50 Easy & Hard Metaphor Examples

A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things not using the word “like” or “as” to make the comparison. Metaphors can be powerful, but they can also be tricky to identify at times. This page contains 100 metaphor examples. I have separated the metaphors on this page into two lists. The first list contains metaphors that are easier to comprehend and identify. We will call these “easy metaphors,” though they may not be easy to understand. The second list contains fifty metaphors that are more difficult to comprehend. We will call these “hard metaphors.” Another way to consider this would be as a list of metaphors for kids and adults. Without further preamble, here is the list of easy metaphors:

Metaphor Examples for Intermediate Readers

The slashes indicate line breaks.

  1. The detective listened to her tales with a wooden face.
  2. She was fairly certain that life was a fashion show.
  3. The typical teenage boy’s room is a disaster area.
  4. What storms then shook the ocean of my sleep.
  5. The children were roses grown in concrete gardens, beautiful and forlorn.
  6. Kisses are the flowers of love in bloom.
  7. His cotton candy words did not appeal to her taste.
  8. Kathy arrived at the grocery store with an army of children.
  9. Her eyes were fireflies.
  10. He wanted to set sail on the ocean of love but he just wasted away in the desert.
  11. I was lost in a sea of nameless faces.
  12. John’s answer to the problem was just a Band-Aid, not a solution.
  13. The cast on Michael’s broken leg was a plaster shackle.
  14. Cameron always had a taste for the fruit of knowledge.
  15. The promise between us was a delicate flower.
  16. He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone.
  17. He pleaded for her forgiveness but Janet’s heart was cold iron.
  18. She was just a trophy to Ricardo, another object to possess.
  19. The path of resentment is easier to travel than the road to forgiveness.
  20. Katie’s plan to get into college was a house of cards on a crooked table.
  21. The wheels of justice turn slowly.
  22. Hope shines–a pebble in the gloom.
  23. She cut him down with her words.
  24. The job interview was a rope ladder dropped from heaven.
  25. Her hair was a flowing golden river streaming down her shoulders.
  26. The computer in the classroom was an old dinosaur.
  27. Laughter is the music of the soul.
  28. David is a worm for what he did to Shelia.
  29. The teacher planted the seeds of wisdom.
  30. Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day
  31. Each blade of grass was a tiny bayonet pointed firmly at our bare feet.
  32. The daggers of heat pierced through his black t-shirt.
  33. Let your eyes drink up that milkshake sky.
  34. The drums of time have rolled and ceased.
  35. Her hope was a fragile seed.
  36. When Ninja Robot Squad came on TV, the boys were glued in their seats.
  37. Words are the weapons with which we wound.
  38. She let such beautiful pearls of wisdom slip from her mouth without even knowing.
  39. Scars are the roadmap to the soul.
  40. The quarterback was throwing nothing but rockets and bombs in the field.
  41. We are all shadows on the wall of time.
  42. My heart swelled with a sea of tears.
  43. When the teacher leaves her litte realm, she breaks her wand of power apart.
  44. The Moo Cow’s tail is a piece of rope all raveled out where it grows.
  45. My dreams are flowers to which you are a bee.
  46. The clouds sailed across the sky.
  47. Each flame of the fire is a precious stone belonging to all who gaze upon it.
  48. And therefore I went forth with hope and fear into the wintry forest of our life.
  49. My words are chains of lead.
  50. But into her face there came a flame; / I wonder could she have been thinking the same?

Metaphor Examples for Advanced Readers

Here are fifty more challenging examples of metaphors. The slashes indicate line breaks.

    1. The light flows into the bowl of the midnight sky, violet, amber and rose.
    2. Men court not death when there are sweets still left in life to taste.
    3. In capitalism, money is the life blood of society but charity is the soul.
    4. Whose world is but the trembling of a flare, / And heaven but as the highway for a shell,
    5. Fame is the fragrance of heroic deeds, / Of flowers of chivalry and not of weeds!
    6. So I sit spinning still, round this decaying form, the fine threads of rare and subtle thought.
    7. And swish of rope and ring of chain /
      Are music to men who sail the main.
    8. Still sits the school-house by the road, a ragged beggar sunning.
    9. The child was our lone prayer to an empty sky.
    10. Blind fools of fate and slaves of circumstance, / Life is a fiddler, and we all must dance.
    11. Grind the gentle spirit of our meek reviews into a powdery foam of salt abuse.
    12. Laugh a drink from the deep blue cup of sky.
    13. Think now: history has many cunning passages and contrived corridors.
    14. You are now in London, that great sea whose ebb and flow at once is deaf and loud,
    15. His fine wit makes such a wound that the knife is lost in it.
    16. Waves of spam emails inundated his inbox.
    17. In my heart’s temple I suspend to thee these votive wreaths of withered memory.
    18. He cast a net of words in garish colours wrought to catch the idle buzzers of the day.
    19. This job is the cancer of my dreams and aspirations.
    20. This song shall be thy rose, soft, fragrant, and with no thorn left to wound thy bosom.
    21. There, one whose voice was venomed melody.
    22. A sweetness seems to last amid the dregs of past sorrows.
    23. So in this dimmer room which we call life,
    24. Life is the night with its dream-visions teeming, / Death is the waking at day.
    25. Then the lips relax their tension
      and the pipe begins to slide, /
      Till in little clouds of ashes,
      it falls softly at his side.
    26. The olden days: when thy smile to me was wine, golden wine thy word of praise.
    27. Thy tones are silver melted into sound.
    28. Under us the brown earth / Ancient and strong, / The best bed for wanderers;
    29. Love is a guest that comes, unbidden, / But, having come, asserts his right;
    30. My House of Life is weather-stained with years.
    31. See the sun, far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black;
    32. Three pines strained darkly, runners in a race unseen by any.
    33. But the rare herb, Forgetfulness, it hides away from me.
    34. The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman
    35. Life: a lighted window and a closed door.
    36. Some days my thoughts are just cocoons hanging from dripping branches in the grey woods of my mind.
    37. Men and women pass in the street glad of the shining sapphire weather.
    38. The swan existing is a song with an accompaniment.
    39. At night the lake is a wide silence, without imagination.
    40. The cherry-trees are seas of bloom and soft perfume and sweet perfume.
    41. The great gold apples of light hang from the street’s long bough, dripping their light on the faces that drift below, on the faces that drift and blow.
    42. From its blue vase the rose of evening drops.
    43. When in the mines of dark and silent thought / Sometimes I delve and find strange fancies there,
    44. The twigs were set beneath a veil of willows.
    45. He clutched and hacked at ropes, at rags of sail, / Thinking that comfort was a fairy tale,
    46. O Moon, your light is failing and you are nothing now but a bow.
    47. Life is a dream in the night, a fear among fears, / A naked runner lost in a storm of spears.
    48. This world of life is a garden ravaged.
    49. And therefore I went forth, with hope and fear / Into the wintry forest of our life;
    50. My soul was a lampless sea and she was the tempest.
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Well known metaphors

