My HuffPost: Teens can Improve Creativity, Relieve Anxiety by Meditating

Please read my latest contribution to Huffington Post!

Teens can Improve Creativity, Relieve Anxiety by Meditating

todaycreative thinking with our neocortex, the part of the brain that is concerned with problem solving, visioning, hypothesizing, and strategizing. Meditation can have profound effects on the neocortex.

Blogger Branain Radcliffe shows how meditation boosts your creativity and focus in seven specific ways. Meditation will:

Increase self-confidence. Teens who lack self-confidence often hold back from using talents. Gaining self-assurance means embracing your best qualities and skills

Ease anxiety. Being creative is a risky enterprise. By creating a safe space within, meditation provides a platform from which to take risks.

Allow you to be yourself. Meditation puts you in touch with your true and authentic self, which is what makes each person unique. Knowing your true self makes it possible to express yourself in creative ways.

Make you less vulnerable. Teens often face criticism from peers. Because meditation puts you in touch with what matters to you as an individual, you can become less vulnerable to other people’s comments, whether positive or negative.

Foster kindness to yourself. Sometimes the creative juices flow and sometimes they don’t. Being hard on yourself makes it even harder to connect with your creativity. Meditation makes you kinder to yourself (and others).

Change brain activity. Studies show that meditation increases brain activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with creativity, and focus.

Keep the world at bay. By learning to focus on the present moment, meditation increases concentration and makes you less distracted.

Doron Libshtein is a wellness mentor and author who’s worked closely with the world’s top creative luminaries, including Deepak Chopra, spiritual mentor Byron Katie, and Marcia Weider, founder of Dream University. He believes that “everyone should meditate and, oftentimes, creative people are the best meditators. Meditation can help you get ‘the quiet’ you need to help reduce stress.”

Libshtein says the number one benefit of meditation is “a state of stillness and calm. When you alleviate stress through meditation, it makes space for creative thoughts and inspiration.” Libshtein explains that meditation greatly improves attention disorders, and provides clarity. When anxiety and lack of focus dissolve, there’s more room for inspiring ideas. “Creative ideas can come from meditation,” Libshtein says, “and connection to the source of your inner voice and thoughts.”

Good-bye, fear. Hello, focus.

Twenty-One Pilots’ song Stressed Out speaks to the teen reality. Meditation is a way to get calm, and focused. It trains your mind to relax, turning anxious energy into inspired thought.

…Read the rest of my story on Huffington Post here to learn how to meditate, and find out how meditation compares to using prescription antidepressants.

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I met the cast who inspired me to write Middle Grade

Over the weekend, I was invited to present my book to 100 Emmy nominees. (Tune in Sunday, September 18 to see who wins.) Believe me, I was both excited and honored to share what I’d written. The day was spent meeting young actors, bands, and recording artists who have been tapped to pick up an Emmy.

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A familiar face appeared before me, and I realized it was Sloane Morgan Siegel, the uber-talented young actor who played Gortimer on Amazon’s Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. My heart filled with the kind of happiness you feel when a kid you love graduates and you realize how impressed you are with the young person he or she has become.

I am on the author appearance circuit with my adult novel, but I’m especially proud to have recently completed my first Middle Grade novel, How I Learned To Play Guitar, after two years of writing and revision. It’s no coincidence that my children also entered middle grade over the course of writing my new book. But I owe tremendous gratitude to the writers of Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. The mix of magic realism, authentic relationships, humor, and thoughtful approaches to real-life family issues was hugely inspirational for me. gg-gf2

An excellent TV show is as transcendent and emotionally powerful as a beautifully written book. Siegel’s Middle-Grade show marked their transition from “little kid” stories to wrestling with bigger questions about friendships, family, and school. david-bloom-2While my boys liked the mysteries and laugh-out-loud humor, I couldn’t make it through a Normal Street episode without crying. The show depicts what growing up is all about, and often the lessons are bittersweet. Sloane’s portrayal of Gortimer, and the adventures and conflicts explored by the trio of main characters, including Ranger (Drew Justice) and Mel (Ashley Boettcher), riveted us. As I chatted with the cast, I thought, “I wish my boys were here. They would FREAK.”

