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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Lisa Gentile, Mentor and Moxie Maverick

We’re delighted to spend some time today with
Lisa Gentile,
the “Moxie Maverick”,
career coach, writer, poet, creative artist,
and mentor to
the Poetic Muselings.

 Michele: Well, Lisa, we’ve had a bit of history since meeting in cyberspace at the October 2007 Muse Online Writers Conference. So much has changed for all of us! Your poetry workshop in 2008 was so powerful, it literally burned out your internet connection on that last day of chats. As I tap-danced my way through a room full of writers from all over the world, we decided to let you know what we were taking back with us from the intense week. Last November, Lifelines was published, the culmination of our efforts following the workshop.

 Did you ever think we’d be having this conversation, in this way, and this time?

Lisa: I had no idea what I was starting when I signed into that first workshop. I never expected that we would later meet up in various states. Now it makes perfect sense that  we are writing to each other, with each other, and in one another’s spaces.

 What do you think helped us succeed when so many drop by the wayside?

It seemed to me that you all immediately appreciated the potential of your sharing. Our workshop exercises asked you to step back and really listen to your work, yourselves, and each other. But you trusted each other, or at least wanted the possible outcomes enough to take risks together.

 We learned so much from you — what might we have taught you in return?

I was humbled to hold an early version of your manuscript, which would eventually become Lifelines, in my hands. It was the culmination of your shared perseverance and vulnerability. I was grateful to have witnessed its creation, even from afar. You taught me to remain open-minded with respect to what others may achieve.

As you know, I see connections in even the not-so-obvious places. When people “take root” in each others’ lives, all kinds of things are possible.

For me, connection has always meant to witness another person, to see, acknowledge and respect what’s important to them. I like how Dr. Brené Brown defines connection as ‘the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when  they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’ I find her use of the word ‘sustenance’ compelling. It seems like an important part of the connection between the Poetic Muselings that became Lifelines.

Tell us about Moxie Mavericks — how does one “become” one? And why should one?

Moxie Mavericks is the name of my company, my professional life coaching practice. Moxie means gumption, derring-do, etc. But for me it’s a family value with which I was raised. I come from several generations of people who stand by their principles, whether they make us heroes, antiheroes, or observers. We enjoy each other’s stories. And those stories don’t even have to be spectacular, as long as they are real. We simply witness each other’s moxie when we see it. So people with similar values tend to feel at home here.

Mavericks are the sorts who get very serious about creating personal meaning in their lives. They are, by definition, out on the very edge of the frontier. It’s important to note that the landscape might be internal. People have special needs when they shift to maverick mode. It gets lonely out/in there. Very often others in their lives don’t see the singular vision that a maverick might have or initially understand the actions he or she chooses. So in coaching we build a space where mavericks can get customized support and feel safe to experiment with ideas.

We all have access to moxie and can be a maverick. It’s in there.

I know you are passionate about the concept of transition in an individual’s life. What does this mean to you? What are you seeing that’s so exciting?

People usually expect life coaching to be about defining their dreams, about setting and reaching goals, and about overcoming challenges like procrastination. Indeed, these are some of the tactical aspects of the work we do in coaching. But what I see over and over in my clients is a desire to make meaning out of a transition, to understand what’s being lost and gained by moving. In some cases, if we rush into goal setting we miss the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Forced goals lack authenticity. They are burdensome rather than enriching. Giving clients space and time for this reflection has deepened and enlivened the experiences my clients and I share.

As we talked recently, I envisioned transition as trying to figure out what you need to put in your backpack for a journey — and more importantly, what you must take out and leave out in order to make a transition. That’s the hard part — letting go of what only weighs you down. Any guidance on this? 

We often don’t know that we are entering the journey of a transition when it begins. Sometimes we realize we are far from “home” only when we feel lost. Something has changed but we don’t know what. We also might not know where we are going next. So it can be tricky to pack in advance. Either way, it helps to have a stash of compassion, for oneself and for others. We are all doing the best we can. We need to be patient with ourselves. This is how we can safely look at what’s holding us down. I won’t pretend that it’s easy work. The second handy item is appreciation for ourselves and others. I work with clients on spotting signature strengths–the ones that offer us the most pleasure and personal meaning when expressed. They make for an internal compass of sorts, one that can be recalibrated as interests change.

Where are you going with projects and other aspects of your life these days? 

People have been asking for retreats so I’m working that out. I understand more fully now how they might be of service. This fall two plays that my husband, Nick, and I wrote will be performed at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Our program is called “Weird Romance”. We have a wonderful director, cast, and crew bringing our characters to life. It’s quite a treat to have others see your imagination walking and talking under the lights. We love hearing the audience laugh.

