When people regularly collapsed in an ocean of tears after doing my introductory shell guided imagery, I questioned the wisdom of asking people to walk inside shells.
When a child sat fishing in a mountain stream, watching fish with words circling by and wrote that the fish took him back in a timecapsule and permitted him to say the good-bye he never uttered before his grandfather died, I briefly questioned the wisdom of having children sit by metaphorical streams fishing for words.
When I was confronted by those shell induced tears I worried about my responses and took myself off to a loss and grief course, only to spend angry hours unraveling the knots of grief that were twisted within my intestines. I sat, like the solitary reaper singing a melancholy song, filled a journal with all the ways in which I had been let down. The tide of a toxic sea filled every crevice of my being and I wondered at the wisdom of doing a loss and grief course. Writing for Well-being was borne from this period, leading, in turn to the birth of the Soul Food Cafe.
I have worked voluntarily at a palliative care unit, taught adults in a community education setting, walked into dozens of grade five and six classes and borne witness as my forums fill with exquisite writing, writing that comes directly from the heart.
My experience has taught me that writing is a creative medicine. These
essays affirm the therapeutic value of writing and provide exercises for
those who want to benefit from the medicinal effect of putting words on
the page and telling their story.
Writing for Wellbeing
It is a well known fact that writing has a positive effect on an individuals sense of well being. Just as it was healthy for Australian pioneer women to sit and write, meditatively, to their loved ones back in the home country, so modern women can gain the benefit.
Perhaps it was the time alone, away from the hardships and privation, that sustained these women. Possibly it was the only opportunity that they had to express deep feelings and emotions and to access their unconscious. It could have been the act of sitting at their desk, or the step of picking up a pen that signaled that it was time to rest, time to recall events, to celebrate or mourn. As pioneer women sat writing they no doubt found that they could advise themselves, clarify goals and make important decisions for the future. Letters provided an ideal place to rest the psyche, a dark cave filled with wonderful ideas that could have been fleshed out to create a novel. As they told distant relatives of their observations they saw the richness of life and explored details that many people ignore.
Little wonder that letter writing became a refuge, a way to gain self understanding, record their living history and insight into the thinking of others.
Some years ago a lad who had experienced major difficulty expressing
himself on paper completed his Year 12 English. In a moving letter in
his Writing Folio he wrote
Brett's words had a powerful impact on me and from them Writing for Well-being was born. Recently a palliative care nurse shared how beneficial the newsletters that I had written during that period were and how inspiring she had found them to be. I was moved and decided to go back and reproduce them here.