Pondering on Four Big Questions; And A Showcase of Four Amazing Friends


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 A dear writer-thinker-lady-friend kindly invited me to join in a blog hop and to ponder a few questions in where I am at in my journey of writing, creating, breathing and just being human. Well, of course, without a hesitation, I said yes ~ not to promote myself, but to make myself create some space to actually reflect on where I am right now, and where I might be headed. AND, I wanted to have the chance to shout out to the world some of the most amazing friends I’ve made out there in the writing, creating, heart and soul seeking world.

Jeff Goins, a writing teacher I’ve learned so much from, writes that “content is not king ~ it’s all about relationships.”  Well, we know we need to have something worth saying for someone to spend time reading it, BUT, if we don’t have others to share with, it’s only helping ourselves.

 So, here are the Four Big Questions ~

 1.  What am I working on?

 I love how Laura Risser Moss, in her blog, gratefulamazement,  writes that at this time in her life “the curtain on her Second Act is rising”.  I could not find more perfect words to say this is where I am as well.  My children are emptying the nest.  I’m having more time to discover who I really am – other than, wife, mother and teacher of children.

 I’m learning to listen to my body, heart and soul more, as my mind is being ordered to take more time to sit on the bench, or riding the pine, as my husband used to say during basketball season. It’s pretty hard to quiet a voice that’s been leading the parade for so many years, but my heart and soul are pretty pleased.

I’m in my bliss when I’m writing, teaching, creating, learning, helping or guiding others in finding their own true self, but also in helping others to speak and to trust their own voices.  I am working on a hodge-podge of projects right now to live out this bliss.

My bravest step begins August 1st, as a 28-Day Living the Writerly Life E-course.  I began writing this several years ago when I took an online course, called Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts, but fear kept showing her scary face and I’d tuck it away.  Well, one day, when the scary monster was out barking at someone else, I hit publish and out to the world the course flew!  There was no turning back.  I can not contain the excitement I have bubbling up inside me to begin this journey guiding others in living like a writer and into hopefully believing that they truly are writers as well.

 In 2012, I vowed to listen to my soul and instill more creativity in my life.  Jeff Goins, was offering a free writing e-course at the time called, You Are A Writer, and this course became the door I entered that opened up an entire world of possibility.  I began two blogs, islandsofmysoul.com and theliteratemind.blogspot, joined a few writing groups, one called Tribe Writers,  and am now working on a book about listening in education.  It’s a timely book due to the increasing use of technology and lack of face to face communication.  This book was born two years ago, so I need to do a giddy-up on it before something more attractive diverts my attention.  It usually does.

I also have two other E-courses marinating in my brain right now as well.  One revolving around writing through our brokenness and the other, a course designed to heal ourselves while taking a journey through our mind, body, heart and soul.  I’m hoping to invite some other fabulous women into this e-course.  These courses came to me during my own writing and through a need.  Our world is going through a huge shift right now.  I’m feeling so much pain and brokenness “collectively”, as my friend Bridgette says, and my soul is crying to help do some healing in any way I can.  Perhaps this healing will take place through writing.

Julie Cameron writes that we need other creative sources besides writing, so that when writing feels stagnant, we can switch gears to another medium and that restocks the writing well.  Art journaling is this other passion.  While painting and using mixed media, messages of encouragement, inspiration and guidance fill my pages.  To keep my art journal girl happy, I participate in the Life Book 2014 online community of art journalists.  Each week is filled with a new lesson by an amazing artist and energetically filled connectedness with others.  Almost by magic, my art journal images often fit perfectly with my blog post writing.  Funny how that works.

 More recently, I’ve been nudged towards making Spirit Dolls. These are dolls created by a its maker to hold energy or an intention, lead one to a dream or to guide one in their path.

I’m not sure where these creative parts of my being will lead me, but for now, I’m just feeling the flow and enjoying the journey.

In August, I go back to my full-time job of being a literacy coach at a K-5 elementary school, so I fear writing and creating will slow down.  I am vowing not to let that happen this year as my artist self begs me to integrate creativity into my work wherever it’s possible.  Working with teachers and children, there’s plenty of room for this if I just pay attention.

