My Life in Words
tasted my first avocado after I was grown, married, and had graduated from college.
When I encountered a sugar-cube size of avocado in a salad, I thought I have bitten into a raw fish. But when I discovered guacamole, the avocado world opened her doors and played celestial music.
Now we wrap raw fish and avocado in a pillow of rice tie it up with seaweed and call it a delicacy.
See how times change.
When I began reading Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones (The 30th year edition), she told of tasting her first avocado in the 1960s, and with that, she gave us permission to write of such things.
To become a writer, you write. You put pen to page and begin and keep on keeping on.
If writing about avocadoes will do it for you, write about avocadoes.
You can write for fun, as self-examination, to journal, as a way to access the subconscious, or you can believe as Natalie Goldberg says, “Writing will take you where you want to go
I lost Writing Down the Bones in Temecula California. Well, I didn’t lose it, I gave it away. We were in the process of moving from Temecula to Eugene, Oregon. With the Prius loaded to the brim with shop materials, my husband took off a few days earlier to begin a new job in Oregon.
Daughter Dear with three-year-old son in tow and I completed clearing out of the house and loading six U-Haul pods. Alas, when the forklift driver lifted a pod, the scale told her it was too heavy. She suggested we remove some items.
We began throwing out whatever moved easily. The driver was waiting for us, remember?
One such item was a box of my favorite writing books, with Goldberg’s one of them.
The box sat in the driveway, lonely, looking for a home.
We could rent another U-Haul box, or sift through the removed items and keep the essentials then donate the left-overs. We decided on the latter. The Salvation Army was making hay that day.
Our faithful T-100 pickup truck was loaded and tarped. The U-Haul trailer attached to its rear was full. Daughter dear had a business selling on eBay and needed the trailer for quick access to items sold, as she was packaging up sold items when we stopped for the night.
The inside of the truck? No, the child was in his car seat, Bear, Daughter’s 150-pound Newfoundland dog lay beside him, Daughter was in the passenger seat. Peaches our 15-pound Poodle lay between her and the would-be driver (me).
And we had two cats.
There was no room for cats in carriers, so we dropped the cats into the truck and let them sift in wherever they could. Plus, we added a small kitty litter box on the floor in front of Bear.
I stood there, holding my box. No room.
“Okay, Salvation Army, you can have it. Someone will benefit. If I want them again, I’ll buy them. It’s cheaper than renting another pod.”
I left them with the stack of left-overs for the Salvation Army pickup.
Last week I read someone’s post where they named the 5-best books on writing.
Yes, they are great books, they teach you how to write, but my favorite books, Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird, were not among the list.Those are the ones that will set your pants on fire.
I had to buy them again.
My desire here is to do more than tell you how to start a blog although every day some 121 million people search for #“How to Start a Blog,” I am not a big whoopie-do blogger, however, I have learned a few things along the way.
My main focus, though, is to give you the idea that writing is a self-inspective endeavor.
It is a way to find yourself, to find what you want out of life, and it will help get the crap out of your head. (Don’t let people read the crap.)
I’m more interested in being a crap-cutter than an instructor on blogging, for I see that many people are in pain. They are bewildered with the world conditions, they feel overworked, overwhelmed, and pointless. (I know that’s not you.)
We do have challenges, though, and are trying to make sense of it all. That’s where writing can help. And if blogging is a way to do it, then blog.
Goldberg was one of the first writing instructors to tell her students that writing is a therapeutic endeavor and guess what the all-time most popular book on writing is.
Writing down the Bones.
One of the main aims of writing, says Goldberg, is to learn to trust your own mind and body, and to grow patient and nonaggressive. (I’m being nonaggressive, but I’m not patient.)
On my first blog—I looked it up today—It was January 26, 2009, I said that writing is “Mining your soul for its epiphanies.”
I see now that mostly we aren’t mining for epiphanies. We don’t see our day to day life in extraordinary ways. What’s the color of today? What’s its fragrance? (Rain, earth, musty loam here.)
It’s raining here right now, and rain has a fragrance. Stick your head out and sniff.
How does it feel to walk from a warm house into the brisk outdoors? Do we always say red cherries, when the red is redundant? The red cherries example is from Goldberg. Unless she says, they are the yellow cherries from Washington State. In that case, they are yellow cherries.
That comment gave me a sense that I’m not looking deep enough. Imagine giving the impression of brown without once mentioning that color.
