Guest Bloggers

Bella Mahaya Carter writes about courage, love, and intuition

Guest Blogger Bella Mahaya Carter writes about courage, love, and intuition. In fall 2014, I attended Hay House’s I Can Do It! Conference in Pasadena, California. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend what was being advertised as a “mind, body, and spirit retreat.” The conference featured luminaries in the fields of self-help, personal growth, and spirituality. Looking back over that experience, I felt like a kid in a candy store with a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket. I’d been scared to go. I was just coming off a year of grief and debilitating anxiety. I’d felt like I couldn’t breathe, and an irrational thought that I’d quit breathing and drop dead in public haunted me. So the thought of being at a venue with three thousand people unnerved me. Why was I going? I asked myself. What was I looking for? What did the words I Can Do It!…


Memory is a trickster . . . Prompt #170

Today’s prompt is inspired by Your Mythic Journey by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox. “We love the present tense. Be here now. Yesterday is gone and best forgotten: our tradition is to have no tradition. We aren’t Europeans buried in ancient tombs and cathedrals and medieval ruins. We were born yesterday and we will be young forever. Over thirty is over the bridge. Age embarrasses us; remembrance is a function of senility. We exile the aged to Sun City leper colonies so they won’t impair our illusion of endless summer. But history is not so easily dismissed. Repressed memories, national or personal won’t stay down. To be alive is to have a past. Our only choice is whether we will repress or re-create the past. Childhood may be distant, but it is never quite lost; as full-gown men and women we carry tiny laughing and whimpering children around inside us….


Things falling apart is a kind of testing . . .

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Marlene’s Musings: Add room for writing. Part of your healing journey can be to write your way through and out of grief. Your problems may seem to expand and shrink as you remember and write. One day things may seem dreary and impossible. Another day (maybe even an hour later), life may look brighter. Click here for ideas how to write about…

Just Write

How to write without adding trauma.

This week we’ll discuss how to write the hard stuff without experiencing trauma while you write. Notes and guidelines Whenever a writing prompt is suggested, feel free to write whatever you want. You never have to stay with the prompt. Don’t stop and think, just follow your mind and write wherever it takes you. What’s on your mind is more important than the suggested prompt. Keep writing, don’t cross out, don’t erase, don’t stop and think . . . keep your pen moving. If you get stuck: Rewrite the prompt. Literally, write the prompt and see where that takes you. Or write, “What I really want to say.” And go from there. If you don’t like where you’re going, start over. Start over by rewriting the prompt. Or just start writing about something different. When we have an emotional situation, we tend to replay it in our minds. Perhaps we…

Book Reviews

Night Wings: A Soulful Dreaming and Writing Practice

In 2005, I attended a talk by Sally Nelson, author of Night Wings: A Soulful Dreaming and Writing Practice. Nelson talked about foreshadowing life experiences in dreams. She suggested we track the things that surprise us in our dreams and that we are really foreshadowing real life events. She said dreams come from some place beyond the ego and to try to understand our dreams, we can ask, “What is the ego grappling with?” Nelson kept a dream journal for years and had several dreams that didn’t make sense. Then, in December 2004, she, her fiancé and their combined children took a trip to Thailand. Her son had been injured before the trip but they decided to go anyway. They were supposed to return home on a certain date, but decided to stay a day longer. Sally, her fiancé and one of the daughters were on a boat at sea…

Places to submit

Did a single decision change your life?

Real Simple magazine Essay Contest:   Did a single decision change your life? Would your world now be completely different—even unthinkable—if, at some point in the past, you hadn’t made a seemingly random choice? Maybe you stayed a few extra minutes at a party—and met your soul mate. Maybe you decided to have lunch with a friend or quit a job or just took the long way home. If you can’t imagine the rest of your life without what happened next, write it down and share it with us. Enter Real Simple’s eighth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple magazine and receive a prize of $3,000. Deadline: September 21, 2015 Photo by Jim C. March  


What I like and don’t like . . . Prompt #169

I facilitate writing workshops in Petaluma, CA called Jumpstart. We use prompts  to spark our imagination. For this type of free-writing, you can respond from your personal experience or from someone else’s personal experience. You can write as your fictional character would respond to the prompt. You can use these prompts to get deeper into your fictional character’s mind. The idea for this prompt is inspired by the poem, “What I Like and Don’t Like,” by Philip Schultz.

Guest Bloggers

. . . something from The Twilight Zone . . .

Guest Blogger Steve Fisher writes. . . (and I love it) . . . Writing. We love it; we hate it. Anyone who has put pen to paper, or in this modern age, fingers to keyboards, understands that sentiment. It’s a process both joyous and painful. When it works—that is, when our brain clicks into gear and coherent thoughts manage to escape the gray matter—there’s no more exciting feeling. When emotions actually materialize on the page, or screen, leaving you feeling drained in the best of ways, it’s the best of all possible worlds. On a rare occasion I have found myself laughing at something one of my characters said or crying because of something they did. And I didn’t feel like the mystical God creating those words or actions that I was at that moment. Once, I actually walked out my door and ran into my characters. People who…


Connections. Prompt #168

Connections have always fascinated me. Our connections to one another. Lack of connections also interests me. Connections . . . when you meet someone for the first time and instantly feel connected. Or when you are compelled to go somewhere and you don’t know why. Once you get there, you re-connect with someone you haven’t seen in awhile. Connections – that “aha” moment when something becomes crystal clear. Are connections important to you? Connections to one another, to things, to ideas. . . what does connection mean to you? Write about connections. Or write about disconnections.  Just write! Photo by Jim C. March


All sorrows can be borne . . .

“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Isak Dinesen Excerpted “From The Editor,” Alicia Anstead, editor-in-chief, July 2015, The Writer Magazine, writing about trauma and loss. Marlene’s Musings:  Sometimes our writing explores fun journeys. Other times our writing takes an unexpected turn and drifts into a gully where sadness could be overwhelming. Next week I plan to post how to write about difficult subjects without re-traumatizing ourselves. Stay tuned!