Site icon Liesl Garner

Plotting my Areas of Growth


It is easy for me to think I’m learning a lot by bouncing around from web article to web article. And, I actually do have pretty good taste in reading, I think. I’m reading some of the #longreads and the well-thought-out literary reviews. I’m doing some fine reading. But every now and then, I have to decide what areas of my brain I want to focus on, and what sorts of things I want to read. I’m a glutton. I will read anything I can get my hands on, so the internet makes me like a kid wired on sugar sometimes.

Then I read the amazing article, Why Can’t We Read Anymore, and realized that I have a Dopamine Rush happening every time I respond to an email, or text or tweet or comment, and I’ve become a junkie, and I want to settle my brain down and read a good book with no distractions.

This week, I was challenged by Amy Putkonen over at Tao Te Ching Daily to come up with a #WhatAreYouWorkingOn as part of an ongoing weekly challenge over on her blog. As soon as I read her dizzying entry about all the projects she’s involved in, the books she’s reading, her workout routine, and her home reorganization challenge, I realized that I’d been stuck in a braindrain of internet surfing that was not nearly as productive as I was trying to imagine it. I mean, a lot of great articles, but I need to rein it in and decide which ones to meditate on and turn into something internal for me, or rather which ones will get me up off my chair to participate in life again!


There are so many things I want to do better, it is hard to focus on just one, but I think Small Manageable Bites, and get better at something, build it into habit, and then work on the next thing. I like that Amy is starting a reading study on The Conscious Parent. I own that book. I picked it up, and I need to dust it off and get into it with a group of other parents who are discussing it.

The idea that is sticking with me right now is the idea of Play. Two different articles I read this week made me think of play in powerful ways. One flat out asked “How Much Time Do You Spend Playing with Your Kids?” and I realized that I spend a lot of time doing things for my kids, preparing meals, organizing, shopping, putting things away, doing laundry – and I don’t always spend so much time playing. This is my first summer being home with the kids, where I’m not also trying to work or work from home. I want to be able to actually spend quality time with them playing and doing what they want to do.

The other article was actually about our brains and making choices and the brain of an Octopus, but it reminded me of learning that an Octopus in captivity will die if it is not played with – if it is not actively engaged in a back and forth communication and interaction with a human trainer. How much more important is it that I am actively engaging my children in play and communication?

Of course, any talk of the brain and our need to play reminds me of Tara Rodden Robinson and all the great work she does. Just saying her name reminds me of seven or eight great things that I can do right now to de-stress. She is such a master!


So, as soon as I knew that I wanted to do Amy’s #WhatAreYouWorkingOn weekly wrap-up, I realized I needed to rush around and get a few things done so I’d have something to share. At least I’m honest. I’d spent most of the week reading and commenting on blogs and not doing a whole lot of anything. One day, I spent cleaning out a filing cabinet drawer, and throwing away an entire, giant bag of stuff I do not need, leaving room for all the stuff piled on top of my desk that needs to be filed.

But, I did read, and couldn’t find again for the life of me – a great article on Cleaning a Clean Home. I have heard this before, that there are certain things that if we do them every day, the house seems to magically stay clean. So, I put together a list, and my kids have their portion of chores, and I have my portion. Every Day we:

Miraculously, we seem to have so much more time with these things done early in the day and the house feeling amazing.


Here is where I’m super proud. I realize that if I set up a Menu for the Week in advance, how much more easily everything would flow around here. Yet, I don’t do it. I figure I’ll just wing it, and that leads to stress and failure, disappointment and guilt.

This week, I wrote down a list of the sorts of things we like to eat, and categorized them, and then went and set up Pinterest Boards for them.

Now, I can spend a few minutes putting things that look tasty onto my boards – and then when it’s menu planning time I can just pick a few that look good, and boom, done. My menu is planned!

I already did two of the dinners, and have another one in the Crock Pot for dinner tonight, and they were amazing! We had a Pulled Pork that was from a recipe book here at home, and then last night I did Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta and it was fantastic. Tonight, we are having Fiesta Chicken and Rice Bowls. The whole house smells delish!


I picked up a new Natalie Goldberg book at the Poetry Reading I was a part of on Monday of last week down at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland. I love Natalie’s work. I have her Writing Down the Bones on my bedside table and go through it periodically for inspiration. This new one is The True Secret of Writing, and it is fantastic.


The Boys and I started a couple of weeks ago with our new Eat Art series. For some reason, Baseball practice and games took over this last week, but we are still attempting to go through this in the evening, looking at fun things we find on the internet to share with one another.

The boys are artists, and one of the things I feel strongly about is that it is my job to feed them nourishment for their artistic souls. They need to be fed great ideas, the work of others, to expand their interests and their abilities.


I write. I write when it feels good and when it doesn’t. I write when I get attention for writing, and I write when I’m not being noticed at all. It doesn’t matter. I write because I’m a writer. I’m a Poet mostly, and have been writing new poems. I don’t post very many of my poems online, because I want to share them at our Poetry Slam that happens once a month, and I want to compile them into a book. I feel more and more that I want to do that, and so I need to put some focused energy on that and see what sort of book comes out of that. Fun.

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