Monday, April 30, 2012

THE MindfulCaregiving TREE

HERE 'TIS! The final posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

It's been fun, fascinating, and has given me a new direction for my work. Stay tuned!

PROMPT #30:  Word Cloud. Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests. Use a thesaurus to make the branches of your “tree” extend further. 

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Sunday, April 29, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #29: Six Sentence Story. In this day of micro-blogging – brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences. Check out some here: 

Shirley was seven, sitting next to her teenage sister, Angie, in the crowded waiting room at Gate #8 with an hour to wait before boarding, and the woman on the other side of her sister was talking about an article she had read, something about a guy whose wife had disappeared three years ago who picked up his two little kids at the grandmother’s house, took them home, shut the front door, and blew up the house with the three of them in it.

With her brow furrowed like a washboard, Angie moaned, “If it’s true that we choose our lives before we even enter the womb, how could the grandparents choose to experience THAT? I mean the grandparents, to choose to lose first their daughter? and then their grandchildren?"

Shirley exhaled loudly, thinking how pointless it was to even think about making up stories about other peoples’ lives who weren’t even family and then get all worked up over the made up stories. “If I were making up a story”, thought Shirley, “I would make up that the kids and father were really unhappy and just wanted freedom, and the grandparents wanted to learn who they would be if they didn’t have family, if it was just them together, the way it was when they first fell in love. Anyway, my life’s complicated enough right here and now”, she thought, and then she scooted a little further away from her sister and turned up the volume on her iPod.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #27: The First Time I… Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it? 

The first time I talked back to my mother I was horrified! I was 50 years old. I'm sure I had done it a time or two as a child, but this was the first time as a cognizant adult. It turned out to be a gift for both of us.

I Yell at My Mother - Version I

It is midnight. It is raining. Running myself around my track of wonderings, I cannot sleep until I find an explanation. Who is this upstart self who possessed me, making me raise my voice to my mother! The afternoon had gone on much as usual. Me driving, handling the requisite errands, while she sat beside me running her endless critique of life, society, and “Why on earth they designed the stop lights that way.”

Back at her room, I broached the topic of summer vacations, offering up a little packet of lovely possibilities. Each one was turned over with doubt—”Well, no, not quite right. No this one won’t do.” Until I heard my voice rising and rising, filling the little room, this room of the paper walls with old ears on the other side hungry for a drama to make life interesting. Pausing for a moment in astonishment, my mother’s voice then rose behind mine, but I was out in front so I didn’t notice. She said, “Lower your voice!” I paused for a millisecond, I stopped mid-breath and said loudly, “No, I won’t!”

What had really happened? Could this have been some sort of mid-life victory? I decided to dig deeper. I played with reality, rewriting what had happened in the voice of the rebel, just to see how it would feel. Writing can be so therapeutic.

I Yell at My Mother - Version II

It is not midnight. It is not raining. I did not rise troubled. I had caused the upset and I am glad. I had set her up. I’d needled her from the beginning about her innocuous observations, her critique of life. I had jabbed her with little questions every step of the way.

The vacation topic was my coup de grace. A happy topic, yes? Yet for Mother, who regretted the ending of joy before it had begun, vacation was the ultimate mockery. No vacation idea could be good enough, inspiring me to come up with more and more, piling them at her feet with a smile as she quavered, twisting her hopes into knots. And then, as she became mute I stole her voice, doubling mine in volume. Finally I had done the unthinkable and pulled it off—I had raised my voice to my mother! 

While my writings clearly were passive aggressive, in the confines of my private diary I could begin to explore my emotions about Mom without taking them out on her. I took the learnings wherever I could find them. This was a big one. From then on I had a stronger voice when needed and Mom respected me. That turning point put our relationship in a balance that made easier the rest of our time together.

(Taken from “Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places”, a mother/daughter memoir, and the story which sourced “The Caregiver’s Compass”, a handbook for emotional balance.)

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Friday, April 27, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #26: 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going. 

