Moon Writing and Magic

Monday honors the Moon. Make its energy work for you by understanding what sort of work you should be doing:

On Mondays, know that you can begin a great, productive week by honoring the feminine energy of the day. Be receptive to what presents itself and reflect on those aspects of your work that could be done better or with more depth.

I wrote more extensively on the topic in my Wholly Creative blog  post today, which discusses more about the magic of moon energy.

You might even honor its energy by incorporating the moon in whatever it is you are writing today.

If the idea of combining magic and writing appeals to you, check out this 13-week online workshop.

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Free yourself from a dysfunctional mind-body relationship

I think it’s fair to say I’ve lived in my mind for most of my life. I’m a reader and a writer. I’ve also been in school nearly my whole life, except for a five-year window in the 90s before I became an educator.

Other than for vanity reasons, I never gave much thought to my body. Through my twenties, I punished it with long hours of work and school and got few hours of sleep. Through my thirties, I replaced the school work with independent study and writing. My genetics kept me slender even though I got only a little exercise. The important work was mental not physical, after all. As a scholar and a writer, I need a brain; my body is secondary.

More, there wasn’t much motivation to be “in my body.” I always ached, literally head to toe: chronic headaches, neck stiffness, back aches, knee pain, foot cramps. I just thought that was how it was, and though I saw a chiropractor and massage therapist, I thought managing pain was a normal part of having a body.

Seriously.

I lived for the times I was “checked out” while reading and writing, “zoned out” when I was performing or teaching, or “numbed out” from drinking.

At 40, things changed when I began yoga, which is when I started to really feel what was going on in my body. I had huge emotional releases – lots and lots of crying – just moving through the poses on my mat. Sometimes I’d have to drop into child’s pose to sob. Even though I had a wonderful consciousness shift after I began my yoga practice, my body actually became more painful. Some days (not all) my knees ached so badly, I had trouble walking.

Even after I quit drinking a couple years after beginning yoga, I’d wake up slowly and have trouble moving. “I need the first hour of the day to stare in my coffee and mutter,” I’d say. As recently as a couple weeks ago friends would invite me to morning yoga and I’d say, “I can’t do anything before 11:00 a.m.; I don’t move well in the morning.”

And I thought this was normal. That’s life, right? You get old and your body hurts.

But this morning, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on my own. When I put my 47-year old feet on the floor, they didn’t hurt. I didn’t have to limp to the bathroom with one hand on the hallway wall for balance. I put both feet down and stood up. Then I started shifting my weight back and forth, stepping in place. My feet were limber, sort of like hands. My toes felt longer, sort of like fingers. I started to dance. My whole body had an ease to it, I’d never felt sober.  I felt lighter, taller. I started to swing my arms over my head and then I sang as I danced around, “I feel good…in my body!”

Seriously.

What had changed? I’d had two sessions of rolfing (deep-tissue work that stretches the fascia, developed by Ida Rolf), which had worked out the adhesions in my connective tissue. The places that were bound up had been pulling my body out of whack, and the problem had compounded as the years went by.

But it wasn’t just my body. Two days after my first appointment, a girlfriend who’d known me for fifteen years called. She’d seen me through heavy workaholism and functional alcoholism, when I’d been alternately high on progress or booze, and she’d stuck around to see a new more peaceful, sober me. I’d answered her call while I was walking on the beach and watching the sunset, and I felt energized about my writing and the work I’d done developing Wholly Creative. I was bubbling with enthusiasm. For the first time in years, I didn’t feel like I had to slog through the day.

“Are you on a bender?” she asked. I didn’t understand what she was asking. “You sound like your old self… You sound happy.”

I’d been sober for four years, and while I’d cultivated more peace, I hadn’t felt this good since when I got those regular doses of “spirit” that allowed me to feel really free in my body. I’d had little windows of elevation after yoga or dance or a bike ride, but pretty quickly the window closed and I was back to the slog. My friend was right. I felt alive again.

Today, it occurred to me there is a correlation to how I was doing mentally and how I was feeling physically. I am more inspired and more creative because my body is functioning better. Talk about mind-body connection, right!?

With still eight more sessions to complete the rolfing process, I am ever more amazed by how we can increase the quality of our creative and intellectual life by tending to the body. And it’s not just mind and body, it’s spirit, too.

Get my free guide to Get Moving and Get Things Done.

Learning to love Monday

Poor Monday. Without fail, people bitch about it every week. And it’s not just people who hate their jobs. (If you hate your job, do one little thing every day to find a new job — you’ll feel happier just plotting your escape).  Even for people who like their work, Mondays can be difficult. After the weekend, it’s not easy to get back in gear for the workweek.

