Writing Your Story

Writing Your Story – Remember the Lesson Plan that I began in the fall? I’m still working on it and wanted to give you an update. If you haven’t read that blog, click here. Basically it was designed to help me AND you to focus on 3 important things:

 

1.    How to organize our thoughts in order to live our best life.

2.    How to apply what we learn about living with liver disease, Hepatitis C, or any illness that comes with it like fibromyalgia, neuropathy, or hepatic encephalopathy.

3.    How to discipline ourselves in lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

 .  

One of the things that has been the greatest benefit in my life has been writing every day. From the time I was a kid, I had a notebook, diary, or journal.  

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“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Thomas Paine


 One format I have stuck with was writing a letter to God. You may feel better addressing a Higher Power, Universal Spirit, or Best Friend. When I write, it is like writing to a best friend. You are probably not surprised. I have always known that my Creator was my best friend in life. He knew everything about me and loved me unconditionally. I could tell Him anything. He always understood. He always guided me. I often ask Him a question or make a request. I love going back and making a check mark on the page when a problem is resolved. Reflecting on my ability to get through a tough time builds confidence in me.

 

A bit of personal history here. My grandma was raised in an orphanage. She was a 4 year old girl when she was sent there to live. The woman she came to know as mother is the only great grandma I ever knew. She left letters and personal writings which were passed on to me. My grandma loved her so and both of those women inspired me to write write write.

 

My daddy was an alcoholic. When life got rough for me, I lived in a world of words. Sometimes they were letters to the world filled with anger. At other times they were heartbroken words scribbled on a page and then torn into little pieces. On occasion, they were letters to God asking for help. A lot of letters were written to my parents telling them to please stop fighting. No one ever read my secret letters.

 

Before you men click off of this blog, let me encourage you with some more personal history. My daddy went into a hepatic coma just before my 22nd birthday. His liver failed due to drinking. You’ll hear that story someday, but for now I will tell you that he quit drinking. He also began to write. He filled many notebooks over the next 2 decades. Daddy’s notebooks are my greatest treasures. He wrote with clarity and also when he was struggling with hepatic encephalopathy. He lives on in my heart, partly because I have his words to go to when I miss him.

 

I tell my students = NO Excuses. It does not matter if anyone else can read it or not. Spelling and grammar do NOT count. This is just for you. If my kiddos need help with editing, I jump in.

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You can fill your life’s pages any way you want to.

 

Keeping a daily journal or just writing in a notebook can have many benefits. It can be used in conjuction with other therapies such as medication, a support group, or talking with a counselor. I know from my personal experience in writing this blog that it works. A large part of my healing from Hepatitis C and living with cirrhosis and brain fog has come from daily writing. Some of it is scribbles that get thrown away. Some of them developed into an atricle blog like this one.

 

I teach writing and know that there is a huge amount of research about the many areas that putting your thoughts on paper can benefit you. I have sat through countless classes describing how expressing your thoughts can help you. If you have a student in your life, you know that writing is being used more and more in the classroom as a way to teach and to assess what a child learns.

 

Here are a few thoughts to ponder:

 

Writing improves your understanding of what you have learned in life.

It opens up your creativity which leads to better thinking.

It helps with communication skills.

You become more aware of your own thoughts and ideas when you write.

It is a way to record memories and work through negative emotions.

It can help you to develop a more positive attitude.

 

 

An important one for those who are sick is this one: Writing helps you to overcome the effects of stress. Brain chemistry is changed when you write. Opening up to your own feelings can lead to chemical reactions that help your brain and body open up to change. Emotions can be blocked and that can leave you filled with brain fog leading to a frozen feelings or patterns of behavior. You can release your emotions through writing just like you can by going to a counselor.

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I would like to extend an invitation to each of you to begin writing as part of a healing exercise. To start, let’s look at what you will need.

