An exercise in sanity

This is a prompt of Julia Cameron’s (Artist’s Way) — and maybe there are others out there who might benefit from trying it.


Right now.

Drama in our lives often keeps us from putting drama on the page. Some drama happens and we lose our sense of scale in our emotional landscape. When this happens, we need to reconnect to our emotional through line. We need a sense of our “before, during and after” life. This tool is a personal antidote for too much drama.

Set aside one half hour. Settle yourself comfortably. Number from one to a hundred. Now list one hundred things you, personally, love.


I’ll start with the easiest thing for me — food.

1. Mushrooms

2. Tomatoes

3. Peas in the pod

4. Scallops

5. Roasted chicken with crunchy skin

6. Making Thanksgiving dinner

7. Dark chocolate

8. My morning coffee

9. Christmas songs and Christmas movies — but only in the month of December

10. Listening to thunder rumble closer while in bed at night

11. The anticipation of going on a trip

12. Starting a new book I’ve been waiting to read

13. Being surprised when a movie was better than you thought it would be

14. Singing along with the radio in my car

15. Riding my bike the first time every summer

16. The smell of the ocean the first time every summer

17. The smell of Iowa’s black soil

18. The Marcus Fair

19. Class reunions

20. Old friends who still connect and new (not-so-new) friends who still connect

21. Mallory and Emily and their husbands

22. My brothers and sisters and their families

23. My parents — who are now together

24. Dancing to old songs

25. Laughing

26. Writing poetry

27. Writing for a living

28. My office at work

29. Taking photos

30. Friday afternoons

31. The color blue … mostly a periwinkle blue

32. My hoop earrings

33. Crisp white blouses

34. Sneakers

35. Jeans

36. Iowa

37. Rhode Island

38. Green grass and blue sky

39. Sand and blue sky

40. Clouds

41. Mary Oliver

42. Kurt Vonnegut (the memory of discovering his writing)

43. To Kill a Mockingbird

44. William Stafford

45. W.B. Yeats

46. Walt Whitman

47. Emily Dickinson

48. Willa Cather

49. Saskatchewan

50. Looking at old photos of my girls

51. Six Feet Under (when it was on)

52. 30-Something (when it was on)

53. The Voice

54. CBS Sunday Morning

55. Walking by myself

56. Walking and talking with someone else

57. Trying a new restaurant

58. Red wine … not too dry … malbecs, pinot noir

59. Cold, crisp white wine

60. A beautiful platter of appetizers

61. Listening to someone play the harmonica like it’s breaking my heart

62. James Taylor

63. The Eagles

64. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

65. Carole King Tapestry album

66. The Doobie Brothers

67. Red barns

68. Gravel roads

69. Our little house in South Harrison Township, New Jersey

70. The peach trees that sat beside it

71. Fresh asparagus from the garden

72. The smell of a new book

73. A sharpened pencil in my hand

74. Lilacs

75. Chocolate chip cookies baking

76. Outdoor concerts in the summer

77. The first WaterFire of the summer

78. My daughters’ weddings

79. Making plans to go to Ireland in September

80. And then Italy

81. And France

82. And the Grand Canyon

83. And Block Island … going again and again to Block Island

84. More poetry

85. Not waking to an alarm

86. Reading in bed

87. Hearing from former students

88. The poetry people in Rhode Island

89. Poetry readings

90. Dodge Poetry Festival

91. Writing a new poem

92. Reading a poem every morning before starting the day at work

93. My dad’s old slides

94. Trying something new for the first time — and liking it

95. Walking on an empty beach

96. A big sky

97. Watching the sun set over Narragansett Bay

98. A Sunday morning on the East Bay Bike Path

99. Getting a new idea for a poem

100. Playing with words until they all fit together just right.




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