The Way We Walk: Writing Lesson From a Tight Skirt

The road was closed for infrastructure repairs. Although the sidewalk was open, a huge machine at one end of the road was sending clouds of dust and grit into the air.

To get away from the dust, I turned left into an alley. As I squeezed past the big truck blocking the alley, a large shiny SUV swung in at the other end.

The SUV paused halfway along the alley, clearly waiting for the truck to move out of the way. The truck driver’s door hung open and there was no sign of him. In any case the road was blocked, so there was no way the SUV would be able to get through.

The SUV horn blared Continue reading


In Search Of A Writer-Friendly Computer Chair

I often feel like Goldilocks when I sit down. I so rarely find a comfortable chair! The seat of this one is too deep and sinks too far back where the chair back meets the seat. That one’s too high and has no support for my back. And that other one’s too low and the headrest forces my head forward.

Where’s my ‘just right’ chair?

When I gave up my dance life and chose a sit-and-write life, I tried any number of chairs to use at my laptop. I’d get one thing right (for example, position of the keyboard) and everything else would be wrong (my feet didn’t touch the floor; I had to look down at the screen).

“Get a desk chair,” my husband said.

Nah! They were too expensive and so very ugly.

But I needed to find something I could sit on that would be at least not too uncomfortable for fairly long stretches of time.

Exercise balls? No. Kneeling stool? Nope. Australian saddle seat? My dentist swore by it. Maybe I would have too, if Continue reading

Left Hand, Right Brain! Ta-Da!

Finally I gave in. My neck pain was so bad that I booked an appointment with a massage therapist.

The therapist told me that my body was out of kilter. My right side was dominating all my movements. The left side was doing nothing.

I checked it out.

I couldn’t even open my locker at the gym (one of those simple three to the right, two to the left, one to the right dial locks) with my left hand. And once my left hand finally found the right numbers, my fingers didn’t have the strength to pull the locker door open. The lock popped out of my fingers and I’d have to start all over again.

As I was making myself work the lock with my left hand, I remembered right-left brain theory: that each side of the brain works with the opposite side of the body, i.e., right brain and left side of the body and vice versa.

So if I concentrated on using my left hand/side, would that act like a vitamin booster for my right brain?

The right side of the brain is the creative side (left is more linear and logical and analytical).

The right brain is the creative brain and is responsible for rhythm, spatial awareness, colour, imagination, daydreaming, holistic awareness and dimension. It controls the left side of your body. The Thinking Business

My right brain could do with a little pepping up, so now I’m using my left hand as much as possible – stirring the soup (OKish), opening doors, chopping and peeling veggies (awkward). combing my hair and brushing my teeth (improving), painting screen doors (bad idea)….

Just wait! You’ll see! Any moment now I’ll be swept up in an amazing creative splurge!

Need Some Relief for Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Once again I’m having problems with a sore neck and shoulder.

I know this is because I sit at a computer for long hours. I also know it’s because I haven’t worked out the correct ergonomic alignment for my body with my desk and chair. Neither is adjustable so I’m always adding and taking away blocks, books, cushions, Pilates cushions, and back supports. (And I carry around bags that are far too heavy!)

Waking up in real pain this morning, I chose a Feldenkrais lesson podcast* at random. I just wanted to focus on something other than the soreness.

“Covering the Eyes” a short lesson given by Stewart Hamblin of the Feldenkrais Guild UK, turned out to be a real gift.

The movements are minimal so you don’t need much space other than a spot where you can lie on the floor.

I don’t want to describe the lesson in detail as that might take away from the immediacy of the experience, but I will say that the first set of instruction for ‘covering the eyes’ turned out to be quite an – ahem – eye opener!

The directions for the eye movements were very specific and detailed, and the usual ho-hum ‘look right’ and ‘look left’ evolved into a completely new experience. These segued into other eye movements I hadn’t done before – the effect on my eye muscles and my neck muscles was quite extraordinary.

If you’re suffering from sore or tired eyes, or from any tension in the neck or jaw, or in fact any tension, do try the lesson. It takes about half an hour, but I’d suggest giving yourself time for a little contemplative break afterwards to take in and enjoy the full effect and sensation of release.

For those of you who do the lesson, I’m very curious to know how you found it. Could you let me know in the Comments Box below?

