Categories
Therapeutic Writing Prompts

20 journaling prompts to gain clarity and move forward.

Feeling stuck? Indecisive? Got a serious case of brain fog going on? Feel like you’ve lost your bearings? Dropped the map? 

Having a lack of clarity and being confused about what to do next can be distressing. If you’re in the very human stare of being doubtful, double minded, blocked, trapped, frozen – connection and reflection can help. Journaling is a way we can reconnect with our inner compass and reflect on why we feel the way we feel. It provides a way to listen to ourselves and uncover the secrets of the heart. 

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

David McCullough

When writing for therapeutic purposes, remember honesty is king, non-judgement is queen and all emotion is welcome. Read what you have written, ponder and where possible expand on your answers. Expose your fear and understand that all you’re mining for is ‘the next step’. These prompts are not about making a life plan or figuring out the reason for your existence. They are a tool to help you up, out of the mind mud and on your way.

You can use each prompt at different times or in one long journaling session. Don’t rush. Don’t edit your spelling or grammar. If pain is triggered, and you feel yourself entering a dark place, leave the task for later. Find a quiet, comfy spot and commence.

  1. What is important to you?
  2. When do you feel most energized?
  3. Finish this sentence. If I was really courageous I would……
  4. Visualize the person you desire to be. What three words describe that person? 
  5. What frames your identity? 
  6. When it comes to making decisions, what do you find challenging?
  7. What do you have that you might have underestimated or overlooked?
  8. What do you need to stop doing that would improve your happiness?
  9. Clarity comes when we unclutter our lives. What can you remove from your life that isn’t important?
  10. What are you really good at?
  11. How do you define success?
  12. What are you the most enthusiastic about? If you are not enthusiastic about anything, remember a time when you were, what changed?
  13. What does your ideal day look like?
  14. What could your pain be teaching you?
  15. Imagine peace was a person. What would they say to you? If you were to follow them, where would they lead?
  16. What do you want to learn more about?
  17. When was the last time you felt a sense of accomplishment?
  18. What could you create, make, produce that would help you express yourself.
  19. Pain can paralyse. Write a few sentences and tell your future self what you did/will do with pain so he/she can be strong.
  20. What can you do to show kindness to yourself today?

When clarity is needed, jotting down my thoughts, fears, and frustrations leads me to see what I can do next. I also take wisdom from nature. Growth seems to happen effortlessly for anything with branches or leaves. Often I take a journal and pen outside. This is what nature has shown me about moving forward.

As the creeping fig reaches, she teaches. 
I write down her gentle instruction.
‘Love aligns,
And creativity is the key
to becoming unstuck.’

You can find more journaling prompts on processing your thoughts here or contact me about the unique therapeutic program ‘Write to Rise‘.

Write to Rise

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.

The unique program ‘Write to Rise’ was crafted to assist participants to breakthrough in areas of their lives. Lauren leads individuals/groups through a series of writing exercises aimed to unlock creativity, draw out courage and increase clarity and self-awareness.

Categories
life lessons

There is enough for you. (How to shift a scarcity mindset.)

There is no question, lack is a part of life. We have all experienced times when we have gone without. However, scarcity mindset is when one amplifies lack and creates limitations that do not exist. 

From time to time I struggle with a scarcity mindset. The symptoms are pretty obvious. Firstly, I can be afraid to spend money on myself. I’m the kind of mum who will buy her kids the things they want before I buy myself the things I need. 

Secondly, I have always doubted my ability to earn money. This comes from the thought that I am (a) unworthy to contribute and (b) I downplay my efforts and achievements. 

Thirdly, I often feel like I’m wasting time. Even when I have a super productive or enjoyable day I get a sense that I’ve missed out on something or in some way I am running late for my own life.

And lastly, I don’t like talking about money. 

Thankfully, I have recognised the sneaky way scarcity infiltrates my thoughts and presents itself through my actions/inactions. I have learnt that I can shift my mind from scarcity to abundance, from lack to plenty by intentionally engaging in these three practices.

  1. Don’t downplay what you have.

Minimising our skills, talents and capabilities often presents as noble or good. In truth, it’s destructive. 

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson.

In response to Marianne’s words, I asked myself these questions. Do I downplay what I have because I fear criticism, judgement and rejection? Do I think that making myself small will prevent loneliness? Do I deny myself  to avoid a sense of otherness? Does it have to be this way? Could a healthy view of myself and what I have to offer be connective rather than exclusive?

Maybe, the best thing we can do for each other 
is surrender to our own blooming.

When I allow the reality of who I truly am to take hold I sense abundance. At its roots, I believe abundance is manifested through dynamic, purposeful connection rather than personal gain.

