Tag Archives: journaling

journaling – what works for you?

today, please visit marie at coming out of the trees.    about her blog she says

i’m passing along a collection of excerpts from my personal and therapy journals to whomever needs to read them. i’m sharing my story so that those of you who are on a similar journey can know that you aren’t the only one – and so you can know that there is a way through. it is my intention to tell my story with both authenticity and dignity.

the title of my blog comes from a phrase i penned in the fall of 2007:

“i feel like i am walking through a thick forest and i don’t know where i’m heading, i only know to follow the compass. i believe someday i will come out of the trees and into a clearing. i believe that, when i enter the clearing, i will finally know my primary life’s calling. until then, i have to walk in faith.”

marie gave me the great honour to comment on one of her journal entries what works for you?.  in that entry, she talks about her relationship with god; i concentrate mostly on the journal writing process – a topic, as you may know, that interests me quite a bit – see journaling for healing, creative writing: waking up from our routines,
women, therapy and blogging, journaling: a dialogue or blogging yourself home.

why we write

beautiful trees and watermy little workshop for MentalHealthCamp, “blogging yourself home” about blogging, writing, creativity and mental health had me think hard about the connection between these topics in the last week or so. i was deligthed, then, to come across alison, who blogs (and teaches) about writing about mental health. in this post, she asks why do you write?

here are my answers.

i write because

  • i can’t imagine not writing
  • the sensuality of it: the physical feeling of pen on paper and fingertips on keyboard; the sound of tap-tap-tap and scratch-scratch-scratch; the sight of paper, the look of a blog post
  • my brain is always full of stuff (pete would offer a reason why) and its good to get at least some part of it out
  • when i do specific writing-for-healing, i KNOW it helps me
  • it connects me with others
  • it looks like others get something from it, sometimes
  • letters are yummy, words are yummy, sentences are yummy, grammar is yummy, language is yummy
  • sometimes i manage to create something beautiful
  • text is an integral part of my upbringing and it makes me feel part of our culture
  • did i say i can’t imagine not writing?

in the same post, alison also says that she is

opposed to writing for healing that doesn’t attend to craft. part of it is because that sort of writing turns inward away from the larger world and the political dimension is so important to me.

i find that an interesting and challenging statement, and would like to hear more about it. perhaps alison will comment.

as i am reflecting on this, i can’t quite see how writing that does not attend to craft (i presume alison means style, narrative flow, sentence structure, etc.) necessarily turns away from the larger world. perhaps alison is referring to navel-gazing content and style? even if that is the case – aren’t there lots of navel-gazers out in the blogosphere, and don’t they somehow have a community?

or – maybe that’s it: when writing is not well-crafted, it will have a lesser chance of being taken seriously, and that decreases any political impact it may have.

what do you think?

oh, and if you write, dear reader, why do YOU write?

image by floato

the intensive journal process

i haven’t written anything about journaling for a while, so i was very pleased when i got an offer to write a paid review for the progoff intensive journal® program. it was a particularly nice surprise because i actually own ira progoff’s at a journal workshop, the basic text and guide for using the intensive journal process.

this process provides active techniques that enable people to draw on their inner resources; it is, indeed, one of the early tools of personal growth.

progoff speaks quite poetically of the “tao of growth”, the intangible inner growth,

evanescent, like smoke going out the chimney. we now it exists, but its shape keeps changing. it has no shape that we can fix in our mind; we cannot contain it in any mold. we know it is real, but soon it as disappeared and is beyond us.

attempting to catch that smoke became like a zen koan to progoff. at this point, he says, he applied a procedure “of taking a problem we are dealing with on the rational level and converting it to the language of imagery. this is twilight imagery,” a technique that was to become part of the intensive journal process.

the benefits of journaling in this way are, according to progoff, not only of an intangible nature. thinking about this led him to recall

the phrase of william james when he describes the inner movement of our minds by saying that it is not a case of “i think it” but rather that “it thinks me.” the inner process works within the mind at the same time that it functions as a separate process and reaches beyond the mind into our actions.