These were a few of the gifts from my decade of caregiving for my challenging mother:

  • Simply being with my mother
  • Abandoning my own life
  • Incompetent doctors
  • Middle sister disappearing
  • Training my husband not to take over

Victories (not so small)
  • Training my husband to partner
  • Learning to do real self-care
  • Learning to have a voice with my mother
  • Taking one day at a time
  • Forming a bond with my eldest sister

These also were the impetus for writing "The Caregiver's Compass" and my other two books where I show how I milked the experience to help me stay balanced and growing.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #26:  Health tagline. Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!


using MindfulCaregiving tools for emotional balance

Prompt #25: Third person post. Write about a memory you have but describe it using the third person. Use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don’t use “I” or “me” unless you include dialogue. 


A big wind blew on that January night when, at age 87, she had her three-hour surgery. Then, against all odds, she hung on for three days. She died as she had lived, true to lines from her favorite poet E. Millay, With all my might, my door shall be barred. I shall put up a fight, I shall take it hard. Her three daughters gathered around her bed in the ER, telling her it was all right to go, that she had lived a full life, and that she was loved. 

Later, at her funeral service, she made herself known. It was a windy day, another big wind blowing, but this time blowing down whole trees. Despite the thick, dark, cloud cover, her solar rainbow maker had been stuck to the window of the nursing home parlor where people had gathered to say goodbye. 

Partway through the service, just as the minister began to describe the big wind that had blown the Friday night before she had died, the clouds suddenly let through one shaft of light that shot down and hit the rainbow maker, making the rainbows dance all around the mourners. Then a huge gust of wind broke a branch off a tree and it cracked like a gunshot against the window. Her youngest daughter and caregiver said aloud, “That’s my Mom!”

After February, with all its funeral focus, and the feeling of lightness and space in the heart of the youngest daughter, the weeks of rain hit, and the two eldest began repeated visits to pour over family possessions. Dissatisfaction crept quickly into the heart of the youngest as the house got a messier. The lawn grew long, flower beds filling in thickly as her dining room clotted with ancient broken down boxes of photos, letters, childhood drawings, and elementary school grade reports. 

For the next three months, the three divested themselves of the shadows of the past as their shared family history and the artifacts of their ancestry passed through their dusty fingers. Silver thimbles fitting smaller fingers, letters to Great Grandmother from Civil War soldiers, dim daguerreotypes of grim, faintly familiar faces.

But the way the three sisters related to that history was wildly at odds. The two eldest devoured it, sitting for hours reading the letters, sleuthing out romances and relationships in the ancient stories. It all gave the youngest sister the willies. After maybe an hour of sorting, not wanting to be looking back and wading through history, she would gasp, “I need a break”, and would go to recover elsewhere. She wanted to be looking forward, reflecting on the meaning of things now.

She thought, "People’s hand-me downs hold me in the past, bringing a bit of past into the future, slowing it all down. The past drags at the heels of the future, makes it keep looking back over its shoulder. It's good to let go, to be 'forward-looking' as Mom would put it.  We can’t help but carry the impression people have made on us, the way our fabric is altered by their temporary presence. It is that change that we carry, to which we're attached, that we think we will preserve by keeping the things of their life. Things are only things. Matter, as in a thing, need not matter. Matter also means to make a difference. Those who have peopled my life have already mattered—no need to commemorate them in clutter. I need a big wind to clean out my life." And then a small thought crept in, "Well, maybe I'll keep just one or two little special things."

(*Adapted from "Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places", the mother/daughter memoir that inspired "The Caregiver's Compass", a handbook for emotional balance.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #24: Health Mascot. Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual! 

My Mascot Is


Hummingbird is, to me, the perfect mascot for caregiving and for life. Hummingbird has endurance for long journeys, and in the Inkan theology is the archetype for when thoughts and life/action become epic. She teaches us malleability or compliance, to "roll with the punches" and adapt to whatever life may hand us. She embodies simple courage, to accept life as it is, to make the most of a bad situation, and to drink deeply of the nectar of life.

Hummingbirds help us to reinvent our relationship with the past, teaching us to never, never look back at what might have been, but showing us how to re-visit the past for the purpose of releasing it instead of being caught in a permanently backward flight pattern. They also help us to see that if we step aside we may see our life differently.

