Monday, June 28, 2010

Connecting Dotz: Seeing and Feeling Our Interconnectedness

© 2010 by Joyce Mason

I was visiting my favorite spiritual bookstore in downtown Sacramento, Sunlight of the Spirit, when I encountered the startling image in this post. It depicts the Osani Circle Game.

Efé children of the Ituri Forest in Zaire (Republic of Congo, Central Africa) sit in a circle, feet touching, all connected. They each in turn name a round object. It is soon obvious how much the circle of life is depicted in round things—sun, moon, the circle of family. Players name round objects and then, as they run out of circular things, they name figuratively round concepts: the changing of the seasons, a full pregnancy, the harvest cycle. The elimination continues until, finally, only one child remains. Tradition has it that this winner will live a long and prosperous life.

I fell instantly in love with this story on the back of the card and this evocative image, which I plan to frame. One day, I was doing my own version of the Osani Circle Game—touching people on Twitter with uplifting quotes and links. The card was staring at me from my computer desk. To share it, I had to find where information about it might be posted online. That’s when I discovered its source, ConnectingDotz. Recently, I read a quote about Twitter (paraphrased) stating it’s the best social networking platform we never knew we needed till we had it. Soon Susan Fassberg, owner of this incredible card and gift company, sent me a message to thank me for my post about it. I knew instantly that I wanted to interview her on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights.

This long introduction is for the express purpose of reconfirming how synchronicity works … and how we now have the tools to make our own version of a circle game our heartwarming game of life.

Joyce: Susan, tell me the purpose of Connecting Dotz and how you came to create it.

Susan: Connecting Dotz is the name of my business because life is a process of connecting dots: seeing connections and relationships, which allow us to have a greater and deeper understanding of our world. Just like that silly game of connecting dots on paper, when the dots are connected, we see a Bigger Picture, right? For decades my working tagline has been “linking people with ideas with people with ideas…” and I’ve understood my vocation as one of making connections that are useful to the greater good. Sometimes my work has been film research, sometimes book PR (“50 Simple Things You can do to Save the Earth”), sometimes online publishing, as when I helped launch

When I first saw the Osani image back in 1984, it simply drew me in. I was instantly reminded of all the connections to nature and community that our modern western life, in its driven nature, so often ignores. So I followed my impulse to track down the photographer. Jean-Pierre and I become friends, and only 25 years later did I ask him for the rights to Osani. I felt it was an image that should be shared with the world, and though I’d never launched a card line before and had no relevant experience (my prior product launch was an environmental gift basket in 1990), I simply made up my mind that it was a doable idea, started small, and kept at it.

For three years I was a one-card card company, and pursued consulting on the side. The growth of Connecting Dotz has been organic; my products are gifted to honor many different kinds of transitions and appreciations in life: weddings, birthdays, graduations and memorials.

Joyce: We share a passion for diverse cultures and their gifts we can glean and borrow from in our own day and context. I am a big fan of cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, whose work has influenced me. Who were your influences and how did you come to be what my mother called herself, a “culture maven?”

Susan: It’s funny, isn’t it, how some people are just wired this way. Ever since elementary school I’ve had serious wanderlust, and loved learning languages. My mother shared this interest, and encouraged me to pursue my passion. I was certain I’d end up in the Peace Corps, and live overseas. But my path was not that straightforward, by any means. In addition to studying German, French and Spanish, I studied psychology; I was particularly drawn to the teachings of Carl Jung and aspects of the psyche, which go beyond borders. There’s also a scholar in Santa Fe, Edward T. Hall, who caught my attention. He must be quite senior now; he wrote a fantastic series of books about how cultures experience time and spatial relationships differently, how important non-verbal communication is, and how architecture affects us. I saw how much cultural constructs inform our perception and, of course, I noticed how we express what we pay attention to through our use of language.

Joyce: Since I have encountered the same issue myself, I was touched to read that you launched Connecting Dotz after being told many times that your ideas didn’t fit easily into known sales categories. Tell us about that—and what advice do you have for other “one of a kinds?”

