Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finally Friday Week 17: The Upside of Procrastination

"Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available."—Psychology Today

You really need to fold laundry, pay bills and exercise, but you'd rather check Facebook, call a friend, see what's on TV, read a book, read this blog and the list does on. Why is it so difficult to complete tasks or items on our to-do list?

I will be honest. I'm one of those people who waits until the ultimate last moment to complete things. I'm very deadline driven and if I don't have a deadline, well then, forget it. I'm not going to get much done.

I also don't like to fill my schedule. I like to have lots of unstructured time to do what spontaneously inspires me. These blog posts were meant to go out on Fridays, but I don't seem to be able to get here until Saturday or Sunday. At least I get here on the weekend and I have written every single week for 17 weeks, so that's something.

The thing is, I love writing and doing this blog, but lately the weather has been so amazing here in Washington State and I've found myself wanting to be outdoors more and more. I love walking, barbecuing, meeting with friends, and just having fun. I think I'm still a kid at heart. Kids don't make lists of things to do. Kids enjoy unstructured play time and I have a lot of that still in me.

The upside of procrastination is in that unstructured time when "anything" can happen. I'm in the moment and I don't know what will happen. It's then that I get the most amazing epiphanies or have the most awesome ideas. I think this is part of being a writer too. There is a gathering time when it looks like nothing is happening, but under the surface of appearances, a lot is going on. I allow myself to have great swaths of unstructured time for this reason.

But there is always a balance, right?

Luckily exercise is part of my play time. It's what I do when I procrastinate. It could be worse, I could eat pie all day. Instead of cleaning the house and getting ready for my class tomorrow, I went to my husband's yoga class in downtown Edmonds. I don't regret that either. It felt so good to stretch my body and sweat! I felt all the muscles come alive and it gave me the motivation I was seeking to jump back on this blog and accomplish some of the tasks I've let fall by the wayside.

I haven't completely let it all go. Afterall, I'm here on week 17 writing this blog post!

I do feel lately that I've needed to pull in the reigns a bit. I've let myself do whatever I want whenever I'm free. However, house cleaning, laundry folding, bill paying and book writing all need to GET DONE.

I WILL get there. I always do. But I might just take my own sweet time....unless, of course, a deadline is looming.

Do you procrastinate or do you stick to your "to-do" list and get things accomplished right away?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Finally Friday Week 16: Every Day Magic

Simple moment of drinking tea with Yoon
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic -- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone.”—Charles de Lint

Magic. I find it all around these days. This weekend I'm finding it in very simple things. It's a holiday weekend and I could feel the energy in the city on Friday. Everyone was packing, shopping, and getting ready to hightail it out of here to enjoy the weekend far from the stresses of the city. I thought about going away too, but somehow the weekend snuck up on me and I honestly didn't have the energy to make a plan. It's nice, sometimes, how the city becomes deserted on a long weekend. Normally crowded city streets become free and clear. It feels like Yoon and I have the entire city to ourselves.

One of the reasons I didn't feel the need to get out of town is due to the fact that I teach only three days a week, so I actually have a long weekend every weekend. There was nothing extremely special about having one extra day.

I've felt like really sinking into where I am recently. When I can witness the magic of life everyday in very simple things, I feel completely full. I don't live for weekends. I try and live everyday. In fact, I have found magic in living fully every single day. Even on my drives to work, I am able to witness the changing of the trees, flowers, and life all around.

This morning, Yoon and I went on a huge walk through Carkeek park. We did a loop through the forest and along Puget Sound. We might as well have been on one of the San Juan Islands. It felt so remote, yet we were 10 minutes from our house. We stopped by a stream with smooth stones and tall cedar trees and we took in the fragrant smell of flowers and babbling sounds of the brook below us. I felt a complete peace there.

When we got home, we relaxed and drank tea.

