#IWSG January ’23

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

January Question

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett,Debs Carey,Kim Lajevardi,Sarah Foster,Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

January 4 question – Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? What is your word for 2023?

In 2022 my word was MAGIC. You can read my post about it here.

In 2020 my word was MORE. I wanted more of the essential things in my life and not what other people thought I should have. I wanted more and was tired of apologizing for wanting it. As a teacher, the idea has been cultivated that I am not supposed to want to be paid what I am worth. I was supposed to take the ideals of the mission and just take what I can get. I was done with this thinking. I adopted an abundance mentality, not scarcity.

2019 was CONNECT and I grew my audiences and relationships with other writers.

2023 is the year of depth for me.

For 2023 my word came easily: DEEPEN

My plan is to deepen the experiences and learning I engage in during 2023.

I love to be the resource person and to take a large amount of content and curate it for other people. It is part of why I love to teach. But last year, I found myself feeling like I was just checking off too many things on a list. I wasn’t savoring or learning, just racking up numbers. Part of that was stress and things that only I could do. 2022 was a year of extremes: bliss and trauma.

I do not want to feel that way anymore. I want to savor my life, not just check off days. I want the reading and writing I am doing to be wild and deep. I want to delve into a topic for days and not go wide. I want to push past what I think I want to say until I think I have nothing else to say and see what lies beyond that.

I plan to reread books that I have loved in the past and learn something new from them. The first for January is The Alchemist. This book came to me when I needed it the first time and I read it quickly. I plan to examine it more closely this read and write in response to passages and ideas.

There are other ideas I am exploring around this concept and what it means for me. I am not sure how it fits yet but there is a sharing vs not concept that keeps circling in my head. It is like a crow that won’t land so I am trying to be patient.

What small change will you make today to get yourself closer to the life you want?

Do you already have a word chosen for 2023?

I would love to see it in the comments!

Thank you for joining me on this creative journey. I am excited to see where it leads!

Happy Wintering!

Tammy

Advertisement

New Year’s #WeekendCoffeeShare #sixonsunday

I invite you to join me for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Thanks to Natalie the Explorer who provides space to link and celebrate Weekend Coffee Share posts!

If We Were Having Coffee I Would Tell You:

  1. Happy New Year! Normally at this time of year, I am all about answering the lists of reflection questions and making goals and intentions for the coming year. I have intentions and goals but this year I am keeping most of them close to my heart and my inner circle. This past year was full of major events every month. Some traumatic and some blissful. 2022 was a year of extremes for me.
  2. As I sit here and write this to you I am in my office with 3 walls of windows, with a lavender and cedar candle burning, I am overlooking the lake and the bones of trees on this winter day. I am here with my husband, safe and happy in Northwest Indiana.
  3. This morning I came into the new year exactly as I wanted to. My husband and I went to breakfast and I wrote. Then I went for a walk and am writing again. There is more on the agenda for today but I love the writer life I have and am extremely grateful for it.
  4. I walked for 2 hours this morning in the fog and gray. Gray is a mixture of black and white which seems fitting to start 2023 somehow. Podcasts were listened to and notes were made for stories!
  5. There are so many prompts for this month in my inbox it could get overwhelming! A lot of great journaling programs plus the poem I read every morning. I am going to have to make some decisions about what I want to write.
  6. Did you chose a word of the year? My word this year is DEEPEN. This has a lot to do with writing and response to reading. I know what I need to do to level up, I just have to give myself the time and focus to do it. As always, my reflection of my word of the year will continue to expand as I write about it more. The first book I am rereading is The Alchemist. I will be writing more about my #oneword as the year stretches on.

What I’m Up to This Month

  1. Teaching The Story Intensive
  2. Participating in the Six Weeks, Six Senses writing program (link to join below)
  3. Submitting (2)
  4. Daily writing

Recommendations for the Week

My Substack

Centered Programs, community, growth

Six Weeks, Six Senses Free Writing Program

Questions

What are your plans for this Sunday?

What did you write in your notebook?

Writing Prompt for You

Begin with the words: “I belong here” and see where it takes you.

Thank you for joining me for a coffee chat. I hope to see you next weekend!

The Magic of Solstice

I invite you to subscribe to my Substack here.