2.  How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

 Well, I’m not 100% positive as to what my “genre” is yet.

What I do know, is that my writing flows from my heart and soul.  It’s not always me putting those words on the page.  It might be poetry one day.  Another day, it could be a short narrative or reflective essay.  I’m still searching for my voice and theme, yet, I like to believe my words are healing and filled with an energy that radiates light, love, and hope.  Sharing my vulnerabilities and my own brokenness has connected me to others that feel pain, too.  If I can help others, even if only a few, to heal through the use of tools that have worked for me, then I am grateful.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do in order to live.  If I neglect writing, the rest of my life begins to get muddy. Foggy. Unclear.  Depression seeps in.  Writing gives me clarity and direction.  It clears the cobwebs and allows my soul to speak.

Most of my writing remains in notebooks.  I am faithful to Morning Pages each and every day – at least a full 3 pages of whatever comes out of my flowing pen.  Sometimes, words from these notebooks find their way into my blogs, but often, they remain in my notebook as answers to my wonders or lessons learned.

I write what I do on my blogs as a way to reach out to others who may be wrestling with what I wrestle with.  Perhaps they have tools they can share with me, as well.  But, mostly, it’s to share what has helped heal myself in hopes to help others.  It’s a way to build community and affirm to us all we are not alone and that we all share the same humanness.  I’ve learned that writing is one tool I can use to share my gifts of teaching and helping others heal ~ through words.

4. How does my writing process work?

Not very well.

Like I said, I am faithful to my Morning Pages every day, but beyond that, it’s a circus.  Writing for my eyes only are like breathing.  Once I desire to put something out there for the world, my hands hover over the keyboards for a lengthy period of time.  My fingers often weep at what comes out.  It can take me all day to do a blog post as I am also a bit of a researcher and feel obligated to have some valid words from others to support my own opinions.  I am critical of my words and attempt to weave in craft, trying out different leads and structures.

Once a blog post is written, I leave it sit for a period of time and come back to look at it with new eyes.  Of course, I won’t like it.  And, chances are, I’ll change the whole piece or choose just to chuck it.  If it doesn’t feel like it came from my heart, I can’t send it to the world.

One of the biggest roadblocks that hinders my process is the fear of ever sounding expert-ish, know-it-all-ish, self-promoting, judgmental, critical or laced with ego.  I scour my words for any evidence of these demons.  Often times, even when I know my words are written with love and compassion, my fear will tell me otherwise and the words will sit in my draft box indefinately.

My writing process truly is a love/hate relationship for me.

Wow. . . those were some pretty thought provoking questions.  The answers are true for me today, however tomorrow they might be totally different.  These four questions might be path unfolding for anyone to ponder on.

Now ~ here are some amazing writer-artist-healer-people, that I call my friends~

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Laura Moss is beyond grateful to be able to say she has survived being Mom to 4 spirited girls, a battle with aggressive breast cancer, and some difficult seasons in her almost-25-year marriage. She calls herself a Creative, is drawn to beauty in all its forms, and loves loving on people. You can find more of her musings at gratefulamazement.wordpress.com.

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 Leslie Molen is a doll and textile artist.

I have been a full time artist for over twenty years, specializing in dollmaking and textile arts. I have had discussions with friends about what keeps me going, the drive to continue onward.

 Many comment on how I nice it is that I have found my passion…

pas·sion

noun \ˈpa-shən\ : a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.

I tell them it is my calling, I must do this- create in cloth.

call·ing

noun \ˈkȯ-liŋ\

: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.

And so my journey to create in cloth continues…this past year I have taken a step back from teaching so that I may start to work towards focusing on my personal art. It is a slow endeavor that will take time to nurture into existence! Stay tuned!”

You can visit Leslie’s page at Rootie Studio and her blog at from these Hands.  Prepare to get lost in her studio!

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James Prescott is  a writer and author from Sutton, near London in the UK.  He loves writing, encouraging people, and seeing people discover their true identity.

“My life journey keeps on teaching me lessons about discovering hope in an imperfect world, and how we can discover our own unique stories in the the midst of this. I share those lessons here in all their brutal honesty.

I’m believe deeply in the power of encouragement. When I was only 12 years old my Dad gave me the opportunity to help him write a major newsletter – which set me on a writing journey. That journey has led me to create this blog and author three books.

