Brave Soul, Writing as Healing

Your words are powerful + {I hope you dance.}

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:

 

Caitlin–

Have a terrific

time at the dance!

Love,

Dad

 

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…

The perfection.

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.

So if you’re at all curious to do a little writing of your own — to take a closer look and explore some of the stories you have about a loved one you may have lost, I’d love to have you join me for The Heart-Mending Wordsmith this spring.

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!

Journal prompts…

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

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.

***And if that means signing up to join us for The Heart-Mending Wordsmith, then I’d LOVE to dance with you!***

Love,
Caitlin

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Writing as Healing

Always, and forever, and then after that.

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.

Always.

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.

Always,

Much love,

Caitlin

 

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Writing as Healing

A Simple Grief Journal.

The Story.

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.

For me…

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.

{These are the thirds you’ll find in this journal I’ve put together for you.}

1.

The first section was for treasure:

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

And I hope that is what it does for you too.

You can download a FREE copy of your very own, right here: The Heart-Mending Wordsmith Mini Journal

When you get to the end, will you let me know what helped you the most?

I’d also like to invite you to join my new Facebook Group — By the Light of the Moon: Grief Support Group.

Inside I’ll be sharing tips for self-care, more journaling and coaching support, live videos, resources for determining your own grief style so you can learn how to support yourself best, and more!

If you’d like to be notified when the group is open, please send me an email here. And put the word Facebook in the subject line.

I so look forward to having you join us!

Much love and many blessings, always,

Caitlin

 

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Writing as Healing

To me, writing is medicine.

To me, writing is medicine.

It’s like a warm cup of tea or a soft blanket draped around your shoulders in a moment you need it most.

 

It’s also the crisp breeze or burst of fresh air on a cool fall day.

Or the warm sunlight as it streams through the window and puts a smile across your face.

 

To me, writing is everything.

It’s how I explore, it’s how I learn.

 

It’s how I uncover what’s important to me.

It’s how I discover who I am.

 

I get to know myself, I support myself, I learn from myself.

I grow, I expand, I contract, and I grow.

 

It’s all a process.

And writing makes it possible.

 

Writing gives us a map. A journey for the excavation of all that matters most to our souls.

 

In fact, it’s how I connect to my very soul.

 

I find her on the page.

That’s where I know she’ll always be there for me– to guide me, to lead me back home again whenever I get lost. To offer comfort and insights and grace.

 

She’s there for me no matter what–

Through thick and thin

Through peace and storms.

 

She’s always there waiting.

 

All I need to do is pick up a pen and find a blank page

To write.

 

And just like that,

I come home again.

 

What helps you find your way home again?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

Much love and namaste~

 

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