Monday, September 27, 2010

Homer's Oddyssey: traveling with a cat

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder CatFlying west through 3 time zones, I am happy to be gaining back the hours I lost a week ago. My carry-on is laden with  books for the journey, but during our layover in Denver I cruise into Starbucks, then Borders. (I have my priorities!) and browse through mysteries and new best sellers looking for something that might grab me. Well, anyone who knows me will understand why it was  Homer's Odyssey, the story of a Blind Wonder Cat. I didn't even think twice before it was swiped on my credit card. The cover and the blurb on the back sold me, re-emphasizing the importance of these two crucial marketing elements.

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight. Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever.” But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path.  
It had everything a traveler could want in a book, intrigue and adventure, a soulful but spunky kitten, love at first sight, heartbreak and humor. Before I was halfway through the book, I seriously considered adopting a blind cat when I got home.  The author's reflections on life with her cat makes Homer's Odyssey one of the ultimate animal lover's book. Her description of rescuing Homer from her apartment after 9/11 is nothing short of heroic.

I had brought books along that needed some different part of my brain, more serious reads, but somehow compressed inside a metal capsule whizzing 30,000 feet above the earth, required a book that took me effortlessly out of my 'real' world. A journey with Homer was perfect.
What about you? What do you read on a plane? Do you use the time to finish books that have piled up on your night stand? Do you browse airport bookstores and 'impulse buy' things you might otherwise wait to check out at the library?

When you travel, do you stick with old favorites or do you explore other genres that you might not normally read on the ground?

Monday, September 6, 2010

What makes a real writer?

"A real writer has heart. A real writer looks at his or her page with a distinct approach - light in eyes, smile upon lips, glow upon features. A real writer writes because when that person goes to press a pen against paper or stroke a key to type, something pulls on his or her heartstrings and that person is pulled into a different world. "

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Journaling: tips for getting started

The Spirit of Flight Journal (Notebook, Diary) (Oversized Journal)For anyone who has given some thought to writing, but wonders how to start, this is for you. One easy way is to keep a journal because with journaling there are no expectations. Like other kinds of writing, there's none of the angst that goes along with trying to get it published. And unless you're Lewis or Clark, or Anne Frank, no one will most likely ever see it.

You may think you don't have anything to write about, but once you discover there's a whole land of uncharted territory waiting to be discovered, you'll have plenty to say. The uncharted territory is your inner self, a life long journey of discovery, enough to fill hundreds of journals.

All you truly need to get started is a spiral notebook, a pen and a lot of thoughts swirling inside your head. To loosen up, start by writing, 'I don't know what to write' and keep going. Don't judge what comes out even if it sounds a little crazy. Most writers are a little crazy so you'll be in good company. Don't worry about making it sound or look good on paper. No one's going to grade it.

If you're prone to dark thoughts, depression and confusion, the act of writing them can be a great release. Writing helps clear the mind by untangling the brain. When I was young, I used to think my thoughts were like spaghetti, or knotted string. When I wrote, thoughts came through my fingers, streaming out onto the paper, thus untangling themselves and freeing my mind.

I kept a journal through high school, then again through several turbulent times in my life. I still have them and sometimes they unearth themselves while rummaging through old boxes and trunks. Some of it is painful or embarrasing to read now, but I wouldn't dare toss them out. They are a window into who I was so long ago.

Keep your journal in your backpack or purse. Write anywhere and everywhere. Here's a few suggestions for getting started.

  • Write letters that you wouldn't dare, and shouldn't, send to people, but the act of writing can help sort out troubled thoughts and feelings.
  • Write a poem. Or write song lyrics, then sing your heart out.
  • Write about something you're grateful for, especially if you are feeling ungrateful.
  • If you are too hard on yourself, write about at least one way that you can be more gentle.
  • Write down some goals. Short and long term.
In case you need more help, here's a few suggestions for some guided journals.Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest full of enlightening quotations, exercises, questions, and techniques to nurture the writer and seeker within. Another is Writing Down Your Soul. How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within. One especially for teens is Through My Eyes: A Journal for Teens.

There are some cool blank journals that make great gifts and keepsakes, like I Hope You Dance, The Spirit of Flight and Wreck this Journal.

Although there are a number of online journaling sites, my suggestion is to write by hand. There's something special about the connection between your hand, the pen and paper that doesn't happen with a computer. Besides, on real paper you can draw and doodle and write in circles if you like!

For more journals, visit the Guardian Cats Bookstore's Journaling store. If you like this post, please share with a friend. Thanks and Happy Journaling!