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Stop & Smell the Peonies – A guest blog from Lisa Olson

Lisa Olson is the creator of 8 Days Workshops, which are a lovely blend of creative writing, personal retreat, soul searching and connecting with similar souls.  All done via email and Facebook so they are accessible for everyone.  She also happens to be one of my closest friends.  Here she shares about a delightful new tradition we’ve started.  Plus, a writing prompt!

Several months ago my dear friend Luisa and I decided to plan a monthly Fun Friday. What is a Fun Friday you ask? Once a month, usually on a Friday (sometimes on a Wednesday if we can’t get together on a Friday; but those are called Wonderful Wednesdays), we adventure to a place we normally would not go. A place that inspires our senses. We’ve visited museums, art galleries, toured gardens and more. We top it off with a delicious lunch.

This month we visited Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston, CT.

Neither of us are gardeners, (though I’ve often dreamed of being one), so that was not why we went. We went because a friend of Luisa’s recommended it, the weather was beautiful, and being out in nature is a surefire way to get inspired.

Should you find yourself stuck with a pen hovering over your notebook or your fingers perched over your keyboard, unsure of what to write, may I suggest trying one of the following prompts:

What is your favorite flower? Why? What memories does it conjure up for you?
What does being out in nature do for you? Do you love it? Hate it? Why?

I’ll be blogging about past and future Fun Fridays & Wonderful Wednesdays on 8daysworkshop.com.

Check out Lisa’s next 8 Days Workshop which starts June 20th and is hosted right here on luisatanno.com!
Pen to Paper: An 8 Days Creative Writing Workshop

No Brainer

Ideas can land on you from above, like a gift from the Gods. This phenomenon has happened to me when writing, especially songwriting. Suddenly there is a melody where before there was nothing. I wasn’t even searching.

My decision to become a Massage Therapist happened in this way. I was at the feet of a dear client at the end of our yoga session (I gently stretch my clients shoulders or feet as they relax) when I was struck by the enormity of touch and how profound it is to place your hands on someone with healing intention. All at once I thought: I need to go to massage school!

That very afternoon, I went to the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in Westport to inquire. Within weeks I was enrolled in their most extensive program, had myself a nice sized student loan and was ready for a new adventure.   It was so clear that it required no actual pondering or deciding. I just knew it.

Being in school was glorious. Learning about the body lit me up. I was an anatomy nerd of the highest order! We learned all sorts of hands-on techniques and modalities, practicing regularly on one another and our family and friends (this can make you quite popular!). Upon graduation I felt prepared, capable and excited.

As I began to practice, however, my confidence stumbled. This stumble was mostly due to a belief I held about what others believed. (Did you catch that?) I put myself firmly in my own way by believing that, because I worked at a gym, I was expected to do deep tissue and sports massage. These modalities are not where my gifts (nor my point of view) lie and hence I deemed my gifts inadequate. Read more

Rubik’s Cube

Have you ever had the sense that you’re working on something?  Something deep, brewing within you, calling your name.  You are chewing on an idea, dusting off a truth or unpacking a dream.  This “something” is not fully formed but it is lurking. Whatever it is, you can feel it, just at the surface but not fully accessible … yet.

So, what do we do with that?  How do we see it clearly and let is rise?

I equate it with a Rubik’s cube. Certain people (geniuses) can solve it in a single sitting, but not me. I twist it for a while, get happy when I make one side uniform and then to put it down in frustration or apathy, depending.

To get to any incubating seed you have to stay with the cube; keep twisting away, trying different approaches.  Honor the process of processing but at the same time take action; express it, play with it, let it out.   Even in frustration and apathy, we must be willing to spend time with the unknown.

What is it? Why is it? How will it manifest?  Good questions. Read more

Roots

In my recent workshop, we used a variety of artistic mediums to explore creative “assignments” — writing, drawing, photography, etc.  This was born of the notion that trying something different can reveal a new layer of our creativity, a new aspect of our being.

For a couple of the assignments, I found myself writing in third person.  This is unusual for a writer of personal essays, which are very much first person: Me, I, My.

Telling someone else’s tale was exciting.  I did not know where it was going or how it would end.  While I won’t deny that I saw myself in the stories, they were not about me.  Liberated from being factual, my imagination took the helm.

Our first prompt was about “roots” and this short parable arrived.  It came, not from my intellect but from that magical place of knowing that exists in all of us and speaks when we are open and willing.

I share it with you because I like the message it delivered, quite unexpectedly. I share it so that it may spark you to listen to that place of knowing within yourself, even for a moment, and see what comes.

She drew up the fabric of her skirt to take in the view her bare feet.  There they were, planted in the squish of damp soil.  Blades of grass peeked between her toes, tickling her, but she was not bothered.

She’d been wandering for a long time, afraid to land anywhere long enough to get stuck in the droll or, worse, committed for eternity to something that should have been a passing fancy. Read more