Posts Tagged ‘writing’



For me there is no greater honour than being recognized by one’s own writing teacher.  I have had the great honour and privilege of having two of my poems posted on my writing teacher’s website.  If you’re ever looking for fun and inspiring writing classes in various cities across Ontario, I recommend a class with Brian Henry.  If you enjoy poetry at all, you can find my two, “Life Cycles” and “In the End”, posted here on Quick Brown Fox (November 2, 2013).

May you also be recognized and brought forward into this world.



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Ever since my friend put me on to the video I posted last week entitled “Never Ever Give Up” (you can find it here) I can’t stop thinking about the power of belief to change a life, and about the impact teachers can have on their students.  Going back to the video, I think that man’s yoga teacher could have given him an exercise as simple as “jump on one foot” and it would have made all the difference in the world.  Why?  Because the belief in the student’s ability to transform was there long before the set of exercises was given out.  The teacher believed when the student could not, and isn’t that a remarkable thing?  Isn’t that what it’s all about, not just between teacher and student, but between us all as believing mirrors for one another?

I love when students begin to practice yoga with me.  I hear all kinds of fanciful stories about how out of shape they are, how they lack flexibility, and how they can’t do this, that and the other thing, especially because they’re so old.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  While I smile and nod graciously, truly understanding the importance of being heard and validated, I don’t buy any of it.  In my mind, I think, “Let’s just see about that.”  And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.  I just wonder how much of the belief system we each hold on to is based on fact and how much is adopted story.  I work exclusively with women and, in this world, we are told constantly how it’s over for us once we move past the age of 25 (or is it younger now?  It seems younger to me.) We’re done.  We have nothing to offer.  We’re sliding downhill into frailty and dementia.  And I say:  BULLSHIT!  Again, let’s just see about that.

And, my word, I have seen.  I have seen a 70 year old woman who, after 2 years of practice, flipped ass-over-tea-kettle and hopped up into a wall-supported handstand.  I have seen a 66 year old woman commit to a regular yoga practice for 2 years, when she has struggled to commit to any kind of physical exercise her whole life.  I have seen a woman who, in the beginning, could not sit still and close her eyes in meditation, become one of the most still and focused students in class.  I have seen.  On the first day, I have looked into your eyes and while you speak to me of what you lack, I see all the potential that exists.  And the day that you begin to see it for yourself  is the day that you begin to hold yourself up.  What a glorious day!

This isn’t about how I’m some kind of grand yoga teacher.  I’m not.  I’m just some average chick running classes from her home.  This is about the life-changing effects of believing in one another.  It’s about having the courage to dive with one another beneath the skin and into the soul of the matter, and once you reach the soul, there’s nothing that can’t happen.  In the place of the soul, “can’t” doesn’t exist.

For me, it happened with the written word.  Words are magic for me and capturing what is in my head and getting it just right down on the paper is a bliss unimaginable.  But my storytelling capacity wasn’t exactly nurtured by the nuns in nursery school.  Nope.  I had to do and redo and redo again my paragraphs so my letters fit perfectly inside the lines.  Forget about the quality of the story, it was the pretty handwriting that counted.  Silliness.  When I was 10 years old, I met the man who would change my writing life forever.

Mr. LaPlume was fresh out of teacher’s college, with glasses and a shock of flaming orange hair.  He was young, vibrant and full of life, and he did that one thing that would turn everything “writing” on its head:  He told my parents that I had something when it came to words; I had a gift for writing. I had never heard that before.  For years I had only heard about what was “wrong”, never about what was right or what could be.  Mr. LaPlume believed in my talent and I believed in Mr. LaPlume.  If he thought my writing was good, maybe, just maybe, it was. To this day, when the scary writer’s thoughts enter my mind and I worry that I will run out of things to say, Mr. LaPlume’s shiny face enters my mind and I think, “Mr. LaPlume believed in me.  I can do this.”  Some things never leave…thank god!

