Get Published in 2022!

Class: Get Published in 2022
New dates: Monday and Tuesday, March 7 & 8, 6:30 – 8:30 pm PST

Want to publish a short story, flash fiction, or poem? Time to learn a little strategy, perhaps? I love teaching this mini-seminar for Clark College—it’s completely different from most of my classes, where we concentrate on the generative creative process and don’t worry about the outcome – namely how to publish. This time, we get right to it. Here’s where to look, how to prepare your manuscript, and the nuts and bolts of submitting.

We’re going to be focusing on short works, and how to find publishers for them. It’s a deep dive, lots of fun, and rich with information you can put to use immediately. It’s live on Zoom, with low pressure and high support for each participant.

Here is the link at Clark College Community and Continuing Education!



Update: 30 Poems in 30 Days

Dear Friends:

Taking part in the 30/30 Project began with the thrill of accountability and the challenge to daily arrange and rearrange my poem pieces like a secret tray of Scrabble letters in a game, anticipating my next (hopefully!) brilliant move.

I could not have made a start without daily journal practice. Poems came in flashes and sparks. I walked my beach trail in the rain on February 1, acquiring new boots which brought to mind boots of the past. I loved stumbling upon these memories and parallels. “Rubber Boots I” and “Rubber Boots II” emerged. “Sally,” is my first villanelle.

The other thing that happened was that J entered into the next phase of house renovation, and this meant taking down, for sanding and painting, each and every door in our home. Which meant writing poems without solitude, conflicted by appreciation and frustration, working through the chipped paint of the mind. The poems: “Unhinged,” and “Just Let Me Back into the Damn Bedroom.”

Holed up in the cubby-like laundry room, I “found” a poem that recalled a volatile relationship of thirty-five years ago—a validating discovery, “OCD.”

Then I misunderstood the 30/30 instructions and posted outside the guidelines, which brought correction. Though completely mild, the experience threw me into a tailspin, pricking the old me, always exceedingly careful to follow every rule. I had to laugh at my ego, “Waiting to Be Discovered,” another poem. And the gig was up: “Sneak.”

Meanwhile, winter showers melted into glorious sunshine, and J and I experienced many gorgeous adventures. We hiked above a lighthouse to the barking of sea lions, and walked daily to the river jetty, eyed by harbor seals. We tunneled into woods, emerged onto crashing shores, gasped at molten sunsets that gobsmacked us for language. (The double haiku, “Dusk.”) Which brings me to today’s poem, in which I don’t feel I deserve this amazing life and landscape (Day 11: “What They Don’t Tell You About Paradise.”)

The demand to write a poem each day has made it hard to work on short stories (and woe to my novel and nonfiction book, relegated to Procrastination Purgatory), but hurray for the prose-poem/flash piece I wrote for a short inspiring class by the amazing writer and teacher, Sherri Hoffman.

Most days I start my poem by 8 or 9, leave it for several hours, then scramble to revise or perhaps just complete the draft, by 7 or 8:30 pm . . . (it’s due by 9 pm)! There have been many moments of panic and harry. (I’m not sure if I can use harry as a noun here, but there you go.)

It’s constantly there: the awareness that I need to do more, learn more, try more. I’m floored by the talented poets in my company. It’s all I can do to keep from total intimidation some days. If you haven’t explored all the poets and their poems, you’re in for a marvelous treat.

Thank you for the soul-sustaining messages. They’ve made me feel blessed and connected. The fact I am more than halfway to my fundraising goal makes me marvel. Many of you have donated even while experiencing financial constraints. This is humbling.

I am inspired by partnership, and am learning so much. I’m delighted by this Tupelo Press opportunity to participate in the literary arts.

Thank you.

Day One: Writing Marathon

Here I am, Day One!

There’s so much mental activity that goes with “putting your work out there.” I notice it’s not the work – my notebook has been scribbled in daily, and it opens with ease every morning like a friend comfortable to share with me this old habit. But a raw poem is a space just for me, and it’s a bit weird when I invite others to come and look at it, one step removed from “scribble” by having it typed  and “framed” at Tupelo Press.

