Books & Coffee Cityscape Challenge!

Do you love your city? Are there special places where you always hang out, take a stroll or take in some incredible views?

OR

Are you like me? Don’t really love where you live–kind of got stuck here because of school or circumstance? Well, you’re here now, might as well make the best of it, right?

Spring and summer are my favorite time of year.  It’s the weather. The warmth of the sun beckons me to believe that anything is possible! And now that summer is (almost) here I have more time to focus on writing, that always makes me happy!  So, I’ve decided to kick off the summer with a Books & Coffee photo challenge!  And, as we already learned with our ekphrastic poetry, images conjure words and ideas that can inspire limitless creations, so why not take advantage of the blooms and balmy vistas all around us during this season?

Grab your iPhone or Canon and trek over to your favorite place, or if you don’t have a favorite place, try looking around with fresh eyes. Find a forgotten corner of town and let it inspire you to see it in a new way. Take a photo–of a landmark, an odd-shaped stone, or a four-leaf clover, whatever catches your eye!–then tell us what makes this place special or significance in some way. Some spaces may be significant because of their history–whether personal or political. Some may be significant because of their impact–either personal or political.

As I mentioned, I’m not a big fan of the southern town where I live, but I do love being outside, and I particularly love my backyard! One of my favorite places to be on warm days is on my back porch looking out at the trees and up at the sky, listening to the birds and the wind.

BackyardIt just puts me at ease and clears my mind of the clutter. When I’m in this space it’s like I’m not in Alabama. In fact, where I am doesn’t matter because here I can just be. Nature has a way of being boundless like that, doesn’t it? When you’re surrounded by it, the artificial borders of property and ownership melt away. The wide expanse invites freedom and that’s what this space offers me: freedom.

So, what about you? Where’s your happy space? Where’s your space that inspires?  If you don’t already have one, maybe it’s time to go in search of one! My backyard was an easy find. I think I’ll venture a little further from home and share another inspiring place or space this week…stay tuned!

P.S. Leave a comment about your favorite place and put a link to your blog or social media so we can what it looks like! I’m anxious to see your inspiring places! I know my fellow blogger, Chandra Lynn, will have something to share! What about you?

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Let’s Write!

For the past two days I’ve featured poems from my Creative Writing class inspired by Irene Latham’s Live Your Poem workshop. Today I’d like to invite you to participate in a Live Your Poem activity! It’s simple! Take a look at this image and tell me what word comes to mind.  Don’t say “phone,” but tell me what this image of a phone makes you think about. What do you associate this image with?What memory do you connect it to? What does it represent in your mind?

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Put your word (or words) in the comment box and over the next few days let’s see if we (or I) can put the words together to make a poem! I’ll post the finished product of our “collaborative” poem and you can tell me if we/I capture the essence of the image (yikes!) No pressure…

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Woman Enough

Well, Poetry month has passed now; I had wanted to post my students’ poetry while it was still APRIL! But I had to BEG to get this ONE! Nonetheless, it is a good one, by Darlyze Calixte, a talented young lady whose not even an English major (Chemistry, go figure)! Anyway, better late than never, right?

So, you may remember my earlier post in which poet, Irene Latham shared some lovely postcards with us and asked us to craft poems from the inspirational images. This is the image that inspired Darlyze to write “Woman Enough”

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He was a man who had just buried years of self loathing into the womb of a woman more handsome than he was.

Each inhale of the black gummy herb, burnt as an offering to the body to bribe it to forget what had led him there in the first place.

Each breath of it brings him no closer so he paints a new memory of her instead.

In his Art, her hair lovingly kisses her back, her  hips provide handles for grip, her bosom is a soft pillow for his head.

Cupid bow lips, porcelain skin unmarred by reality.

With every delicate stroke..hmm, every different stroke…a new “her” was created.

In his painting, she sat like a delicate and limp flower, waiting to be plucked but reality had painted the woman handsome. A cactus. Strong, sturdy, thorny.

And yet,

Just woman enough for him to bury his insecurities in.

Click here for more from my Creative Writing students. For more poetry check out CRACK! and if you like short fiction check out The Looking Glass. Check back soon as I plan to round up more creative works from my students and me!

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Revamp Monday: God is in the Gym!

