You Have A List – Now What??

If you did the “Try-This” Tuesday task this week, you’re wondering what to do with the list of words I asked you to generate.  First, I’d like you to think about how you felt when these words were coming to you:*

  • Did you have to think really hard to come up with the words?
  • Did it get easier as you went along?
  • Did you catch yourself smiling or feeling happier during the activity?
  • Did any of these words remind you of a special memory or time in your life?

After a few moments with your thoughts, let’s switch over to the left brain (our logical, organization-loving hemisphere)…and let’s ORGANIZE!!  The idea is to group these words into themes so that you can see which themes bring you joy!

A few examples of themes are:  Family, Nature, Physical, Spirituality, Arts, Beauty, Wellness

It was easier for me to skim over the words and decide which ones go together and then name the themes after.  As I look at my list now, the following words jumped out at me as belonging together under the theme Nature:

1)      cabin

2)      camping

3)       tents

4)      sleeping bags

5)       hiking

6)      the sun

7)       fresh air

8)      flowers

9)      plants

If I had just grouped the first 5 words together, I could call the group “camping” but because a theme is a very BIG umbrella, I can include the other 4 words and they can all live happily under the theme Nature.  You may have a theme that I have not mentioned above – that’s great!  I’d appreciate it if you could give me that feedback either by posting a comment or contacting me.

So, the idea is to think BIG – this will help you have fewer groups and give you a general feel for what makes YOU tick.  Once you get started organizing your list, you may find this comes fairly easily.  However, if you are having trouble, please contact me.  This can be a very revealing exercise and I would be happy to answer any questions to help you along.

Once your list is organized into themes, take notice of the following:*

  • Is there one theme that contains significantly more words than the others?
  • Highlight the two themes that contain the most words
  • How do your “top” theme(s) resonate with you?  Are you surprised?  Did you know all along that you had a particular passion for said theme?
  • Are you doing anything in your life at this time that reflects this passion?

*When you answer the questions posed in this post, you may want to get out your journal or whatever paper form feels best to you and jot your thoughts down.  I will be keeping a log of all of these questions on the Writing Prompts page so that you can refer to the questions and find the corresponding posts easily, where applicable.  (Sometimes I will just post writing prompts that don’t correspond to a particular post).

Happy organizing!

How My List Was Born

Yesterday I posted my first weekly assignment, known as “Try-This Tuesday“, and I want to share with you a bit of background on how I came up with my own list.

Previously, I explained to you how I had started feeling uneasy around the time I was to graduate with my B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics.  I was too afraid to explore this feeling because I did not want it to reveal that I was headed in the wrong direction, career-wise.  I had decided I was going to be a speech-language pathologist 4 years prior, and I most certainly did not want to deviate from this plan.  I felt that if I did, I would be “behind” on my life goals.

But that part of me that was trying to speak up prompted me to sit down in a quiet corner of the Women’s Centre at my university, with a sheet of paper and a pen (my best buds) and I started making a list of things that made me happy, excited me, interested me…people, places, objects, activities.  I’m not sure how long I sat there (remember, this was about 10 years ago) but when I felt I had finished, I had 3 columns of words written in green ink.

Here’s what I did next:  I folded up the piece of paper until it fit neatly in the palm of my hand and stuffed it into my journal where it lived for the next several years.  I did not recognize this desire to make a list as my own plea for help, a cry to take a moment and look around wide-eyed, clear-headed, and open-minded!  But that’s OK.  Realizing this now has given me the faith that I need to have in my Self – the faith to know that as long as I am open to it, I am presented with guidance and direction from within, always!  And so are you!

And YOU, dear Readers, will actually do something with these beautiful words that represent YOU!!  I’ll give you a suggestion tomorrow on what you can do with your list…be sure to hang on to it as we will refer to it numerous times throughout this journey.

Try-This Tuesday: Make A List

“Try-This” Tuesday is short for “I strongly suggest you try this exercise today, which is Tuesday, or at least within the next 24 hours.”  But I think Try-This Tuesday will suffice!  My hope in offering these weekly suggestions is that they give you a practical, tangible tool that will bring you another step closer to remembering and releasing your creative Self.

You may want to keep all of your Tuesday tasks together in a spiral notebook, or if you’re using looseleaf paper you may want to gather them in a binder.  You will reference these tasks throughout your journey.

For today’s task, you will need paper, pen and a minimum of 10 minutes of uninterrupted time.  Sit down somewhere comfortable and make a list of things, people, places, and activities – ANYTHING that comes to your mind that you find interesting, enjoyable or in any way positive.  Don’t analyze or judge the words that are coming out.  Just write.  You may hear a voice telling you that some of the words you are generating are silly or inappropriate.  Ignore that voice.  That’s your Censor – we have no use for it.  I will definitely introduce my Censor to you and ask you to have a few words with your own in the next little while.  But for this task, push it away if it intrudes on your fun by not giving it the time of day!

When you feel your list is complete, or when your child creeps downstairs from bed with his latest reason for not being able to sleep, put your list away (but keep it accessible) and come back to it over the next couple days, adding new items as needed but not removing any.  It may actually be easier to keep a smaller notebook on you or even a sheet of looseleaf folded up and tucked in your pocket – something you can pull out wherever you are, when a word enters your head that should be on your list.  You can always transfer these words to your original list later.

HAVE FUN WITH THIS!  The feedback that I have received from other people who have tried this task is that it is enjoyable and I am sure you will have the same experience!

On Thursday, I will ask you to do something with this list – stay tuned!


The Mysteries of Journalling

A couple of months ago, a significant event happened over a delicious lunch of a spicy buffalo chicken burger and fries.  A friend of mine asked me what I write when I journal.  That stopped me mid-bite.  I had no idea how to answer that question.  When I write in my journal, I just write in my journal.  There isn’t much I don’t write.  So, I answered as technically as I could.  “Well, I write things like… I don’t know…y’know?”  From her facial expression I could see that this answer was a fail!

So then I decided to tell her about my free-writes that I do in my journal.  This is when I write down a sentence and just go with it, writing down whatever comes to my mind without judgment or without editing.  I had to put the burger down and wipe the sauce from my chin so I could flail my arms around excitedly because this is my FAVOURITE writing exercise:

Take out some paper and a pen.  DON’T get hung up over the paper.  It doesn’t have to have cute little kittens chasing yarn across the top of the page.  It doesn’t have to be baby blue.  It doesn’t have to be bound in a leather notebook.  Just get some loose leaf if that is the most accessible form of paper available to you now.

Set a timer for 5 minutes.  This is meant to glue you to your chair for a specific amount of time. Write down the first sentence that comes to your mind and then just keep writing.  Your thoughts don’t have to be related or complete.  They don’t have to make sense.  Use whatever language comes to you.  NOBODY IS GOING TO READ THIS…well, we’ll get to that later.  That’s more of a philosophical debate.

Don’t stop writing.  If you find yourself falling into a lull, write things like “I don’t know what to write.  I’m running out of thoughts.  My hand is cramping.  This is a weird exercise.  It’s Taslim’s favourite exercise?  Does she need to get a life?”  As long as the pen is moving across the page, you’re doing it!

Since journalling is a core component to any creative program, it will be a topic I come to time and again.  I have an entire manila envelope absolutely crammed full of pages of free writes.  I have a fun task ahead of me with these pages…more on this in a future post!