Author Archives: Lauren

About Lauren

L.J. Shapiro is a writer, yogi, and obsessive iPhotographer living in Southern California. She holds an MS in Writing and Book Publishing from Portland State University and has more than 10 years’ experience writing and editing for commercial and creative enterprises. Recent work has appeared in YOGANONYMOUS. She says: “Color, texture, words, gasps, exhales, divinity, darkness, lush florals, and lapis oceans. It’s about the details.”

Me and my inner foodie

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What’s true for me today is …

My inner foodie lives! I thought I was immune – really. But then, I only started cooking a few months ago. For the better part of my adult life, I have been what I affectionately call An Assembler: assemblers are more than willing to cut up or heat up foods, but little more. Needless to say, I’ve eaten my fair share of salads.

All in the past. Sometime late summer, the compulsion took root and I’ve been baking, broiling, and being pleased to devour all manner of treats (some I’ve even blogged about!).

So, what changed The Assembler into An Oven User? Friends and family have asked, but I cannot say for certain. What I can say, with certainty, is that purchased foods taste different now, though I am not sure if my palette has changed or my relationship to food and eating. (Or, perhaps I’m just so impressed with my new-found abilities, my expectations are through the roof? A combination, most likely.)

For someone like me, someone in a small apartment, someone without a dining room let alone a dining table, entertaining the entire process of cooking a full meal is a novelty. It’s also been an unexpected pleasure (and, don’t forget or underestimate, an opportunity to be impressed with myself).

What kind of cook are you? I challenge you to describe your cooking style in 2-5 words (and to post it here)!

 

 

 

One Minute Writer: is there anything you’d want to protest

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What’s true for me today is …

The One-Minute Writer asked as I accept the invitation to answer this baiting question: Is there anything that you’d want to protest?

Yes! I’d like to protest snarky email/social media tone and phrases like “Don’t you think …,” “I hope you’re not …, ” and “You wouldn’t want to, would you?” I protest all devilish remonstrations couched in careful questions sneakily designed to draw you in, to comment, to agree. Come on now – it’s OK. We don’t all have to agree for the world to be a happy place. We do, however, need to communicate respectfully. So the next time you read an email or a blog or a Facebook post and disagree, take pause before unleashing the snark. Your incensed initial reaction may quickly pass, but bad vibes tend to linger. Know what I mean?

Any words, phrasings, or tones you’d like to protest?

You can read other’s responses to this question and the full-length One-Minute Writer prompt online here.

Indoor-outdoor living takes on new meaning

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What’s true for me today is …

Wonders never cease.

Every weekday morning on the way to work I walk through my apartment building’s gray, musty cement basement, out the door, and follow the sidewalk a half-block or so to where I park my car. It’s been uneventful for the better part of three years.

Today I took the steady course of action, walked the same steps through the basement, out the door, around the corner, down the sidewalk path to the underground structure and my car and … a giant pea pod hanging mid-air. I kid you not.

I stopped. I tried to see what it was I was seeing through my early morning, foggy, near awareness. There is was: crescent shaped, contoured, and bright green before me. There it was: a man tucked tight and sleeping in an army hammock strung between two cement pillars where, every morning before, the air was empty.

I have many neighborhoods who live outdoors, but I have never seen this before. Ingenuity, really. The hammock makes sense: hung mid-air a man is off the cold ground, cocooned. A man forced to sleep in a hammock in an underground parking garage besides rented parking spaces and locked dumpsters … I am not sure what kind of sense that makes.

What unusual or curious or out-of-the ordinary things have you seen lately?

 

The One-Minute Writer: how to write for one minute per day, every day

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What’s true for me today is …

I was feeling a bit guilty about not posting for the past few days. But, to be honest, I couldn’t think of anything to say. Nasty colds do that to me; the congestion (aka head-full-of-cotton) haze does that to me every time. And though I have been feeling better today, I was sans topic for my post … until I found a writing blog called  The One-Minute Writer. Of the 1,440 minutes we have in our day, surely one can be spared and dedicated to writing, especially when The One-Minute Writer provides a daily prompt. Today’s prompt is: What do you prefer when it’s mass produced?

My answer:

What do you prefer when it’s massed produced?