Today’s poem, “Knife,” began this morning with slicing an orange – a Cara Cara, to be exact, with the Petite Carver, to again be exact.

I hope you enjoy it!

And while you’re at it, please enjoy the work of eight wonderful fellow poets who are marathon-ing alongside me, writing 30 poems in 30 days for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project!


I’m Writing A Marathon!

I’m running in a marathon – of poetry!

I’ve been invited to be a guest poet for Tupelo Press in their 30/30 Project. Along with eight other writers, I have committed to write 30 poems over 30 days, beginning February 1. It’s challenging; I have a day job and I’m easily sidetracked, as we all are. But this is calling to me: the chance to make a difference in the literary arts, which enhances our lives in deep ways.

Each of my poems, in its raw form, will appear online on the Tupelo Press canvas, each day. You can access them right here on my blog. I have set a goal to raise $500 to support this wonderful literary nonprofit, and I’m asking you to donate as I write my poems!

In February, you can read my daily work as it emerges each day, as well as the work of my eight cohorts. Together we hope to fund the beautiful vessel of the humanities that is Tupelo Press.

You could donate $1 per poem, or $5 a week, or perhaps a one-time gift that would help me exceed the $500 goal. You can donate here.

On Mondays I will send out a weekly update to donors with a behind-the -scenes commentary on one or more poems, and what went into the making of the poem. (Some poems may be very intimate, others silly, and all will be a complete surprise to us all.)

What world would it be without this magic? Poetry captures our human experience and brings it to the page so we can feel and see and live particular moments again and again.

For years, I was too busy with others’ writing to focus on my own. Then, the pandemic brought sweeping changes and I didn’t have to commute to venues or Clark College classrooms anymore, as my teaching went virtual. I realized I had enough time, and with the support of family and friends, I went forward.

In 2021, my writing appeared in Luna Station Quarterly, Nightingale & Sparrow, The Griffel, Montana Mouthful, The Sun, Saturday Evening Post, Nat. Brut, Sad Girls Lit, The Good Life Review, Nat. Brut, and Halfway Down the Stairs. These pieces were speculative fictions, stories both real and imagined, and poems. And the new publishing event starts tomorrow!

I can hardly wait to see what I can do with you by my side in 2022, beginning with the 30/30 Project.

Deep breath . . . here I go!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

It’s the strangest crime that has ever happened in his neighborhood, and he simply must solve it: who speared the dog, Wellington, with a pitchfork?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is electric, illuminating, humbling, maddening, charming, funny. I was floored by its impact on me. This was my first time watching a play with a mask on the entire time, and to the credit of Portland Center Stage, I completely forgot about the mask by the time the play finished.

It so happens young Christopher Boone (played by Jamie Sanders), is on the autism spectrum. He has to figure out: what do you do when people do mean things that don’t make sense? How do you solve a mystery if people won’t answer your questions? What if someone close to you is lying?

Poignant and crisp, this show reveals the earnest and straightforward and mathematical view of this 15-year-old whose brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s.

“I always tell the truth,” he says. He isn’t believed. Especially by the police officer who finds him kneeling next to the neighbor’s dead dog, and puts a hand on Christopher–who has always made it clear to everyone, he doesn’t handle physical touch.

This sets in motion events that stress Christopher to the breaking point. Oh, and when he finally does break down, it wrenches your heart beyond belief. The theater was frozen, stunned, as Jamie Sanders emitted the most unearthly, yet pure and believable sounds and movements of pain that I’ve ever witnessed.

It wasn’t all pain. There were aha! moments. Such as . . .

“The word metaphor is a metaphor,” according to Christopher. “I believe it is a lie.” Daunting and humbling to this poet who leans hard on figurative speech.

