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Something Old, Something New…

Redesigning a website is like entering into a marriage. You’ve come to a crossroad and things change. You stop and reevaluate, reconfigure, and wiggle around the bits and differences until pieces fit together, the old and the new.

This photo from Ocean City. I like the crossroad of land and sky and water. There’s an old couple who struggled together up the dune to look. They, too, are at a crossroad. I like to imagine they have come to the ocean for years on vacation and played in the surf. Now they stand and remember.

I’ve often stood at a crossroad. My crossroads usually read STOP on the side I can see, but the destination is written on the reverse side in ink fated to remain invisible for an unknown span of time. I stop, reconfigure, and head off somewhere, not knowing where or why I’m going, but trusting I’ll eventually understand.

The completely new are the pages for Workshops and Services. My life as an adjunct college teacher ended, and I began teaching through workshops. I like teaching. I’m glad it’s evolved.

The Services page offers us as presiders at weddings and memorial services. I’ve been a Spiritual Mentor/Counselor for more than twenty years, in person and through online consultations, which I’m pleased to offer to more.

Please wander around in the new site. Let me know if you like it or if something doesn’t work for you. At base, we’re all in this together.

One last piece of new: in this new design, I’m working with Jen Wewers who has a great eye and knows social media. If it’s time for you to reconfigure, I highly recommend her.

 

There are many things in this world I do not understand: why teenagers are better at computers than I am who have been using computers for thirty years; why Indian Summer doesn’t come the way it used to; why my ear bud, plugged in to recharge, eventually dies; why solar flares happen to disrupt electricity.

The list could go on. However, here is my latest I do not understand: this morning, in my inbox, I received the third fundraising campaign from Donald Trump even though the first time I received one, I unsubscribed, and deleted, and the second one, and today I received a third.

Add to all those above facts, I have never in my entire nearly fifty years of voting, voted Republican nor have I signed up for Republican or Donald Trump newsletters. Here’s the top of the newsletter, followed by (which I did not copy) the levels to which I could contribute.

Friend,

No matter what the Fake News Media reports, we’re working to advance our agenda every day.

In the first 9 months alone, we’ve delivered on our promises and have proven we’re ready to fight for what we believe is right for the future of this great country.

We did it together in 2016, and there’s no doubt in my mind we have the momentum to keep it going. But I need to know you’re committed to our movement, Friend.

This is your last chance to update your record before our end-of-quarter deadline, and I’m hoping you’ll do so by renewing your Sustaining Membership:

2017 SUSTAINING MEMBERSHIP

Account Number: 36001974
2017 Sustaining Membership:
 PENDING
Deadline: September 30, 11:59 PM

 

I AM NOT a “Sustaining” member. So here’s my question: how did I get on a mailing list and now, since unsubscribing doesn’t work, how do I get off???

And how, exactly, did they hack my email address???

.

 

A Writing Workshop

Spiritual writing is not necessarily religious writing, but it can be as evidenced by some of the best spiritual writers: Henri J.M. Nouwen, Kathleen Norris, Donagh O’Shea, and a long list of others. Spiritual writing can also be fictionalized as is exhibited by Paul Coelho, Jane Roberts, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others. Writing about a painful episode that leads to healing is spiritual writing; to write grief from the heart can also be healing.

So can writing joy.

Spiritual writing is, in brief, finding the voice that speaks from within and connects us to our true self. Writing as a spiritual practice means “using the first and most primary human art form – language – to explore deep questions and express important experience or imagining,” as Pat Schneider so lyrically expressed. Each week, participants will write a short essay around one topic and end by submitting a longer piece for content editing.

I hope you can join me.

Janet incorporates more than twenty years of writing, questing, liturgical practice, and spiritual mentoring in a practical and clear manner to help students find their gateway to spirit through writing.

Four weeks on Monday evenings, October 16 to November 6, 2017, 6:30 pm Central Time. See below link to register.

Comments from Past Participants:
As an instructor, you were engaging and direct, providing structured guidance and feedback while also encouraging my unique writing to emerge.

Most inspiring for me was how you emphasized the power of our personal stories: valuing, articulating, and writing our truths to share with others.

Week One: We’ll discuss some thoughts on spiritual writing and how the search manifests in learning ourselves at a deeper level. We’ll look at how physical experiences, our culture or self-identification may shape our approach. I’ll suggest some spiritual writers who might guide your path to discovery. I’ll explain how free writing can allow you to access an interior voice you may or may not recognize, and I’ll offer some prompts that may help you begin.

Participants will write a short, 50 to 150 word piece which may give you an inkling of the topic of your final piece. All writing shared with the class is voluntary, but remember, we’re on a journey of discovery together, and feedback always helps. Especially kind and understanding feedback.