* Feldenkrais lesson podcasts are available free on iTunes: Feldenkrais Guild UK on alonetone

You might also like to take a look at 4 Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

Hula Hooping For Creativity


I was in my local Canadian Tire, searching through coils of tubing in the plumbing section. A passing salesperson asked what I was looking for. Could he help?

I told him I didn’t think so as I wasn’t looking for stuff for a plumbing job, but was trying to work out what I needed to make a hula hoop.

“Ah,” he said, nodding. “Hula-hooping! Best thing ever! Five minutes of that every day and you feel great!”

In no time at all he’d helped me find the right tubing and a little connector thingy to keep the tubing ends together, and brightly colored electrical tape to decorate the hoop.

What can hula hooping do for a writer… or any artist… or for any body? Continue reading

Are You Forgetting Your Face When You Write?

When you finish your writing session, are you frowning? Are your lips compressed or pursed forward? Are you gritting your teeth? Are you biting the inside of your mouth? Are your lips pulled to one side? Do your eyes feel heavy?

When we write, we often end up with tight muscles all through the body: shoulders scrunched up, body core slumped, chin pressing forward.

Just as we forget about our body as it gets stuck in a less than healthy position while we write, it doesn’t occur to us to think about what’s happening in our faces.

Unless you’re a writer who can’t bear to ignore a ringing phone, your facial muscles might remain immobile (i.e., stuck!) for long periods of time.

I’ve been writing long hours the last few months and noticed I not only finish my writing session with my face tight, but I wake up in the morning gritting my teeth.

So I thought it was time to check out some facial exercises. There’s some pretty unattractive vocabulary around facial exercises (sagging, drooping, aging….), but I ignored all that. What I was looking for were exercises that would keep my facial muscles lively!

A couple of my favorites Continue reading

Paying Attention: The Art of Noticing

setting sun in woods, Eastern TownshipsI finally make myself get into my boots, gloves, hat, neck roll, big coat, boot grippers and go to the gym. Head down, I lean into -24 C. Stop in my tracks. Feel the cold on my face, the icy wind, the stinging hail-like snow. Become aware of a strange creaking sound – the city is creaking all around me. No blaring horns and whooshing tires and squealing brakes from the passing traffic, just this strange creak of snow under tires. Beyond the creak – silence. What am I doing? I’m marking out a moment. Last year raced by. So often days became a blur. I’d finish one thing, rush on to the next.

Every day includes much more non-being than being. This is always so. One walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the broken vacuum cleaner; ordering dinner; washing; cooking dinner. When it is a bad day the proportion of non-being is much larger. Virginia Woolf

So my new year’s resolution? Carve out a moment of being every day. And that means a moment of being attentive to the details of what I am doing, thinking, sensing.  I thought I would start by taking up journal writing again but this great article by Keri Smith gave me a better plan: the idea of ‘fives’. Every day I would write down five particular moments I had noticed. No sooner had I started than I changed my rules! Instead of ending the day wondering what moments I could remember, I would actively search for my moments. Every evening I would choose a focus or theme for the day. This could be : Continue reading

The Writing Body: 8 Quick Exercises For A Healthy Writing Year

It’s not as dangerous as ski jumping or skeleton of course, but we all know that sitting to write for long periods can cause significant damage to the body.

Here are some easy exercises to incorporate into your writing day.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and inspired year of writing!

1. Shoulders and neck

Clasp your hands behind your back. Pull your Continue reading

Walking Meditation and Peripheral Vision For Creativity

Hoodoo Trail, Banff, ABI’ve enjoyed walking meditation for years – I just didn’t know that was what I was doing!

I knew that when I walked our dog (especially as he became older and walked more and more slowly), I became hyper-aware of all sorts of sensory details around me, and that I’d often have what seemed like brilliant ideas as to how to solve problems with the story or choreography I was working on.

Hoodoo Trail, BanffIt was only when I went on a guided hike with Ronna of Eco Yoga Adventures while at a writers’ residency at the Banff Arts Centre that I discovered the concept of walking meditation.

I have to thank Ronna for a wonderful experience and for introducing me to these strategies for entering into the flow of this kind of dynamic meditation. Continue reading

Writer’s Process: Curiosity And The Contagion Of Looking

Dominion Building, MontrealMy story isn’t working. There are too many characters, too many events. Too much back story. I’ve lost the road map and driven into a swamp.

I need to take a breather. Time for a field trip.

“The brass elevator doors in the Dominion Square Building,” suggests a poet friend.

Go look at an elevator door? Really? Continue reading