Retreat. The word brings up mental images and feelings.

You know, all words bring up mental images and feelings. Because words carry history. Whatever happened to us in the past influences how we interpret words in the present. (Our personal experiences surround words, giving them meaning.)

(Words are not benign.)

Negative connotations can hang on the word, retreat:
To retreat is to give in, move back, and raise the white flag.
Attacked, we fall back in a clashing rush, the sound of steel on steel still ringing in the air, wounds raw.

Positive connotations can also bob and buoy around the word, retreat:
To retreat is to regroup, protect, build up, enhance, and nourish.
Proactively moving in a good direction, we pull back and purposefully enhance our life.

In your craft [[and life]], a retreat can be exactly what you need. 

A day away.
Time in quiet thought. Designed. Focused.

Two thoughts:
1. Regular retreats (verbs) happen as a normal response to the intricacies of life. They’re involuntary, in response to bad stuff….retreats to stop the attack and care for the bloody [emotional] [personal] [relational] [business] [organizational] [pick one] wound.
2. Purposeful retreats (nouns) happen as a choice. Voluntary. Planned. Retreats as places, to proactively get direction, stay focused, and move forward.

Both are a part of living. Simply because of who we are (and what we want to do), the second kind might be good to put in the calendar today.

* Thup

Montages are an important part of screenwriting. A montage a series of visual clips of story, put together back-to-back, with no words. The purpose of using a montage is to shorten time. With a montage, you see little blips of events and, as a viewer, your mind automatically fills in the story around the clips. (You don’t have to show everything on camera. That would be  completely boring. Yeah. Completely.)

Creating a good montage is a Goldilocks and the Three-Bears kind of thing. It can’t be too much, it can’t be too little. For the viewer to fully understand what’s happening in the truncated time, it has to be just right.

Getting just the right amount of writing can be hard to do in novels. And in picture books. And in poems. And, well, everything we write. Sometimes we don’t have enough words, so we need to add. Sometimes we put in too many words, so we need to take out. (We all have a tendency. What’s yours?)

So how do you write just-right? Some people say perfection in writing is about rhythm: You have to have the right number of beats in the writing. Some people say perfect writing comes from tonality: You have to have the right consonance and assonance — making melody along with the words’ meanings. Some people say it’s all about description: the just-right amount of rich, sensory words to “get the picture.” Some say that writing perfection is about sentence length: Know that a short sentence is powerful…that like-length sentences lull…and that increasing (or decreasing) the length of sentences in a paragraph does something to the reader. And still others say that perfect writing comes from syntax (the order of the words): You have to know which words to begin with — or to leave the reader with. (The last words become bridges to the next idea.)

Truth: In order to be a good writer, you have to be just right with all these things. A.L.L. Excuse me right now while I sigh. (Can you hear me?)

Writing is hard work. Learning craft. Reading. Listening. And gobs of practice. TONS. Ooodles. Way much.

Honing the craft takes perseverence. We have to keep on. Do more, learn more, write more. Get more. Become more. Share more.

It’s like a game. A good game.
Keep playing.

* Thup

coffee 2 Oct 4-14
Whether we’re ready or not
(or like it or not),
life is full to the brim.
Full of good. Of Bad. And of in-between.
(You and I both know it.)

Today, it’s raining outside, reminding me that
it rains on the just and the unjust alike.

(Life. Happens.)

So. Yeah. I just have to ask (you and me both):
What’s our response to today?

Will we stand back with distrust, disgust, and grumbling
or throw our arms wide, embracing the drops,
making meaning from the situation
(in a choice that’s good)

In your art…
In your business…
In your relationships…
In your plans for the future…

Some days black coffee is best.
(Strong black coffee that gets us to plow through, firm, resolute.)

But on other days, I say go for the foam.
Give yourself something special.
Cut yourself slack.
Purposefully list, list, list the good
and mull, remember, remind, and embrace the vision.

Then recast.
Take it head-on.
Dig deep, dig in.
Make it count.

* Thup
coffee Oct4-14

Today is National Coffee Day. Woot!
(Yes, there is such a thing.)

So, yes, we must celebrate.

  • I celebrate the rich aroma, the dark chocolate aftertaste, and the deep woody echo on the tongue.
  • I celebrate with raised mugs and Thupped cups to the now — to friends across the table and friends across the world.
  • I celebrate in reminiscing, with warmth through wrapped fingers and lips pressed to the side of ceramic, sips long, swirled across the tongue and fully tasted.

