Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nurturing Your Muse

(Printed in the Women's Press, March/April 2010)

 It’s spring! Time to nurture energy and imagination for new projects. Get acquainted with your Muse. When I first learned of Muses, the nine Greek sister goddesses who inspire creativity, I wanted one and thought they only visited brilliant people.

We can cultivate and access our Muse. Isabelle Allende has rituals that she follows. Annually, she starts a new book on the day she began a letter to her dying grandfather because that letter turned into her first novel, House of Spirits.

Each January 8 she provides flowers and lights candles for her Muses, and meditates. At a computer she writes her first line in a kind of trance as if someone else where writing it through her. Using that line as an opening to explore new worlds, she lets a story unfold and delights in the surprises that arrive. She waits until her first draft is complete before switching to left brain editing.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Love and Pray discusses the history of muses and genies at  In order to access her muse Gilbert shows up and, like a mule, works. By doing her part the creative spirit is more likely to arrive.

Gilbert described the poet Ruth Stone who would be working in the field when a poem barreled in from above. Stone’s job was to run into the house and write it down before the poem gave up on her and went to find another poet.

The Moors chanted Allah and praised God when they observed a transcendent performance. In Spain the name Allah morphed to Olé, a shout for an outstanding moment during a flamenco dance, a bullfight or other achievement.

Now Gilbert shouts Olé after she and her Muse have a successful collaboration. She also believes we deserve Olé for just showing up and working.

To nurture your muse, you might ask her name, get to know what she likes: flowers, candles, silence, music or a bustling café atmosphere. Try a meditative conversation with her, describe what you need. Once she’s activated on a venture, new ideas could pop into your brain day or night. Carry pencil and paper. Inviting and writing dreams can be very productive.

Muses enjoy being invoked and appreciated. They also like to a-muse, so have fun!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Musing on Morro Bay, a Fishing Village

We're so lucky to have an active fishing village as exotic as many peculiar boats. One man lives on one with a cat and dog. Three local boats are manned by Chinese who can be seen with chop sticks eating their prepared rice and hot wok dish. Other days they bait hooks for line fishing and then are gone overnight bringing back thousands of rockfish.

On the other hand the dark side of over-fishing to satisfy our need to eat is evident. Since salmon are in short supply and have been restricted, hagfish, known as slime eels, are now caught en masse. One boat brought in 900 pounds of these bottom feeders that have no appeal to Americans. They are shipped live to Korea, considered a delicacy there. I'm both fascinated and appalled to watch close up.

A seagull prepares to snatch an eel.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

First Flight of Pigeon Guillemot

Pigeon Guillemot galore nestle
in cliffs along the central coast.
Chicks chatter, call for more food.  
Parents cackle, Come and get it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Bloodhound, then a quail cross my path


He sat at the wheel of a parked truck 
charming me, calling me close.
He looked me over, took me in--
while he whiffed I stroked 
his bloodhound ears.

A quail preens.