Some say that writing must come from sitting down and practicing, determined to make it happen.
But mine has always come from nothingness.
It has always come from a place of silence within myself.
From this place, an idea, an inspiration–with a literal in breath–brings a burst of energy that gives me the strength to write. Whether to physically move myself and type the words, or to simply allow them to be written in my mind, a gentle offering from my heart, and trusting they’re somehow written in the fabric of space and time.
And that’s how it started; how I learned that I love to write.
Even this piece that I’m writing to you now–I wanted to go back to bed, but these words wanted to be written instead.
Nothingness is the space where the where the flower blossoms. It is the life-giving spring where the water runs clear. A place of beauty and nourishment to be steeped in, that becomes the force, the very current of life, that moves you and carries you to all that’s meant for you.
May you allow yourself to be moved–to bend and to flow, and follow what you know.
This is the place where miracles unfold. And where you see the greatest miracle, the one that lives and breathes as YOU.
And also, if you’ve ever seen fish trying to swim upstream; holy cow. I still remember the time we visited the locks after first moving to Portland. And I can still see this one little fish; I felt so mesmerized, and then shocked, watching his little fins move at warp speed, only to gain just enough momentum to remain in the exact same spot.
Fighting against the current requires you to work ten times as hard, just to try to stay in the same place. Where, if you turn around, ah, you’re smooth sailing; blazing forward with the force of freedom on your side.
So in honor of this little fish, may we flow with freedom. May we trust that it knows where to go. And may we trust that it wants only good for us; that it’s helping us to blossom, and grow.
All the best and brightest wishes to you, now and always,
You can feel a deep longing, and maybe even have an idea for a message or story that you’d love to share with the world.
You want to help others.
You want your story to help support them on their own path in a way that you would have loved to experience yourself.
You want to make a difference with your story — with your experiences, your wisdom.
But you’re not quite sure how.
It begins with reclaiming the power of your voice.
Of connecting with the knowing deep within that your words are here to change the world. Even if that means beginning with just one person at a time.
Connecting with your inner voice begins by allowing your own experiences and perspectives to shape you, change you, grow you, and help you to become the person you want to become…
The person who has written her book.
The woman who has shared her story with the world, and who watches as her words ripple out to make a difference in the lives of people she may never meet.
Hi, I’m Caitlin.
And I love helping women connect to and reclaim the power of their own voices through writing.
If you have a story you want to tell, and you’re feeling an inkling, an urge, or even a mad desire to write…
Then this is for you!
Right now I’m offering free Book Visioning sessions, where we’ll hop on the phone together and I’ll help you tap into the vision, the feeling and the essence of the book that is wanting to be written through you.
I melt into the navy leather arm chair, feeling my body rest down into it as never before.
My shoulders relax, and something in my chest area starts to open and calm as I listen to Martha Beck say that all we ever have to do is this moment, right now.
As I relax into her words of comfort and reassurance, saying that no matter what happens, you’ll always have the strength for THIS Moment. Just this one. And that nothing else is ever needed.
I’d heard my dad talk about the “Power of NOW.” He became quite obsessed with it, and rightly so, in my opinion. That was a time in his life where he needed the message, and it found him.
This was a time in mine, where, while I’d tried to practice it with some success beforehand…
There’s nothing quite like every moment of your own life becoming a complete and utter uncertainty, to help you open to something new.
And that is what had happened.
Away from school and my job as a teacher, sick with never-ending vertigo and a slew of concussive symptoms, my life had been changed forever. And I was now on a journey through taking Life Coach Training, that at the time, I don’t think I even realized had begun.
As often happens with illness, the very capabilities of your body to do what you’re accustomed to doing changes.
I’d lost my health, and with that, my job, uncertain of when, if ever, I’d be able to return. And with that, my community — both my students and the teachers with whom I’d worked. Many of my friends, my financial stability…all of it, gone. Seemingly overnight.
While there are MANY differences between much of what I went through and what so much of the word is going through now, I see the similarities. The golden threads of hope — which to me, offer a new perspective, and a new way of doing things.
When things fall apart, we’re given an opportunity to go inward.
When we don’t know what to do, we’re given the opportunity to open to something new.
