able to express the true essence of our beings to the world.

Connecting entails regularly getting in touch with something greater than yourself, whether you consider that something God, the goddess, Allah, the universe, the divine, Source, or your ancestors.   But what if you don't have an established religious or spiritual tradition within which to work and you're a bit nervous–perhaps even put off–by all this talk of connection?

I like to think that I get all my great ideas and inspiration from my higher self, the part of me that is not worried about judging others and comparing myself with them; the part of me that is not concerned with paying bills and worrying about whether to put bleach in with the next load of laundry.  In other words, the higher self is that part of me that is not my ego.  And I also consider my higher self to be one and the same as that bigger something that I desire to connect with, whether I call it source or universe or the divine.

The good news is that your higher self is easy to connect with.  Here's some ideas to try.

1.  Relaxation.  Get yourself a meditation or self-hypnosis CD and listen to it regularly.  Hypnosis CDs first get you to focus on your breath and deeply relax, and this is the heart of meditation.  So doing hypnosis can be a way to back into a mediation practice if the thought of it freaks you out.

2.  Meditate.  Start short, with 5-minute spurts.  Slowly lengthen the amount of time you sit.  As mentioned above, all you have to do is focus on your breath to meditate.  When thoughts disrupt your concentration, as they will, simply acknowledge them and let them float away.  My good friend Rabbi Rami recommends concentrating on a one-word mantra with your out breath.  Words like love, Lord, home, peace, heart will all work.  Having a mantra can give your ego something to do and help keep you focused, but it is not a necessity.  Experiment and do what works best for you.

3. Pray.  One of my favorite saying ever (and the theme of my novel) is, If it's love, the Lord won't mind.  I think the same is true of prayer–if it is sincere and done with love, the Lord will not mind how you do it.  Don't worry about form or format, just start praying.  And if you don't believe in God, pray to your higher self or the great, gaping, huge and beautiful universe.

4.  Move.  Many people find peace and connection in movement.  Walk slowly and purposely or just walk.  Dance.  Try belly dancing or ecstatic dance.  Or try Qi Gong or yoga.  Moving your body can open up mental space and allow intuition and ideas to come through.

5. Play with Paints.  Or crayons, or drawing pencils, or charcoals–whatever captures your attention. Messing around with art supplies activates the right brain and turns off the left.  And that in turn relaxes the brain and allows space to open up to guidance.

It is best to make a regular practice of one or more of these techniques, but even if you only do them once in awhile you will benefit.  So, tell me–what are your favorite ways to connect?  How do they impact your writing and life?