Monday, August 31, 2015
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer passed away Saturday, August 29, at the age of 75. His book The Power of Intention has been one of a handful of inspirational books I reread every couple of years.
I purchased this book in 2004 when I was going through leukemia treatment. At that time, I was trying to figure out what I wanted my post-cancer life to look like. Utilizing some of the techniques he describes I returned to acting, working in commercials and a couple independent films, wrote Rebirth, and started a journal writing workshop for cancer survivors, all within a six-year period.
Over the past few years, I have been going through a transitional period, finding myself uninterested in the pursuits that used to occupy my daily thoughts and actions. I have been moving in new directions—a passion for politics and travel, to name a couple—yet still not quite ready to relinquish my past goals and dreams.
It is time to pull out The Power of Intention again and read it—even if only the highlighted sections. It's time to get clear about what I want, to decide down which road I am heading. As always, my journal is the place I will turn to write about and imagine that future. As I've done before, I will write it down and make it happen.
Thank you, Dr. Dyer, for giving me tools and strategies to co-create my life, and yes, for the inspiration!
Friday, August 28, 2015
|Nieces and nephews, Christmas 2012. This journal was a gift I received Christmas 2013 - Andrew is 2nd from the left.|
Marty returned to the idea of rereading one's journal at the end of our exchange:
I stopped for a few minutes right before this paragraph and pulled out the journal that I keep in my bag. It's the most recent one I've worked on. The first entry is from March 8, 2009, right after Ryan came home from his 9 weeks in the NICU after his birth.The most recent entry is from Jan. 28, 2013, so I've been a bit out of the habit. But WOW! I did find this gem from March 10, 2009, when Ryan would have been home for about four days and was just over two months old:
"Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the rocking chair holding Ryan just after a feeding. We were listening to a CD the choir gave us at the baby shower they threw for us on February 26. The song 'Puff the Magic Dragon' came on, which is a sad song anyway, but I was looking at Ryan's little face, his perfect little eyes shut in little slits as he slept in my arms, and I was overwhelmed by his innocence, the newness of his life, and the loss of innocence in the song. It could have also been the fatigue, or the reality of the past nine weeks finally setting in on me, but I began to cry for several minutes. The next song, 'Child of Mine' by Carole King, which has beautiful, tender lyrics, only made the crying worse. It was a nice moment though." Okay, THAT made rereading my journal worth it.
Yes, Marty, it is worth it. Your journal is a treasure trove of memories, wonderful and sometimes devastating. It is the story of you, and that is a gift you can leave to Ryan, should you decide to do so. Happy writing, my friend.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Journal writing is a wonderful way to express one's emotions. Some people are comfortable verbalizing what they are feeling whereas others are more reticent about openly sharing feelings and thoughts. This is when journaling can be beneficial. It allows for the release of pent up emotions, positive or negative.
There are times when no one is available to talk to about a problem or share concerns and sorrow or fear. During my cancer treatment period, I often found myself alone and awake in the middle of the night, haunted by what-ifs and anxious about the future. My journal was where I turned, while others slept, to pour out all the unsettling thoughts and emotions building up inside of me. I always felt better after writing or typing about them.
Furthermore, because a journal is for your eyes only, you can be as brutally honest about what you are experiencing, and therein lies the value of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard: it is healing. Write it down and let it go.
Note: Journaling can be an effective self-therapy tool. However, it is no substitute for professional help should you need it.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
First, I reread journal entries all the time, many of which are cringe-worthy. However, by reading them I realize how much I've grown. Yes, there are persistent issues and patterns that seem to be stuck on repeat and those are the ones I resolve to keep working on, or eventually, end up accepting that it is just part of who I am and live with it. I believe acceptance is growth too, right, being aware there are parts of your personality that aren't going to change?
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Don’t make this a boring, unthoughtful experience. Think of it as a nightly meditation -- just two minutes of reflection thinking about the day’s highlights and writing them down will transform your waking and sleeping thought. It’s part of a wealthy lifestyle to appreciate all the great things of the day: doors held open, great conversations had."
Most people grapple at some time or another with free-floating anxiety that saps energy and increases stress. Through written reflection, you may realize that a certain unpleasant feeling ties back to, say, a difficult interaction with your mother. That type of insight, research has shown, can help locate, ground and ultimately resolve the emotion and the associated stress.
At the same time, "goal-setting theory" holds that writing down concrete, specific goals and strategies can help people overcome obstacles and achieve."
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Tip #6 - Research shows that expressive writing has health benefits.
Numerous studies have confirmed that expressive writing produces health benefits, such as a strengthened immune system, increased lung and liver function, increased cognitive function, reduced stress and blood pressure, improved mood, decreased symptoms of arthritis and asthma, and increased well-being in cancer survivors. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if the writing topic is positive or negative. Healing benefits are derived as long as you involve the emotions. Therefore, journaling is a wonderful self-therapy tool, though not a substitute for professional help, if necessary.
You can read more about this in my Journaling through Cancer article in the March/April 2011 issue of Coping® with Cancer magazine.
If you are interested in exploring this topic further, I recommend Expressive Writing: Words that Heal by James W. Pennebaker, PhD and John F. Evans, Ed.D.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
- It's an easy way to record your life.
- It's a tool for working through life's challenges.
- Here's one strategy for tackling a problem.
- Use your journal to set and define goals.
- It's a safe place to express frustration and anger.