Four thoughts on Friday (that is not the solstice)

Winter is my favorite season. Today as I write, the wind is howling and the real feel is -31 degrees. My original intent was to post on Wednesday, but there were technical issues. The winter solstice is always a celebration for me and this year it was even more special.

Today is a new supermoon so it is a good time to think about seeds planted today that will grow into larger plans.

I have an app called READWISE that sends me my highlights from my Kindle reading. I often use these quotes as springboards for writing. The app randomizes my highlights and sometimes brings to mind a book I haven’t looked for in a long while in the daily email. I cannot browse my Kindle shelves like I do my real life bookcases. It is a different exercise.

Today I will dig into my saved sentences and share what comes up for me in some freewriting.

Here are four highlights sent to me and my reactions to them.

  1. Deep Creek by Pam Houston

Whoever thinks they are going to start the largest fire in Colorado history? Nobody. But I have encouraged to write and to burn such a letter. I have been compelled, in the face of calamity, to tell a tiny, face-saving lie.

A woman who claimed her therapist told her to write a letter to an ex and then burn it accidentally started one of the largest fires in CO and lied about it. I believe her daughter ratted her out. I have written letters that were full of emotion and never sent. It is a standard exercise of release. I like to burn papers to ceremoniously end their hold on me. I have a “Burn BAG” of paperwork in my writing space that is full of legal paperwork from the last 8 years of my life. I am looking forward to watching it go up in flames. What is it that is cleansing about fire? I think for me it is because it is GONE GONE. There is ash that is left and there is nothing recognizable anymore. It is like a bad dream you don’t want to remember so you don’t write it down. When I was on my retreat in CO in August I had a nightmare and I wrote to myself in my notebook that I refused to write it down so it couldn’t haunt me. I am thankful for that act of kindness to myself. I also think about burning down things in association with the Phoneix. I love these legends but I am done with burning my life down over and over.

  1. The Souvenir Museum Elizabeth McCracken

Her actual heart found the door behind which her metaphorical heart hid; heart dragged heart from its bed and pummeled it.

The first thing that strikes me about this sentence is that it has a semicolon in it. I love a good semicolon and a great story by McCracken! She is one of the authors I want to study within 2023.

The image of two hearts fighting fills me with glee for some reason. I often write about hearts in jars or made from materials hearts are not supposed to be made from. The idea of layered hearts intrigues me as well as identities like nesting dolls in people. I see an image of a pop-up card from Valentine’s Day with a little door that opens and all the vulnerability spills out into this altercation between the two. In my vision, one is purple and the other is red.

  1. Thunder and Lightning Natalie Goldberg

This process acts like a sifter-sand falls through and bright nuggets come to light.

First, I cannot spell the word “lightning”. It always looks wrong to me even when I do get it right. I love this book and am reading it for the second time in as many months. It will be part of a book study for Centered (Sarah Selecky’s community) and within my own PUSH writing groups.

Freewriting is an amazing practice that allows the sparkly bits of my brain to break through. Some sessions are full of more gems than others but it is always a worthwhile pursuit. I have been cooking a lot in 2022 so this metaphor works for me. My Oma used to cook and had a flour sifter. The only thing I remember her using it for is flour for gravy and powdered sugar for the plum torte she made. I have a recipe from Martha Stewart I have yet to try. I think it is fear that it won’t taste right if I make it and then fear that it will taste right and I will cry in my plum torte. I am trying to change my relationship with crying and just to see it as a reaction to emotions rather than a weakness. I want to keep digging into the same topics over and over so I can get to the bright nuggets and not the run-of-the-mill commentary that I am conditioned to think first. Studying with Natalie twice this year changed me for the better and I am looking forward to seeing how my writing changes in 2023.

  1. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come Jessica Pan

Richard’s charisma advice fresh in my mind (ask questions, give meaningful responses, reinforce emotions)…

This book was a surprise read for me. It is a stunt memoir and full of laugh out loud moments. Jessica went to a man who taught her about charisma as the quote indicates and I am thinking about these three characteristics and what they look like for character development in my fiction. Personally, I try to ask questions when I am in a social situation. In fact, I will often leave the house with an unusual question to ask that I have rehearsed so I am not stuck in too much awkward silence. A few examples I have used in the past are:

What CD do you have in your car right now?

What imaginary life do you wish you lived? (Thank you Julia Cameron.)

