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Story starters.

Did you know that sourdough bread has ancestors?

It’s true.

There is a yeast mixture that is passed down to start the next batch of baking. I don’t understand much about it. We had some hippy friends a few years ago who proudly showed us their jars of opaque, bubbling concoctions of ancient yeast. The location or origin of the yeast also affects taste and texture. Who knew?

sd_starter_good

Anyway, this isn’t about how to make traditional sourdough bread. It’s about story starters. How do we get our writing moving, taking “starters” and watching our ideas rise into something new and delicious?

This moring, while reading the “paper,” (which isn’t on paper, it’s on a computer screen. Can’t wrap fish in it, but hey, I don’t have any fish, so it doesn’t matter) I found these three stories:

The first one is about some sled dogs that broke free of their sled, and were rescued a few days later.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2010643281_dogs31.html

The second is about the symphony that may go on strike.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2010642769_symphony31m.html

The third is about a fancy-schmancy famous restaurant in New York city that is going out of business.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2010642784_tavern31.html

There is always a ‘story behind the story,’ or even a completely new narrative waiting to be written. If those dogs could talk, what were they saying to one another? If the instruments of the musicians had something to say, what would they say? How do they feel about their musicians going on strike? And, the restaurant? How many couples got engaged there? How many tears were shed over a broken heart? How many tourists saved up every last penny just to eat, no…dine…there once in their lives?

Now get started and write.

 

 

 

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Charting your journey.

tuareg-tribesman-libya-052009-sw

This article link content is NOT about your personal  beliefs, or mine.

It is about what we talked about (briefly) the other day — in addition to books, poetry and songs can also help us find answers to our questions–they speak to us. Another path is reading what other great thinkers/philosphers reflect upon, and consider. This article has three minds considering an historical figure, and the possible significance, all from their own cultural perspectives.

If you read this article, consider the questions the writers were attempting to explore. I don’t say “answer” because rarely do we find definitive answers to anything- life is all about exploration. That’s what makes it interesting.

Consider that when you are seeking answers – be open-minded, flexible, and critical – what is the person saying? What is their purpose for saying it? And, what is your deeper purpose for reading it?

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Hey, you, get off of my cloud.

Impulsivity + Meanness=Regret.

I am still trying to find forgiveness for something I did when I was about seven or eight years old. When I was on the playground, one cold, crisp Texan school yard afternoon, the bell rang, and we went to line up. One of my classmates, a sweet, shy boy, while running to line up, was tripped by me. I impulsively stuck out my leg, and down he went. The look on his face when he was getting up was so sad – the meanness was so unexpected, so abrupt, that I knew, I knewI had done something near unforgivable. I will never forget the look on his face. (I know I helped him up, said sorry, but the damage was done.) I am the one who provided that kid with the experience of people are jerks, and sometimes do cruel things for no reason. Yea, me.

Since I can’t find the little boy (who’s obviously not little anymore) that I tripped in first grade, since the vast detective work of Google, Bing, or others will not find this one soul out of billions, and, I don’t remember names, exact dates or locations, I may never be able to find him and say, “I am sorry. I acted rashly, impulsively, but it may have hurt your feelings, and you still may remember it, and it hurt you for a long time.” 

Sharing this anecdote with students, one girl commented (several times), “that’s mean, Mrs. L,” until I finally had to say, “Yes, I know…it was mean, and I regret it, feel guilty and remorseful every time I think of it. Now let’s move on.” I would like to think that one act of impulsive, yet intentional bullying was out of character for me. That perhaps I was just ‘trying it on,’ and answering an inner curiosity about what is it like to do something wrong…totally, and absolutely outright wrong. But that sounds like a lot of mental justification.

 Trolling for interesting podcasts the other day, I came upon a This American Life episode called “Mind Games” that made me think about how people treat each other, and how if it’s based on lies, it usually doesn’t work out. At all.

This led me to listen to another episode from May, 2002, titled ‘Devil on My Shoulder.’  The premise or theme is that we humans are in constant struggle to choose right versus wrong, moral versus immoral behaviors, and we have so many outside influences pushing us, tempting us, this way and that, that sometimes we are compelled to blame it on a ‘devil on our shoulder,’ feeding us tiny lies and whispering small, but powerfully motivating ways to act unkindly. While my personal philosophy doesn’t include a personification of immoral judgements sitting on my left shoulder, I do believe in a dash of free will along with decision making, cognitive abilities thrown in with a cup of destiny, frosted with fate. Meaning, whether or not you believe in devils and angels, deities and do-gooders, we humans are still faced with the burning question, “what does it mean to do the right thing, and why do we sometimes NOT?”

 When I think about what I did, my heart hurts. That’s guilt. I might be a bit mired (stuck) in this one event, true. I am not sure why I’ve had difficulty finding atonement. If one of my children did something like this, I would tell them to learn from it, not to behave in a mean way again, and move on. So, I guess in that way, perhaps if I took my own advice, I can say I did learn from it. I never tripped anyone else again, and certainly never intentionally hurt anyone again. I just hope that somewhere out there, that boy knows I am sorry.bored angel

“Safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other.”-CS Lewis

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Silent treatment.

Silent_Moon_by_o_BlueMoon_o What if you want to talk to someone, but they’re far away, or maybe not even around anymore? What if you don’t know what to say? What if you know they can’t or won’t talk back to you?

I imagine a conversation between this tree and the moon – what do you think they would say?

(Okay- I’m being sneaky. See how easy that was? I love to look at images and just let my mind take over, and write. But what if you can’t think of ANYTHING to WRITE ABOUT and you are FORCED TO and you want to SCREAM because your mind is as silent and blank as the moon? Check this out: Ralph Fletcher’s Writing Website. )

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