So, who believes in you?  Who is the shining star who said that one perfect thing at just the right time to help you take that leap of faith?  Who is the person who has stood by you time and again, and encouraged you and celebrated with you, with pom poms, whenever you overcame yourself and DID IT, whatever “it” is?  Who holds the faith in you when you’re feeling too fragile to hold it for yourself?  If, for some reason, no one comes to mind, I’ll tell you this:

i believe in you

I believe in who you are and in what you can do, and there’s a whole army of good people standing behind me who believe in you too.  Just reach out into the ether and you’ll know we’re there.  Then…do it, whatever “it” is.  We’ll be there, pom poms in hand, smiling right along with you.  Some angels aren’t meant to be seen, but they’re still there.

Have a blessed day!


ps.  Mr. LaPlume, if you’re out there…THANK YOU.  You helped to change my life.


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Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity…–Julia Cameron

I have the tremendous ability to suck the life and joy completely out of creativity.  I’m also the queen of excuses.  I blame my inertia on my partner’s procrastination.  BULLSHIT!  It has nothing to do with her.  I have no quiet time.  This is absolutely true when I cram my days full of meaningless activity.  I have no solitude.  While I may not have the entire house to myself, it is a guarantee that people are not holed up in every single room!  Solitude could easily be found if I simply got off my ass and closed the door to my work space.  We watch too much TV.  Only when I sit and stare at it for hours instead of heading off to that previously-mentioned quiet space to nourish my creative spirit.  Left to my own devices I can easily come up with a lifetime of excuses to keep me from doing what needs to be done–CREATING!

The truth of the matter is that recently I stopped creating out of fear.  Heart-stopping fear.  In the midst of writing a poem that had me feeling like I was holding the hot, putrid guts of a dying woman in my hands, I felt the metal security gates of my defences slam down–HARD.  I heard myself say, “I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  Why me?”

Up from the depths of my memory came the voice of an old writing mentor.  She was ripping me a new one after I shared with her the most raw piece I had ever written about my life. I thought I was safe with her, a woman who knew great suffering herself.  Instead, I was met with venom as she stabbed me with, “What are you trying to do, drag me into your shit?  Change the voice!  Change the story!”  Except it was my story and it was my voice.  I could no more change these things than I could the colour of my eyes.

Instead of understanding my mentor’s reaction for what it was–my story touched a painful, unhealed place in her–I took her words to heart believing there was something intrinsically wrong with my voice and my perceptions.  Afraid to ever again shine the light on raw human suffering I aimed to “clean up” my ways of viewing the world and expressing myself.  I was a dirty girl who saw dirty things and that just wasn’t nice.  I wanted to be nice.  I wanted to be liked.  I wanted acceptance.  My aim served only to create in me great psychological conflict and a vicious case of creative constipation.

20 years later I find myself standing here with this bleeding, unfinished poem in my hands, the true and agonizing story of a woman’s response to loss, and I am sick with fear.  My knees are knocking, my chest is tight, and my entire spirit is cringing, waiting for the scathing voice of Mrs. M. to once again tell me I’m a dirty girl who needs changing.  I can’t proceed with the story. I am stuck but only for as long as I allow myself to be.  Mrs. M. is gone and her voice is simply a memory that resurfaces whenever I feel scared and vulnerable in my creative life.  In some twisted way this punishing voice helps me find comfort and safety by stopping me dead in my tracks.

What to do?

I gently creep up on myself.

Day 1:  Take pen in hand.

Day 2:  Have pen in hand. Place book in front of self.

Day 3:  With pen in hand, open book.

Day 4:  Dare to write one word.

                              Then one sentence.

                                        And a paragraph.

Day 16 (or 24…or 68…I’ve lost track):  I open the file on my computer that contains the poem.

Today:  Looking at the first two sections of this three-part poem, I type “3.” and save the file.

Ernest Hemingway once said:

Today, by softly and lovingly moving in on my creative self, I begin to bleed again.  Just for today, in this very precious moment, there is flow, there is movement, and it is good.

May you find the courage to creep up lovingly on the soft animal that is your creative self.  May you find just the right things to do to engage with it.  May you also begin to bleed into and from those places within you that have stood frozen in time for far too long.

All my love,


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