On Writing and Healing and Keeping a Journal

On Writing and Healing and Keeping a Journal

 

Writing and Healing-Reflections

Putting your deepest feelings on paper or into a journal can be a journey into your own soul and a tool for self-discovery and inner peace. There are also some surprising health benefits.   There is research that shows that writing what you feel may be a boost to the immune system and help prevent illness. James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor, did a study where he asked people from all walks of life-prisoners to medical students to write about traumatic events in their life. The control group was asked to write superficial events of their life. The group that wrote the traumatic events had fewer doctor visits and showed a boosted immune response to hepatitis B Vaccine and the Epstein Barr virus. (Important – it seemed the writers used negative response words in the beginning and showed new incites about the incident by the end).

Another study was done at State University in New York, where 51 people with rheumatoid arthritis were either asked to be part of a group that wrote about traumatic events or a group that wrote about neutral events and again the group that wrote about the traumatic events reported less stiffness, swelling, pain, and fatigue than the group that wrote about neutral events. All of this is showing that in fact, writing your deepest feelings is every good for your health.

I started keeping a daily journal in 1985. My first journals were written on 3×5 cards. Eventually, I kept my journals in actual notebooks, and today, I have two bookshelves full of the writing I have done to record my life. Some days are simply – that -simple-what I did with my kids, how I felt, where I ate, traveled, etc. Other days the writing is deep-maybe a poem or reflections from a book I’m reading or feelings I would not necessarily want the world to read. Sometimes I think, “Who is that crazy person? Me!”

One of my goals is to go back and read my journals. I have begun the process, and it’s sometimes fun to look back and think about those early years as a Mom and an older college student pursuing a degree. Sometimes it’s hard to see how serious I was taking life and how many moments I missed worrying too much about things that today seem trivial. It will also be hard to review a time when my spiritual journey took me away from those day to day moments-maybe too much. Eventually, I had to come back to the middle way.

But regardless of how it feels to go back and self-reflect, I have always found the journaling process to be healing and an excellent tool for gaining inner peace. My journals are often my best friend.

My journal goes with me wherever I go as much as possible. There are days that I don’t take the time to journal, but I always go back to those days and add reflections on what I did or how I felt that day. Lately, I enjoy taping my daily newspaper horoscope in my journal and then write about what that could mean to me.

When I travel, I love to journal the sights, sounds, experiences, food, and people from my trips. At the beginning of the summer, we toured Eastern Europe with our Rabbi and Members of our Synagogue. This trip was structured around the history of Jews before, during, and after WWII. There were both painful and joyful moments filled with reminders of the Holocaust and the effects of the War in Eastern Europe and the Renewal of Jewish life today. I was the only one with a journal in my hands throughout the trip. I am currently transcribing those journals and my reflections and hope to include some of the 2500 photos I took while there. I plan to share some of this writing with you.

If you have ever thought of journaling, it is never too late to start. Just get yourself a notebook or writing journal and a good pen and start writing. Write as if no one will ever see it. It is your private conversation with yourself or a dear friend as in Dear Diary.

There are no rules for journaling. Do it your way-the way that feels most comfortable for you.

Here are a few tips to get started.

Choose your writing tools. The sky is the limit. You can use binders, notebooks, decorative journals, or even 3X5 cards.

Find a quiet place and time for writing.  I can journal anywhere-at home, in restaurants, on airplanes, or doctor’s offices. But it is really comforting to journal with a cup of tea or glass of wine. Light a candle for an even sweeter effect.

Let go of obstacles that get in the way. If you are worried about someone reading your journal, find a private place to keep them-your secret place. You can even buy lock and key diaries, but they are bulky. A journal is for you. They can also be used if you are writing a memoir or autobiography and wish to share some of your story with others.

Let go of your inner critic. Most important is to let go of an inner critic and editor. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Just write. Later if you want to share your story, you can worry about editing.

Use prompts to get you started and keep you going. As I said, I sometimes cut out my daily horoscope as a prompt for writing about my day or life.

Write the good, the bad, the ugly. Write when you’re happy and when you’re sad. Write when your grateful. Get it all out in your journals. Just Write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling The World Inside and Out

Traveling The World Inside and Out

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

You never know where you are really going because there is always an inner journey taking place along the way -yes-a secret destination-that place that moves your soul.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” –Anais Nin

This summer we had an amazing travel experience. We spent 12 days touring Eastern Europe with our Rabbi and 44 members of our congregation. The trip was entitled

Adath Israel Experience, The Rebirth of Jewish Life After the Holocaust.

