Posts Tagged ‘IWWG’

About the Book

Journey Girl is a story about motherhood and a memoir about secrets– more specifically, it is about breaking them. First-time author Hajec unfolds her journey of becoming a courageous family secret breaker and defeats her fears that she will pay a price to do so. Her quest is to disintegrate the generational silences that surround the death of her mother shortly after her own birth and explore the mysterious childhood memories that still linger as she reaches adulthood. As the author unwinds a tightly-held but harmful family silence, she also introduces to the reader simple, ordinary, and helpful types of silences they can use in their everyday life to bring them peace and balance, not harm and mystery. These are the Islands of Silence that begin each chapter before continuing her own story.

About the Author

Susan Heffron Hajec finds her happy place in everything that has to do with words. With an early start of faithful letter writing to her grandparents, she began to play with themes and stories on paper and loved all English, writing, and theater scripts throughout her school years. After her college graduation, marriage, and motherhood, her personal life followed a natural path to quiet ways of life, contemplative prayer, holistic health, soul writing, and the arts. She then served these interests well in her professional and business life which included: being regional newspaper correspondent, becoming founding editor of a religious newspaper; being an international video spirituality producer; owning A Way with Words consulting and workshop production company. She accomplished extended training and practice with the Masters in SoulCollage®, Labyrinth facilitation, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and Reiki healing arts. With a newfound passion for watercolor art, she states her purpose in life as being faithful to the small things and giving glory to God for the largeness of the gift of life. And most of this is centered in her loving life with family and friends.


Journey Girl, Steps in Secrets and Sanctuary is available for order on http://www.amazon.com and http://www.balboapress.com/bookstore —under new releases.


Read Full Post »

I Hope You DanceYohji Yamamoto

It was over twenty-five years ago when I saw this picture, which put me in my mid-forties. I walked by this large poster in a camera store in New York City on my way back to the afternoon session of the International Women Writers Guild Conference.

But I could not walk past this woman!

I backed up and stared at the poster for awhile from the sidewalk. I began to hear her tapping feet and the harmonies from the violin. I felt the happiness and the spirit which flowed from this image.

Immediately, I had words for this poster: “I hope you dance.”  I had always liked that song and when it played I let the words seep over my own spirit and felt it reach out as my number one genuine wish for my grandchildren.

May you always choose to dance in your life, regardless of circumstances, whether you are up or you are down, just……dance, dance, dance.

I was pretty sure I was going to make myself late for the beginning afternoon class, but I went inside the store and asked the clerk if they had a duplicate poster and explained to him that I just had to have it.

He said no, that was the only one and it was being used to promote a camera brand sale.  Some of my own intensity of desire must have reached him because he said the sale was going off soon and they would not need the photo anymore. He would give it to me and it was then assured a good home.

He went to the window, removed the poster and handed it to me, who was one happy camper. I probably wrote about her in my afternoon sessions.

Yohji Yamamoto’s name and line signature was below the photo, so I believe that is the name of the photographer and I credit it here.

When I look at this photograph, I remember my young child joy during  the old time family hoe-downs on my grandpa’s Wisconsin farm. I hear my uncle’s fiddle bouncing notes off the wall that filled the room and there was nothing that could keep a body still.  I recall my grandpa taking the center of the kerosene heated room, standing there a moment in his denim blue coveralls and high top brown scuffed up work shoes loosely laced to the top, then breaking into a stomping, loose-kneed rhymetic dance, lost totally in the pleasure of it all.

And it is the light in this woman’s eyes that called me back to that window. It is the same light that is in mine. I know that when I looked at her, my deepest wish was that when I reached her age, the light in my eyes would still shine like that and my feet would still tap out a splendid beat.

She has graced the top of my bookcases since then which means she endured many movings and resetting our homestead up, but she was never displaced nor replaced.

I am now well along the path of becoming this woman’s age. I may even have reached it. Given inspiration, which finds me easily, my eyes still carry the light and my feet invite the dance.  This is good.

Napkinwriter notenotes on a napkin

Read Full Post »


Tom and I have been getting our affairs in order. We’ve received no bad news or anything like that. We anticipate and look forward to a very healthy and happy 2014. But we have “basement issues” with unsorted boxes and papers from our foray of frequent moves and we’ve bravely decided to tackle just a bit of it.

Some of that includes straightening out the fireproof box and making sure records are current and pertinent.  I was mom’s durable power of attorney and we’ve just passed the 6th anniversary of her death in November 2007 so I walked down memory lane a bit before continuing on my task.

Mom was at Hazel Findlay Nursing Home in St. Johns, Michigan when she passed, a long-term resident with Alzheimzers disease. Even without her speech, mom could, nearly up to the end, brighten a worker’s or visitor’s day with her cheerful smile and laugh.

Before entering residential care, mom was living in an apartment near her sister in Indiana. When she visited us, she loved to dote on our cat, Bradley. She kept up a pretty bright conversation with him, and saw him only through compassionate eyes of love. They were pals.

