Swimming with Details

Swimming with Details

Debut Author

I just returned from a family trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where we celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We experienced vast views of lava-filled fields against turquoise waters, watched white puffs of whale blows, cheered breaches of power, savored sunsets and colorful skies, and golfed on fairways frequented by goats.

One morning, we drove south of Kona to a beach commonly referred to as Two Step because of its easy gradation for swimmers into a popular, vibrant snorkeling destination. After carefully stepping barefoot over mounds of black lava brushed with a dust of golden sand, four of us sat on a mossy ledge at the water’s edge. With sunshine beaming on my shoulders, I put on my fins, mask and snorkel, and joined the gentle surf, returning to the warm, refreshing Pacific Ocean with a glide.

Swimming out, my neck became a swivel of curiosity, marveling right away at the colorful life below. White coral, purple leaves, schools of bright yellow tang, and sharp spines of black sea urchin filled my view. I studied hidden openings to see creatures darting in and out, parrot fish lingering, and a large school of black fish shuffling by.

I ventured out further after noticing where the sharp shelf of reef fell off to introduce a deeper, less color-filled, more barren territory. Drawn to ray beams of light that cut through the empty water to create an angelic-like display, I explored the place of open serenity. This new scene seemed like nothing compared to the brilliance of the reef, until I glanced to my right.

 

About Michele

Michele Susan Brown is the author of This Kind of Silence: How Losing My Hearing Taught Me to Listen. She is a writer and a speaker based in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, and the wild birds that visit her backyard feeders. Michele enjoys connecting with others and engaging in deep discussions about the importance of listening to our own intuition, being brave and vulnerable, and the freedom found in authenticity and truth.

You can connect with her at www.wisdomwithinworkbook.com, and/or write to her at [email protected]

A pod of at least sixteen Spinner dolphins were suddenly beside me. Several seemed to greet me with inviting eyes, and I instinctively placed my hands behind my back, clasped them, and gently kicked my fins to increase my pace and join them. With grace, we all swam together. They gradually joined me near the surface where each took their conscious breath.

I stared at their pointy rostrums, their dark-lined flippers, the subtle shade changes on their bodies from belly to pectoral fins. I became one with them for moments that folded into minutes. My heart expanded, my eyes filled, and a surge of awe moved through me at the utter sense of oneness. We were the only beings that existed, and I enjoyed their company for as long as they allowed.

Later, sitting in a beach chair on uneven lava and feeling reflective, I started thinking about being a writer and the importance of being able to create vivid, strong scenes. I realized how my experience in the water could be an effective example and a reminder of how to do that. And I began to ponder deeper into how I might communicate the nuance in every moment, regardless of whether it is common or exceptional.

When I want to write important scenes, it helps me to visualize writing it as if watching a movie.

The “pan out” or larger view set-up, and then the zoom in and focus on specific action and detail. If I can think of myself as a movie director watching a scene unfold, I can ask myself questions like:

  • Where are we in space and time?
  • What’s visible and noticeable that calls to be captured?
  • What sounds do I hear?
  • What sensations are evident?
  • What details beckon to speak?
  • What emotions arise?

If I can linger there, draw out the experience by immersing myself in it with full presence, and capture it with visceral words, then I can link arms with my reader and take them on the journey with me.

Just as the dolphins drew me right into full presence alongside them.


 

Michele has just launched her book, This Kind of Silence, on International Women’s Day.

To learn more about the book and to watch Michele’s interview with Joanne Fedler, please click the button below.

 

 

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Spelling Out My Story

Spelling Out My Story

Debut Author

“Bernard! If you don’t stop that, I’ll go get the sack.” That was all Marie said, and her son stopped, looked up in fear, and apologised. Marie relaxed back into her seat and explained, “He knows I’ll hang him in the sack from a tree for an hour. It’s funny, he is so scared of the sack. I can get him to do anything.”

My mother’s colleague had brought her family for a Sunday BBQ and she was happily sipping on her cocktail. I sat next to my mother and thought, “When I am grown up, I don’t want to be a mommy like her. I want to be a mommy like mine. One who sits at my dolly-tea-parties and pretends to drink imaginary tea and reads bed time stories.”

As a child I was not a good reader. I was not a good writer either. If my life depended on spelling, it would have had a very sad outcome. I would carefully write the words that I actually knew how to spell. And I used up a lot of energy finding ways to trick my teachers into believing that I had bad handwriting over bad spelling habits. That was until I was sixteen years old and an English teacher told me to stop focusing on spelling. Grammar, he said, was for cowards. “I want to know the story. If I can’t imagine it, then no good-spelling is going to get me there anyway.”

I took his words as gospel and I began to tell stories.