“Coffee, in a cup the color of sand dunes, sits on my oak butcher block table. Beside it sits a glass, with chocolate breakfast shake filling the bottom half. The top half is streaked with marks looking like tree limbs.
Okay, I tried.
Imagine having the enthusiasm of Ray Bradbury, or to be like Charles Shultz who went to his studio every day, and said I don’t know why I am so happy.
I had already caught the writing bug by the time I found Goldberg’s book those many years ago. If you have the same bug, you know how your creative endeavor can put you in a no-time zone. I have to watch my no-time, for I have burnt my little Revere Ware pan, boiling water for coffee, so many times that I’ve fried the oxidation off its copper bottom. I got that pan for a wedding present, and we’re having a contest to see who outlasts the other.
Thirty years after I found Goldberg’s book, a reputable publishing company graciously published my book, The Frog’s Song. It’s selling like hotcakes at a glucose-intolerant convention. But, hey, I did it. Nothing can take that away.
Although blogging might be your goal, I want to encourage writing because it feeds your soul.
You see, though, you do need to study writing so that the Muse doesn’t soil her gown when she comes to visit.
I will list the best books on writing at the end of this blog.
But first, let’s talk about blogging:
Blogging is a way to get your word out, to influence, and to help others.
You might have the answer that someone is seeking.
We need your voice.
#How to Start a Blog.
(Non-writers, hang in with me.)
Bloggers try to get to the point. Sometimes we ramble about what’s going on around the farm, or house, or area. (A life-blog.) We do try, however, to give people what they want. If you don’t know what people want, give them a smorgasbord—they’ll choose.
Bloggers write How-to’s, they find a nitch, create a brand, and have a media presence. (There you have it, blogging in a sunflower seed shell.)
I don’t know why it took me so long to learn WordPress. Now I’m rolling with it.
Initially, I had trouble with the templates. I didn’t know the commands. I didn’t know how to set up the first page, how to make pages, or use widgets. The templates frustrated the heck out of me. It takes time. Keep at it. You’ll figure it out.
I think learning while doing works the best. If someone told you how to use Wordpress in one setting, your brain would explode.
You can get your feet wet with a free simple blog. I began on Blogger, and continue that one because I simply can’t part with it and have a readership I don’t want to lose. That’s https://www.wishonwhitehorses.com. I have one on Weebly, https://www.plottwist747.com and Wordpress https://www.travelswithjo.com.
(Google says I may be harming myself with multiple blogs with similar content. The Google Bot will catch me.)
To blog, you need a host. A host is the property where you build your blog. They carry your mortgage.
Within that host, you will need a domain. your URL
https://www.yourname.com or dot net or many others.
Your first choice may not be available—remember your name is one-of-a-kind—no one else can have it.
Some hosts offer free domains with their name in the .com portion. If you want your own .com, and it is preferable to have one, you will have to buy it. It’s about $12.
There's a lot of trial and error in this. Now I see why people want a directive.
And then you’ll need a template that is the floor plan.
I began with Blogger, moved to Site Ground, and then I found Bluehost to be simple, and it blends seamlessly with Wordpress templates. In my opinion, it's the best.
All the templates I have found have qualities I like and some I don't like. And most templates have limitations and quirks—one of mine writes in italics, and I haven't found how to turn that off yet.
It's the price we non-tech-folk pay for some savvy someone to set up coding. But look at the opportunities they give us.
Just google Blogger, or Wordpress or Weebly, or Go Daddy or BlueHost. There are many that I haven't tried. But once found, they will direct you.
For a nominal fee, one of those sites will get up and running, and then you can focus on writing.
You'll figure it out, or ask questions. Someone will answer.
One person asked if there were any new blogs that didn't talk about blogging. With 121 million hits a day on How to Start a Blog, I guess it’s a hot topic. I didn’t know there were that many writers. Perhaps it’s the lure of a six-figure income. Yeah right. I read one of those yesterday, and it could have ruined my whole day, but I didn’t let it. (Sinister nicker.)
Monetize? So that's how people make money.
One might think that after blogging for years, I'd be better at it and have a vast following. I'm late understanding what SEO is and does. (It's how google places your sites.) I haven't been good with tags and media advertising. A shame too. It's detrimental to my blog traffic. (But, hey, I love my readers. I feel we're an intimate group.)
