Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit!!

Believe it or not, this is not a post about Easter.  First of all, I'm not an Easter-type of gal, and second it's just a coincidence that I'm writing this post so close to the Easter holiday.  Actually, it has to do with the first of the month.  It just so happens tomorrow is April 1st.  Nothing to do with April Fool's Day either. much explanation for all the things this post ISN'T about.  Here's what it IS about:

I've always been a voracious reader, even when I was a young lass.  I never did the "Nancy Drew" thing, but I did like the Trixie Belden series.  Also, a young girl detective, not unlike Nance, but a little more cool.  Plus, she lived in New York  like me (only she lived upstate in a richer, woodsy area but still...we were both New Yorkers. I don't know where Nancy Drew lived.) Anyway, it was from the Trixie Belden books where I learned about "Rabbit, Rabbit" and I've held on to it ever since.  That in itself may be a little pathetic, but what can I tell you?

Basically, this is how it works.  On the last day of the month, before you go to sleep, you make a wish.  Say the wish out loud.  And then once the wish is made, you cannot speak again.  Go to sleep.  Happy dreams! Then, when you wake up on the first day of the new month, the first words out of your mouth have to guessed it..."RABBIT, RABBIT!" 

So I've been doing this for all these many years...making a wish on the last day of the month, waking up yelling "Rabbit, Rabbit" on the first day of the new month.  I don't think my wish has ever come true...but I still do it.

I've blown it plenty of times, and sometimes I would even put a little note on my alarm clock to remind me to say "Rabbit, Rabbit."  Sometimes I would make the wish at 11:59pm and yell "Rabbit, Rabbit" at midnight.  I don't think you have to yell the words, but for some reason I always do.

So here we are, March 31st, another chance to make another wish, and tomorrow on April 1st, here's wishing that wish will come true. 

What will you wish for?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Writing Exercise to Challenge Your Brain

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. His response?

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Wow, right? Six words was all he needed to paint a very powerful picture!  So, I thought I would try this exercise and man, oh man, is it ever difficult.  Sheesh!  Tell a story in six words?  Oy vey!

I finally wrote something that I was satisfied with.  But, it's 7 words.  I wonder what Papa Hemingway would say? But for what it's worth, here's what I came up with:

Bankrupted woman seeks employment at gun factory.

What do you think of my 7-word story?

Try it!  It's very challenging...but it will give your brain a great workout.  I truly believe that less is more. And I would love to hear what you come up with.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Living the Creative Life

Recently, a former student of mine, asked me for advice on living the creative life in the “real world.” I believe that some people can’t help being creative in their everyday life. This particular young woman is one of them. Whether your occupation is a bank teller, a lawyer, a truck driver, or a food server, you are the one who is ultimately responsible for choosing whether or not your life is a creative one.

Making a living in the creative life is a different story. I suppose it depends on your definition of creativity. Some people make a living doing other people’s tax returns, and they like what they do and that’s entirely enough creativity for one day, thank you very much. But maybe they’re not entirely crazy about their work, so when they go home they need to build some furniture. Or spend the evenings painting sunsets. Or they play guitar, or play with clay. I truly believe everyone needs a creative outlet. If you get your paycheck from that outlet…FANTASTIC! But if not, it doesn’t mean you should live without creativity in your life.

Photo by laffy4k
Don’t let your “occupation” define you. If you work as a cashier, doesn’t mean you’re not a musician. If you clean other people’s houses for a living, doesn’t mean you’re not a painter…you get where I’m going with this?

In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, she recommends you take yourself on a date once a week. I love this idea. I know many of you will find this difficult because your schedules are already so crammed. But if you can carve out the time to do something YOU want to do…sit and look at the ocean, curl up in a bookstore with the new novel you’ve been wanting to read, go grab yourself a cup of really, really good coffee and just sit…don’t talk, don’t listen…just be with yourself. Believe it or not, this is a creative thing to do. We’re all so wrapped up in our day-to-day life we lose the artist inside ourselves. Go find your inner artist. She is there, trust me. And she wants to hang out with you from time to time. So go buy yourself a box of Crayolas and have at it!

