Register for November’s Writing for Wellness Workshop

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Join me for a Saturday of self care, as we delve into free writing and journaling exercises that will help you relieve stress and find healthy ways to deal with troubling situations. This writing workshop includes a sould food buffet sourced by Vera’s Community Garden.

$15 workshop includes soul food buffet (with vegetarian options), free writing and journaling exercises and intimate discussion. Spaces are limited!

This workshop is for both men and women.

Ages 12 and up. We may have some intense conversations, so be mindful if you are bringing a young person.

Get your ticket here.

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Writing For Wellness workshop

I have been writing professionally as a journalist for about 13 years. But I’ve been journaling since middle school. That journaling turned into several blogs. In my life, writing has been a way for me to learn to express myself, and deal with my emotions. Many people kept journals as children, but don’t make the time as adults to write for wellness. I shared the information in this article in a workshop at the African Village Arts Festival in August, and hope it can help people reconnect with the power of journaling.

You don’t have to be an artist, or see yourself as creative to using writing for therapeutic purposes. Studies show that journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, know yourself better, reduce stress, solve problems more effectively, and resolve disagreements with others better.

Read about the health benefits of writing

Read this New York Times article about writing and happiness

Affirmations

An important first step when starting any new practice is setting personal goals and affirmations. This is a great way to when you only have a little bit of time.

Here are the rules to writing affirmations:

  • Affirmations support the present, not what you want to be or what you were, but who you are right now in this moment.
  • Affirmations are  are positive statements, not what you want to stop or change.
  • Affirmations are personal statements, so don’t worry about what others may think or see if they see this.
  • Affirmations are precise, so be specific about what you intend.
  • Affirmations are powerful. Today we are manifesting words, and words are powerful. So know maybes and mights. We are sending powerful intentions to the universe for healing and wellness today.

Here are some affirmation prompts that you can make into complete sentences.

I am…

I know…

I have….

I love…

9 laws to creating affirmations

Moe tips on writing powerful affirmations

Writing Exercise 1

The first exercise is a free writing session. Free writing doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or have sentence structure. Just allow your mind to be open and let the words flow from your mind to your pen. You may repeat words, you may have a series or words. Whatever happens just let it happen.

Take seven minutes to write about your childhood. Whatever comes up when you hear the word childhood. Just let your mind be free and write.

After seven minutes, take a couple more minutes to reflect on how it felt to write about your childhood. Write down any emotions that surprised you.

Writing Exercise 2

This exercise you will have a choice between two writing prompts. This workshop is for healing, and I believe that we need to make sure we are healing from being overexposed to media and when terrible things happen in society. Writing gives you a way to document your feelings and a safe space to express anger, fear, doubts and dreams. Take seven minutes to talk about one of the following:

Prompt 1: What kind of experiences have you or someone you know had with the police?

Prompt 2: Talk about a time your experienced subtle or in-your-face discrimination.

After seven minutes, take some time to reflect on how it felt to write about these issues. Write down any emotions that surprised you.

Writing Exercise 3

Finally, it is important to stay grounded and anchored. Some people find that in religion or spirituality. Whatever you may call it, at the core of those practices is gratitude. Every religion or spiritual practice asks people to be grateful for the life they have.

Take seven minutes to write about: How do you find peace? What are you grateful for?

After seven minutes take some time to reflect on how it felt to write about gratitude. Was this last prompt easy or hard?

What’s Next

If you wrote affirmations and did the three writing exercises above, then you wrote for about 30 minutes! That’s a great start! Sometimes you don’t have 30 minutes for a good writing session. So pick one exercise to write for the next week. You may write something different or unexpected, even though you are using the same writing exercises. Next, I will share some writing tips to help you Write for Wellness on a regular basis.

If you have any questions or comments about this Writing For Wellness series, please contact me at donnamarbury@gmail.com. And please feel free to share your writing!

This is not about Maya Angelou

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When it was reported that Maya Angelou died yesterday, instantly the Internet became a memorial of her words and photos of a life that spanned nearly nine decades. And all of those kind words were well deserved. Any writer worth her ink must pay homage to Maya Angelou, for her courage coupled with her literary dexterity.

But this isn’t about Maya Angelou.

My sister sent me a text saying with the deaths of both Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela, at the same time I have a child gestating inside of me, she felt like an era of black greatness was coming to an end. Who will take their places or carry their torches, she questioned. And after a few moments I thought, well us of course.

