Categories
Journaling heart and soul News

3 Reasons Why Everybody Should Attend a Therapeutic Writing Retreat.

Last Friday, 9 women gathered in lovely Stroud NSW for the first ever ‘Write To Rise’ Therapeutic Writing Retreat. These women all came for varied reasons and left with something unexpected. As they worked both together and alone, they discovered the power of honest expressive writing and the clarity and life enhancement it brings.

‘Write to Rise’ is a program I wrote to not only introduce others to therapeutic writing but to showcase the role narrative plays in our lives. The takeaway, ‘to restore we must re-story’, how to do that is where the writing comes in. As I reflect on this day, for the purpose of both celebrating it and improving the program, I can see great reward in a retreat of this nature. Here are three reasons why I think everyone should consider attending a therapeutic writing retreat. 

Write To Rise Therapeutic Day Retreat
  • To step out of routine and reflect on life.

Most of us live full lives. Busting out of the daily 9-5 and taking time to reflect on what is working or not working, as well as focusing on the emotional or psychological blocks that prevent us from processing pain, fulfilling our potential, and finding the fulfillment we seek, is worth upsetting the routine.  As we write, prompted by points of view, questions, quotes or the sensory details we find in nature, we start to see patterns, and the steps we could take to move forward. Re-reading, reflecting and analyzing our work is an important step in therapeutic writing. Having time to do this makes retreating extremely valuable. 

  • To learn skills that will improve life and foster well being. Therapeutic writing is directed. It usually starts  with a prompt or exercise. Certain techniques foster certain outcomes. It is writing based around healing, development and growth and seeks to highlight what can be found in the moment as well as how to move forward. It is more purposeful than simply keeping a diary or dumping your stress, anger and anxiety onto the page. It is a way to practice self compassion, foster gratitude, solve problems, build strategy, nurture mind and spirit, enhance creativity and imagination, record  dreams and of course, process pain and loss. Retreating for me is not only  about leaving with a fuzzy feeling in your chest, but also with tools to take home and use when needed. 
  • To make new connections and foster bonds.

Retreating gathers like-minded people. There is nothing like coming together with those interested in similar things, and walking through similar seasons. In the case of this writing retreat, (‘Write to Rise’)  all that gathered were processing hard things, keen to discover how to heal and the role that writing could take in that journey. There were tears, and by the end of the day, exhaustion. However, there were also multiple ‘aha’ moments and the discovery of truths (no matter how painfully liberating that may be). We wrote in musical silence, had some laughs over lunch, engaged in discussion and deep conversation. Some car pooled with friends, others bravely ventured on their own, but all had a seat in the open circle. How sweet it is to retreat with those who are committed to connection and consideration. 

Already I have had numerous people say that they would love to come to the next retreat (whenever that may be). That makes me extremely excited not only because I love coaching people and showing  how to use writing to heal and rise, but also because I believe in reflection, connection and the joy found in writing your own wild and beautiful story. 

For news on upcoming retreats and to receive monthly progressive writing prompts sign up here. 

Categories
Poetry heart and soul

5 comforting poems for the bereaved.

Poetry at best is a pomatum, prayer or protest. For me, the healing quality of the right words at the right time, has been the most restorative thing in my life. 

And so, with no need for a long intro, here are 5 poems that can be used as a light and liniment in times of sorrow. 

Death Is Nothing At All
Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

5 comforting poem for the bereaved.
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
5 comforting poems for the bereaved
Seasons Of Grief
Belinda Stotler 

Shall I wither and fall like an autumn leaf,
From this deep sorrow - from this painful grief?
How can I go on or find a way to be strong?
Will I ever again enjoy life's sweet song?

Sometimes a warm memory sheds light in the dark
And eases the pain like the song of a Meadow Lark.
Then it flits away on silent wings and I'm alone;
Hungering for more of the light it had shone.

Shall grief's bitter cold sadness consume me,
Like a winter storm on the vast angry sea?
How can I fill the void and deep desperate need
To replant my heart with hope's lovely seed?

Then I look at a photo of your playful smiling face
And for a moment I escape to a serene happy place;
Remembering the laughter and all you would do,
Cherishing the honest, caring, loving spirit of you.

