Saturday, October 29, 2011

What I Learned from the Transformative Process of Writing: Feeling to Write and Writing to Speak

Since signing up for the Transformation Authors and Mastermind Program, I knew I was in store for something good that would change my life. What I didn't know was exactly how my life would change.

Perhaps that is why the transformative process is so damn exciting - you go "in" expecting one thing or "thinking" one thing and then something else completely happens... and with different life forces!

In my case, as I wrote, everything I experienced whether it was meditation and connecting in stillness and quiet or recalling the silent "voice" of living in Israel, became the threads of the story. As I lived it, I was evolving and writing it - pretty cool, if you think about it.

This is what exactly happened when I wrote "The Best Time to Get in My Way," for the Anthology to be published in May 2012, "Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time." By the time I finished the 20th draft version, I was transformed by the writing process - I was committed to the process.

And I noticed that many different levels peel and unfold at every stage. These levels didn't evolve sequentially, but sometimes all together. So I will identify those levels as a way to share with you what happened.

Level 1 - I start writing about transformation at the story level - how it feels to be an outsider living in Pittsbugh. My own story. I'm coming out. I share the "pieces" of my story that in turn, shape the reasons why I want to encourage other people to write their "pain stories."

Level 2 - I write my "story" through the eyes of a reader "pebble" - how writing our own "truths" and "pain stories" bring us closer to that "voice." At this stage of writing, the "concept of "voice" is a bit nebulous. I know it has something to do with finding a deeper connection, but it's more than that. It's up to me to find out so I write some more. As I'm deepening my message, I think more clearly, "What is it about finding my voice in a voiceless world" that brings a stronger connection. I ponder some of these answers in my meditations each morning waiting for the answers to sink in.

Level 3 of Transformation: I make the subtle but powerful connection to meditation and weave this into "part of my own story of transformation." I write that one needs to emotionally heal before moving forward. There are many nights and days that I cry. I cry for the "voiceless child" and I cry for the emotional and social isolation I feel as an outsider coming to Pittsburgh. I still feel this way. A lot.

Level 4 of Transformation: I'm intent on answering the questions for my beautiful "pebble reader" - How can the "voice of my story" serve you? How can I guide you dear "pebble" reader? How can I encourage you to write the voice of your own pain story?

On our last masterheart call, Christine Kloser, my transformative mentor and catalyst of this journey, gave us important tips for connecting to the reader. I go one step further and write letters to the reader - telling him/her how much I appreciate the journey and understand the process and I ask him/her questions and this helps me get "into his/her head."


For the last few weeks as I'm writing, I try to not get too bogged with recording the details, and I'm really make sure I'm honoring the story and my message of what needs to be shared. But there are so many elements of the story that are part of "ONE STORY," that it's hard to honor them all at one go.

By the last week of October 2011, I have written almost 25 drafts for a 1500 word chapter. But still, I feel like something's still missing. I am determined to find the piece I need to truly connect to my reader and myself.

And then, on Thursday, October 27th, I listen to a meditation about emotional healing presented by DavidJi from the Chopra Center as part of a meditation bundle I had purchased after completing the summer 2011 meditation challenge.

I am feeling worn-out with mid-semester blues. I don't want to look at another student's essay. I am particularly in need of love and self-care. I'm in need of face-to-face friendships. (This is my new goal) I cannot sustain myself with just online ones anymore especially when I'm in that "dark" moment. I'm beginning to think that finding a Kindred Spirit in my area is hard because of how busy I am and have become. I begin to open my heart for answers.

So in the middle of my morning at the university where I work, I listen to this meditation. I had never done anything like that before. Something about it strongly grabs my heart:

David Ji says that the reason why we have been emotionally hurt is because as a result of the pain, we haven't been expressed our needs and desires adequately enough to those around us. He gives a few guiding questions which I quickly write down.