There were laughs upon belly laughs. The antics of the six voices who help tell the story are absolutely hilarious. There were wonderful moments with Ithica Tell, one of my favorite Portland actors, whose portrayal of the kind but no-nonsense neighbor, Mrs. Alexander, was incredibly real and satisfying, not to mention done with a gorgeous West Indies dialect. Mrs. Alexander listens to Christopher, doesn’t react to his weirdness or take offense when he doesn’t like the color of her pastries. She is open to learning about his world.

The same goes for Siobhan (Ashley Song), Christopher’s teacher, who encourages him to write a book of his detective work. She reads it intently, to the audience, and this becomes the narrative structure of the play. I was re-inspired by this work that has found me, of helping people tell their stories–out loud–especially those people who don’t fit into the world’s idea of “normal.”

Indeed, I often feel abnormal, as a highly sensitive person, as a SAD sufferer, as a trauma survivor. I have to limit screen interactions, get outdoors daily, be vigilant with self-care. It’s nothing like what an autistic person experiences, but it’s still “different ground”–and differentness can build bridges. Jamie Sanders said in an interview: “I have a different set of circumstances than Christopher. I have Tourettes, and it causes me to be sensitive to the world around me.” He uses that connection to make Christopher Boone dazzlingly real in a heavy-footed, big-eyed, math-loving embodiment.

But oh, the richness of this journey. To make it even better, on December 21, Portland Center Stage is having a sensory-friendly performance, for those who can easily be overloaded. They have created an amazing way to soften and mitigate the effects of bright lights, loud noises, and crowds. It makes me proud to be a PCS fan.

Stick by your truth. Even if you are put together differently than others. And please, please, seek out the stories of those who might see seem strange at first glance. Listen. Maybe, repeat back. No metaphors are required.



Photo credits: All photos by Owen Carey/Courtesy of Portland Center Stage.


©2021 Christi Krug

Are you saving colors for a day that will never come?

As a kid, there was nothing more wonderful than getting a brand new 64-color box of Crayolas, taking them out, lining them up, reading their fantastic names, and finally, coloring. Inevitably, the crayons would get broken or lost and the built-in sharpener would clog. Soon there would be only dull stubs of grays and browns, all the “good colors” gone.

Still, I could always find a pencil by raiding my brother’s desk drawer. So I drew and doodled and even had some drawings published in local papers. But I lost my confidence in using color. I didn’t own paints (except the watercolor set, in worse shape than the 64-Crayola-box, each color a congealed pool muddied to brown.)

As an adult, I could supply myself with that wonderful box of crayons whenever I needed to. I would browse the art store and collect markers and paints. This time, the colors remained pristine, untouched, each tip sharp, each paint oval gleaming in its white tray. Some day I might use them, I told myself. I never did, but I hoarded them all the same.

And then came a day when I stopped thinking of myself as an artist altogether. I was avoiding color. I still didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know how to paint. I wasn’t really good enough to be an artist.

So it happens that we often avoid what we long for—-because we think we’re not good enough.

What kind of sense is this?

About fifteen years ago, I started taking art classes with Lee Baughman, a watercolor instructor and lover of color whose enthusiasm, talent, attention and skills changed everything. Wow! With Lee’s encouragement, my work burst into color, and I was later drawn to the most vivid medium I’d used yet, pastels. I learned about pastels from the fabulous Jane Aukshunas. Today, I love both mediums as well as both teachers. I’ll forever be grateful to Lee and Jane for transforming my relationship with color from one of fear and avoidance to joy and delight and proficiency.

There’s no greater joy than finding your colors, the things you love, and experiencing them without self-consciousness. Words, stories, poems, memories—these pop with color as surely as these mountains.

Rediscover your colors as the light returns, in:

Free Soultisfying writing sessions!
Being fully present and listening to body, soul, and imagination. Free through Winter Solstice.
Please join me:
Monday, December 13, 4:30 pm PT
Thursday, December 16, 11 am PT
Friday, December 17, 11 am PT
Winter Solstice Eve, Monday, December 20, 4:30 PT
Email for Zoom link. (Cameras off.)




