Being Reminded of Bad Decisions Hurts Our Brains


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“You need to clear.  Now.  Today.”

 I keep hearing it.  Seeing it.  And, feeling it.

I take this knowingness to my notebook and try to write out EXACTLY what needs to be cleared.

“What?  What needs to be cleared?”  I question, “Is it energy clearing?  I feel okay.  I don’t need that today.  Is it subconscious blocks that I need to let go of?  Fear?  Obsessions?  Old stuff?  What?  Tell me, so I can take care of it!”

A smell lingers up into my writing room.  My candle can’t even mask the smell.  Being one of those highly sensitive nose type people, smells really trip me up.

“What IS that?”  I croak.

Ugh.  I can’t even focus on my thoughts to write with this intrusion.  I shut my computer and investigate.  I know this smell.  It’s a moldy, old garbage, combined with wet dog, chicken coop and baby kitties born on the couch kinda smell (that happened when I was a young girl and I still remember the smell).  I really don’t even want to know what it is.  There have been whiffs of this odor over the last week and I’ve tried to ignore it.  But, I can’t any longer.  It’s become overbearing.  The thought of what it could be is giving me the willies.  Moving might become necessary.

I scan the garage.  My skin shivers at how visually toxic to my well-being this room is.  The school year is done and summer is here and I know I NEED to clean this.

Forget the garage. . . it’s not even my junk.

But, then, I know the answer to my knowingness.

“Oh, you mean REAL clearing!  ACTUAL PHYSICAL REAL CLUTTER!”  I shake my head because I really do not want to tackle this. I’ve been avoiding it altogether.  I have other things to do!  Stuff I actually WANT to do!  It’s summer!!  The sun outside wants me to sit in it and just read!

The message is affirmed in everywhere I go.  The yard, the shed, the playhouse.  There is not a space in my house that does not need some TLC:

A Total-Lot-of-Cleaning.

 Yes, I’ve neglected it.  It’s time.

“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”     ~nourishment3.com

Well, I knew I was having a focusing issue, but I didn’t know it was because of my clutter.  And my stuff.

I announce to my husband that I’m on a de-cluttering mission.  His eyes begin to squint like the sun’s hurting him and his entire face scrunches up.  He knows he is going to either have to get involved or risk losing some stuff.  He also knows he has more stuff to de-clutter than I do.  The two boys find other stuff to do.

The bathroom is first, as it’s the room that bothers me the most.  Items from the shelves are purged, used once or twice and never to be noticed again, covered in dust and gunk.  Old vitamins, prescriptions, bath salts and lotions.  Yuck.  Then. . . way in the back, I discover some old boxes of Frownies I purchased a few years ago.

Oh dang.  The memory comes flooding back.

These stick on patches were going to be the ticket for those wrinkles on my forehead.  The internet said.  So, I bought 2 packages, not just one.  On my first day’s trial of stretching my forehead before applying the sticky patches to my skin, and then sleeping with it on, I awoke  to an even more dented forehead than my original one.  Apparently, I had not flattened my skin smooth enough before I stuck that baby on.  Instead of smoothing my forehead, I made NEW wrinkles.  They lasted all day.  I should have sent the Frownies back for a refund, but I attributed the problem to operator error and vowed to give it another shot.  I never did.  A reminder of another bad decision and money wasted for vanity.

Why is it so painful to get rid of this stuff?

Apparently, there is research that gives us the answer to this question.  (I found it on the internet.)

We tell ourselves we are hanging onto this stuff for a number of reasons:

1.  We are saving it for just the right occasion.

2.  We spent a lot of money on it and we might use it one day.

3.  We have sentimental value.

But,  the biggest reason we hang on to stuff is because we probably made a mistake buying it and it literally hurts our brain to come to terms with that fact.

Yup, there is.  The truth.  It’s painful to admit that we screwed up.   Bad decisions.  Money wasted.

As in the case of my Frownies.

