workshop

A moral dilemma

A moral dilemma

December 8, 2020
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The bottom line: A permission slip, to myself, to write to my heart’s content. And then, after I’ve finished writing, apply my new-found skills of the story scaffolding to the piece, to help me determine whether or not this is a story or a non-story. Depending on the answer, there might be some value in going back to the piece to shape, embellish, clarify it. Or not.

I spent an hour and a half in the company of four newfound friends, all of whom are co-travellers in the Story Skills Workshop. One of the assignments is to record yourself telling (or reading. Yeah. There’s a difference. One I’d not been fully aware of before.) a story, and then invite others into a live story-telling-session. 

It was a lot of fun, very rewarding in terms of feedback given and received, and, as always, feedback given by someone to another story-teller, is sometimes as helpful, or perhaps even more helpful, than feedback directed straight at me. The round-about-way is, perhaps, more palatable, in the sense that I am more easily open to take in what is being said, when it is not me, my story, my performance, my telling, that’s in the spotlight. 

The direct feedback I got was extremely valuable though, and here I am, contemplating a re-write of my story, to encompass all of the insights and nudges I got after my first round of telling it. 

However, as I woke this morning I remembered… I’d recently read  s o m e t h i n g  that spoke precisely to this. To the re-telling, the embellishment, the ’making more of’ that I was busy doing, in my mind’s eye. But what was that something? And where did I read it? 

I turned towards one of the four books I am currently reading, neatly stacked on my nightstand, and picked it up. I was hoping it was this one (A Primer for Forgetting, by Lewis Hyde), and not The Naked Now by Richard Rohr that I’d finished a week prior, and subsequently had borrowed to a friend. If it was that one I was in trouble, as I didn’t have it at hand. 

Flicking through the pages of Hyde’s book, going backwards from my bookmark firmly lodged on page 126, I glance at my marginalia, hoping that it will pop up. Luckily, it does. On page 100, so not even that many pages back. It’s a chapter titled FEED ON THE PRESENT and in it Hyde recounts a  story he’s heard recounted, of a man coming to a realization on the actual recounting of his story. 

As I am extra fond of these meta-me (or meta-Larry, in this case) conversations, here’s a few paragraphs from the book:

”… when he got home and recounted the story to various friends, ’the telling started to change a bit, from it just being a straight report of a fact and what I went through. I saw that it was promoting the self. […]’ The story had picked up self-importance along the way; ’there was some mileage coming from it.’”

’… this kind of self-making may be unavoidable and often harmless, but as a matter of Buddhist practice it should at least be noticed, be brought to mind. ’I saw what the mind was doing; the mind was taking materials from the pastas first they were just ’factual’ but then immediately started to use them for the present, the present sense of myself… The self if constantly using the materials of the past and the future to nourish itself, to build itself up… I didn’t do it consciously… It just happened. The ego is going to work, and that’s what it knows how to do.’

[…] to describe how the ego functions: it feeds on the past and the future.

– Lewis Hyde, A Primer for Forgetting

Now.
I am not a journalist.
Embellishing texts and stories is well within my prerogative, and yet.
I do believe there’s something to the awareness alluded to by Hyde (and Larry). If I am conscious of what I am doing, as I am embellishing my stories… I don’t know. There’s a greater chance of me being careful with the message? Or intentful? My stories are often centered around me – my learnings, insights, difficulties – and I honestly don’t want to make me into a person far removed from the people I am trying to reach, be it through writing or telling. I want the threshold to be lowered, rather than increased, and if I were to simply embellish as much as I can, I fear that wouldn’t be the case. 

Perhaps this is simply a message for me, as this is part of the usefulness I make of my writing:
I discover myself while writing, and if I then embellish freely, is it me I am discovering, or an imaginary me? 

(My old me did stop here, leaving you, as well as me, hanging. But, in having a story scaffolding to drape my story across, when I did, I came to the realization that this is an incomplete story, if I want it to actually read as a story. The missing part is the consequence. Where will this all lead to? What will this all lead to? 

Again. I don’t  h a v e  to make it into a full story. That’s my prerogative. Each and every time. But, for the purpose of the learning and discovery-journey I am on, let’s say I do want that:)

I’d say, my answer to this moral dilemma, centers around what my purpose is.
Am I writing only to find me? If so. Go ahead, make it less story-telling-worthy. Don’t embellish, stick to what helps me find me. 

But if I am also, or only, writing in order to get a point across, to publish a text that I hope will resonate with others too… then by all means. Put a bit more effort into it. Check to see that the story scaffolding is active in each and every step. Make sure I do engage my audience, that the challenge is clearly seen/felt/understood, so that the resolution points to a change, leaving no-one in question as to where the story ended for the heroine. 

