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Last summer, my wife and I honeymooned in Sydney, Australia. Her version of the story is that I honeymooned while she worked. True. Still, we were there for two weeks and got to go around together on her days off. And truly the Opera House is as picturesque as it appears in photographs or on TV. While Kathy worked, I wrote, explored the city’s botanical gardens, museums, and Aquarium. In general, I soaked in the energy, the atmosphere, the interesting blend of people, and the culture. In Sydney, essays burst through my hands, out my fingers, and onto the pages of my notebook. From outdoor cafes, I looked out to Sydney and it fed me back energy to which I’d scribe for hours. And in those moments, and now as I reflect back, no negative thoughts hovered in my mind, looking for entry, eating away at my peace. The negative voices never spoke to me; I stayed in a hopeful, productive space with regards to my writing and my writing future. Dreaming and living in Technicolor became my motto, though at the time I hadn’t considered it.

Without trying, I’d reconnected with the beginner’s mind in Sydney. And without the sights and sounds of the city I live in, I innocently opened myself to something new. This newness sparked my brain, fired up my synapses to simply write: without a past and unfettered by the future.

Recapturing the beginner’s mind has been one tool I now use to stay positively connected to my writing life. I am a little more fearless with coaching, perhaps because I am a beginner. In my neighborhood, there is a rose garden that I’ve always loved. Roses of all colors and sizes reside there. After Sydney, I adopted the Rose Garden as my personal botanical garden, where I’d often take walks, jog, and photograph the landscape, sometimes recording the changes that occur. A month ago a huge tree fell, and over the course of it lying on its side, I photographed its stunning grace and its ultimate removal. Something about recording the progress of that tree and my movements in the rose garden has taken me back to Sydney. I’m learning that even walks in my neighborhood can clear out the negative self-talk. And in a way, I’ve decided to make friends with those voices. When they say we can’t do this or that, I take them for a walk in the Rose Garden, to photograph flowers, to see how the sunlight creates shadows through the trees in the late evening hours. Sometimes a single picture can combat a hundred negative thoughts.

Creativity has many voices.


The Oakland Rose Garden

Sydney’s Opera House