Shall spring's cheerful flowers bring life anew
And allow me to forget the agony of missing you?
Will spring's burst of new life bring fresh hope
And teach my grieving soul how to cope?

Sometimes I'll read a treasured card you had given me
And each word's special meaning makes me see,
The precious gift of love I was fortunate to receive,
And I realize you'd never want to see me grieve.

Shall summer's warm brilliant sun bring new light,
And free my anguished mind of its terrible plight?
Will its gentle breezes chase grief's dark clouds away,
And show me a clear path towards a better day?

When I visit the grave where you lie in eternal peace,
I know that death and heaven brought you release;
I try to envision your joy on that shore across the sea,
And, until I join you, that'll have to be enough for me.

For all the remaining seasons of my life on earth,
There'll be days I'll miss your merriment and mirth,
And sometimes I'll sadly long for all the yesterdays;
Missing our chats and your gentle understanding ways.

Yet, the lessons of kindness and love you taught me,
And the good things in life you've helped me to see;
Linger as lasting gifts that comfort and will sustain,
Until I journey to that peaceful shore and see you again.
The healing Facts

Lauren Lott.

I know it seems impossible
But we can hold in our hearts
Peace and pain together.

We can feel the rain of sorrow
While wrapped in sheets of calm.

We can grace the depths of grief
Linked with relief, arm in arm.

We can ache while arching backward
Bathed in soothing sun.

We can feel the light in darkest night
And hope when death has come.
When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,

promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

For poetry and writing prompts to process pain and loss take a look at ‘The Remains of Burning’ Therapeutic journal.

Categories
heart and soul Journaling

How to find the wisdom you need.

From time to time we all need a little guidance. Seeking the wisdom you need from those who have experienced what you are going through and have  demonstrated sound judgement is invaluable. You may have a mentor, a mother or father figure you go to when you are stuck and  in need of some life advice. You may regard the words and instruction of Plato, Rumi, Thoreau, Aurelius, or Solomon.  You may turn to the pages of a religious text such as the Quran or the Tanakh. 

But have you considered mining the truths that hide inside your own heart? 

How to find the wisdom you need.

I often say, ‘the most life changing words you’ll ever read are your own.’ This statement can be misunderstood if left unexplained. And so, let me clarify. 

When we write about anything with authenticity, we are able to read our own true thoughts and feelings. Knowing what we really think and feel allows us to be emotionally aware of what we need and want, don’t need and don’t want. We can also discover negative thought patterns that cause unnecessary emotional suffering or simply prevent us from growth. This is powerful because it is only when we identify negative thoughts, that we can change them.

Wisdom is truth applied. To gain clarity and find direction, we must first understand what is going on in the heart and mind; we must seek to pinpoint the lies we have adopted as truth. Distinguishing between what is true and what is a lie may seem tricky, however, it is less difficult once it is understood  that lying is an act of fear and truth is always grounded in love. 

Poet David Whyte says, ‘One of the great disciplines of life is having the ability to ask beautiful questions. Beautiful questions cultivate a beautiful mind.’ 

Once you have written down your thoughts and feelings and identified the truth from lies, you can take what is on your page and let it lead you to ask a beautiful question. Beautiful questions are those that always elicit beautiful answers. They lead to wisdom, peace and exciting possibility. 

For example, consider one who wrote ‘I feel rejected’. One may be tempted to spend time trying to figure out if this feeling is true or false, however, the question, ‘Have I been rejected?’ holds within it the possibility of more pain and lacks empowerment.

In this case, a beautiful and better question would be, ‘Now that this door has been closed in front of me, what possibilities can I see?’ If the answer is ‘I see no possibilities.’ This is a good indication that one is in need of processing grief. Although this answer does not seem very beautiful, it does provide insight and direction, which leads to a beautiful outcome. 

Quote, ‘Where there is love there is life.’ Gandhi

Often when people are unsure of what to do next, whether they should go right or left, they take out a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons; the good and bad things that will come from their decision. Although this can be helpful, I suggest you go a little deeper.