I wish the cast, creator David Anaxagoras, and crew every success.

 

 

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Teen Writing Group Starts Thursday!

Calling all teen creative writers! It’s time for our monthly Teen Writers Group. We will meet the second Thursday of every month, throughout the school year. Our first meeting is:
Thurs. Sept. 8th
3:30 to 5:00
at Bainbridge Public Library
today
Looking forward to seeing returning writers, and hoping to see new faces. Please bring a friend who likes to write!
This free, drop-in group is for Grades 7-12, sponsored by Kitsap Regional Library and BARN Writers.
We’ll write, have a snack, and you can meet 1:1 with me or Middle Grade author Margaret Nevinski. We always allow time to share your work aloud, if you’d like some encouraging peer feedback.
For our first meeting, we’ll brainstorm our list of writing topics for the year. What do YOU want to learn about? Last year, we delved into writing scenes featuring: love, death, fighting, comedy, a first kiss, and school issues. We explored revision techniques, and prepping for publication. Should we revisit these topics on a deeper level, or venture into new territory? Bring your ideas!
See you this Thursday. 

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Memoirs of Teen Writing Camp

There’s something magical and heart-warming about teens who choose to set aside a week of their summer break to craft their daydreams and ideas into captivating stories. I had so much fun teaching at the filled-to-capacity Teen Creative Writing Summer Camp last year, I couldn’t wait to do it again this year.

The Teen Creative Writing Summer Camp is the brainchild of co-host and Middle Grade author, Margaret Nevinski, MFA. Just as the previous year, we had a full house of 22 talented writers from Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Kingston, Washington. I can honestly say that the talent of our participants is astounding. Modern students understand instinctively how to begin a story, building to an inciting incident, and setting tone and character. I learn so much from watching them do what comes naturally.

What I loved about Teen Writing Camp Held at my beloved local public library, each day, we met in small Writers Circles, an encouraging and safe setting to read our work aloud. Often, the writers created fantastical worlds with strange creatures, but the problems their characters faced were very close to the teens’ hearts. Teens tend to write about what’s troubling them, or explore unknown territory, or sort out fears and anxiety. When a story is shared as fiction, the peer group offers solutions to the character’s problems, and in the process, help the teen writer feel supported, heard, and understood. By the end of the week, the bond between writers grew profoundly, and it was an honor to witness.

The teen writers submitted pieces to our annual camp literary magazine. This year, the writers chose the name THE QUILL. Teen Librarian Stefanie Reddy provided fabulous snacks, writing craft books, laptops, and a good sense of humor.
Margaret Nevinski agreed that camp was a resounding success. “I was inspired by the talent, ideas, and caliber of writing,” she said. “Several pieces came from the writing prompts we started out with each day, and others were from their own works-in-progress. Writers met with Rebecca and me for 1:1 consultations, and several chose to share their work with the group in the Writers Circle. We also had a good day at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, writing about a piece of art.”


todayDay 1:
The  writers had a mere seven seconds to scourge the Teen/YA section of Bainbridge Public library for a book. Their quest: find the seventh sentence of the seventh page, and write a story beginning with that one, random sentence. Some chose to apply the sentence to their work-in-progress. Others created fresh, new characters on the fly, crafting tense, energetic mini-stories.

Day 2: I lead a Fish Out of Water activity created by screenwriter Blake Snyder. This prompts deep, intricate story ideas, and often results in longer prose, including novels. The teens voted on proposed book cover designs for Lisa Manterfield’s A Strange Companion.

Day 3: Field trip! Our Teen Writers enjoyed lessons on Ekphrastic writing and book-making with Kristin Tollefson at BIMA. The stories that came out of the paintings, sculptures, and installations were astounding.

Day 4: The pressure was on! The writers worked one on one with me and Margaret Nevinski to edit and revise their pieces for our camp literary magazine, THE QUILL. Getting professional feedback is critical for writers at every level. Local editor Christina Tinling helped shed light on how new writers can open their work to constructive critique; “Consider any feedback a gift, not an insult. It’s assistance, help to make your story shine. Also, remember that each edit is just a suggestion, that it’s your story, and you get to make the final call. It’s not like English class, with your teacher marking something “wrong.” It’s just a “hey, I see what you’re saying here; it might connect more cleanly with readers if you put it/punctuate it/etc. like this…” Well said.