And what about your future? What’s coming up? 

I am exploring the vulnerability of stillness. It’s a wild ride.

You can’t get away from here without a few words about one of the strangest boat stories I’ve heard in years — and I’m a (somewhat) experienced sailor!

What is the project that made you take to the seas, what’s happening with it now, and where do you see it going?

You are talking about Spirit of the Sea, a new youth sailing program for which I volunteer. This year we acquired a very special boat as our flagship, S/V Ocean Watch. In February we splashed her, cleaned her up, and sailed her from Anacortes, WA, to San Francisco, CA.

We take youth sailing on the San Francisco Bay at not cost to them. Just participating in the sailing of a boat and experiencing the marine environment can be powerful to our youth. But we’re taking it a step further by offering activities that incorporate experiential education, citizen science, and service learning to connect these kids with critical thinking, mentors, and possible career paths. We hope to instill these young sailors with a sense of agency that will transfer to other domains.

“No one makes that trip at that time by choice.” 

That’s exactly what half a dozen insurance agents said.

Why did you do it?

I no longer know why we delivered the boat at that time. To get it done, I suppose. I did it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail with an incredible group of experienced and moxie-rich sailors, some of whom had become my dear friends. I did it because I had earned it. We had worked hard to get the program to that point and sharing this adventure was a celebration. Also, I was ready for a new way to access information about myself in the world. This is the point of the adventure coaching that I do with some of my clients. This adventure was an opportunity for me to exercise different strengths outside of my daily routine.

Any highlights?

I witnessed first-hand the value of a “game-face” in sailing leadership. It keeps everyone calm and focused. There were many perfect moments. There was a perfect hour of a perfect afternoon. I felt secure with my fellow crew so I was free to marvel at the ever-changing shapes of the waves, patterns of the bubbles, and colors of the waters. And I had some chocolate. I think I felt deeply myself and connected at the same time. But I find that the more I try to look back at these moments squarely, the more they seem to shimmer and dissolve. They are prismatic.

So my work now is to remember how these moments felt and stay open to those sensations in the future.

Was this a transitional journey for you?

It offered key moments in a larger transition. The engine died one morning at dawn, just before a shift change. So everyone was up, exhausted, and busy. While others tracked the problem and rebuilt parts I stayed on watch alone at the helm. We had no wind so we were especially vulnerable. Even once we started moving again, my job was relatively simple: monitor the radar, watch for hazards, make course adjustments, and scan the horizon through the binoculars. But I was absolutely satisfied. I loved that no one checked on me. As the sun came up I studied the beautiful sky and coastline and faced the notion that I had fulfilled, in one way or another, just about every promise that I had made to myself as a kid. I decided to not even review the list, to just let it all be. Now I’m shifting my focus from doing to being.

They say you never return from a journey to the same place. 

When I left I was thrilled that I didn’t know when I would return. I don’t think I’ve quite yet returned. I am practicing patience and expressing my curiosity.

Your websites are as eclectic as you are, Lisa — so much more to talk about at a later date! 

Glad to see that Spirit of the Sea is a recognized 501 tax-exempt Public Charity  — which means that donations not only go to a very good cause, but are tax deductible. I encourage our readers to look at this site and consider a donation to the worthy cause. (Hint: the price of a couple of lattes could help float the boat.):    www.spiritofthesea.org

Your theater production is a hoot! How I’d love to be in San Francisco on Sept. 8, 9, 11 or 14 to see “Weird Romance”:   http://www.sffringe.org

Thank you so much for joining us today! As always, we appreciate your generosity of spirit, wisdom, humor, and that sense of connection we cherish. Good luck with all your adventures.

Thanks, Michele. My pleasure, and I look forward to sharing more soon.

To learn more about what Lisa does, check out:  www.moxiemavericks.com

Farewell, Ray

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

The writing world lost one of its most gifted writers when Ray Bradbury passed away on June 6th. He was one of my literary heroes. Not only could he captivate me with strong story lines and amazing characters from his brilliant imagination, his style reads to me like poetry. It has a magical quality to it that strikes a deep chord in my soul.

I will miss him for that, as will many others. If you ever need a dose of literary Red Bull to energize your writing, get yourself a  copy of his book Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You. I promise you won’t regret it.

Sand in the Desert: Putting Together a Poetry Collection

I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November,  2010, I had never

written a science fiction story. The

The cover for my forthcoming poetry collection

truth is I had a phobia about it, mainly about the world-building, which in the abstract intimidated me.

Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo.  I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships.  I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others.  I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.

For various reasons which I will not fully divulge, in case any of y’all decide to read the book, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but not outlandish. I needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.

I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.