She also shows us how to transcend time, to recognize that what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future is not nearly as important as what we are experiencing now. She teaches us to hover in the moment, to appreciate its sweetness. The Hummingbird can help you to find joy and sweetness in any situation. Its swiftness is always a reminder to grab joy while you can—as quickly as you can.

And finally, Hummingbird is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible. She will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances. She symbolizes freedom, energy, tireless joy, and is the ONLY birds that can fly backwards. Sounds like some caregivers I know.

These definitions were taken from the following sources:
Animal Speak - The Book

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Sunday, April 22, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

PROMPT #23: Health Activist Choice Day 23! Write about whatever you like. 

Yesterday my sister told me on the phone that she had snapped at someone, and the voice that came out of her mouth was our mom’s. We were both a bit horrified, and then we hatched a therapeutic plan. Both of my sisters and I will spend a week together this summer at the cottage where we summered as kids. We’re going to stage a three-way ventfest, each of us expressively saying aloud the things Mom used to say either to us or about us. The theory is that by saying all of those things out loud we’ll get them out of us and we’ll get beyond them. We might even end up laughing.

Anticipating the freedom we could feel, I began thinking about freedom. In that case, it would be freedom from—freedom from being held back by childhood messages, freedom from holding things inside. But it would also be freedom to—freedom to speak the truth, freedom to be US. 

Freedom from, or freedom to—how do You usually think of freedom? At a recent conference on Elder Abuse, Dr. Bill Thomas (founder of The Eden Alternative) introduced a powerful fundamental distinction between Upside Risk, and Downside Risk. Downside risk is familiar to many caregivers of loved ones. Examples include encouraging a loved one not to get out of the wheelchair for fear of falling, or severely limiting the number of visitors for fear of tiring the “patient”. Downside risk means living a narrow life of limitation due to fear. Unfortunately it also limits self-expression, growth, and joie de vivre, joy of life. 

Upside risk would be deciding it’s worth it to try walking three times a day for the chance of gaining strength and balance. You see the difference? Upside risk looks at the possibilities for better living. It’s what makes life juicy.

It seems acceptable nowadays to awfulize, to discuss ad nauseum the troubles in the world and in the lives of those we know. How much more life serving for us to accept what is, while choosing to focus on what could be? To begin each day saying, “What could I do today to be happier? What would make me stronger in some way? What will make me feel more alive?” and then act on the answer that presents itself. 


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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vibrant Heart’s Vibrant Heart

Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge by WEGO

Prompt #20: Health Madlib Poem. Go to : and fill in the parts of speech and the site will generate a poem for you. Feel free to post the Madlib or edit it to make it better. 

Vibrant Heart’s Vibrant Heart

I contribute my life’s groundwork and all the strength that solitude brings; 
In memories, I sail my life again. 
(I laugh. I remember you up inside my love.) 

Caring goes generating outward in light and peace, 
My proud ability fosters new life: 
I enliven my mind and all the body honors spirit. 

I connected, and you respected me into my cells 
Our delight me empowered, uplifted me quite healthy. 
(I laugh. I remember you up inside my love.) 

I celebrate that you do just as you say, 
Your respect me empowered, uplifted me quite healthy. 
I surround my mind and all the body honors spirit. 

I empower from age, while home's connections support: 
I create pride through autonomy's life: 
I surround my mind and all my body honors spirit. 

(I laugh. I remember you up inside my love.) 

- Holly Whiteside & Sylvia Plath

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Friday, April 20, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #20: Miracle Cure. Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure? Be sure to include a disclaimer ;) 

A Cure for Self-centrism was announced today by Docs for Posterity, a privately owned surgical lab in New York City. This simple procedure is expected to radically increase compassion in humanity. The 15-minute outpatient procedure, known as the egoectomy, installs an antenna, or “soul mirror” directly into the right cortex of the brain, allowing people to see the world from the perspective of others. 

Testing has been under way since 2000. Fearing side effects of insanity or suicide, doctors initially set a time limit on its effects—the gizmo self-destructed after one day. But as subjects acclimated to massive rushes of empathy, the length of effect has been increased. In some cases whole families have undergone the procedure. 

