Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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Breathe. Write. Breathe.

18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Day 27: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Welcome to Day 27 in our community jaunt through The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day.


In her memoir, Bless Your Little Cotton Socks, Diane Radford, MD shares the quirky sayings of her delightfully inventive Scottish mother. The saying inspired the title of today’s prompt.

In my journaling, I explore a phrase my Dad often used, “I’m tickled by _____.”

I immediately think of something that tickles me—the 5 beautiful air plants that hang in my bedroom, a room too small for even a small side table to hold a plant.

I’ve always wanted a plant in that room and I finally found my solution when I discovered a beautiful wall hanging air plant holder on Etsy.

Ever since I hung these plants in our bedroom I feel lighter, happier in that room. And these plants truly fill me with delight.

In today’s journal I imagine a conversation with my air plants and I name them each.

You, with the thin, feathery stalks? I think I’ll call you Fred.

And #2 (from the left), your leaves remind me of the juicy succulent aloe plant. I’ll call you Aloo.

#4- tall and majestic you hold the center. You reach for the heavens, unbound. There’s that one tallest, skinniest stalk that curves more than the others, the way fine hair curls, and thick hair falls straight. The opposite of what one may think. I’ll name you Magic Johnson for your height.

We come to you—sleepy. Too narrow a base to fit into the hole (you’d slip right through), I lay you down on the side between holes 3 and 4. You certainly disturb the symmetry. I tried you on the windowsill but that felt dangerous. One too rough lowering of the venetian blinds would be the guillotine for you. And so, here you are, representing all in life that slips out of the box I’ve made for it—every emotion I’ve tried to suppress, every embarrassing impulse, every faux pas or act of greed. Is it a heavy burden to hold all those projections? No wonder you prefer to lie on your side. Maybe I need to take some colored wire and beads and ribbon and make you a home of our own. Make the world fit to your specifications—and not the other way around—celebrate your beautiful differences.

Number 5, in hole #4, owing to Sleepy’s current position at 3.5: Cousin It, for the way your leaves curl. But no. Cousin It’s hair curled own to the ground and yours is more star-like, extending in all directions. Spiny? Tumbleweed? None of these captures your grace. I shall need to sit with this and name you when you’re good and ready.

Now, I feel silly naming you. I should have asked you your names! What’s that 5? Squiggly? Squiggle? But Squig for short.

What do you imagine your readers saying after you publish or share some creative project?

If you’ve never shared a comment on today’s blog before, this is your chance to share a little something—a phrase or even a word from your imagined reader. We want to hear your voice! Sharing even a word can empower you to feel:

a) a sense of belonging

b) more confident

c) bolder

Your Muse will thank you for it!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary Ann L says

    Love, love love your naming of the air plants & the beautiful arrangement! Lisa’s writing was the perfect pick me up on this overcast blustery day. Her muse was fired up!

    Addicted to love

    Spotting bald eagles, wild boar, otters, great blue herons, sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbills, gopher tortoises, even snakes in the headlands of the Everglades on any given day is cool. Very, very cool in my book. But I don’t schlep my hybrid bike alone a few times a week for miles just to see these fascinating creatures in the wild. Nope. I’ve got a bad case of gator love. And it’s not enough to see one. I always go for a baker’s dozen. Alligators have mojo. They live life on their own terms- do what they want, when they want, and how they want. No dress codes, social media to navigate and they don’t give a hoot about anyone’s bottom line. They are free spirits- soaking up the sun on muddy banks where they can be mistaken for driftwood logs, cruising the levees, eyes leveling at the fools with their cameras- all the while totally chill, masters of the universe. Nobody messes with them although further south voracious Burmese pythons are formidable competitors. Here, however they perch on top of the food chain and sashay like every day is a sleepy Sunday.

    It makes some wonder when I say alligators, these armored creatures from the Cretaceous era are my tickle. I greet each one with a “Hey baby!” And my parting words when I see the last one are always, “See you later Wally Gator!” And I think I hear the faintest whisper meld with the sound of tires crunching on a sandy trail, “in a while crocodile…” I smile. My feet take me home but in my heart, absence makes my heart grow fonder. Like a boomerang gator love will bring me back.