In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.

 Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. At the present time, I have a cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf has edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.

All I have left to do is to hop over to CreateSpace and  put the whole thing into their system, and after that I have to decide on a price.

Here is one of the poems, one that does not appear in the book:

Ode to My Father

When I was very small child

he was as tall

as the stars.

When I was boy-high

he had shrunk

to the height of a large tree

When I became a man,

he shrank to the size

of a fist.

When I became a father,

he rose again.

His head touched the sky.

Now he is gone.

I take my small son

and point heavenward.

“There is your grandfather

Forms of the Muse

When we Poetic Muselings first approached the idea of putting together a poetry collection, our initial theme was that of the muses. It didn’t work out, and you can read about that journey here. However, I still think the Muses is a good topic.

The origin of the muse goes back to the nine muses of Greece. There are four different versions of their parentage, so I won’t delve into that. It is said that all tales and songs, all inspired knowledge, come from the Muses. Each has their own specialty and associated emblem. These are the most common names and attributes:

Calliope, muse of epic song, carries a wax tablet. Clio, muse of history, carries a scroll. Euterpe, muse of lyric song, plays a double flute. Thalia, muse of comedy and bucolic (characteristic of the countryside or pastors) poetry, is seen wearing a comic mask and ivy wreath, holding a shepherd’s staff. Melpomene, muse of tragedy, wears a tragic mask and ivy wreath. Terpsichore, muse of dance, is seen dancing while playing a lyre. Erato, muse of erotic poetry, plays a maller lyre. Polyhymnia, muse of sacred song, is depicted veiled and pensive. Urania, muse of astronomy, is pictured with a celestial globe.

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: ...

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania, and Melpomene. Drawing of a sarcophagus at the Louvre Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mousa, in addition to being the greek word for “muse”, literally means “song” or “poem”.

In modern day, the word muse has a much broader meaning. It no longer refers to the original nine. Much more personalized, everyone can have their own muse, the source for his/her inspiration.

The muse comes in different forms. For some, it is a creature – perhaps a fairy or a dragon. For others, it is something specific in their life that inspires them – nature, walking, music. Perhaps it is an actual person – a friend, sibling, or spouse that you speak to and come away re-enthused and inspired.

My muse is more likely to show up if I play Celtic music. It can come in the form of a woman, or a dragon, or merely magic in the air that blocks out the rest of the world.

Stephen King has a muse, which he writes about in his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much too look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he’s on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life.

Later he writes about the importance of having a regular writing schedule, and how it is for the muse as much as for yourself.

Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hard-headed guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. … Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping at his cigar and making his magic.

If you’re always waiting for inspiration to write, you won’t get much done. Is it not better to exercise your writing muscles while you wait for your muse to come to you? Even if all you do is stare at a blank screen, you are opening yourself for it to come.

What form does your muse take?

 

 

 

(Bulk of article was originally written for a Writing.com Fantasy Newsletter in 2008)

 

 

Focus on Form: Villanelle

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, each of us Muselings will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog. 

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Form

A villanelle is a 19th century form was originally a song/dance sung by a troubadour. The modern form developed in the 19th century.

Rules

A Villanelle is a a nineteen line poem consisting of five tercets and a concluding quatrain. It contains only two rhymes. The first and third line of each of the tercets and the first and final two lines of the concluding quatrain form one, and the middle lines of the tercets and the second line of the quatrain form the second.  In addition, the first and third lines of the first tercet are refrains. Thus. let A1, B1 A2 be the first tercet, and a small a or b indicate a line that rhymes with either the A lines or the B line, the poem lays out as:

A1, B1, A2    a3, b2, A1    a4, b3,A2    a4,b4,A1   a5,b5,A3    ,b5,A1,A2

In addition to the rhymes and the refrain,  in a classic villanelle, the lines themselves should be in iambic pentameter and the repeated lines be repeated without variation.

Tip: pay careful attention to the first stanza, and especially to the end words, as you will need to find a goodly number of rhymes for them.

Examples

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


One Art
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Writeit!) like disaster.

My own try:

This poem comes from Robert Lee Brewer’s PAD challenge for April 18th: take a regional cuisine and make it the title of the poem

Southern Fried Chicken

A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
so spicy, crispy, crunchy with a golden crust
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Add salt, paprika for that special zing.
A pinch of jalapeno is a must.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
https://poeticmuselings.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
The spicy pepper adds a bit of bling
to penetrate the chicken’s flesh.  I trust
you’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

The oil must be hot so you can bring
the crust to crispness. As we have discussed,
a chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing

Keep clear of boiling oil. It will sting.
If oil becomes too hot it may combust.
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

At last the chicken’s ready, and you spring
to action, find the flavor most robust.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Your Turn

Now I open it up to you. I welcome any feedback on my poem, as long as it is constructive and not destructive. Let’s help each other improve.