Writing to Experience Life

“The artist is comfortable only with going back to the way in which the chaos is first encountered—that is, moment to moment through the senses. Then, selecting from that sensual moment-to-moment experience, picking out bits and pieces of it, reshaping it, she recombines it into an object that a reader in turn encounters as if it were experience itself: a record of moment-to-moment sensual experience, an encounter as direct as those we have with life itself.” –Robert Olen Butler, From Where You Dream

We all process the world in different ways. The way that feels most natural, healing, and exciting to me is writing stories.

I don’t write to be recognized or to make something happen for someone else, but to experience truth in my own individual way. By listening to what Life is saying to me, and by crafting the stories that I’ve lived, I experience deeply. This includes welcoming and writing the stories that arise in my mind through imagination, and considering the possibilities I’ve almost lived, as well as what I’ve observed in the lives of others.  All these things help me see, feel, touch, taste, and hear my life–through story, experiencing past, present, and future.

What’s so beautiful about creating art with stories and words is that it doesn’t have to make sense; my brain doesn’t have to calculate answers. And yet there’s a rightness, a rhythm, a pattern in each piece. Words are the vehicle. Stories transcend words, conveying deep understanding.

It’s really about the images and senses we exchange as we make and share these stories and chapters and flashes and poems.

If writing is one of your ways of understanding, of finding deep knowing, I invite you to really get this writing groove on: be affirmed, be supported, find a few hours a week to feel the wonder of exploring the universe in your own, unique, word-full and yet beyond-words way.

Wildfire Writing, a virtual class offered through Clark College, will be offered privately this summer beginning June 16.

This is your highest value for the money, and can launch you into an entirely new way of feeling into your life.

Join me!



Photo credits: Top: Brett Mott, Bottom: L. Feather

The Most Important Thing, for Writing or Just Being: Doing Nothing

The most important thing I do every day is . . . believe it or not . . . nothing. It is a practice that creates nothing, and yet creates everything.

It is the most uncomfortable, most valuable time that I spend.

Here’s how I do nothing:

I stop doing things. I sit down. I stay sitting.

It’s mostly impossible, the doing of nothing. At the same time, it’s very easy.

When I’m doing nothing, I feel aches and pains, warmth, tingles, chills, complaints, tightness, impatience, restlessness, lust. My mind fills with fears, impulses, regrets, desires, calendars, TV shows, grocery lists, sadness, terror, joy, traumatic memories, contentment, beloved faces, betraying faces, story plots, breakfast sausage, protests, longing, leftover pizza, the inane song in my head.

I can’t change the thoughts or run away or distract myself or make something happen.

Doing nothing allows life to just be, along with its torrent of thoughts.

Doing nothing teaches me that the good stuff arises independently of my conscious control. In writing, this means everything.

There will always be a new idea, something to say. When the story is patchy or implausible or weak, I don’t have to jump up and do something.

I stay. Wisdom will come. Solutions will come, just like problems.

When I do nothing, I find Center, I find peace. I’m not capitulating in defeat or indulging my lazy side or avoiding anything. I’m acknowledging a greater Source of my creativity and life.

In classes, I also do nothing. Leading others into nothing. Whether on Zoom or (someday soon again) in a live setting, we close our eyes together. We breathe. We relax. We stop forcing ideas, pushing our secret inner agendas.

We tell stories; we write them; we read them. No longer do we have to make things happen.

We experience heartbreak, horror, violence, a scream in the night, or an officer’s knock at the door.  We feel humor and warmth: giant clown cookie shoes; a mother-in-law in robe and curlers.

We acknowledge zest and surprise, a buttercup-yellow meyer lemon, a kiss on the nape of the neck, a car radio playing as we drive a dusty desert road.

Our writing, our creating, our art, and our lives brim to overflowing. We stop trying to fix the world and surrender, holding nothing we can grasp, moving beyond our tiny brain-space, freed to experience the universe.

