Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: writing

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?


In Exceptional Company

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2011

Here at Soul Places I strive to share stories that reveal all the places my soul hides and shines while encouraging the reader to draw his or her own gems and insights from the piece.  Now there is a book (not mine – yet) with thirty such stories and today marks the beginning of the most audacious book blog tour I’ve ever seen, much less been a part of.

New York Times best-selling author Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, is at it again.  And three more New York Times best-selling authors have joined him and twenty-five of the best up and coming self-help authors to create Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to Lead Your Best Life Now.

Not only is my good friend and nationally recognized animal communicator Asia Voight one of the gifted, compassionate authors, but I have the honor of introducing another one of these amazing people.  I am so excited about Marcelle Charrois‘ work and vision.  I just watched a video of her newest project and it’s really exciting – I can’t wait to share her with you!  Her interview will debut on my blog Wednesday, March 28th.  That’s only one week away.  And bound to be one of the most exciting posts yet!

Beginning today and going through the middle of May, this blog tour will include interviews of the authors and reviews of the book.  You can click here for the entire blog schedule.  Be sure to order your copy of the book at your local indie bookstore – release date is April first.

Tune in tomorrow when another friend of mine, Lauri Lumby, interviews an author at her blog, Authentic Freedom Ministries.  And then tune in every day until you say yes to getting the book.  It won’t take long.  See you next week!

A Tantrum Over Attachment

You can barely see it, right?

A beautiful new book purchased as research for writing my fiction sits innocently on the café table.  When I fan the pages to indulge in the fresh press smell, it mocks me.  But I don’t recognize its unfamiliar, bogus tone as I replace it on the table close to me, in order to appreciate it with frequent lover’s glances.  I turn to a gifted, used, older book with great wisdom on how to write dialogue and forget about my infatuation with the new book.  Journaling ferociously about soliloquies and foils, I have gracefully begun courting the Muse.

In my altered state, my fleece entrenched arms reach around my full, carnation-white mug to consult my laptop for definitions and synonyms.  Jersey-cow colored coffee spills all over my new, slighted book with unrequited love, my spill-proof mug sitting nearby, unused.  A puddle rests on my laptop, but I am more concerned about my new book.  My most prized possessions are my books, especially the brand new ones, impregnated with unique word sequences and immaculate odors.

My face falls like the girl who got the wrong Barbie for Christmas.  It’s all wrong.  Ruined.  I throw an internal tantrum at my stupidity.  Having told myself several times to move the mug, I now torment myself with reminders of my responses:  I’ll be careful.  I know it’s there.  Holding my once perfect lover now mysteriously disfigured, I get up to retrieve a towel to begin sopping up the mess.  My writing friends exclaim, “It has character now.”  “It’s not so bad – just a few pages got it.”

And they are right.

Attachment to my books has lessened over the years, but today I realize it still needs work.  They are not my lover, slighted or otherwise.  They take turns sitting on the shelf, sometimes neglected for years.  They are pages that desire a life well lived, not unlike myself.  But instead of being thankful for the coffee stains and dog-ears on my pages, the deeply creased spine and curling leafs, I have been careful with my life, fearful of survival, pleasure and everything in between.

I will forever look at this book and be reminded of that morning in the café with my friends.  I am glad for the stains and reminded to pursue the more adventurous life that I dream of.  And that adventurous life has begun with the shifting of attachment and fear to the willingness and cultivation of the marred, perfectly imperfect page of my life.

Ghost is a Verb

The Ever-Faithful Guide, the Wisconsin River

Traveling through the Driftless Region of South Western Wisconsin several times over the last three weeks reminded me of how much I love this terrain.  Leaving my Iowan home well before sunrise in my little blue car, I travel carefully with the limiting headlights illuminating my way.  Once I cross the boarder into, the great Wisconsin River greets me, reflecting streetlights in its oily, still surface.  Comforted by its presence, I let it guide me to my destination.

I imagine the river is still asleep, unmoving, like resting bodies behind the dark-windowed homes I pass.  Winter has stripped the trees of their leaves to reveal their stark naked forms in my headlights creeping up on me until they go whizzing past.

As I drive into daylight, I am reminded that this is the only way out of darkness – stay awake and keep going.

Silhouetted trees, now darker than their brightening surroundings, stand alert as though waiting to cross the street or wave at me as I pass.  The river is becoming more visible, the color of the barrel of a rifle.  The grays and browns of winter before snow become more visible.

Paying homage to my racecar driver DNA, I accelerate through the winding, tree lined road, fully aware that I could drive right into the river, should my eyes linger there too long.  The road becomes less claustrophobic now as the river and trees retreat, revealing wide-open farmland, illuminated farmhouse windows and barns, fog in the now distant hills.  I still feel the presence of the river to my south even though I can’t see it.

I wonder if Batman knows about this place...

I pass through the not-so-mythical city of Gotham, WI, now ten miles from my destination:  sunrise and a morning of writing with friends.

My return trip home is in daylight, back down the same road that brought me here, still guided by the river, yet a completely different experience.  It’s now fully daytime, cloudy and the muted lighting is enough to illuminate things that the night hid.

Two more hours of meditation by the hum of my engine and the passing landscape reveal marshy vistas along the river, a horse farm in town and a yard covered in plastic Santas (in hindsight, I wish I’d stopped to get a picture of that!).  Feeling pleased with my day, I suddenly remember the black dog that ghosted into my headlights on the drive here and hope that I do not see him on my return trip.