Susan: Well, my path has certainly been the proverbial “less traveled” road (laughing). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “we don’t do that”, or “you want to what?” or even “We can’t sell your products, they’re not like all the others” (and, even better, “Wow; we can’t wait to sell your products, they’re not like all the others”). Conventional notions (and sales categories) can be challenging.

I’m developing a new sales category: "connectedness," because  we all crave close connection and want to express it, but not necessarily through a conventional message.

To others who share this quirky path I would say, “Don’t give up the ship!” and above all, have a sense of humor. There are a lot of bumps on this road… Also, it certainly helps to have friends who are part of your “tribe” who share your values. Even if they are not like you, they can appreciate you, and you’ll need that appreciation to keep you going. Another bit of advice, though I’ve not been great at taking my own medicine, is to recognize how much you can do alone, and where you need help. If you don’t start with investment funds, then barter, trade, bootstrap and bake sale your way into having resources you need to move forward. A helpful resource is to create a one-page business plan. The book, The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan shows how.

Joyce: Until I visited your website, I didn’t know about your “In A Word” card collection. As a word lover and someone who feels she has a mission to heal with words, again, I fell completely in love with another of your products. How did these cards evolve?

Susan: After living overseas I realized that when I had a particular feeling, I almost always sought to express it in a particular language that would capture the nuance I was after. English just isn’t enough… I began to ask people if there were words that their grandmother always used, or words that stuck through family traditions, and invariably, everywhere I went I was gifted a linguistic treasure… one word at a time. Also, back in 1985, I first read Howard Rheingold’s There's a Word for It and knew that I would someday create a product using foreign words.

It took another 20 years however until I felt the world had become international enough (and sadly, shared common challenges like species and culture loss) that the notion of endangered words and the preciousness of cultural wisdom might engage people as a product line.

Joyce: As I looked at one luscious “In a Word” after another, it was hard for me to pick a favorite, although I have recently found myself using Grok a lot again, years after reading Stranger in a Strange Land. Do you have a favorite—a few faves—or are they all like your children and you love them all in different ways?

Susan: Yaa khit mahk (“less thinking, more happiness” in Thai) is one of my favorites. So is Ubuntu ("the kindness and compassion which come from understanding each of us is part of a greater whole")… it’s soooo wonderful—and Confianza (“I believe in you with all my heart”) but yes, I love them all!  (See Card Picker.)

Joyce: I know we can buy your cards online at Connecting Dotz Tell us, how do we find out where to buy them locally or how to encourage our favorite store to carry them?

Susan: Thank you for asking! On my site, there’s a list of shops that carry the cards. But I’m only one woman, and I’d be very grateful for leads to more retail sites. Any shop owner can easily receive a wholesale sell sheet and samples, and I’d be delighted to offer a free set of cards to anyone who helps me break into a new area. I, like so many indie businesses, depend on the kindness of strangers. I should also mention that I sell the Osani posters at discounted prices to teachers, and am happy to use my merchandise to help others fundraise for aligned causes.

Joyce: In closing, your business is a living example of spirited living and the spirit that joins us all, the stuff of this blog. Thinking which “In A Word” describes how I found you, it would be Yuen (yoo-EN, said quickly) from the Mandarin Chinese:

A connection that is meant to be, the idea that certain people are meant to find each other...

Thank you for visiting Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. I know my readers will be as touched by your work as I am!


Susan Fassberg
has been active in marketing, business development and public relations for over 25 years. Currently she holds the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships/Marketing at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. (The GGSC studies the psychology, sociology and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills for a thriving, resilient and compassionate society., her green greeting card company, celebrates linguistic diversity, endangered languages, and indigenous wisdom. Susan serves on the Board of Rockwood Leadership Institute and Terralingua , because volunteer work is good for the soul.

Photo Credit: © 2004 J-P.Hallet, licensed to S. Fassberg. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Visit ConnectingDotz cards and prints; all Osani purchases help support The Pygmy Fund.

Related Post: To read about how the Osani Circle Game image represents a visual zodiac, read A New Zodiac: The Osani Circle Game on The Radical Virgo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer: The Growing Season

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

My first spiritual mentor was the late psychic and down-to-earth meditation teacher, Betty Bethards. Betty and her Inner Light Foundation catalyzed my embrace of metaphysics and all things spiritual. Betty had this view of the seasons, slightly Joyce-ified:

Spring is when we set up our lessons for the year.

