This is why journal writing is so helpful.

This is why journal writing is so helpful.

When I was about eleven years old, my parents gifted me my first journal. It was a powder blue color. I wish I could remember fully what it looked like, but, alas, I cannot. However, I remember the emotion attached to having it. Back then, my family did not call it a journal. We called it a diary. And my diary had a lock and key. The lock was heavenly. Even at that early age, I valued my privacy—especially when this gift was also going to allow me to write whatever I wanted. With it, I could now explore my thoughts and express them freely with no one to judge them. And I tell you, even back then, I had much to say.

In that diary, I wrote my secret feelings about life as a preteen. I doodled and drew, printed, and used cursive—every line, swirl, word, thought, and idea was an exploration of my world.

That diary gave me a sense of safety in that I could write whatever I was thinking and feeling without fear of ridicule. I explored all my feelings, letting rip any heartache or injustice… and proclaiming my love for whomever or whatever was front and center in my life.

One day my diary went missing. Oh boy, I searched and searched for it, turning my bedroom upside down in a panic. I mean, come on! All my most cherished secrets were in that diary and now a stranger had it, or worse, my sisters! I never found it. Thank goodness I was about fourteen when it went missing. Three whole years had passed since I had filled that diary cover to cover, which I did in the first few months of having it. I was more mature now, right? Those were the rantings of a little girl, childish, and I had outgrown them. Well, that is what I told myself, anyway.

Instead, I decided I would move on to more grown-up things to write about. I used my allowance to buy what I now called a journal. A journal. I loved the sound of the word. I still do. Journaling: to keep a daily record. You bet. I have this. I want this. Journaling is an adventure perfectly made for me. At fourteen and fifteen, my life had expanded. It now included more varied relationships. Friendship was front and center, but the idea of romance was becoming a close second. So, yes, onto those lined pages I laid out my heart.

I explored poetry and loved this new way, for me, of composing in verse, using language with conscious attention to patterns and rhythms. I used poetry to examine my feelings, explore them fully, articulate them, and sometimes purge them. This new form of expression came in handy as more heartbreak entered my world.

By the time I was sixteen, I had met a boy who turned out to be abusive. At that age, I was suffering from low self-esteem but did not know so. Back then, I had never even heard of such a thing. I have since discovered how this happened for me, but long before that revelation, during my early and mid-teenage years, self-reproach was my primary coping mechanism—that, mixed with denial and trying to make my tumultuous relationship into something it would never be, loving.

So, I had an abundance of material for my journals. And I learned very early in my life that getting my thoughts, fears, worries, and troubles onto paper, which for me was a way then, and now, to take a chaotic mess in my head and sort it out into smaller bits I was better able to manage, was also cathartic and healing, and a way for me to explore my love for writing.

In my early twenties, after four years of that unfortunate relationship, during which I filled my journals with accounts of some horrendous stuff, the details of the abuse notwithstanding, and the odd entry softened now and again with poems about love lost, love found, lost again… and so on, I broke free.

In my early thirties, I cleansed myself of the records of that troubling time—one summer evening by the lake at a cottage. There, I burned all the journals from the time of my abuse. I still vividly remember how the scorching heat caused the spine of the book to arch and the pages to open. They splayed and fanned, surrendering as the flames consumed them, bits of paper spiraling bright molten orange into the inky night sky—until all that remained was ash. At that moment, I regained a little more of my power.

For years after, I wrote about gratitude, healing, and all things I found interesting in my life. I even had a gardening journal. Gardening, for me, is another healing practice. I have taken part in about twenty summits about meditation, resilience, mental health, expanded state of consciousness, and more. And each time I do, I have a journal to record my experience.

My entire first novel is one massive journal because the core of it came from my life experience as a teenager and a young woman during those tough years. The difference between then and now? I now was ready to share that story with the world. I hope it can help others.