 

Notebook – You can simply write in an inexpensive spiral notebook. I always help with locker clean up on the last day of school. Students leave binders and notebooks that are barely used. I tear out the used pages and stash them in my classroom. I bring a few home to use as a writing journal. I have purchased many nice journals over the years. My family members all know that a beautifully bound journal is a welcome gift. I have hand tooled Italian leather covers, fancy hardback journals, little pocket spirals, and moleskin notebooks. It does not matter what you choose. Make it easy on your pocketbook.

 

Pen or pencil – Some of the nicer pens make my handwriting look better. For years I would only use a rollerball pen. One year it had to be purple. I went through a pencil phase and loved the kind with refills. But most of the time I just use whatever is handy and try to keep one clipped inside my journal.

 

Space – I have always had a chair. It is my little space where there is an end table for my coffee or tea. I like to keep a candle or little knick knack that calms me. Gazing on something that I love gives me a feeling of joy and comfort. No matter what space you choose, let everyone in your house know that it is your spot for writing. I have never offered explanations for journaling. It is just what I do. If someone tries to invade my space while writing, they quickly learn that it is my space.

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Some journals I have kept.

 

Time -  Choose a specific time each day. As a young mother, my only time was before everyone woke up. My chair was a welcome place that I rushed to every day. I would scratch out the day’s events or make a list. I would pour out prayer requests. One thing I did NOT do was try and make a budget. That took all of the joy out of my writing. This time is simply for writing your letter to God or your best friend.

 

Privacy – It is easier now that I am an empty nester. But even when my grandkids visit, I keep my journal in a safe spot. I go through some of them and tear out pages after some reflection. I ceremoniously burn them on the charcoal grill or a bonfire. Sometimes I just tear up the pages. Many journals have pages that are kept for others to read after I am gone. That is how this blog started. I journaled for hours when my life seemed to be ebbing away with Hepatitis C and end stage cirrhosis. My husband journals also and we would never read each other’s words. But if you need to have a safe spot, by all means hide it where no one can find it.

 

Solitude This is vital. Everyone in my life has always known that when the journal is out – Do Not Disturb. If it is just for 15 minutes, which I consider a daily minimum, leave me alone. I am thinking, creating, crying, cussing, dreaming, storming, praying, worrying, or rejoicing. I am getting acquainted with my inner self. I am writing my story. 

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You may want to keep your symptoms, side effects, and lab results in a separate journal…

 

I hope that you will consider writing your story in the form of a daily letter. Take 15 minutes for yourself and enjoy the benefits of being creative, setting down your deepest longings, dreaming your wildest dreams. Discover your gift with words that have lain dormant in your heart and mind. Communicate with God and others more effectively.

Allow healing words to flow from your pen onto a page. Organize your thoughts. Apply your wisdom to the current situation you face. Become more disciplined in reaching your goals.

Live the life you had imagined through writing your story. All of my love goes into my blogs. I share my deep thoughts with you in an effort to help you know what works for me. Reading your comments and fb posts moves me deeply every single time. I love your words. xoxo Karen:)

P.S. Here’s a cheat sheet for you on spelling: Amazing, loved, beautiful, cherished, future.

 

 

pics via  inspirationalfamousquotes.blogspot,  quoteslife.com, livercleansingdiet, Karen’s space

16 thoughts on “Writing Your Story

  1. Hi Karen!
    I have been writing more often and when I get going I lose all idea of time, the phone ringing or the roommate’s moving around in the house. The problem seems to be – getting going.

    The kids are grown. No job to worry about. No girlfriend any longer. Privacy isn’t an issue. I am experiencing more brain fog than ever before and whatever virus is going around here has really been kicking my butt. I know not feeling good is making writing more difficult. I also know that that is a pretty bad excuse for not trying more often.

    The good news is I have been feeling more comfortable speaking at meetings. I get a lot of encouragement from my fellowship. I am sure soon enough writing will get easier.

    Glad to see a post from you. I have been anticipating your writing.

    1. Joe,

      Your writing has been such a blessing to many. It is wonderful that you are practicing more and more. It is a great way to process our thoughts for sure! I know that some days the words roll out easily. Other times, the brain clouds over and I end up hunting and pecking on the keyboard. The main thing is to keep it up!

