Glories, Gifts and Graces

female, Grace, Women, Empowerment, Intuitive, Alyssa MartinThis is a blog that will focus on women and their ability to turn adversity into strength. Susan Wittig Albert, in her book Writing from Life, defined “Glories”, “Gifts” and “Graces” below:

  •  Glories – the achievements and successes that give pride and personal empowerment.  Glories are the product of gifts.

  •  Gifts – the aptitudes and attitudes that contribute to our success, and the education and training that sharpened and strengthen these gifts, which are then enhanced by graces.

  •  Graces – the luck of the draw such as the time, place and circumstances of our births and upbringings.  These are the Happy accidents and synchronicities. Women typically will minimize their achievements – chalk it up to luck or coincidence.

 “Women. . . internalize countless messages: we do not belong in important places; we do not really count; we do not really shape history and culture.  And so when we do achieve recognition, we tend to attribute our success to luck or if not that, then to something, anything other than our competent and entitled selves.” Harriet Goldhor Lerner, from her book, The Dance of Deception.

Historically, women were not permitted to openly acknowledge their glories but rather needed to acknowledge them as a grace from men.  Still today it remains a struggle for women to speak their voice of success, even to themselves.  Even now as I sit to write this blog, I find myself pushing back the loud critic in my head that is shouting the familiar words – “this doesn’t matter.” I wonder how many women in my community, my state, country and the world hear similar words. I wonder how many women feel their bodies echo that same negative message, reverberating and reinforcing it.

It is important for women to remember their successes and their struggles.  When these are not brought to the conscious mind, when they are pushed to the bottom of the well, the memory of success gets lost in our everyday life.  When women are faced with a challenge, the memory of their past successes are not accessible, and they enter the new situation only with the memory of the failures. Our memories of the failures appear to have more buoyancy and stay on the top of the well, so when we dip the bucket in, they are the first ones to fill the bucket and the first ones to be swallowed.

Failure is important to success.  There is nothing in this world today that did not take a lot of trial and error to achieve the conveniences we experience today.  In the book Half the Sky the author explores women from all around the world, in some place’s women are considered less than the dirt under their feet.  The stories were about women that had survived great abuse. Some left their villages, homes and spouses and started their own village or raised their children as a community.  The men they left in the village would sometimes attack and burn their thatched structures and leave them in ruin.  Nevertheless, these women cleaned up the destruction and together they rebuilt their community.  Failure is necessary to reinforce the knowledge that we hold, and it gives us the strength to continue, which is essential for learning to happen and for self-confidence to grow.

“The women of today are the thoughts of their mothers and grandmothers, embodied, and made alive.  They are active, capable, determined and bound to win. . .. Millions of women, dead and gone, are speaking through us today.”  – Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1880

Today I challenge you to stir the well and allow your successes to come to the surface. Dip your bucket in and gather all of them.  Drink them in, bath in them and allow them to run through and over you.  Own them, hear them, feel them and see them.

 Prompt:
  • Begin by making a list of all your Glories – your success and achievements. Allow your pen to keep moving as the well water flows.
  • Choose one Glory at a time and write it on a page. Underneath it write all the Gifts – the things you did to achieve that Glory.
  • Then create a list of all the Graces – the happy accidents and synchronicities that attributed to your Glory.
  • Repeat this for each and every Glory.
  • You can also write your failures as these have also aided you in success and added another connection of courage and confidence in your body and brain.
Alternative:  Susan Witting Albert in Writing from Life suggests the “Seed”
  • In the center of the page write a Glory and circle it
  • Coming out of that seed draw a stem, from that stem draw branches for each gift that brought you to the Glory
  • Out from the bottom of the seed draw the roots. On each root write your Graces – the synchronicities and luck that enhanced your Glory.
  • Once you have your list, choose one Glory, along with all the Gifts and Graces, and write your story. Write it honoring yourself, acknowledging all that you did to accomplish this Glory.

If it is difficult for you to write this in first person then begin by writing it in second person. You can always edit later and change all the “you,” “they,” and “she” to “I” and “me.”  Then read it out loud to yourself and again drink in all the flavors of you.

 
Example
Glory: Shamrock Reins – equine psychotherapist
Gifts: experienced rider, knowledge of horses, master’s in counseling psychology, great love for horses, experience with the healing ability of horses, and strongly motivated.
Graces: happened to hear about this facility and their focus on treating veterans and first-responders, trusted my gut and reached out to the owner, on FMLA so I had the time to explore this possibility, my son was in the Army and I felt the need to help other veterans and active military.

