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
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
Therapeutic Writing Prompts News Publishing

A Therapeutic Journal: Writing prompts to process pain and loss.

Some books need companion journals. ‘The Remains of Burning, words for when what you thought would never happen, happens’, is such a book. Released on the first of October 2020, with the intent of validating the disqualified and consolidating the grieved, it is an offering of words for those pained by lost dreams and relationships. 

And now, to complement this work, a therapeutic writing journal! The purpose of this journal is to not only help readers process physiological and emotional pain, but also to encourage individuals to write the only words that can heal the deepest places within – their own.

What we say about ourselves matters. Therapeutic writing illuminates how we truly feel. It is a way to first explore our thoughts and emotions, and secondly, to find a new language, a new way of identifying who we are. 

Writing to heal is a transformative practice. The page is a place for you; a place to work through ideas, to gain a better understanding of your experience and heal. It is astonishing how dropping negative emotion onto the page can give relief, build self awareness and stimulate growth. 

‘The Remains of Burning Therapeutic Journal’ confronts pain. Through poetry and a series of writing prompts, readers are given permission to write and reframe their personal narrative. They are encouraged to look at events from multiple angles and to recognise their power.

Like the poetry book, this journal is sectioned into three. First, ‘the snatch of flame’ – the shaking, the breaking, the burnout, the death of a dream, the loss of a loved one, the line between before and after. Readers reflect on poetry about loss and are asked to do the brave work of attempting to write what can obviously not be put into words. 

Section two is called ‘the cooling of coals’. It addresses the moments – years after the initial shock of events. Poetry tackles themes such as loneliness, truth, reinvention and letting go. 

And lastly, ‘the value of ashes.’ With courage grief folds into gratefulness. Readers are encouraged to dream again, to think about how they can use their pain to help others and to find joy.

My hope for this journal is that you will discover that you are not alone and all the ways you have grown. Available Soon from Amazon and all good bookstores. 

To keep up with all I am creating and learning, join my LOVE-Mail list. I’ve got so much to share with you.

Categories
Creativity News Publishing

3 attributes of courage – lessons in following your heart.

Today is book baby’s birthday!!!!

The Remains of Burning’ was published on October 1st 2020, and one year on she is still bringing beautiful people and opportunities into my life. 

Most recently I was part of a give-away with five other authors. The soul that won my book lives in Thailand. We were both ecstatic when ‘ The Remains of Burning’ finally fell into her mailbox. Magic is when the right words find the right reader. She was a gift to me and I, a gift to her.

I could tell you several stories about these kinds of encounters. From Thailand to Jamaica, from Ireland to Canada (Hello beautiful readers from all these beautiful places) my little book baby has spent the last 12 months bringing light. I’ve always felt my call is less about writing popular books, and more about serving the individual. That’s why I write, for the one’s! 

For years I was afraid to write and publish. I had a problem. Cathy Heller says, when we have trouble in our careers, families, finances, or relationships, often it’s simply a courage problem. This means the solution is in stepping up to the plate, being assertive, vulnerable and integral to who we are. 

Courage is the most important component needed to ship creative work. To push my poetry out into the already over-saturated sea of books, I needed to put on my big girl pants, and risk being criticized, misunderstood or worse, ignored. And so, today marks the day I did it, I found my spine, birthed a dream and discovered a few things about courage.

  1. Courage never stops calling.

Just when you find the nerve to do something, another thing demands still more courage. Being courageous is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. As long as we live, courage continues to chant, beckoning us forward, pointing out possibilities. 

First, I needed courage to write badly, then, I needed courage to show my writing to those close to me. Next, I needed courage to spend hours learning how to publish, after that, I need courage to actually publish. Then, I needed courage to market and promote my work,  followed by courage to keep writing. Then, I need courage to publish again, after that, I need courage to invest in a website. Next, I needed courage to start a blog, followed by courage to start a newsletter. And now I have a list as long as my blessed body (I’m not joking) of things I need courage to create and sell. Never satisfied, courage relentlessly wants us to make bold moves.

  1. Courage builds upon itself.

Courage begets courage. One courageous act leads to another. Often we can think courage is about taking one giant leap, but in my experience, courage is the ability to keep on stepping.

‘Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.’

