Archive for ‘Questions and Answers’

2018, January 19

Every Day Matters

After a very nice holiday trip to Skopje, Macedonia, I came home to my diary and started planning my 2018. A dear friend of mine sent me the “Every Day Matters”  illustrated holistic diary created by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present for Christmas.

I suspect my friend thought of this, because on the one hand I’ve been quite depressed for the better half of 2017 after our dear sweet kitten died and pretty much felt like none of my days mattered. (I feel so blessed to have someone like her in my life. Thank you, Trisha!)
On the other hand, she also knows I’ve followed Dani’s 30 day photo challenges yearly since 2011. (Those photo challenges even prompted me to start a photo challenge of my own.)

As it says in the description if it, “the planner not only has plenty of space for daily planning, but also offers inspiring advice on how to make each and every day really matter.” I am looking forward to it being a resource for enriching my daily life, guiding me through a journey of awareness and fulfillment as I’ll go about my everyday activities. Who knows? This might just be the diary/planner I fully fill out.
I’ve only been that disciplined with one other planner thus far in the 30 years of my existence.

For today, I thought to share a list with you. The theme for January is Openness, and the prompt for the first week of the month is a suggestion to write a list of five feel-good surprises from last year. I feel that so much of last year has been spent in grief I definitely didn’t pay much attention to letting happiness find me. It was actually hard to think of five things. I like that this comes first in the planner.

Five feel-good surprises from 2017:

  1. A phone call my boyfriend received to pick up his diploma, which led to us taking a trip to pick it up around my birthday.
  2. Google Maps taking us the wrong way during a road trip, but leading to the most scenic ride through the forest.
  3. Receiving a bike for my birthday – I’ve wanted to buy myself one for the past five years at least, but never got around to it.
  4. Out of a five-people team, being the only one asked to hand over her project work in person at the client’s site in the UK.
  5. Receiving the out-of-the-blue gift that included my Christmas present, this diary.

Now I’m wondering, what was your 2017 like overall? And what are your five feel-good surprises from last year? Do share in the comment section below!

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2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

2017, December 1

Curious Holiday List time

As I did when first introducing this cute little idea-book years ago, I’ll share one of the list titles from the book and the content I came up with. Then, You let me know in the comment section what Your lists would look like.

I opened the book to page 109 and then chose the upper-right title, from the chapter “Lists for Holidays”.

I really have no clue what words might actually be uttered at a Shakespeare Society holiday party, but the below were the quotes I thought of when associating Shakespeare and the holiday season.

Quotes uttered at a ‘Shakespeare Society’ Holiday Party:

  • At Christmas I no more desire a rose
    Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
    ~Love’s Labours Lost (Act 1, Scene 1)
  • I see the trick on’t: here was a consent,
    Knowing aforehand of our merriment,
    To dash it like a Christmas comedy:
    Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany,
    ~Love’s Labours Lost (Act Five, Scene 2)
  • SLY. Marry, I will; let them play it. Is not a comonty a Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?
    PAGE. No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.
    ~The Taming of the Shrew (Intro, scene 2)
  • Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a
    barrow of butcher’s offal, and to be thrown in the
    Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
    I’ll have my brains ta’en out and buttered, and give
    them to a dog for a new-year’s gift…
    ~Merry Wives of Windsor (Act 3, Scene 5)

Our modern conception of Christmas is more tied to “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens rather than Shakespeare.

Back in the court of Elizabeth I, Christmas and New Year weren’t celebrated as we do today.
Christmas was popularized in England when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert started following many of the German Christmas traditions about 200 years after the death of Shakespeare.

Your turn. Ready? Go! :)

2017, November 10

Six Reasons to Smile – Autumn 2017

This is my third blog post in the “Six Reasons to Smile” series.

Autumn this year was marked by grief, pain stress and sickness more than anything else. At least the weather was nice. I didn’t smile a lot, so while I usually struggle to narrow things down, this time I had to really think about and dig through photos to be able to share the below six. Good thing we went on a short trip!

Here are the reasons I smiled this Autumn:

Did you smile a lot this Autumn? This month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2017, November 3

Fall Memoir Blog Tour: The First Signs of April, A Memoir by Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s Fall Memoir Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout November.

It is the first memoir book tour held by Poetic Book Tours, entitled The First Signs of April, and it is a lovely one if I may say so myself.

