Monday, July 30, 2012

Write As If Your Life Depends On It--Excellent advice

Today I'm hosting a beautiful author--and a college alum of mine (Go Augie!)--on Open Mic Monday. Lisa Sellman has been on a journey to change the world for animals everywhere. As the owner of The Good Dog Handling and Training, she uses her unique training skills to make sure animals are treasured and treated with care.  Now, Sellman is using her compassion and unique skills to highlight another cause she cares deeply about—community service.  She feels so deeply about serving others that she contributes to several community projects.  Sellman’s passion for service led her to publish, The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake.  This children's story encourages  parents and children to look at what they can do to live a life of compassion and service. 

Write As If Your Life Depends On It – Because It Does!
by Lisa Sellman

I have often heard that people learn from their pain.  I don’t find this to be true for me.  Confusion is my ultimate teacher.  I have been in an intensive study program in confusion for most of this year and I have decided it is time that I graduate.  I want to help other writers avoid some of the frustration that I have experienced.  With no syllabus, course description, or even a clear faculty list, I hope the following rules may help you navigate the murky waters should you unexpectedly find yourself in this course of study.
Rule #1 -  It is better to be confused than dazed!  Many people never get accepted into the degree program of confusion.  Students in this program have a deep sense of integrity.  They understand who they are, the preliminary basic rules of society, and also the intangible elements of the human spirit.  Confused people look at the world with eyes that see beauty and possibilities all around.  We have experienced sadness and joy but prefer the latter.  We want our lives to be of value – not for anyone else but just for us.  To ponder the mysteries of life and dive deep with all of your heart takes courage of which the dazed are lacking.    
Rule #2 – Make friends with confusion!  You may recall having to do this in the past such as when you were assigned a weird college roommate.  You now are sleeping with a stranger that may snore and keep you up at night.  Also, it likes to talk a lot and has no respect for your life.  On the upside, your new bosom buddy keeps you really busy so you don’t have to worry about your future, you only have time to debate your past.  You can’t remember what your life was like before it took up residence but all you know is this is less than ideal.  Take my advice and save yourself a lot of frustration.  My main goal was the elimination of confusion so I went to spiritual classes, retreats, studied yoga, meditation, exercised, spent time in nature, changed my diet, church and asked for guidance from angels to spirits in nature.  You don’t really get a say of when confusion arrives on your doorstep and no matter how badly you want it gone, it is here until you give up the struggle.  Once I decided I had done everything I possibly could do to alleviate my symptoms, I gave up and the confusion gave up at that exact moment, too.  
Rule #3 -  Confusion runs in the face of intuition!  The word intuition comes from the Latin word 'intueri', which is roughly translated as meaning 'to look inside'’ or 'to contemplate'.  Intuition provides us with guidance that we cannot necessarily justify.  Confusion happens when we decide others are more knowledgeable than ourselves.  With so much information at our fingertips via the internet and books written about self help to spiritual awakening, we think the path out of confusion must be mapped some where.  Unfortunately when we ignore our own guidance, we have ultimately taken away our power.  The still small voice within can lead you away from confusion and into clarity.
Rule #4 – Confusion transforms into wisdom!  While in the midst of this agonizing past year, I could not see myself in a growth phase.  I see now that I was letting go of the insecurities that perhaps were true for me at a younger time but no longer fit.  I began to feel whole when I decided that I had the answers for myself.  This is a natural progression in life.  In traditional cultures, rituals designate when boys and girls become adults.  This past year served as my time to create my own rituals to delve deep into who I am.  I had many mornings and nights journaling my past and making peace with the human experience.
Rule #5 – Confusion and self acceptance are incompatible.  Each time we think there is something wrong with us, we separate from our natural state of being.  This separate identity that we try to eliminate is a master at hiding.  There is always an underlying problem that keeps you away from the peace that was there before confusion moved in.  All techniques that you may try to fix yourself that are outside of you are traps.  Once I began to accept myself, I stopped trying to fight against who I am and I was back in the flow of loving life, this precious life.
Writing was my path to healing.  Some days I wrote poetry, some days blog entries, posted inspirational tidbits on Facebook and often had interesting insights that I would later find were shared by others.  I found myself to be less interested in other people’s journey and began to become once again interested in my own.  I allowed myself to honor this life and to experience its brilliant unfolding.  Confusion is merely a thought – a thought that leads us on a quest for answers and then with grace, wisdom and self acceptance, we come home.

What people are saying about Wolves of Gunflint Lake:  

"The Legend of the Wolves of Gunfl int Lake is a story about relationships. Whenever we hear the howl of a Wolf, a tingling up the spine tells us this is a very special voice in Mother Earth’s symphony. Legends from around the world speak of the close bond between Wolf and Human. Wherever they are both found, so are stories like the one in this book. The Ojibwe people of the Gunflint Lake area tell a story of the time when Wolf and Human first came to be. They regarded each other as sister and brother – Wolf people and Human people – and they hunted and raised their children together. Let the inspiring and beautifully-rendered The Legend of the Wolves of Gunfl int Lake take you back to that time of honoring. See the ways that Wolf and Human cared for each other, and how that can be a metaphor for the kindness we can extend to all of life. And see especially how each of our children has a special talent for serving the people – just as Wolf does for us."
TAMARACK SONG, author of Becoming Wolf and Whispers of the Ancients, which tell more of the Wolf-Human story

“With this writing, Lisa has shared with readers a bit of the heritage and culture of the Native American

community in the Gunflint area. These values and ways of life are vanishing from our current lifestyles.

Some of these beliefs are like lessons of life, and could be just as relevant today as they have been to the

generations of residents who have orally passed them on to us.”

—Bruce Kerfoot, a seventy-plus-year resident of Gunflint Lake

—Bruce Kerfoot, a seventy-plus-year resident of Gunflint Lake,

The book can be purchased on Amazon or the publisher's website at Balboa Press  Sellman can also personalize a book by ordering a copy directly through her at her website, She is also a freelance writer and poet and makes her home in Minneapolis.

                        With Joy, Lisa Sellman

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