Tools for A Self-Directed Life

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Random Thoughts on Inspiration and Creativity

Breathe in, Breathe out, it is in this rhythmic process that we truly function and have our life fully lived. While I was sitting and paying attention to my breathing, watching the thoughts that where passing through my consciousness, my attention went to productivity and creative process.

I stopped here in my thoughts, I pondered. Many creative people, who may not even be aware that they are creative, will often spend their lives looking to consume the world around them and forget to also be productive that is to say bring about their own creations.

Like breathing, it is not an either /or situation but both, a rhythmic process of breathing in, and breathing out. So yes, you want to consume or catch fire with the ideas of other people, but don't ignore the power of your own actions to process that information for change, that is to inspire both you and others. The best fuel for this comes from the application of ideas, rather than the consumption of them.

Breathe in…You could say that it is easy to spend all your time searching for inspiration, that’s like breathing in. You would be rewarded with all kinds of finds - incredible videos, music, articles, emails, and news stories, from all sorts of source including your friends. But the only ones that truly matters are the types of inspiration that can be apply to your own goals.

Make no mistake: it's important to be a learner, any successful person in any field has to be able to soak up new information. Finding inspiration and motivation in the work and success of others, that is the action of breathing in.

But here's the problem: what has been breathe in and consumed must finish the process and breathe out again.. Acknowledging others success isn't the same thing as creating your own.

Instead, it is through the process of getting inspiration — activating that information in some form of creative act i.e.- trying out something for the first time, even failing at it, to learn how to better apply new ideas is our goals, and making mistakes is part of it— discovering who we are and what is important to us.

Inspiration is the fuel of long—term passion and enthusiasm. Working with new ideas making them your own through taking action and working them so they apply to your life will inspire you more than anything someone else could do or say.

Know that you need the learning and listening skills that can help you think about things in different ways, but by experimenting, reworking to create, and produce these ideas in to new ways of being, now that is what will give you momentum and propel you forward.

“If you come across a good idea, use it. We spend so much time trying to find more inspirational things to consume that it can be easy for us to forget that the best form of inspiration comes from what we create”. – Author James Clear

Now Breathe out.

A Writer Writes

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Scott Keene a writer in the Long Beach, CA. Library Writing Group. His writing many of you have read on this site and communicated to me how much you enjoyed it.

You now can read more of him at your leisure, and for those of you who have wondered about our writing process, can also go to Scott’s new blog pages where he goes into easy to understand descriptions of how we come up with what we write.

So as Scott says, “he will use blog space to write about his writing….to write scenes. He creates a mood, places an image in the reader's mind and let the imagination do the rest…. You might get a glimpse of another person's life, but only for a few moments. You're left with an impression.

Happy or sad. Disturbed or terrified. Perhaps completely disinterested.

But, this blogger hopes, never bored."

You can find more of Scott's work on his blog page somelikeitscott
 

The Critical Inner Voice

Two surprising similar pieces of writing generated on 21 September 2017, by the Long Beach Library Coffeehouse Writers - Bob Biddle and author MarniSpencer-Devlin. The writing prompt 'Critical Inner Voice,'  gives us a peek at how our pass regulates our present moment.

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The Library Coffee writers group of Long Beach, CA., write from prompts. We get a prompt,  we give ourselves, individually 15 minutes to come up with and write a story from the prompt, then with the group we will share what we came up with and the story we wrote..  Below are the stories Bob and Marni made from the prompt – Critical Inner Voice, that gave the instruction to turn the prompt into a character, or tell what does it look like, smell like, etc.

 

Critical Inner Voice. by Bob Biddle

It’s always in the background.  It nags at me.  Taunts me.  Ridicules me.  I can’t remember a time when that little voice praised me.

I smell the scent of Pumpkin Spice.  Of Halloween.  God, it’s only mid-September.  What’s all the nonsense about Pumpkin Spice anyway?

It’s my mother.  Yes.  That’s who my little voice is.  My mother.  Well, thank you God for that one!  Why couldn’t it be Tom Selleck or Chad Everett?  Why is my mother constantly interjecting herself into my thoughts?  Didn’t she and I resolve this oh so many years ago?