Birthings

BNirthingBirthing’s are almost always associated with having a child, but they are not always defined by the generative process

There are thousands of ways we “give birth” in our lives, such as birthing an idea, new artwork or plans for something novel in our lives.   I have experienced many different birthing’s of myself over my lifetime.  Some more painful than others.  Some bearing more fruit or a fuller and much healthier result. Other birthing’s were wrought with much loss like divorce and the death of family and friends.  Some were lower on the pain scale like when changing jobs or schools. Many others were very simple, quick and over without a pause between the before and after. Several birthing’s took a lot of planning, editing out some fluff and whittling down the initial expansive idea to a more workable and achievable reality.

We are constantly birthing and re-birthing ourselves throughout our lives as we learn new perspectives, travel and our experiences increase.  In Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson, she explores the lives of several woman who were very successful in their careers’ but later in life they changed their professional direction.  All of these women gave birth to completely new careers’ requiring them to re-define themselves as women, mothers and partners.

After several years of growing and nurturing the concept of Airmid, the labor ended, and she was birthed.  Airmid is now in the world, conceived of all the dreams, ideas and hopes for her presence in the world.  My partners’ and I held hands as we stood on the precipice of change.  We each left full-time jobs with paid vacation and health plans, to bring forth this labor of love and passion.  As we stood there, silent, hands clasped together, and our eyes speaking a mutual fear and joy, we jumped off the cliff and into a new unknown.

We birthed and rebirthed Airmid daily, nurturing her to her full potential as a mother does her child.  Those daily birthing’s, although, laborious, almost go unnoticed as do many of the smaller birthing’s everyone experiences from day to day. Today I invite you to remember, and in remembering, to honor, all the birthing’s you have had in your life. There are the birthing’s after a loss and the ones meticulously planned for, but none the less they are birthing’s.

Writing Prompt #1

  • Make a list of all your birthing’s, in chronological order or in thematic order (i.e. family, work, relationships) or in the order in which they occur to you now.
  • Choose one of the items identified on your list and write about that.
  • Continue to move through your list and write about each of the birthing’s you identified,
  • Write about birthing your dreams, a new business or relationship.
  • Think about times in your life that you may have changed directions professionally, academically, socially or creatively. Often one birthing can lead to many others like where you go to college could lead to where you work and start a family.
  • Write about leaving an old identity and venturing into a new one.
As always please feel free to deviate from my prompts and write about anything that emerges as you read through the above prompts. Keep your hand moving, even when the internal critic tells you that you are wasting your time or that what you are writing is meaningless – keep writing through that and into a deeper relationship with yourself.

Birth your story and have fun with it,

Dottie

Burying The Dutch Oven

Burying The Dutch Oven

Burying The Dutch Oven

       I once heard the phrase “burying the Dutch oven” in a writing group I was a part of years ago. The writer used this metaphor to describe getting rid of something that once represented positive emotions and memories in her life that now only held sadness.

      When I was selling my home in Arizona in 2008, the real estate market had taken a nose-dive.  I had a timeline for getting out and moving so I felt desperate.  I read about placing a St Joseph statue upside down in the yard to help sell a house quickly.  Of course, I immediately went to the religious store in Tucson and bought 4 statues.  I buried one statue upside down on all four sides of the house.

      In my lifetime I have buried both my parents, my brother who was a Vietnam veteran, aunts, uncles and friends.  While still in Arizona, I buried a hamster named Hammy, two cockatiels, Feather and Valentine and I held a memorial for my son’s turtle, Buddy, who we assumed was “relocated” from our back yard by a hawk and never returned. 

      Later, after moving to Pennsylvania, I buried another hamster, Chuckie, in my new back yard.  Then my poor old Dusty, the corgi passed leaving our other rescue dog Zoe, mourning for a wee. Zoe would not eat, drink or leave the bed that belonged to Dusty.  Then one morning she came into the kitchen looking for her breakfast.  She was done mourning.  She allowed the release of her friend and companion, then reentered her life with us.

      It was several years later that I adopted Pumpkin, a small 10lb Dachshund/Jack Russel -mix who Zoe welcomed with firm loving boundaries. They became friends and Zoe, a whippet mix, would protect Pumpkin from any danger.  When Zoe passed and joined all our previous pets, Pumpkin then mourned her as well.  She refused to sleep in her dog bed but rather insisted on sleeping in Zoe’s bed.  In fact, she destroyed her dog bed – completely tore it up – giving me a very clear message that she was done with the little brown bed and that larger bed, Zoe’s bed, now fit her life. 

