Tuesday, December 01, 2015
I wish all of you Happy Holidays, and I'll reconnect in the New Year. Keep up the journal writing.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
If you are someone who is hesitant to start journaling because you have never been able to commit to it or are unsure if it is "your thing," start with a basic notebook. That's really the only essential element, plus a writing implement, that you need. A fancy journal is not a requirement. A spiral-bound notebook serves your purpose and it is inexpensive, so the investment is minimal.
Try to schedule a time to write regularly. It doesn't have to be every day, but in the beginning, set a schedule and see if you can stick to it. You may find that it becomes a habit or you miss it when you don't write. If that is the case, it may be time to upgrade to an actual journal.
Friday, November 06, 2015
I was in New York Penn Station a couple weeks ago, waiting to catch a train. I ventured into Hudson News to see what new books were available because I had some time to kill. I stood there perusing the shelves when a woman needed to squeeze by me. I turned to let her pass and saw these:
Gorgeous, right? I was so tempted to purchase one or two but resisted because I have one, in addition to my current journal, that needs to be filled before I purchase any more. When I do need another, I may pop into Hudson News because these are lovely. So dear readers, keep your eyes open because you never know where you may find your next treasured journal.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Journaling through Cancer in the 21st Century
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
This is the most important advice I give in my workshops or when asked about journaling: Avoid censoring what you write. Your journal is a place only for you, where you can record and reflect on all that is happening or has occurred in your life as well as your hopes for the future. The content can be as wild, dark, inspiring, or joyful as you are feeling.
This is a no-judgment zone, except from you, but avoid doing that. No good comes from it and judgment inevitably leads to censorship. Be honest—brutally so if necessary—because that is how healing and growth happen. Then after some tough love, be gentle and kind with yourself and all your flaws, remembering that you are only human after all.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The first I came upon were two letters I’d written, separately, to my parents about a month before my move from Cincinnati to New Jersey to pursue an acting career in the New York City market. I knew they were concerned for my safety, especially since it had not yet been one year since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In those letters I reassured them that I would be fine, that I loved them, and how much I valued their guidance and love throughout the years. I made a note to myself to ask Mom if she still had those letters. (She does.) I had totally forgotten that I had written them. The content was unsurprising because I’ve always been quite sentimental and emotionally open with those closest to me.
The second entry I read was the first one in that journal, dated February 17, 2002. It was still about six months prior to my departure and in one paragraph I’d written about what I envisioned my life to look like in 2012. Well, it is 2015 and my life little resembles that which I had hoped for or envisioned at that time. This made me stop and ask myself some questions:
- Does this disappoint me? Am I a failure?
- If not, why and what has replaced this vision?
- Where did my planned path go astray? What factors influenced the change in trajectory?
- What on that list did I accomplish?
- What not on my list has manifest in my life that is better, or merely different?
- In what ways am I happy or satisfied in my current situation? How am I not and what steps can I take to change any dissatisfaction?
Asking the above questions encouraged me to dig into the "whys" and "hows" of ending up where I am currently. Instead of feeling down about it, when reviewing what I have accomplished, the people who have shown up in my life, as well as the independence and financial well-being I now possess—which I sorely lacked thirteen years ago—reassures me that I am no failure.
Annual trips abroad commenced in 2006. Those experiences have been transformative, especially my solo trips to Paris in 2012 and this past spring to Ireland, Scotland, and England. These adventures have increased my confidence and made me more independent. I possess a self-assurance of which that woman back in February 2002 could've only dreamed.
|Edinburgh - view of Old Town from New Town|
May 3, 2015
I am single, never been married, nor do I have children. However, I do have kids in my life who are like my own, and they are precious to me. We have an excellent relationship. Adoption was always a possibility for me, even if I remained single, but as I’ve aged and have my nieces and nephews, the desire to adopt has disappeared.
The next time you read through your journals, take some time to reflect on where you've been, where you are now, and what twists and turns brought you to your current situation. It's worth exploring in order to keep moving forward, and on track; or if necessary, to change tracks. So dear reader, what are you leaping toward?
Friday, September 25, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
Past posts have also been repurposed into new posts, taking old content and adding information relevant in today's world. I use this for blogging on my own or on other platforms or writing articles for publication.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Tip #9 - Journal writing is a way to better understand yourself.
Self-exploration requires digging into past events, relationships, and emotions. When you go back and read your journals, you see patterns in your life—some beneficial and others detrimental. If you can recognize negative patterns, you are then able to make the required changes—that is if you are ready to do so. Self awareness can move you in a positive direction, making adjustments so that you avoid the same hurdles you've repeatedly jumped over in previous years. This provides an understanding of why you behave the way you do or why you keep using the same strategies and expecting different results. (Didn't someone say that is the definition of insanity?)
Writing helps you process emotions and the why for making decisions. Understanding the why associated with your emotions and behaviors and recognizing patterns can potentially free you from insanity, so get sane! Search for the negative patterns that persist then resolve to make the needed correction(s). Write out a plan and follow it. Good luck.
Think of one moment in your life or a person who may have been instrumental, purposely or not, in changing how you felt about yourself, the path you chose, or a decision you made.
- What changed in how you felt about yourself and why?
- Why did you make the choice to go down that particular path? Were there other alternatives you had considered?
- Do you have any regrets? Why or why not?
