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Dear Reader,

View this page as a place where you and I can have a conversation on subjects that are meaningful to both of us. On a regular basis I plan to post a topic or question on my mind which I encourage you to respond to (see below).

On this same page you will also find some of the responses that have been sent in by those who have viewed this web site. Please feel free to submit your own questions and thoughts which I might comment on and share with other viewers. I truly look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Archive for September, 2008

WRITER PROMPT: Would You Want to Be Reborn?

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

A funeral for the living?
That’s what’s happening in Thailand — people are flocking to a Buddhist temple where they seek a fresh new life in which they have left all their cares and worries of the past.
As described in an article in the September 27, 2008 The New York Times (”For a Fee, a Thai Temple Offers a Head Start on Rebirth” by Seth Mydans), ”Nine big pink coffins dominate the grand hall of the temple, and every day hundreds of people take their turns climbing into a few moments as monks chant a dirge. Then, at a command, the visitors clamber out again cleaned — they believe — of the past.” This just takes a few minutes, a small fee, and the people are supposedly reborn. One person who sought luck in business and relief for his aching back and knees said, ”If I lie down in the coffin, it will give me a new lease on life.”
What do you think about this? Would you want to be reborn, too? How, if at all, would you want to change your life? Please write to us and share your thoughts.

WRITER PROMPT: What Would Be On Your List of Joy?

Friday, September 26th, 2008

I once read about a man who carried around with him a little notebook which he calls a ‘’Joy List.’’ In it he would jot down all the moments that made him smile or laugh. It was his way of cultivating a sense of happiness about being alive and enjoying his life. He learned to do this from a 13 year-old boy who was dying of lymphoma and who handed him a list of more than 100 memories of the happy moments in his life, liking camping or going to Disney World. The boy asked the man to give it to his parents when he died because he wanted his parents to remember that their son had fun moments, too, in his short life.
My own cousin kept a list of all the good things which she would like to see go on forever and ever. Think of these ideas, and consider keeping your own list of the things that give you joy in life and which you would like to see go on for all eternity. Write some words when something really good happens in your life – from seeing a hummingbird to remembering a funny joke a friend told you. Doing so makes you more aware of the wonderful things we experience daily but which we sometimes take for granted because too often we may sleepwalk through life. Doesn’t it comfort you to think of having a ‘’joy list’’ in your pocket which you can refer to when you’re feeling stressed? Try it!
What are at least two things that have given you joy in your life recently?
1. —————————————————————————-
2. —————————————————————————-

WRITER PROMPT: What Would You Wish For?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

In Kurdistan,there is a place, a cave, where women come to make wishes. “It is a holy shrine in Irbil province, in the mountains of Kurdistan,” writes Andrea Bruce in The Washington Post (”In Kurdistan, Wishes and Laughter” September 22, 2008). ”Muslims call it Sheik Wsu Rahman, while Christians know it as Raban Buya.”
Some come to the cave to wish for children to be born, others come to wish for healing and good health.
If you could go to this place, what is it you would wish for?
Share with us.

WRITER PROMPT: Your ‘Top10’ List

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

The producer of the David Letterman Show has heard that you are the class wit and asked you to put together your own Top 10 List for the show next Friday night. It could be a Top 10 of anything you wish – such as favorite people, important dreams, things you like – it’s got to be dazzling, goofy and magical. What would yours be? Please share with us.

WRITING PROMPT: Creating Your Own Dream

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Make believe that you could dream any dream that you wanted. What would you dream?
(Taken from the book, Make Beliefs: A Gift for Your Imagination by Bill Zimmerman)
Please share your dreams with us.

FEEDBACK FROM READERS: Tiny Miracles

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

In recent days some readers have sent comments to question prompts posed on different pages of this web site.
From WendyC who responded to the Discover Words of Encouragement Page in which she offers the words she would express to a child growing up: ”I love you so much. You are a good person. I am so glad you were born.”
From Katie, responding to the Record Your Life Stories & Memories Page:
What she regards as tiny miracles: Flowers –magnificent! Stars in the black early morning sky.
Nature.
Worth fighting For: Children
Something she wants to go on forever: Love and devotion to children.
From Blondie, also responding to the Record Your Life Stories & Memories Page:
What I want: I want my children to feel and be safe. I want to know that they are always happy and secure in their world.
Tiny Miracles: Kindness to others. I work in a public school. So many people declare that God has been removed from public schools — however, even though prayer is not allowed God is still present. He is there in the daily actions of those who teach and care for the students in the building. From the teacher who takes time to help a student understand, to the counselor who helps a hungry child, or the cafeteria worker who gives someone more so that they don’t go home hungry.
Worth fighting for: I would fight for the cure for cancer. If I could raise money to help find a cure for the many strains and kings of cancer that infect Americans I would.
Something I want to go on forever: I want the security of my family to go on forever.

WRITER PROMPT: What Have You Overcome?