Good and bad can be situational; dependent on one’s circumstance. However, this can not be said of love and fear. Instead of listing pros and cons, list the things that align with a loving intention and the things you are afraid of. This is helpful because wisdom, truth, goodness are all branches of the same tree. The love tree. Wise words are found by lime-lighting truth which is always grounded in love.

So to recap.

Wisdom can be found through first journaling authentic thoughts and emotions. Next, pinpoint possible negative thought patterns and lies that are disguised  as truths.  Allow what is discovered on the page to lead you to ask a beautiful question that will yield beautiful answers and outcomes. To take it a step further, make a list based on love and fear. Use this list to help you identify what is wise, truthful and loving. 

Categories
Journaling Therapeutic Writing Prompts

7 June journal prompts to finish the year strong.

Journaling can be used for both reflection and projection. It can help us remember where we have been, what decisions we have made, why we made those decisions, how we have coped with challenges and what we have learnt from our recent experiences. It can reveal how we really feel, what we really want and the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving our desires. 

Although we can not control every aspect of our lives, these June journal prompts are crafted to help you be responsible for what you can control, navigate your next steps well and finish the year strong. 

What has been the thing you have enjoyed most so far this year?

Don’t think too hard about this one. It could be your job, your hobby, a new or old friendship, an event or vacation, a spiritual practice or a simple delight found  in your everyday life. This prompt helps point to not only the pleasure experienced, but also to the plan you should consider. What is life for if not to be enjoyed. To finish the year strong you will need to pack it with good times, the things that amuse you.

What goals did you set this year? How would you say that you are progressing with them?

You may want to resist this question. But don’t. It may cause you to feel guilt, shame or disappointment, but remember there is no room to judge your emotions on the page. Simply write out the goals you set and then without excuse assess if you are progressing towards achieving them. It’s a simple yes or no. If the answer is no, be brave enough to look deeper into why you have not made any ground. If your goals have changed, you may like to set another set of goals to be achieved by the end of the year. 

What does success mean to you?

I love this question. I love it because it allows us to define success rather than have it defined for us. It is important that your goals reflect what success means to you. Is success financial gain? Is it being praised by your peers? Is it spiritual growth? Is it community impact? Is it healthy relationships? Is it freedom to do whatever you want? Answering this question will help you move through the lessons you need to learn and towards your true north.

Write a few lines about each of the following areas of your life. Note the things you are proud of and the things you would like to change. 

Health. This includes your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Relationships. This includes, romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships and other family connections.

Finances. This includes paying off debt, budgeting, investments, and your attitude towards money.

Creativity. This includes following your curiosities, solving problems, improving your craft and being inspired. 

Soul. This includes finding alignment, self-love, peace of mind, connecting to a higher power and being content. 

What area of your life do you feel needs the most focus in the coming months?

After answering question 4 you will be able to see what area of your life needs the most focus in the coming months. Write down a few ways you will do this. Remember it’s all about time and action. Select the time you will set aside to focus on this area and the action you will take within that time frame.

Imagine it is New Year’s Eve 2022. What do you want to be able to say about this year?

In light of the fact that we are still living in a pandemic and there are lots of concerning things going on in the world, many would answer this question with two words, ‘I survived.’ Although this answer is valad, think of something you would like to say that is in your control and would put a smile on your face,

Again, imagine it is New Year’s Eve 2022. What do you want to be able to say about yourself?

In essence this question is asking, ‘What could you do that would make you feel proud?’ The best way to answer it is to write out the kind of person you want to be and then take a look at the things you can practically do to cultivate personal growth. Do you want to overcome a fear? Improve your communication skills? Become more loving? Increase your capacity? Give more to others? Write down what you would like to say about yourself.

If you enjoyed these journal prompts and you would like to further engage in writing for therapeutic purposes, consider booking a ‘Write to Rise’ session with me, or taking a closer look at ‘The Remains of Burning Therapeutic Journal’ poetry and writing prompts for processing pain and loss. Available from bookshops.

Categories
life lessons News

3 things to remember when starting again.