Journals are gateways of a sort. They allow us to explore deeply ourselves and the world, to process the good and the bad in our lives, to create, to heal, to grow, and to expand. Diary, journal, composition notebook… the names may change, but the heart and soul of the content we create remain as vivid as ever.

This is why journal writing is so helpful.

If you are interested, I created two composition notebooks to complement my novel REASONS three lives, one soul. You can find them here and here. (second link to follow soon)

Why do we love the horizon so much?

Why do we love the horizon so much?

Why do we love the horizon so much?

Ahh… the horizon.

Is it the beauty of a fiery, pink-hued setting sun that draws us in? Or is it the gloriously glowing orb that rises to a new day that captivates us most?

In the sunset, we see accomplishment, a toning down, a calmness. In the sunrise, we see a newness, a cleaning of the slate, a gateway. Do we need to see the sun at all to be lulled and soothed, or made hopeful and energized, by the horizon? What about a starry skyscape melding into the shadows of the gently curving outline of our orbiting Earth?

What does a view of the horizon awaken in you?

The sight of the horizon makes us feel things. It rouses in us the pain or pleasure of embodying our emotions: a fluttering in the belly, a sighing release of breath, a rush of adrenaline to our fingertips, goosebumps, a welling of tears… and then, through awareness of such embodiment, the horizon has shown us a new way of being and learning.

The horizon is steadfast. We know it is always there, waiting, being… observing.

When we have a clear view of the horizon, through contemplation we might embody a heightening sense of abundance… a physical experience of limitlessness, of infinity…

such that we might lean forward into forgiveness,


generosity, understanding,

… and in this, the creation of a wider perspective… an expansion… an opening in the fog… a wonder-inspiring awakening, a deepening inner revelation, a breathtaking, broadening of experience—

is the greatest potential for renewed connections, fresh outlooks, and new beginnings that we never have thought a possibility just moments before.

Oh, the horizon, how it makes us dream.

When we catch welcome glimpses of it… say, through the flickering openings shimmering white between a dense wall of tall trees or beyond the rolling contours of dark and majestic mountains… where, far away, is the teasing of a clear blue sky laid flush against the straight edge of a grassy meadow… or a deeper shade of charcoal-blue storm clouds blending into an endless plane of purply blue sea…




We feel a part of something





we could sink our teeth into if only

we understood it better.

Ah well, no problem… we think.

We will keep staring at the horizon,

contemplating it…

painting it,

describing it with our earthbound words.

And, in this way, we will get closer to it, closer to its secrets… closer to the untouchable mysteries that lie beyond it. Maybe.

Oh, the mysteries of the horizon.

In them, there is wonder and awe.

And in awe,

when the horizon beckons us,

there is freedom.

Why do we love the horizon so much? You tell me.

Why do we love the horizon so much?

Learn how to recognize and understand your map of life

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About two weeks ago, I was taking part in a short, guided meditation. During it, the speaker asked participants to imagine the turning points in their life… and suggested visualizing these moments as the connecting dots of an upward trajectory—and the creation of “the map of your life so far.”

For many of us, one or two or more of these turning points involve challenges and experiences so painful that we are not sure we can face them again—and certainly not with our eyes wide open.

A movie in my mind’s eye

While I had much joy in my life, about a decade ago, this is how I felt. And yet, now, for me, the experience of visualizing the turning points in my life, joyful or painful, was like watching a fast-paced, yet smooth progression… a movie in my mind’s eye… one that indeed revealed an upward trajectory.

I am not so sure this upward progression would have been obvious to me had I tried this exercise years ago.

I will never know. The “movie” might play, but I think I might have become stuck within three or more of the turning points because, in real life, I truly was stuck.

What happens when you’re stuck?

When stuck, the links in my map of life became obscured; the connections became severed, interrupted by my unchecked chattering mind. Left unobserved, my thoughts sometimes made an abundance of painful memories become overwhelmed by sadness, resentment, confusion, fear, or anger.