We’re talking about enjoying a little taste, a little tang, a little tip of the flavor…a single leaf of the tree with roots through all of life.

Celebrating is ultimately about being present to a joy that is around us all the time.

It’s about mindfulness of a sweet experience available now. And in the next now. And in the next one.

What if…?
What if the presence, the mindfulness, the appreciation, extended to every day?


We don’t need a day to celebrate life’s tastes, aromas, and feelings.
(And we don’t need a day to let life’s exquisiteness inform our art, our work, and our life.)

Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to write. Deepen your description.
(Word flavors abound.)

Artist and photographer.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to paint, draw, sculpt. Deepen your detail.

Creator of Film.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to form the story world. Deepen your delight in using the skills of the medium.

Be aware Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to inspire and expand your work. Deepen your development and denouement.

Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Express fully. Use it to grow your passion and serve your people. Deepen your direction and devotion.

Every day, we have a reason to celebrate.
Every moment we have something intricately beautiful to discover
and share.

* Thup



  • “If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is there to hear it, did it fall?”
  • “If you create a piece of art, but no one reads it, observes it, or interacts with it, did you truly create?

Of course you did. But who was the creation for, you or others? The real question is, was the value of your creation meant for others — and if it was, was the creation launched, caught, and held onto?

Because creating to share value is a game changer.

Writer — You can write the most brilliant text, but if the web text, email, or post is so long that “no one has time to read it”  — and your purpose was to add value — then it’s as if you didn’t write the words at all. Be brilliant, be concise, and press the button to share.

Artist — You can draw or paint the most brilliant pictures, but if they sit in your bedroom — and your purpose was to share your artistry with others — then it’s as if you didn’t draw or paint at all. Create and open the door to show your work.

Photographer — You can take the most brilliant photos, but if they stay on the camera or on your desktop — and your purpose was to capture beauty for others to enjoy, too — then it’s as if you didn’t take the picture at all. Press the shutter, print, and post.

Entrepreneur -- You can create the most brilliant product, but if your idea, plans, and product stay on the desk — and your purpose was to bring value to others’ lives — then it’s as if you didn’t create at all. Focus, then launch.

Your work, your creation, might be exactly what someone needs today.

* Thup

Sometimes it’s the little changes that count.
When we look at the same thing, but slightly differently,
we find new.

New perspective.
New ideas.
New possibilities.

One degree makes a difference.

In your work of art today, whether it be
with words
or paint
or a lens,
[[or your life]],

take a new look. Try a new approach.

If the first angle doesn’t work, no worries. There are an infinite number of ways to make it happen.

Even the slightest change — the slightest difference in perspective — can make your work [[and your life]] not only different…but better.

(Turn your perspective around. Good waits for you.)

* Thup

coffee8-sept20coffee1-sept20coffee12-sept20coffee3-sept20 coffee2-sept20 coffee5-sept20 coffee6-sept20 coffee7-sept20  coffeelast-sept20

Well. I’m letting you (and me) off the hook.
This isn’t about our personal character. (You know, the interior part of us, the part where integrity sits.)

And I’m not going to ask you where you’re from — your physical geography — the point on the map where you lay your head at night (as in the state of Michigan, where I live in the US, called “the mitten state” because it looks like a mitten).
This is about your story — your characters in that story.
Their personal, emotional states.
As in how we feel at any given moment.

Oh — and if you’re not a writer — keep reading, because
there’s something important here…
(it all makes sense when you read to the end).

There’s a not-so-secret secret to help you create compelling characters (and a compelling plot line, too).

(You ready?)

State doesn’t come from outside influences
(what people say or do “to” you).
Your personal state comes from you.

That’s right.
You and I create our own states.
(And your character will create his or her state.)

Like this…
eat computer or this happy at the computer

You create state in three ways (and they’re very cool, by the way):

1. Your focus. Answer me this: At any given moment, what are you thinking about — and what are you doing? Wherever you place your thoughts and energy on feeds your state.

2. Your language. And answer me this: What do you say to yourself, day after day, in your mind and out your mouth? Words are uber-powerful. What you think and say to yourself, in your head, matters. What you say toward others around you matters. Even what you say to objects — things — in the world around you matters. It all feeds your state.

3. Your physiology. One more question: How are you moving your body? Are you slumped and breathing shallowly — or are you sitting tall and taking in deep, full breaths? How you sit, stand, walk, breathe — and how you look on your face — it all feeds your state.

Your focus, your language, and your physiology.
All three ascribe meaning to your life.

(how you interpret the world)
(what you believe in the world)
(what you do in the world)

The coolest thing is this: Master your emotional state, and you can master your life.