Once we let the old fall away — so painful! — we can find, sometimes quite unexpectedly, a brand new beginning that is brighter than we ever dreamed it could be.
So I offer you tremendous compassion today, for whatever feelings you’re feeling, whatever situations you’re facing, whatever loss you’ve suffered, whatever you find swirling around you or within you in any given moment.
And I pray that you find the strength to keep going — to keep offering yourself the love and kindness you deserve.
Because you are worthy of so much love, dearest one — ALL the Love in the Entire Universe, in fact! 🙂
This is a song I listened to often about 5 years ago, in one of those layers I mentioned of opening to something new.
And there was one stanza that called out to me in particular. So much so that I took a gold-colored sharpie and wrote it out on a little index card that I used to keep by my bed.
“May the light of a thousand suns shine through.
Live the life of grace that you were meant to.”
So in whatever way, today, this week, may each of us open to the new level of being, and the new way of seeing that has become open to us.
May we find hope where there is heartbreak. And peace and love in all things.
And if you feel like playing with some feelings, I’m hosting a free call on Thursday called Funky Emotion Paragraphs. 🙂
Every time I’ve taught this process or shared it with someone one-on-one, it has been a hit, and magical things have happened. So now seems like the perfect time to share it again.
It’s a process for looking at an emotion in a creative way, that takes it out of the context of the situation where you find it arising, so that surprisingly wise (and often funny!) insights come through. I’d love to have you join us! 🙂
No need to register. Just use the link below. 🙂 And I’ll hope to see you there!
Topic: Funky Emotion Paragraphs 🙂
Time: Apr 2, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
May you be blessed with infinite peace today, and each day, as we go through this great big process, and unfolding of whatever is going on — together.
P.S. If you and/or your kiddos are feeling like a cozy story time, I did a Facebook Live over the weekend with a reading of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. If you’d like to snuggle in and listen, you can do so here. Love you lots! 🙂 (Also, if you enjoy, please let me know and I can make it a regular thing while we go through this pandemic together.)
P.P.S. I’ve received a couple requests to offer another Gratitude Call, where I shared a new way of gratitude journaling that I started playing with over the winter months. If you’d be interested in something like this, let me know! 🙂 (Just comment below, and say, “YES! I want to play with gratitude journaling!” — or something to that effect 🙂 and I’ll know to put it on the calendar. Wink!)
I still remember standing outside visiting with people after church. I could feel the warmth of the sunlight on my skin, but I couldn’t feel the compassion or understanding of those around me. It felt like an invisible curtain appeared right in front of my face as I talked with them — you couldn’t see it, but you could feel it. An invisible barrier laced with the belief that no one cared, that they couldn’t understand.
And to be honest, they probably didn’t. I’d recently lost my dad, and even those who had experienced loss couldn’t express their sentiments in a way that I could feel. Somehow their genuine concern got lost in translation.
They had already made it to the other side, to a place where their grief was no longer felt at the same depth as mine. They were no longer standing in the very same hole that I felt I’d been plopped down into.
I wanted someone who could crawl down into that hole with me and keep me company while I was there.
And that’s what I’d love to do for you — crawl down into whatever exact, uniquely shaped, and sized hole you are in, and shine some light, share some love, and walk beside you or sit with you with compassion.
Compassion is my specialty.
Just ask anyone who knows me, and it is often one of the first traits people will mention.
I care. Deeply. And it’s one of the things the people I’ve coached thank me for most.
And it’s also one of the things I’ve practiced most deeply in my life — learning to care for and be kind to myself.
Do you have that challenge too?
My guess is, if you’re here reading these words, you might also be on a similar life path of learning to offer yourself the same kindness and grace that you so readily offer to others.
And I’d love to work with you.
I’d love to shine a light in all of the dark corners and lift them up with evergreen grace.
I’m here for you. All you have to do is decide you’d like to open your hand and welcome some fresh love in.
Try it right now. Open your hands, palm up and feel the love that is here for you.
Now — let me know where your “hole” is located and I’ll be right over! With your favorite cup of tea and a beautiful strand of twinkle lights.
We’ll shine some twinkle lights in the darkness until you find the light and strength of your own. And we’ll do it, together.
You don’t have to go through any of this alone.
I’ve got you. And I care.
And that’s a winning combination.
