When I found out that I’d be taking a class called Personal Well-Being in college, I thought it sounded a little silly. I’d chosen a leadership major because I wanted to change the world–not learn how to be healthy! But there it was, on the list of required courses.
Nothing could have prepared me for the first day. We sat in a circle in the dark, wood-paneled room, all 30 or so students a little apprehensive.
Last year, I was a full-time freelance editor and writer. Freelancing isn’t an easy way to live, but it’s rewarding. You can set your own schedule and work from anywhere. While I enjoyed the independence and diversity of projects and had several busy months, when March came around, my schedule suddenly emptied. Some short-term contracts had recently ended, and while I had future projects lined up, none were ready yet. For fellow freelancers, perhaps my experience sounds familiar. Here’s how I dealt with that lean time and made my “blank-slate month” productive.
Every culture has its norms, its divergent members who violate those norms, and its conservative members who treat divergence as an unwanted incursion. Norms shift over time. In our world today, rigid binary gender norms are beginning to crumble, even as the dominant culture fights tooth and nail to enforce them. In "The New World," Melanie Bell invites us into a future setting where the gender norms are no longer binary - but the norms are still contested by some and enforced by others, in familiar ways.
My contribution is a creative nonfiction piece called Four Walks in Montreal.
One: Parc Mont-Royal
Second date. Clement weather. I roast tofu with bruschetta for sandwiches, saute delicate vegetables in balsamic vinegar. In a black coat his stride exceeds mine by a foot of height. I trip along beside up the grassy hill to a park we know well. Mont Royal is a poor man's excuse for a mountain. Great thick trails, though. So great it's easy to get lost. Forget we're in a city. Look at all the trees!
In July I attended and presented at the International Enneagram Association Global Conference in Cincinnati. I’ve been coming to the IEA conferences on and off for the past ten years, and have noticed a marked change in the last few. The early Enneagram conferences I attended focused heavily on individual growth, experiential practices (such as shamanic journeying and breathwork), and theory. Recently, there has been an increased emphasis on interrelationship and community building...
My contribution is a short story, Mira.
When you were younger everyone told you to attend to your studies so you did, and the wasp-waisted girls you watched at lunch time, glitter-beaded, darting dragonfly girls, girls you wanted to be, barely entered your consciousness. It wasn't until your twenties, long too old for mothers to care about taken-for-granted grades, that everyone and I mean everyone hounded you to just date a nice boy. So finally you found one, and you've never been happier than you were when he broke things off.
“I just got back from Florida when the memories came rolling in.” Bill paused, his elbows on the Formica table. “The other day my arm was numb. Felt like a two by four attached to my side. The doctor said it was shellfish poisoning. And the next day all these memories came back! Like a can of film, you know, that opens up and unrolls all the negatives. Well, I won’t be going down south again anytime soon. Not after they kicked me out of that job.”
No matter what our lifestyle is, all of us have habits that help us manage our lives. Sometimes these habits, such as flossing daily and having a regular personal growth practice, sustain and nourish our long-term happiness and health. Other habits, such as skipping lunch to be productive or not getting enough sleep, allow us to meet goals in the short term but aren’t good for our long-term well-being.
Rolling dunes of red sand studded with marram grass. Wild strawberries and lupin fields teeming with pink, white, and purple spires. My parents, enchanted by the summer landscape and a greenhouse business my father wanted to buy, moved home and baby from suburban Connecticut to rural Prince Edward Island. There were disconnections between themselves and the locals.
The creative writing scene in Montreal seemed wondrous to me, full of new ways of shaping and playing with words, and I imagined it would be my path to success. I got invited to read my work, and people I knew talked about publishing one of my books someday. Yet there were elements in the community that seemed off.
At the 2014 IEA Global and European Conferences, we introduced the practice of Ayurveda which we use as a complement to our Enneagram work. Maintaining a regular, structured practice that fosters mindfulness is helpful for using the Enneagram’s insights effectively. A good practice builds up the capacity to observe oneself, in order to see one’s automatic type habits at play and choose to engage differently. Ayurveda is one such practice that draws on the body center’s intelligence.
What’s the hardest part of the writing process? Writers are divided on whether it’s starting or finishing. It’s a challenge to face a blank page or screen and get those first words down. Once you’ve found momentum on a writing project, you might run into writer’s block while wading through a tricky, unstructured middle. Finally, it may prove difficult to sustain the energy and structure to get to the end, or even to know when you’ve finished.