The Writing Zone and Music

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A few of you have asked about the fact that I never write anything without music.  I don’t care if it is a poem, a blog entry, a novel or an application for a writing residency. There is a way in which music shuts off the left brain and cancels out the distractions all around.  Music can simply put you in the writing zone.  There is a zone for for writers just like artists and musicians.  For me, well I admit, I listen most often to soundtracks to movies like Avatar.  So, for those of you who want to try your hand at writing with music here are my top three YouTube music compilations.  And set yourself up with a couple of “writing channels” on Pandora.  As for me, I love anything composed by the soundtrack wizards like James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman and James Horner.  Let me know what your favorites are.

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Oral Fixation

“I took the leap. I reinvented my work and what has happened in three short months is magical. I have the privilege of coaching and consulting with single mom’s in Colorado, professional women in Panama, a novelist in Ottawa, a single dad in Seattle, a poet in Boston, two medical students in NYC, a pastor writing a play, a dentist changing his world, entrepreneurs starting real estate businesses, beginning food blogs, writing memoirs and screenplays and self-help books. And it all stared with a fixation I had.”

I like to think of myself as a good communicator but that is not everyone’s sentiment about me. My friends and family might say I am a big talker, my father said I was “overly verbose”, one of my husbands just shook his head wishing I could simply embrace his silence and my daughters used to sit far from me in a theater when we were watching a movie, since they said I talked too much. And loudly I might add!

I confess. Most of that is true. But, in my defense, I am so in love with story that I always seem to have one to tell. But, since the advent of the computer and the communication gadget era we are losing something profound: Our oral tradition. And the oral tradition is all about family and community. The era of sitting around the radio and hearing stories with others, since there was no television, or sitting round the fire hearing the local storyteller raise the hair on the back of your neck and now, even reading a book is becoming something from the past.

Storytelling was a community event. Now, we are all separate from one another even in the movie theater. There is no gathering of the clan; no family story night and bedtime storytelling has given way to watching something on an i-Phone, even at the age of 7.

The new ‘oral tradition’ is not really even oral any longer. The cell phone and finding a friend for a chat, has now moved to cryptic texting. Beautifully spun stories are now shared in sparse sound bites and short cut conversations. We are loosing touch with each other in the illusion of being in touch. We are forgetting that intimacy needs meaningful contact and we are trading a great story or a profound movie experience for the 3 min web-series while waiting for the subway seated next to four more strangers staring at their phones and pounding away on keys.

And I am not immune to these radical changes. Since I drive a lot I have traded thick page-turners for a book on tape. I have driven two entire states and missed most of the countryside because Stephen King, the master storyteller, and his book Dr. Sleep, was spellbinding. I really tried to get through Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, but after two disks and horrible writing I peeled into the nearest Cracker Barrel and traded it in for one of the best books thus far, The Litigators by John Grisham. This is the closest I have come to listening to a great storyteller tell me an amazing story.

My commitment to shifting my work to mythotherapy and away from psychotherapy, is to assist people in finding the story in them that needs to be written and that can heal their lives. This adventure has turned out to be one of the most amazing adventures I have invited into my life thus far.

My work for 30 years has been with people and hearing the stories they endured, the stories that they want to overcome and heal from. As a therapist this was my life’s work. Healing stories has become something far more for me and what I am watching and experiencing is that unpacking a story, whether a personal one, a fantasy or a gigantic creative endeavor has the healing power of the best therapy out there. So, I took the leap and created Mythotherapy and made the strong intention to help people get their stories told, while writing my own.

In three short months I have left the east coast with my cat, created a Skype practice and put out the beacon for storytellers that I am here help, to coach, to collaborate, to work on writer’s block and get their story written and published. It has been amazing. Intentions are beacons. They are like a red flare shot over the ocean of life that the right person sees, when they need to see it. As a result, I have fabulous new clients from all over the world, thanks to the Internet.

I have the privilege of coaching and consulting with single mom’s in Colorado, professional women in Panama, a novelist in Ottawa, a single dad in Seattle, a poet in Boston, two medical students in NYC, a pastor writing a play, a dentist changing his world, entrepreneurs starting real estate businesses, beginning food blogs, writing memoirs and screenplays and self-help books.

I am consulting with these wonderful and talented people on the next great Harry Potter book, a spin tingling thriller, a cookbook, essays to get into doctoral programs, a real estate blog that will make you want to rush out and buy every house in site, an unsolved crime, a Dr. Phil story that is shocking, a paranormal mystery and an alien Sci-Fi. And, I am blow away by those who are writing memoirs of true stories that we all need to read and hear.

My writing is better for every one of these people who are courageous enough to reach out and email me and then create a commitment to their story being told. My hope is that this oral fixation I have on telling stories, continues to manifest more amazing relationships and life changing stories we all need to hear.

Stories are our soul’s food, or hearts inspiration and our creative juice. Please. Tell yours.

PS: Did I fail to mention that committing to doing what you love works? Just sayin.

