Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -Maria Robinson


We must write in a way that links detailed descriptions of what happened with feelings — then and now — about what happened. -Louise DeSalvo, Writing as a Way of Healing

One of the treasures I found while purging and re-organizing bookshelves this week was Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise DeSalvo. The first time I read this book it resonated deeply; I was in the midst of holistic and allopathic treatment for ovarian cancer.

“Confronting the chaos of our most difficult memories and feelings … translating them into coherent language can have ‘remarkable short- and long-term health benefits.’ For when we deal with unassimilated events, when we tell our stories and describe our feelings and integrate them into our sense of self, we no longer must actively work at inhibition. This alleviates the stress of holding back our stories and repressing or hiding our emotions, and so our health improves.” p. 24-25

DeSalvo addresses the need for linking both thinking and feeling in our writing for healing to unravel “how the past impinges on the present but how, too, it’s different.”

“In controlled clinical experiments, then, only writing that describes traumatic events and our deepest thoughts and feelings about them, past and present, is linked with improved immune function, improve emotional and physical health, and behavioral changes indicating that we feel able to act on our behalf.” p. 25

This is a timely [re]discovering as I am in the midst of a “depression self-study” — sorting through photographs to cue memories, and compiling compassionate notes to myself as I am able to gently identify and name the real-life reasons for my long-term challenge and co-existence with depression.

“Let the light come …” these are words in my spirit. Today the moon is full and the summer solstice (for the northern hemisphere; winter solstice for the southern hemisphere) is June 20th.

Love and light are terms often used as a greeting; both terms uniquely defined by our own experience and association.

I feel able to explore the emotions and realities of my depression because of my writing practice; and because I have liberated myself of previously imposed obligations and expectations attached to love and light.

Love as feeling safe, the flow of a kindness and reciprocity; light as life-giving, fullness and being seen [instead of exposed].

★ What does this have to do with planning? ★

You are the expert, Braveheart.

Honor your pace — your routines and preferences for creatively processing, documenting and “planning” your life; show up for yourself in compassion and allow for the varying and ever-changing measures of what that looks like.

Notice your personal cycles and resist being “tamed” into believing someone else’s beliefs and formulas. Resist allowing your love to be used as a standard or expectation of performance.

Your time is your life.

      • For me, I know for my life to evolve and flourish I need to name what I am facing (and feeling) instead of ignoring it or minimizing. I need to allow silence and white space for ease and self-compassion — for writing and for listening in-Spirit.

Deliberate practice is not a comfortable activity. It requires sustained effort and concentration. The people who master the art of deliberate practice are committed to being lifelong learners—always exploring and experimenting and refining. -James Clear

Please note: It is not my intention to in any way trivialize the struggle of chronic depression, or to imply that “being in the light” is a cure. In my own journey with chronic depression and illness, visual journals and nature have proven to be a way through; healing for me in conjunction with holistic and allopathic solutions, including sessions with a professional art therapist.
Braveheart, if you are dealing with a chronic health issues I hope you will resist the urge to wait until [fill-in-the-blank] or some other form of “when everything settles down” before you begin to care for yourself. Self-compassion and care is a form of putting the proverbial oxygen mask on yourself before caring for others in need.