Mom’s been on my mind lately anyway, not just because of the paperwork but because it is Thanksgiving season turning quickly into pre-Christmas season. These were festive times for mom and baking was her speciality. I, in fact, was boasting about her famous pumpkin pie (like none other) that was a cherished heirloom in our family at our October high school reunion luncheon and found myself promising to bring the proof to our November luncheon.


Six pies later, I had pretty wide acceptance that her pumpkin pie was pretty darn good. Mom took out all the stops during this season with her baking. Many traditional Norwegian specialties plus the always-loved sugar cookies cutouts, the confectioners sugar pecan balls, and many others that were stored all over the house and somehow kept fresh right up to the holiday. Mom gave much of it away, but my two brothers and I were lurking when ever we could to capture an extra one or two when nobody was looking.

They may not have been looking, but once in awhile we heard from far in another room, “You kids, get out of the kitchen!” How did they know?


Tom was reading the newspaper one night and said to me, “Oh, guess what is the secret ingredient to the best pumpkin pie.” I bit (no pun intended) and answered, “Ginger.” “Wrong,” he said. “Love.”

By the time Thanksgiving had come and gone, I had added four more pies to my production for family. And I have to agree. I know mom’s baking came from love. And my own? Surely, love is the added ingredient that was enjoyed by all.

About three years before mom died, I wrote a poem at an IWWG Writers Conference I was attending in New York. As I did in every visit to mom, I also tried, in the poem, to get behind that mask of Alzheimers and touch my mom by calling out her identity. This is the poem.

Her Name is Marion
by Susan Heffron Hajec

She is somebody
her name is Marion.
She is somebody
she is my mother.
She is somebody
she is ill with Alzheimer’s.

She is somebody
she is the delete key that’s been
mistakenly pressed on the computer of life.
She is the jigsaw puzzle
with the missing pieces.
She is the finished recipe
minus a key ingredient.
She is the sunset
blocked from view.
She is the wrapped birthday present
without the signed card.
My mother is somebody
Alzheimer’s is the lurking bandit.

My mother is somebody.
She is the gentle sensation of peach fuzz
on my cheek.
My mother is somebody
She is the beckoned smile from a baby.
My mother is somebody.
She is the organizer in a house of chaos.

She is somebody
her name is Marion.
She is somebody
she is my mother.

                    Skidmore 2004

Read Full Post »

“Oh Great Mystery
Sun, Moon, Earth, Sky and Sea
You are within me
And all around me.”

This is a beautiful chant we sang at the early morning meditation group at the International Women’s Writing Guild Skidmore Summer Conference when I attended and taught workshops there in the 1990’s.

The meditation was led by Amejo Amyot, a holy, raucous, humorous and good-willed woman writer and artist. During the time I attended there, Ameyo began creating wondrous full-bodied women goddesses. She said they came from within and demanded to be created and put on Earth.


Amejo lived from her Essential Self — the Self that Barbara Marx Hubbard talks about that is the driving force of the Universal Human. The week-long  IWWG  Summer Conference was alive with the Spirit of many Essential Selves showing up or in the process of emerging.

I am eternally grateful for being in their presence. They came as teachers, guides, lively spirits and friends and you remained touched by your experience there throughout the year until you returned the following year.

“Woman, I Am
Spirit, I Am
I Am the Infinite within my soul.
I have no beginning
and I have no end.
Oh, this I Am.”

This was another chant we sang in the meditation class and spontaneously broke out in across the campus grounds throughout the week.

One of the things we did, mid-week in the meditation group, was to create a prayer stick from the materials Ameyo brought into class. First we took an early morning walk in the woods outside the building. It was a cool, crisp and dewey late summer temperature in the north-east location of Saratoga Springs, New York that accompanied us on our walk.  Most of the time there was either a dim sliver moon hanging yet in the sky or, if we were lucky, a full luminous shadowing full circle, sliding from view until the following evening.

My first prayer stick was just a bit of a twiggy branch, but I brought it inside with me and adorned with with blue, red, and yellow slim ribbons and not much else. I wasn’t real confident in the creation of such a stick yet, but in following years, I looked forward to it.

We put our prayer intentions on our sticks and then brought them outside on a grassy square, placing them in a circle for the rest of the week. It was impossible not to glance at them as we passed by on the way to classes or the cafeteria, featuring not only food, but the multiple conversations of motivated women filled with the energies of creation, laughter and purpose.

My twiggy prayer stick had a very deep intention on it. The intention for grandchildren. My younger daughter had suffered the pains of the loss of her first child, due to miscarriage and was struggling to conceive again.

I took my prayer stick home with me at the end of the conference. I believe I had three ribbons ends trailing off my stick. I have had that prayer stick in my creativity room ever since.

My daughter conceived within the year with my first granddaughter Devon, now age 17. Her brother arrived four years later. And my first daughter, after several miscarriages, gave birth to spirit-of-light & laughter, Amy Frances.

Hummmm — three ribbons, three grandchildren. Oh, Great Mystery!

Read Full Post »

I’ve had a hard time being single-minded this morning, being focused.  Truck day is a short day and one-half now away from our door. I am still carting much of my work materials from my room over to our new home, so I can “pick up from where I left off” without much of a delay, and I still have a heavy four drawer file to unload so the guys can carry the file out.