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.
William Shakespeare

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Pablo Picasso

I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep.
The Bible, John 10:14-15

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
Albert Einstein

Chaos is a friend of mine.
Bob Dylan

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.
Khalil Gibran

If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.
Mother Teresa

America has tossed its cap over the wall of space.
John F. Kennedy

A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.
Groucho Marx

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.
Benjamin Franklin

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

And your very flesh shall be a great poem.
Walt Whitman

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.
George Orwell

Dying is a wild night and a new road.
Emily Dickinson

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
William Wordsworth

Conscience is a man’s compass.
Vincent Van Gogh

Metaphor Examples

 

If you spend time around young children, you know they are full of questions. Why is the sky blue? How many clouds are there? What is he doing? Adults spend a lot of time teaching children about the world around them. They are always learning new things about the world and how it works. Parenting is an art that we are always learning more about.

Good parenting changes and evolves as our children grow. One of the best ways to teach a child something new is to use a metaphor. Simple metaphors help kids make connections and understand new things. The next time your child asks you a question try explaining the answer with one of these metaphor examples for kids. 

It’s easier for a child to understand a metaphor because it gives them a strong visual picture of what you are trying to explain. This is perfect when they have never encountered the thing they are asking you about. You can relate it back to something they know more about. Even after we grow up we continue to use metaphors in our daily lives. Learning to use and understand metaphors is an important part of growing up and being able to communicate effectively.

What is a Metaphor?

If your child asks what a metaphor is, here is how you can explain it. A metaphor is a comparison between two things that share a common characteristic. One thing is equal to another because it has this characteristic. For example, “You are my sunshine,” just like the sun brings warmth and happiness to someone’s day; you do the same, by bringing happiness to someone’s day. You are sunshine because you share the characteristic of making someone happy. A metaphor is a stronger image than a simile; and makes the reader feel or see something to help them understand it. It states that something is equal to something else; it is not just a comparison between two things.

Simile Vs Metaphor

When talking about metaphors you might come up with some that are actually similes. A simile is a comparison of two different things. They usually involve the words, like, as, or than. While a simile may seem like a metaphor it actually allows two things to be compared while remaining distinct. A metaphor suggests that one thing is something else.

  • Example of a metaphor – After they broke up, his heart was broken.
  • Example of a simile – His heart felt like breaking after they broke up.

It is important to remember that these two things are different, especially when writing or creating a poem. Using metaphors will allow people to understand and feel what you want them to much better than using similes. Remember there are also different levels of metaphors. Some are easy to understand and will be perfect when talking to your child. Others will be very complex and hard to understand. They may even require you to think about and decode them. These are more commonly found in poetry, however be careful that you are not using a metaphor that is too complex for your child to understand. They will not be able to process the information correctly if it is.

The Purpose of Metaphors

Metaphors should create an impact on the reader. They are used to inspire and help people understand the importance of something. For example, “Max is a pig when he eats,” gives the reader a strong visual of how messy Max is when he eats. This is very important not only in a story or poem, but in everyday conversation. If someone says that his stomach is a black hole you know it is important to have plenty of food at your event. If he had just said that his stomach is big or can hold a lot you wouldn’t think you needed as much food. If his stomach truly were a black hole you would need a never ending supply of food.

It is important to understand how a metaphor works and know when you have heard one. They are meant to create a vivid picture, or be a profound saying. The stronger the metaphor is, the better your intent will be received. Using metaphors to explain something to a child helps them by giving them a more visual picture.

Simple Metaphor Examples For Kids

Here is a list of simple metaphor examples you can use to help teach your child about new things.

  1. Max is a pig when he eats.
  2. You are my sunshine.
  3. It’s raining cats and dogs.
  4. Even a child could carry my dog around for hours. He is a feather.
  5. He is the Tiger Woods of his golf team.
  6. Mary’s hair was a fierce lion’s main; always sticking out in wild directions.
  7. He tried to help but his legs were rubber.
  8. Her eyes were fireflies.
  9. I was lost in a sea of nameless faces.
  10. My teacher is a dragon.
  11. Their home was a prison.
  12. Life is a rollercoaster.
  13. America is a melting pot.
  14. His eyes were ice.
  15. The world is a stage.
  16. Life is a fashion show.
  17. My kid’s room is a disaster.
  18. The alligator’s teeth are white daggers.
  19. Time is money.
  20. The wheels of justice turn slowly.
  21. She cut him down with her words.
  22. The teacher planted the seed of wisdom.
  23. The clouds sailed across the sky.
  24. Laughter is the music of the soul.
  25. He is a chicken.
  26. The peaceful lake was a mirror.
  27. Your brain is a computer.
  28. He is a night owl.
  29. The car was a furnace in the son.
  30. A blanket of snow covered the ground.
  31. The park was a lake after the rain.
  32. The lawn is a green carpet.
  33. The kids were monkeys on the jungle gym.
  34. The stars are sparkling diamonds.
  35. My brother is a couch potato.
  36. The clouds are balls of cotton.
  37. His stomach is a black hole.
  38. His heart is a rock.
  39. She is fishing for more.
  40. He was feeling blue.
  41. She is on a roller coaster of emotions.
  42. He has a broken heart.
  43. She has a bubbly personality.
  44. She is a shining star.
  45. The interstate was a parking lot at rush hour.
  46. Books are the keys to your imagination.
  47. The ballerina was a swan, gliding across the stage.
  48. Her angry words were bullets to him.
  49. The thunder was a lion.
  50. The road was a ribbon stretching across the desert.