      I’m fighting the same virus Joe. Lots of sleeping and water the last few days since I can’t take a decongestant. I waited to even respond to comments until my energy got back up a little.

      Bravo to you for continuing speaking. I can see a difference in your writing already. So the speaking helps with writing – and writing helps with speaking engagements! It is a win win situation for you and for your listeners dear Joe.

      I aim for a blog a week, but during the school year it is hard. There are a lot of new state and federal objectives that teachers are required to teach. That means a lot of meetings and revamping some lesson plans. Testing has changed entirely! With all of that, I am averaging 2 a month now. Maybe it will slow down next semester. I have lots of blogs on the back burner just waiting for me!

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Always. Always.
      xo Karen:)

  2. Thank you for sharing your personal example of how powerful and helpful you found journal writing during your childhood [as well as the illustration of how beneficial it was for your father during adulthood].

    This was a most inspiring post on the value of writing/keeping a journal. I totally agree with all the potential benefits from daily writing that you spelled out.

    For those who want to have even more freedom of expression , one may also engage in art journaling [essentially a combination of writing and playing with art materials in whatever way you'd like within a journal] as an alternative way of expressing one’s emotions/thoughts about one’s life and daily events.
    Dorlee recently posted…My Three Words for 2014 : Daring, Connection & Self-CareMy Profile

    1. Dorlee,

      Thanks to you and I’m so happy you enjoyed it. You know first hand how much writing can lift your spirits, nurse your wounds, and set your head on straight.

      I loved your blog about using art in journaling. You posted it while I was editing mine so it was perfect timing! I’ve used colored pencils, markers, crayons, and even used paints at time to illustrate some of my journals. One of the hardest times when I was very ill with Hepatic Encephalopathy, I actually drew my emotions instead of writing. Those were some dark pictures at first. It is funny how they eventually came to have words and even lab result numbers in them. It was really healing for me. I think they got thrown away.

      Yes, expressing ourselves can take on many forms at different times in our lives. I value your friendship dear Dorlee.
      xo Karen:)

  3. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for this great inspirational post! I would like to get into the daily habit of writing. I have been told that brain chemistry is changed when one writes and I believe it! A couple of years ago a counselor encouraged me to journal and I was hesitant because my privacy had been invaded in the past. I did begin journaling at her suggestion, but was very hesitant and guarding. I’ve become more open now that my husband and I have separated and I don’t have to worry about my writing being invaded.
    Your post will help me to continue being as real as possible in my journaling.
    Yolanda DeLoach recently posted…My 500 WordsMy Profile

    1. Yolanda,

      I lost some posts in a spam flurry and found you tonight! I am so happy to see your comments, always so sweet. I believe that the brain chemistry is indeed changed by writing. There is a huge body of work about this and many documented research projects have been conducted.

      For sure it is hard to write once your privacy has been breached like that. I have never had that happen, yet still find it hard to get really really honest sometimes. I am sure you have discovered, like me, that the more honest you are, the more healing and strength you will discover! Your 500 words has been an amazing journey to follow. All my best as your continue to dis-cover yourself through writing your story.

      Much love,
      Karen:)

  4. Hey Karen,
    I’m not going to lie. I use to hate writing. The main reason was because I had to write and follow specific rules in school. There really wasn’t any type of creativity or freestyle writing when I was in school which made me feel like I was in bondage.

    Some 20 years later, I actually enjoy it. I can actually be free from all the rules, regulations, and deadlines. It’s a way to really express who I am, what I learned, what value i can give, and what obstacles I overcame. Like you, its a way to for me connect to my higher self or God if you will. Whenever I do this, I feel more liberated, getting that monkey off of my back.

    Thanks for sharing Karen!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Feeling Bewildered About Blogging and Online Marketing Jargon?My Profile

    1. Sherman,

      I can’t imagine you ever hating writing because you do it so well. A lot of students tell me how much they hate it and one of my best teaching tactics is to tell them to throw the rules out and let it flow. I grew up in a school system that taught writing much the same way that you did. Isn’t is great to find freedom?