I started out like I always do, with a title, a theme, book sections and a mental picture of the cover art. I wrote 34 poems in 3 weeks led by some kind of creative surge until it stopped. No more flow. I tried reading to regain it, thinking that absorbing the writings of poets would put magic in my pen. Nothing. Not a  sentence worth the paper it was written on. My bright idea, dim. 

But how could I be shocked? Ideas are for building cities, organising people, fixing broken things. Ideas don’t write poetry. I was trying to pull poetry out of my head when poetry has to be heart led. 

And so, I had to start again. File away 34 poems and open a new page. Scrap the title. Narrow down the theme. Forget about layout and design. And then walk beaches. Watch for storms. Water my peace lily until movement alchemized into energy within.

What I’m trying to say is, the book I said I was writing is dead. And if I keep trying to revive it my will to write will die too. It was too heady, too opinionated (gross), all goose, no bumps. I’m going to try again.

starting again

Starting over is worth it, not a waste; it is what makes the process interesting. It is the way, the real plan A, and it is needed to prevent us from betraying ourselves. It’s a chance to do things better, experience something different, clean out the clutter and recreate. 

If you sense the need to start over, remember these three. 

1. Make peace with reality.

I must have tried to save my project a dozen times. I looked at the thin manuscript  and thought of all the mornings I rose to write. I wanted my efforts to be more than warm up exercises. That’s ok, because that’s what some humans do. That’s what I always do. Hope against hope. Hold on way too long. 

Making peace with reality is hard, however, once I accepted that what I wrote was not right, then I could believe that writing something better was possible. Letting go is empowering. It proves trust. 

2.Trust.

Trust what? Trust who? Well I guess, it’s about trusting that what you sense is true. 

There is a saying, ‘you must let go of the old to grab hold of the new’,’ which feels like a trick if ever you’ve been betrayed, but it is actually completely logical. There is no other way to take something into your hand other than to loosen your grip on what you already hold. Opening up takes trust and practice. Trust in every word and act of love. Practice exposing your palm in wait for what is better.

3. Engage with the ‘over again’

It’s important to realise that starting over may be something you’ll have to engage in several times. This too is ok. Try and then try again, tweaking things as you go, inching towards what you see with the eyes of your heart. Sometimes I write pages and only keep a line or a word. Other times I change little and only editing is needed. Starting over, whether it be a poem or a poetry book, a facet of life or life entirely is normal. Challenging, but normal. Unsettling, but normal. Necessary, but normal and totally fine.

Want to stay up to date with my progress in bringing the next book baby into the world? For first looks and behind the scenes sneaky peeks sign up to my community newsletter.

Categories
life lessons heart and soul

5 expansive thoughts to lift your life.

A wrote a micro poem last year. It’s called ‘the memoir of stars.’ It goes like this.

‘Tell the story that makes you glow, freedom is in the mind you know.’ 

I scribbled it down after reflecting on a time that I had lost my glow. You know what I mean when I say ‘glow”? It’s hard to explain, but I guess you could say that it is a radiance that comes as a result of being free. 

Although there were certain pain points in my life at the time, the loss of glow wasn’t because of my circumstances. Jadedness dawns in the mind. My lack of enthusiasm began with constrained thinking. Thoughts like, ‘Things will never change.’ ‘I am inadequate.’ ‘Life is not fair’.

Things became, well, a bit tedious. Hoping for more seemed selfish, yet what I had was clearly  being unutilized. What I needed was a new way of perceiving what is possible. Instead of entertaining doldrums, I needed to tell myself a different narrative; to enter the world through a different door. 

Expansive thinking moves us beyond ourselves and allows us to enter the realm of possibility. It is a marriage between the real and imagined. There are a fistful of thoughts that bring what’s possibly good, true and beautiful to the forefront. Meditating on them increases joy and wonderment. Believing these thoughts will cultivate a new sense of freedom in your life.

Expansive Thoughts to life your life.

1. I don’t always get what I want, but I have what I need. 

This thought helps me to pull my focus from what I do not have. When lack is loud. When shortcomings shout. When loss is illuminated from every angle of the mind, this thought provides space to breathe by moving the focus from what is perceived to be missing, to what is presently good. When I think, ‘I don’t have a million dollars’, concentrating on need says, ‘Oh, but look, I have shoes.’ Opportunity to grow and gain the things I want will come when I make the best of what I have.