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About Xanti

Xanti was born in South Africa in the late ’60s. She enjoys travelling around the world, which is why she has lived in seven different countries. She believes in equality for all people. Xanti gave up on a single career path when it became necessary to choose between travel and career. After seeing the shadows and the light of abandonment and abuse, she adopted her two children. She has always been interested in understanding why people do what they do. This helped her when her experiences as an adoptive mother shaped her view on parenting.  She’s been through earthquakes, a volcano erupting and a couple of fires. Currently, Xanti lives in Mauritius but continues to travel the world whenever possible.

You can visit her website at www.xantibootcov.com
Or her Facebook page.

As a mother desperately trying to find the middle ground between the dreaded sack and the imaginary tea-parties, I turned to writing to get me out of some of my saddest moments. I was a mother who felt like I was failing every test, but I found acceptance and healing in the words I banged out on my keyboard. My spelling was bad. I couldn’t grasp the active voice and I wasn’t even sure if I could remember an adverb from a pronoun, but write I did. Tears dripped some days. Giggles filled the house on others.

I found meaning and understanding, and I found my place in my story. Don’t get me wrong, I still think spelling and grammar are important. There is a whole world of meaning between “a part” and “apart”. Don’t even get me started on the difference between “your” and you’re”, but here is the thing: Words are important. How could you explain that your heart is sore if you don’t know the word for heart? How would you say that you are in love if you didn’t have the language to express the emotion?

As for my parenting skills? Well, you’ll have to ask my children if I ever brought out the sack. I know I tried to give my children the best life I could offer. I know I had good days and I know I had bad ones. Days where I succeeded and days when I felt I was worse than the tree-sack-hanger. But through all of that, I repeated the same message that I was given all those decades ago. Let me hear your story. Tell me your story. Write your story.

Give it a try and maybe you will find yourself in between the lines. Or even more meaningful, perhaps someone else will find themselves between your paragraphs. What could be better than that?

Being able to spell onomatopoeia?

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Creating a Vision for Writing

Creating a Vision for Writing

Debut Author

Close your eyes to see.

When my heart beckons me to write I find a quiet place to meditate and I ask my heart, “What do you want me to say?” This simple act of sitting in silence with my eyes closed allows me to hear the stories living inside my body. I tune into the darkness, stripped bare of the visual extravaganza I heavily rely upon to live in this world. I aim to create a vision for my writing during such meditation, but what I am actually asking to see is a feeling. My heart responds in a way I can only hear when I shun the light and give myself permission to listen. It’s not what I want the reader to read, but what I want the reader to feel that I am trying to visualise. From this place, I can hear the whispers of my heart. From this place, I can see in a way I never knew possible, until I met my daughter.

My daughter engages the world with unique prowess through sightless eyes. She carries a heart full of carefully crafted skills that encourage a sensory immersion in the world beyond what my eyes can see. I watch her navigate around our home with an air of confidence. Her delicate hands sweep the walls whispering directions only she can understand. Her fingers speak a secret language she trusts will lead her to a destination. I wish I could feel like that. She reaches for my hand with profound precision. Her body speaks a secret language she trusts will guide her when in need of support. I wish I could see like that. She is a brilliant storyteller and creates thoughtful dialogue, interwoven with delightful intonation when reciting narratives she’s heard throughout the day. Her ears speak a secret language she trusts will provide the information required when her eyes cannot read. I wish I could hear like that.

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About Tanya

Tanya started her writing journey as a travel blogger when she caravanned around Australia with her daughter, who is blind. She wrote her first children’s book about their journey – The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo. She is writing a memoir about being a single mother to a child with special needs and the choices she’s made to live an abundant and fulfilling life, despite adversity. Tanya is an Empowerment Coach and Yoga Instructor, running retreats for mothers who have children with additional needs. She is passionate about empowering mothers to create inner freedom by reconnecting to the essence of their true Self.

www.tanyasavva.com

I gaze into her sightless eyes and I am reminded that in fact, I can. When I want my reader to feel something, I close my eyes and allow the emotion to dive into my heart and disperse through every cell. My body vibrates to the sensation of the words that will find the page. When I want to hear my writing voice, I close my eyes and listen to it whisper words only audible in the darkness. When I’m suffocating in doubt, questioning ‘who would want to read my story’, I close my eyes and smother my fears in a blanket of darkness that eventually allows the light to filter through.

My daughter’s blindness infused my path with a light so bright I was almost blinded by the shimmering hues of gold that radiate from her energy field. It’s alive with secret languages that help her find her way. She helped me foster a relationship with my inner self so I could trust the secret languages buried in my own heart. “What do you want me to say?” I ask. I listen for the messages dormant in my body, waiting patiently in the silence of darkness. I hear the old bray of my heart and feel the story before it has any words. My daughter taught me to see in a way I never knew possible. She taught me to create a vision for my writing through closed eyes.

What do you see when you close your eyes?


The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo is now available.

If you order your copy now, you will receive a limited edition of The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo in this gorgeous packaging, signed by the author. As a special bonus, you will also receive a link to the audio version of the book spoken by Mackenzie. 

How can you resist?

(What better Christmas or Channukah gift can you think of for a child in your life?)

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