Pockets of generosity and indiscriminate acceptance have been publicly reported within certain faith groups and in various parts of the country. New spiritual philosophies known as New Thought may be vehicles for more broadly infesting the human race.

Protest groups are already galvanizing the opposition. One leader was quoted as saying, "So much good will is insideous and would eventually undermine the economy."

Though the chronic hereditary conditions of cynicism, greed, and self-centrism will keep selflessness in check for a while yet, it is thought that by the year 2020 humanity will have so adapted to the new way of being that children may be born with the “soul mirror” as a natural in vitro install. 

(Of course, this is facetious, spurious, and totally made up. And yet...?)

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Thursday, April 19, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO

Prompt #19: 5 Dinner Guests. Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?  

Sacagawea - What was it like leading Lewis and Clark? How would she describe the country and wildlife along the way? What did she think of the men on the expedition? How did she stay connected with her spirit when with them?

My mother’s dad - What gave him peace in life and after? What did he find amusing when he was alive? How could he, as a doctor, choose cancer, to lose his life and family rather than lose his hand in surgery?

My husband’s mom - What was the grounding of her love for her husband? Why could she never protect her children? Did she feel she had to choose between them and him? Could we now be friends? 

Mother Therese - What does she think we can do for others, what we can’t, and what we shouldn’t? What made her happy? How was it that she felt disconnected from God for much of her life, in her “dark night of the soul”? When did she feel the connection and what happened to separate her?

Jesus - I want to know who he really was (apart from all the historic human interpretations and editing ) What was his vision for humanity? Did He enjoy the rich diversity of humanity or did He really see only one way? If he does see just one way, is it inclusive? What advice would He have for me in daily choosing of my path in life?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO  

Wednesday April 18 

Open a Book. Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping. 

From The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris - “We left Virginia when I was seven, and moved to Illinois. I lost the honeysuckle and the other trees of my early childhood -- dogwood, magnolia, sassafras, sycamore, and the enormous weeping wllow and white oak of a nursery school in the countryside where my mother had enrolled me."

I left Bryn Mawr PA and the old Victorian I grew up in when I was fourteen. Rushing toward boarding school and my first sense of freedom, I did not look back. Now, living in New Hampshire, I dream dreams of old hallways (this sounds like a Judy Collins song) running past dark banisters, walking up the winding cinder drive to the heavy front door. 

Much as I loved that house, I miss the ivy, broad deep beds of English ivy circling the lawns, front and side. The huge lush trees of Pennsylvania made me feel small, like I was swimming under water. In the narrow back yard, ancient pines rose high, blocking the sun, holding cool still air like the nave of a cathedral. Huge gnarled roots emerged through the thick bed of pine needles, making hazards for small flying feet as we ran to get back to the sun. How hot the black cinder drive was under those soft feet after having been chilled under the pines. We would hop and leap quickly across, letting out yips and yipes with each landing, until we reached the cool of mown grass. 

When we were bored with our yard, we ventured into the neighbors’ yards. Mrs. Carter had a grand old rambling house with plenty of shrubs to hide behind. When we saw her car leave, we would sneak closer to the house, even peak in the windows. I remember Mrs. Hentz because of her three-legged miniature collie. How strange, to see the little thing come hopping through the English ivy, yet wonderfully hopeful to see how fast he was, how agile. He didn’t know he wasn’t average. He was just having fun. Now, as an adult, I find my role models in the most unexpected places.

Most of all I miss that yard at night time, on a soft summer’s night. Pennsylvania air in the summer was moist and soft, smelling of earth and lilac. The yard would be alive with hundreds of fireflies, a visual chorus of flickering lights under the branches that ringed the yard, and my two sisters and I would swoop wildly around, wearing nothing but our underpants. Each of us gripped a jar for capturing the little lights, which we would then release before heading off to bed.


PROMPT #17: Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today. 

My two sisters and I had distanced ourselves from our challenging mother, but I ended up being her caregiver for ten years. As an act of survival, I applied life coaching principles to myself and I learned:

1. I am the manager of my own well-being. I can manage the thoughts that would bedevil me. I can set up my life to serve me. I can greatly lessen the number of people in my life who drain me.