2. The world is beautiful.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the noise, to be entangled by bad news, the horror of tragedy and the faff of gossip. Yes, the world needs our love, our fight and our focus.  However, believing that the world is beautiful helps to hold off fear and to appreciate being here. Instead of saying to yourself, ‘it’s dog eat dog’ or ‘nothing ever goes my way’, look at the brilliance that is your life, the miracle of your existence and allow the creativity of the natural world to inspire. 

3. Every end is a beginning.

Straight up, this thought doesn’t make moving on easy. It stings if said too soon; it is an agony if contemplated before the grieving process is fully engaged. But after years, or when the clouds have cleared, these are the words that put to rest real disappointment and regret. This thought allows imagination to take flight, and prompts us to remember that there is a story after the story; a party after the show. And after every ending, there is something new.

4. I am not my feelings.

On days when I feel overcome with emotion. When I am overwhelmed with feeling underwhelmed. When I sense inner tension, feel trapped or slightly terrified, it’s helpful to  know that my emotions do not prove who I am. They are neither good nor bad and only exist to be felt and processed. They are separate from spirit (the real me). This thought cuts me free from beliefs such as, ‘to feel good, is to be  good’. Or ‘to feel beautiful, is to be beautiful. Or ‘to feel worthy, is to be worthy’. 

5. I am guided by love.

Easily mistaken from being a little woo woo, there is no doubt, this thought has been the most freeing of all. Believing I am loved, that I can align with love and that loving others is really the reason I am here has certainly liberated me. Love is life-affirming. To give and receive it is a source of satisfaction. When my glow starts to fade, love turns up all the lights. Sure, hard things, bad things, sad things are possible, but love always always always leads me on. 

(‘The memoir of stars’ is from ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing‘, musings in reflection of the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world. Available from Amazon and bookstores world wide.)

Categories
life lessons heart and soul

How to have an ‘at home soul retreat’.

Recently I found myself yearning for rest. However, March for me is the month when things start to ramp up and getting away is harder than ever. How does one switch off when the season demands one to switch it up a notch?  

For me, the answer is to schedule an ‘at home soul retreat’. With a little planning, refreshment can be found right where I live, because retreating is not about time (how long) or place (whereabouts) it is about intention.

Now, I know everyone’s living situation is different. For some, home is an unsettling place. If you are caring for someone with high needs or live in shared housing, I acknowledge, it’s complicated, and finding space is extra difficult. Not being in your position, I don’t have all the answers, only a few suggestions that could work if you mould them to your own circumstances. 

I know sometimes, retreating doesn’t seem worth the hassle; for those who have considerable responsibilities withdrawing takes work. Don’t let the planning needed to retreat discourage you from it. If there is one thing I have learnt this side of my own ‘at home soul retreat’ it is that it is thoroughly worthwhile.

So, what is a soul retreat? Seems a stupid question, as the answer is in the name, but the word ‘soul’, being a little mysterious, probability needs to be explained. Defining the soul is difficult and it seems every second charlie has a different definition for the soul, so let me clarify what I mean. When I say soul, I am referring to the mind, the will and the emotions. A soul retreat is simply finding space to clear the mind, rest the will and process emotions; it’s about nourishing the inner-self.

Once I have decided when I will begin and how long my retreat will last (it could be hours, days or weeks), I prepare by considering what I expect from retreating ahead of time. Much like I would pack my bag for a get away, I gather all I need for my retreat beforehand. This might include deciding on some reading material, creating a relaxing playlist, planning what nature walks I want to do, booking a massage or preparing meals so I don’t have to think about cooking. 

For me, learning to retreat without leaving home has helped me to consistently show up and fulfil commitments. I do this by using free-time in a way that is intentionally geared towards soul health. I also shuffle my work and responsibilities into three working days, leaving two days (in school hours) to retreat from time to time. I could not do this every week, nor is there a need to as retreating every six to eight weeks works for me.