Not that there’s anything to win. But the ability to feel better, even when the circumstances around you don’t change, is one of life’s greatest gifts. It’s something I’ve learned again and again in new and deeper ways, and continue to practice every day.
So if you feel curious about the idea of hanging some twinkle lights to bring a little light and ease to any challenges or losses in your life, I’d love to talk with you.
Schedule a time on my calendar for a free 30 minute, Shine The Light On Your Life call where we can talk about your dark hole of a challenge or loss, and what some possible twinkle lights might look like in your life right now, even if it’s just one teeny tiny bulb to add a little glow.
In the meantime…here are 10 ways to feel more connected when you’re feeling alone.
Feeling disconnected and unable to connect with the people around you, whether because of loss or illness, is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences I believe we can ever have. I also believe that it is an opportunity to get creative and find other ways to support yourself in feeling connected.
I know from personal experience how hard it can be, and whether you’re in a tough place right now or not, I know these can help. They are my top 10 favorite ways to connect! Enjoy!
1. Take a 5 minute nature break.
Spend some time sitting or walking outside, or looking out the window. Just take some time to notice your breathing and look at what’s around you — notice the rocks, the leaves, any trees, or blades of grass. Even if you don’t FEEL anything, just keep noticing. Keep observing. And eventually you’ll start to feel more connected both to yourself and to your surroundings.
(Bonus: Make note of how you’re feeling both before and after your 5 minute nature session to build evidence for yourself if it’s helpful and to watch how your experience changes over time.)
2. Write down how you feel.
Science shows (and I’ve learned from personal experience) that naming your feelings can help lessen the severity right away. And then writing them down is an even deeper way to acknowledge your feelings and offer yourself compassion and support. Take 1 minute and write down as many feeling words as you can that describe what you’re experiencing.
(This can be a post it note, a note on your phone, the back of a letter or piece of mail, anything nearby will work.)
They don’t have to be complete sentences either, anything goes! Scared, alone, twist in my stomach, hard to breathe, numb. Whatever it is, write it down. See how you feel when the minute is up. Any better? Want to keep writing? If so, keep going. If not, move on with a greater sense of connection to yourself and awareness of your emotions and experience.
3. Do a Lava Volcano Quick Write.
This is where you set a timer for 5 minutes and just write down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind. And when I say everything, I mean everything! Every thought, even if it’s “this is a stupid exercise.” Letting whatever is swirling around in your head flow out through your pen onto the page (or note on your phone, etc.) is one of the easiest, and most powerful ways to set that energy free. Try it and see how you feel!
4. Connect with your breath.
This is one of the easiest ways to begin feeling more connected — and also one of the most challenging to remember or make time for…or, let’s be honest, find the motivation to actually DO. But it’s effects are far reaching and healing in ways our minds can only imagine.
To do this, simply stop wherever you are.
Notice your breath in, and feel what the air and oxygen feels like as it fills your body. Does your belly expand, your chest rise? Do you feel it in your neck, head, shoulders, feet?
Then exhale slowly and notice the physical sensations in your body there as well — does your chest collapse and relax forward, do you feel an openness in your belly, sleepiness in your eyes?
Whatever it is, just notice. And then at the end of your exhale pause, and wait for your body to naturally inhale. Follow this sequence for as long as feels good and notice how little effort it actually takes — that you’re not the one who has to MAKE breathing happen, that in fact, you’re the one being breathed.
5. Write a note to a friend.
Whether it’s a text message, an email, or a handwritten letter, reaching out to those we care about can have huge mental health benefits. But what do you do when you don’t FEEL connected? Reach out anyway. Send a kind word, a thought about how your day is going or ask for some support. If there’s something you need — ask. This is SO hard, I know from personal experience and it’s harder for some of us than others. But even if you simply write to wish THEM a wonderful day or to say “I’m thinking of you,” there’s some part of you that will receive that kindness too.
6. Write a love letter to yourself.
Take some time, set aside maybe 10-15 minutes and write out some of the things that are troubling you. Then, look through your list and imagine your dearest friend was experiencing these things. What would you say? What words of comfort or compassion would you offer? Now write “Dear, (and your name),” at the top of a fresh page, and begin pouring out all those loving and kind words of support to yourself. Allow yourself to gush as much as feels comfortable — and know that it might not feel comfortable at first, but that’s okay. The more you practice this, the easier it will get. And before you know it, you’ll be connecting with yourself in an easy and compassion-filled way each and every day.