 Then we went to the $4 movie theater down the street and saw the Argentinian film Wild Tales. It was an intense movie! When we got back to the house, Yoon took out frozen salmon steaks from the freezer and sliced sweet potatoes and barbecued them all on the grill. I heated up a stuffed Shitake mushroom and leftover dumplings and a leak pancake from a Taiwanese restaurant. We ate all of this out in the front garden along with plum wine and Hawaiian music.

It was so relaxing and made me appreciate the very simple things in life.

Now I'm here writing this blog post on Saturday evening.

Do you often experience everyday magic. What are the simple things you find magic in?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finally Friday Week 15: What is Intuitive Writing?

Intuitive Writing class at Kalani on The Big Island of Hawaii
"We are more connected than we think. Our innermost, private thoughts that flow out through the intuitive writing process are not strange or weird, or unfit to share. Instead, they are often universal thoughts, feelings, emotions, concerns and even ideas."—Katherine Jenkins

 Since I am currently teaching an intuitive writing class to a group, I thought I'd try it out here. Usually I use pen and paper when I practice intuitive writing, but you can also type. There seems to be more connection to the page and the words and the innermost thoughts when there is direct contact to pen and paper, so this is an experiment. There are no rules in intuitive writing. It's stream of conscious writing. You get to let loose on the page and that can be very freeing. The other part about intuitive writing is that once you start you can't stop. It does not mean that you have to write very fast, but just continue to keep your hand (or in this case hands) moving. If you stop, you will think, ponder, critique, rewrite, throw away, cross out, worry, fret, give up, do something else, pat yourself on the back and a number of other things. You will move out of the STREAM of consciousness and start heading in other directions. Now you are not practicing intuitive writing.

Much of my writing, even book writing, has come from intuitive writing. At least that is where I started. I allowed myself to just write. From there things started to take shape or I gave my writing shape. It starts with an idea and flows from there.

There are no rules of grammar, punctuation or spelling in intuitive writing. You can write in another language, symbols or pictures. You can repeat words. You can doodle or scribble or write blah, blah blah. You will find that even when you think there is nothing to write, something indeed will come out—something you least expected.

Often I give my students a prompt and we go from there. When I say, "Times up!" they are usually not ready to stop. They are in the flow. I let them finish up what they are writing. Most of the time these writers are unsure of what they have just written. I then open the space for sharing. We now put words to this writing we have created. This can be scary because we are creating from a very deep place. It can be scary to share what we have written. We may feel it is too raw, unpolished, obscene, vulnerable, bad, incomprehensible, rubbish or simply too personal to share. I never make anyone share if they don't want to, but often everyone does. There's a bonding that happens with every single group. If one person is writing about standing on the edge of a cliff, I often find that others have written about this too with slightly different words to express this scene or these emotions. What happens then is that we realize we are often more connected than we think—that our innermost, private thoughts that flow out through the intuitive writing process are not strange or weird, or unfit to share, they are often universal thoughts, feelings, emotions, concerns and even ideas. They come from a place of connectedness and there is a great feeling that comes with being connected on a deeper level.

I am merely the guide in these classes. I provide and create the space for intuitive writing to happen, but it's the group that writes and creates. I am also one of the people in the group who is creating and sharing.

I feel fortunate to have taught these classes as an artist-in-residence at Kalani on the Big Island of Hawaii and at Edmonds Community College as part of their Arts Now program. Currently I teach these classes from my home. I feel this is the best space to teach these classes as it feels nurturing to be in a home around a table with comfy chairs, cups of teas, journals and pens.

When I hear the clicking of pens on paper, it brings me joy. How many times have you sat in a circle of people in silence and practiced writing without thinking? How many times have you let go of where your writing should go (or where you should go for that matter) and just let the words fall out on the page.

I just did that here. I just practiced intuitive writing for this blog post! How about that?

Have you ever practiced intuitive writing? Choose a prompt and set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. I promise you that you'll discover amazing things if you do this for just 10 minutes a day!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Finally Friday Week 14: Celebrating Motherhood In All Its Forms

"We are born of love; Love is our mother."— Rumi

Today is Mother's Day and it also happens to be my 12th anniversary. It's rare for my wedding anniversary and Mother's Day to fall on the same day, but this year it happened.

