Will you join me in a challenge? In my handbook, Moo of Writing, I advocate a belief in abundance. We can all be like Linus in the pumpkin patch, believing with all our heart that a great pumpkin bursting with the seeds of prolific writing will descend upon us, indeed lives within us every day! I am now throwing down a challenge to myself—and I invite you to join me—to enter a contest. We will pick a theme and write one poem a day every day for the month of April for a total of 30 poems in honor of National Poetry Month. The contest is sponsored by localgemspoetrypress.com, and they want $25 from you by March 25 to enter. If you choose not to enter the contest, but want to participate, send me your poems through this website by May 1, and we’ll choose some to publish here. Usually, I spend weeks if not months on a poem, keeping several in the hopper at once, returning to them to reconsider, putting them through critiquing workshops, mulling them over, sleeping on them. In April, I will allow myself no such luxury of time. Winner of the contest receives $300 and Local Gems Press publishes the winner’s chapbook. I’m excited about the challenge. Time to see how well Moo of Writing really works! Moo/Mu!
The Ant in the Oatmeal
Did it swim when I poured water on it and stirred the pot? Did it die with its mouth open, gulping oatmeal it had unluckily chosen as a home?
We keep our oatmeal, supposedly safe from invaders, in the plastic bag it comes from the health food store in with a twister around it on a metal rack among pots, mostly large soup pots and a pasta kettle. I suppose the black, mid-size, luckless ant contorted his body to squeeze past the twister and landed there in an oatmeal daze: plentiful food—do ants even eat oatmeal?—but no way of escape until a large hand untwisted the bag. With a twist of fate, the hand measured a stainless steel one-third cup of oatmeal, unknowingly containing the ant, into a pan on the stove, added two-thirds cup water, turned on the flame, stirred, and there he was floating like a miserable hull, scrunched into smaller anthood than surely he had intended, if he had, indeed, planned to eat his fill daily of fresh, tasty oatmeal.
It was an ignominious end for he was dumped into the trash along with the contaminated oatmeal from the pan and the whole bag, wasted all for the greed or was it ant curiosity, of such a tiny critter who may not have been greedy at all, but simply hungry.
As the human who hastened his demise, I cast about for some meaning from all this. I’ve got nothing except that this morning I had Cheerios for breakfast.
Sincere condolences to a member of our creative community and the creator of mooingaround, Adamy Damaris Diaz, upon the death of her father, Felix Diaz Mendez, January 22 in San Juan.
Adamy, a father’s love lives on. My father passed away fifty-four years ago, and yet I feel his love, still. I know that you still feel your mother’s love although she has been gone from this physical life a good many years. Your father’s love lives in the memory of strong hugs, of a smile when he saw you when you visited, in the spark in his eyes when you came into view. I never met your parents but I know they must have been good people—because you are good people. Ever since I met you, you have been fun, kind, creative, nurturing, and unbelievably giving. And let us not forget strong—even in the midst of your heartrending grief, strong and loving. You are sincerely interested in other peoples’ lives, you listen, you are generous, you are truly happy when others succeed, and what a determined woman—to run marathons! Your grief may feel like a marathon now, but you are a strong earth mother, your wisdom runs deep.
Peace, my friend.
At the beginning of every year we all write our list of resolutions, those actions we would like to take, the tasks we would like to accomplish throughout the year.
After examining my resolutions over the past several years, I took a new approach to this year’s list. I invite you to do the same.
Please enjoy my reflections on New Year’s resolutions in this short post: The New Year’s Cycle Continues.
Dear MooingAround family,
This New Year’s Eve I second-guessed myself about writing to you. I immediately thought, “Why should I write something? Who cares what I think on New Year’s Eve or any time? Isn’t it egotistical to think I have something to say?”
But is this the plight of all creative people—writers, parents, painters, farmers, caregivers, musicians, business folk—all of us here together on this small planet? We are insignificant and our work is insignificant, but at the same time, we are important and our work is important. It’s one of the great paradoxes. We liken individuals to grains of sand on the shore, yet each of us is unique and together we can build magnificent beaches—resting places for the soul and peaceful spots for storms of emotion, even fear and doubt that batter our sands, and also love and joy and hope that burn in our hearts.
Did you see the full moon on Christmas night? My husband, Ron DeKett, and I saw it rising orange and magnificent over the pine trees at our daughter’s subdivision in southwestern Michigan when we were going out to our car after a day of feasting and present-opening. We knocked on their living room window to invite our daughter, Jennifer, and five-year-old grandson, Eli, to come out and see the moon. The next time a full moon graces Christmas night, Eli will be age twenty-five. It was splendid when I first noticed it, but became even more beautiful when Ron’s eyes fell upon it, and we shared it with our family, just as he is sharing this spectacular shot of a full moon gleaming upon Yellowstone on his trip there last October.
Creative pursuits are like that—splendid when we are going about them alone, and when we share them, they become all the more meaningful.
May you all enjoy a blessed new year.