Summer is the growing season, when we sprout those seeds and learn a lot about whatever topics are on tap for our personal growth this year.

 Autumn is the harvest, when we reap the results of our learning.

Winter is time to rest and reflect on the year’s crop of inner growth—to give the soil and ourselves a break to gather our forces for the next round of bursting into bloom again in spring.

It’s summer, so let’s get growing!

What’s Your “Summer History?”

For sun worshippers and/or the athletically inclined, summer is often their best time of year. It’s a time for play and literal stretching of muscles. Summer’s an interface between the human body and the best the environment has to offer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

This isn’t true for everyone; I’m here to attest. In reference to the famous song Summertime, the living ain’t always easy. My most painful growth (I call it groanth) has come in July and August—especially August. I only figured out why recently. Here’s where it helps to know your astrology chart. During those months, the Sun passes over some planets in my chart that “light up” early wounding. If you have a certain time of year when you seem to have more trials than fun, it might be something similar. Also, I was born on the last breath of summer—eight hours before the Autumn Equinox. The month before a person’s birthday is often like “the dark of the Moon,” when one is completing a cycle before rebirth. Its meant to be an inner time, and mine falls smack on the cusp of the last hurrah of summer and Labor Day’s call back to school and real life. I share this with you for this reason. If you’ve never quite been able to catch the wave of summer or enjoy the psychological heat of the season, know you’re not alone.

Also know that as you accumulate growing seasons and are doing your work of stretching, navigating the seasons that are trickier for you will become easier. I question every single July and August why on earth I still live in a climate with triple-digit summers, sometimes for weeks on end. Talk about a preview of the Hot Place! Since my life has felt like hell often during those months, the metaphor fits—but I have to say, I’ve reached a point where summer is becoming my most productive creative season. And the learning “clicks” into place far more easily, since I no longer resist. There is hope!

Some Practical Tips for Staying Healthy with the Seasons

I’ve used acupuncture and other aspects of Oriental Medicine for many years as a central focus of my personal wellness program. One of my favorite books is Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Dr. Elson Haas.

Come summer, our attention shifts from the Liver and Gallbladder (Spring) to the Heart and Small Intestine. Oriental Medicine focuses on the body’s health or vitality according to energy flow. Invisible pathways called meridians are distributed throughout our bodies. The energy that flows through them is known as qi (pronounced and sometimes spelled chi). Martial arts like t’ai chi and qi gong enhance that energy flow and are used in the West more for their healing properties than a form of combat. (If they combat anything, it’s illness.)

With the Heart and Small Intestine as the primary organs of the season, it’s good to know when your Heart Qi is lagging. (This is the qi to your heart!) Some symptoms include skin rashes, heavy limbs, feeling sluggish, or feeling like your head is puffed up. One of life’s ironies: those cold drinks and ice cream we crave most in summer actually weaken heart qi, if overdone, especially when you’re very hot. Go figure! Here’s where moderation rules, even on the playground, which I certainly consider summer to be.

Another thing about Oriental Medicine: It’s like that old song, “The head bone’s connected to your neck bone, etc.” All the systems feed one another. If you’re stressed, Liver Qi is weakened. Not getting enough sleep? That weakens Kidney Qi. Eventually, those diminished energy flows make the qi to your heart not turn so well. My acupuncturist recommends avoiding excess air conditioning, which can weaken Lung Qi, and keeping the thermostat at 80o. (Talk about your hot flashbacks!) Another big no-no is sleeping with a fan directly on you. Wind slows circulation, and if it slows down enough during sleep, it could actually contribute to a heart attack. Suggestion: Use a low setting and a plug in timer to limit the fan to an hour or two while you sleep off the summer’s day.

