The Expressive Writing Workshop is a serendipitous manifestation of my authentic journey. In November of 2015 I was diagnosed with cutaneous lupus. It was prescribed by my doctor that I minimize my exposure to UV rays and manage my stress levels. As a result, I lessened my involvement at the family accounting firm to pursue my joy of writing. I had a rock solid plan! Well, I thought I had a rock solid plan. I was determined to send impressive pitches to local magazines and become a freelance writer. I had a few jobs, and then it was “crickets.”
I knew I had to keep creating, not just for the benefit of others, but also for myself. I googled “writing therapy” and spoke to a writer-friend on the subject. I found that Dr. James W. Pennebaker was the go-to expert on the subject. I immediately purchased his little book called Expressive Writing, Words that Heal (co-written by Dr. John F. Evans), and soon began to do the writing exercises in the book. The findings of Dr. Pennebaker’s 30 years of research validated why I enjoyed writing so much – writing emotionally AND physically improves overall wellness. Not only did I feel better after writing, but I also gained new awareness about some of the challenges in my life. My next thought was, “I have to share this with others!”
I began to read more books by authors that were in the medical, psychological, neuroscience, spiritual, and creative fields. I combined all of this new knowledge with my life’s experiences and accumulated wisdom from my childhood, living abroad, illness, and my most recent emergence as a writer, and produced a workshop that aims to assist others in mapping out their own struggles and finding new wisdom. As a result I created the following process:
Steps to Emotional Wellness
SHINE THE LIGHT ON YOUR INTERIOR LIFE – Go inward and identify what prevents you from thriving.
WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS THAT NEED HEALING? Acknowledge and engage with these emotions. Tell your story of sadness, anger, frustration, resentment, guilt, hurt, jealousy, fear….Whatever! Write your story UNCENSORED.
RECOGNIZE THE BEAUTY IN THE STRUGGLE – What have you learned? How has it made you stronger? How can you do better? What do you want your life to look like going forward?
REPEAT AS NEEDED!
Please note that the above process could take 20 minutes for some challenges and 20 years for others. I’ve seen that, at first, there may be some very painful stories to face that we have not looked at for a very long time. However, over time, the more this process is maintained, the more of a habit it becomes to search for wisdom when we are faced with new obstacles. In other words, don’t expect life to get easier through this process, because, we can never predict the hardships that may come our way. Instead, you will habitually look for the lessons and wisdom when they do come or at least be able to stand in solidarity and compassion with others who share similar hardships.
Just like yoga, meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet, expressive writing is a another wellness tool to assist in taking care of our whole selves. This has become a spring board for many new projects I am creating to strengthen our emotional intelligence that involve taking this expressive writing into the creative genres of poetry and storytelling. It is the beginning of a brand new journey, and I am full of excitement to see what the universe has in “store-y” for all of us!
Please remember everyone’s body is different and unique. Always discuss any areas of concern about your autoimmune disease with your doctor.