2. Don’t listen to dispiriting talk.

You don’t have to look hard to find dishearted people; those that lack enthusiasm, creativity or energy to do good. Yes life is hard and disappointments are real, however, the way we speak about our circumstances calls attention to hope or hopelessness.

I’m not suggesting we participate in toxic positivity, hide our pain or make light of hurtful experiences. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. However, when I tune out the drown of dispiriting talk, scarcity is diminished.

Instead of saying, ‘there is never enough’, I say, ‘things will come to me as I need them.’ Instead of saying, ‘We are not wealthy enough to live there.’ I say, ‘I am grateful for where I live.’ Instead of saying, ‘They don’t think I have what it takes’, I say, ‘I am more than other people’s assumptions, projections and expectations.’

Scarcity loves a good sob story; a list of things that disqualify us, the telling and retelling of times we came to dead ends and closed doors. Abundance bursts everything open; employing gratitude and hope, wonder and curiosity to write meaning into every occurrence. Abundance turns the ordinary into good and the good into great. The more we seek it, the more we see it. The more we speak it, the more we hear it echo in our lives.

3. Let your heart flower with possibility.

Constantly focusing on limitations instead of possibilities is how people become stuck in their lives. It only serves to create the same old reality from day to day. And soon the days turn into years, and lifetimes.

Anothon St Maarten.

Scarcity mindset is about how we see, not what we own. When I am watchful, when I look for life to surprise me with good things, when I allow my heart to open to the potential within us, when I think of all the wonderful, strange, peculiar, amazing things that have been created in the world throughout history, I feel a sense of excitement for the unexpected good.

I expected them all to bud the same colour, 
but there on one stem a peculiar sight, 
one pink, one white. 
Those sweet lilies reminded me, 
I live in a world of strange happenings, 
unpredictable turnings, 
and there beside the vase 
my heart flowered with possibility. 

Scarcity thinks it knows it all, but  in my experience scarcity is ignorant of the creative force that got this all started. Perceiving what is possible is part of being human, and the only thing that saves us from complete poverty of the soul. If you are like me, and can sometimes be hijacked by thoughts that there is not enough for you, let these words ring for you today. There is enough for you. Don’t down play, Listen to what makes you feel large on the inside and let your heart push up a plantation of possibility within.

Categories
Poetry

5 poems to lift your spirit.

When it comes to poetry Mary knows best.

‘Poetry is a life cherishing force. For poems are not words after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pocket of the hungry.’ –Mary Oliver.

On many occasions, poetry has caught me off guard.  It starts with  casual scrolling or flipping through a book until my eyes take a punt on a group of words. I should know better by now, poetry is living and one can not simply read it. Poetry wants to look you in the eye while it scoops you out with a spoon. It is both prophetic and nostalgic, painful and comforting, unexpected and timely. Poetry is a marksman, and when the right poem hits the right heart, something is activated.

Today I want to serve up 5 poems that could possibly do this within you, activate something. Whether it be bread, a blanket or breath you need, lean in, read slowly and receive.

Firstly, for the unconfident, the doubting, the unsure. ‘Variation on a theme by Rilke’ by Denise Levertov.

‘A certain day became a presence to me; there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light: a being. And before it started to descend from the height of noon, it leaned over and struck my shoulder as if with the flat of a sword, granting me honor and a task. The day’s blow rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened, and what I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can.’ –

For those struggling with times of uncertainty. ‘The way it is’, by William Stafford.

‘There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.’

For the rejected, disappointed, discouraged. ‘Unwelcome’, by Lauren Lott.

‘Lonely heart unforgotten, take peace and wrap it blanket tight, or use it to cover your ears, so you can not hear those tall stories that tower, and tell you you’ve been left behind. You have not been cast aside, but repositioned, picked out for something rare and meaningful.’

For those seeking permission or creative courage. ‘Breaking Surface’, by Mark Nepo.

‘Let no one keep you from your journey, no rabbi or priest, no mother who wants you to dig for treasures she misplaced, no father who won’t let one life be enough, no lover who measures their worth by what you might give up, no voice that tells you in the night it can’t be done. Let nothing dissuade you from seeing what you see or feeling the winds that make you want to dance alone or go where no one has yet to go. You are the only explorer. Your heart, the unreadable compass. Your soul, the shore of a promise too great to be ignored.’

For those needing hope, healing or forgiveness. ‘Last night as I was sleeping’, by Robert Bly.

‘Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt – marvelous error!- that a spring was breaking out in my heart. I said: Along which secret aqueduct, Oh water, are you coming to me, water of a new life that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt -marvelous error!- that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.’

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

Categories
Therapeutic Writing Prompts

10 writing prompts to process your thoughts and emotions.