Back then, to me, my map of life might have resembled a crumpled piece of paper that when unfolded revealed a scribbling of detached lines going in all directions.


Now, things are different, and pleasantly so.

I have done the arduous work. I poured the results into my novel: REASONS Three Lives One Soul.

I have looked inward and scraped the darkest shadows for substance and definition.

What “works” for each of us is as different as we are from each other

Some of you might be ready to stop reading. I get you. I understand. Once, a therapist, recommended to me by a good friend, pulled out a scarf from her desk. She held one end, passed the other end to me, and asked me to pull on it as hard as I could.


Not for me.

Fine for someone else, but not me.

My pain was deep, and I was so far from it, I did not know what it had in store for me then, and past then. Still now it holds mysteries.

Yet through all the flux, my map of life was growing and making connections, anyway. It did not need my permission.

The creation of your map is unique to you

This post, however, is not about my healing journey. I tell you a bit about my experience with pain because it is important to say that I know this journey well—and like many of you, the creation of my map formed from personal experience with both joy and pain—and not an assumption of what they might be like.

Besides, this healing journey of mine? I am still on it.

The remarkable change for me over the years is that I no longer fear my journey. Instead, I am grateful for it. Yes, that too might trigger eye-rolling. But, for me, my journey is a path to the truth; it is a path to my truth.

My journey has expanded my perspective, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

Okay, back to the map of life. Your map is unique to you. And, yes, my map is unique to me.

When the visualization suggested by the speaker unfolded in my mind, I saw myself in these fleeting yet obvious moments of my past. There I was as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, as a woman forging her career, as a sister, a daughter, middle-aged—all coming and going through triumphs and failures, through trauma, through deaths of this and that… and of friends and family…

And yet.

And… yet.

A thread runs through it

There, whirling about these images, threaded throughout them, tying them all together into one long flowing line, was an underlying peacefulness, a rising joy… an opening up and unfolding of me.

And the thread? Well, that ‘essence’ was… is… who I am: the witness.

I discovered, no, I continue to discover that as the witness… I remain whole and true… as I have always been from the beginning of my existence.

During the meditation exercise, at the time to my surprise, in my mind’s eye, the visions of past to current turning points literally and effortlessly ran in an upward trajectory—like dots on an upward pointing arrow… with me the essence that breathed life into the whole of the movement.

The map of my life, so far, has led to authenticity, integrity, self-compassion, forgiveness, self-love, acceptance, letting go of what is not in my control… and so much more—while all the while clarifying that the unknown path ahead, even in the certainty of impermanence, has an infinite quality to it.

Now you have an idea of how to: Learn to read your map of life.

Learn how to generate more joy in your life.

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Learn how to generate more joy in your life. What does joy feel like? Does joy feel the same for you as it does for me?

These are questions that crossed my mind one rainy afternoon when joy seemed distant and a wishful thought.

I want more joy in my life, so I wondered if, within reason, or even independent of it, I might set an intention to feel joy whenever I wanted.

If I asked you to describe what joy feels like… could you?

At first, it seems an easy query, but, for me, when I asked myself this same question, I paused. Did I truly know what joy felt like? I certainly believed I knew what sorrow felt like, so joy should be easy to describe… it’s the opposite of the crushing weight of sorrow. But had I paid attention to what joy felt like for me? I wasn’t so sure.

Words are important and useful. They portray and elicit deep emotion—but an embodied sensation is personal… and too often, missed or ignored… and existing at the peripheral of our forgotten awareness. Yes, I said forgotten awareness—meaning this: we forget to be aware—we forget to notice what emotions feel like because we’re often too busy being highjacked by our endlessly chattering minds.

We forget to take notice of how emotions feel in our bodies. And if we forget to notice, how will we know when we’re feeling the seemingly more elusive ones, like joy? Increased joy isn’t an impossible wish. We just need to learn to be present for it.

