Categories
Books Journaling Therapeutic Writing Prompts

A guided journal for navigating wild new ways.

The process is becoming a little easier, which is not to say that it is easy.  This latest creation required a willingness to write with more vulnerability than I did in my previous books, but hey, ageing is for becoming more courageous right?

That’s what I think readers want – courageous writing. Poetry that isn’t protective or coercive. Language that breathes and beats its fist on your chest. Authentic writing, void of the highlight reel; because we all know there is no way to speak ‘nicely’ when your mid metamorphoses. 

Metamorphoses let’s talk about that word.  According to the word hippo app on my phone (one of my many writing tools) it can be defined as ‘a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.’ In my experience this process cannot take place on familiar territory. One needs a cocoon of sorts, somewhere away from the patterns of old. 

We may think that a cocoon is always a small, protected hide away. However, I have come to see that living through a wilderness experience is a kind of cocoon. Simply, it is a space where familiar ways don’t work and to survive you must surrender to your undoing. 

Nobody volunteers for such a task. The unravelling of life is something no one asks for. Change happens and sometimes we can’t help it. How do we unknow what has been made known to us? How do we unfeel, unsee, undo experience? Trying to do so would be to miss the point of being here. All we can do is surrender to the lesson and walk on.

Although surrender is the only way to endure the process, tools are handy. ‘Beyond the Safety of Trees’, is a tool. Use it like a spade. Through expressive writing, dig up what lies in your subconscious and explore how your wilderness experience is shaping you; even if you think you’ve walked through it. This guided journal contains 74 wilderness themed poems and 40 writing prompts to help readers navigate seasons of unexpected, and at times, unsettling change. Document your becoming, discover what lives deep in your heart and re-write your story. 

My wilderness came in the form of a story. A page was turned and I found that I had been killed off, written out of a narrative I was mistakenly told I belonged in. This made me question everything, including why I had spent most my life playing a part in my own life instead of holding the pen. Suddenly I could see, ‘Those who hold the pen hold the power’ and that is how I discovered that journaling isn’t just a way to offload negative emotion, but a life altering creative practice that requires us only to show up with honesty and embrace the process. 

And so, if you are found in an unfamiliar place, a desert of lost dreams, an ocean of grief, a hinterland of heartache, a city of uncertainties. It is my intention that the words and writing prompts in this book will bring a sense of empowerment and make you feel seen, understood, and celebrated. 

Guided journal
Guided journal
Dear Wild One, 
On the edge of a new beginning.
It’s time to undress.
For there is not place 
for high shoes and tall hats
where you are going.

You will need to be
light on your feet,
led by your heart,
alert in your gaze.

You must learn to love
not the day,
nor the night.
Both must become meaningless to you-
The moment is your prize.

For the wild wants 
to teach you joy,
independent of dreams fulfilled
free of your certainties,
despite what happened to you.
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 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
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
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.