1.Is there a need that is important to me that I have not expressed? (very conscious way)
2.How do you feel? What's that emotion inside?
3. Then state that need that is the cause of that feeling.
4. We make a request for a specific action.

On the afternoon walk all the way home from the bus stop, I think about the people who have hurt me and who I may hurt in return. I write to the one closest to me, a letter. I realize that there is probably not a lot that I can do to change this person, but after a good cry and some words, I feel much better. I remember what Christine Kloser says about "having a good cry" in one of the mindset emails I get.

I connect deeply (more cries) and realize that the voice of my heart needs acknowledgement. That's it! All my life, I've walked through life with a "thinking mind." I've made decisions entirely in this way nd not from a "feeling heart."

So what do I want the reader to know after reading this chapter. And how is this part of my transformation?

I write at the top of the page:

What the reader will get from reading this chapter: Listen to the voice that will allow you to feel.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

By the time I pick up my son, I am so tired from teaching, meditating, grading and writing and thinking - I just want to disappear - wisk myself away to an island and a beautiful sunset but I feel empowered by this new "finding" that I just go on. I grab my beautiful but tired son and we head for the neighborhood bus to take us to a hospital to use the gift certificates my husband got when he donated blood the past few times to buy dinner at the cafeteria. We get our hamburgers and french fries and grilled chicken burgers, which is not my husband's or my way. Daddy is the cook at home and we hardly eat french fries. But it's comfort food for both of us, and my son likes it. He's happy, so I give in.

With these new "heartfelt eyes," I weave into the story the very next day, the part of the heart and revise. I read it just once, twice and three times more send it happily off to the editor.

Yes! I finally now understand the "voice that has allowed me to feel." This awareness in itself, is life-changing/shaping. I am on a high because I know that from this place, I will always be able to reach higher levels of transformation and connect more deeply with my reader/myself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Silent Voice of Disconnect - From Kibbutz Life to Pittsburgh

I finally figured out a BIG piece about readjusting to life in the States after years of living on kibbutz in Israel that has been SO HARD. And why that difficulty has often created stress and anxiety.

On the kibbutz, everything was within a 360 degree mile radius - well, almost everything - mailpost, doctor, (not for emergencies), supermarket, laundry and dry cleaners, garage and mechanics, bike store and babyhouse, secretary offices (important for paying bills), dentist, haircutting. Well, you can see how convenient! And when we last visited in 2011, we were amazed at the number of businesses had "popped up."

However, when we realized we both couldn't be professionally fulfilled - we knew we would have to sacrifice something. Something BIG. That something was the superbly convenient lifestyle of living on a kibbutz we had come to know for many years.

The fact that we are surrounded by concrete and live above a computer store and art supply store and next to a dry cleaners and across the street from a synagogue and a block away (a long block) from Murray Avenue complete with supermarkets is probably the best compromise for the USA and the best in Pittsburgh lifestyle. But every now and then, something in me feels the DISCONNECT and wants to feel more connected.

Everything here is complicated with decisions - from the small to the large.

So let me share with you a simple scenario of grocery shopping. Even though the store is just a few blocks (long city blocks) away, here's what I end up thinking:

Should we take our white shopping cart to carry the groceries or should we take our tot bag?

Oh and don't forget to take the correct key set with the bar code so you can benefit from the fuel perks at Giant Eagle!

And our shopping list.

And of course, our decisions change with the weather - right?

If we forget these things, then we have to walk back three long city blocks. On a kibbutz, I would bike - zip - zap -zoop and in 1 minute I was home.

Now you may be feeling I'm still not quite settled here....

Well, I'll have to save that for another post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Discovering Emotional Freedom - The Voice of the Voiceless

So the other day, I was reading Tina Games's responses to me in the Moonlight Mom's cafe as I was trying to connect the dots regarding my unique gifts and talents and how can I serve the universe. Back in March 2011, Tina was the one who formerly introduced me to Christine.