We each have different stories to tell. The embodied experience of our sorrow and joy is unique. I can’t tell you what either of these emotions feels like for you. Sure, I can guess. And I might even find words that seem like a good fit. But why guess when each of us has the truest answer within us? I’ll leave it to you to describe how joy feels for you.

Here’s my description of how I embody joy (while I am mindful that the feeling is ever-growing):

The wonder of joy feels like the rising of warmth in my chest, sometimes bringing gentle tears to well in my eyes and a calm spread of a smile to my lips.

Joy feels like soft shivering from my belly, a gentle trembling near the hollow of my throat, and a wash of tingles and goosebumps caressing the surface of my skin—like I’m re-experiencing a childlike presence.

Joy is a curiosity and clarity of mind that translates into a feeling of being lighter than a feather, as if I’m floating, my limbs no longer weighed down by gravity.

My senses become heightened. I hear more crisply and see more vibrantly, noticing the tiniest of details, the brightness of color—as if I’ve become an explorer in a new world.

My lungs expand more fully and smoothly. I sense the air moving through my body akin to drinking a glass of cool, fresh water, filling me like an elixir, grounding and steadying me as new in every moment with no need for conclusion or anticipation.

I’ll pull from my description all the words I used to describe joy as a physical sensation:

  • The rising of warmth in my chest.
  • Gentle tears well in my eyes.
  • A calm spread of a smile to my lips.
  • Soft shivering from my belly.
  • A gentle trembling near the hollow of my throat.
  • A wash of tingles and goosebumps caress the surface of my skin.
  • Being lighter than a feather.
  • Floating limbs are no longer weighed down by gravity.
  • Senses become heightened.
  • Hear more crisply.
  • See more vibrantly.
  • Lungs expand more fully and smoothly.
  • Air moving through my body like drinking a glass of cool, fresh water.
  • Grounded and steady.

And here are the words from my description I used to describe joy as a cerebral experience:

  • Wonder.
  • Childlike presence.
  • Curiosity and clarity.
  • An explorer in a new world.
  • New in every moment with no need for conclusion or anticipation.

Now that I’ve paid attention to how my body and mind feel when I experience joy, through ongoing awareness, joy is no longer a distant and wishful thought.

Learn how to generate more joy in your life. What does Joy feel like?

It feels like an extension of me.

Here’s a link to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. His life’s work is truly healing for all.

What to do when Friends or Family Let Us Down?

What to do when Friends or Family Let Us Down?

When friends or family let us down, it hurts. It just does. And there’s no way around the associated pain. It sucks. When friends or family let me down, I can feel isolated, alone… and maybe even feel as if I’m not important to them. So… What to do when Friends or Family Let Us Down?

Some say to not have any expectations or to lower them. I think most of us know this is an easy phrase to say, but not so easy to live. When family or friends dismiss us or ignore us or worse yet, promise us something but don’t follow through, what do we do? How do we feel?

I can guess, like me, your reaction to a broken promise might often be negative and sometimes lead to self-doubt. I understand. It’s hard to push aside our expectations. After all, we’re not robots. We have thoughts and emotions. We feel joy and we feel pain. And sometimes, we feel alone.

It may seem as if everyone else has tons and tons of support from family and friends—or even from hundreds or thousands of total strangers. Social media has everything to do with this manipulation of our perspective.

In reality, no one is immune to feelings of self-doubt or loneliness.

Every person feels let down from time to time. People of all makes and shapes can feel alone. The sting of emotional pain is something every person knows.

Social media has distorted the meaning of the words: friends and followers.

An authentic smile from one person in one moment of any day means more to lifting one’s spirits—even if it comes from a stranger.

For many of us, expectations are hard to suppress, almost impossible in our digital age of instant information or disinformation, our desire for immediate gratification, and our tendency to measure self-worth by quantities of likes, loves, shares or retweets.

Better said than ‘don’t have expectations, is ‘don’t become attached to the outcome’.

Of course, I didn’t come up with this sage piece of advice. But it makes sense to me, so I share it with you. The hard part is to remember to live it.

