Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Artful Blogging Giveaway

Today is St. Nikolaus, a day I remember fondly from my childhood (see my essay Giving Up Christmas in Tablet, which, incidentally, is an excerpt from my book Jumping Over Shadows.)

St. Nikolaus is a day of small gifts, and so, since I have, as a contributor to Artful Blogging, the opportunity to host a giveaway, I'm offering it today and will bestow, on one lucky winner, a copy of the latest issue. Maybe, just maybe, passing on this magazine that really changed my writing career (see My Artful Blogging Story) will do some other wonderful thing for the recipient!

All you have to do is leave, by end of day Friday, December 9, a comment below, sharing what your dream travel destination would be, fitting in with my article "The Accidental Travel Blogger" in that issue.

Mine would be a trip on the Transsiberian railroad, all the way from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. These days I am on a Russian journey anyway as I have been listening, again, to Nabokov's Speak, Memory in my car. More about that in my Reading List, which you're welcome to subscribe to (see sign-up form in right-hand column). His language is so luscious, I find myself swooning more often than I am annoyed by some of his tediousness.

I have another giveaway coming up on December 15 for the new winter issue of Bella Grace as I have an article in that as well. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

8 Days of Chanukah Emails

I've got a new little project--not that I'm lacking for work or busy-ness, but holidays happen if you want them to or not. So this year, since Chanukah is so late in December, I thought I'd take the lead time to get organized. As part of that, I'm putting together a series of eight emails for Chanukah, one delivered on each day of the festival, plus at least one prepatory one to help you get organized.

I have also found that once Chanukah begins, I sometimes forget about it! Life happens, I run around, and there I am, late in the evening and I've done nothing Chanukah-ish. So, I'm hoping a daily Chanukah email will alleviate that.

I'm not a rabbi nor a lay leader, so I'm not going to share any religious insights, just ideas of how to celebrate at home, with your family, with yourself, and spread a little light to others.

My current plan is to send subscribers one email for each day of Chanukah, along with at least one message beforehand to help you prepare, with ample time to get organized.

You can sign up for free here, or in the right hand column of my blog.

Let there be light!

PS: Of course you don't have be Jewish to sign up, although it probably makes more sense if you are, but all are welcome.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Writing Exercise to Spark Real Thanksgiving Conversations

One of my longtime memoir workshop students, David Thoele, MD, is a pediatric cardiologist, but he also serves as the Director of Narrative Medicine at Advocate Children's Hospital because he passionately believes in the healing power of writing. He developed and often uses what he calls the Three Minute Mental Makeover as a tool to get people to write who don't want to write (i.e. his colleagues and patients), and by doing this exercise together, doctors and patients and other health care providers are suddenly talking to each other, having real conversations, and discovering that--guess what?--they're all humans, with human trials and triumphs. Real connections are made and human bonds are formed where before there was only a sterile professional relationship.

David recently did the Three Minute Mental Makeover with our workshop. Sure enough, we not only found it insightful, we were also soon chatting with each other in a way that we had not done before. And it occurred to us that this would make a great activity for the Thanksgiving dinner table, particularly when you're stuck exchanging pleasantries, or as a way to avoid a divisive political discussion!

So with thanks to David, and with his permission, I hereby present you with:

The Three Minute Mental Makeover

  1. Pen/pencil & paper
  2. Everybody participates
  3. Timer
How to:

One person, i.e. you, dear reader, facilitates, i.e. gives the three prompts but also participates in the exercise, and each prompt gets a minute of time:
  1. Write down three things you're thankful for. (Great for Thanksgiving, right?)
  2. Write the story of your life in six words - example: "For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn" (Hemingway); another example from David's trove: "Born in California, then nothing happened."
  3. Write down three wishes.
Last step: Share what you wrote with the person sitting next to you--of course the whole dinner table could share, too. But talking to your seat neighbor is a good start!

See how this could be quite interesting? 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!