7. Listen to a song with a melody or lyrics you love.
Let the music wash over you. Get up and dance if you feel inspired, or sit and wrap yourself in a blanket and allow yourself to cry if they lyrics move you. Allow yourself to feel connected to the rhythm, the harmony, the connection of another person’s words and music, knowing that anything that artist could write or compose or sing about, is something they’ve experienced too. So if it moves you, know that there is a connection there. A life and a spirit of compassion and love. An empathy of sorts — being sent out through time and space in the sound waves of this favorite song.
8. Do a short loving-kindness meditation.
Find a calm and quiet place where you can relax. And sit down, or lie down and close your eyes. Call to mind the image of a pet or family member or friend who naturally makes you smile. Hold them in your mind’s eye and send them all the love and support that naturally arises. Do this for at least 3 breaths.
Then see yourself standing there next to them, and continue offering the same loving support, and any kind phrases or wishes that come to mind. “May you be blessed with peace / ease / gentleness / kindness / love / forgiveness / healing.”
Now, imagine that this friend or other person or animal needs to go somewhere else for a bit (they can always come back if you need them!), and see yourself standing there in the golden glow of this love, and all of the wishes and kindness you have offered.
Now spend 5-10 breaths sending even more love and support directly to yourself — this vision of yourself you’re holding in your mental movie screen. Offer her all the love and beautiful wishes you can and see how you feel.
Repeat as often as necessary, and as mentioned, you can always bring that loving family member or friend back if that helps make it easier to send the compassion and love. You’ve got this. And you’re infinitely loved. Allow yourself to step into that circle and receive some love yourself. You so deserve it.
9. Pet, snuggle, or play with a pet.
This can either be your own pet, or someone else’s. (And if you don’t have access to a pet, try watching a bird or squirrel out the window, or pulling up a cute animal video online.)
Connect with your pet — talk to them, pet them, invite them to sit on your lap if appropriate, stroke their fur, play a game with their favorite toy — anything that helps you connect. What do they like to do? Offering one of their favorite things and watching them enjoy it can help you feel more loved and connected in turn. And can even help spring forth some new feelings of joy and relaxation. Enjoy!
P.S. If you’re really struggling this might even look like sitting in a favorite chair with your pet on your lap or by your side, not engaging but just sitting together, looking out the window or staring at the wall. Do whatever feels best to you and fits your situation. You are so loved!
10. Sing a song.
I know this may sound silly, but there’s nothing like the power of singing a song to help you connect to the voice and the power within yourself. It’s like you connect to yourself through your song. Any song that comes to mind is perfect, or maybe a lullaby your mom sang to you as a child. Maybe you have a favorite song that always brings tears to your eyes or helps you feel relaxed and at home. Even if you don’t have a song in mind, just humming whatever random sounds or tones come to mind can help put your mind at ease and connect you with yourself as you notice the vibration and humming sensation in your body. Give it a try!
I hope this helps the next time you find yourself feeling low, or alone and like no one understands. There are so many other ways that you can connect with the people around you — but when all else fails, don’t ever doubt the connection you have with yourself, and the power of tapping into that with compassion.
I’m sending you so much love, and I’d love to know — which one of these ideas was your favorite? Is there one you feel like you could put into practice today or sometime this week?
Hit reply and let me know! I love hearing from you.
And as always, sending lots of love and many blessings your way,
P.S. You’re Invited…
I wanted to do something beautiful for us as a community, and so I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we had a virtual tea party!? So…
Join me August 1st at 3pm Pacific for a cup of tea, some journaling, Q&A and conversation. We’ll go wherever the wind blows so be prepared for an adventure!
All you need to do is subscribe here, if you’re not already, to receive weekly newsletters and the link to where we’ll meet at the designated time.
Make sure to bring a cup of tea (or other delicious beverage of choice) in your favorite mug, a cozy blanket, your journal if you have one and something to write with. Looking forward to it!
I have a note from my dad taped up on my bedroom wall. It is a note he tucked into a package he mailed to me while I was in college. It contained very precious cargo — a dress I wanted to wear to an upcoming school salsa dance.