This year I wanted to spend time with my mother and celebrate an important day with my husband. Luckily, I was able to do both.

My mother wanted to go to Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island on Saturday for the afternoon, so we met her there and enjoyed a short time together. Afterwards, my husband and I spent a wonderful 12th anniversary together. We rented a beach bungalow across the bridge from Bainbridge in Suquamish. We brought crabs and wine and ate out on the gorgeous deck watching sailboats go by. Eagles soared above our heads and an otter took a nap on a floating dock in the distance.

Since my anniversary fell on Mother's Day this year, I began to ponder this day a bit more. I am so thankful that my mother is here in Washington State and I get to see her more often than I used to when I lived overseas for about 10 years.

As I scrolled through my Facebook updates when I got home, I found that the vast majority of them were about how people spent this special day devoted to mothers. There were brunches, breakfasts in bed, trips to gardens, homemade cards, hand-bought cards, poems, flowers, photos, etc. I even put a photo of my mother and me at Bloedel Reserve up on my page.

While mothers were brunching and opening handmade cards, I was snuggling with my husband in our beach bungalow. He got up later and turned on some romantic French music and made me the most delicious breakfast. I never get tired of our time together and every year, in fact, I find more reasons to celebrate life, not just on our anniversary!

Was it a coincidence that I got married almost on Mother's Day?

Truthfully, I was in South Korea for my wedding and Mother's Day isn't really celebrated. In fact, it's combined with Father's Day and is called Parent's Day and it's celebrated on May 8th. I find this an interesting cultural difference. In South Korea, raising children is often done by many people. My husband was raised by his grandparents and lived with them until he left the nest. It's not an individual effort, it's a group effort. In South Korea, if a woman gets on a bus with two or three children, it is not unusual for a complete stranger to stand up and take one of the children by the hand until the mother is ready to get off the bus. They say, "It takes a village," and I observed this in Korea.

My husband and I never really talked about having children. Lots of people said, "Oh, just wait. You will want to have a few of your own as you get older." But that feeling never really came for either of us. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore children and I think they enjoy their time with me too. I am a great babysitter, a pretty fun aunt to my nephews and get a kick out of my best friend's twins, but I never felt the need to make my own children. I felt like there were so many lovely children out there already—so many I could share in loving. My husband makes cute noises and funny faces at every baby he sees, just about. He never hesitates to engage in conversation with a kid. I love this about him.

 So I started to think of motherhood and maternity on a larger plane. What is a mother? On the physical plane, most would agree that it is a person who has kids. Or some may even argue that is is a person who has a pet dog, cat, bird or lizard. My stepmom did not have kids of her own, but she is a pretty good mom to a very sweet bird who she loves dearly (and that bird has had a seriously long life!) and she is a wonderful stepmom.

On a spiritual plane, I feel as if I have been a mother for countless lives. In fact, I get glimpses of this in my dreams. I wonder if there was a maternal connection to my husband in a past life. Maybe we were all once mothers in one form or another. The instinct is there to nurture. We can nurture ourselves just as gently as we would nurture a newborn. We can also nurture the planet and all forms of life that exist on it. By doing this, I believe we connect to all life on a very deep level. It's here where we are not separate—it's here where we are all children of mother earth doing our own share.

Today I celebrate motherhood in all its forms—whether you are a parent to a beautiful child, dog, cat or bird. I celebrate you today for the nurturing you offer. Whether it is tending to a garden, taking care of and elderly parent, making the planet a better place to live, offering your gifts to this world through writing, speaking, art or in any other way. And this day may also hold a lot of grief for you too. Maybe you have lost your mother, sister or child. Maybe it conjures up memories you'd just as soon forget. Maybe the day is bittersweet.

Whether you celebrated or grieved or reminisced today, this day is also for you. For every moment you have nurtured, cared, loved, offered your gifts, or tended to anyone or anything, I celebrate YOU!