Please let me know what sorts of thing you do to tap into your creative self.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Word or Two About Writing

Photo by Gonzalo Barrientos
Ask any writer about the writing process...go ahead...ask them. Say somethin' like, "Hey you...writer...tell me about your process..."
For every writer you ask, you'll get a different answer.  Every writer has his or her own way of going about things.  Maybe the arrangement of things on the desk has to be just so.  The cup of coffee has to be on the right side or the left side.  It has to be 5AM.  Or 2PM.  Some writers have to wear the blue, hemp "writing" hat in order to get any work accomplished...(so, okay...that's me!) Some writers have to write longhand.  Others can only write on a laptop.  And others still are die hard old school worker bees and must write on a typewriter. 

Oh, my goodness, the list goes on and on.  But from what I understand, most writers, myself included, do engage in the dance of procrastination.  For me, I am mostly writing these days in the morning.  When a good idea comes to me in the night, while I'm sleeping (and it often does) I'd better get my butt up and write down the idea, otherwise it is lost forever.  I've tried  to talk myself into believing that the idea is SO good, so lucid, that it will be there in the morning.  It never is.  NEVER.  Maybe a remnant of the idea, but only if I'm lucky.  I'm usually not!

I can think of a million things to do that have nothing to do with writing prior to plopping down and getting to the task at hand.  The funny thing is, once I'm IN it...once I've started, and I'm engaged, I love writing.  Don't get me wrong, it's hard as hell.  Mostly rewriting is hard.  Writing is fun.  Rewriting is ARDUOUS.  I love that word.  That's why I do this.  I love words. 

Photo by Billie Hara
If you want to write for a living, then you have to treat it like a job.  A job you love...but a job nonetheless.  You can make your own hours, you can write whenever you want, where ever you want.  You can wear your pajamas, or your sweats or a suit and tie for that matter.  But you need to set goals, and be disciplined, and write EVERY SINGLE DAY!  It's like exercise.  You have to do it every day to see results.  To get better at your craft.  Sure you need a break now and then.  So take a break...I'm not stopping you.  But it's essential to keep those wheels greased!

There are tons of books out there on how to write.  But I say, if you want to write, don't read about it...DO IT!  If you do want to hear what the pros have to say, here's a couple of suggestions:
  •  Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  Even if you don't want to be a writer, you should read Anne Lamott. She's amazing, adorable, humorous...I love her.  Read everything she's ever written.  You'll be glad you did.
  • And of course, I must recommend my main man, Mr. Stephen King.  His book On Writing shoots from the hip.  He tells it like it is, doesn't sugarcoat it.  Before I die, please let me meet Stephen King and thank him for the hours of reading pleasure (and terror) he has given me.  But in On Writing, he was very much my teacher, and there is no finer teacher than the master himself!
DISCIPLINE.  Say it with me. DISCIPLINE!  Good!  Because that's what it takes.  Just write!  Not every word has to be gold.  Not everything you create has to be read by somebody else.  But if you want to write...if you want to call yourself a writer, then be a Nike ad, and JUST DO IT!

Thank you for your attention during my diatribe.  Now write me a comment...that's a good way to get started!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What are you thinking, Donna Simpson?

Ok...this is a disturbing post for me to write, but I felt it was necessary.  First of all, let me preface this by saying that I am no stranger to body image issues, weight gain, weight loss, all that jazz.  I have certainly had my share of the yo-yo syndrome and it's taken me a long time to make peace with my body.  I'm not sure that I am at peace, but I've come to the conclusion that I will never be a skinny-minny and that's okay.  I want to be healthy and fit and feel good in my own skin.  I wrote a play called phat girls that deals with these very issues.  It's not about being's about being healthy.

So that being said, I've been reading about this woman named Donna Simpson who is striving to be the heaviest woman in the world.  She's currently 600 pounds and is hoping to put on at least 400 more.

My question is:  WHY?  Why would you put your attention and energy into being UNHEALTHY!  We have so much information these days regarding health, fitness, body weight, etc.  And I don't understand why someone would willingly stuff themselves with foods that can lead to heart attack, diabetes and stroke.  It's just like somebody who starts smoking.  Why, with everything we know about the hazards of smoking, would you willingly start BEFORE you even have the addiction?

