This blog was featured on 03/07/2018
A Prompt for Writing Deeply

Writing Prompts

If you're like me, my writer's muse requires that I attend writer's groups, where I write out my answers to prompts.  Prompts inspire me to write from the heart and to think deeply about a subject.  They are a balm when I am facing a blank page and in need of an outside source of disruption from my creative inertia.  Sometimes prompts are visual and at others they contain merely a word or a phrase.  The chosen prompt becomes my gateway to imagination and storytelling.

An Ice-Breaker Becomes a Prompt

The writing prompt I want to share with you today was given to me by a neighbor.  I live in an intentional co-housing community and we closed our annual community retreat weekend yesterday by engaging in an activity called "Speed Dating."  Pairs of chairs facing each other were placed in a wide circle, with a jar of conversation starters sitting at the center, ready for someone to reach in and choose one.  One set of neighbors stayed in the chairs they started the session with while the other set of neighbors rotated around the circle.  We all had a chance to speak for 5 minutes with a different neighbor.  The exercise was very enjoyable and I learned a bunch of new information about others in my community.  One of the hoped-for outcomes was that at least a couple of neighbors ended up making dates for further conversation in the near future.  Perhaps a few did.  The prompt I drew from the jar at the center was (paraphrased), "Who was an influential person in your life, and in what way?"

Bill Buckley

The person I chose to talk about was my first stepfather, named Bill.  He was a very accepting person and a good friend because he was a very good listener.  We talked for hours over coffee on Sunday mornings when he was living.  Bill encouraged me to accept myself and to take myself less seriously.  I learned to laugh at myself and was so encouraged by him that I chose to spend my senior year of college studying in Ireland and traveling Europe.  That was a pivotal year in my life. 

From there, I moved on to live a couple of years in Southern California, studying counseling psychology and music.  He and my mother visited me while I lived there and he drove us up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, with a few overnight stops on the way.  Now, when I lose sight of how to live simply and joyously, I can hear Bill's voice saying "don't sweat the small stuff."  This makes me chuckle and relax, and inspires me to do something fun with my daughter.

The types of people in our lives who have impacted our journey and perspective are often the most enjoyable people to think about.  Sometimes I can feel Bill's presence in the room when I am thinking about him.  The small keyboard he gave me over 20 years ago sits in my livingroom and I use it to plunk out notes when I practice the alto part for music I sing with the choir.  It's a physical represntation of Bill that is still with me.

Do you have someone who has made a profound impact on your life's journey?  Who was it, and how?

Let's be friends

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