All I see is a small, blonde and beautiful woman of about 30 years of age.  I see her almost like Julie Andrews at the beginning of the movie, “Sound of Music.”  You know, the part where she spins around an Austrian hilltop to the music of “The Hills are Alive.”

Yep!  That’s it—that’s my German mother in just another idiotic incantation.  Actually, now that I think about it, I’m glad it’s her and not my father.

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Both of them were bullies, you know, if the truth were told.

I see her now staring back at me from her small chair in my childhood living room.  Her Winston cigarette has been puffed down to a nub and the smoke lingers right at the level of my head.  I was always breathing second-hand smoke.’ 

 

 

The Taunting Inner Voice by Marni Spencer-Devlin

Better stick with me. If anyone knew how you really are they would all hate you. I know how you really are, how weird, how lazy, how slovenly, how dumb but I am your mother.

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I can’t walk away no matter how hard you make it sometimes. You are my burden to carry. I never wanted you, mind you.

My boys were enough for me. And I never wanted to have kids from different fathers – just another burden you visited upon me. 

She had been my constant companion for the better part of my years, It wasn’t immediately apparent how brutal she was, seeing how she cloaked herself in seeming caring and protection. She seemed warm, safe, and she smelled so good. Mama always made it seem like she was on my side. It took me years to figure out why I always felt like someone had taken a knife to my soul. 

But then, one day, I just woke up. I realized it wasn’t her. It had never been her. It had always been me. That bitter voice had been mine. I just gave it a face. But it was all illusion. Virtual reality. And I could stop it anytime. And so I did. 
 

The Carpenter

Another surprising piece of writing generated by the Long Beach Library Coffeehouse Writers Group. This time from drop-in writer Alex Welsh visiting from San Jose, California, on Aug. 24, 2017.

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We write from prompts, we give ourselves 15minutes to come up with and write the story from the prompts. Alex Welsh story is from the prompts – 
 

Carpenter” and “If only what was said could be taken back.”

There’s a problem being friends with a carpenter, and having them custom build your home. That’s how I ended up with a toilet, two feet from my bed.

Ted has been a friend since high school and has always been building things, and he’s good!

That’s why when I moved back into town and wanted to build a home, he was the man for the job. The problem began when I gave him total creative control for the design of the house.

 

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We were a few beers in, stoned to the bone, just having a good old time at the Circus Room, a nice little dive bar just outside of downtown. I told Ted, in between shots of whiskey and PBR tall boys, “Sometimes I wish I could just roll out of bed and take a piss.”  If only I could take that back. – Alex Welsh

 

 

 

 

 

The Long Beach Library Coffeehouse Group, is a motley group of individuals with diverse personalities and experiences, united by our desire to share ourselves, our varied backgrounds, and our understanding. We choose to be here because our vision is to inspire, delight, and to enrich lives through the power storytelling.

Memory of A Kiss by Scott Keene

"Memory of a Kiss" by Scott Keene

Something  Taboo and Daring from one of the exceptional writers of Long Beach Library Coffeehouse Writers Group. Scott Keene

 

 Painting by Artist R. VanLanyenhove

 Painting by Artist R. VanLanyenhove

    There was a word for it - this feeling he had. He knew there was; there must be. But words eluded him. Not just today, but every day.

    He turned on his side, his right side and changed his gaze from the ceiling to the wall. He stared at the wall for a while, wondered if the wall knew it was being stared at. Wondered, for a moment, if the wall were capable of staring back at him.

    After a time, just how long he couldn't be sure; time had no meaning for him anymore; but after a few seconds or a few hours he felt himself begin to drift away, exactly as he had hoped he would. He was staring - still staring -

Long Beach, Photo Artist Juan Coronado

Long Beach, Photo Artist Juan Coronado

not at the wall exactly, but just staring in that direction. His eyes lost focus, began to see nothing and everything all at once.

    An image began to take shape in his mind; a pattern he could almost have pulled from the wallpaper just beyond the focus of his gaze.

 

 

 

A shape much like the silhouette of a love, long lost. The memory flooded his consciousness and he let himself see the image ahead begin to take the shape of Ben; the strong jaw, the dark hair, the chestnut eyes. He could see them all very clearly now.

    Why, he wondered, had it been so difficult to see Ben this clearly when Ben had been alive?