Please enjoy this winter solstice reflections piece by Judy Cassidy, a new contributor to MooingAround. We’d love it if you’d comment at the bottom of her piece—no need to register to do so. Click on the title to read: homage to the goddess.
How many tentative, weak personalities do you know who write beautifully? Don’t confuse shy or introverted with “tentative and weak.” I’m talking about the type of person who is muddled about who he or she is. I’m sitting here in my writing room on a country road in Michigan about one-half mile from a pickle factory, and the sound of a laboring truck engine fills the room. He’s pulling two huge loads of cucumbers. I’m wondering if he’s going to make it up the slight incline in front of our house. He powers on. Struggles, maybe, but pulls up the incline and motors on down to the factory where he’ll dump his load into vats full of pungent brine. Sometimes, writing is like that. It takes a bit of extra work—a struggle to maintain equilibrium, to believe you can do it like the truck pulling two loads of cucumbers or the little engine that could. Fortunately, we’re not engines. We can give ourselves a good talking-to, read self-help books, seek support from writers’ groups, and listen to our belly wisdom.
In chapter 5 of Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential, I advise, “The belly is a wise old soul. Some say it has a mind of its own. While intuition resides in a ‘sixth sense’ or as some believe, on a spiritual plane, it also houses itself in ample amounts in the gut.”
Write from your center—your place of power—and hidden fears cannot drive you.
How do you tap into gut power?
Cultivate your third chakra.
The word “chakra” comes from the Sanskrit language of India and means “wheel.” The tradition teaches that the seven major chakras are spinning vortexes of energy or wheels of light arranged vertically from the base of the spine to the top of the head, governing physical, earthy energies at the base and progressing to spiritual energies at the top, or seventh chakra.
The energy of the core self spins in the third chakra located at the solar plexus (between the belly button and the bottom of the rib cage). It involves the digestion of life experiences and the application of personal power. Each chakra is associated with a color. The third chakra’s color is yellow.
To harness the energies life dishes up for us—to put them to use and be active, not passive, requires a strong sense of self and more than a dollop of ambition. Self-esteem and strength of character revolve around the third chakra.
What is your vision of a writer with healthy self-esteem? I see a person who has fun writing, rather than feeling driven to prove herself, someone with the discipline to keep to a writing schedule and submit work often, and who remains calm and focused even if she receives harsh criticism. A person with healthy self-esteem respects other writers, letting envy and jealousy find a home elsewhere rather than in her own heart. She stays the course because she feels confident.
Visit my website at www.nanlundeen.com, click on “Moo Meditations” and then “Belly Meditation” to learn how to hear what your wise belly is saying.
The Huffington Post’s Kara Ramonetti, an associate producer of HuffPost Live, asked me via MooingAround to help her get in touch with Traci Barr, who is published on this website. The two connected, and Traci appeared on HuffPost Live Monday, Aug. 17, discussing the topic: “Why Group Therapy Can Produce Great Results.” The segment grew out of a New York Times article by David Payne, who appeared on the show along with Daphne Leahy-Matteo, Psychoanalyst; Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.
Congratulations! Traci, for a job well done. You spoke bravely from the heart about mental illness, a topic too often ignored by our society. Listen to the segment here: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/why-group-therapy-has-a-profound-impact-over-private-sessions/55cb53202b8c2aabe00005fd
I am happy and so grateful to Book Editor Lucy Walton-Lange of femalefirst.co.uk for this review:
“I am ashamed to say it but Moo of Writing is the first self-help writing book I have read and I wish that I had had a copy when I was studying my masters.
It is tempting to think of writing as a single activity; however Nan Lundeen shows you that there are so many things to channel into good writing from exercise, to mediation and science.
Each chapter addresses each one of these areas in bite-sized chunks so you can learn and then apply your new knowledge in a practical way.
The book is a great investment; you can finish the chapters in one sitting but it allows you to make notes and gives you exercises throughout to break away and try new things to give yourself and inevitably your writing a chance to evolve. Some of which you might want to revisit and try again at some point, so it’s not a book you read and then pop back on your shelf- it’s an ongoing process.
The book talks about everything a writer is concerned with- most importantly self-confidence and how to overcome our inner demons who prevent us from moving forward and encourage us to hang onto negativity. As we all know, this can make or break a writer- so having new ways to tackle this is vital.
The thing I liked most about the book was its flexibility. Lundeen offers many different suggestions and scenarios that will cater for a wide readership and she doesn’t assume anything. In reading it, it didn’t make me feel abnormal for having a new approach to something or a different point of view. It’s welcoming and chatty and certainly doesn’t exclude any writer whatever their genre of choice. Lundeen has a background in journalism, story writing and poetry so her own experiences are varied and this shines through in the book.
There are no right or wrong answers here. Lundeen is a woman whose passion to help others with their writing emanates from the page- and that is all we can ask for from a book of this nature.”