In doing nothing, we are overtaken with story and truth and wonder and love—that is to say, we are doing our best work, in everything.

A beautiful sunset reminds us of the practice of doing nothing.






Writing at the Crossroads


At a Crossroads

“She was pretty shattered, poor thing . . . . She’d run her life according to the prophecies, and now, there were no more prophecies. She must be feeling like a train which had reached the end of the line but still had to keep going somehow. From now on, she’d be able to go through life with everything coming as a surprise, just like everyone else.”

—from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


I came across a photo and was bemused by myself standing on train tracks. I was definitely feeling like I was at the end of the line, but as it turned out, I was at a crossroads, where life would never be the same. Sure, I was smiling, but my inner world was chaotic. All the rules by which I’d lived no longer were working; what was safe no longer felt safe. What was tried and true brought up a million insecurities. And yet the train of life carried me onward, almost against my will.

I love this quote from the hilarious book, Good Omens, because it could have been about me. I’d had scripts for how things should go—prophecies, if you will. But now I didn’t know anything. Would I stay married? Would I reconnect to my kids now that they’d flown the nest? Would I feel okay about myself again? Could I find a sense of home? The emotions were frightening, but even so, I tentatively trusted what my heart was saying and moved forward with the motion, the locomotion of Life.

Five years later, I live in a different community, am partnered with a different person, and am still learning the joy and wonder of crossroads. If we allow surprises, changes, and shifts, and shore ourselves up emotionally, we can handle a midlife shift as well as a pandemic, divorce, or financial crisis. We find support when the train stalls, switches, or crashes.

A daily writing and meditating practice can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed and experiencing peace amid uncertainty.

I invite you to sit down for five, ten, or fifteen minutes this morning and breathe. Next, write whatever it is you feel. Be brutally honest. (Sometimes you may do these steps in reverse order.) Experience what a boon it is to breathe. Notice the support that wells up as you allow the great changes in your world.

If we never reached a crossroads, we could never travel beyond the familiar tracks that offer no growth and little joy. If you’re at one of these places, listen for that whistle blast, and hold on.

Christi Krug on the nature of a crossroads



Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Write

Neither you nor I would expect to complete a memoir while crouching to avoid the shots of a bank robber; we know we couldn’t write a novel while thrashing to escape a tsunami. And yet we writers and creators make countless demands on ourselves without accommodating our brain’s needs. We tell ourselves we should be more disciplined, tough-minded, brilliant, and talented, and we push ourselves to become these things. In short, we stress ourselves out.

Neuroscience is discovering that creativity works in the completely opposite manner. The more you relax and shut down the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the more you can bring artistic, out-of-the-box solutions to whatever you’re doing.

I learned all this decades ago, before science fully understood it, by reading Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, by Henriette Klauser, a book which transformed my relationship with writing and led to my own experiments with creativity. In twenty-five years of working with writers, I’ve seen it over and over again: when you calm the nervous system, soothing fight-flight-and-freeze responses (which are actually trauma responses), you find inner resources such as:

  • breakthrough ideas
  • humor
  • playfulness
  • curiosity
  • unexpected flashes of insight
  • intelligence beyond the status quo

New students sometimes wonder why we do relaxation exercises in my class, why we minimize Zoom screen use (which overactivates the nervous system), and why we focus on the positive, often to the point that our inner critic thinks nothing is happening.

Something is happening. Something profound and deeply affecting, which can transform a stressed producer into a joyful maker who has a deep sense of well-being.

In my writing classes, we deactivate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – and no electrical currents or  intervention is needed, such as those used in recent research.

Meditation, relaxation, movement, breath, and poetry – these are some of our tools.

Remember, when you push, push, push, you’re expecting what isn’t natural. You’re running from Sasquatch and thinking you should be finishing that writing project with each step. Be here, relax, and let the writing flow in a way that’s natural, healing, and beneficial, not to mention super-creative and productive.