i have never fully engaged with this journaling process; it sounds both intriguing and demanding. however, for a person who is at a stage where it seems necessary and desirable – delightful, even – to apply their time and energy to self-discovery, this is a goldmine.

the intensive journal process is an integrated system of writing exercises and therefore much more than a diary. it helps a person gain insights about personal relationships, career and special interests, body and health, dreams and imagery, and their own personal meaning and purpose of life. it brings fresh approaches to accessing creative capacities and untapped possibilities.

there are also rather inexpensive intensive journal inexpensive workshops available, in canada, the US and internationally. now i’m curious – maybe i should attend one …

blogathon: my ideal writing weekend, part 4

a street in sardiniaoh boy, i thought i was going to write much more here in my report on my ideal writing weekend, but i was just so absorbed in what happened that i never got around to it. so this will be my last entry. it’s monday evening, and we’ve had an abso-friggin-lutely unforgettable 3 ½ days. we’ll leave for rome tomorrow afternoon.

what were the highlights? i’ve talked so much about the surroundings and the people and the food, let me tell you something about the writing.

we did some great exercises. one was where we were supposed to write a poem in the dust behind the big house. that was very touching. we birthed a poem, saw it come alive – and then disappear again. we each took a bit of the dust with us in a tiny little pouch.

we listened to an old woman tell a story in sardinian. no-one among us spoke sardinian, only a few some italian. we were invited to take notes of what she said and then turn it into a piece of writing. there were twelve of us, and each took a different approach. one turned it into an interview. of course there were short stories and poems of all sorts (one long sonnet stands out) but there was also a recipe, a brochure and a song, complete with music.

every morning we wrote at least one paragraph from our morning entry out loud. we did that in a circle, and the person to our left then took one idea from that paragraph and spun it out further. this was a very gentle and constructive approach to helping us deal with feedback and critiques.

best of all, we formed a strong support group for each other and made some pacts that will make it very difficult for us not to follow up with each other and help each other at least for the next three months. we each made a firm promise to carry out certain actions, and i am absolutely certain we will.

i’m about to go to bed, again, right by that wonderful window with the salty-sweet breeze drifting in from the sea. i am happy.

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!

(image by oanababy)

be playful? here are 7 ideas

recently, i discovered a new blog, and i immediately – what’s the word? – glommed on to it. beplayful.org, tha pathway through the forest in japanat’s the name, and it says it all. i was able to persuade david to write a post for change therapy. here it is:

i love being playful. being playful helps me to relax, to laugh with life, and to come up with new ideas. playfulness is at the heart of my creativity.

creativity and playfulness go hand in hand: when you are being truly creative, you are being playful; when you are being playful, your creativity and imagination can’t help but show themselves.

because of this link, i’ve found that being playful helps me discover my inner creativity.

here are some of the playful things that i like to do to bring out the creative me:

doodling
as a child i used to love drawing cartoons and treasure maps and random doodles. i’ve recently rediscovered this love of drawing, and i’ve found that doodling is a great way to bring out creative ideas or to let out any stress that is blocking my creativity.

mind maps
if you’re a visual thinker but doodling seems too abstract, you’re likely to find mind-mapping a great creativity-boosting tool. mind maps are brilliant for helping you to notice connections between ideas.

similar to mind maps, but more spontaneous, are rico clusters.

talking to myself
when i’m thinking out new ideas, i often find it helpful to verbalise them, giving them a physical presence.

conversation as an art form
if you’re not entirely comfortable with the idea of talking to yourself (i know i wasn’t until i realised just how much i do it anyway!), it can be equally helpful to share your ideas with others.

once you’ve found someone that you’re comfortable sharing ideas with, begin to see your conversation with them as a art form in itself. talking with others can be a playground of the imagination.