The computer age did not minimize paperwork for me. Why is that? Am I a compulsive hard-copy die-hard who won’t give in? I usually know how to catagorize hard copies in files or binders (and I have many) but I’m not so sure I can find what I want in my computer saved files. I think I will work on that next year.

Meanwhile, brain-wave and bodily cellular stimulation arrives in books mentioned by email I get from friends, and I have to explore, and get lost in “the next thing I want to know”.

I am in the midst of planning a January party for Tom’s 70th birthday, with invites yet to print out; I have scheduled a January Wondrous Women gathering and another workshop just confirmed for January where I will begin to build on my work. And messages concerning both of those are running along the neural pathways of my brain, chattering all the while they do. More paperwork!

At this moment, Tom is wrangling with our Network provider, by telephone, car trip downtown and back and now again on telephone, trying to get our service cancelled here to begin new at our home. And they gave him a choice — as in — Now, or comeback tomorrow to end it tomorrow, two trips! So this may bleep into cyberspace at any moment.

The CHOICE now is to quickly get my post on Choices on my Napkinwriter — then return to boxing and packing. Let’s see if I can stick with it!

NOTES taken in my 1994 Skidmore Writer’s Conference Notebook.

The class I was in was Dr. Benjy Brooks, a pediatric surgeon, and world emissary of good among the world’s children. She was talking about choices that day. Here are my notes:

“We are what we repeatedly do.”

“Excellence is not an Act but a Habit.” Aristotle

The Power of a Choice, using Victor Frankle’s example from Nazi-war-torn Europe and Auchwitz prison camp: “It is not what they do to you. It is what I think about what they do to me.”

Patterns of Success Choices.

1)  Choices that build me up. Take absolute responsibility for self. Life is a series of opportunities.

2)   Choices that pull me down. Complain. The risk I’m thinking about taking is not an opportunity. 
       …I create the rain that falls on self.
       …I partake in negative self-talk.
       …I am always “too something”, old, fat, young, dumb

3)   Break Even Choices 
       ….I don’t even recognize I have a choice.
       ….I never make a choice
        ….I utilize little of my potential

Steps to take:

A.    Ask “What type am I? ” Do I know what pattern I am?

B.    Ask  “Is the present pattern working for me?”

C.    Look at the pattern of people around me who make choices.

D.    Ask “How can I improve my choices or pattern of how I make my choices?”

Followup by these suggestions: (you have a choice to do these or not!)

Listen within.  Clarify my choices. Act on my choice. Don’t give into, “I’ll wait until…” Learn to recognize the old programs, the old programs that once worked for you but you know they do not work anymore. Stop majoring in minor things.”

Make a Choice.
Set a Goal.
Create an atmosphere around you that supports you.
Reward yourself!

Try those four choices pertaining to something  (one thing) about the Christmas and holy day season for 21 days, the time it takes to form a habit.  See what happens and enjoy the reward you CHOOSE.

Read Full Post »

I’ve chosen a new banner to head up my 2012 Napkinwriter blog. It is the photo of what I call “Phases of Woman” that I have had a copy of since I saw a large print of it on the wall of an Assisted Care Facility back in the late 1980s. I was looking for what might be the eventual place my mother would reside in to take care of her growing loss of cognition needs.

This large print on the wall impacted me deeply when I saw it. The place I saw it was not the place we chose for mom, but somehow I obtained a small print of it and have kept it on my writer table ever since. I bring it into the writing, spirituality and feminine realization workshops I facilitate also.

I believe we have all of these phases of woman in us at all time. The young child has in someway the grown up and the wisdom elder in her before she ever reaches those ages in her real life. The grown up woman reaches for the wisdom of the elder within her during trying times and responsibilities of mid-life. And the lovely elder has the playfulness of the young child ever within her. She also remembers the turning points of changed beliefs and actions of her middle-age self that made all the difference in her own life and how she lives it today.

This is coming up for me again because as I pack, I come across my  Skidmore Writing Journals from my years of attending IWWG’s (International Womens Writer Conferences) in the summers of 1990s into 2001.  Those were years of momentous change for me and some really tough emotional sledding.

Yet, I open these journals, mere spiral notebooks, and bits and pieces of thoughts, “seeds”,  and writing instructions like…..”use an image to….” “write about where you live and who you know”….write about the bag lady at McDonald’s”… pop out at me.

Little unfinished thoughts — “possibilities” — lay scrawled across the page, like a dim light going on within…”You have the power to manifest what you want.” What? I think I am just learning this now, and here is the thought in a 1994 journal.

Another page….the words, “the power of choice” makes all the difference. The lesson of Victor Frankle, who taught us from Auchwitz Nazi camp days that “It’s not what ‘they’ do to you but it’s about what I think about what they do to me.” How many times that lesson has reappeared in my life in different circumstances, different settings through my “grown-up” years into my now here “wisdom years.”

And yes, now, I do claim that lady of wisdom. Once again I lug my heavy journals with me in our move, for I have not yet harvested all the shining wheat they contain that comes from fields in life I have sowed lovingly, tended carefully and repaired from the storms.  I look forward to the harvest!