As to the other summer-emphasized organ system, Small Intestine, it assimilates our nutrients. Symptoms it’s not working include fatigue, indigestion, the runs, and bloating. (Sounds fun, huh?) Doing a cleanse for a couple of days can help clear out a sluggish system. Things to avoid include meat, dairy, bread and sugar. It doesn’t mean don’t barbeque; just use smaller portions of meat and focus on vegetables and whole grains. Live enzyme foods help, too, like miso or organic yogurt a few times a week.

Summer would be a prime time to try acupuncture, herbs, and this wonderful healing system. After 25 years of being a devotee, I still go for seasonal tune-ups four times a year, even if everything is going well. We’re more vulnerable to getting sick during the changes of season, when our bodies are undergoing major adjustment. When you eat what’s “in season” and don’t try to fight the season with excess counter measures to change the temporary weather, you’ll be in the thriver’s seat.

Not fighting the wave of change is something good to remember in a more universal sense during the current Big Change Transits the sky is announcing all year. Go with the flow—or risk suffering, perhaps miserably—and at minimum being out of sorts for a long time.

Celebrate Summer Solstice!

I look forward to celebrating Summer Solstice with my Solsisters friends down by the riverside, as is our custom. We take a ritual dip as part of the celebration. Do your own rituals to focus on your growing season. Celebrate summer and the sun by revisiting my Summer Solstice post from 2009 on The Radical Virgo.

And by all means, play. Let’s not forget that #1 thing summer is for—and how much growth comes out of it. In fact, the vast majority of our growing as children into adults happens on the playground of life, both the literal one and the figurative one of lightness and humor.

Recess bell!

Photo Credit: Girl Stretching in the Field © Nejron |


Haas, Elson: Staying Health with the Seasons (Celstial Arts, 2003).

Village Press Newsletter, Summer 2010: Center for Optimum Health/Village Acupuncture, 300 Judah St., Roseville, CA 95678. Phone: (916) 786-0695

Monday, June 14, 2010

Joyce of All Trades

Master of a Few!

© 2010
By Joyce Mason

This post complements an important announcement on my other blog, The Radical Virgo. I have re-opened my Inner Growth Work “astrology-plus” practice which also includes tarot, dreamwork, and flower essence consultations. All the details on finding out what I do and how to work with me, if you’re interested, are linked there. On Hot Flashbacks, I’d like to focus on something different. Namely, the mixed blessing of being an eclectic person. If you’re a Suzy, Jill, Sam or Jack of All Trades, and sometimes wish you could be more single-focused, this post is for you!

Very Versatile

In my last post, Very Verse-a-Tile, I talked about my lure back to poetry. In fact, these last three posts have been about going home to people, places, and things from which I had taken a temporary vacation. I realized midway that I was building up to the announcement about reopening my practice.

I have always had a multitude of interests. Several of my friends are still working on “finding themselves” in their 50s or 60s. When I listen to them, I understand, but it is so outside the realm of my experience to be limited to just one; I have to wonder what that would be like. It makes me ponder the greener pastures of a less complicated life.

When I don’t feed my various needs for spirituality, art, family and friends, I feel all out of whack. It’s a malaise that puts me on edge far more than the challenge of juggling several passions.

In trying to find a graphic for this post that fit my feelings, I had several to choose from. Some were prettier, sexier, or more humorous than this one. I insisted on only one thing—that the woman depicted had a look of joy or happiness on her face. This crazy pace and complex life actually makes me happy. When I found the photo I ultimately used, I “got” why. Writing plus all of the things in my Inner Growth Work practice are my “gifts.” As we embrace the wisdom years, it’s our job to give back what we’ve learned. I can’t give you just one gift—writing. I have to give you all five—writing, astrology, tarot, dreamwork, and flower essences. How convenient! This woman is juggling exactly five packages!

Women and Multi-Tasking

While there are, of course, individual variations, I have observed that in general women are better at multi-tasking than men. I saw this up-close when I had a job that required keeping so many balls in the air, it would have worn out the most seasoned juggler. We hired a man to co-pilot the program with me. He was so linear by comparison—one thing at a time. We operated in very different ways. Seeing this on a day-to-day basis made me appreciate our inborn differences and the ways men and women complement each other. I have had oodles of conversations about why women are wired for multi-tasking at the biological level. Some reasons are obvious. If you’re trying to manage several children, keep house, and gather food—that would require a juggling act even back in the Stone Age. Add the modern necessity for most women to work outside the home and their unwillingness to give up their own interests and fulfillment. Suddenly, the creative feminine energy has to be whipped up to a whirling vortex of amplified life force.