I kept the note because it made me smile.
Written in his signature-style handwriting and on his new (at the time) OHSU Foundation letterhead, it reads:
Have a terrific
time at the dance!
I pulled the note out again a couple years ago, and having lost my dad several years prior, I burst into tears.
But not for the reason you might expect.
I burst into tears because it felt like a message for the moment —
To live my life.
To enjoy my life.
To enjoy the dance
that is life.
The great cosmic dance and play of being human.
(Extra fitting given his love of the mantra “Carpe Diem.”)
Have a terrific time at the dance all of a sudden had new meaning and I couldn’t get over it — crying and crying at what a magnificent miracle it seemed to be. It felt like a Divinely timed message just for me, in some way, from the great beyond.
And I cried with the perfection of it all. The grief. The loss. The glory. The grace.
Crying not because I was happy. Crying not because I was sad.
But crying because I was so moved by the power of it all. The epiphany, the grace, the metaphor, the love…
It felt absolutely perfect.
And in that moment, I realized the true power our words hold.
Whether you write a letter, a text message, a bestselling novel, or an entry in your personal journal…
They all matter.
Those words — your words — have the power to transform lives long after you’re gone.
Let alone the healing they can bring to your own life while you’re here on earth.
The course came about because of a writing class I took one summer while I was teaching first grade.
The writing I did held such potent healing power that once I found myself in life coach training years later, I knew it was a process that could help others too.
It includes 8 weeks of live coaching calls and writing exercises that all fit together to help you create a narrative about your loved one — a treasured story that you can bring to life on the page and hold in your heart forever.
Allowing some of your most treasured memories and experiences to be brought into the light of day through writing is one of the most priceless gifts there is.
Say yes to yourself. And yes to your memories.
YES to the power of your words.
I’d love to have you join me. The course begins on this coming Thursday, April 25th and registration is now open!You can sign up here.
In the spirit of flowing forward with this metaphor of dancing, I’d like to share an old blog post with you called: I hope you dance. (Which you’ll find below.)
I’ll also include some journal prompts for you to play with this week if you’d like.
I hope you enjoy!
What would it look like for me to show up and dance in my life this week?
If I could do anything — if I had unlimited resources to do whatever I wanted to do this week, what would I do? Who would I spend time with? And who would I be?
I hope you dance.
(Original post from March 9, 2015) — happy to say that I am physically dancing again now, too! 🙂
I love to dance.
And for a year and a half now, I have not been able to.
So Lee Ann Womack’s song that goes, “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” even as just a metaphor for life, somewhat breaks my heart. That’s because physically, I’ve been doing a lot more sitting than I’ve ever done before or ever thought I would do–especially at 28 years old.
Literally sitting, not dancing.
But by sitting, I’m playing my part right now; stepping up to do what my body and soul have asked. Which means that what I’ve been doing IS dancing. That’s right, I am dancing even though I physically can’t dance. How cool is that!?
Dancing is living with courage.
Life is calling us to take a leap in every moment; each one unique in its shape, size, manner, and purpose. But having the courage to show up, THAT’S dancing.
Sometimes that might be going for a run along the river, when at other times it means staying still and curling up in your favorite chair.
Sometimes it might mean opening up a flower shop because it’s always been your dream or it might be appreciating the beauty of a single flower sitting on your coffee table.
Sometimes it might be speaking up and sharing your message with a group of people, and sometimes it might mean quietly acknowledging and accepting your own truth.
Each of us has the power to recognize which kind of leap we’re being called to next. And when we feel that pull, we have a decision to make.
Did you notice that in the song she doesn’t say IF you get the choice, but WHEN you get the choice?
That’s because we always have a choice.
We choose. We decide whether to walk toward life or turn away from it.
I choose courage. And I choose stepping out onto the dance floor of life, whatever form it takes.
So let’s dance.
May you dance in exactly the way life is calling to you right this very minute.
Maybe writing is the path. The path through the pain.
So that as words are put onto the page, somehow the skies above — the rain begins to clear. And we can see the light shining down from heaven again, just to know how much we’re loved.
That each one of us must take our own inward journey.
And that those who do not believe in us — we cast away their fears as we write. We let our tears transform into golden raindrops that hold the magical elixir of love straight from the heavens.