There are two rather huge things for me these days that I am trying to get my head around and fit into a container of thought. These are: 1) Somehow, we are all one. and 2) Somehow time (past, present and future) are all happening at the same time and I am in the middle of it all, mostly trying to learn my best how to just live in the present. 

I don’t know if I will ever truly understand either of these, but I think they are true. And reading journals just strengthens those beliefs in me, for I know that some of the things I discover I have written on paper in the past, have somehow shaped my future and directed my paths long before I knew the truth of the thought.

I was hoping the woman photo would work as a banner for Napkinwriter, as I will be offering up what is precious to me from these journals in next year’s writings. Actually, I won’t even wait until next year.

The next post will be about what I wrote in 1994 about choices and an 84 year old workshop leader at Skidmore who inspired me. She not only inspired me beyond words, but to find my own words essential stories and get them on the waiting page.

Her name was Dr. Benji Brooks, and she was a pediatric surgeon, who along the way in her medical career probably saved countless lives. She taught workshops so “I could do something of significance in this world before I die” she said one day in class. It struck me as a most humble statement and obviously her choices revolved around the good of humankind.

Read Full Post »

Artist's Creed by Jan Phillips

I am so stuck, I am sharing from another website I just came across (www.wisewoman.com), responses from many others as to what they do when they get stuck.

I am so stuck, I cannot remember my Twitter password, and I don’t put much on Twitter anyway.

Getting back to Napkinwriter, which I dearly want to do is right now like trying to lift my feet out of the tarpaper that cartoon character was in. But I will — get unstuck.

Normal now revolves around being caregiver to my most beloved person in the world. And that’s fine — that’s on purpose — that’s as it should be.

But my creativity room calls. Today, I have almost completed reading the 11,000+ word manuscript I prepared for an interview I held with creator Jan Phillips, who has been on a wondrous country-wide tour with her marvelous workshops and her teaching at Yale for the IWWG – International Womens Writing Guild. She and I are both excited about this.

Getting unstuck will be seeing the final package completed with query letter and mailed off by next week to our proposed destination for publication.

Getting unstuck will be giving some form and substance to more ideas that will be focused on Jan, as well. I feel so strongly her message and actual physical presence is so needed in our world today; if I can be a connecting bridge in any way, it would be a great honor.

Getting unstuck is falling again into a book on my bookshelf, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Getting unstuck will be signing up for and contributing what I now have in savings to a wondrous nine week tele-class “The Intersection for Writers by a magnaminous and loving giver by the name of Janet Conner, author of Writing Down Your Soul.

Getting unstuck will be freeing myself and laughing each day.

Getting unstuck will be lots of my own beloved writing as Napkinwriter.  I’ll be seeing you soon!

 So here are the “When I am stuck….” entries  I promised you from the wisewoman website blog, “Dear Me (thoughts from wherever I am at the moment).

Copied from her website:

“Many of you have known me for quite some time. I am Jessica’s alter ego, muse, imaginary friend, inner critic, sometimes outer critic, and all around help mate when I feel like it.

She has known me for a *very* long time – since she wrote a book about me way back in the 70′s. My name is Dear Me! and I am going to help her out with this personal blog.dearmeartsupplies

“Jill Badonsky is a very cool person. I have never met her, but I just know it.

And the reason I am talking about her today is that she wrote another book, called  The Awe-Manac, A Daily Dose of Wonder, that goes on my list of most inspiring creativity books.

Creative people get stuck. It is just the truth and there is no permanent cure. It will recur and usually without warning.

The way the creative brain works (if you have it tuned-up) is that it sees something or thinks something which triggers something else – maybe related to what it saw or thought, maybe not.

So inspiration is critical. If you are stuck, you must go out and expose yourself to new stimuli. You can go to galleries and look at art, you can read good writing, you can smell the flowers, etc. You get the idea. One or more of those encounters will kick-start your creative idea machine and you will be unstuck and on the move again.

Please share a creative prompt with us in a Comment and we will draw a winner on Monday and send a copy of The Awe-Manac, You can tell us in your comment how you get unstuck, or throw a journal page prompt at us, or tell us whatever you think might start the idea machine. We will all benefit, so let the Comments roll . . .”

September 26th, 2009 | Category: Book Reviews

79 comments to The Awe-Manac: A Wonderful Book

  • 51
    Karen S. says:

    When I’m stuck, I like to take a walk and just observe things – the houses and gardens and people and nature, whatever I see. Then I try to take something (or someone) I’ve seen and write a narrative about it, including a lot of description, but also making up some kind of story. A fresh perspective and fresh material often come together to move my work along.

  • 52
    Debbie L says:

    Ok, this post is utterly brilliant! Can we make a book of all these great ideas?

    I have been so stuck like the very first commenter, Susan, for months now. Taking classes and going on art retreats really help keep my juices flowing during the rest of the year. I have re-started keeping an art journal to help keep the flow going.

    Sometimes I just put on music, pick up whatever paint colors speak to me, my journal and just play. Usually doing something helps.

