Five exercises and a metaphor

Exercise 1

I start with your name, and then add hers and hers and hers and his and theirs and hers and his and hers and hers and I keep on writing until the page is full and I start another one. I stop to take a sip of coffee—it’s the one you gave me the last time I saw you, because you know it’s a blend I like and it’s not your favourite—and I bite into sea salt caramel dark chocolate—she put it in my freezer when she came by to give love and get love—and I keep on writing—in the notebook he gave me, because he knows it’s a luxury I’d begrudge myself. By page three, I know I’m loved and supported, that I do not have to do all the things alone (this is my favourite lie, by the way—“I’m alone and unsupported and have to do ALL THE THINGS by myself, because no one will help me” —sound familiar?).

When I stop writing… I might even pick up the phone, shoot a text.


Or at least, you know… seriously think about it. ;P

Sometimes, that’s enough.

Exercise 2

Three good things. All is chaos, but I write down three things that went well today, three things I’m grateful for. Little, big. Whatever. The water boiled for coffee. The grinder worked, and I didn’t drop the broken part that falls off behind the stove. The Vietnamese cinnamon titillated my senses; its texture on my fingertips as I took a pinch and dropped it in my coffee felt sublime.

I dip my finger in the cinnamon jar to re-experience that moment.


(This is an adaptation of the Gratitude Exercise from Martin Seligman’s Flourish. A variant: The Gratitude Wall. Write all these things down on your wall. A door. Someplace prominent. Write beautifully or sloppily. Turn it into art.)

Exercise 3

“Let’s go get ice-cream. On the way, we’ll stop at Beadworks and the New Age and look at shiny things.”

“I thought you were avoiding dairy.”

“Meh. Not on a day like today.”

“OK, let’s go smell candles and bath bombs at the Beehive too.”

(A combination of Ice Cream Discipline (mine) & Julia Cameron’s the Artist Date, from The Artist’s Way—adapted for mothers. Who need to take littles along on most of their dates.)

Exercise 4

Art on an index card. A Zentangle. One photograph of—the sink full of dirty dishes, the art that life creates every day on the kitchen table. Today I have made something, created something, started something, finished something.

(For inspiration: Index card challenge on Daisy Yellow Art  and The Zentangle Method.)


Exercise 5

A walk in the rain. If the sky is sunny, provide own raindrops with tears. Or just enjoy the sun.

I sunburn my nose; relish the sensation.

(Read this: Henry David Thoreau on Walking)


Ender brings me a tangled ball of yarn that he calls his puppy. He wants me to untangle it. Forbids me from using scissors. “This might take a while,” I warn him. “I’ve got no other plans,” he says. We set to work.

I know it’s a metaphor, but I’m not quite sure for what.

And it would work better, probably, if after 20 minutes, cursing under my breath and not-so-much-under-my-breath, I didn’t toss the yarn aside and say,

“Hey, love. Wanna go get a freezie? And then look at shiny things?”



10 thoughts on “Five exercises and a metaphor

  1. Here I was thinking I was going to get spoon fed in this post. A nice concise list of “do this, get happy” shit. What was I thinking?! So this post has now turned into a weekend of research, reading and doing. That’s what I love about this blog. You come here expecting something and it gets all shot to hell. Life is good. Confusion and new brain synapse construction is better.

  2. Perhaps we have the same favorite lie, that burdensome weight of solitude to finish all things undone. Thank you for this reminder that it is indeed a lie and not some horrible truth. Excellent exercises, excellent perception, as always.

      • It’s an easy thing in which to indulge, particularly on days when we haven’t seen or spoken to another adult. But that community of which you wrote some time ago is there, and thanks to you, I’ve worked to create for our family as well. Keep fighting the good fight, even if you forget those brothers (and sisters, mothers, fathers, etc) in arms are beside you.

Made you think? Made you laugh? Made you scream? Tell me.

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