If you are interested in learning more about metaphors and writing you should understand romantic poetry. You could even try to write some simple metaphor books to help your child learn about them. It’s also a perfect weekend craft you can do together! Not only will they learn more about metaphors they will be spending more time with you and practicing valuable skills. If you find that you really enjoy writing these metaphors for your child try brushing up on your grammar so that you are able to continue to help them throughout school. Children love learning new things from their parents.

Now that you have a full library of metaphors, you are prepared to answer your child’s next question assault. As well as using metaphors to help teach your children new things, it’s important to know about using them in your adult interactions as well. Many adults use about 6 metaphors a minute when engaged in conversation. Learning how to catch these metaphors and how to interpret them can help you in your everyday interactions with people. You may be able to use the information to help persuade them to do something, or just be able to understand more about what they are really thinking.

Learn more about yourself to really get conversations going with other adults. Discovering who you are as a person is an important communication tool that will also allow you to understand others better. Understanding what your child means when they say something and being able to answer their question is an important part of being the best parent you can. Many parents want to know how to avoid screwing up their kids. One of the best tools is communication. Keep the lines of communication open and use these metaphor examples for kids to help answer their many questions. Remember teachers are students as well! We are always learning and sharing new things as people!

Visualization Techniques

Imagination, from Alex Proimos at Wikimedia

What is visualization (guided imagery)? Does it work? Specifically, how can you make it work? Visualization is part of an arsenal of mind-body medicine practices that can aid in healing, get rid of toxins, microbes and cancer. Presented here are anecdotal information given in the news and other sources, and personal observations about using visualization for treatment of PTSD, toxin removal, and emotional and physical repair of the brain. Visualization can also be used as a method for understanding how the body works in the level of detail that most physiology courses fail to address. It is most effective when combined with other mind-body medicine techniques. It also helps to be an educated patient/doctor who already have present in their brains images of cells and tissues of the body.

Can Visualization Work?

Mind-body medicine techniques have often relied upon visualization techniques, especially for cancer victims, (Naparstek 1995, Warren 1995, updated 2002, and Natural Health Journals).  There are websites where people offer various testimonies to its use for cancer as well as descriptions of the types of visualizations they used (e.g.  Healing Cancer Naturally).  In the past, many doctors gave pictures of cancers or damaged tissue to the patients to use to help them visualize what is wrong with them, so that they could call upon their own brains to help heal them. One helpful such guide is On Beyond: Cancer Visualization Vehicle Safety.

Visualization or guided imagery and other alternative medical practices, have had only mixed results with no clear evidence of consistent success (see the article Can You Imagine Cancer Away? for a pretty good review without all the references cited, however). PBS Frontline has an episode (The Alternative Fix) which interviewed people who backed alternative medicine (Andrew Weil),  people who did not (Marcia Angell, Tom DelBanco), and people who said “we need more time” (Stephen Straus, David Eisenberg, James Whorton).

My conclusion from these sites/people is that in order for visualization to work it needs to be guided and the type of guidance that has been used in the past is not nearly as specific as I present here.  I propose ways to use it which can be tested in random, controlled trials.

David Seidler, Writer of the movie “The King’s Speech”

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that visualization works.  A famous recent case comes from the movie industry. David Seidler, the writer of the Oscar-winning movie, “The King’s Speech” has said that he imagined his bladder cancer away (see CNN’s “Can You Imagine Cancer Away?“). He did it by changing his attitude of self-pity and depression over an impending divorce and diagnosis of bladder cancer. He had undergone surgery before for the cancer and it had returned, something very common for this type of cancer. But an important part of his self-treatment was imagining “a lovely clean, healthy bladder” for two weeks before his scheduled second surgery. He says his surgeon was really clueless as to how he did it, with strong evidence from pre-surgery biopsies that there was cancer, and strong evidence from post-surgical biopsies of its absence.  The only conclusion Dr. Dino DeConcini could reach was that Seidler had a “spontaneous remission” (short for “I don’t know”).

 

What We Need to Know Before Using Visualization

The studies on the use of visualization have not been consistently administered nor adequately based upon a well-thought-out theory. Visualization is meaningless without thought patterns. In my own use of visualization, I learned that education is probably the single-most important quality determining success with this technique. A patient must know anatomy and physiology before they try to look at photos of cells and tissues because the photos have no meaning to them otherwise. Furthermore, it should be coupled with Muscle Reflex/Response Testing (MRT, Applied Kinesiology) so that the patient can ask questions of the brain to direct it in how to recognize what needs to be done.  See MRT 1.0-a (Applied Kinesiology): How it Works and MRT 1.0: Using MRT (Muscle Reflex Testing) for more information on how to use MRT.

