Monthly Musings Newsletter
Dorah Blume is an author of historical fiction novels. Her latest, Botticelli's Muse, is a provocative story about Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, the conflicts of Medici Florence, and the woman at the heart of his paintings.
Dorah Blume, Deborah Bluestein, Botticelli's Muse, Sandro Botticelli, italian renaissance, italian artists, medici florence, historical fiction novel
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Monthly Musings Newsletter

Yoga & Meditation: Portals to Creative Focus

I once had a car whose engine kept going even after I turned off the ignition key. The whole car would sputter and shake until it collapsed into a peaceful stillness. When I begin meditation, my mental motor sputters and shakes. I take some deep breaths, and slowly I settle into a quiet pause that renews me.

There are many forms of meditation. With the plethora of online possibilities, you can try out guided, with or without the gong, silent, focusing on your breath, with or without a mantra, chanting. Whatever method, the key is to still the mind and body, a sensation that is different for each person. Meditation is personal. For me it is a way to escape an overactive, overwhelmed mind for 20 minutes—long enough for my spinning thoughts to slow down. When I come out from that meditative escape valve, I usually know what to do next. And I do it with uninterrupted focus.

Speaking of focus, Patanjali, the granddaddy of all yoga said, “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distraction.” For me, yoga and meditation are the two most important tools in my psychic toolbox. One calms me down and the other gives me the stamina to keep moving in the direction I want to go. Read more:



Photography as Creative Expression

rustWhether capturing the aesthetics of decay—one of my favorite subjects—or magnifying the tiniest flower caught on camera by Jenn J., or journeying through the lines and valleys that Margo D. sees as the landscape of the human face, photography has offered all three of us a tool to freeze a moment, to observe reality more deeply, and to appreciate more fully the often overlooked beauty surrounding us. Our eyes behind the eye of the camera find one more portal to express our creative spirit.

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Dance & Movement for Creative Expression


Margie Topf writes about dance – click to view her full story.

This month’s creativity portal focuses on dance and dance movement therapy as a means for experiencing joy, discovering deeper parts of ourselves, and channeling the energy of our life force into art and healing.

Donna N.B., David C. and Margie T., have built careers developed and deepened by their passions for creative expression through dance and movement. I hope you enjoy their separate takes on the same portal to creativity and in the process are inspired to remember and activate your own joy of movement.

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Let your green thumb keep your creativity going!

flowers blooming on plantAs a writer of fiction, fascinated by the contradictions inside my evolving characters, I’ve always been more interested in “human nature” as opposed to Nature. Given the choice of living inside the din of urban jungles or the tranquility and remoteness of sparsely populated lake and forest habitats, I will always choose the city, teeming with quirky, infinitely diverse, often puzzling humanity. And yet, the lure of the underground root systems of trees has often occupied my imagination as I “people” my adult fairy tale scribblings with trees that walk and whisper, and flowers that bleed.

This month’s creativity outlet focuses on growing things in nature. My two major house plants: my gangly Christmas cactus which bursts into bloom once or twice a year and my tangled crown of thorns that graces me with its continuous delicate blossoms are the extent of my garden. But I know for others, especially during this time of the pandemic, and especially during this spring season, tending a garden, feeding their families from its fruits, has been a source of immense renewal and creativity.

Mim Michelove shares a bit of her journey which started from a desire to feed her family healthfully and blossomed into a major movement inside and beyond her Encinitas, California community with her organization. Aaron B. shares his passion for his backyard farm and the world of connections he’s made to other Burbank neighbors, all of whom are experimenting with their garden–to-table medleys. Keri R. shares her backyard haven.

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Music for Creative Expression

dorah blume holidng guitarLike everyone else, I was busy raising a family, making ends meet, and trying to stay sane in the process. In my soul, I’m a born performer who’s never been able to jump on stage—one of those people who can’t sit still in the audience. Just give me a tambourine and I’ll make a fool of myself, but I never did. Now’s the age when making a fool of oneself is advised, especially if it gives us permission to try new things or go for the dreams we’ve never taken the time to fulfill.

Aside from on-stage performance, turning 65 got me thinking about late-stage performance— the performance of my brain as I entered midway into my seventh decade. That was when my research uncovered the two most powerful strategies to delay dementia: 1. Learning a foreign language, and 2. Learning how to play a musical instrument. Determined to do whatever it took to keep the brain in good working order I decided to learn the language of music by playing the guitar.