- Can you imagine what your life may have been like if you had chose differently? Is that even a question worth considering?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment should you wish to share any of your writing with me. I may use it in a future post, with permission of course.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
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.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Ovation Theatre Company staged its first production on August 21, 1998. I and my fellow co-founders reveled in our accomplishment.
|Opening night celebration at Arnolds|
I was in an executive LCT meeting one day when the conversation turned to Cincinnati Playhouse in Park's upcoming season. They had slotted Talley's Folly in the spring of 2001. At that time, D. Lynn Meyers was the President of LCT and the producing artistic director (still is) of Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. She informed us that ETC was planning to jump on Playhouse's bandwagon and stage Wilson's Sense of Place during the same time period.
An idea ignited in my brain. I could hardly contain myself. Ovation needed to jump on that bandwagon too. This was my opportunity to perform a dream role I'd been writing about for years, but how could I persuade Ovation to stage Wilson's one-woman, one-act, The Moonshot Tape?
I brought this up at Ovation's next board meeting. We were in the process of planning the next season, so it was the perfect time to have this conversation. Joe, our artistic director, suggested we do a night of Lanford Wilson one-act plays. Unbeknownst to me—and seriously, how did I not know this?—Wilson had written dozens of one-acts.
We read through many and selected four, one of which was The Moonshot Tape. I immediately asked my Talley's Folly director, Mike, to work with me, as I'd told him I would in 1997. I was going to be onstage alone for fifty-five minutes. It was thrilling but I had no idea it would get even more exciting.
Two other small theatre companies decided they would also stage Lanford Wilson shows that May. There were now five companies producing Wilson's work, so it was decided to create a Lanford Wilson Theatre Festival, which generated a good deal of publicity for the smaller companies. To kick off the festival there was a reception at Cincinnati Playhouse. The guests of honor were Marshall Mason, a long-time collaborator of Mr. Wilson's, and Lanford Wilson. I met my favorite playwright. 'Pinch me,' I thought.
|With Director, Michael Morehead and Landford Wilson|
Thankfully, I was performance ready. I had worked on my character religiously over the past year, creating a biography for Diane, breaking the script down into beats, memorizing the end of the play and working back toward the beginning. I took copious notes and researched the time period and references in the play with which I was unfamiliar. I knew my character intimately and my lines were memorized by the time we began the eight-week rehearsal period, which is what my goal had been.
Mike picked up Mr. Wilson that Saturday morning and drove him to our rehearsal warehouse where I gave a private performance for a Pulitzer-Prize winner, my Ovation colleagues, and select friends. Lanford Wilson loved it. It was such an honor to perform for him and because he had praised my work so highly, it gave me the courage to finally commit, after ten years, to move to the New York City area to pursue a professional acting career.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams that performing Diane in The Moonshot Tape would lead to one of the most exciting, pivotal performance experiences of my life. Moreover, I was thirty-five when I played Diane, the same age as the character. I had also been thirty-one like Sally Talley in Talley's Folly. I felt like Lanford had written these women for me.
|Receiving notes from Lanford Wilson post-performance|
Think about any moments in your life that have manifest through your intentions. Did you spend time envisioning them? Did you write them down? If you cannot think of any examples or only a couple, I encourage you to test it for yourself, putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It may take some time to see the results, so don't get frustrated. It took eight years to make performing The Moonshot Tape a reality. That only happened because of Ovation Theatre Company, meeting my Ovation co-founders through the Cincinnati community theatre scene, and being brave enough to go back to college to earn another degree in theatre and drama, all of which I wrote about extensively.
Write down your wishes and dreams, imagine what your life might look like, keep writing about it and be sure to inject your writing with passion—get your emotions involved. Be sure to follow this up with concrete actions. The outcome may be so much more incredible than you ever dreamed.
The examples I've provided in this two-part post demonstrate the power of imagination and writing, but action is also required. Work, even if only baby steps, is also necessary to propel you toward your goals and fulfill your potential. So, dear reader, what do you want to manifest?
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Sometimes one needs a place where they can safely express negative feelings. Rather than losing your cool at the office or with a loved one, which can easily escalate and lead to regret, retreat to your writing space at the first opportunity. There, lay it all out on the page or computer screen. I find venting is more effective when typing because I am better able to keep up with the thoughts racing through my head as opposed to handwriting them, which is considerably slower.
Allow all thoughts to appear on the page/screen. Do not censor them, just proceed with this task until you cannot, or do not, want to write any more. I guarantee you will feel a huge release from any pent-up negative energy. Do not read this entry immediately, if ever. Allow it to sit. Wait a few days if you do decide to review what you wrote. You can also choose to get rid of it. There are no rules.
If after a few days you are still stewing over whatever happened that incited your anger, take some time to read through the entry, if you still have it. Are there any solutions? Do you feel the need for additional angry writing? If so, go at it. I repeat this exercise two more times if there is a situation over which I am obsessing.
However, if you fail to find peace or resolution, you may need to talk it out with the offending person. If you cannot directly speak with that person, perhaps a trusted friend or a professional can provide some guidance that will lead to relief.
Anger is stressful. I've found writing out my anger to be an effective way to not only alleviate it, but also to find solutions for dealing with whomever or whatever has upset me, or at least resolve to get over it. The next time you want to strike out at someone, take it out on your journal first.