Essentially a soul retreat is about following the soul and giving it what it needs. Your soul retreat will be as unique as you are. For me, a soul retreat involves deep thinking, journaling, reading, napping, being exposed to beauty and creativity, walks by the water, and time spent in stillness. You can include whatever makes you feel alive; from base jumping to baking, it’s up to you. However, it’s important to remember that a soul retreat isn’t just about having a good time; it’s about affirming positive thought, processing painful emotion, and allowing yourself space to dream a little. 

Normally I do not feel the benefits of retreating straight away, in fact, retreating can feel exhaustingly wasteful. However, about 5 days after I’ve retreated, I experience an  increase in focus and  creative energy. This I’m sure, will be different for you, as we all seem to respond to rest and refuel differently. 

The purpose of a soul retreat is to nourish the soul. This is important because neglect at a soul level affects not only our health but also our relationships, our overall well being and outlook on life. If you are weary, lack creative clout, feel jaded, or overwhelmed by a never ending cycle of busyness, a soul retreat may be what you need. There are curiosities to chase, dreams to journal, healing to heed, hope to surrender to, if only you’d stop for a moment to mine the soul. 

Categories
life lessons Journaling

8 ways you can support yourself through pain and loss.

Firstly, let me  say, I am a certified therapeutic writing coach, not a therapist.  As a therapeutic writing coach I am unable to diagnose or work in depth with psychological or emotional health concerns. I focus on helping others improve their lives through the practice of therapeutic writing. The eight ways you can support yourself through pain and loss discussed in this blog post have been curated through study, research and personal experience. 

We often seek to know how we can support those in our lives who are going through hard times. However, learning how to support ourselves is just as important. Care from our loved ones can do wonders, but real progress happens when we show up for ourselves, take time to grieve and do the brave work needed to heal.

Once I realised that I was the one I was waiting for, I felt empowered to create my own healing plan. This looked like extended time spent in nature, journaling, counselling, nurturing my creativity, time with trusted friends, contemplative prayer and reading, water and exercise.

I also became mindful of my surroundings, was careful to not judge my emotions, became selective in who I took advice from, was open to receiving practical help when I needed it and cried a lot.

None of these things provided a quick fix. We all know healing doesn’t work like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be done with the restorative process, simply because we live in an imperfect world. In saying that, it is clear that learning how to support ourselves through pain and loss is vital to become our true best. And it all starts with being present.

Be present.

Although distracting ourselves from pain is tempting, we need to be present to it. This means turning towards it and gradually moving closer, step by step, till eventually we are able to enter into it. The only way to move beyond it, is the walk through it. There is no road around, no tunnel under, no way above – only through. We must feel it, before we can be free of it. 

Cultivate your surroundings.

Our surroundings can assist the healing process. Good surroundings make us feel safe and calm. Beautiful sights, sounds and scents can create spaces that nurture and care for our body, soul and mind. Being intentional about what we watch and listen to is beneficial not only to our mental health but also to our physical and emotional well being. For me, this looks like purposely putting myself in the path of beauty. Propping my camping chair beside the lake and watching the sun go down, filling my house with flowers and plants, listening to orchestral music while walking beachside, and being attentive to the wonders happening in my own garden are all ways I seek to bring more beauty into my life.

Validate your experience.

When processing pain it’s hard not to judge how we feel. This is because we have learnt that certain emotions are bad, and to feel them makes us bad too. While some emotions do have a negative effect on us and those around us, to feel negative emotions is to be human. It is important to know that feeling an emotion and acting upon it are two different things. Whether it is shame, anger, frustration, guilt, resentment, sadness or jealousy it must be felt, noted and validated through nurture and understanding without condemnation. 

Write and reframe your personal narrative.

Journaling has been imperative in my healing journey. Numerous studies have proven the value of therapeutic writing. Research shows it strengthens mental, emotional, and physical health, by reducing stress, regulating emotions, boosting memory and improving overall wellbeing. Writing through pain is a way to not only dump negative emotion but also to reframe personal narrative through observing unhelpful beliefs and lies. For those seeking a guided journaling experience, ‘The Remains of Burning’ poetry and writing prompts to process pain and loss, is a tool I created to assist healing through journaling.