Only… that leaves me with the worst answer of them all: It all depends. 

However. I actually think this speaks to what the Story Skills Workshop is truly about. For me. (Important bit, that last one. For me!) I write, a lot, and seldom am I intentional with my writings. Neither when sitting down to write, nor when I ship. And honestly, I don’t necessarily want to be more intentional when setting out to write. I do so enjoy writing only to discover when I am knee-deep in, what I am actually writing about. 

But the latter part. Doing the post-analysis, using the story scaffolding, helps me see what the piece is all about. And prompts me to ask myself: What’s the purpose of this piece? What do I want it to be? What do I want it to do? Does it want to become a story, or is it (I!) content with having it be a non-story?

Depending on the answer, I might, or might not, do what I did here. Go back to the writing, deliberately and intentionally shaping it (or not), embellishing it (or not), clarifying it (or not), so that I know I’ve done my best to give it the necessary prerequisites of being able to live up to my intention/s. Story or non-story alike.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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The way to live my life

July 8, 2020
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The intensity!
People are responding, daily-ing, responding to prompts, sharing shipping news and aha’s like never before.

TCW is going out with a bang!
A most fitting description of these final hours (?!) of The Creative’s Workshop. But alas, how will it work, the actual shut-down? ”The final day is on the 9th of July” but what does that mean? Will it be shut-down at the start of the 9th, or the end of it? And according to what time zone?

Luckily… soon we are to find out, all of us, participating in TCW until the very end (at least our perceived end).

I’ve downloaded the CSV-file with all of my entries, have the archive-link handy, and yet… there’s so much goodness written by someone else… I just will not, ever, have the time to go through it all, even if I could save the entirety of this very first cohort of TCW.

So I shake it off, the sense of regret, of loss, accept that the FOMO is not a fear, but a fact, and as such, I could spend my time and energy fighting it. To no avail. That’s the problem with facts like these. It’s not a problem to be solved but rather a fact to accept. So I do.

I accept that there are dailies-threads I will never, ever, get to dive deep into.
That there are responses to prompts that hold potential gems and insights that would be of such service to me, responses of beauty and wit, of honesty and humor, of confusion and clarity.
Not to mention all the responses to all of these posts. Responses filled with as much beauty and wit, honesty and humor, confusion and clarity.
Astute writings I won’t ever get to see.

Ah.
Bitter-sweet.
And so so welcome.
I cannot fathom living in a world where I would feel finished.
Imagine partaking in a workshop like this, with 400+ participants (not all active, but many), and after 150 days feel that I’ve gotten everything possible from it, that there’s nothing left to learn…

I wouldn’t want that.
Not for TCW, not for anything.
Especially not for life.

So I am letting TCW go, in order to let come other things, with grace. With loving acceptance, knowing deep within that this is the way I want to live my life.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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I. Have. To. Write. About. It. Now.

May 18, 2020
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One of my 12 English books to read and blog about this year, is Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Normally, I never write about the book until it’s finished, which is when I write my book reflection. However, this book, which I am approximately 60% through, has certainly challenged me, as almost not a page goes by without me making copious notes in the margin and the number of dog ears is just ridiculous! I usually don’t mark pages with dog ears, but the best of the best of this book has me crying out for me to make it easily accessible in years to come, and alas, the book probably has 50 dog ears by now….

Anyway, as I was reading this book during my weekly Monday Reading Retreat, a paragraph jumped out at me, and I simply cannot hold it in anymore. I. Have. To. Write. About. It. Now.

”Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”

This.
This is what The Creative’s Workshop is to me.
It feeds me.
There is so much creativity just whizzing and bouncing along in the workshop, it’s almost ridiculous, and it feeds me and my creativity to levels I’ve not experienced for many years.

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Be a purpose finder.

April 24, 2020
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Don’t be a purpose seeker, be a purpose FINDER. This morning @helenaroth opened up our minds to the possibilities in being kinder to yourself, playful in your approach and curious in your intentions. In doing so, your purpose will have a much easier time finding YOU.

That’s what they wrote a few hours after the fact, the lovely crew volunteering for Creative Mornings MALPurpose was the theme of this morning’s workshop. I was asked last week if I wanted to host it, their first ever Creative Mornings MAL (as in Malmö) meetup over Zoom, and of course, the Swedish heritage of Pippi Longstockings made me say Sure, I’d love to!

And I did. Love it that is.
And it went really well!
And I’ve learned so much these past years, not in the lest in the past two months on The Creative’s Workshop on how to run quite engaging and interesting and interactive workshops/meetings on and off Zoom, that it felt great to get to practice it first hand.