Visit the review online here:
(reprinted by permission of the reviewer)
Why do you write? Moo of Writing: how to milk your potential, recommends a writing exercise—”I write because . . .” So, I sat myself down on this cool, sunny, green morning early in May and assigned myself this exercise. When I’ve thought about it, my conclusion was: because it’s what I do. As my four-year-old grandson Elijah would say, “But WHY?” Here goes stream of consciousness—I write because I always have. Because the world is indecipherable and I feel a compelling need to make sense of it. No, not so much to make sense of it but to report what I’m experiencing, as if someone needed to know this information. Here I am a 71-year-old woman living in South Carolina, USA, in 2015, and I’m reporting bird song. Repetitive bird song. And sun-washed leaves, freshly green on sweet gum and poplar trees lining the creek outside our back door that sings its own song over rocks day after day and through the night when the window to my bedroom stands open and the world presents itself as indecipherable again—even more of a mystery—in dreams.
Comment below if you’d like to share why you write. You needn’t register with this site to comment.
Hey, writers, do you hate to market? I’ve heard the old saying that writers hate to market and aren’t very good at it. That’s kind of off-putting. Actually, I’m discovering it can be fun. The reason? There are lots of nice people out there eager to help. Marketing is about building relationships. For instance, I made a cold call at Joe’s Place, an intimate used and new bookstore downtown Greenville, SC, and instantly made new friends after I read them “The Redemptive Red Bra” from The Pantyhose Declarations. Since then, they invited me to read there with two other poets and will host the launch of Moo of Writing 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 3. Penny Padgett at The Book Shelf in Tryon, NC, is offering Moo of Writing at the Lanier Poetry Festival this weekend and will stock the book, along with my poetry books, on her shelves. As the Page Turns in Greenville carries my poetry. Lucy Walton-Lange, book editor, at femalefirst.co.uk is considering a Moo book review. She said I’d been her first blogger. Visit the site, put my name in the search column, and you’ll find a bunch of Moo columns. Another UK editor, Jonathan Telfer of Writers’ News and Writing Magazine, graciously wrote a blurb for the book cover after he ran my “Find Your Moos” article in the magazine. Many wonderful friends and former Moo of Writing workshop participants plan to come to Moo’s book launch May 3. The next step is to expand the circle online. The book is available through Amazon and Ingram, and this weekend I’m submitting it to Publisher’s Weekly. They’ve started doing book reviews by self-published authors. Yay! They may or may not accept it. They may or may not like it. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Twitter, here I come!!
MOOOOO! I’m Nan Lundeen’s friend the dairy cow here to tell you her unique how-to-write handbook is available! Some of you’ve been waiting forever for Moo of Writing: how to milk your potential, I know. Some of you helped her by reading and critiquing. Some of you took Moo of Writing workshops and were promised the handbook was coming out soon. And some of you are just now leaning over the pasture fence to get acquainted. Well, come on in and set a spell. Buy Moo of Writing at Amazon.com or come to our book signing 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Joe’s Place, a lovely indie bookshop at 640 S. Main St., Greenville, SC. Besides a friendly place to buy new and used books, Joe’s features local art and a wine and coffee bar. A free Moo stone to those who attend (while supplies last). Y’all come! Click on my website to learn more and to buy the book. www.nanlundeen.com
This poem from Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir depicts my memories of an ice storm that flailed Iowa one Easter Eve when I was but a kid living on a farm near Elvira with my mother and father. Despite the storm—or maybe because of it—we created our own moment of hope.
To the Goddess of Compassion as we celebrate spring. Please click on the title here –“she of many names“– to read the poem. If you like, leave a comment below sharing where you find compassion in this world.
Trucker stalled on expressway being interviewed on NBC news during snowstorm: “You gotta take what the road gives you. Go slow, be patient, and you’ll make it through.”
I’m sure there’s a country-western song that says, “You gotta take what the road gives you,” and if there isn’t there oughta be.
Do you have couldas and shouldas you’d like to join me in burying? If you’re willing to share, please comment at the end of this blog.
At this stage in my writing life, I look back now and then and wonder at my choices. My love of poetry started in my Iowa childhood when I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to my mother while she milked cows. In grad school, poetry saw me through tough personal times. Throughout a long journalism career, it gave me an outlet for my artistic freedom, denied by the rigors of objectivity and fairness. My task was to blast out inches to fill newspaper columns. “How many inches?” was a daily question I asked my editors. At times, I felt like an automaton.
When I went freelance for a time, my mother admonished me not to try to write fiction because I’d never make a living at it. Maybe I shoulda been an English teacher? Maybe I coulda been something better than I was?
Now in retirement, I remember a few things I did as a journalist that were useful, such as a series of stories in Michigan revealing contamination of local residents’ well water by a county-owned landfill. Public water lines were laid for those whose wells were polluted. The residents sent me flowers, which I had to give away, of course, but I remember how welcome they were.
Yes, maybe I coulda, maybe I shoulda, but I do know that I dida at least that one thing that was good, so I’m burying the couldas, the shouldas, and I’m happy for what the road gives me. Just today I received an email from a reader I don’t know who asked permission to use one of my poems from The Pantyhose Declarations in a Becoming Women of Wisdom group. She made my day! Here and now, the road gives me a sustaining community of writers and artists who help me believe every day my life is worthwhile.