Last year I attended a great conference held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  I learned so much about both the craft and the industry of writing books for children, but the one piece of advice that resonated most strongly with me was offered by Jill Santopolo, author and executive editor at Philomel Books/Penguin Group.

“Connect with your readers emotionally, by drawing them in through the senses,” she offered.

snuggle morning photo by shannon mayhew

Yes!  I’ve been working with using the senses in yoga to help manage strong emotions (“Embracing Anger“), and to help people access the emotional state of gratitude (“Milk It“).  In fact, I’m so excited to let you know that this week I’ll be talking with “the James Bond of productivity,” Ari Meisel, about my method forBody Gratitude.  I will let you know when the podcast is available on Ari’s “Less Doing Radio.”

So it makes sense (I always intend the pun) that the senses create a pathway for us to access our emotions in writing as well as in yoga.

Another piece of advice that I seem to keep hearing everywhere, is to connect with adult readers by showing your vulnerability.  Hmm… this one is less easy for me, but here goes.

Since the statistics tell me that this spring there are many more of you finding my blog (welcome!), I’ll take this opportunity to put myself out there and share a kind of Bio.  No fancy schooling or job descriptions — just an experiment in connection.  Hope you like it…


I’m from August alley wiffle ball games
I am up to bat,
graveldust sticking to scraped shins
Thick breezes carry garlic and soy
I’m from tiny houses, big cars
Roller skate to Pency’s to buy Dots
and cap-gun ammunition
I’m from race you home after school –
Wednesdays we run hurdles
Five garbage bags in one leap
Steer clear of the tough kids, so desperate for their own power
Fourth Street kids play board games on a splintered picnic table
Maria sits underneath and peeks at Clue cards
We laugh, and eat Doritos and egg rolls (made with urgency and gratitude)

I’m from dusk cornfield hide-and-seek
Crunching footsteps, rustling stalks
reveal your position
Winds carry pine, cut grass, pungent fertilized fields
I’m from rooftop stargazing, boisterous crickets
Ripples, stone-skips, echoing toad-croaks
Three-legged skunk snacking on patio catfood
Climbing trees
Stinging bees
Mudpies, inchworms, cattails
Cats, miracle kittens, life emerging from life,
and settling to stillness in garden graves
with geode headstones
I’m from orange tabby sunsets
Ropeswings, tied to trees, creaking and swishing
As I swing into a creamsicle sky

Where I'm From photo by Don Beltz
photo by my dad
and first photography teacher, Don Beltz!

So, that’s me.