If you’re interested in discovering your true identity, if you have a passion to make a difference in the world, if you know you’re broken but are looking for hope, you’re welcome here.

If you want open and honest discussion about issues which matter, or like facing up to the important but difficult questions of life, or you’re a human being, this blog is for you too.”

Early in 2015 James will be releasing his first full-length book, ‘Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives’.

To read James’ written words, visit him at jamesprescott.co.uk, or read his bi-monthly posts over at digi-disciple, run by the Big Bible Project, and he also guest posts for prominent authors and bloggers Sarah Bessey, Jeff Goins & Mary DeMuth, amongst others.

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Bridgette Doer connects others to their inspired intuitive life.  I’ve worked with Bridgette and she is the real deal.

“I am overflowing with creative, empowering energy with so much anticipation for what is possible for all of us. There is so much untapped potential, so much capacity. We are much more than we believe we are at this moment.

When I accepted the invitation to be a channel for empowering women by inspiring intuition, the fun energy of the Fairy Grasshopper was created. It is my mission to activate hope, inspiration, and POWER  to help to you grow and glow!  I am in love with my Inspiring Psychic and Soulful Women Empowerment work! It’s not just my job- it is who I AM. I look forward to connecting with you, to cheering you on!”

Bridgette’s website and blog is at fairygrasshopper.com.  She is one amazing woman.

Trying Out Word Press Themes. . .

I get bored with the same shoes, clothes, food, anything. . .  after too long.  It drives my husband crazy.  I’m sorry, hon,  Anyways. . .. I’m trying out Word Press themes this week.

Visually, I’m having a hard time finding the one that speaks to me in a way where I say, “Oh man. . . this is it.”

Maybe it’s because I am not to the pay money stage yet for a theme.  I want free.

But, along with free, you lose the ability to choose fonts and background colors.

Anyways. . . this week, I’m trying out themes. I need help and advise.  Serious and critical.  What do readers like?  Coming from a literacy background I know that struggling readers need black font on white background.  It’s hard for me to stray from that.

But, I need pieces of my art in there.  Most of my posts will have my art journal page as the image.   I need that in there.

So, I’m looking for advise here.  Tell me.  Critical or positive.  Let me know.  What is it that attracts readers to actually stay long enough to read an entire post?

Shari 🙂

p.s. the Snoopy artwork was borrowed from http://stepupyourgamenow.com/2012/06/to-decide-or-not-to-decide-that-is-the-question/ and I read the entire post.  It didn’t help.  But, I loved the site!  I’m now a follower. 🙂

5 Powerful Reasons You Need Morning Pages in Your Life

Morning Pages image

I have done morning pages most of my life, way before Julie Cameron wrote about them in her book The Artist’s Way back in 1992.  When I first read The Artist’s Way for the first time in 2006, I smiled.  What I was doing now had a  name.

I have at least 50 notebooks filled with writing.  Probably more.  They are everywhere. Somedays I write 10-15 pages, others my mandatory 3.  Whatever it may be, I have to write.

I stopped doing morning pages when I started my blogs. 

Why?  How can someone who has done something for a life time stop doing something that is so engrained in their being?  What could possibly cause this?

I started using my blog AS my morning pages.  

Instead of going to the notebook and pen in the mornings, I was now going to my computer attempting to compose a writing for an audience.  I fretted over the frustration of topic choice, choosing a catchy title, crafting that first lead sentence that hooks and then always trying to keep a focus and stick to some pain points.

A  blog has a distinct structure that you try to attain.  This is not morning pages.  I was at a creative standstill.  A block.  Some days I just sat at my computer and pondered.

I didn’t write.  I wasn’t writing.

Julie Cameron’s book Walking in This World arrived on by doorstep yesterday.  As I leafed through the first pages, she reviews the “Basic Tools” for any creative soul.  Morning pages were right there, on the page, as the first, most powerful tool.

I love it when you know something so deep in your core and your veer from it for some reason or another and then, all of a sudden, the Universe sends you a little reminder that you need to remember to do what you know.  Gives me chills.

So, I’m back to my morning pages again. 🙂

Why are morning pages so powerful, you ask?