Breast cancer (fibroadenoma) which has infiltrated the duct (large purple regular or irregular circles), by KGH at Wikimedia
Breast cancer (fibroadenoma) which has infiltrated the duct (large purple regular or irregular circles), by KGH at Wikimedia
Normal Breast with empty ducts (purple circles/ellipses), by Itayba at Wikimedia
Normal Breast with empty ducts (purple circles/ellipses), by Itayba at Wikimedia

If the body has a difficult time getting rid of cancer on its own, there is a reason. In most cases it is because cancer cells are not “foreign” invaders, but altered cells belonging to that body in the first place. The brain has no “eyes” and neither are there any such cells in the body capable of seeing the differences in tissues shown in a photo. Reading aloud a description of the cancer helps, but again, only insofar as the brain has patterns of thinking already set up concerning the terms and concepts read by the patient. It helps to have a list of properties of cancer cells that macrophages and T-cells can readily detect. The patient must also get an education about each of the terms used to describe these properties so that he/she can visualize all properties, either in the form of an analogy or a small video clip of what happens in each property. Most people with a college education in anatomy and physiology have some of these visualizations already stored in memory.

Visualization (Guided Imagery) Works Best
With Mindfulness & MRT

Again, MRT can help a patient by allowing the patient to ask questions about the cells as well as ask the brain “should this be like this in my body?” If it cannot answer this question, all of us have many other nervous systems with which to compare our own because the status of a nervous system is revealed in the voices of people (Sharry Edwards has brought the field of Vocal Profiling to the level of measurement of pathology in internal organs based upon sound characteristics of the voice (The Content of Our Voices). The next directive we give to our brains is “compare my body with others”. Giving it time to complete the assignment, we then ask again, “should the quality you found be present in my body?”. Your next questions depend upon whether the MRT tells us “yes” or “no”.

Using MRT and a standard series of questions, like “is the problem in my: head” (wait for answer), “neck” (wait), etc. through chest, abdomen, pelvis, back, arms, legs, the patient is visualizing each section with each question. You cannot have a response if you have no image in your brain. For a person blind from birth, that “image” may be a sense of touch, and they imagine the feel of each segment. With an education, the person who has had histology will have images of what each tissue type looks like under the microscope, but the blind person must devise other analogies to each tissue/cell type, maybe emphasizing how soft or brittle the tissue is, using a sponge, a dog bone, a piece of very soft foam, a string of beads, etc. to represent different cell or tissue types. The important thing to remember here is that everyone has a different model (paradigm) they can use for visualization and the more consistent it is, the easier it will be to apply to parts or concepts concerning the body.

Brain Patterns Are Hierarchical

Neurons signaling each other in the neocortex, from Neurollero, at Wikimedia
Neurons signaling each other in the neocortex, from Neurollero, at Wikimedia

How does visualization work in this case? The visual cortex is not the only place in the brain that is critical here.  I suspect that by referring to a particular image in our heads, we use a pattern of signals in the brain to represent that image. We put together many such patterns to produce speech, a motor program that allows us to pick up a textbook, a sensory program to keep our balance when ice-skating, etc. Thus ,we use the same method for producing any of these patterns to think about what the body is doing and to direct the brain to produce a desired result. More important than the signal to the visual cortex is the pattern of signals linking that image to other parts of the brain that give depth to the concept with which that image is associated.

The Two Stream Hypothesis of Visual Processing (Milner & Goodale 2006), by Selket at Wikimedia
The Two Stream Hypothesis of Visual Processing (Milner & Goodale 2006), by Selket at Wikimedia

This image shows the “two-stream hypothesis” promoted by Milner & Goodale (2006) of visual processing. There are two streams of signals sent by the visual cortex out to other centers. The functions of these two streams seem to be whether an object/person/scene, etc. can be identified (the “what,” or ventral stream), or where the object is in relation to the viewer (the “where,” or dorsal stream). The ventral stream is most active when the viewer is active and appears to be critical for things like hand-eye coordination. The dorsal stream is active during perception, or when a person needs to see where they are, both in concept and in place. It appears that imagination of something involves the dorsal stream more than the ventral one (Schlegel et al., 2013),  especially if they are not actively trying to copy the action of someone else (which would involve the ventral stream as well, as in the image at the beginning of this post).

The two-stream hypothesis does not consider what happens in the brainstem & cerebellum  with vision, and we know that signals from both streams go there to connect the conscious brain with unconscious activity. This knowledge, as well as research on other primary senses and cognitive processes tells us that patterns of signaling are also hierarchical.  Often our understanding about a concept is based entirely upon what we consciously associate with that concept.  There is a lot of the concept that is completely unconscious that still figures in the pattern of signaling. Moreover, by learning the pattern of signals used by the conscious brain in thinking about something, the unconscious brain figures out how to duplicate that pattern at the unconscious level, allowing it to un-associate strong emotions with memories of past traumas.

In this way, visualization (guided imagery) can be applied to repairing not just somatic (body) damage but also to what we think of as purely brain damage–emotional trauma. If we pay close attention to what we think about, as we are thinking about it (mindfulness), we will notice many images popping into our minds, some so fast that we often do not remember them later if called upon to describe what we thought about. Language is a powerful filter, and it can constrain what we think we remember. Silent imagination can help us remember far more than we would if we relied upon words, especially if that imagination has a rich repertoire of images. When combined with Muscle Response/Reflex Testing (MRT) a window into the visual information sent to the brainstem, or unconscious brain, can help us make sense of what we need to understand what we could not before.

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“The King’s Speech” Writer Visualizes Cancer Away

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN’s senior medical correspondent reports today that David Seidler, who recently won an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay for the “King’s Speech” was able to rid himself of bladder cancer six years ago through visualization techniques. You can see Elizabeth’s article here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/03/ep.seidler.cancer.mind.body/index.html

Mr. Seidler told CNN that when he was first diagnosed with the cancer in 2005, he spent a few days producing “mucus and salty tears I knew prolonged grief was bad for the autoimmune system, and the autoimmune system was the only buddy I had in fighting cancer”. After that, Mr. Seidler decided to visual “lovely, clean healthy bladder” for two weeks, and the cancer disappeared. The cancer has not returned for more than 5 years, which by current medical definition, means the cancer was “cured”.

What should we make of Mr. Seidler’s revelation?

