You can't blame the people of Long Island. Until recently, most cultural, literary, and historic landmarks were hard to find. As a reader of blog posts with Whitman in the title you might not believe me, but it seems that more Long Islanders have heard of the Walt Whitman Mall than its namesake.
For the record, Walt Whitman was born on Long Island and the mall came second.
When my children were younger, I would explore the small grounds of his birthplace, have a picnic and visit the museum and interpretive center. So much has changed! The WWBA now offers regular programing and some are over zoom so visits can happen without leaving your house.
I wrote the poem "Concrete Walt" with all of our multitudes in mind. In the spirit of Whitman, I imagined the Indigenous Long Islanders, the sailors and farmers, shoppers at the mall across the street, bugs and birds hiding in trees, the pollution below. All of it.
The land where the mall sits...
I've been obsessed with this collection of poetry called Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó Tuama. I bought the audiobook for a trip knowing nothing more than the title.
From my journal: On the plane/close my eyes/relax my hands/ press play. It's familiar words, my former poetry teacher, mystical, brilliant. She is speaking to me. Her voice/not her voice/ every voice:
I pray for this to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body's position to its paper:
left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:
one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.
- Aracelis Girmay.
Her class was just as magical as those words. Poetry was a place both sweet and haunting. It makes us question, think and feel. Pádraig Ó Tuama chose poets from all around the world who accomplish all that. We are different. We are the same.
I have studied under, watched, read and listened to most of the poets in this...
What does your Valentine's Day look like? Maybe you are having an overpriced meal with someone special or perhaps you are staying home with the cats and reading a page turner. This holiday can be rough or wonderful depending upon where you are in life.
What I love about mindfulness practices and yoga philosophy is that it teaches us to be with "what is" and to not judge ourselves or others. There are so many mental and physical associations with this particular holiday, but what if you could just celebrate the day as it is without any expectations?
Take a few minutes to focus on your breath if you are feeling anxious today. Allow your thoughts and feelings to pass through you without judging them. If something feels uncomfortable, can you simply notice that feeling, take a deep breath, and watch it pass?
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a mindful way can also be a big relief. It is better to have uncomfortable thoughts as energy on the page...
Does the word "creativity" make you think of paint, clay, and kids playing dress up? We all start out creative, but school and adult life might make us think that creativity is something to be left to artists and geeks. Then we get to the workplace and are expected to be innovative and productive. Hmm, don't we need to be creative for that?
Life is creative. All of it. We are born from its impulse. We grow up, thrive, and participate in the human experience because creativity is our nature.
If you have lost your creative spark, here are 12 words to think about:
Start with your imagination. Collect your ideas and then shape them, mix, illuminate, reflect and focus on what you want to bring into the world. When you are ready, release your creation!
Print out this post, cut out the words, and use as "creativity...
Our principal asked us to pick a word at the start of the school year. The word would be our North Star to guide our goals, inform our lessons, and inspire us to do great work. School initiatives sometimes fall away as the year progresses, but a good administrator won't let that happen.
She didn't let that happen. We revisited our words at the start of the new year. What would your word be?
It feels poetic to pick just one word. No long lists, no big visions, no novels. I thought about it for days. Nothing felt right. If you know my work, you know that there are three words I think about a lot: calm, creative, and compassionate. It is my desire to see all students, teachers and classrooms feel that way in every school around the world. But these words can't be separated.
Why? It is easy to be calm if we feel safe. When we feel safe, we are free to find creative solutions, work harder, and take big risks. Safety means we are not threatened...
It’s the official start of the most chaotic time of the year. Take the pressure off and read a poem, quote or chapter of a book. Bibliotherapy is one of the best ways to escape the stressful buzz of cyber Monday and nurture your spirit.
What books most inspire you? Take one off the shelf anytime you feel the stress monster interrupting your bliss.
I’m reading the book, Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. It reminds me exactly of what I know to be true, that big changes happen one step at a time. And if you are a writer, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott tells us the same thing about the writing process. Build a book, the way a bird builds a nest, one branch at a time.
Most importantly, these books ask us to take action to shape the way we view ourselves. If we think we are stressed and unable to handle the holidays, our brain will agree and make it so. But what if you view yourself as a calm, creative, and compassionate...
When have you been a beginner? It can be a little bit scary, but also exciting and invigorating to be brand new at something. Yoga teaches us how to approach arriving on the mat each day with a new attitude. Holding a beginner's mind can help us perform better as writers and teachers too. Do you agree?
Grab your journal and watch this 1 minute video to guide your writing. It worked for me and I hope you find it helpful too.
I look forward to hearing your ideas!
With warm seasonal wishes,
Even if you are not a teacher or a parent, you still can feel a back-to-school kind of energy in the air. Everyone seems to be running around trying to settle back into the routine of learning and more structured days.
If you are looking for quick ways to stay calm, focused, and find joy the work day, please watch my video.
Thank you and have an amazing 2022-2023 school year!
After working with thousands of students over the years, I know for certain that most people believe they do not have enough time, talent, or energy to live the life of their dreams. I also know it's just not true!
Keeping a journal helps us to consider our deepest desires, dreams, goals and challenges. People love writing in journals, but where to start? If you feel overwhelmed or unable to connect to the part of you that has big dreams, The Writing Yoga® Method can help. It is based upon the philosophy that life does not have to be overwhelming and complicated. In fact, we work best when feeling healthy, confident, and joyful!
Here are some simple things you can do NOW to get started with a dream-building and journal writing practice.
Before you start writing in your journal, take a "Lumi Breath." This is what I tell my young students and this is what I will say to you. A Lumi Breath is a deep breath that makes you feel luminous. When you take a...
Give me a beach. Find me a corner in the reading room. I know, I know, not everyone likes a beach. Some people can't stand the stillness of a library. That's okay, we all have destinations we love and ones we avoid but if you ever spent time watching sea birds wade, you know how much there is to learn.
Beaches and libraries can both be introspective places filled with endless possibilities but they can also be the very place where storms and ideologies conflict.
So for this prompt, let's imagine powdery sand and turquoise sea and sky. After all, you came here to relax.
Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Think of a quiet place that makes you feel happy and secure. Sit for 5 minutes noticing all the thoughts and feelings (even the ones that make you uncomfortable). Open your eyes. Move to the "Lumi Write" without pause.
What did you feel and see in the "Lumi Sit"? Take 5...