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Writing Yoga® Self-Care Practices for Caregivers

“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” - Rosalyn Carter

I’ve witnessed so many teachers and nurses dedicate all their time and energy to the people they serve while taking very little time to recharge. They became sick, frustrated and exhausted!  I realized that the work I do as a poet and yoga instructor could help drastically transform lives by just showing caring people simple yoga and writing exercises they can do each day. That is why I am passionate about teaching teachers and nurses the Writing Yoga ® method!

But I also know that parents, friends and family members also take on the role of teachers and nurses too. Sound familiar? 

Too often we think we need big chunks of time to exercise, mediate or process our feelings in a journal. If you have been following me for a while or have...

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Busted! But Officer, I was Having an Epiphany [Writing Prompt #217]

I was driving home from work when I suddenly and completely understood the mother of one of my characters. “Siri, take a note.” Bing.

I told my phone what she wore, the color of her bedspread, the pots and pans piling up in her kitchen sink. A fictional character was speaking to me. She was there right on Forest Avenue and I was lucky because I captured our ‘conversation’ with my voice recognition software. I didn’t even pause to breathe because pauses make Siri stop and save. I didn’t want to stop the thought or stop driving because I was having a full-blown epiphany! I was ecstatic!

Behind me, there was a Nassau County police officer.  My phone was in my hand. But I was not “talking on a cell phone.” I wouldn’t do that. It’s dangerous. I tell my kids how it is dangerous. People die from distracted driving. Could it be that I was breaking the law? Yep. $218 and 5 points on my license.

I didn’t know that talking...

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Do Vision Boards Work? [Writing Yoga® Mindfulness Prompt # 1001]

It used to be a big joke in my house. Mom’s got a vision board. Let them roll their eyes at me and my ‘little arts and crafts project.’ I don’t care. They work.

In 2015, I dreamed up beauty, wishes for my family, success and travel on a cheery pink piece of construction paper. I dreamed of love, determination, and kindness. It reminded me to live in the now and to practice all my practices daily (yoga, meditation, writing) wherever I go. Five years later, my vision is not exactly what I thought it would be, but life is definitely moving forward!

Why does it work? You see your goals happening as if they have already happened and a vision board helps to activate your imagination. Your brain can be fooled into thinking that what is sees is reality. It's a positive step toward the life of your dreams.

Week 2 Writing Yoga® Prompt:

Lumi Sit: Take 5 minutes to honor your inner dreamer. Close your eyes. See, touch, hear, smell and taste the life you will create....

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Mothers, Mothering, and The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe [Writing Prompt #250]

Some of the best mothers I have ever known never gave birth. One is an artist who plays with legos and crayons on the floor at dinner parties with the host’s children. Another is a teacher who has raised thousands of children over her long career and now goes to her former student’s weddings.

There are some mothers who have many children but like the old women who lived in a shoe, these moms are totally overwhelmed. And there are the super organized mothers (they wouldn’t dare raise their children inside a boot!) who make it look easy, but that doesn’t mean it is.

Most of us, myself included, fall somewhere in between. No shoe. No every-project-my-child-does-in-school-is-stored-in-a-filing-cabinet either. I’m super proud of my two kids who are well into college and almost out into the world, but don’t take one day or even one minute for granted. Being a mother taught me how fast, scary, crazy, unpredictable, and wonderful life can be.

So…...

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Stung by a Bee! [Writing Yoga Prompt #262]

Nothing like a bee sting to interrupt your Zen.

I raise my hand in the lawn for a seated twisted yoga pose.  My waist is wrung out like a wet rag. I think I’m so graceful, my fingers reaching for sky. My arm moves in slow motion toward the grass. I’m fully in the moment, describing the pose to my students step-by-step. The gaze comes last and with my head and neck aligned with the spine there is no reason to look down.

When my hand reaches the earth, it meets a bee. I’m stung. My yogi mind observes. It says, “You have been stung by a bee.”  Yes, I have been stung, it hurts, and the class remains centered in the pose while I look down at my swollen finger and continue to cue.

It’s near the end of class and my non-yogi mind says, “Run! Get ice. Get Benadryl. Your throat will close. You will go into shock. You will die.”

We finish class. I ice my hand. I’m calm and surprised to be alive.