What is your first reading memory?

I am genuinely interested in my conversation partner’s responses if it is not small talk. Reinforcing emotions is not a strong suit of mine, however. I respond more to images or situations rather than emotions most of the time.

What is the relationship you have with your notes from reading? Do you save them in a particular way? How do you use them? I would love to hear in the comments!

Happy Wintering!

Tammy

10 Line Tuesday

It is Llama Tuesday, but now it is also

I was inspired by poet Maya Stein and her 10-Line Tuesday.

Unfolding

Unfolding happens because there is something hidden that needs to be exposed.

Mysteries unfold one detail at a time, to reveal an ending of some sort that a writer has likely led you to.

Notes unfold to reveal messages. When I was younger I folded notes that turned an 8 1/2 X 11 page into a tight paper folded square that had a piece tucked in to “lock” it.

Do kids even fold notes anymore? I wonder if I still could if I tried. I will after I finish writing this. It sounds like fun. 

Napkins are folded for decoration to hide the plainness. Napkins should be folded at the end to hide the mess you have made which is how they are designed. It is backwards. 

Your mind slowly unfolds as it mediates.

Secrets unfold as they are uncovered one detail at a time.

Stories unfold one letter, one word, one sentence at a time; like a little girl that is leading you by the hand. 

You unfold as an adult and sometimes you are not sure what is going to be revealed. You show yourself one tiny piece at a time revealing who you truly are. The underneath place where you are hidden and no one sees. 

I often wonder how we were conditioned to not be who we were designed to be.  Why did it seem like a good idea to say, “Yes, I like tomatoes” when you really didn’t? There is a slow reveal to someone who isn’t you. But then who it is then? It is the product of influence. The nurture not nature part of the science class that people ignore. 

So I ask, who are you unfolding to be?

December #WeekendCoffeeShare

I invite you to join me for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Thanks to Natalie the Explorer who provides space to link and celebrate Weekend Coffee Share posts!

If We Were Having Coffee I Would Tell You:

  1. This past Tuesday was busy with calls from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. They were all about writing so they were fueling but it had been a long while since I had to be on Zoom for that long of a stretch.
  2. Chris made his amazing potato soup this week – a secret family recipe!
  3. I am rereading Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg. There will be a book club on Centered that I will host in the new year. My PUSH group will also be working with this book.
  4. I am thinking about what I want to learn in 2023 and how to plan it out for one new skill a month. I want some of it to be centered around writing, but not everything. I am still thinking about it.
  5. This Wednesday is the Winter Solstice! It will be a special day indeed! There will be lots of celebrating plus a special tarot spread. I am also hosting a Read Like A Writer Book Club session that morning. I always read Robert Frost’s Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening. It is going to be an amazing day!
  6. Our live Christmas tree is in the window. It is the cat’s first tree so he is trying to figure it out.
  7. I finished the stunt memoir, I’m Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come about an introvert who tried to learn from the behaviors of extroverts in order to expand her social circle because she was lonely.
  8. I have been writing about what I think is fun. Truly fun for me. A friend posed this question to me that I cannot seem to let go of. She asked me what it would look like if I just did what I thought was fun. I feel like this should be an easy question, but it is not. What do you think is fun? Share with me, please!

Recommendations for the Week

Centered Programs, community, growth

30 Questions for Clarity

Salt and Lavender recipes

Robert Frost’s Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening

Deep Creek by Pam Houston

Fun!

What are your plans for this Sunday?

Thank you for joining me for a coffee chat. I hope to see you next weekend!

10 Line Tuesday

It is Llama Tuesday, but now it is also

I was inspired by poet Maya Stein and her 10-Line Tuesday.

I am not certain I would label this writing a poem but here we go…

Morning Observations

Music that makes me dance comes through Alexa

Cheese quesadillas for breakfast are divine!

Gray skies greet me for another day

Waking up with my love is the best!

Other writers are fueling

Looking forward to my meditation class

Winter Coffee with cinnamon and cayenne is delicious

Found a tarot deck I was looking for!

Writing first thing, playing with structure is fun

St Lucy day today makes me want baked goods! (Cafe later maybe)

December #WeekendCoffeeShare

I invite you to join me for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Thanks to Natalie the Explorer who provides space to link and celebrate Weekend Coffee Share posts!

