Thankful Thursday: Yellow shoes & more 

It's Thankful Thursday.

Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude.

Sometimes my thankfulness feels small. When all about us is war, illness and natural disaster, my gratitude for sunshine and sorbet feels, well, trite. And, indeed, it is. But I wonder if these times of external crisis are when I need to count my blessings even more. Just as the big events can wear us down, the small things can build us back up.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for:

Yellow Shoes
My sister sent me shoes. It's not even my birthday. In fact, it's her birthday (and I'm late with a gift). I love surprises + shoes + sun. "I know you don't wear bright colors," she said. "But I think you will like them."  And I do (paired with neutrals, of course). I'm thankful for the shoes but I'm most thankful for my thoughtful sister.

A Facebook Intervention
A friend calls me, a bit of mock urgency in her voice. "I'm worried about you," she says. "I'm seeing you all over Facebook. Are you addicted again? Do you need an intervention?" Drat! She's right. I've been here before. And now, again, for a few days (okay, a week), Facebook sucked me back in. I was on a binge of pithy reactions and quick retorts. It was pathetic. I needed air. And as much as I didn't want to admit it, I was glad to be outed.

Anne Herbert
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Remember that 1990s-era mantra that was all over car bumpers? Turns out a real person wrote it — Anne Herbert. I don't know where I thought it came from. It arrived before the internet age and as much as I think about words, I never considered the author of those words. And Anne didn't write just one catchy phrase, but dozens, and you can read them here. Next assignment: Discover who wrote Visualize Whirled Peas.

What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a thing? A story, a song, a poem? What makes your world expand?


Everyone's a winner . . . 

but in the drawing for The Surprise Package of Good Books we've just one lucky duck. And the winner is:

Ida Freilinger

I'll carefully, thoughtfully, tenderly prepare and send Ida's surprise package — and then I'll tell you here exactly what books she won. Stay tuned & thanks for playing!



Can't you see I'm (not) writing?

A friend recently confided in me.

"I don't write every day," she whispered. "I know you're suppose to."

"I don't either," I replied. Relief washed her face.

For years, I badgered myself into writing regimes. I wrote 500 words a day. I wrote Morning Pages, timed writings, and poems on demand. Like a diet with a strict calorie count, every time I fell short  — and I always, eventually, fell short — I felt worse than when I began. Cue the berating. Let the self-degradation begin.

But I've eased up. I have, in part, Billy Collins to thank.

“I have no work habits whatsoever," says the prolific poet. "I don’t write every day, so often it would be zero hours per day. I kind of hold onto a romantic view. People say in order to be a writer you have to write all the time. The poem will come along when it arrives. I try to be on the lookout for creative opportunities, something that might trigger a poem, but I don’t sit down in the morning and try to commit an act of literature before lunch.”

Creative opportunities. Acts of literature.

I like that.

Now, instead of wrangling myself into writing every day, I simply look for creative opportunities to commit acts of literature. And my definition is rather broad. Recent acts include reading (newspapers, books, magazines, blogs, cereal boxes), attending a reading, gathering with literary friends, browsing bookstores, and roosting at libraries.

As a writer-for-hire, I do write everyday. I have clients and deadlines and a love of structure. As a poet, I am consistently battling my "write now" brain with my "write when it feels good" tendency.

Writer Jessica Goodfellow recently provided a much-needed nudge: "Even when you're not writing, you're writing."   

"Sometimes I just have to remember that everything I do is writing," she says. "It may not look like it to anyone else (it doesn't even seem like it to me!), but what I am doing when I'm doing nothing is writing. And when I'm doing something other than writing, somehow that is writing too."

Now that's a writing regime I can put to work.

How about you? Are you writing when you are not writing? Are you commiting acts of literature?


Free. Here. Now. 

Free! Free! Free!

I'm a sucker for giveaways. I especially like contests requiring no skill. You, too? Good.

National Poetry Month is winding down — thank goodness, no more of that poem-a-day nonsense (kidding, please don't send me hate mail) — and that means you've got just a few days to win some swag.

Hurry, hurry, don't delay. Get in on this giveaway:

 > The Surprise Package of Good Books
Prepared, packaged & sent especially to you from me (free, hand-written note included!). Win this drawing and I'll send you a delightful medley of books, with the promise of no has-beens, wanna-be's or duds in the bunch.

To win, simply enter your name and email address in the comments section below, or zip me an email at, by midnight on Tuesday, May 3. A random drawing will be held and the winner announced on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

You may wonder: Why is Drew giving away good books, and paying for postage, too?  Out of love, of course. Live long & read! When you give a book, you give joy. And spreading joy is rarely this easy. I gotta strike while the giving is good.


Being creative is . . .

Love this nugget from "artistic adventurer" Anni Albers, as seen on The Improvised Life.