Yes, Maya Angelou wrote pretty words. Her poetry could be morning mantras or salves to calm erratic days. But her story was also a call to action to us, black women particularly, to make art from the darkest secrets we hold. There would be no phenomenal woman had it not not been for the sexually abused child. There would be no universal mother figure had it not been for the unwed teenage mother. There would be no great and distinctive voice had it not been for the one silenced for years in her youth.

Maya did her part. She danced her way around the world with a growing boy on her hip. She unearthed the secrets of her childhood to critical acclaim. She was a friend of both Malcolm and Martin. When she said, “I am the dream and the hope of a slave,” that wasn’t poetry. That was the truth she realized as an artist with a voice of impact. She leaned in before the buzz term had any meaning. She had play daughters and sons sprinkled across the globe, including Oprah. She was smart, sexy, versatile, transparent, ugly and beautiful. She was a living epistle.

Maya didn’t give her life to her art for us to cry at her death. She did her job, I’m sure in the face of fear and possible ridicule. She had the audacity to think someone wanted to read the coming of age story of a little black girl. She had the nerve to want to see the world with no one to watch her son. She answered that 3 a.m. beckoning to write, and said yes to opportunities that seemed inconvenient. I’m sure as she approached our Creator, He welcomed her to eternity with open arms and thanked her for a job well done. Please, don’t feel sad for her.

In the millions of words Maya Angelou left behind, I hope that we can find instruction on how to take our broken lives and turn it into something beautiful. For those who were victims of abuse, I hope you find the validity to pursue your dreams. For you who find yourself with children and no spouse, I hope she inspires you to think globally. For you with an excuse not to create, I hope you realize she gave 100% at a time with less platforms for black women than we have now. I hope she inspires you to control your narratives. I hope she has allowed you to embrace the fact that you are wise, yet to still like to shake it, and you aren’t a whore.

Maya Angelou had her time, and left a legacy that the world will glean from for generations. And we have that same opportunity. Maya Angelou was made from the same stuff we were. She said yes. She took her chances. She created. Our life stories need not be perfect. They just need to be told.

The millions of Maya’s born from her pain have been empowered to speak though the world tells us to be silent. Maya Angelou’s death has beckoned us, the writers, the poets, the dancers, the singers, the artists, the philosophers, to speak our truth. No more excuses. She said every word she needed to say. Now it is our turn. The torch awaits us.

4 Fears Stopping Your Passion: ‘I’m Too Old’

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This is the final installment of my 4 Fears series. I hope you have adopted some new habits that help you organize your creative lives.

My age has affected me in a lot of ways in my career. When I worked in Columbus, I was always the youngest and least experienced people at my job. However, when I entered graduate school, I was one of the oldest students at 31-years-old. I realized how my experiences in life and work gave me a lot more wisdom than I realized.

I’ve come across people who are a little older and even a little younger than me who say they are too old to accomplish their dreams. Yes, I do believe that sometimes people miss out on their dreams because they wait too long to get them started. Don’t be one of those people! Even if you try and fail, use the wisdom of your efforts to keep making attempts at what is in your heart.

When I heard about the Diana Nyad, the 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida, it reminded me of how age is never a barrier. Nyad attempted this swim five other times; the first time at the age of 28. So what was so different about this time?

With age comes experience, yes. But being older also gives another perspective on goals. When I was younger, I just wanted to be the best person in my field. Now I have a much better work ethic, I am more patient with myself and others and I have a more robust understanding of the world. My goals now center on what I can give to my community and not just being the most popular. I imagine Nyad had a better perspective on the significance of her dream, and better knowledge on how to manage the obstacles of the swim. She knew there would be extreme fatigue, sunburn and jellyfish. She could make the proper arrangements to minimize those things. Yes, it was still a challenge, but with age and wisdom, Nyad was able to accomplish something  that youthful energy couldn’t do.

Sometimes people think that making it to the finish line is the dream. Money, fame or retirement is the goal. Well, I say the journey is the dream. Since becoming a professional writer, I have had some amazing experiences from meeting presidents, to being on TV and seeing laws change because of my stories. There have been plenty of times where I almost gave up on writing because of money or because I felt too old to be at a certain level in my career. But now that I have a different perspective on my career and what it means to people, I am honored to stay in the fight and progress.

Everything happens at its own pace, in its own time. There is no timetable anywhere that says we have to have our lives together by 25 or 30. Sure, set goals and make plans to do the things that are in your heart. But if they don’t happen, use your failures as fuel to keep you going.

Make sure you check out the other stories in the 4 Fears series on focus, money and time. Please share with your friends across social media and share with me if this helped you!