Books. Without the mass production of books, courtesy of the printing press circa 1440, access to knowledge would still be the privilege and trade of too few. One could argue that books — and all their iterations, including magazines, ebooks, web-based texts, etc. — fuels the democratization of knowledge like oxygen fuels flame (let’s just keep those books out of the fire).

What is your answer for the question: What do you prefer when it’s massed produced?

Giving it away may make you bigger than Madonna

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What’s true for me today is …

Giving it away can make you bigger than Madonna – at least in principle.

If you’re intrigued, read the Julie Bosman NY Times interview with Paulo Coelho about his new book, Aleph. You’ll need to read all the way to the end for the Madonna reference, which,in truth, is just a passing comment but too good not to comment on. Turns out Paulo Coelho has more Facebook fans than Madonna, which is more or less attributed to his prolific use of social media and Coelho’s habit of sharing his writing online for free.

Really, it’s the principle that’s important. Sharing your work for free, with positivity and in good faith, attracts positivity.

The second thing Coelho says that I think is important: “They used to see writers as wise men and women in an ivory tower, full of knowledge, and you cannot touch them. The ivory tower does not exist anymore.” (Click here to read the full quote)

It’s the mention of the ivory tower that struck me. I like the visual image of the tower barrier – it’s easy to relate to and sometimes cracking the publishing game can feel like scaling a tower, like there is a lot of distance between your writing/ideas, the editor who reviews them (decides), and the audience.

I didn’t really consider this from the reader point of view, however. Do you think social media, like blogs and Facebook, has removed the “ivory tower,” so to speak? Or, do you think there is less “writer’s mystique” because there is so much chatter about writing to communicate in the world these days?

P.S.

If can download a recording of Coelho’s live interview with Brendan Burchard online here. In the interview Coelho mentions that he was forty before he published his first book. I didn’t know that. There’s hope yet!

Sometimes someone has already said it better

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What’s true for me today is …

I am very grateful to have found the blog Live to Write – Write to Live and their new article “How Blogging Taught Me to Be  Better Writer.” I wish I had seen this article the other day while working on my post Blogging to write vs writing to blog. The author, Lee Laughlin, includes 10 lessons she has learned from her time blogging. I recommend you check it out – my favorites are #2 Discipline and #7 Somtimes good enough has to be good enough.

Seems a bit weird to “like” the idea of discipline in some ways, but I can’t help it. Reminds me of a writing assignment I like to give my research writing students about what discipline and writing in a discipline means. Most misinterpret the question and start talking about how they hate discipline because their parents were strict or they once had a mean teacher. Makes me giggle – totally not what the assignment is looking for. But, it humbles me to – totally brave to share personal experience and perceptions.

I like the reminder about discipline because one of the reasons I started this blog is to get into the habit of writing every day. I know I am not there yet (no reminders needed), but I am working on it. It’s good to hear others need the same reminder from time to time.

I’d love for you to check out the post here and leave comment about which of the 10 lessons most speaks to you and your life, whether you are a writer or a blogger or a reader or a dancer or a Prince Charming in disguise, or or or …

 

A skinny jean rant (sorry,can’t help it)

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What’s true for me today is …

I’m a bit peeved at the skinny jean phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, I love them–neatly splayed on a clothing store table. They’re gorgeous; the rich, bright colors draw me in like kid and her crayon box. But, what are they? They’re too thin to be pants, too thick to be tissue paper, and too trendy a niche item to really look good on anyone.

True, I saw some red ones like these and HAD to try them on. Love them. And true, my reflection and I had a good laugh. Which got me thinking, can too much information be a good thing? I mean, I’m all for creative attire to attract some attention, but when you have all the information up front, is that really a benefit? Whatever happened to appeal–as in, appealing to the senses and imagination? Am I right or are unisex skinny jeans actually the tie-dye of this generation?

Personally, I’m trying to think of these too-skinny jeans as a writing metaphor so I understand it. But, it’s like crafting a novel out of simple sentences–very transparent. Now, I’m all for a degree of transparency in writing (as in, telling the simplest version of the truth) because I believe the reader (and people in general) respond to sincerity; however, a novel stringing simple sentences wouldn’t be very novel at all (i.e., you can only See Spot Run once before you’ve seen it all).

