Thursday, June 30, 2011

From Grief to Hope: My Pathway to Healing Through Journaling

A Guest Post by Kathleen Pooler:

I still have the blue cloth, three-ring notebook that I created for my senior English teacher Miss Philips back in 1964. The page dividers have pictures depicting the section: hopes, beliefs, thoughts, ideas with varied colored plastic tabs where the white labels were inserted. At the time, it seemed like a silly project. What did Miss Philips know? I can still see her, pencil-thin frame, always dressed in some dark colored--grey, navy blue or black-dowdy dress or suit. Standing so straight by her desk, she never smiled or wore makeup. Her brown hair was pulled back in a tight bun and her wire-rimmed glasses dangled at the end of her nose. What in the world would I ever do with that silly notebook?

I packed the journal when I went to nursing school and every once in a while, I’d pull it out to glance through the sections. Sometimes, I’d even jot a few thoughts down. For the most part, it lay dormant. But, as I began my career and started out on my path to contribute to society as an adult, the pages started beckoning me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

This song, written by Sy Miller and his wife Jill Jackson, has been one of my favorites for decades. (View full lyrics here.) Unlike other popular music, I don’t recall when I became aware of it, but I do remember sitting at the piano playing it over and over again in the seventies.

Let peace begin with me ... That was a thrilling thought, even forty years ago, but the only way I knew to bring it about was “turning the other cheek.” My understanding of turning the other cheek was limited conceding and stuffing my rage to achieve a sort of unilateral cease-fire. Quite predictably, this often led to war-like eruptions later, not the peace I sought.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Makes You Feel Better: Counting the Ways

“People write in journals because it makes them feel better,” claims neuro-science researcher Matthew Lieberman. This conclusion comes from personal observation, not specifically from his research, but other research does back him up. The original research documenting specific health benefits of expressive writing was conducted in 1986 by James Pennebaker and his associate Sandra Beall. Pennebaker continued this line of research and his name is inextricably linked with the field of expressive writing research. That original research has been expanded and replicated over two hundred times in the ensuing twenty-five years. Studies by researchers around the world with dozens of diverse types of subjects lend solid credibility to findings.

The list below summarizes benefits that have been documented. Obviously not every person experiences every benefit, and they’ll be stronger for some than others, but knowing the list may help you further appreciate the power of expressive writing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Truth of a Man (or Woman)

The truth about a man is, first of all, what it is that he keeps hidden.”
—AndrĂ© Malraux       000000
I owe a big thank you to Kathy Pooler for calling this quotation to my attention in her blog post Writing From Our Soul—Journey into Self. Kathy makes the important point that it can be downright painful to write deeply into your story, but good things can come of it if you persist past the superficial pain elements and explore their deeper meaning.

She mentions a specific individual and her thoughts on writing about that relationship bring a similar one to my mind. The thought of writing about that person, that relationship, is daunting because of its complexity. My mind skids around like a dachshund on ice as I ponder where to begin.