Today I was curious as to when I began blogging, so I checked into a site where I have archives. On January 26, 2009, I wrote, "This is my first blog," so I guess that's it. Eleven years. If you want to read that blog, I'll put it after this one.
In my first blog, I spoke of the book I had recently published with Xlibris. (I paid them, they didn't pay me). The title is It’s Hard to Stay on a Horse While You're Unconscious, although the title is too long, it meant two things to me. One was if you lolly-gag while on a horse, you'll likely see the ground close-up real soon. So be aware. A horse will focus where you do.
Second, I got hit in the nose by a horse's head (it felt like a cement block) and knocked unconscious for only a second, but long enough for me to drop out of the saddle and hit the ground. I ended up looking like a raccoon and hobbling with a cracked pelvis. That woke me up for sure.
Daughter dear says I need to get a success consciousness, for after I write something (in my zone), I become embarrassed to allow other eyes to see it. So, in keeping with my new-found courage, I’m offering. It's hard to Stay on a Horse While You're Unconscious, for sale at the end of this blog.
My focus now is to be conscious on a horse and off.
I thought I was breaking ground when in an appendix to the horse book, where I talked about the corpus-callosum of the horse's brain, for when I asked a Veterinarian about it, he expected me to tell him.
Good luck with blogging. Tell me how it’s working for you. If you have suggestions, please share.
Thanks for reading,
There is an old saying that horses are smarter than a human for they never make bets on us.
Here are the books on writing I said I would list.
1.On Writing by Steven King
A shoe-in for someone with that name and body of work
2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr & CB White.
Remember from freshman English? “Omit needless words. Omit needless words.”
3. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Overcoming resistance—could be called procrastination. And you find ways you didn’t know you were procrastinating, but when you get moving you will also notice a lightness of spirit will envelop you, even if your writing sucks.
4. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Zen didn’t seem quite right for Bradbury, but hey, his enthusiasm for writing will set your pants on fire.
5. Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleoh.
Not, don’t plagiarize. However, everybody gets inspiration from somewhere. Take it from the best and make it your own.
6. Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
7. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont.
Love that girl.
8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Many quotes, much practical and spiritual advice.
9. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, by Steven Pressfield.
“Your sh*t is your self-centered, ego driven, unrefined demands for attention.” –Steven Pressfield
And it is more, “Believe in yourself when on one else on the planet shares that belief.
10. Brain Storm by Don Hahn “Unleashing Your Creative Self”
Written by a Disney Imagineer. This is not strictly about writing, but to encourage creativity.
I love it.
Now, read these people then put your pen to page and kick some ass.
January 26, 2009
Watch a Thousand Flowers Bloom
This blog is my first, and sone might think it’s about horses considering the domain name, Wish on White Horses, but it is more about life.I appreciate your eyeballs following my keystrokes. I’d offer some coffee, say, “Come sit a spell,” but the Internet prohibits such intimacy. I can, however, offer my intent—that this site will be fun and inspiring.Michael Moore wrote, “Watch a thousand flowers bloom…we’ve entered a new era. Anything is possible.”
If I can plant a few seeds.
I just walked downstairs to let our little poodle dog Peaches outside and saw on the Television President Obama and first lady Michelle walking down Pennsylvania Avenue after his inauguration. (TV on mute.) And Mrs. Obama was making that trek in high heels and an open coat. What is it 7 degrees in Washington today? I believe they said 20 degrees but felt like 14.
Over a million stalwart souls stood on the mountain top and let the cold wind bombard them while the dream of change washed their bodies warm as Hawaiian sunshine. This is a glorious day.When my daughter comes home from her Doctor’s appointment, we will watch the inauguration festivities in their entirety.
The doctor was her OBGYN. She is expecting a baby boy within the next couple of weeks. Although this is not my first grandchild, it will be the first one to live with us. Both my daughter’s and my nerves are jangled after waiting 12 months for conception, and the 8 ½ months of her pregnancy. Much of her story her appears my book, It’s Hard To Stay On A Horse While You’re Unconscious.
Yes, I know, the title is too long, but hey, I wrote the book in 2008, what did I know.
If you’ve ever ridden a horse, you know you need to be conscious of what’s going on with the horse and your surroundings in order to stay aboard. I figured there are many books with dogs as teachers. There are books with cats as metaphysical partners. Maybe there is a book with kangaroos as jumping partners. Shreve Stockton has a book about raising a coyote pup. (My Daily Coyote).So I’m entering horses into the mix.