4 Fears Stopping Your Passion: “I Don’t Have Time”

I used to be a night owl. There was something romantic about late nights under the glow of a laptop, while I poured my heart all over the screen. Even with works that weren’t so emotional, it always felt better to begin my writing and creative thinking after midnight.

When I was in graduate school, my late night rendezvous with the pen had to come to an end. I couldn’t juggle my long days, with my long sleepless nights. One of my professors offered me a solution that was revolutionary: sleep at night, and write in the mornings. In fact, write as early as I can stand waking up. So I reverse my whole creative schedule, waking up as early as 5 a.m. to write for a few hours, while feeling rested and relaxed in the evenings and actually sleeping.

#TeamNoSleepIn

Many successful entrepreneurs have noted that they wake up insanely early to start their creative day. There is something peaceful and energetic about doing your best work before checking tweets or texts or turning on the TV. Recently, there was an Instagram movement called #TeamNoSleepIn, that encouraged people to fit in all the things they wanted to do–read books, exercise and be creative.

What I was depriving myself from was time in the day where there was no pressure and no expectations. For the same reasons that I felt most creative on Saturday mornings and on planes, 4 a.m. has become a place of productive peace. That feeling is why I love what I do. I don’t need a vacation. I don’t need to step away. I just need a couple hours a day before anyone else is up.

Paul DeJoe, co-founder of Ecquire

The Power of Five Minutes

So, waking up at 5 a.m. is a lot of ask, even for a dedicated creative like yourself. But a five-minute commitment can serve just as well. I meet so many writers who tell me they want to write a novel, or start a blog, but they have no time. But starting with just five minutes a day can get you to 500 pages, eventually. If you are one of those people who want to write a book, or draw, or paint or any other creative endeavor, start it now! Below is a song I like to free write to. Here are three prompts to start your project:

  • If you know exactly what project is on your heart, start it now! Start writing, sketching or detailing your dream!
  • Make a Creative To-Do List of the research, purchases or planning you need to do to launch your dream
  • If you don’t have an idea immediately, then free write. Two prompts I like to use are, “I don’t want to write because…” or “I am passionate about…”

Song is below, let’s go!

Feel free to share with me what creative project you started. Also, check out the other posts in the 4 Fears series and share it with your creative community!

 

4 Fears Stopping Your Passion: ‘I Don’t Have Any Money’

In the first post of this series, we talked about how a lack of focus can stop you from discovering your inherent creative abilities, and how using those abilities can change your community. Today, the 4 Fears series continues discussing money.

There has been many times in my career where I had big ideas, but little money to finance them. But if I had to name one thing that turns starving artists into money makers, I’d have have to say the web. It is the great equalizer. With time and a strategy, you can have thousands of people paying attention to your work and buying your products. And no, you don’t have to hire a publicist or social media strategist to get started.

I want to talk about four artists who I think have a great web and social media strategy, and give you some tips to walk away with to help your own business.

Miya Bailey5b4c8088e352c788c9b7b93ecf3b5374

@MiyaBailey

18,000 Followers on Twitter
27,000 Followers on Instagram

I first learned about Miya Bailey on MySpace, and have been a fan not only of his artwork but his business strategy.  Not only is he an amazing tattoo artist, but he is a fine artist and owner of the tattoo shop City of Ink. He has always been done a good job of showing the process of his artwork, and showing his audience what his life as an artist is like. I think this is important, because people understand how special his talent is. He also leveraged his popularity on social media to raise $15,000 for a Kickstarter campaign to fund his documentary about black tattoo artists called Color Outside the Lines.

Tyler Knott

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@TylerKnott

13,500 Followers on Pinterest
21,000 Followers on Twitter
21,000 Fans on Facebook
98,595 Followers on Instagram

I’ve always thought that journalists have done a better job at social media strategy of all writers. And then I came across Tyler Knott. He types his love poems on various kinds of paper, and posts them on social media sites to huge success. He also sells these poems for $30 a pop! Now, I can’t say how much money Tyler Knott is making, but one of his posts advertising his poems got 4,000 likes. That type of homegrown public relations is priceless. He also landed a book deal with Penguin in August 2013. So it is possible to draw big numbers as writer using social media outlets that are primarily photo driven.