The thing is we expect 0 to 60. And that’s not good for us. And it’s not the sort of energy Monday carries. Monday is named after the Moon. Unlike the previous day, Sunday, charged with energy of direct light, Monday is meant to be reflective and sort of dreamy. It’s a good day for intuition and insights. It’s more mysterious and more subtle than the energy of Sunday. Which makes it a terrible day to get back to the grind. Grind energy is good on Tuesdays, which is why its traditionally the more productive day of the week.

Don’t fight Monday. It doesn’t mean you have to take the day off or you’re totally screwed if you have to report to work. Save the tasks that lend itself to this energy for this day. Know that you’re going to be a little slower, like you are moving through a dream.

Last week, excited about a new project, I jumped in on Monday, determined to learn a new software program and complete a project. Halfway through the day I was so frustrated that I updated my Facebook status saying that the project made me want to kill myself, my laptop, and the internet. (My sense of drama is strong every day of the week.) It didn’t occurmondaybreakup to me until later in the week that I’d picked a crap day for my project.

This week I’ve reordered things. Mondays are a good day to use intuition to explore ideas, imagine ways to develop projects, and to start setting up to jump in on Tuesday.

Planning your schedule to align with the mood and quality of the day will help you work smarter. It will also help you learn to love Mondays.

Sunday (Sun) Fame, Wealth, Success, Spirituality, Wishes

Monday (Moon) Reflection, Dreaming, Emotions, Intuition, Creativity

Tuesday (Mars) Strength, Courage, Passion

Wednesday (Mercury) Communication, Cunning, Excitement, Change, The Arts (It’s a wacky day. Work with its wackiness.)

Thursday (Jupiter) Expansiveness, Adventure, Abundance, Health. Named after Thor.

Friday (Venus) Love, Fertility, Birth, and Romance. Named after the Norse goddess, Freya.

Saturday (Saturn) Responsibility, Protection, Banishing negativity, Tasks

Get my FREE guide How to Get Moving and Get Things Done. And then plan wisely!

Take your writing (and your body) in new directions

THURSDAY NIGHTS, MARCH 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31, 7-9 PM !

Creative Flow: Yoga and Writing Workshop 

Consciousness meets craft in this course that uses ancient principles and practices to stimulate modern, creative writers of all genres.  Students will be guided through movement designed to develop focus, draw inspiration, stimulate imagination, and manifest creativity. Each session will include exercises on the mat and on the page. Participants will share their new work in a format that allows for supportive feedback.  This course is for every body — stiff or limber, young or old, beginners or experienced practitioners.

Santa Monica Yoga, 1640 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405. 5 SESSIONS. $150. $125 if purchased by Feb. 24. Space is limited to 12 participants. Sign-up early to ensure your spot!

Paypal msflambe@yahoo.com.

An approach to creative success

I teach a workshop on the relationship between shame and writing. One of the primary texts I used in my research was John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You. While this book has been consulted by many self-helpers for recovery from shame, it also contains some  insights into our psyche that inform and liberate our creativity.

A healthy sense of shame (humility), Bradshaw says, is basically knowing that we don’t know it all. When we think that we know things, our creativity shuts down. Creativity takes curiosity, and curiosity takes courage — after all, who knows where the unknown will take us? However, the three C’s alone aren’t enough, says Bradshaw:

A person with humility shame is open to new discovery and learning….When a person with curiosity and interest has discipline available to him [or her], [s]he has the right formula for creativity. The world is full of people with good ideas and fantasies that never come to fruition because they don’t have disciplined limits.

If you’re having trouble finishing a project or getting it started, it may help to ask yourself where you need more push. Do you need more courage to ask the hard questions and inquire further? Or do you really need more discipline in your creative life?  Or perhaps, is it possible you’ve lost interest in the project because you know it so well that your curiosity has waned and you really need to explore those aspects that are still a mystery to you?

What’s in silence

I was introduced to a lovely concept in yoga teacher training this weekend: We tend to think of ourselves as moving through the world…but what if the world moves through us?

It’s how I’ve been approaching some of my writing — as a moving meditation where I listen to the wisdom of the universe (or God) and just try to write down what comes. It seems like an ironic contradiction — that we should verbalize what comes to us in silence — doesn’t it?

Terry Wolverton, one of my mentors, shares her ideas on this subject in her blog Writers at Work (read the whole entry). She asks some interesting questions:

Where do we gather the wisdom, the depth that is so needed in our blathering culture if we are caught up in the same pressure to constantly blather?What if our measure were not how much did we produce but rather, what is the quality of our ideas? Not how many pages did you generate today but, instead, what is the most important thing you have to say and have you explored it fully before you said it?