I wonder, what would Hemingway, famous for his short sentences, have to say about writing and the pursuit of the Great American Skinny Jeans?

P.S.

Apologies. I’m feeling a bit punchy today.

 

 

Blogging to write vs writing to blog

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What’s true or me today is …

It’s the blogging life for me – or is it? I just spent the last hour researching other lifestyle and writing blogs for ideas about how to strike a work-blog balance. Turns out blogging has a dirty little secret – it’s more time consuming than it seems. Not that I’m complaining – I’ve really enjoyed my evening blogging time.

But, until recently, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the purpose of my blog; I was just pleased with myself for actually setting it up and sending my words “out there.” But now, words like “goal” and “purpose” and “intention” have entered my sphere of influence and I have to admit, it’s a bit confusing … am I a writer who blogs (i.e., as part of my daily writing practice) or am I a blogger who writes? Does it matter? What would I say if someone posited this dilemma to me?

Well, if it were one of my writing students, I think I my advice would be to stop seeking advice right now. When writing students are new to the writing process, there is often a compulsion to learn how to do it “right,” because the practice can be a bit uncomfortable at first. That’s how I am feeling today – a  bit exposed and uncomfortable, so I am going to follow my own writing advice and focus on the positive, that today, in this moment, I am writing (and sharing my writing), whether as a writer who blogs or whatever.

Nutty, right? Oh, well. I’m sharing this so I can move past it and in the process, perhaps some of you blogging writers and writers who blog (and people who read and love and share and comment on blogs) will relate to what I am saying. Fingers crossed 😉

P.S.

Feel free to share links to your favorite writing and lifestyle blogs. I’d love to build my community.

Pumpkin muffin parable

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What’s true for me today is …

I’m elated – to be blogging in the morning! Pause for a contemplative sigh of appreciation 🙂 I’m typically working at this time, so the opportunity to take a mental health day (overdue) and write about my pumpkin muffin experience (essential), is quite a pleasure.

So …

Last night I made healthy pumpkin spice muffins. Notice, ‘healthy’ was not in quotations. They really were. I made a point to find a healthy recipe because the idea of pouring a cup and a half of sugar into 12 muffins gives me the willies. Instead, I found a recipe for oat flour and flax muffins with a dainty oat and chocolate sprinkle topping–admittedly, the best part. They were lovely (insert mental image of perfectly round, pumpkin-hued muffins with an oat crisp topping – sorry, my camera is broken).

I mean, they were so lovely, I even used a dessert fork for the first few bites. Only, the first few bites where underwhelming. No spice. No sweet. No decadent, lingering first impression. Healthy and filling, and a total let down.

But, why? The muffins had very little sugar, which is what I wanted. They had a great burnt orange color, which is what I wanted. They even had an assortment of fiber and omega-3 ingredients. But–I also wanted to feel pleased with, and proud of my culinary accomplishment, which I didn’t.

Truth be told – the “have your cake and eat it too” conundrum is alive and well folks. We might was well accept it (and blog about it). Personally, I think my pumpkin muffin “moxie” is a metaphor for something – I’m just not sure what yet. Any ideas?

 

 

What do teachers really make

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What’s true for me today is …

I am inspired by this poem, “What Teachers Make,” by Taylor Mali:

Great example of how we define value. Today, one of my adult students told me she really didn’t see the application of writing skills to her life. Ummm … what is a writing nerd come part-part-time instructor really supposed to say to that? Then I found this video while searching TED Talks for something else entirely. I watched it three times in a row and, newly courageous, logged back into my online writing class to see if my student had changed her mind. Sadly, no. But, it didn’t matter (well, let’s be honest-it didn’t matter as much) because some of my other students had taken up the call to action and actually engaged my writing-has-no-purpose student in a pretty chatty dialogue. Sometimes teaching, it seems, is less about what you make (as in earn) than what you make of the situation (as in learn).–Pardon the rhyme; I couldn’t help it 🙂

P.S.

If you have the time to watch this YouTube performance of the poem, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you like Mali, he has several other hilarious videos/poems to watch (some of them a bit saucy).