The purpose to visit countries affected by the Holocaust, where Jews once lived in freedom and prosperity and then were eliminated as a people and culture as victims of major deportation to camps or merely murdered on the spot just for being Jews. On this bittersweet trip to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Germany we witnessed the beauty of this part of the world and the horrors left from the remnants of death camps and mass graves. Never being in this part of the world, other than Germany, I had no idea how I would feel. I went on this trip with an open mind and soul. I simply wanted to experience all of it and to learn how others experienced this trip. We grew as people together and got to know a deeper part of each other through sharing our stories in words and the silence of our emotions without words.

The Sweet-We had a Dinner cruise on the Danube renewing a spirit-never forgetting and moving forward

I journaled the entire trip in three small notebooks. We have thousands of photos. I am working on transcribing those journals and find it takes hours to record what I saw and then reflect on how I felt. I am writing this post just to tell you where I have been and I’m still processing that journey as I always will.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai

This trip will always remain in my heart. One cannot visit the places we did without taking inside the memories and images of those lost and martyred souls. We touched sacred places and will never forget.

The Entrance to Aushwitz with the German “Work Sets You Free.” Hardly was anyone free.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

So true-we are never the same after returning home. Every place we visit has a home in our hearts. We saw the sun rise and set and the moon over the horizon. 

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –Pat Conroy

There is no way I can completely share this journey unless you someday read my journals. I am working on them. They take time and are only in the first draft. I pray I will complete them.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K.

The railroad tracks into Auschwitz-I will never see train tracks the same again.

 


In between my travels I continue health and wellness coaching. Together we take your journey and truly finds what sets you free.
Lately I have had several calls about simply navigating the medical system and learning what alternative and integrative approaches are available to support healing. I will be writing more about this so stay tuned.
Contact me and let me know how I can support you on your journey.
And feel free to Share this post. I always love new subscribers. And one more thing-send your questions and comments. I love hearing from YOU!

 

 

 

 

Be Your SELF – Listen to Your Inner Guru

Be Your SELF – Listen to Your Inner Guru

So often we look outside ourselves to find out who we truly are on the inside. We look for gurus, models, mentors, more experienced or more self-confident people who have more guts than we do to tell us what we need to do to get life right. Oprah Winfrey, Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and other popular gurus are put on pedestals, and yet, they are simply people who have stopped asking for permission to be who they are and now use their power to influence our decisions on how to live.

I do this a lot. I keep looking for the right book to tell me how to go forward-what to do next-how to tell my story. I recently spoke with a book editor/publisher who said-“stop listening to everyone else. You have a story. Only you will know how to tell it.”

Spell the word guru, and you have Gee You Are You. The greatest gurus point you back to yourself. Although there are billions of people, there is only one you and yet we are all connected. Sometimes it is helpful to seek advice or ask for guidance along the journey, because of this connectedness we sometimes need an outside opinion. But then it is important to do an inner check and see if it fits for us. Eventually, you have to listen to your inner voice. That’s the key.

I used to teach this in my yoga classes. I never wanted to be looked at as a guru or all-wise teacher. I taught what I wanted to learn-what I needed to hear. I had followed someone as my guru, and it almost took me took me away from the life I think ( I hope) – do you hear the self-doubt?) I was meant to lead.

Authenticity is hard to find when there are so many of us influenced by outside sources. I loved a little cartoon I saw recently where the first cell is beginning to divide, and now there are almost two and the one nucleus, the center of the cell, says to the other – It’s not you. It’s me. Who is it then? Is it Oprah or you? Is it you or your guru? Who are you? Pretend for a moment that there is no guide. There is no Oprah. There is no role model. There is no textbook. There is no Bible. There is nothing but you left to guide you.

This is a scary thought but also one that can free you to be yourself. I think we all have an inner Jiminy Cricket or Holy Spirit that guides us. We just need to make room for quiet time, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Then listen to what your inner voice is telling you.

Do you have the inner intelligence to move forward and know what to do next? What would you do if the world were up to you? What would you do if no one could tell you what to do? Who are you all by yourself? What would happen if we believed in ourselves and simply followed our hearts and our inner guide?

I feel like I am at a precipice. I am almost ready to tell you my story.

The problem is we don’t know how to listen or who to listen to anymore? I imagine myself waking up and just listening to my own voice and yet I am so full of everyone else’s thoughts and all the books and magazines and helpful hints I read.

I am listening and slowly finding my own voice. The hints I write for you come from my own life and experience.

Why can’t I just think of that or this? Why do I need someone else to tell me something that is right in front of my face?

And so it is with you-take the hints but see what fits in your life. Who are you and who are you meant to be?

