What’s Making Me Happy: October and November 2018

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….”

Seriously, though. Can you believe Christmas is a month away?? Thanksgiving was last Thursday here in the States, and now it feels like full steam ahead to the end of the year. Thank goodness I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping already… Because if the past two months are any indication, this December is going to be my busiest one in a long time.

I’m not joking. October and November were kind of crazy on my end. In a good way, though. (Wait – is there such a thing as a good kind of crazy-busy?) But I’ve made time to have some fun and take care of myself. So here are some of the things that have made me happy over the past two months, starting with…

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Five Ways In Which Writing and Yoga Are Similar

Every Monday evening, instead of writing for 60 to 90 minutes at my laptop, I spend that time on my yoga mat. It’s a habit I’ve consistently maintained for 2 years, though I was first introduced to yoga about 5 years ago. Sometimes it’s with a class, led by a teacher who has become both mentor and cheerleader to me.** Other times it’s at home, thanks to the TV awesomeness known as YouTube OnDemand. Regardless, yoga has become an essential part of my life, much the same way that writing has.

Maybe that explains why I came to this conclusion recently: Yoga and writing sessions have a lot in common.

I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “Um… OK…. But how?” That’s what today’s blog post is all about. 😉 Here are five ways in which yoga and writing are similar, and how I’ve benefited from having both in my life.

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What’s Making Me Happy: August and September 2018

Does anyone else think the past two months have flown by? They have on my end. Life offline was especially busy in mid / late September, so all I remember of August now was that it was quiet and calm. (Unless I’m missing something! *lol*) This also means that while I’ve found time to write blog posts lately, it’s been a challenge to stay on top of comments or friends’ blogs. Hopefully this is only temporary, and I apologize for any delays in responding or returning the favor.

So, what are some of the fun events and “little things” that have brought me joy recently? I’ll share them below the jump. And as always, I love hearing what you’ve been up to and what’s been making you happy as well. So feel free to share that in your comments. 🙂

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What’s Making Me Happy: June and July 2018

Ah, summertime in Massachusetts. Some days it’s hot, humid, and a bit thunderstormy. Other days it’s milder and absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately it’s also been dry, and the lawns are starting to turn that worrisome “drought” shade of light brown. Hopefully we’ll get some soaking rains soon.

Other than that, I really can’t complain about June and July. That’s not to say that life was perfect (I’m recovering from another bout of writer’s doubt… but that’s a story for another day). But there was a lot to be happy, excited, or grateful over the past two months – enough that I had some trouble narrowing it down to three highlights per month! So let’s kick things off with…

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What’s Making Me Happy: April and May 2018

Um…. Hi everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

The short story is, I had to take about 2 months off from blogging here. It was unexpected, to say the least, and I feel badly that I disappeared unexpectedly like that. But don’t we all go through periods when life offline goes a little… well, nuts, and we have to rearrange our priorities temporarily? And now that things appear to be smoothing out, I think I’m ready to make a comeback.

And what an appropriate post to return with, right? I really do love this What’s Making Me Happy series, and for so many reasons. So let me share some of the things that brought much-needed joy and lightness despite the stress of the past two months. Feel free to share what’s made you happy recently in your comments. 🙂

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What’s Making Me Happy: February and March 2018

It’s been a strange two months. Strange in terms of weather here in Massachusetts, since February was milder than average (our temps were close to 70 deg F a few days!) and March clobbered us with four snowstorms in three weeks. Strange in terms of life in general, too. My blogging time has taken a HUGE hit because of work and other things. So if I haven’t replied to your comments yet or visited your blog in a while, I’m very sorry, and I hope you understand why. 😦

Yet, as frustrated as I’ve been, I never cease to find “real-life magic.” So let’s use this What’s Making Me Happy post to highlight that magic, and also to catch up on things.  How’s everyone doing? What have you been up to? Were February and March kind to you? (I hope so!) And what are some of the things that have sparked your sense of joy recently? Like last time, I’ll share three things from each month, starting with…

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Learning to Build My Writing “Cathedral” Again

Last year I read Sage Cohen’s Fierce on the Page, a collection of essays that encourages writers to transform their attitudes and habits so that they can unleash their creativity, overcome fears, and define success on their own terms – all ways in which they can practice ferocity in their craft. One of my favorite essays from the book is Chapter 14, “Build a Cathedral,” which Cohen begins with this allegory:

… [A] traveler in medieval times comes upon a stonemason at work. He asks, “What are you doing?” The man looks weary and unhappy.  He responds, “Can’t you see I am cutting and laying down stone?  My back is killing me, and I can’t wait to stop.”

The traveler continues on his way and comes upon a second stonemason. “What are you doing?” he asks. “I’m building a wall,” says the stonemason. “I’m grateful to have this work so I can support my family.”

As the traveler walks on, he encounters a third stonemason who seems to be doing exactly the same work as the previous two. He asks the man, “What are you doing?” The man stands up straight. His face is radiant. He looks up at the sky and spreads his arms wide. “I am building a cathedral,” he answers.

Wow. It’s such a simple tale, but the shift it made in my perception of my writing was like feeling the earth move under my feet.

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Thank You, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 – 2018)

In early January, I was at a local bookstore when I came across Ursula K. Le Guin’s most recent book, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. This collection shows Le Guin, who excelled at writing a wide range of literature (fantasy, science fiction, children’s stories, essays, poetry), exploring yet another form of writing: blogging. Yes, No Time to Spare is a collection of blog posts, in which Le Guin shares her thoughts on family, the publishing industry, society and the world at large – and, perhaps most notably, aging. And I knew, just from holding the small blue hardcover and perusing the pages within, that it would be different from any UKLG book I’d read before.

Yet there was no question in my mind that I’d buy it. Because, after all, it’s Ursula K. Le Guin, my favorite writer ever. I’ve loved everything I’ve read from her in the past, and the thought of bringing No Time to Spare home was like opening my inner circle to a new friend whom I felt I’d known forever.

How fitting that this book, where Le Guin was contemplating the final frontier of life, was the last one she published, and the last one I bought by her, before she passed away.

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Poetry & Song: “At A Loss” and Autumn’s “Alloy”

Do you listen to music while you write? Has a specific song or music artist ever influenced one of your stories, poems, etc.? This has happened with a number of my published poems. Thus, Poetry & Song is a limited-run series where I share one of my published poems and the song that “helped me write” it. I also offer insights into why I chose that particular piece of music, as well as any other inspirations for the poem.

With the past two Poetry & Song posts, I’ve realized – or, rather, remembered – how personal some of my sources of inspiration have been. Today’s is no different. A few times while writing this post, I felt… well, uncomfortable, but not in a negative way. It wasn’t so much the idea of sharing the story behind this poem, since other people in real life already know it. Rather, it was the act of revisiting that inspiration, and reliving the warring emotions tied to it, that made a heart-wrenching situation from the past fresh again.

So, yes, “At A Loss” isn’t a happy poem. Neither is the song that helped me write it. But what makes this Poetry & Song combination unique is that, together, they provided some much-needed insight on an unraveling friendship. If it makes any sense, this post chronicles the first time I learned an important life lesson from my own poetry.

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