2. Others (siblings, parents) are only doing the best that they can.

3. I can partner with my spouse to make both of our lives easier.

4. I can ask for support.

5. Helping can be disempowering for an other. I can serve others in their strength and whole health which does not mean doing things For them that they could do themselves.

6. Others have life lessons that have nothing to do with me.

7. Sometimes it is best to do nothing.

8. By focusing on the hardness, tragedy, or pain in life I increase it. By managing life in a positive direction I diminish trouble.

9. I have good and strong intuition that I can trust, at times even more than I can trust the professionals.

10. One of the biggest gifts that I can give myself is my forgiveness of others.

To learn the tools that gave me all of my caregiving (and life) lessons, check out "The Caregiver's Compass" or "The Caregiver's Reader", two guides for emotional balance during caregiving.

To read the story of my ten years with my mother, up close and personal, read "Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places".

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Saturday, April 14, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge from WEGO 

My Dream Day.
Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not – how could you make it happen? 

My ideal day begins with waking slowly from a blissful dream, my body totally relaxed and a smile on my face. I linger under the covers, savoring clean sheets, as clouds drift past my skylight, puffy white on blue. I smell coffee brewing and homemade rye bread toasting. I dress and wander onto the patio, breakfast in hand.  

A light-spirited friend is coming to pick me up to drive along the ocean to a nearby private beach with a picnic that includes lobster salad, avocados, and kiwi fruit. We have a fabulous time talking and laughing, then spontaneously decide to go to a nearby amusement park to ride the roller coaster. 

After pleasantly exhausting ourselves, as late afternoon shadows grow long, we go to a bluff overlooking the ocean to sit quietly for half an hour. 

When she drops me off at home I find that my guy has cooked supper for us. We eat on our 3-season porch, talking easily and laughing, then sit in the living room in front of a fire playing scrabble to soothing music. OR he surprises me by taking me to a fabulous display of fireworks. He has packed dessert, champagne and a blanket. We lie directly beneath the fireworks snuggling and eating strawberries.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge from WEGO 

Prompt #13 :10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without. Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most. 

THINGS I NEED (to stay alive)

Food & Water

THINGS I LOVE (and need, that make me feel alive)

Loving eyes
Moving water
The hopeful thought


Prompt #12 : Stream of Consciousness Day. Start with the sentence “_______”just write, don’t stop, don’t edit. Post! 

The first sentence that comes to mind is, "Sometimes I don't know what the use is." 
Use... why "use"? It seems to be a driving principles in my life. Since it's so core, let's explore. (hmmm, a poem coming on?) I've always said things to myself like, "What have you done today to justify your existence?" and "In my life, I just want to be well-used!" 

Use to what end? for what purpose? and whose purpose anyway? I do think we humans are wired for making change, hopefully as an improvement. Some people seem to be wired to make negative change, as in destruction, but I tend to think that they have a positive drive that has been in some way perverted by resistance from others, blame, maybe abuse, so that the only way the drive for change can bust out is by doing damage. A positive drive to make change diverted by fear yields destruction. So let's assume for a minute that we're all wired for change of some sort.

At the same time, as a culture, we seem to be wired with fear of change... change that we haven't chosen. So free choice comes into this. If change Happens TO us, we can be not too thrilled. We can feel disempowered, victims to forces beyond our control. We immediately turn our powers to effect change toward defenses, or struggle to regain control. 

It seems a waste of good energy. When Mr. Control steps in, the dynamics in my life are thrown askew. So, if control is the issue, the obstacle, the perverting factor, can I not exercise control over Control? Or perhaps it's my own resistance to control that does the mischief!

One way around that is for me to not resist, to go With whatever un-asked-for change shows up in my life. That way I retained my ability to Respond, to Choose, to make Use even of that. Externally imposed change is full of possibility. If I can take a minute to sift through whatever it is, looking for the possibilities, then I am free to choose those that seem the most useful.