In spite of the calluses I developed and my fledgling attempts at songwriting, I soon gave up on the guitar, eventually selling it and bringing my career as Bluesmamma making time to find her groove one of my abandoned life trajectories. The written word won out once again. Still, I cannot live without music. It gets me out of bed in the morning and helps me move through the day.

I believe of all the arts, music is the most accessible to the most people. Listening, making music, moving to it, reaches and releases our creative juices in a way nothing else does. Music has the power to create world peace because it crosses all borders. It is beyond words, a salve that can heal if we only listen. Hopefully, this issue of Monthly Musings will inspire you to pick up that musical instrument you’ve wanted to play for years now. Maybe reading Michael’s, Bobbi’s, or Justine’s words about their love for music may motivate you to seek your own creative groove, whatever it may be.

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Drawing for Creative Expression

Continuing with the theme of getting your creative juices flowing as an antidote for depression and worry, this month we’re focusing on drawing, doodling, and painting.

All books have ink on paper, no matter the language. To appreciate the written word, people must be able to read the ink marks in order to translate them into the meaning of what is written. The writer’s job is to revise and polish the words and phrases to match as unambiguously as possible the story that unfolds. It’s a two-step process for the reader. With a picture and all visual arts, the communication is immediate. One step. Especially with drawing.

If you ever found yourself doodling while taking notes, or talking to someone on the phone, you’re probably a natural for zentangling. It’s a meditative art form available even to those who think they have no artistic talent. Invented by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas in 2003, the zentangle method has become an international phenomenon.

You’ll hear from Nancy G. and M. Shea who have just begun their adventures with zentangling. In addition, you’ll learn how Mary K. uses drawing before bed to send her off to sleep in a calm, relaxed state. I’ll share one of my quirky mandalas that grew out of the zentangle method. At the end of this newsletter you’ll find additional resources to encourage you to try visual art as an outlet for your creative energies.

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Creative Writing Can Help You in 2021!

Out with the Nuvo Coronavirus, in with the Old familiars . . .   we hope.

Turning the phrase “Out with the old, in with the new!” backwards makes sense as we near 2021.  Twenty-twenty turned our lives upside down with lockdowns, restrictions, remote learning, the disappearance of hugs, social distancing, and massive isolation. We hope for a return back to a life, post vaccine, when going to a movie, a restaurant, a museum, a concert —are a few of the “old” we want back.

While I waited in line today at the post office to purchase stamps for my New Year’s cards, the woman in front of me spun around, shoved up her hand in an angry back off gesture. Even though I was not bridging the 6’ social distancing divide, her personal radar set off a signal that I was. When inhaling air from strangers, even friends and family, could land us in a body bag, anxiety under a cloud of uncertainty rages.

When life feels so strained, I need to “chillax” — chill out and relax. Streaming episodes one after the other, taking a walk, baking bread, re-organizing the closets for the fourth time, can all help. Distractions. Antidotes to high stress for me are to slow down, watch my breathing, and find some distraction that puts me in a creative space.

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Notes & News from DB & Juiceboxartists Press & Workshops

Hello Friends, Fans, Family, and Fellow Creatives,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to you. That was back in 2018, when the world was “normal” and we weren’t masking our faces and sanitizing our hands like surgeons several times a day. We’ve gone from a three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional one where most of us see friends, family, and colleagues on a flat screen. Enthusiastic hugs are verboten unless they’re “virtual.”

On April 5, 2020, when it seemed as though we were in for a long spring and summer of isolation, I launched a free drop-in, no commitment writing hour every Sunday afternoon that I call Welcome to My Living Room. Participants have told me it’s been a bright spot in their week and that being able to write about the new normal or to escape it all with a fairy tale inspired by one of my prompts helps them to relieve stress. Just a few weeks ago, we reached a six month milestone with our 26th week. Who guessed that our upside down world would stay that way so long? I’m committed to continuing this psychic valve for whoever wants a one time visit to the zoom room or to enjoy it every week.

I hope you enjoy our first new e-newsletter Monthly Musings. Once a month you’ll receive an update from me on the FREE Free Write workshops, the series of committed every other week Juiceboxartists online workshops (limited to 6 participants), my latest podcast series Immigrant Voices Podcast Project (now live on Apple Podcast and other main podcast directories), and links to inspiring content from other creators and so much more!

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