This is especially our agenda in QFire Class.

*****We have a last-minute seat open for the session starting Tuesday, January 12. Are you brave enough to join us?*****

Let me know if you want to try this counterintuitive yet nurturing approach to getting your words on the page.


Write to Listen to the Body

Hearing the Message of Pain

Some weeks ago I was going about business as usual when I noticed that it hurt to put on my coat. Also to close the trunk of my car. Also to wear my backpack. My shoulder was not cooperating with my daily life; in fact, it was protesting with pain.

It took a long time before I could check in. First I had to be willing to investigate. I had to open myself to hear the message of pain.

The miracle of “wildwriting” is that it allows you to sit and feel into whatever is happening when you might otherwise ignore it.

Ignoring is never a good long-term solution. When it comes to pain, injury, or discomfort, the body will speak more fiercely and loudly the longer you ignore it.

Writing is miraculous, though, because when I settle down, take up my pen and bravely write, I will learn more than I dreamed. If I jot down what I’m purely noticing, I can become whole, attuned, and available to mend.

When I got quiet, I wrote about my shoulder and noticed the word itself was comprised of the word “should.” The pinching, the searing, the discomfort – this was all about my should-er.

“My should-er has demonstrated it has had enough,” I wrote. “No more shoulds. But who will I be without them? Will I float purposelessly through the pandemic space-time continuum? Will I become a bubble, only to rise, bob, and break apart? Without shoulds, I fear I won’t have shoulders to carry grocery bags, hoist packages, shut heavy doors. Will I become a skeleton, a reed blowing in the wind? Shoulder pain, then, is trying to stake me to the ground. Add a flag. Human, you’ve landed.”

These understandings have opened my heart in this healing journey and in this pandemic time, when my coping mechanisms all have to do with should. Forcing myself to do things . . . because I should.

In the short run, we can drive ourselves, but over time, our creativity wants greater purpose. Just telling myself, “I should,” doesn’t solve anything. Even if I accomplish something, it will lead to a dead end where all my shoulds become concrete walls.

Listening to the body through writing is a beautiful tool. Taking in these life-giving messages is as important as eating nutritious food. I love that I’m learning about shoulders and shoulds, and I can’t wait . . . despite pain . . . to see what’s next.

What about you? Where can you listen deeply to your body?

Sit down with pen and paper and finish this sentence:

“What I’m feeling right now is . . . ”

Keep writing for ten minutes. Open your heart.





I’m Not Making this Up

“I’m not making this up. I’ve made it down. That’s what writing is, after all the nonsense, getting down so low the world offers a merciful new angle, a larger vision made of small things. The lint suddenly a huge sheet of fog exactly the size of your eyeball. And you look through it and see the thick steam in the all-night bathhouse . . . .”    –Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Not making it up, but making it down. Writing gathers my actual experience, what I see, taste, and swallow; what I feel under and over my toes. The most mundane and ordinary thing becomes a story, a fascination. I pause to rub the pale bruise on my foot. It bears the story of Friday’s hike through blackened trees and overgrown brush in the Columbia Gorge, where a stick wedged its way into my hiking sandal and jammed against my toe joint. The bruise shines like newt skin, lime green and smooth. This is not good, bad, happy, sad. This is not something to judge a day by. This is a glorious receiving of Earth experience, story, and imagination all at once.

I wish for you a larger vision made of small things. The quiet hush of fascination. The courage to look at what the fire has burned, and where the bruises have softened you.

As the desire draws you, so the story waits like the heartbeat of something yet unborn.  Draw your ear close and shiver with the beating of it: welcome the poem, and the world, and your heart.

Blackened trees in a forest in Columbia Gorge

Six Ways to Combat Zoom Fatigue

Overwhelmed in a Sea of Online Meetings?

Overwhelmed by the tide of online meetings?


Two weeks into the 2020 Covid-19 quarantine, I was feeling pretty good. I met online with my directors at Clark College, strategizing how to offer my 20-years’-running class, Wildfire Writing. Lisa and Roseanne were asking what I knew about teaching online.