Holly Lisle

The more I step, the more courage I have to keep stepping. The more I write, the bolder my words become. The more I try, the more I want to try again. I plan to look back at my thirties and forties and say, ‘I can’t believe I was afraid of that.’

3. Courage creates an expansive life.

Courage has given me many surreal moments; times so amazing and joyous, it feels like they existed in a dream. Last weekend I spent some time writing them down. After I read and re-read the list, I could not help but say aloud to myself, ‘Wait, did that really happen?’ ‘I never dreamt that I would be there, doing that, with them.’

If you want a life better than you ever imagined, wonderful stories to tell your grandchildren, lists of beautiful dreamlike memories, then courage is the way.

I have learnt that I don’t need to be busy to have a big life; I just need to be brave. For me, bravery looks like backing myself, trusting the flow, trying again, being vulnerable, facing rejection, seeming to be a fool, taking risks, and following your heart. Courage starts with affirming ‘I am courageous’ even when I’m shaking in my boots, and ends with no regrets. Courage has always taken me to a spacious place that oddly feels unknown and like home all at once.

So here’s to ‘The Remains of Burning‘ one year on. I birthed a book baby and book baby birthed courage in me.

image of a poetry book
The Remains of Burning.
Categories
News Poetry

A free poetry chapbook for you.

I am continually inspired by what poets do to set flight to their poetry. Rupi Kaur released a one hour special of her sell out stage performance on Amazon Prime, Upile Chisala read and released her collected poems ‘as soft as fire’ on audiobook, Atticus poetry collaborated to create ‘Lost Poet’ wine, Sabina Laura released a beautiful poetry journal ‘a little sunshine and a little rain’ and the phenomenal Morgan Harper Nichols created a shop ‘Garden 24’ full of merch from tea towels to playing cards, as well as a unique ‘storyteller’ app.

From designing digital products to hosting poetry events and retreats. From creating unique membership sights to podcasting performance poetry, there is no doubt, poetry is in a renaissance as poets find a million different ways in which to ship their work out into the world.

After the release of my second inspirational poetry collection, ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, I realised I had caught the heart of this poetry renaissance. No longer did I just see a poetry book or two, but a creative business in which poetry is the lifeblood. I identified the next 3 steps I needed to take –  website, blog, newsletter, and in this, the last week of August I can say the website is complete, the blog is off and running and I have sent out my first newsletter.

But the creativity didn’t stop there.  As a ‘welcome gift’ for newsletter subscribers, I created a free digital chapbook, ‘Never Far’– poetry about peace. It consists of 25 poems that are paired with watercolour illustrations by Kristy Kvills. You can get it by signing up at the bottom of my homepage. Or take a peak at it on instagram.

Dedicated to ‘the sleepless’ the chapbook starts out with a poem listing 8 expressions of peace. Using place, the body, objects, virtues and the senses, the poem illustrates what peace is like. My objective was to give the reader a picture that would trigger a delicious feeling of calm while simultaneously communicating the qualities of peace. For example, the line, ‘A stone castle in a storm’ conveys that peace is more than the absence of chaos; it holds its own even when things are tempestuous.

peace

According  to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, peace is ‘a state of tranquility or quiet’, ‘freedom from civil disturbance’, ‘harmony in personal relationships’. Although these definitions hold true, whilst writing the chapbook I got the sense that there was something missing; something either in the back of my head or deep down in my heart was telling me to look closer. 

Upon a rather vigorous trip down into the burrows of the internet, I found the word ‘Shalom’. I had heard the word before, but had not retained its meaning. ‘Shalom’ is a Hebrew word that not only means peace (as defined above) but also encompasses words like wholeness, completeness, prosperity, harmony and welfare. In short, ‘Shalom’ shows us that peace isn’t just the absence of conflict, but it is a state of being when the body, mind, soul and spirit align.

Sometimes peace escapes us and it seems like all the world’s problems have to be solved before we can get it back. I wanted my work to show that this is a lie. Peace can come in an instant, it is as easy and as hard as surrendering to ultimate reality. Peace is born inside of us, is dependent on honesty and banks on trust. For this reason, I titled the chapbook ‘Never Far’.

My hope is that readers would use this free digital gift as tool to silence fears, explore shalom and regain peace.

Lauren xx