    • Deborah Louth says

      WOW Maryanne – I was totally immersed in gatorland. You seemed like a teenager jauntily exploring gator land. They frighten me. Through your quirky writing, gators have risen to a place of high esteem.
      I get the feeing gators are a personification of your wild side!

  2. Deborah Louth says

    Lisa, Your naming plants writing was a delightful, creative read – I’m glad you did not ask them to name themselves.

    This was the hardest thing to write, since I did not have grandparents memories of much, which saddened me. Four of the sayings were my Father’s, who I really did not want to write about. It took some time and is the longest post I’ve written.

    Day 27 – Bless your Little Cotton socks – Prompt – It’s a Gimmick

    “It’s a Gimmick”, he declared, while walking away leaving me with my mouth open and standing there holding the magazine’s article promoting a new course of study, which guarantees you can learn how to draw in three months time. But but but, I stutter. “No If’s ands or buts about it” – take an art course in school, it’s free! My father quit school in the 10th grade because he could not play football anymore after he broke a bone. Another of his expressions was, “Go ask your mother”, which he vocalized, when I asked him something. I started getting the impression he was a stupid man, so I stopped asking him anything. We were not bonded, though sometimes he would slip me a few dollars on the sly quietly intoning, Don’t tell your mother”, without looking me in the eye. I felt guilty accepting what he thought a caring gesture. It was so confusing.

    I remember his father, my grandfather, who we called Poppa, as a non-descript, crotchety old man, who barely spoke and never to me. He was in his own world. He immigrated from Ireland to America in his teens with his family. He married an Irish woman, who also immigrated from Ireland in her teens with her family in the early 1900’s. She died when I was three years old. My father blamed God for taking her and promptly stopped going to church. My father adored and respected his mother – he was the baby of the family, born to them in their 40’s.

    Every time we visited Poppa, he was dressed in a white undershirt, skivvies to his knees with black high top boots unlaced and no socks. He always sat backwards on a chair with his legs open straddling the seat. His arms were hanging over the back of the chair and in one hand he held a bottle of beer, while the other hand held a pair of rosary beads. He was positioned in front of a window, silently moving his lips in prayer, as his fingers moved from bead to bead. I was 16 when he died a long, slow death.

    When my father died, he called each of his five children in separately for a death bed confession, which was different for each of us. When it was my turn, the 1st born, I was incredibly nervous, so was he. It was difficult for him to begin. He looked me in the eye and said, ” When we took you home from the hospital, your mother said,” You go near her and I’ll kill you”! I was startled by my father’s disclosure. I finally understood, after all these years about our distance from each other. You see, my mother was incested by her grandfather from age 3-9 years old until she went into an orphanage for 2 years because her parents were poor. My mother’s mother, my grandmother was also incested by her own father. I see now that the distance between my father and me is due to my mother’s way of protecting me.

  3. Maureen says

    Deborah, your post is so powerful. It feels like it is the culmination of this journey you’ve been on for the last month, thinking and writing and sharing with us all.

    Each of our journeys has been a little different, but it seems as if, through our journals, we have all grown in our ability to make sense of our thoughts and feelings, as well as in our willingness to share them.

    Thanks, Lisa, for giving us the tools and the forum. And thanks to everyone who has shared, including those who have shared “quietly.” We feel you out there!

  4. Maureen says

    My journal entry was based on something my dad used to say when he was aggravated with the world. “Mutt! He’s a mutt! Mutt, mutt, mutt!” I took that sentiment and transplanted it into someone else, definitely NOT my dad, but a fictional creature…

    “Mutt! Mutt, mutt, mutt! Did you see that? He’s a mutt! They’re all mutts!” This was my introduction to my crotchety new neighbor, an elderly man in clean but slightly threadbare gray trousers and a faded plaid shirt. He was leaning on the fence between our yards and pointing out all the other neighbors as they walked or drove by. From his comments, it was apparent that he didn’t hold a particularly high opinion of any of them. “That one there, he plays the rap music in his car, so loud you can hear him coming from three blocks away. And that one there, she always lets that yappy little beast of hers piss on my lawn…”

    • Lisa Tener says

      Maureen, I imagine you having fun with this curmudgeonly character. I have a big smile on my face. I want to know more about him.

    • Deborah Louth says

      Maureen, I had the same laugh as Lisa. I have known people like him. He could be a character in a book.
      Good description of him to have put me in mind of someone much like his behavior.

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