      It means a lot to me that you, as a man, have grown to enjoy writing freely. You are seeing first hand how much you have to give to others through your writing. I agree, it’s a great way to connect to your source. It is also a way to share all of the wisdom and knowledge that you have acquired throughout the years.

      Thanks for coming by. I fought off a cold over the holiday and am getting caught up on comments. I’m sincerely blessed to see yours.
      xo Karen:)

  5. Hi Karen,

    That was a lovely post, and very different from the ones you normally write :)

    I think it was full of inspiration, just the others you have on the blog, but this time for people to take up their thoughts and put it down on paper. Well, if you have a blog, then that becomes your writing platform.

    I’ve never really had a problem with words, as you can see…lol…and like you, even my Granny used to love writing, and so did my Mom, who had a beautiful writing. Even my Dad writes for various newspapers, and so does my sister, who’s even authored her first book. So, it runs in our family, just like yours I’d say :)

    I loved the little tips you gave as to how one can get down to sit and write, though I wish I didn’t have other distractions in my life. But as they say, if you want something really bad, you need to let go of something or the other too – so the choice always lies in our hands, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing this with us, and wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year as well :)
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Keep Moving Forward – My 3rd Blog AnniversaryMy Profile

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Thank you for your sweet comment. This one was a bit different. I have so many friends here on the site that have such a beautiful way of expressing themselves when they write. I think that beginning a journal will be an awesome step for them!

      You are blessed to come from a writing family! How cool that you have so many who use their gift of words! Congratulations to your sister also!

      I am really hopeful that everyone can take a few minutes a day and get acquainted with themselves through writing. I see it help my students blossom every day!

      Thanks dear friend and wonderful day to you!
      Karen:)

  6. Hi Karen,

    I can sure relate to this post! I used to write in my room alone all the time when I was young. It was feelings, poetry, you name it…I wrote it. When I read the part of your dad being an alcoholic and you wrote unread letters to your parents to please stop fighting, I got all choked up. You see, I was in the same place too.

    The great escape was writing and working it through doing that for my own well being because there was no one else in the world.

    I still write, but not every day. I use writing to heal emotionally when things go wrong. I also use it to “bring in the positive” By that I mean, writing my wonderful, glorious life in the present tense that I want to achieve. That good old law of attraction stuff!

    Now, I’m taking your wonderful idea of writing to God. I never thought of that one, even though I have long conversations with him. Writing it down and then looking back is a great idea!

    Thanks so much for this incentive,

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Make New Year Resolutions WorkMy Profile

    1. Donna,

      It is amazing how much we have in common. Even more amazing is how we have been able to use that childhood outlet of writing to move into a new phase of our adults lives. Your writing always inspires me. I think it is so refreshing because of your honesty. No matter what you are writing about, it is open and frank and gives great advice to bloggers and anyone else who is writing today.

      Bringing it into the positive is the best possible fruit of writing. We til our own soil, water, and nurture our words until it turns into the written work that we post to our websites. Yep. attracting positive things always comes when we write with the eyes of our heart open to the present moment. Seeing things as we want them to be is a powerful tool, isn’t it?

      I’m excited for you in this new year to begin writing letters to God. I know that it will open you up to endless possibilities in your personal life. The end result is going to open up possibilitues to your readers, including me!

      Thanks YOU for coming by and commenting. I’m ready to read how to make my New Year Resolutions Work!
      xo Karen:)

  7. Wow Karen…

    What an amazing post! :)

    Why am I always last to the party, I dunno why, I thought I’ve signed up on your subscription list?

    Anyway like I said, I started writing @ age 14. Then on my early 20′s I began to write on my diary. Just little things. I wrote songs, poetry, you name it. And like you, my daddy was an alcoholic. He was successful in his career but wasn’t successful with his family. He was like a volcano ready to erupt any minute, the moment he erupts, we kids specially mom were like walking on eggshells or walking on thin ice.