I’d love to see your own attempts at the form as well. You can post them in the comments here, or on future posts, or link to your poem if it’s on a separate site.

Southern Fried Chicken

A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
so spicy, crispy, crunchy with a golden crust
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Add salt, paprika for that special zing.
A pinch of jalapeno is a must.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

The spicy pepper adds a bit of bling
to penetrate the chicken’s flesh.  I trust
you’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

The oil must be hot so you can bring
the crust to crispness. As we have discussed,
a chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

Keep clear of boiling oil. It will sting.
If oil becomes too hot it may combust.
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

At last the chicken’s ready, and you spring
to action, find the flavor most robust.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

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This Fantastic World: An Inspiration

“To see the world for a moment as something rich and strange is the private reward of many a discovery.”
~ Edward M. Purcell

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
~Jawaharlal Nehru

“The world is full of strange phenomena that cannot be explained by the laws of logic or science.”
~Dave Barry

This world is an amazing place. There are many natural phenomena that could almost come from a fantasy novel. I’m going to describe some of these for you, focusing on the ‘wow’ factor rather than the science behind them. Links provided show pictures and more info. Most of these can also be seen on YouTube if you search. Perhaps some of these wonders can inspire you.

The Auroras (Northern and Southern Lights): This effect is probably the most well-known of those I’m going to mention. Glorious light shows in the sky, green and red curtains of light above the horizon. Known by the Cree as the Dance of the Spirits.
http://www.exploratorium.edu/learning_studio/auroras/

Aurora Borealis observed in Norway on 2006-10-28.

Aurora Borealis observed in Norway on 2006-10-28. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Broken spectre: A rainbow halo surrounding a shadowy figure. Also known as a Glory Ring or Brocken Bow. An effect of light and fog. It seems as if a ghost comes through a tunnel of light.
http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/globrock.htm

Broken Spectre Looking Northeast from Stob Dubh

Broken Spectre Looking Northeast from Stob Dubh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ball lightning: Balls of light, traveling through the sky. Wrath of a thunder god? Or chariots of fire? No short lived streak of light, but a life determined to continue.
http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/B/ball_lightning.html

Attributed to: Scott McMan

Fire rainbow: The sky on fire, wisps of cloud as flame and smoke. A wide rainbow band.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/06/060619-rainbow-fire.html

“Relámpago del Catatumbo” (Catatumbo lightning): ” Arcs of light in the sky, messages between the clouds, never-ending storm. This almost permanent storm has been used as light for ship navigation, giving it another name – Maracaibo Beacon. The lightning has no thunder, as if you were watching a window into another world.
http://fogonazos.blogspot.com/2007/06/catatumbo-everlasting-storm.html

The Rain of Fishes: In Honduras, the Lluvia de Peces, or Rain of Fishes, occurs a couple times each year. A huge storm blesses the people with living fish, inspiring a yearly festival to celebrate the phenomena. A modern manna from the heavens.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lluvia_de_Peces

Pink lake: This is one that inspired a location in my own story, a blushing lake filled with a goddess’ tears. Shallow waters, filled with salt, shimmering shades of pink and purple.
http://www.galenfrysinger.com/senegal_pink_lake.htm

Senegal Pink Lake

Senegal Pink Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some say that magic is merely science that has yet to be explained. But even those with solid science explanations retain their awe, their magic. Let a little of this world’s magic influence your own.

(Originally posted 05/29/08 on my personal blog, Feywriter)

Focus on Form: Aragman, Lin Style

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

This week’s poem, an aragman, was a real challenge for me.

I generated over 2000 anagrams with the link http://Wordsmith.org/anagram using my pets’  names and saved the results to a Word document. I then picked about 50 that appealed to me which I could see had potential as leading lines into my choice of non-anagram words.

I put them into 2 six-line stanzas starting as odd number lines, even numbers my choice of words, with a single anagram as the closing line. There are rules suggested for syllables which I dare to say I ignored- I was having enough of a problem getting the poem to make some sort of cohesive whole! My favorite anagram I couldn’t work in was “Gale omen sky” so maybe I can use that and some of the other left-over bits in a new project.

Here is my effort:

Smokey Angel

-an Aragman-

Gleams key on          

St. Peter’s belt

As elegy monk

Drowns his sorrows

La genome sky

Hovers over all

Angels key Om

Praising abounds

Make yes long

Open golden gates as

Gale monkeys

Laugh in storm like

Leaky gnomes

© 2012 Lin Neiswender

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