Mary-Elizabeth graciously accepted to write a guest post for Life’s a Stage,  and answers a couple of my questions as I was especially curious about her splitting her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. Read on to find out!

~~~

Having recently sold my home, closed my psychotherapy practice, and resigned my teaching position; I boarded a plane for Ireland where I lived for one year.
It might read like the typical bucket list story of a middle-aged woman packing up and moving to a foreign country in search of a better life, but it’s not. Living in Ireland was never something I hoped to do one day before I died, not something to tick off the wish list of maybe someday events. Instead, the idea was one deeply rooted in the connection I have for the tiny town of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland.

It started twenty years ago on my first visit to Ireland. As the plane approached the runway I saw patchwork green fields speckled with white dots that turned into sheep as the plane came to rest on the tarmac. I noticed my body relax and soften as tears welled in my eyes. “Home,” I whispered. Something ancient stirred deep within and was awakened, a spiritual connection to the place, the history, the people.
Some have suggested perhaps a past life. Maybe. All I know is that every time I am in Ireland I have the exact same experience and I can’t explain it or even understand it. I just know I am home.

So, for one year I made my home in Dingle, Ireland. The story of that year is my next book, but it was in Dingle that I completed the First Signs of April. It was in Dingle that I rediscovered my authentic self and began to walk a different path on my life’s journey. I knew at the end of that year I couldn’t simply leave and return to the United States with only the memories to carry with me. So, I told the universe and anyone who would listen that I would return to the states and find a way to live my summers in Vermont, where I love to ride my motorcycle, my winters on Cape Cod where so many of my family and friends live, and travel twice a year to Dingle.
Choosing such a path without knowing where I would live or how I would pay my way has been and continues to be scary. I have been tempted by options offering financial security that would require living in places I don’t particularly like doing work that takes from my soul rather than feeds it, so I walked away, something most just shake their heads in disbelief about.
Sometimes, you just have to take the leap and trust that you’ll land exactly where you’re supposed to land.

It’s just a year now that I’ve been back in the States. I was able to live on Cape Cod for the winter, albeit helping to care for elderly parents. Funny how the universe delivers sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences. I lived the summer and most of the fall in Vermont where I have had an unusually long motorcycle – riding season and am about to head back to the Cape to set up my new home base in a little cottage nestled near to the sea.
I’m making it happen by finding work I enjoy and that allows for the time and space to focus more directly on writing. I am blessed in so many ways but one in particular is the gift of my willingness to take a leap without knowing the answers or outcomes, and to do it in spite of the anxiety and fear that always finds its way in.
I am beginning to understand that this is the only way for me to truly live my authentic life. It really is that simple.

~~~

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Published by She Writes Press, you can find Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s 280 pages long memoir, The First Signs of April, on Amazon and on BookDepository.

More about the author:

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads, or on Facebook.

2017, October 13

Review: Diana Raab’s, Writing for Bliss

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

“… sometimes the simplest of inquiries require the most complex answers. When posing the more personal questions about our lives, sometimes it can take years to come up with the answers.” ~ Diana Raab, Writing for Bliss

I loved Diana Raab’s book, Writing for Bliss, because it is filled with so much knowledge presented in the most lovely form of writing. An experienced writer and Ph.D, her how-to guide doesn’t come off as condescending in its advice and teachings, but rather through Diana’s creative journey guides the reader through his own journey.

The seven steps to follow are: preparing to write, cultivating self-awareness, speaking your truth, examining your life, finding your form, unleashing with poetry, and sharing your writing.
By using the writing prompts scattered throughout the book, the writing techniques, topics and other tools, the reader is also encouraged to not follow the book to the T, since as Diana herself explains it, creativity is not a linear process. I certainly agree with that statement.

Reading this book has made me think about my own writing. A lot. Losing track of time is good.

I started my blog in 2008, and ever since then, I have written blog posts, poems, flash fiction and short stories for many different reasons; to lose myself, to let go of stress, to get together with my writer friends, to have some “me” time, to feel healthy, to be a part of writing events and communities.
There are many other reasons why writing is a part of my life, it is a part of me and who I am.
My dearest friendships have been formed because of writing…we often say that we solve the worlds problems during our writing. And certainly we have come up with amazing ideas that have been expressed and have been featured in several online magazines, on different writing websites and in both e-format and print anthologies.

Using the book as a guide has resulted in lots of writing on my part, and I am so happy for it!

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see below).

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2017, October 6

Book Spotlight: Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October. I will also have a book review up, so make sure to check back next Friday, 13th of October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by-step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see author bio below).

~~~

The book has already received advanced praise!

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

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