Week Two: How Faith Defines the I: Often we shy away from talking about religion because it could lead to disagreements. How can we talk about faith, whether religious faith, or an inner knowing through dreams, without alienating our reader? How do we speak in a voice that compels without demanding conversion? How do we examine without preaching? We’ll consider how form, voice, or narrative can frame issues in creative ways.

In preparation for the longer Week Four assignment, participants will write a short piece of 100 to 200 words.

Week Three: People, Places, and Things: Who are the supporting players in your spiritual quest? How do you define them? How did they help or hinder? What are the details of place in your narrative? How did place contribute to your journey? How do spiritual icons, altars, candles, books, incense, dreams, voices, contribute to a spiritual atmosphere?

Participants will write a 200 to 250 word piece describing the items, people, places which contributed, as support or challenge, to your journey and share it with the class. Remember to add the details of the senses, touch, see, smell, hear, taste, in order to give depth for your reader.

Week Four: Building the Structure: What’s the beginning, middle, and end of your essay? Where are the conflicts? Is there a major conflict that has to be resolved? How do you define your wandering journey so that the reader wanders with you, sees what you see, smells what you smell, hears what you hear, feels what you feel as you walked your path? We’ll talk about the difference between editing and revisions and how to find the courage to delete those parts that do not add measurably to the whole.

You may have a full-length memoir in mind, but for the final essay, participants will submit an essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words to me via email for content editing which I will return, suggesting ideas or changes.

I’ll also offer links to journals which publish spiritual memoir if you wish to publish.

Live, online class, utilizing Zoon, a free, easy, and accessible platform. Each week, you’ll receive reminders to sign in and participate. Zoon also provides drop down menu to ask questions.

Four Weeks: October 16 to November 6, 2017; Monday evenings,
6:30 P.M. Central Time

Fee: $160

To Register:
https://www.shantiarts.co/workshops/workshops_register_sunderland_spiritual.html

New Newsletter

As you’re no doubt aware, my blogging has reduced itself considerably these past few months as I’ve focused more on my professional writing.

Hopefully, you’re doing well and have managed to get through a rather chaotic summer. It’s been interesting, to say the least. I have family in both Houston and Florida, so lately, I’ve also added watching weather news to working on writing and teaching.

I wanted to let you know I’ve developed a new newsletter through Mail Chimp. It will include my publishing news, and information on where I’m teaching, but even more fun will be the posts on developing a writing style, tips on format, and ideas for organization coming from my teaching and writing.

For example, one of the first posts will be on how to use list making (sort of like a grocery list) to help organize ideas. Using this method is a lot more fun that staring at a blank outline! I developed the process when I was teaching college classes and students loved it.

If you’d like to be included in the newsletter mailing list, you can send me your email through Message on Facebook or from the Contact Me page here on the website. That’s the quickest way, but I’ll also include a link here on my website (eventually–right now I’m in the building newsletter process).

I won’t add you to the newsletter mailing list unless you send me your email address. Even with the newsletter, I won’t be deluging you with email. I plan on sending out two or three a month.

I’ll still occasionally work out essay ideas here on the blog, but that will come after this push to get other things organized.

I hope you’ll enjoy this new venture with me! And have a happy fall.

Janet

The Peter Principle–Reached

The Peter principle is a concept in management theory formulated by Laurence J. Peter and published in 1969. It states that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”. Text and illustration from Wikimedia.

An email arrived in my inbox yesterday, advising me of updates to WordPress that MUST be made and if said receiver of email hadn’t done so yet, click on this link.

That was the first step on the above stairway to chaos. I successfully deleted said email because I don’t click on ANY links in email and especially from people I don’t know.

But then, I went to WordPress and had a long chat, meaning a chat via text not voice, with an accommodating tech who said, “Hmmmm. That’s curious…” and proceeded to put me on hold while he checked it out. Didn’t come from WordPress, he came back to write. Just delete it as spam. But your email address is visible to anyone and perhaps I should buy Privacy. But my email address isn’t on my site, I said, and he went on to explain how some site or another has all these addresses listed, but I could buy Privacy from, oh, I don’t remember the name, something like BOTARMY (probably not but all in caps, but whoever processes my payment to Bluehost for hosting my site name) and said I could buy Privacy for my account there.

Now. Mind you, I’ve been on some kind of computerized communication since the late 1980s, let’s say more or less 1987, when I bought my beloved Smith Corona Portable Word Processor on some rare trip to the states and lugged it back through suspicious Mexican customs to sit on a desk, in front of a window, in my apartment in the Zona Rosa in Mexico City, only to lug it back to Washington D.C. in 1989, to lug it to Hawaii in 1992, to lug it to Georgia in 1993, to take it to Santa Fe in 1994, where I bought my first HP computer in 1995 and signed up for email. The Smith Corona and its disks went into an overhead storage shelf in my little 600 square foot adobe in Santa Fe. I have become fairly adept at electronic communication in the meantime.

