Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow around 5 mins) is to write briefly on the topic…but something else happened instead.

This prompt was inspired by this TED talk, which I watched recently. It gave me and my perfectionist tendencies plenty to think about. Check it out:

 

This is what I wrote:

Something else happened instead

They say God laughs when you plan because, so often, something else happens instead. That something is an invitation to trust I guess, though sometimes I don’t want to ‘invite’ or ‘welcome’ that something else at all! I want everything to go exactly as I’d hoped, wished, made for it to happen – but then I would’ve missed out on so many important moments – moments of joy, learning, surprise, the opportunity to grow and practice my resilience and responsiveness. 

I thought that poem would go down a storm. But something else happened instead. I was scared to send that email, expecting an angry response – but something else happened instead.

Life likes to keep me on my toes!

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

Love lets go

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My amazing mother

I’m not a mother, but on a walk the other day I found myself singing about a situation in which I’d recently had to let go of something I loved deeply. That reflection left me with a new level of appreciation and awe for mothers who love and let go, because they want their beloveds to fly, even as they yearn to keep them by their side. The world has grown (we’re all so much more spread out) as much as it has shrunk (but I can chat to Dad in Bali for free, and keep in touch with friends in Australia on FB) and so we’re not always face to face as much as we might wish…

So I wrote this poem about letting go, and it feels right to share it today, in honour of all mothers, and in Gratitude to my own mother, who once called me a bird, and continues to encourage me to spread and use my wings.

Letter NI bird

A letter I wrote, published in the New Internationalist magazine back in 2003.

 

 

I loved you

so I hated to let you go

but I loved you enough

to want your success

more than temporary grief relief

so I smiled, and blessed, and thanked

you, and found space to cry

in my own time

for longer than expected

truth be told

 

But it passed

and I found new ways

to serve that love

that never went away

but paid attention when asked

to change direction

find new expression

 

So now I whirl thermals

beneath your wings

even when they take you

to places I can’t follow

I swallow the sadness

and wave you off

because if I keep waving

you’ll keep coming back

for another

goodbye –

now fly!

Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow around 10-15 mins in total) is to write…A modern day fable

 

If you’re in a group, each person should write three job titles, one each on a three small pieces of paper. These then get folded up, and mixed up with everyone else’s, after which each person picks two. If you’re doing this by yourself, maybe write five jobs, each on a separate piece of paper, and then pick two.

 

I picked bank manager and newspaper delivery boy/girl. This is what I wrote:

 

“Morning!”

The boy was just about to put the newspaper through the letter box when Jeremy opened the door. He turned quickly before there was time for to receive a reply to his greeting, jumped on his bike and had disappeared around the corner before Jeremy’s sleepy pre-caffeine brain had even taken in the headlines.

Monday morning and the tie around his neck was both a comfort and a collar – soothingly familiar, but also feeling like it came with an invisible lead that limited his freedom. He pulled up in the car park and walked the short distance up the high street to open up.

He was the first in and disabled the alarm, settling in behind his desk to review his diary for the day. He was meeting a couple who wanted to remortgage their home at 9.30, and there were interviews for the cashier vacancy later. He found himself thinking about the boy (what was his name?) rushing off on his bike with an urgency and aliveness he hadn’t felt in…? Well, not for a while at any rate.

“Good morning Mr Blanford,” his head cashier greeted him. “Coffee?”

“Thank you Kate,” he replied, taking the relaxed smile off his face and replacing it automatically with something appropriately professional, polite.

The next Monday, Jeremy was waiting for him.

“Morning,” the boy said, turning to rush off again.

“Good morning Tom, and thank you.”

Tom stood, smiling a little uncomfortably at the unexpected exchange. “It’s cool,” he said with a shrug, hopped on his bike, and was off.

Jeremy put his new navy anorak on over the neatly pressed suit he wore, and climbed onto his new bike. As he cycled in to work he found himself waving at people he knew as he passed. Locking his bike to a sturdy railing he checked his watch and jogged with urgency the short distance to the bank.