First, an explanation of why I am calling my web site http://www.wishonawhitehorse.com.
It came about on a hot summer Saturday as my friend Rita and I sat on a bus heading for the Country Fair West of Eugene Oregon.
This was not a hogs and calves sort of fair, but a human drama of costumes, of painted bodies, crafts, music, and 28,000 people jammed into an area of Hobbit-style booths and winding paths surrounding a river called “The Long Tom.”
Across the aisle, our husbands talked engineering or some such.
“Quick,” said Rita, “make a wish.”
“A white horse, I always wish on a white horse.”
In a pasture alongside the highway, head bent to the grass, tail swishing against the summer heat and flies, grazed a white horse.
I had never heard of white horse wishing, but considering I had long ago wished on birthday candles, and the first stay of the evening and got a horse, I figured wishing on white horses would be another way of telling the wish fairy we are serious.
So here, with horses as inspiration, and wishing and praying and blowing, I plan to watch a thousand flowers bloom.
The following is an interview that will explain something about my book and will explain something about me.
J: So, Joyce, tell me, why should I waste my time on this book?
Joyce: Wait a minute; I spent four years on this book. Don’t tell me it is a waste for you to spend a couple of hours on it.
J: Okay, okay. Let’s start again. In two sentences to tell me why you wrote your book, It's Hard To Stay On A Horse While You're Unconscious?
Joyce: Two sentences? That’s all I get?
Joyce: One: to write about what I learned about horses after a 40-year hiatus without one.
Two: it’s about not having a tombstone that reads, ‘Died at 30, buried at 60.”
J: Being alive all the days of one’s life. I like that, but what qualifies you to tell us how to do it?
Joyce: The wizard gave me a heart a brain and some courage.
J:Aren’t you confusing yourself with Dorothy?
Joyce: No, the wizard, the Spirit that dwells in all things, endowed me with certain inalienable rights, and that is when you live on this planet you learn a few things. If we all shared what we learned, we would all be wiser people. This book happens to be my venue.
J: Point taken. I want to know what spurred you into this project in the first place.
Joyce: Long ago, when I sold my beloved childhood horse Boots, I thought that part of my life was over, and then eight years ago, my thirty-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, don’t you want a horse again?” She had left the corporate world in California, bought acreage in Oregon, and decided she wanted a horse.
Here she was tempting me to do the same.It had been 40 years since I swung a leg over a horse's back, except for a couple of separate occasions. I didn’t know if I was willing to give the time and effort necessary to care for a horse.
Yes, I did think that part of my life was over. Yet, there it was again, that old desire to run my fingers through a horse’s velvet coat, to bury my nose in a horse’s silken mane and inhale deeply, to climb aboard and feel the exhilaration that must have given rise to the term Centaur, half-man (or woman), half-horse.
J: Rather like a second childhood, wouldn't you say?
Joyce: Definitely. Dr. Christiane Northrup (Woman’s Bodies, Women’s Minds) says at midlife; we often return to the thing we loved pre-puberty.
J. I wanted to be an artist.
Joyce: It’s not too late. When did Grandma Moses start painting? In her 70’s I think. When John F. Kennedy wanted his gardener to plant a certain tree the gardener said, “But that tree takes 100 years to mature.” Responded Kennedy: “Then we haven’t a second to lose. Plant it now.”
J: Except for your personal connection with the horse, why it is an important enough animal to occupy an entire book.
Joyce: I’m shocked you would ask that question.There are many horse books. My favorite childhood book was Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. That was fiction, yes, yet people want to read about the horse. They want to know about gentling the noble beast that has served humankind for six thousand years.
They want to understand the animal that once served Knights and Kings.
Today there are 7.1 million people involved in the horse industry. Almost two million people own one horse or more.
Once too valuable to be placed in a peasant’s hands, the horse carried us into civilization, into the crusades, into war, into the west. Horses are the animals that gave the human wings, they are symbolic of freedom, a metaphor for life, and some think that the horse helped accelerate the intellectual prowess of human beings.
J: Okay. I love horses, too. But aren’t horses skittish, claustrophobic, cowards?
Joyce: Skittish and claustrophobic yes, cowards, no. Do you like snakes?
J: Scare the hell out of me.
Joyce: Imagine this. Someone one asks you to walk across an arena where 2,000 poisonous snakes are hissing and writhing on the ground.
J: No way
Joyce: Well, let's say, I spend 5 minutes convincing you it is safe. “I duct-taped their mouths shut, I say, “They can’t bite you.”