Bryan Moss

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@strangethingsmoss on Instagram

www.StrangeThingsMoss.com

Now, Bryan doesn’t have thousands of social media followers….yet. His aggressive web and social media strategy has opened doors for him in Columbus. Bryan is a fine artist, a comic book artist and he works at the Columbus Museum of Art. He also does a great job of showing the process of his work; you can see his detailed oil paintings come to life across his Instagram page. He also is great at what I call, guerrilla art. He uses current trends, and great hashtagging to connect his art to the real world. For example, on Michael Jackson’s birthday, Bryan painted the Thriller album cover on a piece of cardboard and hung it on a fence in his neighborhood. He was able to authentically connect a current event to his art and his community in one swoop. If you are in Columbus, Ohio, you can find Bryan’s work at all three Zen Cha Tea Salons, with openings the month of September. I believe his continued growth in the art community lies heavily on his strategic social media campaign that continues to grow.

Keturah Ariel

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4,500 Followers on Instagram

www.KeturahAriel.com

Another Columbus artist who is gaining nationwide attention, Keturah Ariel makes lovely drawings of beautiful black people with wonderful curly hair. She has used these vibrant and positive drawing to tap into the natural hair blogger community–an audience already accustomed to sharing on the internet, and buying on the internet. She sells her prints, shirts and original artwork in an Etsy store, and also does a great job of marketing herself in authentic ways. Recently, she was inspired by Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu’s song Q.U.E.E.N., and made artwork depicting the two that Janelle Monae retweeted. Another example of homegrown public relations tied with staying on trend.

Here’s what I want you to take away from these artists:

1. Tap into an audience who is already on the web

2. Be on trend, use hashtags, and create art that is authentic yet is timely

3. Market and present yourself in unique ways. Use video options on Instagram and Vine to add another dimension to what you do

4. Show the process of your work, not just finished pieces. People want to understand your technique, so they can see exactly how talented and special you are as an artist

5. Building a strong social media and web presence today can pay off in the future when you want to crowdsource a big project

I hope you can see how the web can help you to sidestep some of your money problems. Make sure to stay tuned to DonnaMarbury.com and talk back to me on Twitter @DonnaMarbury using the hashtag #4Fears for the next way to overcome your fears!

4 Fears Stopping Your Passion: ‘I Don’t Know What to Do’

4aa64c4002e088a9eb3fbd2a4c4e39e2My artist friends and I have much in common. Some of those things are fears. They hold us back from becoming the successful, life-change creative forces that we were born to be. I have worked for 10 years in journalism, public relations and communications. I’ve worked for large corporations, small businesses and even owned my own business. In that journey, I have learned how to overcome some common fears that creatives often have. Over the next few days, I want to share a presentation I gave at Creative Control 2, and give some practical tips on how to breakthrough what holds you back.

Find Something Meaningful

Though I have always known I was a writer, I haven’t always known what to do with this skill. I turned 30-years-old, and I was working for a book publishing company, and running my PR business. I was working under my potential and feeling very unfulfilled in my career. Luckily, two things happened; I got fired and got accepted into the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

What I learned in my year in school is that health was an important theme in my family and community. I had my own health problems, and in the past few years my family had seen highs and lows with their health. Rooting my work in my family and community was important to helping me find my focus. I believe that many of the problems in our communities have creative solutions, and as artists it’s our job to connect our passions to meaningful causes.

Climb Your Creative Family Tree

Our work should also be rooted in our family in other ways. Our relatives pass down their looks and personalities, so they most certainly pass down their artistic abilities. I had an aunt who lived to be 103, and she crocheted every day of my life. One of my biggest regrets is that I never sat at her knee, and learned how to crochet. A lot of our relatives may not look at themselves as artists, but they certainly were creatives.

My family is full of musicians, writers, amazing cooks and great thinkers. they serve as the creative foundation to who I am today. Tapping into those inherent gifts has helped me to find focus in my career.

Don’t forget to have fun

1682604-inline-slide-3-i-make-creative-side-projectsArt is not just a gift for the world; it is also a gift for yourself. Use your creativity to relax, have fun and pursue things that you love. Throughout my career, I have always covered music and art just because it is something I love. I did it, at times for little or no pay. Your passion isn’t always there to make you monetarily rich; it can also make your soul rich.

Jeff Goodby is the advertising executive genius behind the ‘Got Milk?’ and Budweiser Lizards marketing campaigns. But in his spare time, he likes to paint rocks that look like fruit. He does this because it is fun and it helps him to use another part of his brain. Using your art to help the community is important, but also use your art to help yourself.

Want to work past your other fears as a creative person? Make sure you come back to www.DonnaMarbury.com to learn from the rest of my 4 Fears Stopping Your Passion Series!