  • 53

    When I am stuck I will do one of several things. Here’s my list: I pick up my camera, pick a place to visit, and go out on a shoot. Sometimes, just shooting photos is enough to “fill in the blank” and I feel like I have done something creative. I buy artists how to books and mull over techniques and ideas. I look at visual journals or use one. A prompt can be as easy as asking myself a question and then using my visual journal to create from the question. Also, I like to extract fragments of my dreams to create something. Or, I will invite a friend over or get together with other creative souls to stimulate my brain. And lastly, I might even take a workshop. There is always a way to get rid of the creative block if you let your imagination just run wild.

  • 54
    Gayle Warner says:

    I joined a small crafting group at a local library. Just being around these other women working on & enjoying their projects seemed to reignite my own creativity!

  • 55
    Kathy K. says:

    When I get stuck, the worst thing I can do is clean something… that is what usually keeps me from my creative endeavors. I find that scribbling on a blank sheet of paper is a beginning. From there I take my favorite form of color and color in some of my shapes. After I do that I begin to decorate some of the shapes (colored or uncolored) with doodle shapes. Then I take a marker and start to outline groups of shapes, like I am looking in the clouds for animals or ‘pictures’. This activity usually frees up my mind from everyday clutter and allows new ideas in.

  • 56
    Milly G says:

    I know I can’t be the only one who never gets stuck…not stuck for ideas and inspiration anyway. I mostly get stuck for time or energy. I have such a back log of ideas- hundreds of them swirling around in my head like shiny butterflies and dragonflies winking and grinning and laughing. Mostly just getting back to my work tables and getting my head immersed in the creativity and my hands busy sends me back to my conversations and journeys with the divine.

  • 57
    Anne L says:

    I just need to go on to my deck and sit in the peace of the bush, listen to the birds – it regenerates the brain! and there is always something new – light on leaves, breeze, sounds, to keep you visualising.

  • 58
    Carol says:

    It’s wonderful when creativity flows, but when one hits that wall – the frustration is mighty. I get stymied; what color combination(s), should I use this medium or that, be neat or go grunge, be elaborate or not? Sometimes I have so many ideas they become a jumble. To kick start the process I think of friends and ridiculously funny moments.

  • 59

    When I am really stuck in a creative rut the only thing that seems to work for me is to either “let it go for another day’ or to simply begin. Begin something, anything; brush to paper, cloth to quilt, wool to felt anything that concretely connects me to start the flow again. Oddly enough, this usually works for me.

    I off er the prompt of “soul”. What does soul mean to you? DO we all have one? Does it continue on? Is it music or art or something more ‘mystical’ than that?

  • 60
    Andee says:

    When I get stuck I do a couple of things, First of all I have this jar, filled with words on scraps of paper, random words to illustrate (like anger, scream, lost or happy) or phrases/ideas that intrigue/amuse me ( like free spirit, dodo bird, flying fish, evil cat, nude beach, bare-naked ladies, grandma’s underwear or dancing waves). These words and phrases are things I see in the paper, or hear people say…things that make me think at the time, hey that would make a great picture, so I jot it down. When I get home it goes into the jar. On days when nothing inspires me, I reach in, and draw, paint or applique whatever I pull out.

    The other thing I do is rather than taking digital pics of things, I take pictures of textures and fragmented images… stone walls, grates, sidewalk patterns, interesting bark… part of a gear, part of a building…. an extreme closeup of a flower. I recreate these things using paint or colored pencil in my art journal on quite days or late at night…they often inspire what winds up on top of them, and have often sent me off in completely new directions artistically. My thinking is anyone can create from a whole, but creating from a partial imagine leaves more directions open, because you have removed the preconceived ideas that go with whole images. A gear does not have to remain a gear, a sidewalk texture can become anything….

  • 61
    Barbara J. says:

    When I need inspiration I go and swing on my swing set. Somehow the repetive motion and soaring up to the trees gets mind off of the everyday things and into the creative realm.If I shut my eyes it is even better!

  • 62
    Barbara J. says:

    Oops, that was supposed to say “repetitive” motion.

  • 63
    helen sanford says:

    this was very interesting to read over what others wrote–many of us do the same things–I do find that when I am really at a stand still–frequently a nap will do what I need. Sometimes I am just tired–but I also clean, sort, read,veg–all of the other things that others have mentioned–isn’t it amazing to see how different we are but how alike at the same time–so I guess my prompt would be “a 20 minute power nap”

  • 64
    Larraine says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I have all kinds of ideas and still get “stuck.” Part of the problem is that, as a result of having double knee replacement surgery in July, I wasn’t going anywhere. That’s changed now that I can walk ok. I love the idea of visiting a museum for inspiration too. This book sounds so wonderful. I really want it. Please pick me!

  • 65
    Glory M says:

    When I get stuck I just get quiet for awhile – shut out everything around calling for attention. Then I will pick up one of my favorite books or magazines and begin to leaf through it – something will call to me – then I apply my favorite two words “what if” and I’m off and running. What if I worked in different colors? What if I changed the structure? What if I used a new material I’m not familiar with – “what if” works every time.