Here's what she initially wrote:

Through your gift of words (language), you are like Moses. You speak to those who are feeling disconnected (the outsiders) - and you speak to their "need to be free" of this prison - and you connect with them through the power of emotion."

I truly believe your gift is wrapped up in the beautiful way you tell your "pain stories" - your "stories of darkness, trying to find the light" - your "stories around feeling disconnected" -- there's so much richness in your storytelling.

When I first read this, my response was like, "oh yeah, well, pain stories. Yeah, what's a story without a lot of pain!"

But on my way to work last Monday, it suddeny hit me. My mission here on earth isn't about helping people write just any old "life story," but "pain stories!" No wonder I was getting stuck!

Duh, duh, duh! Why didn't I connect with this earlier!

Part of my business vision of giving a voice to the voiceless has to do with allowing them to share their "pain stories" - their "stories of darkness, trying to find the light" and "stories around feeling disconnected."

For months I have been focused on the genre of "life stories" but what I want to do serves a moment in time - not to just fulfill a chapter for a memoir. In this fast paced world, we want to do anything to avoid the "pain" - but we are not always aware of it. And in our own way, we slip into those pain stories without fully healing ourselves.

The premise of the book and my chapter for the anthology "Pebbles in the Pond," (to be published in the spring 2012) has to do I believe, with transforming these pain stories. While we write these pain stories, we begin to understand the message and truth of why this situation/feeling/event is happening.

When we are in pain, we struggle emotionally.

We feel like outsiders. We become wrapped up with our words, thoughts and actions.

But deep down inside, we want to be "FREE" of this prison.

This is where I help connect my tribe through the "power of emotion."

We can truly claim our voices when we are able to connect with the power of emotion and transform ourselves.

How can we turn the power of our emotions into something life-changing?

It begins with how we express those stories.

Someone who is reading this might think this is just a bunch of nonsense - What can these "pain stories" offer me in addition to just sharing more pain?

Giving a Voice begins with...

allowing ourselves to trust the power of our pain stories - that everything is happening for the highest good


We may want to find the light, yet we are feeling so disconnected that all we feel is the intensity of the emotion and how stuck we feel.

The power lies in how we are able to explore these pain stories in such a way that we also keep true to our own voice within.

This is also where I will share snippets of my own "pain stories" as a returning "immigrant" coming full circle with my American roots after living years in Israel as I show exactly the relationship between our reality and writing.

We are the driving force of our deepest darkest desires.

Voice comes from a place that is deepr and darker still.

By zooming in on a moment of time, (of pain) we take the time to analyze our own emotional disconnect.

Writing helps transform all the pain into something bigger, much more beautiful.

We don't need to see the pain as an enemy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

That Kind of Voice and Those Kinds of Lines

In Israel, I did a series of tests to determine my personality and which careers were best suited for me. One of the questions required to continue the line pattern depending if the pattern was squiggly, zig-zaggy or whatever. Later the counselor explained that my lines were the exact angle, width, line and shape.

"You need to fit in..." she had said.

That was more than seven years ago.

I'm wondering what those lines would look like now.... of course, I could do this at home, but it's different when you complete it under test conditions and in a different country....

This morning, I woke up with the voice and soul of a 15th year old LaGuardia high school student of Music and Arts.

It was...

scared but unbeknowst to others
"I know what I want voice but, I am
afraid to admit it
because I might truly be
that... kind of voice."

In Geometry, the right angles had to perfectly right.
In Voice, the notes had to be technically on key.
In Theory, the beats had to be carefully measured.

Well, all those things ARE important, but in retrospect, that gave me comfort, defines me at the time and we all know what adolescence means. There was only ONE problem - NO SOUL in those angles. NO UNCONDITIONAL LOVE in those songs.

Today, I am happy when I check off my "to-do list" - the mere sensation of seeing check marks gratifies me. Ah, the life of a mother-teacher-writer....

But I've come a long way since those lines.....

You've come a long way baby....