Friday, March 4, 2011

Through Journaling I Possess My Soul

Journaling helps me slow down and possess my soul (my thoughts, feelings, life experiences and perceptions) with patience.  When I take time to record the passing of my hours, I become so aware of how full and rich my hours are.  I am in conscious contact with my life, with my self, with God.  I possess my own soul.  I am aware of hunger in all its kinds.  I am able to sort out true, physical hunger and fulness.  It is so wonderful to be in possession of my own “vessel” and to see it as sacred and to honor it by recording it.

I see that in the long run, it does not matter what happens to the records I make.  I don’t make them to preserve them, necessarily.  That is up to God, also–what gets preserved and what does not.  I write as a tool in the here-and-now, as a tool for staying conscious.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Start Writing--Stop the Spinning

I’m sure I’ve written this somewhere before, but the truth of the following thought is burning in my heart this morning.  Over the last 32 hours, I have taken the time to keep a “log”, and accounting–using my notepad as a place to “return and report” every hour or two or three.  Writing doesn’t diminish or detract from the rest of my life–it gives me the rest of my life.  It restores me to sanity.  It helps me get focused.  It helps me pick out the voice of sanity and reason–of balance and truth–from all the “voices” of worry and fear that are going through my mind almost continually.  When I start writing, I stop the “spinning” around of “opinion” and speculation.  I listen to that voice that speaks true principles–that reminds me of scriptural precedent and example; that “voice” that brings me calm and balance and understanding.  Upon “hearing”–getting in touch with that “voice”–I feel a peace flow through me.

I’ve been reading, lately, about neurochemistry.  I know that that feeling of peace that I feel has everything to do with the chemicals that are being released by my brain.  But, here’s the exciting part–I am living the truth that I am able to influence those centers in my brain to release those chemicals.  Or, at least, Someone is.  Something is.  A Power greater than myself is.

Anyway–back to writing.  Writing does that for me.  It centers me.  It focuses me.  It gives me clarity to identify the “voice” of peace and hope and willingness and sanity amongst all the other voices in my mind.  For this I am grateful.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Getting up this morning is a creative act!

 “Creativity is an act of initiative.” (Julia Cameron, Supplies, p. 1)

Reading this one statement, something in me was awakened.  Creativity–no matter what it is that I may want to create (we’ll get to that in a minute), is an act of personal choice.  It’s an act–getting up and doing something.  (And so here I am, this morning, doing something.)

No matter what the creative act!!  Including just simply making a “better life.”  I am seeing this morning, even more than last night, when I first read this text that “a better life” is actually the main thing I want to create.   I also see that it is the adversary of all growth and of all creativity who is the influence that would have me waste out my life–no matter how much or how little I have left–in inertia. (I’m going to talk in first person, here.  I’ve fallen into the psychic trap of thinking and writing for “us.”) Under his influence I would just sit here doing nothing.  Enjoying nothing.  Hoping nothing. Contributing nothing.  Always dreaming.  Always preparing.  Always starting.

I have to get up and start doing something to create what I want to create.  Make what I want to make out of the privileges and opportunities God has blessed me with today.

 “Archetypes” that are “triggered” in every arena of creative effort.  It doesn’t matter what I’m trying to do.  Everything is a creative act.  Getting up this morning is a creative act!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Learning from One of the Best

Over the last few days I have read Linda Joy Myers memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother.  It has been such a beneficial experience for me–a blessing from God, with intent behind it.

The blessing has been to see several different techniques used and not just expounded about.  Those techniques are:

                                     alternating happier and sadder scenes, lighter and darker moments.  Interspersing the hard scenes with positive, in other words–giving the overall effect of the reality that life is compound, and that a life has been afflicted, but there have also been moments of a sense of God’s favor, too.

                                     breaking the story up into scenes–just like in a movie.  I can see how you could have a “story board” ahead of time to give you some sense of direction and sequence.  Maybe the order would change as you write, or other scenes might come into the sequence, but at least I would have a map to start with.

                                     taking the time to show, using description of sensory details in each scene so the reader (through the power of their imagination) can actually experience the scene with the characters–especially the protagonist/narrator (Which, I think, would always be the same person in a memoir. . . . I’m not sure about this.  It seems like I read that the narrator can focus on another character’s story and being using that character as the protagonist, while they, the narrator stay in the background.)