Well, I’ll give you 5 really big reasons.

1.  There is no wrong way to do morning pages.

Morning pages are at least 3 pages of long hand writing (no computer) in a notebook that is free-flowing stream of conscious writing.  They are not meant to be art or even any good.  Not that they might be.  They could.  They are only meant for your eyes.  No audience.

2.  The drama gets put on the page.

Julie Cameron says, “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in your morning pages is the stuff that stands between you and your creativity.”

It might be worry over bills.  It might be anger at your husband.  It might be you beating yourself up because you drank too much last night.

Whatever this is, it’s drama.  If you get it on paper, it’s leaked out of you.  You did something with it.  So, you can move on.

If I can get my drama on the page, I have less drama in my life.  My head is clearer and I can focus my thinking on the things I want to focus on.

3.  Morning pages teach us to get beyond our critic in our heads.

Because there is no wrong way to do the morning pages and we can write whatever we feel and not care what it says or how it looks, we have the right to ignore the critic in our brain telling us that our writing (or anything else for that matter) is crap.

“We have a logic brain.  This is our Censor that gives us our second, third and fourth thoughts whenever faced with our own original thoughts,”  writes Julia.  Quite often, it spits at us words like, “You can’t write that!” or “Who are you kidding?”

And we have our artist brain.  This artist brain is our creative being.  It has glorious thoughts of “what-if’s” and sees a beautiful leaf and thinks, “I’m going to press leaves and string a bunch of them together to make a leaf garland and hang it above my kitchen window!”  Artist brain is random, free and idealistic.

Julie proclaims that “morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”  Why is this important?  I don’t know about you, but my logic brain is dominant in my brain 24/7.  I know I need to train it better.

4.  Morning pages are a form of meditation.

If we write enough so that it feels like breathing, we begin to see new insights in our writing.  We see the same issues, read over the continued whining and we realize that we need to make changes.

In my own life, the answers to my questions magically appear in my writing.  Many times I have stopped in my own tracks and looked at what came out and cried.  God speaks to us through our writing.

We meditate to discover who we are.  To listen to the whispers from God.  Writing is a form of meditation and the great power in it, more so than meditating without writing, is that the writing that ends up on page helps us to map our pathways.

It is almost impossible to write your morning pages morning after morning without feeling a divine unexpected inner guidance.

I consider it a gift.

5.  Morning pages are not just for writers.

Morning pages are for everyone.  If you know how to hold a pencil and scribble some letters, you can do morning pages.  We all have inner work to do.  Every soul is searching for something.  We all are praying for answers.

Everyone can find them in our pages.

If you haven’t written for a while, go buy a cheap composition notebook and find your favorite pen.  Set your alarm for a half hour to an hour early and start your pages.

Write anything. Write about how you don’t know what to write.

Just get it on the page.

Shari 🙂

She Loves to Run. . . That Sandy

A weird thing happened today.  After reading Jeff Goins post on writing about topics that we fear to deeply touch readers enough to shatter their frozen seas, I spent most of my morning looking for the perfect frozen sea breaking topic.  I’ve got gazillions of topics of what I’d like to write about, but I’m bent on finding this perfect one.

I decided to take a  break and go throw some balls for Sandy to fetch.

Our lab, Sandy, is insanely  fast.  I’m not bragging either.  Seriously, why would I brag about something like this?  When you throw her a stick, or a ball or a frisbee, she actually leaves “dog divots”  when she takes off to fetch it.  Yup, divots of grass and dirt right up into your lap.

When Sandy treks over to the neighbors (when we aren’t around and she hears voices over there because she’s such a people dog), our neighbor, Linda, likes to throw things for her and their two labs to race to.  Linda confesses that she often has to fake Sandy out first and give the other dogs a head start to give them a chance.

Sandy still wins.

She is unbeatable in dog running.

“We should enter her in races!” my kids say.

She has this gift, this uncanny freakish speed talent. . . and nothing to do with it but chase balls and hunt in the fall.

Here’s the crazy thing.  I really don’t think she gives a rip if she’s fast or not.  She just loves to run.  She doesn’t care if she’s winning contests or competing with any other dog.  She is just so dang happy to be running.