“Morning Mr Blanford.” Kate was already there, waiting by the still locked door.

“Jeremy please, Jeremy. Am I late?”

“Not at all sir. I mean…”

“Jeremy!”

“Jeremy,” she echoed with a smile.

“Well,” he said, holding the door open, “after you.”

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well, coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Welcome to this special edition of a regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because; it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of my own written response. However, today I have the great pleasure and privilege of sharing writing from some of the participants! Today’s prompt (allow around 15/20 mins in total) is called…Reflections on the Future

Begin by writing five sentences, each beginning, I fear for the future because…(complete with you own ideas). If you’re doing it in a group, you can pass your paper/notebook round to the right after each sentence and let the next person add another, so that you get some creative cross pollination of ideas. Now, take a deep breath, and write five NEW sentences, each beginning with, I’m excited about the future because… Once again, if you are writing in a group, you can pass your paper/notebook round.

We wrote with such spontaneous speed and passion that it was hard to read even our own writing at times, let alone each others!

Using your sentences for inspiration, though you do not you have to use all the ideas collected, nor are you limited to those already written, write a poem.

As examples, it gives me great joy to share, with their permission, poems written by some of my fellow writers who participated last week, in the order that they were emailed to me. Thank you all. It’s an honour to have your work here on my blog:-)

 

Reflections on the Future

by Carole Ellis

We have the capacity to love and to destroy.
While some of us build, others will tear down.
Yet the desire to build remains strong.

And the world is grateful for our efforts.
For every block of concrete poured, the daises keep on blooming.
For every ready meal consumed, a farmer somewhere produces food to get the taste buds dancing.
For every child who cannot read, someone is still prepared to teach.

The world will find its balance
And we must find ours too.
It doesn’t come from mindless grind
But from the peace of gentle hope and that capacity for love.

Reflections on the future
by Emma Jones

The future
You must travel there.

With whatever I can arm you with
To slay what dragons may cross your path,
To discover new lands,
To love people as yet unimaginable.

All I can give you is a past
To keep you warm should it be cold
To light your way should it be dark.

The future
You must travel there.

Pack only what you need
Pack an open mind and a big heart
Pack you smile, it’ll serve you well.

The future
You must travel there.

 

Reflections for the Future

by Jenny Heaton

 

The future is unknown
It lies ahead of us, yet to come into being.
I fear for the earth. Yet she is powerful –
Rivers, oceans, rainstorms,
Wind, hurricanes, fire
Remind us
We are part of something greater than ourselves.
The earth is alive, and so are we
The life-force that moves through us
Moves also in the bee, the flower, the leopard.

We need to see the beauty of life all around us
in our rich, diverse, abundant world.
And we need to value it, look after it, and give back to it
with the fierceness of a lion protecting her cubs
and the gentleness of a ladybird landing on a cornflower.

As the stream that starts small on moor and mountain
grows and builds as it flows to the sea
So the seeds of longing can grow into something strong
and powerful, and fierce and loving.

 
Reflections on the Future

Is it the blackest night of humanity?
Have we wounded our Mother beyond healing?
Have we sought dominance through ignorance
until the black oil of profit and disrespect
contaminates our hearts, our consciousness and our children?

And yet, the darkness is a velvet thing,
a womb, a winter, a time to weep.
What child, what spring emerges after grief?
What happens when I listen, we listen
and hear our Mother singing daffodils into yellow?
When fathers love and children grow
and communities care from here to Timbuktu?
What happens when arrogance and difference crumble
and we see our brother in a foreign face?
When we say “No!” with fierce and tender love,
“Enough is enough; there is no them

just us.”

 

This poem was created with added colour, so I’ve shared it as an image rather than text:

Future

I feel newly emboldened and hopeful having been so beautifully and powerfully reminded that I do not travel into that future alone, but rather with many courageous, compassionate, creative souls who share a similar vision of the world we want to see…and the one we must therefore, together, create 🙂

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Beatha and her boys

This is my friend Beatha Munganyinka, with her three boys.