                                     Slowing down the passage of time by including more scenes in a certain time frame and then speeding up the time by putting less scenes in a time period.  In other words, in between 5 and 14 years of age, there could be a couple dozen scenes described (as in Myers book), then between 14 and 25, only a dozen.  As she got toward the end of the book, which brings the reader up to her present (when the book was published), the scenes were months and even years apart and some had much less detail.  The “camera” didn’t linger over them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting Honest About the Past, Present and Even the Future

All the forms of personal life writing (see the list in the first post to this blog) have one thing in common.  They help you get in touch with things that you need to be honest about—whether those things are in your past, in your present or in your future.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to get honest about in my past?” and you might find yourself writing a letter to another person (to mail or not), or a journal entry about a past set of circumstances, experience or relationships and what it felt like then that you’ve been trying to avoid admitting to yourself, much less to anyone else.  You might find yourself making a list of feelings that you are holding in from the past.  Here’s what I wrote:

What things in my past still cause me upset?  Specifically, what things, events, happenings, etc. caused me fear?  How about what made me mad?  Or sad?  What about things that I feel responsible for (i.e.—guilty, ashamed)?

Or you can focus the same questions on your present.  What in your present makes you afraid, worried, upset, mad, sad, guilty, ashamed?

You can even do the same thing about the future!  What do you picture in your future that makes you feel any of those feelings?  Shall I rehearse those feelings again?  It’s really easy to forget them.  We want so much to forget them, to pretend that they don’t happen to us, to pretend that we’re living in such a way that they don’t bother us or matter to us.  But the truth is they do.  It is because of those feelings that we are as troubled as we are, even though we are doing all (well, most, anyway) of the right things according to our personal value system.

Pretending there’s nothing saddening, maddening, frightening, guilt-tripping enough in this life to honestly admit to myself and to God is what keeps me unsettled, upset, and that makes me do the same thing I did when I was nauseated during my pregnancies—eat crackers, bread, etc—anything solid and floury.  This is why doing personal life writing (just for me to see what I think, feel, hope, fear, . . . by seeing what emerges on the page) is one of the most important tools in keeping me sane around food.  (As I’m discussing in my blog on eating addiction.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wondering How God Deals with My "Mistakes"

No one initially listens to a written utterance except the quiet accepting page. The writer is their own first reader, their own primary interlocutor. So writing is, in the first instance, a private communication with the self. (Gillian Bolton, from the article, “Love Again the Stranger Who Was Your Self,” posted on

And this act of writing a journal entry can be a private communication with God in front of no one but one’s self.  It can be a place to talk to God 100% honestly, and have God talk back to you 100% honestly.  That’s what it has become for me.  Now, how much of that to share?  100% of what God has said to me?  100% of what I’ve said to God?  Probably a big “no” on both of those points.  But what if I already have?  Was that a mistake?  Is it possible to make a mistake?  In other words, is it possible to be outside of God’s will?  Is it possible to do something that God can’t amend and redeem by weaving it into His purposes so seamlessly that you can’t help but think that He knew it would happen from before it did.  And that’s where we get fooled (by the enemy of God, the “dark side of the force” to use a term most of us “moderns” are comfortable with) into thinking that God must have made it happen, must have set us up to have it happen—that we’re just the pawns of God.

But, you know what?  If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, you are well aware that the characters you thought you were making up and that you could do whatever you wanted with, aren’t really that pawn-like.  You may introduce them into the story-line, into the plot, but before you know it they’re telling you the story and you’re the one finding out what they are really like.  Instead of what you thought they would be like.  Maybe it’s that way with God, too.  You know what I mean?  Maybe by creating us, God just gave us our start.  After that, we’re the ones living out our will, while He does His best to keep up and weave us into the lives of others in our life, or in other words into the epic adventure of  those other characters who are part of our epic adventure.

Getting Started

There's probably no passion (but one which I reserve for God) that God ignites in my heart that is greater than the passion I have for pretty much every form of what many call "Life Writing."  In my lexicon, this broad term includes any of the following "genres":
  • personal letter writing (whether mailed or not, whether saved or not)
  • "log" or day-planner entries; notes on a calendar page
  • diary entries (which I think of more as expanded log entries--going into a little more detail of what happened, not doing much personal interpretation or reflection)
  • journal entries (doing a lot more reflecting, interpreting, exploring, etc. -- whether to keep or to destroy)
  • personal essay writing (sharing your reflections on virtually any subject--person, place, thing, or situation)
  • autobiographical essay writing (writing your life story in increments/"chapters.")
  • memoir writing (using creative writing techniques to show in scene(s) one season or slice of your life and reflecting on it from your own totally honest point of view.)
More to come! 

You're welcome to write to me (and email it or not) if it will help you gather and express your thoughts.