“I’ve learned that Zoom classes are different,” I said. “The attention is different.”

Turns out, my insight was an understatement.

The attention is different. Oh my goodness gracious me, it is solar-systems-away different.

It is not only different for the participant, but for the facilitator. Three weeks into the pandemic, I was walking around in a haze, or treading water, with this blurry, slow, foggy feeling in my bones. What was wrong with me? I was holding three or four or six Zoom classes and sessions a week, all short, but in between I felt like a zombie.

I started reading about Zoom fatigue. And then I realized it wasn’t trauma that was making me weird and tired, it was simple science.

The energy and strengths of an online class are topsy-turvy from interpersonal meetings. And this helps explain why Zoom fatigue is real.

As humans, nonverbal cues make up ninety percent of our communication. Subconscious, nuanced gestures and tones can only be received in close contact. If you’re an intuitive teacher or worker like I am, you’re reading the moods and modes of your people—but you are using subtle cues on a deep level without conscious awareness of what you’re doing. You’re noting breathing, eye movement, and posture, among other things—many of which are impossible to transmit via camera.

Reducing our meetings to two-dimensional experience restricts our awareness, taxes our resources, fogs our brains.

When we’re relying on Zoom day in and day out for work and learning, we’re asking the technology to do things it can’t. We’re asking ourselves to perform in arenas that are unnatural.  Conversely, it’s easy when meeting online to send and receive resources, to edit documents, to hand off links, articles, videos, titles, and lessons.

At the same time, screens are exciting. To have “phone TV” was my dream as a child, ever since I saw it on the Jetson’s. Now, it’s a reality, and stimulating. And kind of delicious. Just like coffee is stimulating and delicious. But, oh man, too much at the wrong time is hard on the brain.

Screen use and upload of information can be fatiguing. What’s more, these things tap only a fraction of our capability.

Studies abound regarding whole-brain learning, and the benefits of using all of our senses. It so happens, quite nicely, that the strongest writing also incorporates the five (plus fifteen!) senses, and that when we are creating concrete, specific, sensory images with words, we are engaging our brains and activating the brains of our listeners.

Yes, listeners.

Although our eyes may be overtaxed, one thing we’re in short supply of during this stressful and unusual time of quarantine, is listening. And yet many of us have fully functioning ears—thank goodness. Our ears, when allowed to take over for our eyes, can be an amazing resource that funnels useful info we can use.

The auditory system is a neurological system. When we listen to each other, we are connecting in powerful ways that our overtaxed eyes can’t achieve while looking at a screen.

So, incorporating this knowledge, I’ve designed hacks for myself that have made all the difference. My energy is back! My meetings and classes are bringing positive gratitude and feedback which means so much right now. And I’m loving my work – even online.

Here are some things you can try along with me.

  1. Say hello for the first 5 minutes of the meeting, then turn off the cameras.
  2. Limit how many cameras-on meetings you’ll have per week.
  3. Put a lovely screen saver on your computer or phone, turn of your volume, sit back, and listen.
  4. Use an old-fashioned notepad or journal, and take notes by hand. (There are studies on the benefits of writing by hand, too.)
  5. Take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes, or a 10-minute break once an hour. In Wildfire Women, which meets Thursdays, we get up and stretch together halfway between class. In my Story Camp on Fridays, I send the kids out for 10-minute scavenger hunts in their homes or front yards, writing about the objects at hand. As a certified yoga teacher, I also incorporate yoga into the weeks’ classes.
  6. Turn off self-view. In some applications, you can turn off your own view of yourself, and this creates a much more natural feel. You don’t  have to be preoccupied or self-conscious. In Zoom, find your own “square” of image, now click on the three dots in the right hand corner. Scroll down to “hide self view” and select.

Best wishes! Tweak, try, experiment, and see what works as you find peace and equilibrium in this strange moment of history. Whatever happens, please know that the fog you are feeling is not permanent.