daydreaming
this is my favourite way of being playful, and the one that i find most difficult to do. living in a non-stop, 24/7 city it’s easy to feel guilty or bored when sitting down to do nothing. yet when i take the time to daydream is when my creative ideas flow best.

journalling
there’s something magical about writing down your thoughts, ideas, and parts of your life journey. equally special are the feelings and sounds as the ink of your pen glides, scratches and dries in your beautiful journal. isabella has written quite a few posts on this topic, for example a fun and crazy writing experiment.

go for a walk
or dance in the rain. or go peoplewatching, sitting with your coffee in a corner cafe.

breathing in the fresh air pumps oxygen to your brain, giving your thoughts an energy boost. breathing in the beauty of the world and of nature brings out the beauty of your inner world.

your thoughts
do playfulness and creativity really go together? what playful techniques do you use to boost your creativity?

did you enjoy this post? want to have more playfulness in your life? then visit beplayful.org or sign up for the beplayful RSS feed.

(i’d also like to thank astrid for featuring this post in the june 7 carnival of healing)

(image by kalleboo)

a fun and crazy writing experiment

a journaldo you sometimes feel like you really don’t get where you’re at? like you’re stuck in some confusing, chaotic morass of dreams, demands, moments of joy, feelings of depression?

if you have a journal, here’s a fun tool you can use that might just open a new door for you.

take an old entry that is meaningful to you (i like to use dream journals for this) and copy it – either electronically, or make a photocopy of it.

then disassemble the sentences into words. you can do this online by having each word on a new line, or, on paper, by cutting the words out.

now scramble the words. an easy way of doing this electronically is to sort them according to an arbitrary system – alphabetically, or by length of word, etc. scramble them as much as possible – the more convoluted, the better.

and now – write another journal entry, with these words as the base. try to use as many of the words as possible without forcing yourself. make it short – one, at the most three paragraphs. let that entry be as crazy as it comes. here is an example:

the acrophobia is abusing me again, and i’m afraid. such terribly scary fears feel forced on me. i know i am on dry land even when the choice is to live a lot more. the addiction long time ago i try to avoid. you, too? it’s dysfunction or otherwise perfect. twice she pointed at her behaviour from her fallen image and then she caused quite the connection.

now look at it. do you have a sense of something arising for you? remember, the words that make up this “stew” were your words to begin with, they had important meaning for you back when you wrote the original entry.

re-write it again, one, two, maybe three times. every time you re-write it, let more meaning emerge – gently, though, don’t try to force it. look at it, savour it, get a real feel for it.

just like you scrambled and de-scrambled this little piece of writing, you might find that you’re descrambling a little bit of your life with this.

(image by windy angels)

(this post was included in the creative carnival and the carnival of healing, hosted by coaching for lesbians)

recovering from anorexia: a treasure trove of wisdom

last year, i had a post entitled recovering from anorexia: 10 activities. over the months, we’ve had some important conversations on that post and a lot of wisdom from people who are overcoming anorexia. i’d like to present this wisdom here in a somewhat organized and easy-to-read format. these are all things that have helped people who are in recovery from anorexia. none of these ideas and activities were “invented” by a therapist – they’re all tried and true.

i’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this so far. none of this was written by me – i’m just the person who gathered it all together.

relationships
1. constant reassurance- often when eating, i repeatedly ask those around me (parents, my partner) whether it is “okay” for me to be eating what i’m eating, whether it’s “okay” to gain the weight… i know what their answers will always be, but it helps to hear it repeated.
2. engaging in healthy relationships: a form of distraction, this makes me feel loved, special and takes my mind away from the negative thoughts.
3. honesty: when i have the strength to do this one, it does help… but it’s a matter of me not wanting to ‘burden’ people with my rubbish.
4. try not to get caught up in the social network around you if it entices unhealthy habits.
5. not isolating myself from loved ones, i.e. going out to dinner with them and truly enjoying the company and food too

getting in touch with your body
6. for me it’s been a discovery of what my body actually likes and wants. it’s matter of listening to yourself and feeling ok in your own flesh.
7. the best thing is to try to learn yourself- when you’re hungry- how long you should work out, etc.
8. working hard to have the mindset that i can trust my body to balance if i eat a little too much one day.