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Twenty-six years after a bicycle accident left her comatose for eight weeks and with permanent brain injuries, 52 year-old Barbara Buchan, the oldest member of the United States Paralympic team, this week won a gold medal and set the world record for her disability class in the individual 3,000-meter cycling competition in Beijing.
An amazing accomplishment from someone who has lived without a quarter of her left-temporal brain and serious physical and cognitive problems since her accident in 1982 when she was competing for a spot on the U.S. cycling team but was injured in a road-race crash that crushed her skull.
After many operations, she started cycling again. Her mother remembers, ”When they said she couldn’t do something, she would do it.”
In an interview that appeared in The New York Times Sept. 11 (”From Death’s Door to Medal Stand” by Alan Schwarz), Buchan said of her disability, ”You can be very upset at the world and have everyone take care of you or get back on your feet again.”
Buchan serves as a beacon of light and inspiration to each of us as we try to overcome the problems in our own lives which sometimes seem to overwhelm us. Each of us at some time feels disabled in some way, whether it is experiencing physical illness that we have to cope with or dealing with a lack of confidence or even fear that threaten to hold us back in achieving our dreams.
Can you write about your own efforts or those of someone you know to deal with a disability and yet live a rich life. Is there something in your own life that you have been able to achieve even though at first you thought this might be impossible? Or, is there a goal that you have and plan to work hard to reach?
Please share your thoughts and stories with us.

WRITING PROMPT: What Is the Song Within You?

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I participated in a meditation group last week where the leader, in guiding participants, asked them to think about this question: What is your song?
That’s not an easy question to understand, but what I think she was getting at is for us to think more deeply about who we are, what is the special music within us, and what are the things we contribute to the world.
She said that our troubled world needs peoples’ songs more than ever to help heal the world and make things better.
I remember reading the poem, ”Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman in which he said:
”I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
So, the writing prompt for today is to write a song of yourself, the song that would say who you are and describe your specialness. As Whitman did, write about the things you celebrate in yourself — is it your sense of humor, your seriousness, your concern about other? Is it your ability to keep going on even when things are rough for you?
To help you a little, let me tell you some of the things that go into my own ”song.” When I think of myself, I think back to a little boy who wanted to better understand the world and try to find answers to his many questions. Maybe that is the reason why I ultimately became a journalist and writer of books. My song includes some sad notes that reflect the difficult family situation in which I was raised, but my song also has some beautiful and exciting sounds reflecting the family joy I have experienced with my wife and daughter. My song would also include words about my trying to muster my courage and find strength when I have felt frightened and weak. So, as you can see from my example, there are so many things that go into each of our songs.
Just try to do your best in writing or singing your song. Only you have this song. Please share yours with us.

About Using Your Imagination to Change the World

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

On August 19, a Writing Prompt was posted encouraging you to rewrite the story of your parents’ lives, with the message that writers and artists can use their imaginations to transform a reality which they may not like into something different, perhaps something quite wonderful and different
.
Yesterday (Sept. 5, 2008) there was an article in The New York Times (”Exploiting the Ordinary to Create the Ingenious”) in which the writer commented on a ”Pregnant Woman” sculpture that Pablo Picasso created. The sculpture shows a pregnant woman with big breasts and full belly. The author relates an anedote: ”Francoise Gilot, Picasso’s lover at the time, said he made ‘Pregnant Woman’ as ‘a form of wish fulfillment’ after she refused to have a third child.” Thus, when Picasso couldn’t get his live baby, he did ”get” one by working with pottery and clay to create a sculpture of a woman with child.
And there, in a nutshell, is the power of the creative process of any artist –whether writer, painter, sculpture or musician — to make something happen through the power of imagination and creation and sheer will. Creating is just a matter of harnessing the special talents you do have to make something new.
I write all this to encourage you in your own exploration as an artist. Yes, you are an artist; each of us is an artist in our own special way as we view the world and life through our own particular sensibilities. No one sees things the way you do — that is your unique gift. Respect your power to create through your wonderful imagination. It will never fail you (I speak from personal experience).
Please share with us what you are now creating — it will give all of us more courage to try new things.

WRITING PROMPT: Describe Something You See

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Look carefully at the world around you with wide open eyes and describe in writing something special that you observe.
As you ride the bus, or take the train, or walk down the streets to school or your home, look very carefully around you and focus your attention on someone or something. Try to notice something you have never seen before, something that you are glad you saw, something that caught your eye.
Maybe you will observe an interesting looking person who is wearing a beautiful or shabby outfit. Maybe this person has a special tattoo. Maybe you see a special color on a sign that cheers you up.
Maybe you wish to describe someone you already know – help us see what that person looks like, how tall or short they are, their skin and hair color, whether they look sad or happy, whether they are fat or thin.
Try to use adjectives when you describe an object or person. For example, don’t just say, “”I saw an apple.’’ Tell me the color of the apple – was it juicy looking, was it green or red, was it big or tiny? Was it a Chinese apple (a pomegranate) or was it a Delicious apple. What does it say on the label attached to the apple? Where did you see the apple? Was it at home on the table? Was it in a storefront? Was it on the shelf in the store with other apples? Was someone eating that juicy apple, and if so, how did the person look? Did the person look like she or he liked the taste of the apple? What did the apple make you think of? Did it make you remember a time when you were young, in another country, and tasted an apple or some other fruit for the first time?
Make your descriptions so full and clear so that when someone reads your description, they will feel that they saw what you saw, too. Enjoy the experience of observing, and please share with us what you saw?