Has senility taken grasp of this 73 year old man? I don’t think so. Is he working on creating another Oscar winning script? Perhaps, but maybe it is a script that should be written and portrayed so that others can see the power of positive thinking.

In the “Show Me” or should I say “Show Me Empirical Evidence” mindset of the pharmaceutical backed western medicine, Mr. Seidler’s statements are viewed as quackery or blasphemy. How can anyone possibly cure cancer with positive thinking? However, the world has witnessed tens of thousands of “cures” that can’t be explained by the medical profession.

I wrote a woman in Canada with an incredible story a few months ago. Her doctors had “written off for dead” three different times in 2009 due to “incurable” cancer. You can link to the story here.

Instead of accepting her “medical fate”, The woman chose to return to her home and began drinking alkaline ionized water provided by her brother who is a dentist. She also started eating an alkaline diet and was the subject of her sister’s prayers.

The story has a happy ending as she survived and is now back working and is living a “normal” life. The story also presented a very interesting twist as the happy outcome caused issues in her family. Her sister believed that her prayers were answered by God. Her brother, the dentist, believed that the alkaline ionized water was responsible for the turnaround. The brother pointed out that the timing of the turnaround coincided almost exactly when his sister began drinking the water. Who is correct? I don’t think it matters. Was it water or faith, or a combination? Or was it just good luck? One thing for sure is that it wasn’t pharmaceutical drugs and doctors and hospitals.

Empirical Evidence and Prescription

There is a small but growing group of doctors that recognizes the fact that our current form of medicine simply can’t explain the numerous instances of healing and recoveries that they have witnessed. They are open to learning and discussing alternatives. However, the majority of doctors, including my own physician, just shrugs their shoulders and admit that some cures “just happen”. Instead of using their brilliant minds and discipline to dig deeper, they continue on their merry way writing endless prescriptions. You can’t blame doctors who claim they are “too busy”, but we can thank those that are opening their eyes and doing something about it.

I hope that the CNN readers who read the article about Seidler’s recovery will give the man credit for sharing his story.

Can you imagine cancer away?

t1larg.david.seidler.gi

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seidler, 73, who just won an Oscar, was told he had bladder cancer
  • He declined chemo, extensive surgery, believes visualization helped beat disease
  • No large-scale studies show visualization can treat disease, ex- medical journal editor say

 

(CNN) — By now, you likely know David Seidler, who won an Oscar on Sunday for best original screenplay for “The King’s Speech,” was a stutterer just like King George VI, whose battle with the speech disorder is portrayed in the film.

What you might not know is that Seidler, 73, suffered from cancer, just like the king did. But unlike his majesty, Seidler survived the cancer, and he says he did so because he used the same vivid imagination he employed to write his award-winning script.

Seidler says he visualized his cancer away.

“I know it sounds awfully Southern California and woo-woo,” he admits when he describes the visualization techniques he used when his bladder cancer was diagnosed nearly six years ago. “But that’s what happened.”

Seidler says when he found out his cancer had returned, he visualized a “lovely, clean healthy bladder” for two weeks, and the cancer disappeared. He’s been cancer-free for more than five years.

Whether you can imagine away cancer, or any other disease, has been hotly debated for years.

One camp of doctors will tell you that they’ve seen patients do it, and that a whole host of studies supports the mind-body connection. Other doctors, just as well-respected, will tell you the notion is preposterous, and there’s not a single study to prove it really works.

Seidler isn’t concerned about studies. He says all he knows is that for him, visualization worked.

“Mucus and salty tears”

“When I was first diagnosed in 2005, I was rather upset, of course,” Seidler says in a telephone interview from his home in Malibu, California. “After three to four days of producing a lot of mucus and salty tears, I knew prolonged grief was bad for the autoimmune system, and the autoimmune system was the only buddy I had in fighting cancer.”

Seidler said that’s when he decided to sit down and write the screenplay for “The King’s Speech,” which had been simmering in his brain for many years. “I thought, if I throw myself into the creative process, I can’t be sitting around feeling sorry for myself,” he says.

After consulting with California urologist Dr. Dino DeConcini, Seidler decided not to have chemotherapy or have all or part of his bladder removed, common treatments for bladder cancer. Instead, he opted for surgery to remove just the cancer itself, and he took supplements meant to enhance his immune system.

“For years, whenever I walked down the stairs I rattled like a pair of maracas, I had so many pills in me,” he says.

Despite his best efforts, the cancer came back within months. Seidler was forced to rethink his decision not to have chemotherapy or bladder surgery.

Envisioning “a nice, cream-colored unblemished bladder”

As his doctor booked an appointment for surgery two weeks later, Seidler commiserated with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, and it was a comment from her that gave him the idea to try to visualize his cancer disappearing. “She said, ‘Well, what happens if in two weeks they go in and there’s no cancer?’ ” he remembers. “I thought to myself that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. This woman’s in total denial.”

But later, reflecting upon her comments, Seidler thought perhaps she might be on to something — perhaps it would be possible for his cancer to just disappear while he waited for surgery. Figuring he had nothing to lose, for the next two weeks he imagined a clean bladder.

“I spent hours visualizing a nice, cream-colored unblemished bladder lining, and then I went in for the operation, and a week later the doctor called me and his voice was very strange,” Seidler remembers. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s no cancer there.’ He says the doctor was so confounded he sent the tissue from the presurgical biopsy to four different labs, and all confirmed they were cancerous.

Seidler says the doctor couldn’t explain how it had happened. But Seidler could.

He says he believes the supplements and visualizations were behind what his doctor called a “spontaneous remission” — plus a change in his way of thinking. He stopped feeling sorry for himself because of his cancer and his impending divorce.

“I was very grief-stricken,” he remembers. “It was a 30-year marriage, and in my grief, I could tell I was getting sicker. I decided to just change my head around.”