Have you ever been stung? I have...

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What’s Your Intention? Dream it, Write it, Live it. [Writing Prompt #245]

Nothing great can happen in life without imagination and intention. Yogis know this. We set an intention for the hour or so that we clear our minds and move our bodies. Do writers do the same thing? Do you?

I’m just returning from a wonderfully overwhelming trip to Los Angeles that ended with the AWP conference. It was an incredible opportunity to see some of my favorite teachers, writers, poets and friends.  Yoga was offered each morning by Melissa Carroll, a writer, yoga teacher and author of the anthology, Going Om.  Just by showing up to class, all the writers in the room had set an intention to remain calm, healthy, open, and strong in the middle of sharing space with 10,000 other writers.

You can set an intention for anything you do. Before leaving New York, I set an intention and dreamed it into being.

So the truth is that writers do write and meditate on their intentions. Take this page from Octavia Butler’s notebook. (...

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Yoga Informs the Weekend, Writing Informs the Yoga: The Writing Yoga® Retreat’s Top 10

People often ask me, “What is this Writing Yoga thing?” Here’s the short answer:  It’s alchemy. True Alchemy. It turns paper to gold. Well, not literally, but it’s my unscientific opinion that there’s a profound chemical reaction charging up your body and brain when you put these two ancient disciplines together!

My friend, Linda Epstein (literary agent and fabulously entertaining blogger), and I co-facilitate a Writing Yoga® Retreat at the Glen Cove Mansion every summer.  We thought it might be fun for our readers if we blogged on the same day about the REAL retreat experience. So let me be your virtual tour guide through the TOP 10 reasons why you need a Writing Yoga® retreat:

  1. The weekend begins by setting an intention and we take that intention seriously. Ask: What do I want from my writing, mind, body, life?  What does my character want?  What do I need to feel fully supported,...
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Three Step to Keeping a Gratitude Journal: Start with Four Days of Thanksgiving

If you want to write a book, lose weight, find a new job, move into a new home or invite anything wonderful and new into your life, you’ve got to start with gratitude. Don’t take my word for it. I certainly didn’t make this statement up. It’s universal law. You can find it repackaged in self-help books or written on thousand year scrolls. You can’t get what you think you want if you keep on knockin’ what you’ve got.

Can you live one full day under the gratitude umbrella? Can you do it for a weekend?  Can you start now?

The answer is yes. Here’s How to Keep a Gratitude Journal:

1. WHERE —- Decide where to house your gratitude. You can buy a new journal just for the purpose of recording each day’s gifts. You can open a new file on your computer or simply turn to a page in your current journal and write, “Gratitude, Day 1” at the top of a blank page.

2. HOW —- Write for Five Minutes...

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Get Ready to Meet Your Uninvited Shadow - A Writing Prompt

Today, as you sit to write, pull up an extra chair. Welcome your shadow. Good morning, shadow. I don’t like you. I don’t like what you say in public. I don’t like what you hide in private. I detest your habits, mannerisms, biting sarcastic tongue.

Look at the way it makes itself at home, slurps your tea and devours your lunch. What nerve! Your shadow will chew with its mouth open and spit all over your keyboard. It will make you angry. Hold it. Pause. Can you use that feeling (whatever ‘that feeling’ is) to generate a scene?  Which story or poem of yours wants to meet the slob hogging up your chair?  Name it. Write it. Now.

 

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“Oh, No, Don’t Work Us Too Hard Now!” Words in Motion: On Teaching Creative Writing and Yoga to Senior Citizens by Melanie Pappadis Faranello

When I arrived at Federation Square, an independent living facility for senior citizens, I went to the dining hall and began arranging the chairs in a circle for our first class. The Connecticut Humanities Council’s Center for the Book approved my proposal for a course combining creative writing with yoga and I was excited to see how it would go.
When the seniors arrived and took their seats, I explained that our regular chair yoga that I had previously taught to many of them would be a little different this time around, that we would also be doing some creative writing together. I was met with blank stares and concerned looks. “Writing?!” one woman exclaimed, “Oh, no, don’t work us too hard now!”
We began with our usual mediation and then I explained we were going to begin warming up our minds with our first creative writing exercise. In the spirit of Yoga, meaning union, we were going to be exercising our bodies and our minds.
After...
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