Our golden streams of love.
Here for the taking. Here for the receiving — the receiving of all that is good.
And perhaps it takes standing up to our own pain, and those who torment us, to say “enough is enough.”
And quite surprisingly, those we need to rise about, to say “enough is enough….the very ones we need to face…might be those dressed up as heroes from an earlier part of our lives…
The moms, the dads, the sisters the brothers…now all seemingly turned against us, just trying to find a way through their own pain.
Because it was never about us. It was always about them. And about us wanting to help save them.
But every soul must walk a journey of their own. We cannot share our hard won wisdom with those who don’t seek to understand — those who are too lost in the shroud of mystery, too covered in blankets of darkness to be able to see the stars.
So we shine, shine, shine ever onward.
For that is all we can do…
Is to look to our own north star, the brightest one we can find within — and then follow it. And not let any mother, father, sister or brother tell you otherwise.
Not to let them tear you down with their words.
For you were meant for greater than this — you were meant to shine and not be broken…to allow all the broken places to be healed with the light of love.
You are enough, dearest one. And you always have been.
Don’t let anyone tell you different — especially that little voice in your head.
Allow the little girl within you, to be wrapped up in sweet robes of gentleness…caressing her with your light and your grace — with a warm cup of tea and a space to look out the window.
Oh, look, a bunny — there, in the yard.
She connects with me, and the three of us just smile. You are enough, beloved one.
You always have been and you always will be. No exceptions. You are the rule.
And you are the light that shines like the stars in the nights sky.
And it breaks my heart to see you cry — to see your misery in believing any of this is about you.
For you were born for greatness. Your destiny written in the stars.
Keep writing, dear heart. Keep writing, and you’ll find your way within. To a land of distant melodies that make harp music to the sound of your own drum.
For you alone have the heartbeat, that can make the whole world one.
You alone are enough, my child, always and forever and then after that.
Always, and forever. And then after that.
We are with you. I am with you — your own internal song. Listen for me daily, and feel my heartbeat in your song.
Follow the pulse of the Divine and all will be more than fine.
Allow God’s will for your life to flow through you, and you’ll never find yourself alone. You’ll find yourself surrounded by guardians, protectors who love and adore you.
For you are a cherished being of light, a dancing delight to watch expand.
When there is a smile in your heart, there is a smile in ours, you never have to do it alone.
You are so treasured, and adored and I love you.
Forever and then after that.
To the moon and back and then looped around with the stars, in a great big cosmic dance or a wink — blaze your trail, ignite your heart, and all will be right in the end.
Follow your heart, that space there between — go there now, my sweet, my darling, my Queen.
You are beautiful and your gifts are bountiful, there is so much here for you to explore.
Don’t let anyone else get in your way — your love is pure and comes from the heart — let your love out, let it dance and it shine…
For all will see, you’re simply Divine.
And if they don’t, that’s okay — because you’ll always have me.
I’m so proud of you, my darling.
So smile, with your chin up and take care of yourself with care — for there is no one who can care for you better than you.
You’re your own special guardian, why yes, that is true.
There is nothing that can stop you, not even the darkness, or a comet on the wrong flight.
You’re on the right path — keep on going, you’re a delight.
Keep expanding and growing and sharing your joy. And know that I’m proud of you. Always, … and forever, and then after that.
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While my dad was dying, I journaled all the time. I had a special notebook where I’d write down any thoughts, feelings, prayers, or anything that came to mind in the moments when I sat down to write.
It was a sacred practice. Morning, noon, night–whenever the need struck, the journal was there, and it helped to see me through one of the most challenging times in my life.
But when he died, all of that changed. Suddenly, I felt too overwhelmed to write…
I didn’t know where to start.
There were so many thoughts and feelings, not to mention the haze of shock and shame of my emotions that swirled through my being. I felt that I was supposed to somehow find a way to get on with my life–like the world expected me to just move on as if nothing had happened. But how could I? My life had been changed forever.
I tried going to grief support groups, and to a couple different therapists. But none of it seemed to help. In fact, it had the opposite effect. The callous or even simply aloof statements and reactions of others seemed to do nothing but throw salt in my wide open, gaping, and freshly torn wounds.
