Late morning on most Sundays when I was growing up, my family enjoyed a leisurely lox and bagel brunch. After brunch we moved into the living room where my father spread out the New York Times on the floor and spent the next few hours reading most of the thick Sunday paper. My mother and I did the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in the magazine section–the grand finale of the week of NY Times puzzles. My sister, brother, and father weren’t really puzzle people, but I was, so I’d sharpen a pencil that had a good eraser and then cuddle up on the couch with Mom and learn the ins-and-outs of crossword puzzles. She explained how the grammatical tense of the solutions had to match the clues, how abbreviations in the clues meant that the solution also contained an abbreviation, and that there were themes which were cleverly hinted at in the puzzle’s title. Completing the puzzle might take a couple of hours, but we (mostly she) almost always finished the puzzle–and then felt very proud about completing it.
Yesterday I saw the movie Wordplay that tells the backstory of the New York Times crossword puzzles and the people who create, edit, and solve them. The film, although not a fantastic movie, was entertaining and engaging, and I felt a strong kinship with the crossword puzzle community. When a top-notch crossword puzzler was asked in an interview why he so enjoyed doing them, he replied that he liked to figure things out and find patterns, and unlike life, the process was manageable. I immediately could relate and then realized that the same ingredients which attract me to solving crossword puzzles also attract me to journal writing: By writing about my life, I can figure things out, find life patterns, and make my life’s scale a little more manageable.
This month’s newsletter contains a potpourri of articles: There are two short pieces. One answers a question about the Daily Pulse, and the other explains how one can add specialized editions to existing LifeJournal programs. We have also included an article by Sandra Lee Schubert, Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own, who teaches an online writing course.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Daily Pulse and the Stress Scale
Daily Pulse and the Stress Scale
Q. In entering the Daily Pulse, I understand that if my mood is good I enter 8, 9, or 10. What do I enter for a high level of stress–a high or low number?
A. It’s up to you, of course. If my stress levels are low, I enter a higher number because I like all the “good” or desirable values at the top of the chart and the “bad” or undesirable values near the bottom. For me, entering the numbers that way allows for quick visual interpretation.
Expanding to Other Specialized Versions
Q. If I have the LifeJournal for Writers version, can I get another LifeJournal edition and merge it into my existing program? If so, how do I go about doing that?
A. Yes, if you have any version of LifeJournal–LifeJournal 2, LifeJournal for Writers, LifeJournal for Educators, LifeJournal for Staying Sober, or Christian LifeJournal–you can buy one or more add-ons which expands your current program. Each new edition adds Prompts, Quotes, Tips, and default Topics List and more to your existing journal program. You’ll keep your journal entries and the existing prompts, quotes, tips and so on, and you’ll have obtained the additional content. The cost is $15.95 for each expansion.
To purchase the expansions or add-ons, go to the website of the specific add-on that you’d like. For example, if you’d like to add on LifeJournal for Writers go to writers.lifejournal.com and click the “Buy LifeJournal” button.” If you’d like to add on LifeJournal for Educators, go to educators.lifejournal.com and click the “Buy LifeJournal” button. Christian LifeJournal is at christian.lifejournal.com; and LifeJournal for Staying Sober and Preventing Relapse is at stayingsober.lifejournal.com.
Download the demo and install it into your current LifeJournal directory. Enter the key that you will need to purchase and you’ll then have access to all the new Quotes and Prompts, as well as your existing entries.
To learn more about these specialized editions, go towww.lifejournal.com/specialized.
Sandra Lee Schubert, Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own, who teaches an online course at selfhealingexpressions.com wrote the following article:
“Over the Rainbow, A New Tale is Waiting to be Told
~~”Like the word ‘wild,’ the word ‘witch’ has come to be understood as a pejorative, but long ago it was an appellation given to both old and young women healers, the word ‘witch’ deriving from the word wit, meaning wise.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Woman Who Run With The Wolves~~
Wicked is a tale about friendship, loyalty, and prejudice. It is also a play about following your dreams and the truth that resides in your heart. In surprising ways it tells the story we had not known.
In the end, the story that I had known for all these years became a more intricate and interesting one.
It also reminded me that there is more then one side to a story. Whether a journalist or a fiction writer, it is our job and even our obligation to dig deeper, uncover more and see what else there is to a story, real or not.
In the Australian film, Strictly Ballroom, Scott, the main character, is a young ballroom dancer who suffered an embarrassing misstep when improvising new moves in a dance competition. His mother, dance friends and heads of the competitions conspire to have him play it safe and just do the dances everyone knows and understands. If he were to change they would need to change also.
Finally through a revelation from his father, a new love and a strong desire to follow his heart, the final scenes of the movie are a wonderful demonstration of dance and the passion it evokes. But it is the revelation from his father that is the most striking. He learns the timid man was not always that way and the myth he was told about his own family was just a story to keep him from straying too far from the norm. If it weren’t for that moment, Scott may have thrown it all away and we would not have the wonderful ending to inspire us.
As a creative person, our senses become refined. Everything takes on new and more complex aspects. A rose is no longer just a rose. It has layers of scents and colors – the texture is soft its thorns sting.
If you were to revisit the familiar stories of your life what else might you see?
You know Uncle Joe as lazy only to discover he volunteers in a soup kitchen. Another relative is teased for her weight and then you find photos of her as a beauty pageant winner. I always thought my mother was a republican only to find out 20 years later from my sister she had been a democrat. It was an assumption I had made and never challenged.
Writing Should Challenge Us. Bravely facing the blank page we can explore the aspects of living others just skim over. View things with new eyes and see what you might be missing. The Buddhists talk about living mindfully so try that on for a bit. Wash the dishes with full intention and write about it. Have the characters in your stories be more adventuresome. Characters can take on the mantle of courageousness we may be afraid to delve into. Somewhere over the rainbow is a new tale waiting to be told, don’t be afraid to the leave the safety of your home and discover a new story.
Creative Writing Exercises
As an example, what about Cinderella’s step family? Why were her stepmother and sisters so mean? Maybe they had a difficult life? Or were just misunderstood?
Consider the fairy godmothers point of view. Where did her gifts come from?
Then choose a favorite family story and see if you can discover something new. Like lazy Uncle Joe, maybe there is another side of someone you haven’t considered.
Next, try a popular plot line. A heroine and hero fall in love, they fight, break up and eventually get back together. How can you write that scenario with another twist? Be extra vigilant. Don’t take every thing you see, hear, read or feel at face value. Consider other possibilities. Look around you with new eyes and see what is revealed to you.”
Copyright © 2004 Sandra Lee Schubert. All rights reserved.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”-Buddha
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”-Beverly Sills
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.”-Dr. Seuss
How to Purchase LifeJournal, Christian LifeJournal, LifeJournal for Writers, LifeJournal for Educators, or LifeJournal for Staying Sober.
There are three ways you can purchase LifeJournal 2 or upgrade to version 2.0:
2. Order by telephone, toll free 1-877-456-8762 from 9 am to 5 pm Eastern time, Monday to Friday.
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To learn more about upgrading to LifeJournal 2, go to our June 2005 newsletter.
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