The “I” in “Writer”

True, there’s no “I” in “team,” but in “writer,” “I” is practically the focal point. In “writing,” well, “I” appears twice.

We are at the center of the creative process, pushing our stories and poems, our discourse and creativity, into the world. Which, of course, is all well and good when our writing is going well and we feel good about not only it, but about ourselves. But what about when we hit a wall and nothing comes? Or when what we produce is not so good at all?

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, provides an answer to this in her talk for Ted. She discusses how she can move forward with what might possibly be her greatest success now behind her. Her ideas encourage us to move beyond an ego based responsibility for the creative works we author and into an appreciation of what we have contribute to a divine collaboration.

Perhaps we took too much of mysticism out when we demystified writing as a process?

Switching gears redux

Wouldn’t it be nice if our brains could automatically switch from the rational (in our everyday and professional lives) to the creative (in our writing lives) without any sputtering or stalling? It seems that the brain has more of a standard transmission than an automatic one. That means we need to actively participate in switching gears.

I wrote about my own troubles getting the creativity in gear on my other blog today and I thought I’d share it here: Switching gears.

What do you do switch gears?

Principles & Laws (& curly blond hair)

Newton has laws & curly blond hair

Today, I’m on a roll. The momentum of my writing life proves Sir Isaac Newton right again (he came up with the bit about a body in motion staying in motion). Yup, Marya Summers the law abiding citizen here, doing what I can to uphold the laws of physics.

While still on the subject of science, I’d like to acknowledge that part of what got the old ball(point) rolling is the spirituality I find within my creativity. Julia Cameron’s “Basic Principles,” which I believed before I ever found them in The Artist’s Way, aptly expresses my own ideas on creativity. (Thanks, Julia, for doing the work of setting these out).

Basic Principles

1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure, creative energy.

2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life — including ourselves.

3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.

4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.

5. Creativity is G-d’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to G-d.

6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.

7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to G-d: good orderly direction.

8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but power changes to be expected.

9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.

10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

Cameron has principles & curly blond hair

Principle #8 brings me back to Newton. His law states that a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless the body is compelled to change. It’s good to remember for those moments when we’re giving things a push but nothing’s really moving. Maybe the friction that’s slowed things up is that the writing (or the writer!) is undergoing a new development.

There you have it: science and spirituality united in the writing life…and two philosophers united by hairstyles.

The movie of your life

You know that movie you’ve watched over and over? Turns out, you can learn a lot about yourself and your own life story from your favorite film. And you can apply these lessons as you write memoirs and personal essays.

Who's your daddy?

My friend and colleague Ramona Gonzales gave a lecture at Antioch University Los Angeles this morning on this very subject (so I’m stealing all these ideas from her): “Darth Vader is My Father: Using Elements of Modern Myth in Personal Narrative.”

The premise of her lecture (which loses something without the Darth Vader mask as a visual aid) was this:

Myth and folklore were storytelling methods used by tribal elders to impart life lessons to their tribes. In modern times pop culture has taken the place of tribal elders in continuing our biological imperative of narrative.

She had us examine our favorite films and deconstruct them to see in what ways they paralleled the stories we create of our own life events. Since I’ve probably watched Legally Blonde about three dozen times — more than any other movie, which I can only partially blame on Ted Turner’s cable stations which play it regularly — I had come to class ready with it deconstructed.

Although Elle Woods and I are leagues apart in many ways — she’s a tan, rich, spa-loving, mani-pedicured, tirelessly positive dog lover from the West Coast and I am a pale, modest-incomed, self-cleansing, unadorned and rigorously pragmatic cat person from the East Coast — her story still speaks to me.

Whoever said movies are not the new tribal elders was seriously deranged

All specifics aside, when you look at the story, you realize it’s the story of a girl who follows her heart and is better for it in the end, not because she gets the guy she wants, but because in her commitment to doing so, she learns and changes.

As in the mythic structure (departure, initiation, return), she leaves the West Coast, is initiated into her law school experience (her lesson about self) on the East Coast, and uses what she learns to help her tribe (other girlie-girl, spa creatures).

Ramona’s lecture got me thinking about how this applied to my own narrative of self: I’m definitely a girl who follows her heart and brings its lessons back to share with others in my writing.

The lecture drew on Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers and Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. Also, it referenced The New York Times essay “This is Your Life (and How you Tell It)” which includes fascinating research on how the life stories we tell ourselves shape our personalities and vice-versa.

So what about you? What are your favorite films? What do they reflect about the story you tell yourself about your own life?