If Donna is content with how she looks and feels, then more power to her.  But at this point, it's not about self-esteem and body image. It's about knowingly putting things in your body that are hazardous to your health.  She has a life partner and young children.  She is 42 years old.  Doesn't she want to be around for her family?  It's been documented that she is eating junk food galore: burgers, fries, chips and doughnuts; though apparently her favorite food is sushi.  She is most definitely, without a doubt, going to become incredibly ill and I can't believe she's doing this just so she can be in the Guiness Book of Records. 

Another victim of wanting instant fame?  This is NOT the way to go about it.  Is she just another one of the many folks out there hoping for their own reality television show?  They can call this show Watch Donna Kill Herself because that is exactly what is going to happen if she continues on this path to self-destruction.  She wants to reach 1,000 pounds in the next two years.  Really, Donna?  Really? This is your aspiration in life? Hmmm...

So tell me, what are your thoughts on Donna's quest to achieve morbid obesity? Fabulous or foolish?  I think I've made my thoughts clear.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gotta Love That Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's my dear never let me down!   Lately, the majority of my food consumption has been strictly from TJ's and I am loving every minute of it.  There are the tried and true items, to be sure, but I've also been experimenting occassionally with some new delights. 

I'm addicted to their Rosemary Chicken (takes 3-5 minutes to cook up and tastes like it came directly off the grill) and I love their eggplant hummus; their rolled chicken tacos, and their honey wheat pretzels are definitely a real treat.  But the other day, as I was perusing the aisles, driven by my sweet tooth, I came upon these tasty little morsels:

Trader Joe's Charmingly Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!!!  Can you tell I'm a bit excited about this find?  Just a little! There are those of you who prefer a crunchy cookie, and more power to ya...go for the crunch...but I, myself, prefer the chewy kind...tastes fresh baked to me that way, and these are DIVINE!

 I'm not gonna tell you the caloric content because this isn't a weight loss blog...these are simply to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or cup of coffee and don't feel guilty about 'em.  After all, they're oatmeal and oatmeal is good for ya, right?

I am singing the praises of my new tasty treat.  And of course, everything in moderation, so unlike Girl Scout cookies (at 4 bucks a box...ouch) I will refrain from eating these little lovelies in one sitting.  It's not hard to do, but I shall control myself. 

If you like chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, these are "charmingly chewy" (just like the box says!)  Seriously, go get yourself some and indulge!  DEELISH! 

And if you have any particular items at Trader Joes that you absolutely all means share them with me.  I'd love to hear what your favorites are!  What's the most scrumptious thing you've eaten from Trader Joe's?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Out of Print Clothing

I found this website called Out of Print Clothing.  I can't remember how I found it--you all know how this crazy Internet works.  It ain't called the world wide WEB for nothin'!  You just keep clicking away and clicking away, and you get lost in the labyrinth of all the information.  (Ha!  Labyrinth--fancy word!) But it truly is amazing what you can find here.  Time mysteriously disappears as you enter the maze and before you know it, it's dark outside and you're starving because you've been glued to your computer screen all damn day! Wow....where did that little tangent come from?  Well, it's true---web surfing is a time doubt about that!

Anyway, Out of Print Clothing is an awesome online shop that sells tee shirts displaying the covers of some of the greatest classic pieces of literature of all time.  If you love books and you love to read, you're with me on this one.  Out of Print is not just all about the shirts though...they are terrific people who want to spread the joy of reading.  They have a partner, Books in Africa, and for each shirt they sell, one book is donated to a community in need.  How cool is that, I ask you? 

Here are a couple of my favorite shirts:

This one is "Streetcar Named Desire."  One of the greatest plays EVER!

There are tons more titles to choose from, so go check it out.  Their site is

So go be literary!  And support books, because with all this new technology, I'm  afraid they'll become obsolete.  I love books.  I love holding them, reading them, smelling them, collecting them, and reading them again.  And now I get to wear book covers on my body!  How cool is that?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Forth!

I'm dedicating this blog entry to my brother Andy.  All my life, my bro has been my champion, supporting me and believing in me during times when I could barely believe in myself.  This morning, I received an email from him where he pointed out the significance of today's date:  March 4th.  In this case, as we enter the 3rd month of 2010 (Geez, where the hell is the time going??) we need to march forth, onward and upward even when our days continue to be tumultuous and challenging.

Thank you brother, for reminding me to keep my head up, my determination high and to March Forth!  I hope you and everyone reading this will be able to do the same!