You can find out more about Beatha by following the link below

https://beathaandherboys.wordpress.com/

Before I dive in to the regular Wednesday post, I’d like to (re)share a poem I wrote a while back, in recognition of the fact that today is International Women’s Day. For inspiration I turned my thoughts to my heroines…the mothers of Africa, or more specifically, the women in Rwanda who have been such friends and sources of inspiration to me. For more about International Women’s Day, follow this link:

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

She bears a year old child upon her back

Her body oozing sweat in vicious heat

A child beside with nothing on her feet

Walks in silence down the dusty track

No waste of precious words to voice her lack

The woman’s rod straight back shows no defeat

Her head held high she stops to meet and greet

For all are friends who walk this dusty track

A car pulls up to offer them a lift

She feels the soothing air conditioning

Her daughter waits to see what she will do

The man inside is offering a gift

He’s smiling now and beckoning them in

They walk on by, thank God her mother knew

 

And now, a belated welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow around 15 mins in total) is called…Mundane Miracles

Begin by making a list, speedily and spontaneously, of about 10 things/experiences, you consider to be little everyday ‘miracles’. If you’re doing it in a group, you can pass your list round to the right after each item and add to each others so you get some creative cross pollination of imaginative ideas.

Now, with your list for inspiration, though you do not you have to use everything on it, nor are you limited to the things on your list(s), write a poem. Here is what I wrote:

 

I believe in miracles

the daily, mundane kind

no need to wake from death

or fly with pigs

just smile

smile with heart and soul on show

and you catch me in that glow

and I feel that joy and lightness

grow in me too

watch that wild thing following freely

with nothing to gain

but a moment of connection

unspoken friendship that neither asks

nor wants but flies away

as lightly and spontaneously as it came

colour, that child of light

ever changing as the day births,

grows and dies

spilling a vast palette

from an ever changing sky

onto a receptive world below

that forgets blue is so much more

that a single four letter word

nothing need change

for life to become

a series of mini miracles

it’s all already there

just waiting to be noticed

 

 

May your day be Miraculous 🙂

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

A dream diary…of little steps

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What do goals taste like?
Hard work, sweat and tears
What do dreams feel like?
Magic whispers sending us wings
Listen to those whispers
and you’ll be far beyond those goals
before you even notice
you’ve been flapping your wings…

This morning I realised I’d been spending a lot of time setting goals for surviving, and not enough on listening to dreams for ‘alive-ing’… So I made another little notebook, from a birthday card and cut up recycled envelopes, in which I wrote my three biggest dreams, and in which I will record, each day in a single sentence for each dream, one small step I took towards realising it…

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Because you can’t wait
for dreams to come true
You gotta make ’em… xxx

Forest of Fear

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There’s a forest of fear

Where magic feels near

But not all of its white

And eyes give me a fright

As they look at me deeply

To greet me, or eat me!

I don’t really care

Just don’t wanna be there

So I run but the trees say

‘No! That’s the wrong way!

Your dreams are still waiting

Deep on the inside

For years now already

They’ve endlessly cried

‘’Don’t leave us we need you

And love needs you too!

We cannot be shared

Until you bring us through!’’’

***

So I stopped and I breathed

Though my back was still turned

The trees held their breath

Oh how my heart yearned

To turn, run straight back

to hug those wise trees

go into that forest

and set my dreams free

But I took a step forward

A small step away

Then felt my whole body

Go weak; tremble, sway

***

The time was now, I turned around

Is it just me, or can trees look proud

And as I approached that forest of fear

Quietly at first, I began to hear

My dreams at its centre, egging me on

‘Have faith, we’ll protect you

We need you! Come on!’

***

Once over the threshold, I hugged the lead tree

Then onward, eyes closed (it was too dark to see)

I used other senses to follow that path

Walking and stumbling right into the dark

The noise from my dreams getting louder now

They’d started to sing! (don’t ask me how!)

That melody lit up the path to the core

And I ran, ‘cos I just couldn’t wait anymore

The deeper I went, the more light I saw

Until, at the centre, I stood in awe

Surrounded by dreams that I’d hatched through the years

But that hadn’t yet grown, because of my fears

I cradled them gently as tears slowly fell

Showering dreams that began to swell

Follow me friends, it’s high time to leave!