    In that journal, I remember I wrote a poetry about my family “This House is on Fire” but nobody really have read it. My pleading heart was unheard of. In fact, I have a spiral “Black Book” which I dedicate only for my POETRY that I’ve written through the years.

    When I was single, I used to write songs. Songs to God…which kept me from my lonely nights. I used to have journals after journals until one day…I had to trash some of them. I only left the ones I wrote “positive” things on it; so when I die, they’ll find that one and read. However, nobody knows the password on my Live Journal. Say, if I passed away someday, nobody knows what I have written there.

    I’m praying that someday, if I have to die, I can talk to one of my daughters and tell them my password and they can read my writing, or even claim some of my online real estate…that’s the only wish I have to God. If I have to die, please give me time to talk to one of my daughter and reveal my secret.

    Me too, I write letters to God. Not as often as I would want to. But when I need to pour out my heart, I write letters to God. And like you said, it’s like writing to a best friend. I can pour out my angers, disappointments, agonies, glories, joys, sorrows, happiness…what do you expect? We are simply humans with given emotions. Our emotion is neither right or wrong. It’s what you do AFTER that…is what makes it right or wrong. So yeah…pour my emotions away. That’s what my journal is for.

    When I hit the turning point of my life, my counselor said, “Write all your feelings on your diary. Just feelings. No story.” Things like, “I feel sad today because the sun isn’t shining.” “I was offended by what he said to me.” things like that. And she told me, the moment you “acknowledge” your feelings, that’s when you know yourself.

    Anyway, writing is always therapeutic. It’s always beneficial. Even if you can’t spell or write the right English, it’s only you who can see it. Thanks for sharing us your wonderful story. As always I’m very touched.

    Have a great week my friend.

    xoxo
    Angela
    Angela McCall recently posted…The Power Of A JournalMy Profile

    1. Angela,

      You may have signed up. Karen can’t figure out mailchimp. I sent out one newsletter and just can’t get it to work. Sigh. So sorry!

      I’ve noticed that a quite a few of my Best Friends have had alcoholism in their family. It is pretty common to have some sort of an addictive personality problem in families. Some, like you dad are able to function on a high level. Others can barely manage to work or take care of responsiblities. I think that no matter what our family is like, writing is a good process for sorting out our thoughts and emotions. I read this before my quiet time today and actually journaled some of the feelings that I’m dealing with. It really opened up my writing! I thought of David in the OT. Thanks for that. xo

      Songs and poetry are such amazing ways to express ourselves with words. You know I teach English and my poetry unit is a blast for my high school students. They are always amazed at how deep their own thoughts are. My first lesson of the year is about song lyrics. We can all identify with them, and don’t necessarily think of them as literature. They truly are a great expression of our thoughts.

      You’re absolutely right about it being therapeutic. I’ve had therapy in the past and even took my journals with me! lol. Cut the time down and I didn’t ramble near as much. And I totally identify with needing your daughter to have a password. My daughter eventually went through my journals. It was a time of healing for us both. Now that she is a mother, she understands so much more. But a lot of it was fun as she saw my entries about what she was doing in her life at the time. Ex: Prom dress shopping or first car stories!

      I truly love you girl and am so glad you’re a best friend in heart. xo
      Karen:)

  8. Before becoming unwell I’m afraid to say that I was too busy running around like a headless chicken with work and so forth to even stop to think. Since becoming poorly with Ulcerative Colitis I have had sooo much time to think and reflect. Reflect upon myself, my journey in life and also my future. It is funny how people do not stop and think until something makes them! We can’t change life at times but we can reflect upon the path we take in life. Great post! x
    Victoria marie recently posted…Find your meaning…My Profile

    1. Victoria,

      I can totally identify with running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I’m happy to see that you also take time to reflect and writing is such an important part of that. When we put it down on paper, we are forced to come to a reality, aren’t we?
      I truly believe that we can have a bright future with chronic health problems. It is not easy, especially when we have to take all of these steps to care for a sick body. I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with this. Yet, I’m happy for you that this has provided an opportunity for reflection. I am really glad that you like the blog and I look forward to reading your new one!
      xo Karen:)

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