But wait a minute! Is "use" even the best criteria for choice? I really need to question even that, since my whole construct rises from that assumption... that "use" is good. What would life be, who would I be, without that criteria of usefulness? If I weren't being useful, of what might my life consist? Appreciation? What would a life of appreciation look like? More peaceful, joyous. I think others would be drawn to it. I might even end up Doing the work that I do, but from a different place in Me. I would be working from my heart, rather than my... what? Ego? Is usefulness a balm for the ego? Yes, I think so. It's a way to find worth, to matter in the world. Not that that is a bad thing... just good to notice. But if I'm already of worth and have nothing to prove, maybe being appreciative would be a much more life-serving way to go. Sweet! Out of what else might I live and how would each option change my experience of my life?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life's a Ride

The latest in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge

Theme song. Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to? 

My song would be maybe Country, maybe Bluegrass.

"Life's a Ride"

If you want to get old, be bold.
keep your eye on the prize
Each day is a gift
from the moment you rise.

Life is a ride, 
So sing your life’s song
Start in the morning
And sing all day long

‘Cause aging’s not easy
No part of life is.
The gift is the challenge
and joy is the biz

Life is a ride, 
So sing your heart’s song.
Start in the morning
And sing all day long

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TAKE THE RIDE! A Letter to 16-year-old Me

Day #10 in the #HAWMC  Challenge  -  30 days of writing prompts for health activist writers. Check 'em all out!

Prompt #10: Dear 16-year-old-me. Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of? 

Dear Hol,

This proposition calls for magic—it’s a pretty big supposition that I could make any 16-year-old aware of anything! But let’s say I have a magical incantation that would have you really hear what I’m saying....

First of all, don’t look to anyone else, including me, to give you your ultimate answers. You really have to find out for yourself. There’s no way to shortcut the learning moments, personal challenges, or even the painful awakenings. Believe it or not, that is good news.

The other good news is that you already have within you all that you need to do really well. In a sense, Hol, you’ve already succeeded. That said, here are a few things for you to consider as you get ready to launch yourself into life.

You have been paying much too much attention to others. If you think that others being happy makes you somehow safe or worthwhile, it doesn’t. Making others happy is not an end it itself and they are not the keepers of your happiness. The more that you can take care of your own happiness, the more wonderfully healthy Others will feel drawn to you. Pleasing them will be a pleasure, not a necessity. So, relax about what others think of you. No one will ever have the power over you that your family had. No one now endangers your happiness or your self worth unless you give them the power. 

For your greatest health and happiness, find your highest and fullest expression of your Self. Learn to be happy no matter who you are with, no matter where you are. This is the time of life for playing with who you are, and you are wonderful— wise, funny, and worthy of appreciation. Relax. Trust your instincts. Notice what gives you joy and follow it. Your true calling in life will unfold. Stay in touch with yourself and your profound value, using your inborn gifts, like writing, and loving, intuitive listening, and a strong, resilient body. The rest will unfold like a colorful adventure.

Have fun, hon! God/your Higher Power/The Universe is your partner so enjoy the ride! Below is a picture of what I mean. That’s You in the front seat!

with great love and respect,
Your elder self

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Monday, April 9, 2012

A Calming Poster

Day #9 in the #HAWMC  -  30 days of writing prompts for health activist writers. Check 'em out!

Prompt #9:  Keep calm and carry on. 

Write (and create) your own Keep Calm and Carry On poster. 

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Sunday, April 8, 2012


Day #8 in the #HAWMC  -  30 days of writing prompts for health activist writers. Check 'em out!

I was going to take Easter off, but thought that in lieu of an article, I would share my collection of writerly quotes. Enjoy! - Holly

There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it.  ~Harold Acton, Memoirs of an Aesthete, 1948

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.  ~Anaïs Nin

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.  ~E.L. Doctorow

A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.  ~Charles Peguy

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.  ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.  ~Elmore Leonard

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.  ~Toni Morrison

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "All Trivia," Afterthoughts, 1931

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.  ~Norbet Platt

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O'Brien

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.  ~Mark Twain

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.  ~James Michener

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.  ~Mark Twain

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend.  ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed.  I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty:  at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction.  ~Dylan Thomas, letter to Vernon Watkins, March 1938