Tossing them in the trash really DOES hurt.  But really, I know I won’t try them again.  Even sticking all those patches to my face now and going to bed that way seems absurd.  And, I run the risk of that scene be the topic of conversation and my husband’s office the next day.

I could see if my sister wants to try them.  That would feel better than junking them.  But, then, I’d have to hold on to them longer until I see them. Should I walk them over to my neighbor?  I could tell her that if she doesn’t want to try them, she could just toss them and I wouldn’t have to know about it.  Maybe that’s the ticket.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll do.

Then, I won’t have to feel the pain quite so much.

Unless, the next time I see her, she has more wrinkles.

Now, moving on to the kitchen. . .

What is painful for your brain to let go of?

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Writers and Their Notebooks

I have at least 30 or 40 notebooks and journals filled with my writing.  They are all over the place.  This is a photo of some of the notebooks that would show up for a portrait.  Others are in boxes, shelves or drawers, or just in hiding.

If you are an avid writer, you know how fast notebooks can fill.

I’ve always struggled with the next step.  A filled notebook.  This treasure. . . where should I put it?

Put it on a shelf. . . or in a box. . . or a drawer. . .

I have been doing some reading lately in a couple of new books on writing.  One book, A Writer’s Book of Days, by Judy Reeves has shifted some thinking in my mind about organizing all these notebooks for actual productivity.

First and most importantly, a writer has to be clear on the kind of writing that the notebook contains.  It could be any of the following:

1.  Journaling

We need to clarify this term.  A journal is a noun, which defines it as a notebook, book or a log.  To journal is a verb, which is defined as to personally record occurrences, experiences, and reflections  on a regular basis.  This is writing that is for self-exploration, self expression and is probably private.  I usually do this kind of writing when I am in deep despair, wrestling with a deeper issue or problem, a catharsis of sorts.  Much of my writing is this.  I start with an issue and answers appear in my writing magically.  No one gets to see this stuff.  I really should burn these notebooks when done purging.  Therapy on a dime.

Journals can also be used as a record keeping device.  My father-in-law has kept journals for years.  He documents daily weather, visits with others, trips, and events of the day.  It amazes me how well the journals can help him remember details from his life.

2.  Morning Pages

I attempt to write every day.  I start where I am and try to fill three pages. I usually do not know where I will start or end up.  I sometimes start with how I have nothing to write about.  The muse almost always shows up and gives me a topic.  Many a day, this writing is blah, blah, blah, just to get writing flowing on a regular practice.  It also helps to diffuse the inner critic.  I don’t care what I write here.  I tell the critic to take a break.  It teaches me to not listen to this gremlin.  I write what I want and see what appears.  Any topic is meat for morning pages.  And, sometimes, morning pages ends up being journaling, although, I try to keep that in separate notebooks now.  Most of my really good ideas come from morning pages.

3.  Writing Practice

This is writing where one tries out a craft or a focused creative writing on a topic.  For me, I love to make captive a powerful sentence and then make it work in my own language with a variety of topics.  Love Love Love mentor sentences.  I think I need to start a menu item of just this.

Writing practice would also include those that like to respond to a prompt and creatively write.  Personally, these feel like fingernails against a chalkboard, but some writers flourish from these.  I’m forcing myself to try them.  All in all, it’s work on craft.

Again, a separate notebook for this.

4.  Project Writing

I typically start a journal just for the collection and writing of a single topic.  All my quotes, thoughts and new understandings about his writing project go into this notebook.  Once I determine a focus for an article, book or idea, I will dump everything to this one place.

5.  And this. . . is the biggie.  Writers notebooks entries.  Beginning writers tend to use the same notebook for everything:   journaling, project writings, writing practice, morning pages – all of it.  That’s okay, at first.  Just getting started writing is a feat in itself.  Applaud yourself if you are writing every day!

However, here is the rub, once you begin focusing on a project or a blog entry later on, and intend on revising and working on craft,  you can never find any snippet of writing that you know you wrote at some previous point in time that would have added that little pizzaz to the writing that you are craving!   I enter this dilemma constantly!