  • 66
    Callie E. says:

    The sure-fire-never-fail “unstickme remedy” is…GIVE A PARTY!!! For sure I can find an idea of SOMETHING I would like to PLAY with. ForInst: I would really like a reason to use that Fondue Pot/Chain Saw/Piece of Fruitcake in my Freezer (VOILA, a party theme!)This results in Frenzied mental fireworks: When (what day of the week works for YOU/ME/MY DOGS?), What color is the tablecloth? Ooooo what shall we eat? The distraction of pontificating all of these glorious possibilities inevitably results in a creatively designed invitation which sets the tone for the ENTIRE Event.

    When I embark on this endeavor it frequently really does result in a fabulous soiree but even if I do not actually send out an invitation so many elements of the creative process have come into play I cannot possibly be blocked another second.PARTY!!!

  • 67
    Jane T says:

    When I need a boost to creativity, I can always turn on some music and just loose myself in the melody and that makes ideas spark for me.

    Write about something that you laughed aloud at when you were all alone.

  • 68
    Barbara Lemme says:

    Getting stuck forces me to look at EVERYTHING: magazines, others’ cards, photos, store displays, books, blogs,friends’ work…on and on until something, even just a simple quote or word, jars my brain. And then the fun begins.

  • 69
    Elizabeth D says:

    I browse through my torn out magazine pages stockpile. I also go to my favorite internet sites and take a peek!!( I am there at the moment) I also set up a schedule that devotes time to my pursuits and limits my time wasting behaviors. When I am stuck I seem to find I need to direct some types of other activities–relax and recharge the brain.

  • 70
    Ernie says:

    When I get stuck I often find that it is because my supplies, etc. have gotten so disorganized and chaotic that it overloads my brain. I’m very visual and total visual disorder isn’t good for me. So I simply do a little straightening and organizing of my supplies. Being able to see my workspace and locate my tools makes it easier to relax and get my groove back.

  • 71
    Carole says:

    I love all the ideas that were given to “unstick” ourselves when that happens. My biggest problem is lack of time and, because of that, I get bogged down with too many ideas flying around in my brain at one time. When I finally get the time to work on a project, I have to force myself to relax and let those ideas stop dancing around in my head and let them flow into the project…not always an easy task.

  • 72
    Penny S says:

    I belong to some yahoo groups that help me at times with some ideas. One site I found was Every Day Matters and the yahoo group is kind of fun because there are tons of different exercises you can try. And doesn’t every day matter? I also call my bestest friend and talk to her and that will usually help me out with getting my creativity rolling…got to love best friends!

  • 73
    Aleeda says:

    I have to say I am rarely “stuck”, and it is simply because I have accidentally surrounded myself (online and off) with people who spark my creativity. They are young, old, creative crafters, non-creative philosophers and convereationalists, who give my artistic soul food for thought. Spending time with them pushes me to explore. This group is one of those “people”. Thanks, folks!

  • 74
    Penny S says:

    Drats! I didn’t win! Ok, I went to Amazon and got one for me and my bestest squirrelfriend! (Long story about that one but funny) Amazon had the best prices for the book…can’t wait to get mine! Woo hoo!

  • 75
    Fiona F says:

    My solution to stuckness is to go play in the garden. There’s real therapy in getting your hands dirty, pulling out weeds, watching the birds, raking leaves or bringing flowers inside. It always short circuits negative inner critic babble! Nature awakens me to wonderful sights, sounds and ideas that i don’t normally get sitting at my art table.

  • 76
    susan says:

    I’m always stuck, unless I am in the shower, very tough to write ideas in soap on the shower door. So they wash away, and I’m stuck all over again.
    I definitely need a huge push in the right direction, this book might be
    my soul saver.

  • 77

    1. i meditate for 20 minutes to a half hour…completely re-sets the brain.
    2. i nap
    3. go to museums
    4. walk alone. if i go with a friend, too much talking!
    5. pull out the pens and markers like most of you…

  • 78

    When I’m stuck, I say, “so what” to all of my self talk, and then I say, ‘take one tiny step”. So, if I want to get to my pottery, but haven’t; I give myself permission to throw just one bowl. Or as a writer, to write just for a few minutes, or as a painter, simply get the paints ready. “Just do it” even in small ways is my mantra to get unstuck. Works for me!
    Cheers to Jill Badonsky’s works – Nine Modern Day Muses and a Bodyguard and the Awe-Manac!
    And wow to all of you for your insights!

  • 79

    I’m ready to give another Awe-manac away.
    Join the Awe-manac fan page on Facebook to be part of a drawing and then, so I know you’re a Wisdom Woman reader click “like” on the current post which is: Music is the art of thinking with sounds.~Jules Combarie http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Awe-manac-Page/139054194785
    If you already have an Awe-manac, I’ll send it to a friend and you’ll get good karma points.


Read Full Post »


This Artist’s Creed has been around since 1994 and it is possible that it has inspired more women to stay true to their writing mission than any other singular piece of motivation. It is reprinted here with Jan’s permission.

Then I follow it with a short explanation of how it came to be through Jan. This is a short part of a much longer interview format I am working on for Jan.