J: Duct tape or not, I’m not going, you probably missed taping one anyway.
Joyce: Okay, I spend two hours trying to reassure you. I walk through the arena myself, showing you it is safe. What would you do?
J: I’d go around.
Joyce: At this point, I’d slap you on the backside, and tell you not to be a coward and to get across that arena.
J: I’d fight.
Joyce: Humans are fight animals. Horses are not. Horses are flight animals. Fifty-five million years of evolution made them into a flight machine. “If in doubt, run,” was taught to them at their momma’s knee. The ones who lingered were eaten.
We ask them to go into trailers (caves—traps), to cross horse-eating arenas, and to cross water that might be one inch deep or 100 feet; with their depth perception, they can’t tell the difference.
We ask horses to make life-threatening choices regularly. And they do it for us. Is that not bravery?
J: I hadn’t thought of it that way. Aren’t those some of the things the horse whisperers know—people like Monty Roberts?
Joyce: Yes. Monty Roberts says he is an observant man who learned the horse’s body language, ‘The language of Equus,’ he calls it. Pat Parelli says there is nothing mystical about training horses.
Yet, I consider both of these men horse whisperers.Most of the time when I use the term ‘horse whisperer,’ it is meant as a term of endearment rather like someone would call an older wiser mentor ‘Grandma.’ It is more than that, though, I am calling those highly skilled individuals who practice the non-violent art of horse gentling horse whisperers.
Initially, the term ‘horse whisperer’ simply meant a groom who whistled or hummed as he was brushing the horse. He altered the sounds as he brushed, he raised the cadence when he wiped the eyes or nostrils, and he used another sound when he ran a sponge inside the flanks. This communication told the horse that there would be no wincing, biting, or kicking as long as a true note of friendship existed between them.
Later on, the term was given to horse trainers who had an uncanny knack of handling a wild or dangerous horse.
J: I’d like to know more.
Joyce: Glad you asked. I have a chapter on the horse whisperers in my book It’s Hard To Stay On A Horse While You’re Unconscious.
J: Good, I will look for it. Most of the time publishers want their writers to be experts, or someone who gives seminars. Are you a horse guru, or a clinician or something like that?
Joyce: I’m just an old-time horse lover with new vigor. When I wondered if I did want a horse again, I realized I didn’t know much except, ‘Jump on the horse, and take off for tall timber.’
A new horse wouldn’t be Boots, I am not as agile as I used to be, and I felt my balance might be shot. So I began to study.After learning some of the new horse gentling techniques, I became intrigued by the way a horse sees.
If one studies the horse’s eye, it becomes imperative to also study the brain.
I wondered if the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two brain hemispheres, could account for the phenomenon in foal imprinting that happens when you massage the baby's entire body, but leave out one part, let's say an ear, later on, touching that ear will bring about a reaction as though he has one wild ear on an otherwise tame body.
That imprinting phenomenon, as well as the horse’s need to be trained on both sides, made me wonder if the answer lies in the way his brain made connections. So, I placed two appendices after the book’s narrative. First appendices: The Horse’s Eye, the second: The Horse’s Brain
J: I am still wondering if I want to read an entire book about horses.
Joyce: Do it if you want. It’s a choice. Dean Koontz is a better writer than I. Richard Bach spins a better metaphysical tale. Monty Roberts is wiser, knows more about horses, and is more articulate.
J: I’ve read them already.
Joyce: Then you might want to give me a try.
J: Okay, in conclusion, what would you do if Oprah Winfrey showed up at your door?
Joyce: She better not, my house is a mess.
J: What if she invited you to be on her show?
Joyce: First, I’d faint. After I recovered, I would dream of riding my horse Velvet on stage, but then Velvet might go ballistic at the lights and people, and dump me. There I would be in front of millions, a horse loose in the audience, and me flat on my back, mortified, unconscious, or dead.
J: I think I’ll ask Oprah not to do it.
Joyce: Good plan.
To purchase the book, It's Hard To Stay On A Horse While You're Unconscious (soft cover) Please click on the PayPal Button below. The price is $4.99 for the book, $2.73 for shipping with a total of $7.72.
The Frog's Song by Joyce Davis
For more information on The Frog's Song, I invite you to click on https://thefrogssong.com
'Joyce's travels have taken her beyond the shores of her native continent, but she's back where she started, in Oregon.