So in a way, it felt as if I was left to find my way through this on my own…
And I did.
And this what I’m here to share with you.
A simple grief journal that can be a place to help you get started.
Because I don’t want you to have to figure it all out on your own. I want you to have an experienced like I always dreamed about…
I want you to feel loved and supported, and held in knowing that your experience is okay.
I want you to know that I understand that while the world moves on, your life has been irrevocably changed.
Years later I developed a writing program with that exact intention in mind, and I’ll share how you can learn all about it at the end of your journal.
But right now, I’d like to start with the basics, and give you a simple place to start.
Let’s cut down on the overwhelm and keep it simple.
It all started with a journal.
A blank, empty journal I found at a local bookstore.
As a bonus, the leather bound cover had a smell that took me back to memories of being a little girl, watching my dad shine his shoes.
I didn’t have an exact plan for the journal but I knew I wanted to use it for something to honor my dad.
After awhile I started to notice some patterns in my thoughts.
There were three main categories.
So I took my journal and divided it up in to thirds.
Memories, special moments, things my dad had said, things we’d done together…
All of the treasured things that I never wanted to forget.
Because that’s the thing about grief…more than anything we can be stricken with a fear that we’re forgetting those we love. That we’ll forget a certain way they looked at us, or the way their face would break into a soft smile.
The feel of stroking their hair, or the twinkle in their eyes.
That’s what this section is all about.
So in those moment where you remember something about your loved one, you can take out your journal and write it down right away.
That way, you know you won’t forget.
The act of writing it down will help it to expand and seal it further into your memory, and then you can refer back to it anytime you need a boost or want to reconnect with the memory.
Whatever small details you are able to record will help trigger other aspects of the memory so that it is easier to return to anytime you wish.
Record all your treasure and let it never be forgotten.
Let the stories and memories make handprints on your heart.
Like twinkling lights at twilight…
Allow their glow to light the way for you now, and to help you feel and know how much you’re loved.
The second section was for things I had learned from him.
There were so many things I learned from my dad, and I wanted a place to write them down.
Again, so I wouldn’t forget.
And also as a way to honor him and all of the ways he had changed and shaped and blessed my life.
All of the ways my life was different because I knew him.
All those things that he’d taught me…like memories of sitting on the edge of the bed, learning how to write an outline for a presentation.
How are you different because your loved one lived? Because you knew them?
These are the things to record in this section. Both, to help you remember, as well as to honor and recognize and celebrate their life, and their presence here upon the earth.
This might be things your loved one taught you…concrete skills like riding a bike or writing an outline for your speech at school.
Or it might be deeper things that you learned about yourself, or ways that you are changed because of how they saw you.
Maybe they helped you learn how to believe in yourself. Or maybe you now laugh at certain jokes or find certain things funny, just because they loved them too.
Whatever it is, write them down. And allow your heart to soak up all the richness of how your life is different, how much value, in concrete and beautifully written examples, your loved one brought to your life.
The richness of your life that is made up by the tapestry of the treads of your lives intertwining….
And how you are different, because they lived.
An honoring of your loved one’s presence and all that they are, and the example of their life but also how your life is uniquely touched because your lives were entwined.
Celebrate and appreciate these things and know that the truth and love of them lives on forever.
And finally, the third section was for the things that I wished I could tell him…
All the things I wanted to say or wished we could do together. Things I hadn’t gotten a chance to say or most often, things I came to realize later that I wished I could tell him.
So in any moment you have a thought of, “I wish we could…” or “I wish I could tell him/her…” write it down. No matter how small. It all is significant.
This gives you a chance to express the things you feel in your heart, the love that you still want to share.
It creates a lifeline and helps you to feel the love you wish you could share.
And in doing so–by writing it down–it can feel as if you’ve actually gotten a chance, in some small way, to say what you needed to say.
So there you have it.
A simple DIY grief journal.
And this simple journal that I created myself…
It absolutely changed my life.
And in those first hard months of grief, I believe it saved my life…
It gave me a place to turn and a way to begin sorting through the thoughts. It cut down on the overwhelm, and gave me solace, the peace of mind, that some of those most precious and treasured things were written down.
It even brought a sense of sunshine and smiles–laughter even, for the memories we’d shared.