                          Artist’s Creed

 I believe I am worth the time it takes to create
          whatever I feel called to create. 

I believe that my work is worthy of its own space
               which is worthy of the name, Sacred.

   I believe that when I enter this space, I have the right
to work in silence, uninterruptedly, for as long as I choose.

 I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse
                 I open myself to the Source of All Creation
          and become One with the Mother of Life Itself.

I believe that my work is joyful, useful and constantly changing,
    flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.

                   I believe that what it is I am called to do
              will make itself known when I have made myself ready.

           I believe that the time I spend creating my art
         is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.

      I believe that what truly matters in the making of art
          is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like,
               not what it is worth or not worth, but what
         newness gets added to the universe in the process
                      of the piece itself becoming.

        I believe that I am not alone in my attempts to create,
    and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness,
the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.

                          I believe that as the Muse gives to me,
                                 So does she deserve from me:
                      faith, mindfulness and enduring commitment.

                                     ©  1994 Jan Phillips

from my interview:

Tell us about your poem, “The Artist’s Creed”, when you created it, where it led you and what impact it had on your life and what you know of others’ lives. 

JAN:  “The most stunning thing for me when I taught my course at the International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference Program at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York was that I went into the room and I was with all these women among four hundred attendees and my thought was that I’m in the midst of all these marvelous women who are writing down their life. But as they raised their hands to my query of what they were writing, they began giving me all different reasons for why they were not writing.

One said, “I don’t have time to write”; the next one, “I don’t have a space to write”…my husband doesn’t support me, my kids are in my hair, I don’t think I have a story worth telling.” They gave me a whole litany of reasons why they were not writing.

 So I thought it would be a good idea for us to explore what each of our obstacles were to commitment and take a non-dualistic approach to it to see if we could spin it around and turn our obstacle into an opportunity. In facilitating this class, which I just whimsically called “Marry Your Muse”, I discovered women were in  deep trouble about their voice and expressing it. So I felt we really did need to have a ceremony and a ritual to put some energy into their newly discovered opportunities and not regress back into their old obstacles when they returned home.

These women now knew they did have time; they could make the tiniest of space work for their writing time; their work was important to them and the world, they could set boundaries for the kids; it didn’t matter if hubby didn’t support her activity; and most important, they were indeed worthy of this activity. 

So we had a commitment ceremony and ritual on the last day of class. I called in a woman, the oldest IWWG member at the conference, Dr. Benji Brooks, a pediatric  surgeon, to be the witness. We blessed water and anointed each other with water and each woman said her vow, based upon how she was reframing her obstacle.  Suddenly you have “I believe my work is worthy of whatever time it takes.”

I believe my work is worthy of its own space, worthy of the word sacred.”

 So actually the Artist’s Creed was a re-write, because I didn’t have anything written down. But I went home and I said, “These are the areas women were stuck, so I said “I think this is pretty close to what you all said and I made that creed into a card which I tried to get back to everyone in the room.

After I had done that from my home in Syracuse, this little voice  in my head said, “You need to say more, you need to write a chapter of every one of these tenants of the creed.” So I did. I wrote a chapter on time. I wrote a chapter on sacred space. I included stories of about twelve women working artists about what keeps them buoyed up and excited and light-filled during the dark times. My book, “Marry Your Muse” is a very good book for people who can’t remember why it is important that we put our creativity into the world.”

The Napkinwriter is one of the ones from that class who keeps remembering that it is important to put my creativity into the world. Do you? 

Sign up for Jan’s newsletter, “The Muse Letter” to find out more about her, visit her giftshop and perhaps discover she has a workshop coming in your area. Jan loves road trips!  http://www.janphillips.com/museletter.html


                                                            Jan Phillips

Read Full Post »

Mom & Grandma Marion with Laura Sue

                                    Her Name is Marion

                                                         Susan H. Hajec

                    She is somebody
                               her name is Marion.
                    She is somebody
                               she is my mother.
                     She is somebody
                                she is ill with Alzheimer’s.

                     She is somebody 
                                she is the delete key that’s been
                                     mistakenly pressed on the computer of life.
                      She is the jigsaw puzzle
                                 with the missing pieces.
                      She is the finished recipe
                                  minus a key ingredient.
                       She is the sunset
                                  blocked from view.
                       She is the wrapped birthday present
                                  without the signed card.
                        My mother is somebody
                                   Alzheimer’s is the lurking bandit.

                        My mother is somebody.
                                   She is the gentle sensation of peach fuzz
                                            on my cheek.
                         My mother is somebody.
                                   She is the beckoned smile from a baby.
                          My mother is somebody.
                                    She is the organizer in a house of chaos.

                          She is somebody
                                    her name is Marion.
                          She is somebody
                                    she is my mother.

                                                  written at IWWG, Skidmore 2004.

In the photo above, mom is with our firstborn daughter, Laura Sue, dressing her for her Baptism in Lexington, Kentucky in July 1966. You can tell by the instant, strong eye contact that they had a most precious bond throughout mom’s life. I remember being so proud to share our daughter with my parents — what an immeasurable blessing it was for us all — to be duplicated once more two years later with the birth of our second daughter, Kathleen Marie.