And then. . . my message sang to me.

Like writing should be, Shari.

I was the frozen sea today.  Stuck in finding perfect writing instead of just writing.

Julia Cameron writes,

“I love when good writing comes out – but mostly, I just love writing.”

And we shouldn’t do it for fame or be “be published” or to get lots of followers or likes. We should do it because it’s like breathing.  It’s being true to our essence and it’s who we are.

Like Sandy has to run.

Shari 🙂

Listening to My Vulnerability

I am lacking some pretty serious direction today. Kinda feeling heavy, stuck, and frustrated. So, I grab my jug of coffee and trudge up to my studio to see what whispers I might receive about what avenue to take next.

I turn on my Pandora Helen Jane Long Radio station, burn some sage (for cleansing all that junk in my mind) and just sit.  Breathe.  Breathe again.  One more time.

I am anxious.  I can’t listen to the message if I’m anxious.  Well, I usually get this way towards the middle end of July.  I am a literacy coach and the summer is over half gone.  My todo list has, ummmmm, well. . . one thing crossed off.  That would be my 2 week vacation of solitude.

And, of course, I’ve started some new things that have to do with writing and art.  My soul craves to keep that creative part of me growing, yet my rational mind is thinking about the things that need to be done around the house yet, and planning New Teacher Training in  August.  Work is creeping into my creative brain.

But, more than any of these things causing anxiety today, is my body.

K – I’m sorry for complaining here, but, I feel like crap.  Getting carried away writing and painting and reading cause me to retreat inward and then I lack of consistent, vigorous exercise.  I’m talking more than the half hour walk with the dog.  I’m drinking way too much coffee lately and not enough water.  Meals?  Not telling.  It’s summer!  Grilling and an evening drink so hand in hand with summer, right?

Well, maybe not hand in hand with this body.

This body is screaming for attention.  My joints ache, my skin hurts even, my back feels out of whack and my stomach is acting up, not liking the garlic and onions I put in my food last night.

Why is it that it seems like when you finally feel at a good place with your mind and spirit, the body cries.  I’m afraid that if I get all hooked on exercise and the health track, my mind and time will be consumed with this and peaceful mind and spirit with suffer.  I’ve been obsessed with exercise and every bite of  food I put in my mouth before and I just am so not there anymore.  So much of it was vanity and my ego – so I let it all go when I figured that out.

So, how do I get back to a healthy balance?

I have lacked balance my whole life.

So, I check my emails before I write this morning.  I should not do that, I know.  Write first.  And then. . . worse than that, I check face book.  Another no-no if you are trying to write every  morning, first thing.

But, the message came through face book this morning.  A friend had posted this picture on their wall:

Thank you, Debbie May, for finding this for me today from Jenny’s blog.

Vulnerability.  This word described me to the T this morning.  I clicked on it and soaked up Jenny’s words.

And cried.

Do you do that when someone’s post touches your soul so deeply?  I often think I’m a pathetic mush, but, I’ve realized that when I cry, it’s my soul either crying is sadness or gladness.  This was gladness.  Because Jenny gave me the direction I needed today.

Jenny wrote about her transformation through fitness and how it’s guiding her creativity and her life.

My soul was screaming, “I wanna be fit! Your entire being will align if you feel better physically, Shari! Do something!  Do it today!”

Well, I didn’t have to concentrate to hard to get that message.   And, I don’t have to go too far for help.  My daughter, Lauren, is a personal trainer.  She is the epitome of commitment and strength.  I have never seen someone so dedicated to fitness and health.

She doesn’t live far from me either.   She still lives at home with me.  In my house.  Who is blessed enough to have a personal trainer live with them??????

Lauren is constantly giving me advice as to what I should eat, how I should eat, what exercise would help me the most.  I listen to her sometimes.  She doesn’t hound me.  She often tells me, “It’s a good thing you don’t pay me!”  I’ve told her I should get her services for free since she lives here, but. . .I’m her worst client.

Maybe I need to start paying her.

Maybe it’s time I’m serious about my health.

If I pay her, I’ll feel guilty if I DON’T listen to her.  So, today, I’m asking her for help.  And, I’m paying for it.

Sometimes, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, right?

Shari