“Dear Santa, Merry Christmas. I was very good this year and I tried really hard to get along with my brothers, but Michael made it really hard. I want a 007 attaché case and an erector set and a Barbie doll. We left you some milk and cookies. I hope you like them. Love 2c, Pats"
Ho, Ho, Ho – Did you ever write a letter to Santa or encourage you children to write a letter to Santa? This was probably the first time you put a desire on paper.
I never got the Barbie doll until years later when it didn't seem to matter. You may have received your desired gift and been transformed with the idea of the magic of receiving what you asked for. Or you may never have received that one thing you believed could make you happy and it still colors your world.
Now, what do YOU want for 2017? Do you have dreams you are putting off because you haven’t taken the time to sort out your beliefs and desires? I want to promote daily writing/journaling to help you get there. In this blog and on Facebook Live we are continuing a Year of Discovery for survivors of child sexual abuse and for our friends and families. Last week we talked about connecting to yourself with different forms of meditation and cultivating self-kindness on purpose. Now we connect to ourselves through writing.
Back to that letter to Santa Claus ….Writing.
Like meditation, research studies claim that expressive writing has a positive impact on your physical health. Researcher, J. Pennebaker, reports that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, and decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. He believes that writing about difficult events helps you come to terms with them, and lessens the impact of stres on your physical health.
Writing and the daily habit of writing is my anchor.
You want something to change. You want peace. You want joy. You want to lose weight. You want excitement. You want to stop bad habits. You want to be aware of your thoughts. You want to be grateful.
I write in the morning - not a lot of words. Writing helps me with my madness.
Yes, my mind can be mad, how about yours? Through writing I have uncovered habitual thinking that undermines my desire to live a happy, peaceful (sometimes exciting) life. My mind without an anchor reels back to those unhelpful thoughts.
When I first notice my thought, I claim it as a win. When I write it down, that is a gold medal. Getting my thoughts down on paper helps me step back into the watcher role. Like dumping the garbage, or sweeping the deck, or sorting the closet. My watcher is a neutral observer and much kinder than the critical judge I grew up with in my head. The watcher doesn’t yell at the garbage or threaten the fallen leaves or call the worn clothes ugly names.
Writing doesn’t necessarily solve my problems, but it gives me time with myself. It creates intimacy. No one has to see it. No one has to know.
Intimacy is messy, because it holds the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet intimacy asks that we be kind with assessments. Intimacy demands love. Intimacy is connection. Connect to yourself. Accompany yourself. Be with yourself. Make writing a daily habit, it will become your anchor.
Here are two exercises to practice daily or as often as possible:
Exercise #1 – 10-minute free flow of pen hitting paper in the morning. (If mornings just don’t work, 10 minutes before bed will do). Or, on the train home or waiting in the dentist office. Get started. There are journals that guide you – The Five-Minute Journal is one. Any paper will do.
If the flow isn’t coming right away, here are some prompts to get you started:
a. What are the words in my head?
b. What do I care about today?
c. What is one value I have that I can describe today?
d. What was the best thing about yesterday?
e. What is perfect about this moment?
f. Where is there abundance in my life?
g. What is important to me?
h. How can I make today better than yesterday?
i. What do I say to myself when I make a mistake?
j. How do I feel right now?
k. How do I want to feel?
l. What would make today great?
Exercise #2 - Create a Daily Gratitude List
Write a list of 10 things you are grateful for. Be detailed. Be specific. Example: instead of “I am grateful for my husband,” how about, “I am grateful to my husband for preparing the coffee every night before bed.”
Don’t get hung up on details or expectations. Just start writing and see what happens.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
I calculated that I have already lived 23,246 days and have approximately 8,796 days left as of Dec 15, 2016, (if I live a long, healthy life). I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to mess around. I want to learn more, to connect more, and to understand myself and you. To be more loving and more connected. If you are still struggling with 40 extra pounds and don’t want to mess around, find out about my new program, How to Change Your Past and Lose 40 Lbs. It is especially for women over 60 years old who are survivors of childhood abuse. Complete an application here and we can talk.