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.  ~Vladimir Nabakov

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.  ~Anton Chekhov

Easy reading is damn hard writing.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies.  ~Emme Woodhull-Bäche

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.  ~Orson Scott Card

A metaphor is like a simile.  ~Author Unknown

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  ~Mark Twain

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  ~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.  ~Author Unknown

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.  ~Karl Kraus

A prose writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet.  So he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose.  ~Samuel McChord Crothers, "Every Man's Natural Desire to Be Somebody Else," The Dame School of Experience, 1920

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.  But if you have not a pen, I suppose you must scratch any way you can.  ~Samuel Lover, Handy Andy, 1842

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

I love being a writer.  What I can't stand is the paperwork.  ~Peter De Vries

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.  Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.  ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.  ~Truman Capote, McCall's, November 1967

A writer and nothing else:  a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.  ~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.  ~English Professor (Name Unknown), Ohio University

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.  ~Hannah Arendt

It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order.  ~Ann Beattie, Picturing Will, 1989

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle.  ~John Cheever

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.  ~Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.  ~Gene Fowler

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  ~Francis Bacon

The expression "to write something down" suggests a descent of thought to the fingers whose movements immediately falsify it.  ~William Gass, "Habitations of the Word," Kenyon Review, October 1984

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers.  My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.  There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.  ~Flannery O'Connor

Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.  ~Graycie Harmon

It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them.  The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.  ~Joan Baez

When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.  ~Samuel Butler

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn't we?  ~Audra Foveo-Alba

Every great writer is a writer of history, let him treat on almost any subject he may.  ~Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary Conversation: Diogenes and Plato

Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted
~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"

When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man.  ~Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670

Every writer I know has trouble writing.  ~Joseph Heller

Writer's block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite.  ~Laurie Wordholt

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.  ~Baltasar Gracián

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.  ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories, and he said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces.  ~Harold Ross

When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.  ~Sholem Asch

The only cure for writer's block is insomnia.  ~Merit Antares

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook:  his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.  ~Lord Byron

I'd rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.  ~Jack Smith

An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breasts.  ~Juvenal, Satires

Writing is a struggle against silence.  ~Carlos Fuentes

The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.  ~Elias Canetti

All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.  The chasm is never completely bridged.  We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.  ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

One hates an author that's all author.  ~George Gordon, Lord Byron, "Beppo"

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.  ~Burton Rascoe

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners' names.  I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Every word born of an inner necessity - writing must never be anything else.  ~Etty Hillesum, quoted in Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die by Karol Jackowski

A writer's mind seems to be situated partly in the solar plexus and partly in the head.  ~Ethel Wilson

Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man.  ~Emily Dickinson

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves.  ~Don Marquis

There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.  ~Miguel de Cervantes

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.  ~E.L. Doctorow

The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare.  For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.  ~Henry David Thoreau

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers.  ~T.S. Eliot

What would there be in a story of happiness?  Only what prepares it, only what destroys it can be told.  ~André Gide

Authors and lovers always suffer some infatuation, from which only absence can set them free.  ~Samuel Johnson

Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves.  ~C. Astrid Weber

A good style should show no signs of effort.  What is written should seem a happy accident.  ~W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938

They lard their lean books with the fat of others' works.  ~Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621

My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin.  ~Karl Kraus

As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.  ~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me:  grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.  ~Virginia Woolf

I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act.  It discharges the tension.  ~Norman Mailer

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.  ~Lord Byron

If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop.  If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness.  ~Carrie Latet

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.  ~Theodore Dreiser, 1900

It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never really doing anything else.  ~Havelock Ellis

The coroner will find ink in my veins and blood on my typewriter keys.  ~C. Astrid Weber

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason.  They made no such demand upon those who wrote them.  ~Charles Caleb Colton

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.  ~Author Unknown, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson (*) (Thank you, Frank Lynch.)

