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From the book Wishcraft, by Barbara Sher.

Stylesearch is a long one. 6 exercises in all. So I’m going to break it in two.

Barbara starts us out slowly with the “Pick a Color” game. The exercise is to write about being the color. I am Lavender. I’m a little girl’s bedroom. I’m lacy and pretty. Soft and gentle. I like to surround others in a cool embrace. Draped in Lavender, I am sensitive and caring. I’m a writer, so I make stuff up and am never satisfied. So, I did another, deciding that I had initially been drawn to Orange. I am Orange. I am sunny and bright, warm and charming. I sparkle and glow. I am healthy and strong. Not quite as fun, I grant you. Her take on all this is that we choose from our style. And that it’s difficult to talk about ourselves in a positive way. This is supposed to be a description of ourselves. Otherwise, we’re labeled subjective. Or worse yet, self centered. Why is that? You’re only being objective about yourself if you criticize. Weird.

The next exercise, as we find out more about ourselves, is the “Private Eye” Game. In this, we are to take a look around our environment – our home, our office, our car – with a fresher eye. A writer in my critique group wrote a piece recently about how when you first move in somewhere, you are constantly moving things around, changing, rearranging. But eventually, you settle into a comfortable rut. In that rut it’s hard to see what is all around you. So, it’s a fun exercise to sharpen your eye and look at your surroundings in a new light.

I learned a few things about myself. There is a lot more color in my life than I realized. I tend to be loyal to a musical artist, rather than an eclectic mix of various bands. Also, I use a whole lot of paper! It’s clear I’m into spirituality with spiritual books, sacred texts and objects abounding. I see a lot of creativity in how things are arranged. There’s a deep love of family I hadn’t realized, with all the pictures. I’m also more organized than I give myself credit for. There is a fair amount of clutter, but it is well ordered. It’s a fun game that is good to do every once in a while. It also helps you to keep a cleaner house. Like how all of a sudden you notice the smudges and dust bunnies when company is coming.

Exercise 6 is “Seeing Yourself as Others See You.” I’ve had the opportunity, recently, to collect some testimonials for my new web site. So I’ve read some really nice things about me and my writing. I also have a great support team who frequently tell me what’s good about me. I can’t say, though, that I sit and listen to it, taking dictation and not discounting as Barbara suggests. I think I can arrange that, though I haven’t yet. I see this as an important piece of life that we, as a culture, discount. We should all endeavor to tell everyone what we think is so wonderful about them, all the time. Maybe we could start with one day a year – Praise Day!

Barbara offers a second version for those that are not as blessed with a team as I am, or perhaps shy about asking for such things. Instead she says, create your own cheering section. The family that you didn’t have. You may choose from anyone, living or dead, fictional or real, in your life or distant. I had a whole lot of fun with this.

I used her grid for the perfect family to create my own ~ My mother is Brenda Ueland, a marvelous writer and writing teacher who believed that there is genius in everyone. She would see the unique genius, surely, in me, her daughter and would love and respect me for it. She would encourage the writer in me and help nurture that in any way she could. She would be endlessly delighted by me and whatever I came up with next. Following me, day by day through my dreams, interests and excitements.

My father, Ian McShane, with his beautiful British accent would explain things to me. Help me explore and find out about everything from antiques, to British Parliament, to the American Goldrush, architecture or archery. He would protect me, too. And always stand up for me. A formidable man to have on your team. A King.

My brother would be Johnny Depp. He would tell me I could do anything I wanted and that I would still be loved and admired no matter what it was. A man of many talents and interests himself. Johnny always does what he’s passionate about and never lets anyone tell him he’s no good. He would teach me endless belief in myself and remind me never to listen to critics, but keep following my passion.

My sister would be Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher extraordinaire! A beautiful woman, with a past. She knows all the heavy-hitters in this spiritual growth business and would let her little sister (I’m pretty sure I’m older than she is in real life) sit in on her meetings with these people. As long as I stay quiet and listen. As her sister, I would certainly be invited to join their circle when I was old enough. She would be there to listen to me complain, sympathize, because she’s been there, too, but never let me give up.