My days continue as a mom and I have many happy days, not just one a year because I am a mom.

Read Full Post »

 I knew about as much as Eunice Scarfe did regarding the International Womens Writers Guild, (IWWG) when I, like her, made a call to the executive director, Hannelore Hahn to get the particulars on their summer writers’ conference. At that time, it was held each August at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Eunice knew it was for women and it was for writers.

That’s what I knew too when I made the call. I also knew, from the ad in the women’s magazine I was holding in my hand, that a “portfolio” was not a requirement to attend.

So I made the call.

The differences between Scarfe and me were gigantuan, to say the least. At the time of her call in 1995, she was affiliated with the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada where she had been teaching for the Women’s Words program which she, herself, designed. She was enlarging the program and wanted to spread the information on the dates of the conference to her students and collegues.  

Me? I believe I made my call around the same time but my status was quite different. I had just been downsized from a “make-shift” office job not necessarily my calling but I brought one-fourth of the pound of bacon to the home setting, which included two college-age daughters. I was in an “in-between” state, not knowing for sure what the next step was but that I wanted to help steer it in some direction which had more to do with writing as a regular part of my life.

I took a housecleaning break, fished my daughter’s magazine from the mailbox and was intrigued by this tiny, tiny (second tiny is very necessary) ad about a writer’s  conference with a contact number in it and not much other information.

Why? Because like Eunice — bottomline, I am a woman and a writer too.  And I would find out later, in her classes, I was at the exact ripe stage of both woman and writer that Eunice Scarfe focused upon in her workshops   — ready, willing and sometimes able, many times not able to tell my feminine, family and worldly story on paper.

My writing had not yet been given shape, substance and purpose, but I knew inwardly it was an important part of who I was.  I made the telephone call in the middle of the afternoon to the director’s office (which I later found out to be her home). A politely worded message greeted me on the phone to please leave my name and number and she would call back — she promised.

I took the promise lightly, imagining my phone call to disappear into the fiber optic world of New York City. Then, after 7 pm that night, Hannelore Hahn called me back and she talked to me as if she had known me all her life. “I was just wondering,” I picked my way along in the conversation, “if I should come to the Skidmore Conference.”

Her assurance was so solid and convincing, (and she was oh, so right), that when I hung up the phone I knew my next task was to drum up a loan to make a plane flight and week-long conference attendance possible for me. I believe I made a case for it with my husband and daughter and found my way winging to Albany, NY for the adventure of my writing life.

Eunice Scarfe says “The art of writing might be chosen only be a few, but the act of writing as a daily practice is open to all women everywhere.”

That is such an amazing, critical truth to me and it is lived out everyday by millions of women and men who are not afraid to write as a routine reality in their life, whether or not they are published. When Eunice distinguished between the act and the art of writing, I believe she nailed the bulls-eye of the writer’s life.

Most writers, I believe develop their acts of writing into an art – one that peculiarly suits them; both require commitment, purpose, desire, and being willing to satisfy self.

Two summers ago, I met a wondrous woman, Bree,  on our northern Mackinac Island, who was blogging a story about us taking the horse taxi to the ferry; she does this blog as an act of writing, but she has turned it into pure art for the island with daily stories and photographs that light up the lives of the residents and her readers as well.

I went on to attend the summer Skidmore Conference for more than 12 consecutive years, teaching a workshop there as well for a few of those years. “In the Silence is Your Source”, was deeply enriching for me to facilitate and most of the my workshop prompts and settings stimulated and “readied” the participants to experience the act of immediate writing after a time of silence.

The act of writing produced three particular responses in participants that I remember today. One sculpturist came to me after class and said, “I have to leave early. I have a commissioned scupture due at the post office tomorrow, and when I came to this class, only the words to engrave on it were needed. I got them in the silence of this class and I’m leaving now to finish it.”

Another woman caught up to me outside the cafeteria, and called, “You are the Quiet Lady, right?” (Not often described like that!) I acknowledged that I was. “Right,” she said. “I was in your class yesterday and I won’t be back this week.” 

Oh, oh, I thought.

“I’ve never been able to sit by myself in meditation, quiet, or alone -ever,” she confessessed enthusiastically. “No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t, it was too frightening for me. I did it yesterday in your class with the others and it was kinda nice. I will remember that and come back to see you next year. Ohh, I wrote something pretty special too.”

One must make friends with the quiet both in the act of writing and the art of writing.

Another participant told me she had to attend her brother’s wedding next week, and she promised him a poem — it had not come; I said don’t worry, you have a whole week! She composed it on the final day of class when I dismissed them to go outside, find a nurturing spot in the quiet and write.

Eunice Scarfe is just one of many IWWG inspiring, whole, vibrant, realistic, joyful artists who share their act of writing, their art of writing, their knowledge and experiences that allow the dreams of many other actors and artists to take shape by developing the discipline and acting upon the desire to sit down and come to the open page — again and again and again. Page after page after page.

(To be continued) each day of our lives.

Read Full Post »