Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: journaling

Universal Voice

Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel
San Francisco
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2009


One of my favorite writing exercises to give my Soulful Journaling participants is Circle Writing.  I write one prompt at the top of a loose leaf piece of paper – a different one for each participant.  Then they choose from the stack of prompts and pass the rest around until everyone has a unique prompt.  They write for two to three minutes, practicing fast writing to get beyond the thinking mind.  Then the piece of paper is passed to the person next to them.  When this new piece of paper is in their hands, they are to read only the last sentence, or better yet, the last few words, and then begin fast writing again.  Write for two to three minutes, pass the paper and so on.  I participated in this exercise last week and wanted to share the results with you.  See if you can tell where someone else picked up the writing (there were five different people that wrote this piece).  My prompt was:  There is no silence without…

There is no silence without…


Too much noise!

I grit my teeth and flex my bowels when there is too much noise.  But without it, I would not know what silence is.  And how precious and kind and nurturing silence is without all that noise.  The TV with a volume that seems to start at 90 and go easily to 100.  Ahh.  My silence.  My long lost friend.  A silent lover.  The still and quiet part within myself.  A shelter from the chaotic, buzzing, craziness of the days.  The silence envelopes me most in the morning.  When I can curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee.

Gradually, the world seems to wake up with me – or am I just then becoming aware?  Was I just then becoming aware of loss and pain?  I suppose that awareness does come at a certain age.  Like my daughter, who is almost four.  She talks about death, but it is clear that she doesn’t understand the loss, the gravity of the loss, that comes with death or does it have to come along with death?

Maybe we/I have just been taught that death is a loss, an ending.  But it does seem that way with death, the physical person/animal/plant/whatever is not with us in the same form anymore.  Gone to a place that everything journeys to.  A place unseen and unknown.

In the society we live in to talk of death seems unnatural and uncomfortable.  Strange when we become aware that is cannot be stopped.  Death scores us, it surprises us, it is something we never fully prepare for.  Yet it’s as universal as life.

And as necessary.

I have played a game with death since I was thirteen years old.  I’ve thought I could cause my death by welcoming it.  I have never really tested my theory.

Could you tell where one writer ended and the other began?  Can you hear the universal voice written by five different people?  Remember, these writers only knew the sentence – or even just a few words – prior to adding their own ink.  What is the theme?  Is there an antidote to too much noise?


Dreaming Big or Shrinky-dink?

A Ferociously Journaled Page Curls
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

“You don’t love yourself enough to believe you deserve everything you want.” Lisa McCourt, Juicy Joy

This week found me journaling ferociously about what I deserve or what I have a right to.  It began when I realized my life is not in alignment with my dreams as much as I’d hoped.  And although I am narrowing the gap in several areas, I wanted to explore ways to narrow the gap in the areas that appear stagnant.

Seeking self-improvement is a fine line between appreciating what I have while creating something different.  Like being perfectly imperfect, it is quite a balancing act to accept myself as I am while desiring growth and change.  Which brings me to what I think I deserve or have a right to.  I cringe at both those words – deserve, right.  When I have a strong reaction like this, I know there is something there worth exploring.

“The secret to elevating every aspect of your life – love, money, health, life purpose – is simply to elevate your self-love. Lisa McCourt, Juicy Joy

Journal entry 4/24/12: I noticed I’ve been dreaming smaller lately.  Trying to fit into the limits of my own mind, not the limit of the Universe which I wrongly assume is that of my mind.  The Universe is limitless.  What is the point of limiting myself when I could have it all?  Where is my self-love lacking?  Let’s dream again…

And I dreamt big!  I filled page after page of things I’d forgotten and surprising new things I didn’t know I wanted.

Journal entry continued:  I give myself permission to dream big again.  I give myself permission to have it all.  All the dreams and the responsibility that comes with them.  I am responsible!  I am capable of managing the dream.  The dream life.  The dream life is a mirror of my alignment.  How I express my soul and manage my ego.  The dream life is a mirror of my self love.  I am not the shrinking shrinky-dink.  I am not these things that limit me – they are too small for me.  I claim my place in my dreams that are not yet as big as me.

And so goes the stream of consciousness that is journaling.  Some real gems in there and even more “to-be-continueds” as I live more life and learn more things.