“The mind has the power to heal”

While Seidler says he knows his unorthodox recovery techniques sound “woo-woo” to some ears, they sound “like science” to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a best-selling author who’s written extensively on the mind-body connection.

“This doesn’t sound woo-woo to me,” she says. “The mind has the power to heal.”

She says by moving himself “from fear and abject terror into action,” Seidler changed his body’s chemistry. “Fear increases cortisol and epinephrine in the body, which over time lower immunity,” she says.

High levels of the two stress hormones lead to cellular inflammation, which is the way cancer begins, Northrup says. Taking action, as Seidler eventually did, decreases the hormones.

“Hope is actually a biochemical reaction in the body,” she says.

Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of “Love, Medicine & Miracles,” says it’s the same way an athlete uses visualization to improve performance.

“When an athlete visualizes success, their body really is experiencing success. When you imagine something, your body really feels like it’s happening,” says Siegel, a retired clinical assistant professor of surgery at Yale Medical School.

But Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, calls the mind-body connection a “new religion” that encourages false hope.

“There is something so biologically implausible that your attitude is going to cure a disease,” says Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School. “There’s a tremendous arrogance to imagine that your mind is all that powerful.”

She says stories like Seidler’s are just that — only stories and not proof that the mind-body connection is real. Some other part of the patient’s treatment plan likely explains success against the disease, or in other cases, the success is temporary and part of the natural course of the disease.

For example, she says bladder cancer often returns. “You beat it down, and it comes back, and you beat it down, and it comes back,” she says. “If [Seidler] had bladder cancer, this may very well not be the end of the story.”

More heart attacks on Mondays

While Angell points out there are no large-scale studies showing visualization can treat disease, there are studies that seem to indicate what happens in your mind has an effect on your body.

For example, several studies have shown heart attacks occur more often on Mondays, presumably because people are under increased stress returning to work after the weekend.

Another set of studies shows how you perceive yourself affects your health.

In research done by the Yale School of Public Health and the National Institute of Aging, young people who had positive perceptions about aging were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke when they grew older. In another study by researchers at Yale and Miami University, middle aged and elderly people lived seven years longer if they had a positive perception about aging.

In 2008, Harvard researchers published a study where they told a group of hotel chambermaids their daily cleaning activities counted as exercise and were equivalent to working out at a gym. A month later, these chambermaids had lost weight and lowered their blood pressure without changing anything, yet chambermaids who weren’t told about the benefits of their daily work had no such changes.

“It’s so damned obvious that your attitude effects survival,” says Siegel, the retired Yale surgeon.

But Angell disagrees. To her, these studies show very little. “It’s a huge leap from these studies to saying you can imagine your way out of cancer,” she says.

A visualization guide

Whether you’re convinced of the effects of visualization or not, Northrup says there’s no harm in trying them, as long as you realize that like any other treatment, visualization might not work.

There’s no definitive guide to visualization, but Siegel, who’s instructed his patients in imaging for many years, has a few suggestions.

First, he says to draw a picture of four things: yourself, your health problem, your treatment and your body eliminating your problem. These pictures might tell you what sort of imagery would work best for you.

For example, when one of Siegel’s patients drew her disease as 10 cancer cells next to one white blood cell, he suggested she visualize her body making more white blood cells.

Second, he says to know yourself. One religious patient of his had been visualizing dogs attacking and eating up her cancer, which didn’t work, so instead she pictured her tumor as a block of ice and God’s light melting it away, which he says was more effective.

Third, he suggests not visualizing anything violent, since most of us aren’t violent by nature.

“Children don’t mind being violent, and they’ll visualize blasting away cancer, and that’s fine, but most adults don’t like to kill, so that’s not an image they’re comfortable with,” he says.

He remembers one patient who was a Quaker and a pacifist, and quickly rejected any notion of “killing” or “beating” cancer. Instead, he pictured white blood cells carrying cancer cells away, and he beat his cancer.

9 Qualities of Good Writing

There are two kinds of people: Those who think they can write, and those who think they can’t. And, very often, both are wrong.

The truth is, most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We are all capable of producing good writing. Or, at least, better writing.

Why does good writing matter? Isn’t the best content marketing very often something short, snappy, and non-text? Like Skype’s Born Friends video, Lowe’s Vines, or Chipotle’s haunting video commentary?

Sometimes, yes. But here I’m not just talking about content in a marketing context. I’m talking about content, period.

Text is the backbone of the Web, and it’s often the backbone of any content you watch or listen to, as well. That Born Friends video started with a story and a script.

Words matter. Your words (what you say) and style (how you say it) are your most cherished (and undervalued) assets.

Yet, so often, they are overlooked. Think of it this way: If a visitor came to your website without its branding in place (logo, tagline, and so on), would he or she recognize it as yours? Are you telling your story there from your unique perspective, with a voice and style that’s clearly all you?

Here, in no particular order, is what I’ve learned about the necessary qualities of good writing (or content, in our digital vernacular), based on my own 25 years’ working as a writer and editor… and even longer career as a reader.

1. Good writing  anticipates reader questions. Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn’t indulgent. “The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud,” said longtime writing teacher Don Murray. Rather, good writing anticipates what questions readers will have as they read a piece, and (before they ask them) it answers them.

That means most good writers are natural skeptics, especially regarding their own work. They relentlessly think of things from their reader’s point of view: What experience is this creating for the reader? What questions might they have?

(I did this above, when, before listing the qualities of good writing, I thought, “Why does good writing even matter to you? Why should any of us care?”)

George Orwell said the “scrupulous writer” will ask himself at least four questions in every sentence: “What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he or she will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?” (Hat tip to The Economist style guide for that one.)

Lauren Vargus & Poe

Here’s where marketing can really help add value in a business context, by the way, because “simple” means “making it easy for the customer.” It means being the advocate for them. As Georgy Cohen writes, “The marketer should be identifying (and ruthlessly refining) the core messages and the top goals, then working with the web professionals to create a website supporting them.”