So. Writers.
We want our characters to struggle, right?
If you want your character to wrestle with demons big time, then have him or her…

  • focus on past mistakes and hurts
  • focus on how they’ve been wronged, whether imagined or real
  • focus on impending doom in the future, whether imagined or real
  • focus on how someone will supposedly hurt them (imagine the worst)
  • focus on how everything will be bad, or go wrong, or have no solutions in the future (pessimism)
  • speak out negative imaginings
  • speak angrily, with disdain
  • curse people, things, and events
  • rehearse what went wrong — and what could go wrong
  • imagine the worst case scenario, then make decisions based on fear
  • sit still — don’t move
  • breathe shallowly
  • slump, hunch, slouch, drag, look down, sigh, frown, be static, stare, and stay in one spot

And if you want your character to gain momentum and grasp onto triumph, then have him or her…

  • focus on the present
  • focus on personal responsibility and personal growth
  • focus on the positive possibilities
  • focus on responding well him- or herself, not on how others are responding
  • focus on a faith-filled vision
  • speak out positive outcomes
  • speak with kindness, from though-based discernment
  • speak words of hope and faith over other people
  • rehearse what will go right in the future
  • imagine the best outcome — and all the other positive possibilities
  • move — act — get up and go
  • take deep breaths, with their eyes upward and smiling
  • stand tall, stride, grasp the sword, bound, be alert and quick, grin, be active, meet others’ eyes, and get going

Maybe this isn’t just about the characters on the page, after all.

* Thup

PS. Thank you to my dad (Hugh Brown) and Tony Robbins (who I’ve followed since he and I were young) for bringing these ever-so-cool life truths to my attention at an early age. Sure has made life easier and more enjoyable — and helped get through life’s ever-changing story arc. hugs to you both.

Here’s  a Vlog Minute for you…
And I want to know –
Do you use apps as part of your productivity plan?
Click here to watch. It’s short.

* Thup
So, one more thing…
can you tell by the video that I was in a really goofy mood and was laughing a lot beforehand?

Fun times — these videos are a hoot to make. A serious hoot. (oxymoronishness intended)

Even my coffee is in on the fun today…the bubbles made my stirrer stand up straight, which made me laugh out loud.

Gotta find the positive in everything, right?
(And gotta find the easiest ways to remember our ideas, with apps.)

Anger can be incredibly destructive. 

if you want to create a HUGE problem for your character, insert ANGER against him/her. Anger toward others disrupts, destroys, and touches hot coals of pain that burn bridges and burn holes in feelings.

And if you want to create a HUGE problem for your character, insert ANGER within him/her. Anger within eats away, destroys relationships, and makes your character act like a complete fool. Regret sets in. And the cycle causes crazy amounts of damage. Never good.

Finally, dear friend,
in real life –
we need to stop burning holes in others and ourselves.
Step back. Breathe.
Life is too short.
(And we’re better than that.)

The biblical advice, be angry and sin not, is critical not just for others, but for ourselves.

so. yeah.
The writer’s life and life in writing –
it’s such an intricate weaving of character.
(Weave carefully.)

* Thup

the past meme

Whether you know it or not, when you write a story, paint a picture, or take a photo, you’re choosing a theme. 

Because themes emerge from all that we say and do. Yes, life themes repeat themselves — themes both good and bad — in the stories of our lives. When we start paying attention to those themes, we can consciously choose to live in forward motion that not only builds people up but also makes us truly happy on the inside.

Mind you, I’m not purporting to say that I’m even close to the mastery of positive themes that come out in the saying and doing. But, by God, I try. There’s effort, albeit flawed…honest effort. And out of honest effort comes eventual success. Because being honest with ourselves, and being honest with the themes that we live by, is a starting place to reshape the trajectory of our lives.

Themes are mandatory. if we don’t consciously choose a positive theme for our life, we deteriorate by default. It’s called the law of entropy. There is no such thing as status quo. We’re either consciously moving forward or moving backward.

That’s sobering.

Writers –
Themes in story emerge. They’re not preached. Just like in our own lives, themes are lived out in the choices of our characters. Behavior. Words. Responses. If your story is a good one (and by that I mean it captures the reader’s heart and curiosity), then the Hero’s movement will expose the trajectory. And the Hero’s responses will twist and bend and refocus in the journey. And we’ll love him. We’ll adore her. 

We’ll see ourselves in the Hero.

Oh, to believe in the power of NOW.
(It changes everything.)

* Thup




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