If you have over 25 something notebooks filled with random stuff, including moving quotes, phrases and words to describe a moment, scene or person, you might as well call it a night.  I’m banking that MOST writers don’t magically have this continuous flow of words that stream out of their consciousness like Hemmingway.  Real writers steal.

Seriously.

Read, notice, be astonished, save it for later use.  But tweak it to make it your own.

What to do?

I have decided that I need to have one notebook as my collect-all notebook.   I can capture conversations overheard, like today. . .

I was sitting in the clinic and listening to others sitting in the waiting room.  (I love waiting rooms for this reason.  So much writing material for free.)  This rough looking guy walks by with his jeans all ripped up like has intentions of wearing them that way.  An elderly man sitting next to me, leans over to his wife and says, “Now, what would make a person want to dress like that?” (My dad would say this.)

His wife replies softly, “I don’t know what they’re thinking.” (My mother would say this back.)

I don’t know what I will do with the conversation, but I know that I need to safe-keep it somewhere that is easy to access when I want it.

I stored that tidbit in my main writers notebook.  The “stealth” notebook as Howard Junker, editor of the literary journal ZYZZYVA, calls it.  This notebook will go everywhere with me, so I can capture all those secret bits of ideas, language and noticings and house them for safekeeping.

Later this month, I will do some re-sorting.  I’ll pull out the snatches of words from this main notebook and catagorize them into different notebooks.   I might have  notebook for these catagories:

*ideas for writing (books, articles, blog entries, etc.)

*poetry

*character development (this would include the dialogue snippets and character descriptions)

*five senses notebook organized by the senses (I would capture vivid descriptions here)

*quotes (not sure how I would organize these)

*sentence study (I love to collect cool sentences just because I love how they sound.  Then I try to replicate them using my own content and language.  Way fun. I know, I’m weird.)

I’m not sure what other categories will evolve. This will be a constant work in progress, but my hope is to be able to actually FIND some of the stuff I tuck into my notebooks. Yes, I’ll have notebooks galore, but I do anyway!  At least now, I’m a little more organized and focused on more purposeful writing

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe I’m just dreaming.

So, I’m curious.  What kind of writing do you do?  What kind of notebooks do you use? I’d love to hear! 🙂

Shari 🙂

Finding a Focus

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I’m following Jeff Goins in his Intentional Blogging Series.  We are on Lesson 2, which is finding a focus for your writing.

This has always been my problem.  I love too many things and I don’t want to leave anything out!  Even looking at my heading that I have for this blog is daunting.  I wanted this blog to be everything in my life that does not include teaching (that’s on my other blog).

So, hmmmm. . . he advises us to first, choose a subject, second, a theme within this subject and finally, an objective for our writing.  What will our purpose be?

After much pondering, I’ve narrowed my subject down to. . . creativity.  That encompasses a lot.

Now themes.  These are the categories of creativity.  Let’s see, there’s art journaling, painting, cooking, writing, fear, intuition, presence, soul work, photography, books.  How can I choose just one?  Maybe I need to use the process of elimination here.  Or maybe I focus on how creativity feeds your soul.  Could that be a theme? Ughh.  It could be like a creativity manifestation.  Somehow, I need to incorporate intuitiveness in there.  And, being fearless!  Since that’s my biggest issue!!!! I’ll cross off photography, too, since all I have is my iphone and I don’t know how to use my expensive camera very well.  I could take a class.   But, if I became good at that, I’d need another blog.

Okay, so my theme is going to be fearless creativity.

Now, what is my objective?

My objective is to share my creative words and art (along with my thoughts and feelings about it all) with others in hopes to connect to like souls and inspire them to write and share their creative gifts.

Ta-da!  Will that work?

I’ll email it to Jeff Goins and see what he says.  Maybe I’m just beating around the bush.

What do you think?

Shari