Archive for May, 2011

Hats off to Magdalena Molina!

In case you don’t receive my newsletter, I wanted to also mention on my blog that one of my students will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Democratic Women of the Desert.  Magdalena is an amazing woman who has struggled all her life to see women move forward.  Here are a few words from Magdalena:

 My main concern has always been working for the betterment of women.  I am Democrat.  That does now limit me in any sense to work for other women; anymore than being Catholic limits me working for Protestant women.  It is not my affialiation to any party or religious party that makes me work for women.  It is the need to advance women to the level they deserve.  Women are still underemployed; do not have the opportunities for advancement in employment;  Wal-Mart has another class action lawsuit.  Women are the major caregivers and little compensation.  I was born poor, but I never ambitioned to be rich.  I wanted a comfortable life and we lived it.  The only luxury I allowed myself was my Lincoln Towncar; I had three of them.

I am proud to be the first Latina to achieve being elected to a position; member of the Palo Verde Community College; being selected by Republican Al McCandless, Riverside Supervisor, to the Commission of Women for Riverside County and to work to open the first house for women against domestic violence in Riverside.  While attending San Diego State, I interned in the City of El Centro and became their first Affirmative Officer and had women hired where positions were for men; including the first female police officer.  I also had a minority male Police Officer hired; he was Asian.  It is upsetting that women have not taken their place in this world yet, even working over forty years for it.  But it is happening.  Once change occurs; there is no turning back.  You can blog this for me; if you wish.  Love.  mm
Thank you Magdalena for all you have done for women.  You are an inspiration to so many I am  so glad you have come into my life.  I love hearing you read your life stories in class.
For those of you who would like to support Magdalena  for the 2011 Women Honoring Women Awards here is the information:
Sunday, June 12 at 2 pm
Bellatrix Restaurant at the Classic Club in Palm Desert
This will be a high tea and awards and silent auction
The cost is a minimum donation of $30.00
RSVP no later than June 6
Call 760-200-4126 or email
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Word Association Writing Exercise

writing coachMany of my students ask me about writing prompts and writing exercises.  I love writing prompts for those times when you feel a bit stuck.  Last night in my class we talked about writing with your non-dominant hand and seeing what comes out of you.  Have  you tried that?  I have also heard that this exercise gets you in touch with your inner child as well!  One exercise that I do on a fairly consistent basis is one that I call word association.  This is something that you can do anywhere and at any time.  Just take out your notebook or journal and begin writing words.  It is interesting to see what words just magically pop up in your head. These may be words that you associate with your childhood or how you are in the present.   Here is an example of a word assocation exercise that I did in the past:

  • promise, bagel, read, snuggle, hike, explore, blue, meditate, relax, angel, care, adore, laugh, tomatoes, farmers markets, Peet’s, share, father, regret, sadness, loss, dining, heartbeat, death, beautiful, dream, struggle, tears, reunion, massage, champagne, cafe, imagine, completion, one, toes, skin, Irish Coffee, oysters, joy, celebrate, cheese, taste, create, visualize, begin, fresh, new, packers, hedgehog, silly

As you can see from my exercise that you can just write whatever word pops into your subconsciousness!  This is a fun exercise that really only takes minutes, but it is a good way to start your day off with writing! 

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Reading helps writing…

One of the things I always teach in my workshops is the fact that reading other memoirs helps you to see how others have shared their story.   Sometimes you may read a memoir and have it resonate with your soul other times you may read a memoir and decide that is not the way you would like to write your story.  What memoirs do you like to read?  Here is a link to Carol Brown’s article that was recently published called “30 Moving Memoirs Every Student Should Read.”  Check them out and let me know which memoirs you especially like!

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If only…

This morning I saw this slogan on the back of a painter’s truck, it said: “Fresh coat, New beginnings.”    As in most things, I tend to relate what I see to my writing and to life in general.   I began to wonder if only that were true.  What if each time you wanted a new beginning you just simply had  to grab a paint brush, select your chosen color and “wallah!” a new beginning!

Imagine this: Are you tired of those white walls?  How about a beautiful seafoam green to call you into your zen mode.  Missing some excitement in your life, how about a beautiful cobalt blue or fire engine red?  The possibilities are endless!  If you can’t find that perfect color try mixing a few and see what you come up with.

Each of us holds our own paintbrush and it is up to each of us to choose what color to paint our walls.  We may want to try to paint our neighbors walls, but the truth of the matter is that we can only paint our own wall.  You are your own best friend in choosing and designing the palette that you choose to use.  Sure, others may tell us what color they think we should paint our walls, but it truly is up to each of our own individual tastes that we get to choose and paint. 

Step back and examine the color of your world right now.  Look deeper…imagine and see the layers of paint that make up all your new beginnings… A new beginning may be a recovery from a loss such as a death or a divorce.  A new beginning may be the start of a relationship or a new job.  A new beginning may be a move or the blossoming of a new friendship.  Step up even closer and examine all those layers of “new beginnings.”  What colors do you see?

What color is your world today?  Do you need a new layer of paint or do you simply need to gently take a bucket of suds and water and gently, lovingly wash your wall.  As I look at my wall, I see some colors on there that I didn’t need to paint with.  I see layers where I should have simply brought out the sponge and not brought out the paint brush.

The choice today is yours…paint brush or sponge?

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Finding your bliss…

I have realized through writing that I can get to know myself on a more deeper level.  It is through the exploratory writing that one does, especially with memoir, that you get to explore what it is that is unique about you.  I never knew the joy that writing could bring me.  It is through those times of deep writing that one begins to see more clearly.  If you are in the process of recording your life story you will experience many highs and lows.  Many times as we explore and write, the theme of our life becomes more clear to us.  Have you found your bliss?  What causes you to smile?  A great writing exercise to do is to map out your life in either 5 or 10 year increments.  Recording your life story this way will help you see the movement of your life.  Is there a 5 or 10 year period that you recall as the happiest time of your life?  What about a low time in your life?  How did you manage to survive?  What advice would you like to leave behind for your children and grandchildren?  As you look at your map of your life, you can even graph the feelings you felt at the time.  Were you in a job that you loved or hated?  How did you feel about your childhood?  How do you feel about retirement?  Write about the greatest love of your life.  There are so many areas to write about, but the best way to write is to just start.  Maybe you can begin just by writing whatever comes into your mind.  If you still feel stuck try this one…what if you could only take one memory with you into eternity…what would it be?  Start small, but by putting your words on paper you just may find that bliss you have been looking for!

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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