And back through that forest we ran and we weaved

My dreams ran ahead and behind and beside

My heart felt miles high, miles deep and miles wide

Until I could see – there’s no forest at all!

Or at least it became infinitesimally small

As me and my dreams fly high up above

Smiling and singing on thermals of love

 

Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow just 3 to 5 mins in total) is quite simply to write whatever comes in response to this phrase…Let it Go

 

Here is what I wrote:

Let it go, shake those shoulders, let it go, breathe it out, let it go, breathe it down, let it go, breathe it in and…let it go.

Standing by the river I cast my cares into her flow…and let them go.

Leaning my back against the tall strength of a tree, I relax and…let it go.

Taking in the huge expanse of uninterrupted sky as I walk alone in the open field, I laugh, smile upwards and…let it go.

Let it go, that which weighs me down, that which I think carries me, but in fact that I am carrying, heavily. Put it down…walk away.

 

Your turn, go on…Let it go 🙂

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

A Promise and a Journey

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It was my birthday recently, my 39th, and so it naturally follows that my next (February 2018) will be my 40th. But I didn’t get here alone…

I want to use the approach to this milestone as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate those who have been there for me, whether throughout the journey, or for shorter but formative periods – those who have helped shape who I am, opened up learning and opportunities – all those for whom I feel a deep sense of Gratitude.

And so on my birthday this year I made a personal promise: By the time I turn 40 I will have written 39 individual letters of Gratitude, to 39 separate individuals, in which I will share specific examples of the positive impact they have had on me and offer thanks. I’ve made a list of names, and each letter will be hand written and hand delivered and I will keep no copies, nor share their contents here. I would, however, like to share aspects of the journey with you – because it will be a journey…

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The funny thing about Gratitude, in my experience, is that it has this magical ability to make me feel at once tiny and humble, and huge and expansive, all at the same time! Tiny and humble because it helps me to see and acknowledge the truth of my being nothing on my own. Everyone and everything around me is essential to my existence and experience. Any achievement, any success which bears my name should by rights list countless others, and by the same token…

 

Flip the coin…

 

I too am integral to the existence of everyone and everything around me. I too affirm and shape their experience. That’s where Gratitude makes me feel expansive, for it is a gift exchange. In thanking others for what they have gifted me, I can’t escape feeling and receiving a sense of what I too have gifted them.

 

I created a new Gratitude Journal from one of my birthday cards and the recycled envelopes of the others. Writing a daily Gratitude Journal is a practice I had fallen out of, but which I have now reinstated into my daily rhythms.

 

That’s the way opening works, and Gratitude is a tool for opening. And this is where the journey gets tricky, because I know that if I want to seek the joy of giving, I must be prepared for life to ask me to receive too. Gift exchange from an open heart has a tendency to run wildly and wonderfully out of control…

 

For other posts I’ve written on this topic, follow the links below

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/gratitude-gallery/

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/gathering-gratitude/

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers’ Well

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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”

 – SEAMUS HEANEY

Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.

Writing Prompt:

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow about 15 mins total) is…A Poem about Spring

Begin by making a list, speedily and spontaneously, of about 10 things you associate with Spring. If you’re doing it in a group, you can pass your list round to the right after each item and add to each others so you get some creative cross pollination of imaginative ideas.

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Here is what I wrote:

 

The air is full of it

sounds, sights, smells

the very taste of life’s joy

rising, flying, singing itself back

through brave green shoots

and fluffy white lambs

playing with a land

that is waking up

***

Feeling tender

yearning to grow

stretching my spirit

beyond the known

for life force itself

holds no guarantees

other than expressing itself

through trees dressing up

in new season’s leaves

it can’t hold on, hold back

press pause on rebirth

only celebrate the cycle

that turns with the earth

so dance barefoot

on sun warmed grass

and drink in the extra

warmth and light

to give spring

a worthy welcome

 

 

What does Spring mean to you?

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/