The onion family can, quite literally, bring tears to your eyes. In the kitchen of the Soul Food Cafe we will use lashings of this indispensable vegetable. So take on kitchen duty and peel the onions. Cut them into quarters and carefully pull away the layers... to reveal true north

Onion Peeling Duties

Regularly visit the Peeling the Onion blogspot for fresh onion peeling duties

You have taken a chocolate from the Chocolate Box haven't you? Take one today and write in your Peeling the Onion journal as you savor it.

John Suler uses these self insight exercises in his classes and, never one to reinvent the wheel, I have used a number with my writing groups. They are easy to follow and worth doing in your workbook.  

Belief Net provides an interesting interactive quiz section that helps you figure out an important layer. It is not judgmental or based on a particular religion. Their inspiration section has lots of interesting things to read and some useful questions that are worth pursuing in your notebook.

Discover what is it that you wear on your sleeve and how you present to the outside world. Learn about what it is that you prefer to keep inside. Share your feelings

Try the latest guided imagery about Memory. Permit yourself to wander back and sit with your eight year old self and then write about peeping through the door of memory.

Have you tried Voice Dialogue?

Writing for Well-being - This series of essays shed light on the power of writing and include exercises to complete in your journal.
101 Ways to Promote Writer's Self Esteem - when you undertake these exercises you really do peel back the layers and learn more about yourself.

Use the Creative Arts to Resuscitate Imagination - You can join in and complete the exercises a group of us are completing at the Melbourne City Mission Palliative Care Unit as a part of their bereavement program. Working with the creative arts will help you restore a sense of balance in your life.

Visit a range of cyber sites that provide refuge and supportive material for those facing the inevitable life storms.

Life Challenges is a CyberCenter for Living Creatively with Life's Challenges. Life Challenges originated to offer people some support and hope while they face challenges, crises, change, unexpected events, and turning points in their lives. It provides a nurturing environment that can help you discover sign posts during transformational times when all your foundations go bust. It is a place where you can find a little comfort and inspiration along the way.

Joyce Boaz is the Executive Director of Gift From Within. Within six years she built an international charity from an idea into a robust reality, serving people touched by trauma and human cruelty. Gift from Within provides resources for survivors and caregivers.

Peeling The Onion.

"Then there is the matter of my mother's abandonment of me. Again, this is a common experience. They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are lost in their thoughts of their own, and sooner or later they disappear. The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise."

In birth where powerful book 'Necessary Losses' Judith Violets points out that from e are cast, unceremoniously from the womb and that, like it or not, we have to learn to tolerate physical and psychological separateness. Hard as it is to become a separate self, to separate both literally and emotionally, to be able to outwardly stand alone and feel ourselves to be distinct, we have to do that. She argues that many of the losses we experience are necessary losses, a part of the renunciation we must all go through to gain our unique identity. 

My work, promoting writing as a therapeutic tool has shown that at no time is separation more profound than at the time of death or divorce. Such crisis serve to highlight the anxiety we learned in childhood, especially in the first six years when we were most dependent on caregivers. This learned anxiety can impede our development and our capacity to own who we are. It is a concern in all aspects of our lives. Work cutbacks, for example, are devastating to the worker who identified themselves with work, while politicians who have to find life away from politics and carve a fresh identity can find the change devastating. Some mothers, who have devoted their lives to their children experience the 'empty nest' syndrome when the children separate. When a partner dies the greatest struggle is to find an identity that does not embrace the life long partner. 

After working in the field of loss and grief I have come to understand that since loss and grief are an inescapable part of life, it is essential that we acquire skills to cope with the inevitable crisis that will manifest. It is really quite a mystery that we expect life to run smoothly. After all , you only have to watch the weather for a short time to appreciate the volatility of the natural forces which impact on our lives. I no longer express the wish that my children be happy, for I know that they will enjoy times of joy and happiness. Rather, I express the hope that they will have the tool box of skills needed to cope when things go wrong. 

It is vital that we have a strong sense of who we are in relation to others. Working with a diverse range of people, teaching language, has shown that when we use language to communicate our doubts, fears and uncertainties we find our separate self and fill the 'there is something missing' void. The process of becoming separate, both literally and emotionally, is a bit like peeling the layers of an onion. One layer is removed to reveal another opaque layer, a veil that has to be lifted to identify the real person. The only thing is that when you get to the centre of an onion you find that the layers are the onion and that there is no centre. For humans it is similar. After we have peeled the layers we come to know that these layers reveal who we really are. 

This process does not require that we go off by ourselves to 'find ourselves', or that we find someone to tell us who we are. It simply involves experiencing solitude and drawing from within. You can do this in a number of ways but I have found that the process of writing ends up gifting us. When we write our truth spontaneously, day after day, we end up defining ourselves. 

So, in bereavement sessions or writing classes we gently peel the onion and display our layers proudly. The climax is when self understanding arrives and we realize how much we have learned about ourselves. This website, a product of my passion for writing, has taught me who I really am. 

Interested? Do you want to participate in an experiment to see if it does work? This is best done in a group where you can see the universal thread that links us, revealing our essential humanness. Join an on-line group and take one layer at a time.

Worth Considering

"The ocean and the blank page have something in common... Both the ocean and the blank page are too infinite, too full of possibility; both in their way let you know, without any compromise whatsoever, that the only real limits are your own... Neither will give you a push, something to grab onto that tells you where to go and what to do next" writes Noah Grey. Grey's site is an exemplar, testimony to the healing power of words.

Looking for an oasis to rest in and nourish your spirit? Travel through cyber space to an ancient land!

Savor Lemuria

More Visual meditations and sacred oases

Sacred Places
Amethyst Meditation Garden
Stoneclave Meditations

Candle of Hope

It's back! Long standing patrons at Soul Food know that my husband Darryl and I have walked the cancer path when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Three years later it has returned and we are back on the treadmill. Help maintain the Candle of Hope that is burning at Soul Food.

HeART Therapy


Chris Dunmire is a creativity enthusiast and developer of the Creativity Portal, an online cache of creativity-related resources. She also knows, first hand that writing is a tool which can be used to write through the pain

1996 was the first year in her life that death touched her on an extremely personal level. In 24 years, she had already experienced the death of three grandparents, an uncle, a cousin, and several acquaintances. But 1996 was the first year that Chris experienced the death of a sibling — ironically, only a week after her aunt passed away.

The Soul Food Cafe grew from seeds that were sown during a period of sustained loss and grief. Originally known as Writing for Well-being, Soul Food became known as Soul Food to acknowledge the power of writing and the arts to feed the Soul. Deep within the Cafe Onion Peelers peel back layers of feelings.

The power of writing to draw out destructive thorns was reinforced recently when a Grade 5 teacher at Epping Primary School in Northern Melbourne described how Grade 5 children cried as they completed their rear vision memories describing profound loss. Such tears are an important part of any healing process.

If you are interested in the therapeutic power of writing and visual arts make sure to visit the links related to Writing as a Creative Medicine.