2. Good writing is grounded in data. Data puts your content in context and gives you credibility. Ground your content in facts: Data, research, fact-checking and curating. Your ideas and opinions and spin might be part of that story—or they might not be, depending on what you are trying to convey. But content that’s rooted in something true—not just your own opinions—is more credible.

Said another way: Data before declaration. If you are going to tell me what you think, give me a solid reason why you think it.

3. Good writing is like good teaching. Good writing strives to explain, to make things a little bit clearer, to make sense of our world… even if it’s just a product description.

“A writer always tries… to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on,” says Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird.

DFTBA4. Good writing tells a full story.  Good writing roots out opposing viewpoints. As Joe Chernov says, “There’s a name for something with a single point of view: It’s called a press release.” Incorporate multiple perspectives when the issue lends itself to that. At the very least, don’t ignore the fact that other points of view might exist; to do so makes your reader not trust you.

So make sure he or she knows you’re watching out for them. To quote Hemingway: “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”

5. Good writing comes on the rewrite. That implies that there is a rewrite, of course. And there should be.

Writing is hard work, and producing a shitty first draft is often depressing. But the important thing is to get something down to start chipping into something that resembles a coherent narrative.

As Don Murray said, “The draft needs fixing, but first it needs writing.” Or Mark Twain: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

6. Good writing is like math. I mean this in two ways: First, good writing has logic and structure. It feels solid to the reader: The writer is in control and has taken on the heavy burden of shaping a lumpy jumble of thoughts into something clear and accessible.

It might not follow a formula, exactly. But there’s a kind of architecture to it. Good writing has more logic to it than you might think.

Second, good writing is inherently teachable—just as trigonometry or algebra or balancing a balance sheet is a skill any of us can master. Journalism professor Matt Waite writes in his essay, How I Faced My Fears and Learned to Be Good at Math: “The difference between good at math and bad at math is hard work. It’s trying. It’s trying hard. It’s trying harder than you’ve ever tried before. That’s it.”

I think the same is true about writing. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, spent a year teaching writing to MIT students. He later wrote, “I felt that the rigor of math had better prepared these kids for the rigor of writing. One of my students insisted that whereas in math you could practice and get better, in writing you either ‘had it’ or you didn’t. I told her that writing was more like math then she suspected.”

7. Good writing is simple, but not simplistic. Business—like life—can be complicated. Products can be involved or concepts may seem impenetrable. But good content deconstructs the complex to make it easily understood: It sheds the corporate Frankenspeak and conveys things in human, accessible terms. A bit of wisdom from my journalism days: No one will ever complain that you’ve made things too simple to understand.

“Simple” does not equal “dumbed-down.” Another gem from my journalism professors: Assume the reader knows nothing. But don’t assume the reader is stupid.

If you think your business-to-business concept is too complex to be conveyed simply, take a look at the very first line of The Economist’s style guide: “The first requirement of The Economist is that it should be readily understandable. Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.”

8. Good writing doesn’t get hung up on what’s been said before. Rather, it elects to simply say it better. Here’s where style be a differentiator—in literature and on your website.

Mark Twain described how a good writer treats sentences: “At times he may indulge himself with a long one, but he will make sure there are no folds in it, no vaguenesses, no parenthetical interruptions of its view as a whole; when he has done with it, it won’t be a sea-serpent with half of its arches under the water; it will be a torch-light procession.” He also might’ve said: “Write with clarity and don’t be indulgent.” But he didn’t.

That doesn’t mean you need to be a literary genius, of course. It only means you have to hone your own unique perspective and voice.

9. A word about writers: Good writers aren’t smug. Most of the really good writers I know still feel a little sheepish calling themselves a “writer,” because that’s a term freighted with thick tomes of excellence.  But like many achievements in life—being called a success, or a good parent—the label seems more meaningful when it’s bestowed upon you by others.

“Most of the time I feel stupid, insensitive, mediocre, talentless and vulnerable—like I’m about to cry any second—and wrong. I’ve found that when that happens, it usually means I’m writing pretty well, pretty deeply, pretty rawly.” —Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog)

BONUS: Good writing has a good editor. Writers get the byline and any glory. But behind the scenes, a good editor adds a lot to process.

Remember what I said above about there being two kinds of people? Those who think they can write, and those who think they can’t? And very often, both being wrong? A good editor teases the best out of so-called writers and non-writers alike.

The best writing—like the best parts of life, perhaps—is collaborative.

And by the way, is it odd that I’m seeding what’s essentially business advice with insight from artists? And if so, why is that odd?

Because in a world where we have an opportunity and responsibility to tell our stories online, we need to find not just the right words… but the very best ones.

– See more at: http://www.annhandley.com/2013/11/18/9-qualities-of-good-writing/#sthash.x9WNUbtV.dpuf

What Skills Are Needed to Become a Published Writer?

There may not be any pre-requisite formal qualifications for being a writer, but there are a number of skills that it would be useful to have. All of these can be easily learnt so if you lack knowledge in any of them now, don’t worry!

One of the most important skills you’ll need is a good understanding of English. This is vital as publishers will expect your work to be as error free as possible – the less work they have to do to make your work ready for publication the more likely you are to get work accepted on a regular basis. If you intend to self-publish, you need the work to be correct to instil a sense of confidence in your readers – reading work with errors is not only irritating, it can change the meaning of the writing and damage your credibility.

You need to have good:

  • grammar
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • syntax

Knowing the practicalities and basics of the publishing trade will also be an essential part of your writer’s kit. Publishers can be very particular about how they want manuscripts sent to them. So, knowing how to set the work out and send it to them in the correct way can help to hide your status as novice. You’ll be submitting work on a level playing field with other, more experienced, writers.

Research skills will also be an advantage when you are carrying out market research for potential publications for your work. They’ll also come in handy if you want to check fact and figures for your writing. Again, this is something that can be easily learnt.

