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 28: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Today I ask you—and me—to think of a most exotic, thrilling or memorable vacation spot. Then we write about an experience there, incorporating all our senses.

On Day 28, I write about a trip between my first and second year of business school at MIT. I traveled to Japan with two male classmates, one Japanese and the other Korean American. In some ways, our trip was the precursor to a class trip scheduled for later in the fall that we had helped to organize.

Having two parents who bought, sold and sometimes repaired Japanese art and particularly antiques, I had always dreamed of traveling to Japan to see the artwork, Shinto shrines, landscapes that inspired the art, and, of course, modern Tokyo.

Japan Alps Travel writing
Photo by Yoko Saito on Unsplash

Much of our trip was extraordinarily beautiful—the monasteries, the train ride through the Japanese Alps, the “fire flowers” (fireworks), the art. And then there was also this strange experience I recall in my current journal (I “released” my original Japan Trip journal during a big purge!).

The three of us sleep in an attic loft, giant cicadas flying about. My two companions have gone out “to find E____ a Japanese wife.”

I experienced some awkwardness in traveling with two men—one from an entirely different culture and the other, somewhat so.

Yet something else feels strange. At times—walking across a footbridge in a park, sitting on a park bench eating scallion pancakes, and now, here, alone in the attic room with all these cicadas, I feel my sense of who I am slipping away. I experience a visceral feeling of not really knowing who I am.

I shed all that I thought and believed about myself.

I feel strangely vulnerable and uncomfortable—like a mollusk whose shell has been removed.

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Your Turn

Looking for the full prompt? You’ll find it in The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day.

Then Go Write!

What do you recall about your travel experience?

Is it a humorous anecdote or something deeper?

Does the place feel familiar? foreign? A little of both?

What happens to you inside?

Share an excerpt, insight or a little of both as a comment below.

Note: Spend time on the Week 4 summary page: Note things that happened this past week that you can write about; make note of things that inspired you; schedule your writing times.

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. Deborah Louth says

    Lisa, I resonated with your Japanese experience so lovingly described. And your rich words describing El Junque Rain Forest brought me back to my holiday there. El Junque on Christmas day was the highlight of that trip. I so remember those huge monstrous roots and wearing a raincoat. You truly captured El Junque’s beauty.

    Day 28 – The Magic of Travel Writing – Prompt – Bali

    Between the Pacific and Indian Oceans lies Indonesia, an archipelago of 18, 000 islands, not all inhabited. The islands are located just above and below the Equator between Australia and the Asian countries. Bali, whose main city is Denpasar, is situated on the Indian Ocean side below the Equator. I was there for three weeks traveling with a small group tour in 1991, before many Japanese bought up the land to build hotels and more. The trip changed my life – it was that extraordinary, I was 41years old.

    At the time, Bali was considered as the last place on the planet holding and maintaining the Love vibration, which is akin to creativity. The Balinese people performed Ceremony 350 days out of the year to ward off evil spirits. The daily sights of women carrying offerings, at least two feet tall, balanced atop of their heads was a truly awesome image. The artistically prepared foods and scented exotic flowers of the offerings were fashioned together in a stunning palette of kaleidoscopic color in a perfect symmetry that defied gravity. These women tirelessly went from altar to alter in their vicinity distributing their gifts to appease the gods, while the men traveled behind them pulling a rolling platform on four wheels displaying a magnificent huge gong, which they expertly played to release the tones and sounds to dispel negative energy.

    Bali is best known for it’s creativity as a haven for skilled craftsmanship and beautifully designed objects. Nature is their teacher. There is no word in their language for competition. All the mask maker’s shops are housed on the same street together, as well as art, wood sculptors, batik cloth and jewelry designers, to name a few. The Balinese artists are honored if you copy one of their designs because it validates their skills.

    It’s challenging to choose an experience to recount to you because there are so many. There is the Monkey Forest, where the monkeys can annoy you with their antics, the open to the air sacred temples, the village of Tenganan, a pre Hindu village, where the people create art forms that hold the memories of their past stories of creation. I witnessed fire walks, Balinese dancers, whose exquisite hand and eye movements bespoke a merging of non-physical energies to convey transcendental feelings; a visit to a psychic surgeon and the sound of the geckos skittering across the ceiling in our sleeping space without windows. And the time we had breakfast in a restaurant on a deserted beach, who served us a Magic Mushroom omelets by request, where we later communed with our own inner gods.

    I could go on and on, but the most magnificent experience for me was in a gathering at Emerald’s house,
    who was a local expatriate artist. His home was situated on a perch of high ground overlooking a river. He carved a long winding, natural staircase leading to the river’s edge, where we unclothed to step into a swirling portal of movement. I felt the water caressing my skin as I floated towards the whirlpooling center, whisking me in circles until I arrived at a spot behind a small waterfall. From this vantage point I was transported completely out of time and space, suspended in the time between, recognizing I had been there before. I was never the same person I was after that.

  2. Maureen says

    Wow! What a sensory delight. I want to go to Bali, too.

    I wrote about Kenya, traveling from Masai Mara in the south to Samburu in the north, where we could see different species. We were traveling on a shoestring, and the dusty white van we were riding in struggled up the slightest hills, sputtering and spitting out black exhaust. It was not a good sign that, on steeper grades, elderly African ladies with giant water cans or baskets of fruit on their heads trudged upward at a faster pace than our van. It was hot in the van, and dusty; thick red dust coated everything, and we were always thirsty. We sipped tepid water from our canteens and ate handfuls of fresh roasted cashews. I sat with my nose glued to the window and watched the landscape gradually change from savanna, to scrublands and forested areas of “bush.”
    It was thrilling to cross the equator. There was a sign at the roadside— Equator— and a little trading post. We got out and took pictures and jumped from the southern hemisphere to the northern one and back again. We were all so excited. Then we bought some cold drinks in sweating glass bottles with thin paper straws and got back in the van, continuing north. Soon after, we saw another equator sign and trading post, and then another. We gulped and hoped that Alice, one of our traveling companions, didn’t notice. She was rigid and goal oriented, and we were afraid she wouldn’t appreciate the inexactitude and poetic license of our multiple equator crossings, especially since we were heading pretty much due north. Fortunately, she was immersed in her guide book and didn’t look up. Lou whispered in my ear that if we translated the thin black line of the equator on a typical globe to scale on the actual Earth, it would be many miles wide. The thought made me smile, but it was still a little disappointing…

    • Lisa Tener says

      I love the humor of your story Maureen–the unexpected surprise. And it reminds me how traveling often offers such a mixture of thrills and weariness, struggle and beauty, humor and fear, all wrapped up together.

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