The theme, purpose, is an old friend of mine. I’ve written about it numerous times, clothing it in varying costumes, but at its core… same thing. Now, I didn’t prepare full-on, I admit. I talked the theme and my idea of setup over with my contacts at CM MAL, and jotted down notes for myself simultaneously. Checked out a few of those old blog posts of mine, and flicked through The Book of Awakenings for some added inspiration, and then, early this morning when I woke up, I had a general outline on my mind. So I grabbed pen and paper to give myself a few possible stepping stones.

I used a few of those stepping stones. Some were left unused on the paper. And a few new ones popped up in the moment. And that is what I do best. That was made very clear last year when I did my Pecha Kucha; I do better when I riff. It requires the setting to be one where riffing is possible, of course, but that is also what attracts me. It’s a frame that suits me. And having figured that out, is quite helpful as well.

And yeah. I do have a purpose in life. My why is to make a positive imprint, and the how that goes with it, is me being an agent of change. But most importantly, I didn’t invent it. And I didn’t search for it, but rather, it found me.

What about you? Have you found your purpose in life? Or has it found you?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Stimulating ventures get my creative juices going

March 11, 2020
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Riding my bike to the train station this morning I had a thought.

I’ve regained my joy in writing.
I haven’t had this much fun writing for the past year, or so!

I know full well what’s sparked my renewed thrill with writing – attending The Creative’s Workshop, and being a part of such a generous and caring community –, and that had me do a double-take. In hindsight, I’ve not partaken in (enough) stimulating ventures, which, apparently and not surprising at all, get my creative juices going.

That’s an important realization for me.
I enjoy it.
I thrive off it.
I am more creative on account of it.

And luckily enough, it’s completely in my own hands. I can jump in, or get out of, stimulating ventures at any time. There’s no end to the number of exciting, exploratory, engrossing workshops, courses, pieces of training I can attend. No end!

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Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12)

July 28, 2019
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in Tip
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In 2015 I listened to a riff from Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, telling a tale about one of Eric Clapton’s guitars. It must have stuck with me (things have a habit to do just that), because when I stumbled upon a book entitled Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument, by Allen St. John, in a thrift shop in Karlskrona in 2018, I bought it. And now, in 2019, I’ve read it. And what a read it’s been!

There’s this one thing that fascinates me. Professionals. It doesn’t really matter what the profession is, but someone who’s a pro just gets me going. I’ve blogged (and vlogged) about a few of them; massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, train conductors and smartphone salesmen.

This book. It’s about a pro. Or rather, about pros. Not just the one. There are many a professional featured in this book, but more than anything, it’s about Wayne Henderson, a master acoustic guitar builder. A luthier.

“[…] Wayne Henderson is a genius. His brand of genius harks back to the word’s unsullied origins: the Roman term for ‘begetter’. In the days of Ceasar, a genius wasn’t something you were, it was something you had. A genius was a vaguely protective being like a guardian angel, but most of all this Roman version of a genius was a maker, a conjurer, a genie, who could create very real things out of thin air. And in that old-school sense of the word, Wayne Henderson has a certain genius, an ancient forest nymph that sits on his shoulders and whispers directions every time he picks up a piece of wood.”

And I love it. What a joy, a thrill, a treat, to read this book! I don’t understand the half of it, now and again, when it comes to the technical terms for all of the parts and steps that make up building a handcrafted acoustic guitar but it simply doesn’t matter. I am enraptured anyway.

“Every guitar has its own voice, an individual timbre that’s as distinctive as a human voice – there’s no doubt that some techie could program voice recognition software to respond to the idiosyncratic strum of a particular guitar. Where does this voice come from? In a way, it comes from God or Mother Nature or whatever name you choose to apply to those things we can’t quite fathom and can’t quite control.”

Part of what makes this book such a delight to read are the many characters that congregate in Hendersons guitar work shop. Allen St. John paints their portraits beautifully, and except for the lack of smells from working pieces of wood, I feel as if I am perched on a stool in that workshop, watching skilled hands do their thing, all the while the gentle banter flows back and forth, as jokes and stories are being told.

“‘Number 1 is the state of mind of the person building the guitar’.
I was stunned.
In a single sentence, he [T.J. Thompson] had articulated the hypothesis I had been gradually creeping toward. An instrument is the sum total of not only the builder’s experience, but his experiences. You need to be a good man to build a good guitar. 

[…]

‘When people ask me how to build a better guitar, I always think and sometimes say, ‘Be a better person.’ You can’t keep your personality out of the work. It’s impossible.'”

Those paragraphs from pages 224 and 225 (of my hardcover edition from free press) are part of the insight that Jonathan Field riffed about, and when I read it, I remembered that I had actually blogged about this specific thing. Something with it resonated with me, and I think, perhaps, because I’d like for it to be universally true. I am not sure it is, but I would sure like for it to be!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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