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851

I am a man, and alive.... For this reason I am a novelist.  And being a novelist, I consider myself superior to the saint, the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet, who are all great masters of different bits of man alive, but never get the whole hog.  ~D.H. Lawrence, preface to Shestov, All Things Are Possible, 1938

Write your first draft with your heart.  Re-write with your head.  ~From the movie Finding Forrester

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Writing is both mask and unveiling.  ~E.B. White

Let's hope the institution of marriage survives its detractors, for without it there would be no more adultery and without adultery two thirds of our novelists would stand in line for unemployment checks.  ~Peter S. Prescott

It's not plagiarism - I'm recycling words, as any good environmentally conscious writer would do.  ~Uniek Swain

True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
~Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism"

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.  ~Franz Kafka

An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.  ~Gustave Flaubert

If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don't remove it - I might be writing in my dreams.  ~Danzae Pace

There's only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that's a writer sitting down to write.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one's own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one's pen.  ~Leo Tolstoy

A man will turn over half a library to make one book.  ~Samuel Johnson

What things there are to write, if one could only write them!  My mind is full of gleaming thought; gay moods and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings.  But always the rarest, those streaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.  ~Russell Lynes

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order.  ~Jean Luc Godard

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life.  ~James Norman Hall

Whatever an author puts between the two covers of his book is public property; whatever of himself he does not put there is his private property, as much as if he had never written a word.  ~Gail Hamilton

Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially.  ~A. Bronson Alcott

The artist's only responsibility is his art.  He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one.... If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate:  The "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is worth any number of old ladies.  ~Faulkner, quoted in M. Cowley, Writers at Work, 1958

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947

The reason why many people are so fond of using superlatives, is, they are so positive that the poor positive is not half positive enough for them.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer.  But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.  ~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.  ~Jules Renard, Journal, 10 April 1895

The good writers touch life often.  The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her.  The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.  ~Ray Bradbury

Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear - and devils, too.  ~Graycie Harmon

Authorship is exhibitionism, and readers a species of voyeur.  ~Carrie Latet

Without a pen I feel naked, but it's writing that is my exhibitionism.  ~Carrie Latet

Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute.  Or you might not write the paragraph at all.  ~Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf, 1927

You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world.  ~G.K. Chesterton

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.  ~André Gide, Journals, 1894

Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.  ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.  ~Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963

i never think at all when i write
nobody can do two things at the same time
and do them both well
~Don Marquis, Archy's Life of Mehitabel, 1933

Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals.  ~Proust, The Past Recaptured, 1927

I keep little notepads all over the place to write down ideas as soon as they strike, but the ones that fill up the quickest are always the ones at my nightstand.  ~Emily Logan Decens

I even shower with my pen, in case any ideas drip out of the waterhead.  ~Graycie Harmon

Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.  ~Samuel Johnson, "Recalling the Advice of a College Tutor," Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1791

A notepad by the bedside accounts for half the earnings of my livelihood.  If it weren't for bedtime, half my novels would still be stuck at dock.  -Ever Garrison

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.  ~Chateaubriand, Le Génie du Christianisme, 1802

Keep a diary and one day it'll keep you.  ~Mae West

Imitation is the highest form of pissing me off.  Quit stealing my content and violating my copyright.  ~Jen T. Verbumessor

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.  ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft.  ~Jessamyn West, Saturday Review, 21 September 1957

I do not like to write - I like to have written.  ~Gloria Steinem

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.  ~George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947  (Thanks, Jennifer)

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.  ~Hart Crane

Writers are just people who have a whole lot on the inside that they need to get to the outside, with pen and paper as their preferred method of transport.  Same with dancers, artists, and singers - all the same urges with differing transportation.  ~Graycie Harmon

He that uses many words for the explaining any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink.  ~John Ray

Writing is a product of silence.  ~Carrie Latet

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Novelists... fashioning nets to sustain and support the reader as he falls helplessly through the chaos of his own existence.  ~Fay Weldon

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Books want to be born: I never make them.  They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such.  ~Samuel Butler

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.  ~Robert Benchley

No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman.  ~Van Wyck Brooks

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector.  This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.  ~Ernest Hemingway, interview in Paris Review, Spring 1958

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.  ~Samuel Johnson

The best style is the style you don't notice.  ~Somerset Maugham

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.  ~William Makepeace Thackeray

I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody's head.  ~John Updike

Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.  ~Goethe

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