     I have buried, burned, smashed and torn up many items after my divorce, which brought me much pleasure then.  The emotional release of an object and its importance to me felt like it created an openness inside me. I once wrote about burying all the nasty and judgmental statements my ex-mother-in-law would say to me.  In this piece, I wrote a complete eulogy about the toxic nature of each syllable she uttered.  I created a guest list and even the casket that these words would be laid to rest in. 

      It was a healing – albeit – grim -exercise, but it provided me the opportunity to finally lay those words to rest.  In that same writing, I imagined that beautiful flowers bloomed over the burial ground and that each of them contained a positive affirmation, a kind word and even some beloved poetry.

 Writing Prompts #3

 – First, find an object in your home that may have been given to you by someone you care about or no longer care about.  It can be an item you like or don’t like.  Imagine that you are going to give it away or bury it to symbolically sever the ties it has to your life.

 – Write about the object, how you came to have it, where it is in your house.

 – Write about the purpose it may have served in your life or the story that accompanies it.

– Write about things people have said to you that were critical and how you will release them.

 –  Write about why it may be time for you to get rid of it or bury it. 

 –  Write about what you once liked about the object. 

 – Imagine the burial and who you would invite and not invite.  Would it be a cremation or burial?  Where would the ceremony take place?  Would anyone speak at the service?

 – Write about how it feels to let go of that object

 I encourage all of you to have fun with this and fully indulge your imagination with these prompts presented this week.  As always, feel free to ignore my prompt and write about anything you would like!

 Keep your pen moving!

Dottie

 

Writing From Place

Hello and good morning to all of my fellow isolators! 

As I leisurely move about my house since the isolation, no longer rushing through tasks before running out of the door to work, I noticed that one of my rooms has begun to take on a life of its own.  There are items that appear to have taken up residence on the dresser, the shelves and within the containers hiding under the bed. I suppose I that I have seen them before. In fact, I am probably the one that stuck them there while rushing to put then in a temporary home and out of my everyday view.  As I looked into the room I realized that based on the number of new residents that have homesteaded in the room…I have been way to busy!

It has been shown that our external environments often reflect our internal environments. The chaos, strict order of things or the free-flowing nature of a space can reflect those similar spaces inside of us.  This week we will explore our writing from that place. I imagine that many of you have a special room in your house, a designated chair or a spot on the sofa that you’ve identified as yours. It could be the place you read, watch TV, do work or hide from the rest of the family.

Today, I decided to sit in the room that has become the recipient of homeless, unclaimed items and overflow from other rooms like the Island of Misfits in that wonderful Christmas show.  I sat in a red leather armless chair, placed in a corner to perfectly round out that odd space. A small black table stood beside it with a calming Buddha perched there – seemingly as a reminder today for me to be in the moment.

As I looked around the room from the red chair, I wonder if I even sat on this chair in the store before buying it.  Even though it looks attractive against the gray walls, the seat was, I believe, never meant for anything more than a decorative pillow to rest on it.  I also wonder why I allowed my sister to talk me into gray walls.  Surrounded by these walls I felt dull, I felt unmotivated to write or even to think.  My own internal gray walls felt triggered as I continued to sit here.  As I thought about how this external space was reflective of my internal space, I felt a strong urge to run from the discomfort, to paint over the paralysis with calming earth tones and to feel the comforting items of my chosen space.

I stay in this thorny place and wondered how often we all find our internal landscape so uncomfortable and want to run to escape them with busy-ness. How often do we try to paint over it with a brighter color or a new wallpaper to occupy our thoughts and escape the gray walls?  How often do we not allow these places to tell their story through the items they hold? I wondered about sitting with this unrest inside, this discomfort, as if I were one of the temporary items occupying this space. I thought about how often others may also feel alien to their internal landscapes.

This room was reflective of me during my transition from a place I loved to a place where I felt I needed to return to.  It represented an unsettled part of me and the uncertainty of a choice.  These walls hold the state of fear of a new beginning that felt like the shadow side of what I imagined. When I first moved here from out of state and I slept in this room.  It was the only room that wasn’t filled with unpacked boxes. I slept on a mattress placed up against an inside wall with some smaller boxes being used as a nightstand and a place to drape my clothes over.  It was the first room I knew in this strange new environment and the one I lived in for many months as my home underwent major renovations.  Perhaps, that is why I avoid this room now or that I feel a bit temporary in there.  It was a holding pattern for me until my new bedroom was constructed and I could spread out, relax and secure my special spot to read at night and write with my dogs at my side.