It’s self-doubt. We grow up not believing in our own personal power. Our parents often tell us how to be, what to believe in and how to behave. As children, we look to them for advice and approval. We are human beings after all, and we need others to confirm who we are. We look at others for approval.

It is difficult to finally grow up and get in touch with the decision maker in you. I grew up very different than the way my own life has evolved. I hardly could tell my children how to to be or what to believe in. I was growing up with them. I had lost my parent’s approval long ago. As years went on I think they respected my inner growth.

As we grow up we continue to seek advice from books and approval from others. There comes a time when you need to stop reading, seeking, and asking and start believing in your own inner wisdom.

I teach what I want to learn.

You have the power to simply Be YOURSELF!

And so I hope you enjoy the me that shares more and more of my deeper self and story.

 

 

Don’t Miss the Moments. Slow Down the End of the Year Rush

Don’t Miss the Moments. Slow Down the End of the Year Rush

photo

First snowfall on top of autumn leaves

What is your vision for the rest of the year? Before you know it, we will be celebrating a new year. Are you looking too forward without enjoying the days we have left? I know this is an overwhelming time-busy with Fall cleanup, preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas, business deadlines, and for many struggling with a budget or health issues. But this can also be a very peaceful time if we savor the moments right in front of us.

Let’s stop a moment and see if we can put our activities in slow motion.

Autumn is such a pretty season. The leaves certainly take their time revealing their colors and the leaves fall at their own slow and flowing pace. Sit under a tree and wait for a leave to fall in your hand. The task of raking leaves seems never ending especially if you have a large oak tree in your front yard like we do. And our red maples are almost ready to shed their glorious crimson leaves before our first snowfall. (Which came last night). Yet autumn leaves can be magical when a child jumps into a pile just raked or we feel their crispness under our feet as we walk.

In a couple of weeks, we will all be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is not about material gifts but rather the gift of gratitude and family blessings. December is the month of gift giving, which we do for both Hanukah and Christmas. However this year is different. The first day of Hanukah is Thanksgiving. We light the first candle the night before. This means that we will be celebrating both holidays on Thanksgiving.  No problem. I will decorate sooner and perhaps have potato latkes in addition to mashed potatoes and gravy. For the grandkids we normally give a book each night of Hanukah. So this year they will get to open book with all of us after dinner.

photo copy

Loved the leaves covered with snow. If you look close you can see the leaves falling.

I always enjoy the first snowfall of the year. Like the leaves, snowflakes take their time falling on the prettiest snow days, flake after flake, each a different shape and identity. Remember the song- “Here comes Suzy Snow Flake. Look at her tumbling down. Bringing Joy to every girl and boy as Suzie comes to town.” Can Suzie bring us all joy? (Full lyrics below)

Soon there will be the lights of the winter holidays as they sparkle in neighborhoods all over the world. I can’t wait-oh, I mean yes I can, but when they shine I will savor each moment of experiencing the joy of the season.

Let’s not rush through these last days of the year with anxiety. I do feel sadness when I think that stores are going to open Thanksgiving night to get a rush on holiday shopping, cutting short quality time and warm conversation.

I know there is a lot to do. I feel the anxiety too, which is why I am writing this. I want to remind myself to slow down, and take note of all I am thankful for including the fall leaves, the holiday experience, and the warmth of being with family and friends.

*Lyrics to Suzy Snowflake:

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Dressed in a snow-white gown
Tap, tap, tappin’ at your windowpane
To tell you she’s in town.

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Soon you will hear her say
Come out ev’ryone and play with me
I haven’t long to stay.

If you want to make a snowman
I’ll help you make it, one, two, three.
If you want to take a sleigh ride
Whee! The ride’s on me.

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Look at her tumblin’ down
Bringing joy to ev’ry girl and boy
Suzy’s come to town.

If you want to make a snowman
I’ll help you make it, one, two, three
If you want to take a sleigh ride
Whee! The ride’s on me.

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Look at her tumblin’ down
Bringing joy to ev’ry girl and boy
Suzy’s come to town.

*”Suzy Snowflake Lyrics.” Lyrics.net.
STANDS4 LLC, 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
http://www.lyrics.net/lyric/3592509

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A torn quilt can still keep us warm-Poem on  life’s challenges.

A torn quilt can still keep us warm-Poem on life’s challenges.

Baskets of love.

My worn out quilt.

A poem I wrote thinking of friends going through lots of challenges right now.

This is a quilt I bought years ago at a garage sale.

I loved the baskets of flowers and patchwork.

It is stained and torn now, but still provides color and warmth. Like life!

 

The patchwork of Life

Presents us with challenges

Out of the blue sometime

(more…)

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