Avoid advice.

Obviously when I say avoid advice, I mean that we can limit the amount of people we give permission to speak into our lives. Accommodating a myriad of opinions about what happened to us, how we should feel and what we can do next can be exhausting. It is wise to shut out some voices and prioritise others. Having a few trusted confidants versus listening to anyone and everyone helps us  to feel safe and prevents the unnecessary triggering of pain.

Ask for help.

Pain and loss do not only have an effect on our physical, emotional and physiological state. They can also change our social connections, relationships, financial circumstances  and future goals. Asking for practical help while you deal with the fall out is okay. Maybe there is someone who can provide child or domestic support. We can support ourselves by asking for what we need.

Seek professional guidance.

Seeing a psychologist, therapist or counsellor is commendable. Although it is important to know the right help may not always be convenient. Finding a professional suited to address your concerns can take some time and adjustment. When it comes to pain and loss, it may be beneficial to seek a therapist and counsellor who  specialises in grief and trauma. The important thing to remember is if the therapist is not the right fit for you it does not mean you are at fault. 

Intentionally increase care and nourishment.

Basically, spoil yourself. Create extra time for the things you like. Buy expensive bath bombs. Go for that massage. Take a nap. Order in food. Do what makes you feel beautiful. Reduce your schedule. Make more room for what you find fun. It is okay to say no to things you once did that you now find stressful. Do not feel guilty for giving yourself the time, attention and support you need.

Categories
Journaling life lessons Therapeutic Writing Prompts

5 Journaling prompts to help find your sweet spot.

In my most recent newsletter I shared that my first journal is just weeks away from being published. I told subscribers that in creating the journal I found my sweet spot: the marriage between what I love to do and helping others.

The sweet spot

In the newsletter I also included a few journal  prompts to help subscribers  find their sweet spot. Today I’d like to unpack these questions. So lean in lovelies, we are about to take a deep dive into the honeyed core of who you are and take a look ( if only a glance) at your very significant purpose.

1. Who are you a tad jealous of?

All my life I’ve been told that jealousy is a sin. What I was not told is that jealousy is a useful way to figure out what is in your heart.  You see, when we are jealous it is for a REASON. Usually we want to succeed in the field another is succeeding in.  Feelings of envy are in essence, nothing more than a sign that says – YOU ARE IN THE VICINITY OF YOUR PURPOSE. Think of it this way, those whom you are jealous of are doing one thing – holding up a mirror. That’s right, jealousy does not have to be about creating idols, being resentful, holding grudges or becoming bitter. Although jealousy, if left to itself, can produce these unpleasant thoughts and emotions, when harnessed, it  becomes an indication of what you want to do with your life.

2. What does a perfect day look like to you?

For many of us the answer to this question would include the people and things we love. However, when I say ‘what does a perfect day look like to you’ I’m talking about rhythm and routine . Is your perfect day fast paced, energy fueled, with your fingers in lots of pies? Maybe your perfect day looks like  being alone with time to focus and produce deep work. Do you like the surety of a fixed schedule or are you better pleased with a day that is flexible and full of variety? Your sweet spot is not just about what you do, but also, the way you do it. 

3. What energises you?

The meaning of the words introvert and extrovert are often mistaken for being associated with personality. In truth, these two words refer to where energy is sourced. Do you gain energy from solace or from interaction? From inward reflection or activity? If you are introverted you will feel refreshed by contemplation and drained by things external to you. If you are extroverted you will feel refueled when you are around people and drained by a lack of interaction. I am introverted. That means time alone revives me. What it does not mean is that I am shy or I don’t like people or I’m fearful of public speaking. In turn, extroverts are not always the life of the party and do not always have a ‘bubbly personality’. Knowing how you are energised will help you find your sweet spot.

4. What kinds of conversations do you lean into?

Imagine you are sitting in a cafe. At the table beside you are two people in deep conversation. You can hear what they are saying. You have two options. Tune them out and focus your attention on something else or lean in and indulge in their exchange. What topic(s) would they be discussing for you to want a seat at their table. What  are you insanely curious about? What are you intrigued by? What do you often find yourself googling? What are you hungry to learn about? The sweet spot is not a place in which we arrive, but a road we journey. Your sweet spot will leave you room to breathe, grow, and become.