My sense of success, inner calm, self-worth, and self-realization isn’t solely measured by the sense of a good or bad outcome. Nor is it defined by what family or friends do or don’t say or do. It also isn’t determined by the number of people, especially strangers, who click ‘like’, or ‘follow’ on social media. Sure, those things can feel good. But the good feeling is fleeting… because it holds no depth of value.

How we feel about ourselves doesn’t come from outside of us. And a “good” sense of self-worth isn’t hidden so deep within that we need some kind of special skill or magic key to access it. It might seem buried beneath years of emotional debris, never to see the light of day. But it’s there… and waiting for us to discover it. For some, the dig can be scary and arduous. But it can also be rewarding. Successful feelings or achievements don’t have to wait until some future time when everything falls neatly into place. And they sure as heck don’t depend on family and friends to manifest and thrive.

For me, I long ago learned that I can navigate and cultivate my sense of success and self-worth all by myself.

I can realize happiness and joy any second of the day. Sure, sometimes life will be too hard, too fast, too heavy. It’s like meditating when I’m experiencing too much emotional or physical pain; that’s way too rough a ride, and too easily promotes a sense of failure. In those tougher moments, I just breathe… and keep moving.

On other days, I practice patience and self-compassion, and self-love and kindness go a long way, too. These are not attributes granted by a genie. They’re already part of who I am.

It may take a lot of hard work, but in time, many of us who question our abilities or the value of our creations, learn to stop looking for the answers from outside of us.

We can try to understand the perceived dismissiveness of our friends or family members… but we’ll never know the answer because we are not them. We don’t know what’s going on in their lives. We can guess, but where does that get us? We end up telling ourselves made-up stories. Let it be.

Instead, why not choose to settle into the moment? Why not learn to embody it, feelings and all, without trying to solve it like a puzzle? For me, by choosing this quiet, introspective way of being, I’ve found I’ve got all the support I’ll ever need… from within; and I’ve discovered I can keep learning how to become the best I can be.

I’ve got this. And you do too.

As a side note, no particular recent friend’s or family member’s lack of support toward me inspired this post. Like my other posts, this one is about sharing some general thoughts about being human. I am profoundly grateful for my family members and friends who show up to support me, and who keep their promises. I wholly respect their time and consideration. They are stellar people (not that they need me to realize this).

Explore how to create the relationships that best work for you

Create the relationships that work for you

Twenty years ago, my health declined. Skip ahead, and ten years later symptoms had worsened into a disability.

I don’t talk about this much because I live my life dealing with my symptoms every day—that’s enough. However, now it seems appropriate to talk a bit about some symptoms that have changed my relationship with words.

Pain is a constant companion. It walks with me and sleeps with me. It never leaves me be. You’d think I’d hate it, right? Well, I don’t love it, that’s for sure. My relationship with pain has changed over the years. I’ve grown to accept it. Sure, it restricts me significantly. I walk with a cane, and although I take walks in nature as often as health permits, I do so with breaks every few steps. I’m awake through most nights—pain nattering away. And with sleep frequently interrupted, my brain and my body cannot rest and renew.

So, what’s this got to do with my relationship with words?

My physical health has had a profound effect on my mental health. I’m not referring to emotions (although you can trust that I experience some truly taxing ones). I’m talking about focus and verbal word retrieval.

I lack both.

In verbal conversation, I frequently forget the subject, and sometimes, I forget my thoughts, mid-sentence, and more than once in a single conversation.

Words? Well, they become fading shapes in a fog. And sometimes, a completely different word than the one I intended tumbles out. Occasionally, the misspeak is funny. And it’s good to laugh. However, most of the time, these events are wearing on my brain—and my ego.

I’m much better on paper.

Thank goodness.

I love to write. I can set the pace.

My relationship with words may have changed, but it is still spectacular. Sure, my symptoms make writing a challenge—some days, impossible. But, most of the time, I’m able to write most satisfyingly—and create the stories I want to tell.