 

 

 

Manly Men

One of the most tragic stories in the history of our planet has to do with men. Yes you heard it hear from one who has spent thirty years speaking to women’s empowerment, raising one voice for women of abuse and delving into the history of terror for women which continues all over the world by the hands of mostly, men. So, this is a big moment for me as I come into my own deeper realization that we ALL have been brutalized at the hands of the Patriarchy whether it be religion or governing bodies, husbands, employers or terrorists.  Men have suffered, as have women.

 

Men designed, supported and have lived by powerful beliefs since the beginning of time with regards to what “manly men” are, why war is necessary, why bravery and courage and fighting the good fight is at the heart of what men are required to emulate. Men grew up thinking about the hero, the warrior and living under authority that was not their own. As a result, most men simply learned to soldier through life with no idea of what really lurked on the other side of this dysfunctional set of rules for being masculine.  Still in the most current dictionary the word Manly carries a heavy weight:

  1. Having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage and strength.
    “looking manly and capable in his tennis whites”

What is wrong with this picture?

performing, providing and protecting became the most important part of what made a man a man, which morphed over the centuries, as any imbalance does, into a toxic reflection of the masculine that took on the mask of control over, power hunger, greed and a disrespect for anything that is not…all of the above. But, what about the human condition that is innate which men were encouraged to exorcise from their self-concept, namely, emotions, creative and spontaneous dreaming, and anything that seemed to scream the feminine, as in intuition as power, emotional intelligence and compassion for the most part, all aspects of our humanity which were not in the game of being a man.

 

Today, through the widening crack in the system, we are hearing some clear thinking and feelings on this subject as they spill out into our collective conscience. And, at the front of the line for telling the truth of what men have endured in the attempt to adhere to the “real man syndrome”, is the movie industry. Hidden and not so hidden in the fabric of the movies that are coming out in droves this fall, is the untold story of the patriarchal underbelly and the price being paid not only by women, but by the men themselves who have fought for their country, for families, for putting meat on the table and for simply doing what authority says in order to get ahead and be the norm. But the norm is not normal. These movies not only hint at the corporate rape of men’s souls, the pressure of being the provider, the soul crushing reality of all war, but they expose some of the most vulnerable truths that men never really talk about.

 

This underbelly of the patriarchy is fraught with guilt, shame, emotional pain, fear and suffering that the soldier from war arriving home with a life long case of PTSD is simply a mirror for. The men who were trained out of a large part of their humanity are equally pained by what lies buried and seemingly out of their reach and far from the light of day: Their inherent lovable-ness, their soulfulness, their feelings and their fears. Personal suffering that is hardly measurable, that has no way of being addressed, creates anger and depression, suicide and alcoholism and men litter relationships with brokenness, heart attacks, stress reactions and lack of intimacy.

 

There are at least four movies that stampede onto the screen this fall and winter and are couched in what you might think as being a “guy movie” but under the surface you are witnessing a revelation of the inner life of men. I am not talking about any of the Hangovers, The Interview, all the Seth Rogen movies and the plethora of wanna be cop movies since they just keep men Dumb and Dumber. But Fury with Brad Pitt, the up and coming Unbroken by Angelina Jolie, The Railroad Man with Colin Firth and The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. and the impeccable Robert Duval are stories of men who did what was expected of them in war, in work and at home and paid a horrible bone crushing, life sucking price which the women in their lives inherited.

 

Men brokered their own deeper humanity for towing the line and for fear of not being one of the boys.   These movies eek out themes of the loss of love, the powerful bonding between men that can only be expressed by the short hugs or the slap on the back, the cold war between fathers and sons who cannot express emotion and the inability to be fully themselves are rare confessions from men in movies. And we as the onlooker with popcorn in hand, rarely get to see these themes unfold in all its pain.

 

As stories go, this story is the one story that our society needs to look square in the eye since things are changing and they will not be returning to “normal”. Men and women alike are crying for balance within and without between the masculine and the feminine and in the long run the shift that everyone is heralding on our planet has, at its heart, the crumbling of the patriarchy in all is dysfunction and abuse of spirit. Movies start consciousness moving outside the box, whisper the unspeakable, leave us breathless with visual brilliance in a moment that captures anguish which cannot be expressed any other way than with flying body parts. Then we watch the inevitable as Brad Pitt takes all the suffering of war and buries it deep inside just as our fathers, brothers and lovers have, only to create suffering for the generations that follow.

 

We have spent decades in the arms of a feminist movement that has made clear how ravaged, and how brutalized women have been from the beginning of time at the hands of the patriarchal model, but it is now time to have the conversation that is so needed regarding the wounded warrior, the brutalized man, the man who has been denied his soul.

 

I am inspired by the list of “man movies” that should become the most important “chick flicks” to see. So in the service of story telling I want to review all of the movies that I have mentioned here, not to give anything away, but, to coax you in seeing violent and harsh movies as a way to more fully understand the darkness of the patriarchy and what men have endured. I will add a new post for each movie to the Screenplay section of my website, starting with Fury.