Day 5: The students learned the power of a deadline. All story submissions to THE QUILL were due, and the writers were eager to have us help them polish them. Some students were finished, and began new stories. We met in the Writers Circle and shared our best work. At first, some felt terrified about reading their private words aloud. But, in the safe and encouraging Writers Circle, our participants discovered they were on to something wonderful, that their peers admired what they’d written, and with peer feedback, they gleaned new ideas for taking their stories to the next level.

Would you like me to visit your classroom, book club, or libraBook Club or Classroom (1)ry? Learn more here or contact me at rjlacko (at) gmail (dot) com.

Live in the area? Margaret and I will be co-hosting the monthly Teen Writers Workshop at Bainbridge Public Library, the second Thursday of every month, 3:30pm -5pm.

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Author event – music, books, fun

Come join me! I’ll be presenting RADIO HEAD at Liberty Bay Books as part of Bremerton’s 1st Friday Art Walk.

5:00pm to 8:00pm on Friday, September 2, 2016

409 Pacific Ave,liberty bay Bremerton, WA 98337

Liberty Bay Books is located next next to Hot Java Café. Pacific Ave. is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, retailers, and art galleries –  a perfect location for an indie bookstore! 

Please shop local! You can purchase RADIO HEAD online at LibertyBayBooks.com, here.

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My book selected as a gift at New Media Film Festival

newmediafilmfestival-logo-press-downloadI’m so excited to announce that Radio Head was selected as a gift for the judges of the 2016 New Media Film Festival.

The only book included in the gift bags, the judges for the Film Festival represent HBOThe National Academy of of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmy’s), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-Aftra), The Grammy awards, Marvel, and The Oscars.

About New Media Film Festival®

All Ages • All Cultures • All Media

For years, The New Media Film Festival has led the way in the pursuit of stories worth telling, the exploration of new media technologies, boundary pushing resulting in new distribution models. The New Media Film Festival embodies the transformative power of the cinematic arts and it reaches across cultural bridges to wed story and technology for everyone. What people are saying:

  • “The New Media Film Festival seemed like an outlier when it started in 2010, with their strange categories, web series, 3D storytelling, digital comics, now all of a sudden these phrases are the new normal. The NMFF is always looking to the future, challenging creators, the market and the audience to discover new storytelling. There are not many festivals pushing the limits – go NMFF!” ~ Nicholas Reed
  • “Festival worth the entry fee.” ~ Movie Maker Magazine
  • “Makes the cutting edge accessible” ~ Huffington Post
  • “Stories that exemplify the power of the cinematic arts to inspire and transform” ~ Hero Complex

Judges from

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Stepping into the spotlight – Interview with Victoria Theodore

I’m excited to announce that Mixtape Methodology published my interview with musician Victoria Theodore, featured in 20 Feet from Stardom. Here is an excerpt:

When Victoria Theodore began taking piano lessons just before her twelfth birthday, one of the first songs she learned was “Overjoyed,” the 1985 R&B single by Stevie Wonder. The song came naturally to her—as natural as the environmental percussion track in the hit’s background, layers of sound emanating from crickets and birds, ocean waves, and pebbles dropping into a pond. “I had just started studying piano,” Theodore recalls, “and since I’m a strong reader, I bought the sheet music and the album.”

They say those who wish to sing always find a song, but Theodore’s choice led the chanteuse to find her mentor. In 2007, Theodore joined Stevie Wonder’s world tour as keyboardist and background singer. She accompanied Wonder and other musical icons around the world, and performed for President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth.

“Whenever I perform ‘Overjoyed’ with Stevie, I experience pure euphoria and magic. I think to myself, ‘I’m playing one of the most beautiful songs ever, with the man who composed it. Pretty amazing.’” The song is her personal anthem—her inspiration for creating music, and helping others to find their voice. As Ella Fitzgerald said, “I sing like I feel.”

Theodore’s debut album of original music, Grateful, was released on…

Continue reading at Mixtape Methodology.

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