    He smiled as the image of Ben leaned closer to his face. He could almost feel the weight of his body on the edge of the bed as Ben moved in for one last kiss.

 

 

WHAT'S UP WITH FATHER DAY

By Calvin Harris

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With all this talk of the New Male and gender equality, one of the most unlooked at places to find this has been going on under our noses for a long time now, and maybe taken for granted: This is in the area of family.  This is where the regular working man drops the macho posturing when it comes to his children. Men have been known to cry, to put on a dress or at least a hat for his little girl’s tea party. Then again hug and even kiss his son in public to show support for some effort the son has done.  It seems these out of character acts have been going on for some time now and they have not gone completely unnoticed. As the story goes, on June 19, 1910, a Father's Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children alone.  

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It seemed she may have been inspired by The “Mother’s Day” celebration originated by Ann Reeves Jarvis who after the Civil War, in the 1860s, brought together the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers, to unify a divided West Virginia town with the celebration of “Mother’s Work Days” and then in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”

It was the love of Sonora Smart Dodd for her nurturing father that somehow morphed into Washington State celebrating the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Slowly the movement grew until in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe a celebration for the nation’s fathers.

FATHER’S DAY: More than Controversy and Hype

Yet many scoffing men will tell you with disdain that father’s day is an attempt to domesticate manliness with bribes of gift-giving, or that it's just a commercial gimmick and what’s worse a chance for retailers to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself. Needless to say this has spurred movements to scrap Father’s Day altogether.

Paradoxically, it seemed to have caught and held on to the nations unconscious, for purchases  from neckties and shirts, to socks, to pipes and booze, and sporting goods gear to electronics has grown as a way to show respect and love. But no other dominates like the greeting card: given as a way to honor and pay tribute to Dad.

On this Father’s Day let’s pay tribute to those men of diverse backgrounds that took it upon themselves to take on the challenge, to not just be better fathers and grandfathers but better defenders of the fatherless. Those men who adopted Children, or became Big Brothers, or decided on their own to have and raise a child, many times alone.

Fathers & Children

Fathers & Children

Reed Markham once said: “The thrill of being a great father is not seeing your children go on to become successful adults. The thrill of a great father is the journey, experiencing your child’s successes along the pathway to their greatness.”

Protection

PROTECTION

By: Elizabeth Holt

One story from a series of short pieces by the budding writer Holt, a member of the  Library Coffee House Writing Group, in Long Beach, CA.

Photo Model Abigail Cardenas

Photo Model Abigail Cardenas

The words are barbed, hurled across the room, falling like stones around her. Her eyes sting and she blinks, hard, stamping down her tears with a controlled sort of orcefulness

He's still talking--angrier, now, as she doesn't respond. But what could she say? He was the type to yell just to yell--to mask his meanness under the guise of a "debate. " except he really only ends up attacking her, and she really isn't built for that sort of thing.

So, she nods, agrees, absorbs everything he tells her with a stiff upper lip and burning eyes, and, as she stares at the top of his head, begins wondering how she could use this unpleasant interaction in one of her stories.

Things get a little easier after that.

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The Reluctant Reader

Book Pick Summer Read 2016

Bob Biddle's favorite summer read was: “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Bob said "What I found interesting was my altitude about the book before I read it.  'Just another freaking inspirational self-help books', he’d complain. Voted on by some of those women from  the book club." Why in fact he said he almost did not go to the group, if he had to read it. But he relented and did read it. He was surprised how fast he got through it, and what was worse, he had to admit, thou he hated to, that he enjoyed the writers style and he as a budding writer got tips on the creative writing process especially the point that 'if you don’t use it you lose it.'

Bob reported that if you ever had an idea only to have it come to fruition through someone else?  Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic”, explains why that might have happened to you.

Gilbert, the author discusses the attitudes, approaches and habits needed in order to live the creative life.  Bob went on to say "I found inspiration in 'Big Magic' as it felt she was writing the book specifically for me and my quest to become a better writer.   However, whether writing a book or creating art, she demonstrates how the creative process is symbiotic as the thought or idea completely depends on its host to give it substance." 

In Gilbert’s writing style, Bob enjoyed her use of personal and professional experiences to shed light on our reluctance and fears to uncover the “hidden jewels” within each of us.  As she says, “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”