So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed about your restrictions, gain a wider perspective, and explore how to create the relationships that best work for you.

Here’s a link to an interesting blog post by Jenny at Tripping Through Treacle about chronic illness and word retrieval.

Enjoy the perks of knowing authentic people.

Boardwalk trail

An authentic person shows you exactly who she or he is. No pretending. No performing. No exaggerating. No bull.

Well, that’s my experience anyway.

Authentic people are: What you see is what you get (a phrase some relate to wysiwyg, pronounced: whizzywig. An acronym with an authentic story all of its own. But I’ll leave that extra bit of research to you). I’m using the phrase in the way Flip Wilson’s Geraldine used it: a ‘plain-speaking person with no hidden agenda’. I’m a big fan of straightforward people who aren’t pretending to be anything but who they are, warts and all, with no nonsense and no secret order of business.

For me, one of the perks of knowing authentic people, is the ease of being I feel when I’m with them.

And as a bonus, when the authenticity is reciprocal… when I am present and wholly genuine… well… the overall experience can be a bit like an elixir… a sweet remedy that removes the ill effects of all that past “trying to fit in to be accepted”.

If you’ve spent time with a notably genuine person, and have offered them the same of yourself, you know the feeling I’m talking about; the calm, comfort that comes with being completely who you are… each of you sincere and mindful.

The experience is extraordinarily refreshing, and definitely one of the more satisfying perks of knowing authentic people.

I know. I know. Authenticity isn’t always all good. I might admire the authenticity in a person, but that’s not the same as admiring the person. An authentic person might not even be likable. Like me, you probably know some inherently genuine people who make you cringe. And yet, no matter how often they might anger you or even repulse you, you always know where they stand. And in my opinion, that’s a perk.

Because, for me, no matter how much or how often another person’s opinions and beliefs may go against my own, their straightforward what you see is what you get character… will remain one of the reliable and consistent aspects of our relationship. And for me, that trustworthiness and undeniable authenticity, encourages me to be the same: genuine, dependable and clear. And then together, from within this place of mutual authenticity, we have the opportunity to make an honest and real connection. We have the chance to build bridges.

And bridges create a common point where people can meet, greet, debate and deliberate, and if all goes well… cooperate and flourish.

So, why do so many of us have such trouble being authentic? Why do we put so much effort into “trying to fit in to be accepted”? We even behave in this way when we are with our own family members. It’s an exhausting way to be, not terribly useful, often dissatisfying, and serves to promote the false belief of not being enough just as we are.

It should go without saying that I’m no therapist. I’m just a writer who has done a lot of self-reflection, and who spends a lot of time observing the behavior of people for the purpose of character-building for my stories. So, I’m not about to attempt any kind of analysis here.

But I’ll offer this about my own experience. When I was much younger, I didn’t want to be judged as not enough, and I used to loath the thought of rejection, let alone living it as an actuality.

I’d go out of my way to try to keep everyone happy, leaving little room for being authentically myself. It’s an anxious way to be, mostly just a set up for failure, and a sure sign of living way behind or ahead of the present moment.

I’m grateful to have evolved. But when I slip back into old habits; when I recognize that I’ve begun to forget that I am enough. I settle down. Literally. I settle into my body; the pull of gravity; the support of the ground beneath me. Whether I’m standing or sitting, walking or riding… I breathe with awareness and relax. Usually three good breaths are enough to fully settle. My shoulders relax, as does my jaw, my pelvis, and even my eyes.

And I am once again present… and authentic.

Sure, there are times when life is so fast and loud that I get caught up in the powerful flow of it all. And sometimes, I forget to settle. But, in time, after years of practice, even with the weight of my responsibilities, chronic pain, fears, worries, changes and other pressures… I can call up awareness… once more remember to settle… and again, be authentic.

An authentic person shows you exactly who she or he is. Being an authentic person yourself, is the greatest perk of all.