Quarantine Stories: Stuck at Home

  1. Go under the bed.

Under Mother’s bed is a light bulb, a pink sweater, a safety pin and an umbrella. Also, I’ve got Gold-n-Treasure marshmallow bits, and three pillows. Even stuck at home, all in all, I’ve got a pretty good hideout.

I move the hideout into the living room. Mother is reading Ladies Home Journal. “It’s bad luck to open an umbrella in the house,” she says matter-of-factly. “But that’s just superstition. You can break that rule.”

I leave the warmth of the radiator and go outside. It is the first summer in our new apartment, after Mother’s breakdown. An oil slick runs below the curb, blue purple green yellow orange dark blue pink red in a spilt rainbow. I walk around, toward a lake of puddle. I splash. It starts to rain.

I have the umbrella to keep me dry.

When you’re lucky, you can break rules.


2. Wear the green vest.

I graduate from Sparrows and that means I’m a Forest Craft Girl now. In the dark with candles and rows of girls, we have a ceremony and sing Kum Ba Yah. Some girls have badges all over their new vests, round ones, square ones, triangles. The only badge I have is the old brown sparrow in a light blue circle.

My best friend Ruby Nickels never got her green vest. She quit. When you’re lucky, you don’t have to quit.

3. Make up Recipes.

If you stand on the kitchen counter you can reach way back into the cupboard.  There’s a lot of old stuff. In a see-through bag there are marshmallows.

Marshmallow Delight. 

Chop three mini marshmallows. 

Break five Triscuits.  Put in bowl. Put in sixteen raisins. 

Put in eleven pieces Gold-n-Treasure cereal. 

Sprinkle red cupcake sugar on top. 

Shake constantly.   

4. Play in the dark.

We turn off the lights. I do six jumping jacks. I walk around like a clown. My brother clicks the flashlight, off, on off, on off. It makes a fast-motion movie like we’re Laurel and Hardy.

We make shadow shapes. Eagles are easy. Theodore makes a fantastic shadow dog.  My fingers don’t close all the way, so my dog has a hole in its face.

I hold the flashlight to my chin.  In the mirror my face turns red with blood.


5. Go to Safeway.

Mother is by the milk with her big wool coat, brown comfortable shoes pointing down the aisle. She looks past the cottage cheese, small curd.  “Christy! Where are you?  Christy!”  She says it like I am getting killed. A teenager is watching.

“I’m right here behind you,” I whisper.

It happens again by the creamed corn.


6. Use the Sparrows Telephone & Address Book.

Count rings. Twelve for Kendall. Fifteen for Jennifer. Untwist the pig tail cord on the phone. Twenty-four for Lisa May. Lisa May said she would be home, and we could probably play sometime. Six more for Lisa May.

Stop at forty-seven.


7. Get my birthday present.

Mother talked to Grandma and didn’t tell me, and Grandma talked to Mother, and now it has shown up, leaning on the porch rail, tied with a white bow.

“It’s a Schwinn,” says Grandma.

It has a yellow banana seat. It’s just my size. “Yay!”

“Just look at you,” said Grandma. “Just look at you riding around. You’re quite the lucky little racer.”

Having a bike means, if I have to go to a foster home, I can ride away fast.


8. Go to the corner drug store.

Me and Mother cross the street. She reaches for my hand. Nobody is looking, so I take it. The rules run different for Mother. She knows rhymes and rules and bad luck, but pays no attention.

When she paints with watercolors, she makes her own lines and goes outside them. We are swirls of paint, flowing where no one else can see.

The light turns red for the cars and the walk sign with its walking person turning white, and we walk slow across the street. There are her tan panty hose, and her brown comfortable shoes. Her shoelaces are tied in small bows.

Mother squeezes my hand.

I squeeze back.

Trapped in the darkness, tucked in the creases of my palm, puffy and hidden; it is there: all the luck in the world.

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