That’s probably more than you want to know and this is likely to become a really long post.

So anyway, I’ve been on a real computer with Windows and email and all that stuff since 1995 and I advanced up the stairway rather successfully. I do, in fact, have stored files from those first disks and even a machine to plug into current PC and read said disks. Maybe I had floppies, but I can’t remember and I don’t have any saved so maybe I didn’t. I do, however, have saved disks from the Smith Corona, and if anyone knows how to read said small disks, and I’ve looked, mercy, I’ve looked, let me know.

Anyway, back to yesterday. So. WordPress guy said contact my site name provider, in short. And I did, and had a realllllly long chat with said provider who used to host my website but now doesn’t but has to host my name because WordPress doesn’t have that ability yet…although I wish they would get it as it would simplify my life. At least it would have yesterday.

So at any rate, I advanced to the next step after very long chat, and since I rarely go to Bluehost except to re-sign up again to host my name (isn’t my name MINE???), I’d forgotten how to get there and what to do once I did. The chat person was patient. It was a long chat of me going back and forth trying to make sense of what I couldn’t do. Fortunately (although it didn’t feel fortunate at the time), I lost the connection to chat person and couldn’t retrieve it. But it went something like this:

Okay. Here’s the problem. church06 with new password doesn’t work. The old domain cotincarnation.org doesn’t exist anymore so I still can’t log in.

5:03:55 PM Anujna P can you login using : cotincarnation.org or janetsunderland.com

5:04:33 PM Janet Sunderland I don’t know. let me see.

5:04:51 PM Anujna P sure

5:08:35 PM Janet Sunderland I can get in and I can update information, but I can’t get to anything. It says the account was ended in 2012.

Anyway, this went on for a very long time before the chat dropped (and possibly, Anujina was really tired of answering my inane questions and stopped). However, I had managed to go in, change the password and log in name, signed up with Privacy (it’s a one click deal wouldn’t you know) and, oh, yes, updated the credit card info.

But I called anyway and spoke to a very kind and patient tech who walked me through what I’d done, set me up for automatic renewal, and reminded me how to get around on the BlueHost site.

And then I got off the phone, noted all information the the passcode book, and took a nap.

I have risen to the level of incompetence with computers, that much is obvious.

But I shall persevere. I mean, what am I going to do if I don’t? My history, if not in the stacks of journals I lug from place to place, is in computer files.

Whine. I guess I can whine. Not particularly charming or effective, but you have now, if you’ve reached this point, read the whine and possibly even absolved me. Maybe you’ve even laughed.

The end.

.

A Memoir Class to Remember

Memoir and Personal Essay: Four Weeks: June 5 to June 26, 2017; Monday evenings, 6:30 P.M. Central Time

Have you thought about writing your memoir? Is there something bubbling inside that you really want to write about? Do you have an idea for a personal essay to submit for publication?

If you’re not sure, think about this question: What’s the most important thing that’s ever happened to you? Now. There’s a story!

You’ll learn to think about writing a personal essay or a book-length memoir like building a house, focusing on structure, situation, and story. Structure (the foundation and studs) – defines the beginning, middle, end, and time-line; Situation (the walls of each room) – describes what happens, along with characteristics of people, place, and sensory details, to build a picture in the reader’s mind and lift the words from the paper into another’s experience; Story (the color scheme, furniture, and decorations) – presents the writer’s experience and journey of self-discovery to create a reliable narrator for the reader. All of this comes together to bring the You alive so readers will live through you. Suitable for both experienced and emerging writers.

Participants will complete a manuscript of about 1,500 words to use as a stand-alone piece or the start of a longer manuscript. We’ll use a private Facebook page as a communication tool, and I’ll offer ideas or suggestions for your work in progress and do a comprehensive revision on your final piece. I’ll also give you suggestions on where you could publish a personal essay if you choose to and/or how to publish a manuscript on Amazon.

I’ll be teaching online live through Zoon and will send out a link each week for you to log in. It’s easy. All you need to do is download Zoon from the above link, create a log in and password, and when I send out the email reminder, just click on the link in the email at the designated time. It’s very easy to use. (https://zoom.us/feature). I suggest using Chrome for your platform, both for Zoon and for our Facebook work, as it allows greater mobility online. For example, you can upload a manuscript on Facebook using Chrome.

To register go to the Shati Arts webpage. And stop saving those great ideas on a spare envelope!

A former memoir workshop participant wrote: “As an instructor, Janet is engaging and direct, providing structured guidance and feedback while also encouraging my unique writing to emerge.” | “Most inspiring for me was how she emphasized the power of our personal stories: valuing, articulating, and writing our truths to share with others.

I’ll also be teaching Spiritual Writing in October so stay tuned for information on that later. You can check out the spiritual writing blurb on the Shanti Arts website below the memoir blurb.

Best wishes in your writing,

Janet