Processing our thoughts and feelings, doing deep work, is important in developing resilience, cultivating a healthy mind  and emotional stamina. Therapeutic writing, also called journal therapy, is expressive writing with therapeutic benefits and has proven to further wellbeing, improve mood and ease painful memory.

As we express thoughts and feelings in writing, we utilize the rational left hemisphere of the brain. By applying this side, the more creative free-wheeling right side is left to potter about thoughts and play. This enables it to act more creatively, allowing ideas to flow onto the page. The more we write, the freer we become of the emotions we have bottled up and can see things in a clearer context.

writing prompts to process thoughts and emotions.

With this in mind, the following is a list of 10 writing prompts to help you process your thoughts and feelings. But first, a few guidelines. 

Firstly, journal therapy is  a judgement free zone! Don’t judge the emotions you experience; the page is no place to punish yourself for feeling the way you feel.

Secondly, journaling is a way to make sense of experiences and situations. Remember to observe what you write. This means taking notice of the layers of emotions we experience.

And lastly, commit to honesty, write as much from the heart as possible. Nobody is going to read your writing, so hold nothing back from the page.

I hope these writing prompts lead to clarity, calm and self compassion.

1.How are you feeling today? What is the dominant emotion?

 2. Explore the thoughts and experiences that have perpetuated this emotion. 

3. What  effect has this emotion had on your body?

4. Are there any memories you associate with this emotion? Do you recall the last time you felt this way? What were you going through at the time?

5. What behaviours, both positive and negative, result from this emotion? 

6. When you think about letting go of this emotion are there any fears that arise?

7. What strengths, support, and resources do you have access to, that may help you from becoming overwhelmed by this emotion or lessen suffering?

8. Create two lists: one of things that push on negative emotion and cause you suffering. One that brings you joy. What can you do to bring more joy into your life?

9. Is there anything you need to accept, that you have been resisting?

10. How can you use your emotions to work for you? How can they help to bring about increased health and freedom in your life on a soul level?

Write to Rise.

For further therapeutic writing mentorship consider ‘Write to Rise’, a unique program crafted to assist participants to breakthrough in areas of their lives.  I  lead individuals/groups through a series of writing exercises aimed to unlock creativity, draw out courage and increase clarity and self-awareness. For information regarding the program go to my services page.

Categories
Books

5 books to help heal the heart.

Sometimes we need prose, we know, has been laboured for, by poet,  prophet or prequel; void of chiche, stereotype or fleeting trend. Quotes and phrases that cry out to be underlined, highlighted, circled or copied down, whether in a social media post or within the pages of a personal journal.

Throughout my life, I have used words as a floatation device, a breathing apparatus, a flashlight, an umbrella, a ladder, a walking stick, a scalpel, and a get out of jail free card. On occasion when I wake in the early ‘am’ hours, my first instinct is to reach for one of the many books that live on my bedside table. I browse the pages looking to still my swirling mind; to find a delicious combination of letters and symbols that will send me back to sleep and season my dreams. 

I didn’t know it, but these early morning reading sessions had a name. The word ‘bibliotherapy’ comes from the ancient greek words for ‘book’ (biblion) and ‘healing’ (therapeia). It means ‘to use reading as a way to assist the healing process.’  Although I had never heard of the term, reading worked; the right words worked on me.  

Recently I discovered ‘The power of poetry, with Helena Bonham Carter and Jason Isaacs’ on YouTube. In this video, the work of many poets is read aloud from William Sieghart’s book ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’ as a way of demonstrating how poetry can provide a remedy for a number of emotional conditions. From purposeless to assisting aging parents; from loneliness to loss of zest for life, ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’ provides ‘tried and true prescriptions for the heart, soul and mind’.

After experiencing first hand the power of poetry to help the healing process, I became a collector of poems and poetry books. The following is a list of some of the books that I have collected, and how they help.

Nocturnal – by Wilder. For those recovering from heartbreak and rediscovering self.

To Be Remembered – by R.Clift. For those suffering loss, learning to let go and live with memories of what could have been.

Where hope comes from – by Nikita Gill. For those needing light to navigate our time and hope in seasons of loneliness.

Letters to a young poet – by Rainer Maria Rilke. For those needing creative impulse and surge of passion and courage.

Devotions – by Mary Oliver. For those in need of wonder, beauty and invigoration.

Reflecting on such curative works, spark the memory of a mild spring day in 2016,

‘I sat across from an Italian emissary. This is what he told me. Write. Let your tears become the waters that refresh others.’

And so I did. I do.  And so can you too, do what you do, for the flourishing of a world so precious and the healing of hearts, including your own.