Have your dreams shrunk or disappeared altogether?  Gift yourself twenty minutes today to dream big again.  And then take the first step in the direction of those dreams.  Please share your thoughts or dreams in the comments.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow.  I think this applies to dreaming big too.

What Does Soul Fitness Look Like?

Finding My Soul in Lake Michigan

The phrase physical fitness brings to mind people that look great in swimming suits, people running marathons, Olympians and mindless drones in the gym. The phrase mental fitness brings to mind people meditating, people concentrating on a game of chess and people in the middle of a life-changing exam. The phrase emotional fitness brings to mind people knowing and asking for what they want, people with a forgiving heart and people with a life threatening illness and the people that love them. But what happens when these two words are put together: soul fitness?

The phrase muscle memory brings to mind people riding a bike, typing, fastening their seatbelt and playing a video game. The phrase mental memory brings to mind people with great numeric recall, photographic memories and fluency in languages. The phrase emotional memory brings to mind people reacting, raging, acting out pain stories and swearing when they stub their toe. But what happens when these two words are put together: soul memory?

I want soul fitness, don’t I? Some sort of integration with the rest of me would be nice. Soul muscles that flex when I ask because I have done the work to make them fit and strong. How would you stretch a sore soul muscle? A soul mind that recalls what I came here to do would be phenomenal! Is there an emotional soul? What would that look like?

I want soul memory too, don’t I? Or do I? A soul that behaves without much input from me, like muscle memory? Hmm…I don’t know. What would a soul with instant recall be good for? Is the soul the seat of the emotional body? I don’t know about you, but I am grabbing my journaling to have a conversation with my soul to find my own answers.

I Follow You, But Cannot Find You

Result of My Ferocious Journaling

I follow you but am yet ignorant of how to find you sometimes.

This wordy sentence was a comment I made on another person’s blog.  I really like her photography and poetic voice so I clicked the “Follow” button on her homepage thinking that I would get an email every time she posted something new.  Not the case.  When you follow someone, you have to find them.  Somewhere in my blogosphere account is her address.  Having much to learn yet about, I dove in with the conviction that I had found her once, surely I could find her again.

By her pointing out this awkward sentence as having many meanings, I couldn’t help but notice the gem in it too.   Taking it out of context and playing with rearranging the words, and versions of the words, and other words that wanted in, the following is a list of word playtime:

I follow you but am yet ignorant of how to find you sometimes.

I follow you but am ignorant of how to find you.

Sometimes I follow you but cannot find you.

Yet I am ignorant of you.

I am ignorant sometimes yet I find you.

I am ignorant yet sometimes I find you.

I find you ignorant.

I find you sometimes.

Follow your ignorance.

Follow sometimes in order to find it.

I follow you into fallow fields and flounder frequently.

I follow ignorance.

Imagine if we played around with punctuations too!  Commas change everything!  What other combinations can you come up with?  I find wordplay highly entertaining so please share your creations in the comments.  And being the meaning maker of your own life, what meaning is screaming for your attention in these word combinations?

Invent National Day of Noble Silence

Journal entry, June 9, 2011:  I have an idea!  I want to:

Go on a trail ride
Skydive solo
Communicate with animals
Have conversations that invite the soul
Travel Europe, Africa, South America
Abolish resistance, embrace creativity and put it in a pill
Toss the TV
Stop protecting abusers
Invent National Day of Noble Silence
Tell people not to water their lawn in the middle of the day – or ever
Befriend a child
Teach Zero Point Agreement in schools – and the Five Agreements too.  Why not?

 I shared this list with a group of friends last week and the National Day of Noble Silence drew lots of gasps and cheers.  I’m not even sure how it ended up on the list since I don’t know that much about it.  It must have been inspired by a daylong meditation retreat I participated in around that time.  During this retreat I practiced mindful eating at lunch, mindful walking from point A to point B and no conversation with each other between meditations.  In addition to those things, a Day of Noble Silence would include no eye contact, no TV or radio and awareness of every movement you make and thought you have.  Basically it’s a day arranged for just you and the voices in your head.  Sound like fun?