It would also be useful to know how to use the internet. It allows you to:

  • carry out your research much easier and quicker
  • contact and send your work to publishers by email
  • find publications you may wish to write for in other countries
  • connect with other writers to exchange ideas
  • find other professionals you may need, such as illustrators or photographers
  • self-publish work
  • keep up to date with the current topics and trends in publishing on social media websites, such as Twitter
  • write a blog so you can keep people up-to-date with what you are currently working on or offer your insight into writing
  • use websites that help you improve your craft
  • promote your books or advertise your writing services on your own website

All of these skills can be easily learnt so if you are missing any of them it’s not the end of the world. And, the beauty of writing is that you can earn while you learn. In fact, for most, writing is an ongoing learning process as new techniques, trends and topics come to into play.

If you want to be a published writer request a free Creative Writing course prospectus with no obligation to enrol.

How to Use Reading to Become a Better Writer

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo

There are two ways to become a better writer, in general: write a lot, and read a lot.

There are no other steps.

Of course, within those two general directives, there are lots of more specific advice I can give you, and that other professional writers would offer. Let’s take a look at the second general directive: read a lot.

Why Reading Makes You a Better Writer
I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, and I would submit that most good (and especially great) writers could say the same. What we probably didn’t realize was that our trips into the fantasy worlds of these books were actually training us for our future careers. I’m glad I didn’t know — it might have taken a bit of the joy out of it.

Read can be pure joy, if you’re reading a good book. By that, I don’t mean good literature — I mean anything that captures your imagination, that compels you to read more, that tells you a good story, that creates wonderful characters, that builds new worlds.

But beyond reading for pleasure, a good writer also reads with an eye for the writing. Maybe not all the time, but at least some of the time. And many times that writer doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

What we learn as readers, we use as writers. Maybe we don’t always do the best job at putting that knowledge to use, but that just takes practice. Over time, our writing becomes in some ways a compilation of all the things we’ve learned as readers, blended together in our own unique recipe.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

How to Use Reading to Improve Your Writing
There’s no one way, of course. Every writer reads his own stuff, and puts that stuff to use in his own way. Below are just some tips of what’s worked for me — take what you like from it, and use what you find useful.

  1. Create the reading habit. It can’t be a matter of just reading a book and then forgetting about reading after the initial burst of enthusiasm for reading. It has to be a habit, that you create and keep for life. As someone who has learned a lot about creating habits, I know that the best way to form the habit of reading is to focus on it exclusively — don’t try to form any other habits during this time. Write down your goal (i.e. “Read for 30 minutes every day” or something like that) and post it up somewhere you can see it. Tell a lot of people about it and report to them regularly to create accountability. Log your progress daily and give yourself rewards. Do this for a month and you’ll have a decent habit in place.
  2. Have regular reading triggers. A habit has a trigger — a regularly occurring event that immediately precedes the habit. The stronger the association with the trigger, the stronger the habit. What triggers will you have for reading? For me, it’s eating, going to bed, using the bathroom, and waiting somewhere (like in a doctor’s waiting room). Every time those triggers come up, I read, without fail. Choose your triggers, and do it without fail. If you take my triggers as an example, if I read just 10-15 minutes for each trigger, that’s 6 times a day (three times eating and once for each of the others) for a total of 60-90 minutes a day. Sometimes it’s more, but that’s the minimum (I often read for much longer before bed).
  3. Carry your book with you. When you go on the road, always carry your book in the car or wherever you go. You might not need it for 9 trips, but the 10th time, you’ll be glad you brought the book. When you have a lull, whip out the book.
  4. Read great writers. By “great writers” I mean not only the greats (Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Cervantes, Joyce, and Fitzgerald are some of my favorites here) but also the great storytellers. People who can write with wit, create great characters, reach into your soul, create new worlds for you to inhabit. Writers who can teach you something.
  5. Get inspired. When I read great writing, I am filled with inspiration to write. Sometimes I throw down my book and go to my computer to start hacking away at the keyboard. Other times I’ll jot down stuff in my notebook for later. Use these writers to inspire you to greatness.
  6. Analyze character, plot, theme. Break down the books you read. You can either do this as you read, or afterward, when you reflect on them while doing something else (for me it’s running and doing housework and when I’m in the shower). Why did the writer make the choices she made? How did she create the characters and convey their qualities? How did she start the book and lay out the plot? How is the theme of the book conveyed throughout the book.
  7. Pay attention to what they do with words. Beyond the big things mentioned above, the writer does little things with words, in every paragraph and sentence and phrase. A good writer pays close attention to words, the effects they create, how they mix together with other words, twists and turns of meaning. See how he does this, as it is the best instruction you can get.
  8. Rip them off. A writing teacher once told me not to mimmic other writers — but instead to rip them off. Steal blatantly. Take things that you discover in other writers, things that work, things that you love … and use them in your own writing. Don’t worry — you can always revise later or throw it out completely. For now, rip them off. It’ll help you make these techniques your own.
  9. Riff off them, experiment. Once you’ve ripped off a few dozen writers, start to riff. Do variations and experiments on stuff you’ve found. Give their techniques and styles your own twists and flair.
  10. Expand beyond your normal genres. If you normally read one or two genres, break out beyond it. If you only read sci-fi and fantasy, read more mainstream literature, read romance or thrillers, read “chick lit” (a term I hate, but oh well). There’s a lot you can learn from writers beyond your normal scope.
  11. Above all, enjoy your reading. Reading, of course, is about much more than just learning and analyzing and experimenting. It’s about joy. So don’t let your “reading to become a better writer” interfere with that. If a book bores you to tears, go ahead and put it down for something you enjoy more. If you start to lose track of the story because you’re overanalyzing, just forget about analysis and lose yourself in the book. You’ll still be learning, so fear not. If you read for pleasure, you won’t be able to help it.

“I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” – Woody Allen