5. Who do you empathise with the most?

It’s true that not everyone notices who you notice. Who you see is often largely dependent  on your own experiences. It’s likely that you have wisdom and insight into how to serve certain people because simply put, you’ve been there. So, Who can you relate to? What have you been through that you hope others won’t have to? How can you use the things that have hurt you to help others? Maybe you have a heart for people of a particular race or culture. Maybe the people you wish to help all have the same kinds of struggles or are in a similar season in life. Your sweet spot will be a place of impact, a place of healing, a place that benefits others as well as yourself.

Now it’s your turn, finish these sentences:-

  1. I’m a tad jealous of…
  2. My perfect day looks like…
  3. I am energised by…
  4. I lean into conversations about…
  5. I empathise most with people who…

From here, you are well on your way to figuring out what you want to put out into the world, how you will go about doing it and who it will help the most. Sweet as honey, delicious as pie!

Great News! You too can become a LOVE-Mail subscriber and receive inspirational words and writing prompts like these on the regular. That’s right, my monthly newsletter is jam-packed full of lots to think about. Sign up today and receive my FREE beautifully illustrated digital chapbook, ‘Never Far’, poetry about peace.

Categories
Poetry

Tattoo inspiration: 10 meaningful poetry verses.

Tattoo’s have long been used as a way for people to express themselves. They can speak of our personal narrative and help us to identify each other. They are used to remind ourselves and others of our cultural or spiritual traditions and values.

However, sometimes it is hard to find exactly the right words. Finding a verse that is appropriate and void of cliche is not easy. Need tattoo inspiration? Here are 10 suggestions that are simple, poetic and meaningful.

  1. Forgiveness is the fairest of them all.

There is nothing more liberating than forgiveness. This verse celebrates the beauty and strength found in the lives of those who take the steps to emancipate themselves through forgiveness. It is a statement that cements what is valued above all else – personal freedom.

2. Not a day is wasted when love is at work.

This verse is for those who truly believe that love is the answer. Forget ticking off a ‘to do’ list or achieving world domination, loving others is where it’s at. Spending our days (our lives) with love as the focus, is the only way to abundant living. If you believe it, these 10 little words are for you.

3. All the wild is yours.

These words remind us that adventure awaits. If you believe the earth is a bounty of discovery and the wild is not to be feared this little verse will suit you perfectly.

4. Something magnificent is going on.

Here are 5 buoyant words for those who love to be positive. A reminder to always be on the lookout for wonder and to believe in the bigger picture, it is a celebration of trust, beauty and goodness.

5. The storm is a drumroll for the sunshine.

Though the tempest rage and all seems lost, the thunder is nothing more than an announcement that ‘better days are coming’. It is a stanza of hope that again you will feel the warmth of love and experience the brightness of joy.

6. Pain is the hand that holds the lantern.

Pain illuminates. This verse is a great reminder that pain shines a light on all that is true. It is a hopeful sentence that emphasizes the good found in difficult times.

7. Tears are the prelude.

Tears not only mark the end but also the beginning of beautiful new seasons. They are water for unseen seed within our hearts. These 4 powerful words are a reminder that we fall only to rise up stronger.

8. I cannot hold what wants to run. What is mine is free to come.

This micro poem is a statement of confidence and trust. For those who do not believe in forcing anything, but instead allow all that is true to find its way to you, these words say it perfectly.

9. Surrender is the only way I know how to be strong.

Surrender, releasing control, and letting life flow is an act of courage and a sign of strength. These words are a statement of freedom and faith.

10. Love is always up to something.

Love is the last one standing! If you believe that love can heal the past, change the present, and shape the future then this tattoo design is for you. An acknowledgement of the power and possibility found in letting love take over, these words are perfect for the one who is ready to surrender everything to love.

All these verses are taken from my first poetry collection, ‘The Remains of Burning’. Available worldwide from all good book stores.