I thought so when I did it.  I stopped eating when I was full because I paid attention to every bite.  I scratched my nose because it itched, not because I felt awkward in a group and needed to make an unconscious gesture to unconsciously reveal my discomfort.  There was no pressure to make small talk at lunch.  I brought my unconscious thoughts to my attention and realized why I’d been feeling so pent up lately.  I left with a whole new appreciation for myself.

Naturally, I began to daydream about what a National Day of Noble Silence would look like.  Would you answer the phone at work if it fell on a workday?  Would you even go to work?  Maybe it would become a paid holiday.  Brilliant!  What better way to nourish and refresh employees?  How awkward would it be though, not to talk to your partner or roommate, not even making eye contact as you pass in the kitchen?  Would the grocery stores have to close for this day or could we manage the checkout lane without eye contact or speaking?  What about my animals?  Can I still pet them and smile at them?  No cell phones seem obvious but what about Facebook and email?

I’m sure someone would figure out how many billions of dollars in commerce would be lost this day and it would never be given a second thought.  But I think the tradeoff in emotional and spiritual commerce would be worth it.  What do you think?  Can we do it?

Make your own idea list and go for at least one of them.  I ended up going on the trail ride.

On Wings of Kings

A writing prompt story.

Write about Wings and use the following words: blue, sign, bell, path, distance, vast.

The end.

On Wings of Kings

by Diane Ludeking
On Wings of Kings
A racehorse I once knew
The trainer’s daughter’s horse
So black, he was blue
On race day he is all piss and vinegar
From the barn, along the winding path
To the track and into the paddocks
I would endure his wrath
No sign of letting up
Lathered with sweat even before the tack
He’d toss his head and try to break my nose
Desire to reach the gates, he did not lack
Up goes the jockey
I hand them to the pony dancer
Off they go into the distance
For their pre-race canter
Into the gates
The bell rings
The gates open
Go, On Wings of Kings!
Out of the gates first
Rarely a winner’s move
He takes flight across the vastness
He’s found his groove
Around the last turn
Still in first
I hope that
He is not cursed
He wins, he wins!
On Wings of Kings
Does the impossible
On fairytale wings

The Moon’s Canvas

I have an affinity for the moon.  Perhaps it is because I am a Pisces, a water sign, and the moon controls the water like a marionette directs the puppet.  Perhaps it is because I am a fair skinned strawberry blonde and the sun makes me cringe and retreat to the shelter of a shade tree as though I may spontaneously combust with too much fire exposure.  Perhaps it is because the moon casts the subtlest shadows in the deep of night, encouraging child-like exploration.  Whatever the reason, I found myself seeking the moonlight more than usual this past full moon cycle.


Every night for the week leading up to and following the climax of the full moon, I drove to the farm where I board my horses.  My faithful, gray-muzzled Golden Retriever, Dallas, accompanied me in the back seat with his head hanging out the window.  Faintly illuminated by the moon, I see his loose lips and eyelids flapping in the cool breeze.


With feed bucket slung over my arm we embark on our nightly quest for moon cast shadows.  Tree branches rub together in the wind making creaking sounds reminiscent of ancient hinges on a door someone forgot to latch.  The hum of night creatures accompanies us with their own curiosity in tow.  We follow the trail up the hill as I call quietly for my equine friends.  Emerging first from the shadows each night is my twenty year old companion, Handsome, in search of his nightly meal.


As he munches and sighs under the magnificent oak trees, four more horses materialize to become the perfect blank canvas for the moonlight.  My other horse, Joey, comes the closest and stands with Handsome, Dallas and I in the serene embrace of night.  I begin tracing with my fingertips the shadows of the trees on Joey’s body.  He tolerates this for a time and then maneuvers his powerful hindquarters in a way that says quite clearly: “Scratch here.  Right now!”


“Joey, I’m trying to have a moment here,” I laugh at him, losing my place on his canvas and then obligingly begin to relieve his itches.  Walking mindfully among the herd I note the different patterns cast on their bodies by the shimmer of the full moon.  The muted light does not balk at the obstacles of trees, animals and weeds as it makes its way to its final destination.  It simply stops and illuminates whatever objects come between it and earth.


How do I balk at the light life gives me?  Do I allow the light to fall where it may or do I find myself wanting a different experience?  Can I too be the moon’s blank canvas?  And what would that look like?  I open my journal to a blank page and respond.