When it becomes “too much” involves the difficulty many women experience in saying no—in the appropriate reining in of their creative forces. The whole act goes to the Dark Side when we lose ourselves in the process. The only way this eclectic lifestyle works is if the owner of that energy is completely centered in who s/he is, what s/he wants, and in taking care of him- or herself. It’s important to remember that creative energy, AKA “the feminine” is the animus in both males and females. It’s an energy, not a gender or not the sole realm of one gender, even if women often “come in” with more of it. The best way to remember its ever presence is in the yin/yang symbol. Each has a drop of the other in it—females have a drop of masculine, their animus, and men have a drop of feminine, their anima. Some have more than a drop. Vive les differences!

Just One Glass …

When we get in trouble with all this juggling and jumping around, that’s when we have to downsize—at least temporarily. There is a huge difference between being stimulated and fulfilled and being overextended and utterly exhausted. We have to know when to say “uncle.” In my case, I was a workaholic for many years. I had a 40-hour-a-week day job, a half-time metaphysical practice, and an international astrology newsletter I did three times a year (more like a mini-magazine). This was in the ‘90s before all the whiz-bang electronic and print options of today. On top of that, I wrote articles, organized at least one international astrology conference—and that was just work. Once I remarried in ’98, something had to give because I wanted time for my relationship. I got a clear calling from spirit to put astrology and my practice on the back burner.

I was at the peak of my career in that realm. I had worked hard, and I did not understand why God was asking me to do this 180-turnaround. Still, I honored my inner wisdom. I honestly thought I’d never be back. (Are you laughing yet?)

In She, his wonderful book on the psychology of the feminine based on the myth of Eros and Psyche, Dr. Robert A. Johnson says that all women must learn to go down to the metaphorical river and take just one goblet of water. This comes from the four rites of passage Aphrodite, the Greek version of Eros, must complete in order to develop fully as a women. Only in her case, she has to fill a single goblet from the river Styx. Styx was the mythological river that marked the boundary between Earth and the underworld. According to Dr. Johnson, this means that a woman must learn at some point to focus on a single item at once from the vast choices in the universe. At the height of my one-woman Ed Sullivan Show, the idea of going to the river and choosing only one—in my case marriage—was a great comfort and necessity that cried out from all the cells in my being.

At some point, a woman must learn to focus on a single item from the vast choices in the universe. ~ Dr. Robert A. Johnson, She

However, this is not what a woman does always or what the feminine or anima does normally. Creativity is the “wild feminine.” What one glass?

The Eros and Psyche myth and the one glass metaphor illustrates the same point as the wonderful song from “My Fair Lady,” Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man? There are times when a woman must know intimately her drop of the masculine. She must own her inner male. She must be linear and become a good father to herself, including grounding herself in more ways than one.

The Renaissance Woman’s Dilemma

Multiple interests and gifts are great, but they require a strong, grounded core of energy to pull off the jugging act in daily life. They also may require a time-out, that grounding of another kind.

Here’s the bonanza of insight from my personal adventure with the river, one glass, and grounding. I’m back in a new and better way. My creativity is on fire! I have matured in the process and gained more self-confidence. I feel like the theme song to LaVerne and Shirley. Nothing will stop me …

… except myself, if I fail to ground all that activity by rest, meditation, inspirational reading, walks in the woods, and all the things a creative whirlwind needs to keep her life and self from blowing away from her like a hurricane.

Our multi-media world gives us so many choices, it’s hard to make them all. I can barely decide which e-mails to read or delete. How much harder it can be to decide where to put our most precious resource, our creativity—the God-stuff—the energy with which we co-create and can make the world a better place.

Ponder your yin/yang balance and ask yourself, now and then, if you need a one-goblet break to prepare you for your next personal renaissance.