I needed someone to bail me out and never reproach me. That was a tricky one. I felt there needed to be an element of magic in this person, too. For he must know, intuitively, when I need him. I guess I can do whatever I want, so I chose Captain Jack Sparrow. (I am a big fan of Johnny Depp in all his forms!) Captain Jack, being rather a rogue himself, couldn’t reproach me for the innocent scrapes I get myself into. His cleverness and speed, swooping in and saving the day is just what I need.

Enjoying this so much, I got into thinking about a Nanny or babysitters. Mother Brenda is a strong, confident woman with a life of her own, so she sometimes must leave me in the care of others. Wanting to nurture my talents, I think she’d like to leave me with someone like SARK who has the biggest sense of fun I’ve ever known. What a great person to hang with as a child! There might be others, carefully chosen to provide me with fun and the proper kind of education and creative soil.

Certainly I feel surrounded by winners! These will be my cheering section to tell me what I need to hear, to go to when I’m feeling defeated or scared. I got frustrated today because I couldn’t find the e-mail address of someone I want to contact. Marianne sympathized with me that it was a drag. Who does this person think she is? A rock star? But, Marianne reminded me, even rock stars have Business Managers. Surely, I can find out how to get in touch with this person. Don’t give up! Use who you know. How cool is that?

The investigation of Stylesearch continues. Until next week.


War, Inc. (US, 2008)

John Cusack co-wrote and starred in this over-the-top send up of the military industrial complex. Cusack is an assassin who must pose as an event coordinator, in a loosely veiled Iraq, to get close to his mark. Hilarious, but poignant

If it’s Tuesday, It Must be Belgium (US, 1969)

After three episodes in a row of Deadwood, maybe I just needed the lighter side of Ian McShane. This is a 60’s romp, full of sexual innuendo and farce. A group of characters from the United States tour 7 countries in 18 days. I missed this the first time around. Worth another look even if you saw it back in the day. Good, mindless fun.

Legend of the Black Scorpion (Hong Kong, 2006)

Historical drama, castle intrigue, high flying Kung Fu, and treachery. What more could you ask for?  How about incredibly  lavish sets and gorgeous clothes draping the players who are all jockeying for something.


Movies happen regularly around here. Three a week doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, so while I will go back to movies, I might as well vary it from time to time. I’ll never get to all of them. So, today I’m going to tell you about my new favorite show. It ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2006, I believe, on HBO. It is available on DVD now.

Somewhere in the midst of the first season, I fell in love. There’s usually a Favorite TV Show in our house. Last Spring it was Burn Notice (still awaiting Season 3). A slick romp full of beautiful people and exciting backdrops. Deadwood is not. It’s based on real accounts of the 1876 South Dakota gold mining settlement town. Full of dirty people with questionable morals and foul mouths. In Deadwood, life is cheap. Almost as cheap as the whiskey and the women. (Being a prostitute was one of the few career paths open to women.) Shots of whiskey are poured as a matter of course, before during and after most business meetings, as well as social gatherings. There is a perplexing meshing of civil formalities, codes of ethics, and fine garbs against the blood-running, muddy streets.

I’m not really sure why I love this show so much. It’s not my usual fare. Maybe it’s because the characters are so vibrant and vivid. Unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Perhaps it’s the cultural piece: A wild west rarely shown in movies or written about in fiction lore. The show portrays a close-up view of what it was like to be a courageous pioneer, coming West to build a new life or strike it rich from the gold in them thar’ hills. The stories are interesting and varied, with a huge cast. The acting is quite good, too, with the likes of Ian McShane, Powers Boothe, Timothy Olyphant, and Brad Dourif, to name a few. Maybe it’s just that I got to see Ian McShane’s backside.

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