Words and Their Superpower

Well. This one won’t be about dates. Or my personal growth. How about let’s address yours? Not your dates, unless you want to, but your personal growth. Ready?

It is summer time, so you know what that means. Teachers get some extra time in their day to sit and ponder life. At the lake, pool, or beach, if they are lucky. And I am.

So the other day, as I basked in the sunshine (stifling heat) with my feet dipped in the chilly water, I wondered why I haven’t written creatively in a minute. Why have I struggled to practice something that once brought me so much satisfaction? Why have I avoided it? Initially, my responses ran surface deep.

I just didn’t want to spend more time staring at the screen after teaching on the screen all day.

I had to use so much creative energy in new and different ways to make virtual learning as engaging as possible. My eyes and shoulders were heavy, sore, weary.

I didn’t date that much during covid so the stories are limited. But wait a minute–the few that I went on are good, juicy stories that deserve to be told. And tell I hope to one day do.

I do write each and everyday. I begin my day with a gratitude list. I am still completing my 99 Walks (Walk Your Way to Better). I record my journey with my word of the year: Curiosity. And I write to create my Writing to Wholeness classes. And I write when I guide these classes: I respond to the prompts while the participants do. I lead it on Zoom via Frederick Meditation Center, if you ever want to join me. So I write. A lot. Just not creatively. Well, technically, I am creating when I do all of those things. I am just not telling and sharing my stories.

Then I dug deeper. I searched where the roots are hidden and found a pleasant surprise. When I first began my blog, I was rooted in pain, broken, and desperate for a distraction. Summer had just launched and my days needed pizazz and mind engaging intensive activities to help my flowers shine through. Writing offered me relief that I desperately needed.

r.m.drake says “You are not broken. I just think you’ve been through enough. So much. that. you have no other way to explain how you feel. You’re exhausted. You’re hurt. And you want to get away. But you just don’t know…where you want to go.”

Poem: I Am Broken - LetterPile

That is exactly how I felt. Lost, wandering, hurting. And then I began writing. And I began healing. Writing was like the ice pack placed on a sore muscle. The hot water bottle under that blanket after a day of snow skiing. The warm milk when you awake from a nightmare. The beer after a hectic day at work. I found my fix in the written word. Writing healed me.

Here I am three years and more than 30 blog posts later. And now, from the pain I felt that summer, I am healed. I will hurt again, I will feel broken again. Sure. But now I know where to go and what to do when I feel broken.

At one point, at the height of my blogging period, I asked a friend why I can’t find love, “When will I ever go on a good date? At least with a person that I would want to see again!” Her response surprised me.

She countered my question with, “Don’t you think that your blogs help to manifest more shitty dates?” Or something like that. (thanks Deb!) This retort got me reflecting and thinking about what my words might be manifesting. Because I believe that words have the power to manifest things, good and bad, for us. I mean, my master’s thesis is called “The Power of Words to Heal.” I wrote 75 pages about it. I focused on two books that explore the power of words to heal, Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, and House Made of Dawn, by M. Scott Momaday. Check them out for powerful stories of healing from pain with the medicine of words.

I decided that I would rather heal and suffer through more shitty dates than to remain lost, wandering, hurting. Broken. I wanted to be whole. And writing offered me a path to just that.

Do you?

What type of outlet do you employ when stressed? Overwhelmed? Sad? 

What type of celebration do you plan when you achieve something? Excited? Accomplished?

Often times, our tools are self destructive and/or overly indulgent: Food, alcohol or other drugs, reckless spending. How often do you resort to positive, productive ones? Music? Dancing? Spa? Meditation? Special exercise class?

Do you ever use writing as a go to? Why not give it a try? What is there to lose?

According to cognitive psychologist Ronald Kellogg, too, writing isn’t just a window into the mind. It’s a tool that both expresses and shapes your thoughts.

“Writing … is always personal. It exposes the writer’s ideas and ability (or inability) to navigate language. Writing is vulnerability.” “I Done This Blog: Writing is Power: Supercharge Your Writing Process

Writing can empower you. Whether it’s reducing stress, changing your state of happiness or increasing your knowledge and self-awareness, writing ultimately changes your mind, and that in turn changes your life. If nothing else, writing will remind you that it’s you, and no one else, who is author of your story, the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. “The Power of Writing to Heal and Improve,” By Mary Keary

Find @ 40 minutes of time. Or more, if you want. Or less, if you need. Get your pen and journal or open up a word/google doc. Perhaps set a time? Or take as long as you need for each step.

Step 1 (5 minutes) Brainstorm

What is a character trait that you hope to sharpen or become stronger/more connected with? Or what is a character trait that you hope to release because it no longer serves you? 

Make a list, maybe 5-10 words. Consider two columns or just list randomly. Just write.

Now let’s narrow it down to one for today’s focus. Circle it.

Step 2 (10 minutes) Dig Deeper

Explore and write about a person with a strong sense of *this trait* might do, might feel, how they might react to things, etc. Why do you admire/dislike this trait? Why do you want it/want to shed it? 

Step 3 (10 minutes) Plan for a solution

What obstacles keep you from becoming/shedding *this trait?* Why are these things in your way? How could you remove/hurdle them? List and/or describe.

Step 4 (15 minutes) Healing/Visualization

Here is the fun part. Write a narrative featuring yourself overcoming that obstacle and becoming *that trait.* This can be prose or verse, writer’s choice. Play with similes and metaphors. Add some imagery. Be descriptive. Let the words soothe, excite, dance, and heal.

Final step (Optional) Reflection

What surprised you about your writing today?

What pleased you about your writing today?

What will you do with what you learned about yourself today?

If you are so inclined, please share your writing experience with me. Make a comment of facebook, on this post, or send me a text. I love hearing from all of you.

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