Every year Writer’s Digest comes out with their “101 Best Websites for Writers” and I LOVE flipping through the pages of those issues then surfing the web for the latest sites and resources. There’s just so much fantastic stuff out there for writers! There’s the traditional stuff like critique or discussion forums and “everything agents,” job listings and writers’ conferences.  But then there’s the non-traditional, inspirational, stuff, like the creativity portal which offers a slew of brain teasers and visual prompts to spark the imagination, or coffitivity.com, a site that provides the background noise you would hear in a coffee shop–you know, in case you can’t get to an actual coffee shop to do your work!

My point is that Writer’s Digest has the same idea that I do.  We recognize that writers need all kinds of resources. Yes, we need to talk about writing, but we also need inspiration that will motivate us to write! That’s what Mayhem Mondays are all about! I’m trying to get us motivated to do the work that we were meant to do!  That’s also why I’m glad to have Tanzy back again to inspire us to keep pushing–whether it’s pencils or power squats!

GOD IS IN THE GYM

 In my experience, I’ve found that physical activity has the ability to mimic many of my personal spiritual experiences. My intangible journey of faith suddenly takes on shape, form and weight, when I’m in the gym.

The heaviness of the bars I press, remind me of the heaviness I feel at times when raising my arms to praise God. Struggling against the burden of complacency to honor Him through worship.

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Running miles, up and down hills on the treadmill as my heart aches in my chest. Step after step in agonizing fatigue, mirroring the deliverance I’ve been desperately pursuing. Pleading for the finish line to come into view.

The rope I grasp to pull my body vertically against gravity, is not unfamiliar to the ditch of depression I’ve tried to pull myself out of, time and time again. Muscles of hope burning as I grip tighter and pray harder that I can make it out this time.

The delicate yoga poses I hold are identical to the moments that I am expected to be still, and know that HE IS GOD.  Breathing deep and slow, as I patiently wait for God to instruct me to change position.  But until then I am forced to make still my anxious thoughts and trust in my creator.

For me, physical movement is capable of materializing my walk with Christ. God is indeed present with me in the gym.

Speaking to me on the bike trail.

Whispering to me with each lap in the pool.

Lifting with me rep after rep.

He helps me as I battle against the voice that says, “You can’t do this”. The spirit reminds me, “I can do all things”. In my world, he resides not only in the church, but also in the gym and Exercise is my reasonable act of worship. It’s my way of giving God praise for the gift of my body. It’s His way of  teaching me that I can overcome any challenge he calls me to face.

Physical fitness is the language God uses to save my soul.  A strong body is simply a side effect.

Tanzy Chandler

Founder of REVAMP FITNESS

Thanks, Tanzy!

Tanzy Chandler joins us on the first Monday of every month. Check out her article “Demote the Scale” and her YouTube channel! Also, for more Mayhem Monday Madness, check back every Monday and throughout the week for writing and word play.  Also, check out my  recipes  (I have a new kale salad that’s yum!) and energizers, ’cause you can’t write–or exercise–on an empty stomach!

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Monday Mayhem: PURPOSE

Purpose comes from knowing who you are.

Knowing who you are requires acknowledgment of what GOD has put inside of you and the great thing about what GOD has put inside of you is that NO ONE can take it away from you!

  • not your boss
  • not your spouse
  • not your roommate or your
  • so-called friends

No matter what they say about you, to you or on your behalf. The truth shall prevail, because GOD’s word is bond.

I’ve spent a lot of years searching for love in all the wrong places…

Wondering and wandering who I was and whose I was…

unsure of my purpose and place, all over the place…

but I’m finally starting to get it…

It’s been in me all along–now nobody can take it away!

One distinction that I’m especially going to make moving forward:

I’m not a teacher.

I didn’t go to school to be a teacher.  I studied Communications and English. So how did I get stuck with that label?

I let someone else define my purpose–no more!

I’m not a teacher.

I’m a writer.

I’m a professor of English who works with student writers.

I’m a writer who writes and works with writers–student writers and professional writers–and part of my work is to educate novices and professionals about the work that I do, because most people have a very limited understanding about the work that I do!

But I will NOT be confined any longer by the narrowness of others’ views.

I will NOT be defined any longer by the narrowness of others’ minds–tiny minds that think in tiny thoughts and tiny words…

I will NOT be restrained by institutions that are so buried in the bones of the past that they are unable to rise above the ashes of ancestry to see the light of a new day…

I will NOT be a cog in a wheel of an old wagon that’s draggin’ on but goin’ nowhere…

I will NOT be enslaved because I. am. free.

I am controlled by no one but GOD.

I am a free agent

with

purpose.

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Check out more from my new friends, the Piano Guys

 

Monday Mayhem: Intentional

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Note: This is a “Monday Mayhem Post” that’s a little late, so, just go with it…lol!