Photo Credit: GIFTS © Bliznetsov |

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Very Verse-a-Tile

© 2010
By Joyce Mason

I often talk about my tendency toward earworms—songs that get stuck in my head. This odd radio transmitter in my mind seems to be stuck on a channel that plays childhood slogans, jingles, and commercials. I never know when an otherwise dull day might be interrupted by something like:

I’m Buster Brown.
I live in a shoe.
That’s my dog Tide.
He lives there, too.

Sometimes the earworm isn’t just silly; it’s a message.

I got one of those today. My wormsong is from a Broadway musical made into a movie. I saw it for the first time in 1962 at the impressionable age of 15. Thankfully, my mother never censored my viewing. If she'd known the content, I doubt she’d have let me see Gypsy, about the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, even if it did star Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. Gypsy’s strip song is stuck in my head like an old scratched 78 record:

Let me entertain you.
Let me make you smile.
Let me do a few tricks,
Some old and then some new tricks,
I’m very versatile.

I’ve always felt versatility was one of my best qualities. Sr. Mary Nice-Nun thought so, too, when she awarded me the Excellence Medal in 5th grade as the most well rounded student. (I'm still both embarrassed and proud.)

In my last post, Revisiting Day, I shared my dramatic tendencies toward déjà vue with people, interests, and employment. If I haven’t done it twice, it’s not done!  Versatile, lately, means verse-a-tile, as in my return to writing verse or poetry.

I started getting inklings of the poetic itch again in 2008, described in my post, Edgar Allan Poet. All those things on an endless play loop in my mind are poems. As I recently was reminded in a book that really excites me, Saved by a Poem by Kim Rosen, song lyrics are poetry. So are jingles and most ad slogans. All these years I just thought I had some kind of brain malfunction, but it was really my mind saying, You dig poetry. Connoisseurs of the earworm also point out that because rhymie stuff sticks to memory like glue, you should use poems as devices to help you remember important things. Writing a poem seems to work that way for me, even though I seldom use rhyme and prefer free verse.

Why Poetry Now?

One of the greatest gifts of the brain and subconscious is their ability to work together to create linear time and some sense of prioritization of the human attention span. When I needed poetry, poetry bubbled up again from within me. I suspect I’m not the only person who needs poetry now. The times are ripe for verse-a-tility. As an astrologer, I know this is true because of a tense alignment of numerous planets in the sky that I call The Big Change Transits.

To quote the rhyme and rhythm of Bob Dylan, The times, they are a changin’. The lyrics of this song apply just as much today as they did in 1963 when this song first came out:

You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.

The universe is asking us for major change now. Dive in! For an overview, see my article on The Radical Virgo on Evolution—and join the new species-naming contest. My suggestion is homo improvement.

You can hear Bob perform The Times They Are a Changin’, including these lines:

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes open
The chance won’t come again

All of us are enduring multiple challenges at once. My personal experience of it? I have so much going on, I’m learning to focus and deal in the moment. These are both emergent and emergency times. Many people function best in a crisis when their adrenaline and instincts bond to meet their inner hero. This is the test and graduation all at once. Embrace rapid evolution, or as Bob Dylan warns, you’ll sink like a stone.

Poetry makes us more buoyant. It puts us in touch with the beauty all around us and how we're part of it in both our joy and sorrow. As Kim Rosen’s book title suggests, poetry saves us with its healing quality of contact with our innermost spirit and the emotional release of pent-up feelings that harm us. For more on the power of poetry, read my article, Take Back Your Poems.

Poetry has no bounds, like the universe or love. ~ Michael L. Maxwell

More Benefits of Writing Poetry

The quote above is just one of a list by Michael L. Maxwell that really makes you think! See his Benefits of Writing Poetry and join me in my aha moment.

In the article, Poetry Therapy-What Is It?, author L. Hadley focuses first on how writing poetry opens the unconscious. Everything good on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights—epiphanies, guidance in everyday symbols, and synthesis of their meaning—comes from being in close touch with your Deep Interior. Not taking that swim in your own inner waters in one form or another has devastating effects.

The inhibition of thoughts or feelings can hurt the biological body gradually, affecting the immunological system, the heart and vascular system, and even the biochemical stability of the brain and nervous system. ~ L. Hadley

Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Write your way out of it. Put aside the prescriptions for a moment, pick up a pen, and write a poem.