If We Were Having Coffee I Would Tell You:

  1. Today was my Unknown writing circle and Jane Brunette shared a poem, The Bowl. What would be in your bowl? [Link to the poem below.]
  2. Chris and his brother built my bookshelves in my writing space and I am thrilled. This space contains windows on three sides, the stained glass that is specific to me, photos, etc. I love them!
  3. This week I made Chicken Arrabiata which tasted like the spicy pasta I had on my birthday with Chris at Maggianos. It is delicious!
  4. I attended a Co-writing session and we had a conversation about Stillness. It seemed perfect timing for me after my meditation class on Tuesday which was just what I needed. There were several shorter meditations for the hour which was nourishing.
  5. My friend Joy recommended the memoir, Deep Creek by Pam Houston and I keep falling into it. I am loving this book.
  6. I made my son a 12 Days of Christmas punch cup Advent Calendar and delivered it yesterday. To say he was thrilled would be an understatement.

Recommendations for the Week

Candles while you write

Fires in the fireplace while you write and read with someone you love

Centered Programs, community, growth

Salt and Lavender recipes

The Bowl A Poem

Deep Creek by Pam Houston

Delicious breakfast with loved ones

What are your plans for this Sunday?

Thank you for joining me for a coffee chat. I hope to see you next weekend!

#IWSG December

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

December Question

December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

At this time in my life, the holidays do not disrupt my writing practice. There is no “catching up” for me- it is just the regular practice that is my daily life. If I am busier I always have my notebook with me and can write just about anywhere. I also make notes on my phone. My personal schedule has changed dramatically the last 6 months so that is more of an adjustment than the holidays.

This time of year calls to me to be tempted to sign up for writing classes that fill my inbox with discounted offers. I have to be careful of this practice. Several winters ago I signed up for so many classes from writers I respected but the overwhelm of learning almost broke my writing practice. It taught me to rely on what I know to be true. I need to read well and write in response to that reading. I also need to reread and spend time revising. I need to go back to exercises that I know work for me and my writing.

This year I am reluctant to post as much publically as I have in the past. I must admit this is partially because I have so many emails in my inbox from people I haven’t heard from in a long time. I have been unsubscribing to multiple newsletters and email lists that I do not read or do not find inspiring. The problem is, I feel like I have to do this every week. The ones I am fueled by and use as writing inspiration I keep of course! I am trying to discern my time more gracefully for my goals.

One of those goals is for me to choose a new word for the year. I believe I have settled on the word but will post about that closer to the new year. I want to be sure this is the word I want to carry through 12 months.

December First #WeekendCoffeeShare

I invite you to join me for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Thanks to Natalie the Explorer who provides space to link and celebrate Weekend Coffee Share posts!

If We Were Having Coffee I Would Tell You:

  1. I spent 5 days this week in retreat with Natalie Goldberg which was amazing. It was the same schedule every day of Zazen, 3 hours with Natalie, a one hour writing group with 2 10 minute writes, and then another session of sitting meditation. I did more sitting meditation than I ever have before which was new and a learning experience.
  2. My soon-to-be brother-in-law moved back to Indiana this week! There was family in the house to help with the move and lots of great food to welcome them!
  3. I tried a couple new recipes this week and they turned out well. I also have returned to some favorites. There is lots of talk about Christmas cookie making now!
  4. I was able to write with a friend from Colorado this week. We had let the time lapse between meetings far too long. I am glad we reconnected and have another session planned in 2 weeks.
  5. I am amazed at how exhausting an hour of errands is to me. I need to pay more attention to what drains my energy and what gives it to me.
  6. I made a punch cup advent calendar for Chris and it is fun for him to find the gift for the day. It is a small delight.
  7. This week there are new readings from Mary Oliver for advent. First Snow is one of the poems I will be rereading each day.
  8. Tomorrow a big assignment is due for my Intensive students and I am excited to read them!
  9. I send you love and peace for your week ahead. There is such strength gathered for me because of the true love and abundance in my life. Even the simple routine of Chris and I having breakfast out every Sunday has a sparkle all its own! I hope something sparkles for you in a similar way.

Recommendations for the Week

Centered Programs, community, growth

Salt and Lavender Chicken Piccata

What are your plans for this Sunday?

Thank you for joining me for a coffee chat. I hope to see you next weekend!