Monday, April 18, 2016

How to Communicate Like a Buddhist by Cynthia Kane

It is always encouraging when friends publish books (real people can do it!) and even better when the book is a good one. Congratulations to my friend, co-teacher, agent and former classmate Cynthia Kane on her publication of How to Communicate Like a Buddhist. The book is officially available today!

This lovely book is clearly written and organized, as well as inspiring. As a memoir writing instructor, I particularly like how she integrated aspects of her life story into this book (see, writers? It can be done seamlessly.)

Cynthia focuses on a five-step practice that you can use for yourself:
1. Listen to yourself (your internal and external words)
2. Listen to others
3. Speak consciously, concisely, and clearly
4. Regard silence as a part of speech
5. Meditate to enhance your communication skills

I'm ready to improve, hone in on and remember to use these skills that sometimes get lost on the busiest, most stressful days. After all, add "parenthood" to "full time career of part-time gigs" and the regular daily things a human must do, and that human starts to feel a literal pain in the neck. We could all use some tools to help us to better focus, listen and communicate with others.

To learn more, visit Cynthia's website, How to Communicate Like a Buddhist's website or Facebook page and read this recent interview with her. Don't miss her upcoming events in Washington, D.C., and Ohio. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

No regrets. Hopefully.

My son and I in blue in Ann Arbor
(not purposely UMich blue, but sometimes these things happen)

I went to the Aveda School in Washington, D.C., last month and five hours later (!!), I had blue highlights. I'd never colored my hair and I'm thrilled with the new color.

I've always been too cautious in my life. I avoided dying my hair in case I didn't like it. And I missed out. I only bought clothes I thought would fit and look "classic" for years and years regardless of the current style.

And then after pregnancy, I found my body, from feet to hips, a new size. And my hair was falling out post-birth. I needed new clothes, shoes and a haircut. I finally started to buy clothes that I really liked, classic or not. I dyed my hair.

Fearing regret doesn't motivate a person or make her feel good.

Sometimes in life I did hold my ground instead of giving into fear or regret. I remember a friend in high school warning me that I'd regret not going to some senior lock-down, sleep over at the school. And lots of people told me I'd "regret" not getting married in a white dress with a veil. Sometimes I check-in about these decisions (clearly I have trouble letting go.) Nope, no regret. I did what I wanted to do and feel good about it.

I need to remember to apply this personal strength to writing. Write what you want to know, I tell my students. Write the unsaid, I add. Even if this is hard. 

We should always think carefully about our choices, especially when other people are involved.  But it is the deep probing into our worlds and our own choices where the important thought, consideration, writing and action can be found.

Don't live in regret. Live today. Write today. Write yesterday today. Just write. Revise. Read. And share your work with others.