When I look at my students dozing off in class I wonder…

Why are they here? Why did they bother to roll out of bed, slide into their sweats and flop into those horrible green desks today? Why are they staring at me with those blank stares or into the blank screens of their laptops or cell phones? Why do any of us bother?

Professors dress up. We slip on our uncomfortable heels and button up our bow ties. We revise our syllabi and re-write our semeter schedules to make room for one more assignment, because, well, just because…

Is it intentional?

I’ve been challenging myself and my students lately to think about this. What are we doing–and why? Two of the four classes I teach each semester are sections of the “dreaded” Freshman Composition. The class everyone loves to hate. One of the reasons it’s so hated is that it’s considered to be a “pointless” class–an extention of 12th grade English–touché.

So, this semester, I’m being intentional.

I’m going to assume that their writing skills will progress naturally through the writing process, as writing skills tend to do, and I will instruct my students on the grammatical and usage standards, as any good English teacher should.  But, rather than have them write the traditional final essay–that they’ll read once (maybe) and never again–which I’ll, then, read once (or twice) then stick in a file–I’m going to have them, instead, create something of value, something meaningful, something that goes beyond this freshman class! I’m challenging these students to create a document that has legs!

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I want them to write with intention, to a real audience. Well, I’m real, but not just to me–to people other than me.

They’re going to identify a problem that they care about–a problem that they want to find a solution to–then they’re going to search out a solution to that problem and write to people who might be able to do something about…

  • the friend whose dad got deported
  • this religious organization that’s still segregated in 2017
  • the family with a history of violence and abuse

It’s about being intentional.

Because, what’s the point of learning how to write better if your essay just gets shoved in a drawer?

So, they’ll submit their articles to magazines or newspapers, or they’ll send off their letters to senators or presidents. They’ll draft feasibility reports or white papers for corporations. Whatever document they think will best serve a real purpose, that they think will make a real difference, that’s what they’ll create!

Who knows? Maybe the documents will still end up in a drawer, but if these students pour their hearts into these projects, their documents will no longer be “essays for Dr. Roper” but rather personal projects that achieve a purpose that they actually care about. These should go far beyond this class.  That would make me very happy.

I don’t expect perfect projects, but I’m excited because the act of doing this is enough to shake all of us out of the doldrums. Doing something that matters is worth it’s weight in gold.

So, what about you? Have you gotten stuck in a routine? Been doing the same old thing in the same old way? Why not re-evaluate?

Why are you here? Why did you bother to roll out of bed, slide into your slippers and flop into your day?  Are you staring out at your life, blankly wondering when, or how, it’s going to end? That’s no way to live! Challenge yourself! Try something new! Look for ways to make the mundane more meaningful. Why not start by looking for a problem you can solve? Even a small one.  Small accomplishments can go a long way towards moving you in the direction of your goal.

For us writers, that may mean a few words, a few pages or 10 minutes!  Just be intentional. You won’t regret it.

Happy Monday.

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Monday Mayhem: Create!

Good Morning!

To get us energized today, I’m suggesting a brisk walk, walk/run or 1 mile run at your fastest pace–10 minutes minimum.  Remember, the shorter the time, the more intense the effort. If you have 30 minutes to an hour for your workout, then you can afford to work at a moderate pace, but you still want to gradually increase periods of intensity. If you opt for the 10 minute sprint, follow that with a Tabata (Burpees, Jump squats or Lunges) Then…

Fuel up with my favorite parfait and slices of green apples this time. Aren’t they pretty?2017-02-13-07-09-16

Now it’s time to CREATE!

I found this mug at Burlington Coat Factory of all places (who knew?) and I love it! Not only is it sturdy and perfect for cupping a warm beverage, it’s also inspirational. To create is to cause something to come into being…so when we create those characters in our stories it’s like we’re little scientists piecing together the leftover parts of people we once knew to make new people we have yet to know…people who come alive on the pages of our text and become real. Real to us and to our readers.  Yet, they are not real. They are not natural. They do not evolve except in our imaginations and the processes by which they come to be are so extraordinary that it literally keeps us up at night…keeps us up nights…night

after night…

unnatural indeed.

Yet invigorating!

Because, today, creators we will be! Fueled with energy and imagination, we will forge ahead into that vast unknown and emerge victorious on the other side!

#amwriting

#mondaymorningmotivation

#somebodysgottadoit

Now…

CREATE!

hAPPY mONDAY!

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