Some How-To’s for the Not Necessarily Poetic by Nature

I understand that not all of us were born with the gene for verse. (My birth father wrote beautiful poetry to my mother, and I think I have him to thank for my verse-a-tile wiring.) Here’s the great news. It's a skill you can acquire. You may be amazed at what you discover as you dig deeper into your Self.

I’ve gathered some resources to get you started. First, whatever form of writing tickles your fancy (they all are therapeutic at some level), a great primer on unleashing your muse and channeling her through a pen is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Second, this is my first and final word on writer’s block:

Writer’s block is a simple refusal to look at your emotions. Why don’t you want to write this? Answer that, in writing, and the words will never stop flowing!

Your reasons for not wanting to write can be simple or complex. Examples: I’m on a deadline, I resent it, and oops! I think I still have some issues with authority. Alternatively, I seem to be touching on something very uncomfortable in this poem. What am I refusing to see or avoiding?

I love the nuggeted articles in eHow, including How to Write Poetry. There’s some excellent advice here for the newly versed dabbler! WikiHow, another favorite site, offers a more expanded primer in How to Write a Poem.

Early tip for beginner poets: One thing I learned from Natalie Goldberg is how much ambience and tools can make a difference. Some people like to sit by the river and write, others in a café, or there’s the boring writer archetype like me. I sit in a chaotic office, stuff stacked everywhere, and plunk away on my computer, a laptop that has never left its docked station and connection with my big screen monitor in the four years I’ve owned it. I’d like to think what comes out of it is highly creative despite the standard equipment and surrounding mess. To quote Garfield, Creativity is not pretty. As to other tools, some people love a pretty journal, carefully chosen at a stationery store, colored pens, and there are those fun fridge magnets for making poetry, Magnetic Poetry.

Experiment a lot with tools and environments. And if you want to mix your media a little, I have rediscovered in this personal poetic renaissance one of my favorite tarot decks, A Poet’s Tarot. It’s yummy!

Parting Poems and the Poetic Times

How am I doing so far? Have I entertained you? Made you smile? Showed you some new and old tricks?

Recently I published a new e-book, Poems to Heal the Healer: The 12 Chiron Signs. Chiron is my astrological specialty, and each person’s Chiron sign speaks volumes to where they were wounded (usually in childhood), the gift in that wound, and how this “biofeedback” prepares each of us for our true vocation. That vocation usually involves giving back the lessons learned in healing that personal pain. Speaking of gifts, since Hot Flashbacks readers aren’t all into astrology, I have a special offer for you. You don’t have to know a stitch of astrology to appreciate these poems about making lemonade out of the lemons in our lives. Still, it’s a lot more meaningful to know which one applies to you personally. If you purchase this e-book and don’t know your Chiron sign, e-mail me your birth date, time, and place and I’ll look it up for you. (Exact time is rarely necessary to determine your Chiron sign.) I wrote this book because I noticed that when Chiron moved into the sign of Pisces recently, everything started coming up poetry! The next decade is likely to see a rebirth of this art form, and I want my readers to be on the leading edge.

Finally, to punctuate the fun and leave you on an up-note, I thought I’d share one of my favorite aging boomer babe poems with you. It’s a variation on the theme of being a Venus Girl:


Turquoise, two-inch tube
Five and Dime
(was I even ten?)
Hot pink
Hot Lips
to grow up

35-cents in ‘57
Greasy, yet dry
A scent so unique
So eau de cut-rate
My mouth almost winces
I fell for face paint
Head over heels
Beauty, batting eyes
Venus undersize

A dollar at 57
(years old)
Cheap lipstick
takes me back
to my first tube
and my face museum
on tour
walking, talking canvas
so many years
the artist’s palette
the canvas now textured
with fine wrinkles

still wielding brushes and pencils
doing my part
to Keep America Beautiful.

~ ©2010 by Joyce Mason/


Photo Credit: Things of the Heart (1) © Elenaray

Your Turn! If this post sparks you to write a poem, you're welcome to share it in the Comments.