motivation
9. i also use to keep a post-it note on my desk that read “some things just aren’t worth it” and it would remind me when i wanted to restrict that i wasn’t hurting anyone but myself.
10. personal achievement- doing things like short courses and working really helps, i focus my energy on achieving something else other than weight-loss and see positive results at the end.
11. fortunately, my parents noticed my sudden “healthy” eating habits and got me a wonderful team of therapists to treat it. it takes your body a little boost to get out of that dangerous underweight range, so when it was taking a long time for me to gain weight they told me i might not be able to go back to college. i realized my school, friends, and life were more important than something as silly as calories in food and i just had to try harder, every meal eating more.

discipline
12. i know it always helps me when i have schedule- so if it helps to plan out what your eating or when you can eat in between studying, socializing and classes definitely do that.
13. it seems somewhat extreme but every night before bed i would plan out my next day on a post it note bit by bit, when i should eat lunch and dinner in between my five classes, gym time and meetings… it kept me sane even through the tough times that i knew i had a plan.
14. walking away from unhealthy eating: i’m not always good at this and do slip up and purge, etc. but walking away definitely does help at times.

writing and art
15. spending quiet time with your feelings: writing is a huge helper, art and music too. i would recommend any of these, almost above everything else, to people trying to recover.
16. writing does help but it feels pointless but good for me at the same time

self empowerment
17. i have taken things into my own hands and am doing much better than anyone thought possible.
18. find your own ways to cope. for me, it’s reading research articles through our school library on the long term effects of eating disorders. from my readings i have found that sure, you can take calcium pills, but they won’t do much if you’re deteriorating your body, which isn’t just fat. it’s muscle and bone too.

eating differently
19. sometimes i eat a lot in the day, sometimes i eat a little bit less…it all balances out. now that i’m nourishing myself extra i can exercise, but i take days off and just hang out with friends. i also eat something after i workout, i.e. fruit with peanut butter.
20. i also don’t drink coffee or diet soda to limit my appetite. in my research i found that the phosphoric acid (found in pop) and caffeine (found in coffee and usually pop too) are no no’s for bone health.

body image
21. i realized my worth is not a number on a jean take, especially such a small one. plus, curves are beautiful. it’s normal to have relapses in thinking, but you just need to keep eating normally. it’s so much better to prevent an eating disorder or prevent relapse.
22. it’s kind of nice feeling “above” the whole propaganda that thin is in. notice that most with people with eating disorders are women? hmm…i know with mine it was also a control thing, but i have to admit the media was a part of too.

understanding the disease
23. every time i want to restrict i look up research on the effects of eating disorders and osteoporosis (especially because i know i have that), ones that are credible. it scares me so much that i never skip a meal anymore because malnutrition is so harmful to the bones.
24. people with anorexia are bound to get cravings when they start eating, and chances are, they are going to last for quite some time.

made a decision
25. i too one day just decided that i was going to eat, because i wanted to get better and also because i love food so much.
26. it took me about two months to finally decide that i was sick of controlling every mouthful so one day i just decided to buy a huge box of chocolates after dinner one night and i finished the whole lot, enjoying every second of it. now that was a turning point. i began looking forward to my after-dinner treats, and now i eat a lot. i have just reached my minimum target weight, but i’ve yet to get my periods. so, that is my motivation to keep up my weight.

mindset
27. i also stay away from calorie counting or anything that would lead to me ocd about food.

be gentle with yourself
28. try to be gentle with yourself. know that there will be some nights where you should have ate more, or should have not eaten so much- and know that it takes time to get over this problem. know that if there is a time where you eat too much- it’s only a few minutes of your life, you aren’t a bad person, and forgive yourself and move on.