Recently, I cleared out this room after my daughter took some of her items – that had remained here in limbo for 2 years-back to her apartment.  It is her room when she comes to visit but in between it is a magnet for items that don’t quite fit in other places and where dust-bunnies joyfully abound.  This was the first time I sat there to write in 10 years. Pumpkin was also there at my side and curled up sleeping and content to be in any familiar space or just by my side.  Animals are content in the presence of their people and perhaps, space has less importance for them.  But as I sat there, I was very aware of how my surrounding environment impacted me and my inner environment. 

Today, I challenge you to write from a specific place.  Find that place in your home or outside in your yard that you do not spend much time in.  Maybe it is the kitchen, the basement or the island of misfits’ room that you may have in your home.  It could be a little corner in the yard that no one ever sits in.  You can even sit in your closet or someone else’s in your house or sit in the pantry and write from there. Write from a hallway or an entrance way.  Rather than sitting on a chair, sit on the floor and write from that perspective.  Write from a bed or a hammock.  Write from a place that you are less familiar with and start with what you see, hear, smell, taste or touch in that space.

Writing prompt week 2:

  • Write from your senses – always start with what is present and then move to the containers under the bed and stuff in the drawers. Expose everything.  Write about how that space is similar or different from your internal space.
  • Write about how it feels to be in that space. Allow past memories to arise and move into your writing – allow them to take up residence on the page. Don’t push away any thought or feeling that arises: think about it as cleaning the internal room and allow your thoughts and feeling to surface so you can give them a permanent place on the page.
  • Describe everything even if you believe it is not remarkable or interesting. If you are in someone else’s space write about what you see and how that describes that person and how that is similar or different from you.
  • Write to a find a way to be comfortable in that unfamiliar space. Find a way to make friends with it and to set-up a cozy corner just for yourself.

As always, keep your pen and pencil moving across the page.  Let your fingers stay with the keyboard even when your thoughts want to remove you from the gray walls.  Challenge yourself to stay and write through the discomfort and out to the other side.  Pull the curtains back or turn on a light so you can see more clearly into the internal space and clean out the dust bunnies of negative thoughts.

Enjoy and please just have fun!!

Dottie Kelly

Intro To Writing For Healing

Writing From Within and Toward Healing

As we are all isolated from the outside world and often from our own families due to COVID-19, we are finding it difficult to avoid our own thoughts.  After all the baseboards have been cleaned, closets cleared out and kitchen cabinets organized we all have to eventually sit and be alone with ourselves.    Our daily social interactions have been nearly eliminated as we replace face-to-face with face-time.  The laughter of our friends and family has been replaced with the latest COVID-19 news or concerns for the people that we know that have tested positive.  This event can bring us up close and personal with our greatest fears but also with our dreams about life when this is all over. As we are thinking about what is important in our lives and reevaluating our priorities, there is an opportunity to mine the old caverns and find those wonderful golden nuggets hidden in the deeply compressed walls of our stories – Yes, “everywhere you go; there you are”.

Since we have been provided with this time – even if we didn’t ask for it – we can use it as a blank page to create something completely free of judgement.  Instead of viewing our inner world as endless problems to solve we can instead see it is a gift intended for us to open with great curiosity.

This blog will offer writing prompts to support you in exploring yourself and the world around you.  Many of us have allowed our ideas, thoughts and imaginations to be imprisoned, justified by the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.  Writing is a wonderful way to put those thoughts somewhere and allow them to be heard or seen. Writing releases our thoughts and weakens their tenacious hold on our minds that can so often drain our precious energy when we try to silence them or bury them deep in the junk drawer of our minds

Writing also has benefits for our immune system. Psychologist, James Pennebaker was a major proponent for writing as a form of healing and found that those who wrote down their deepest thoughts and feelings showed higher T-cell counts, improved liver functions and stronger antibody responses.   So, whether you are creating fiction, writing from the deepest and darkest places of your souls, writing to find clarity and perspective during difficult times, or finally writing that family history you always wanted to, you will be simultaneously improving your immune system.

Today, I challenge you to look under the bed and see that there is no monster hiding there waiting for you to swing your legs over the side, to grab hold of your feet and devour them.  I challenge you to realize that maybe that monster you feared was just a stuffed animal that fell from your grip as you rushed from your room and out the door to work.

You can use the prompts provided below to write on your own, as a family or share the prompt with a friend and exchange your stories in order to share thoughts, gain insight or just have fun creating stories together.  You are also free to write from wherever you are and about whatever you feel like.  There are no rules to creative writing.  Just keep your pen or pencil going or your fingers on the keypad moving. Do not pause to think, rationalize or reason. Just allow your unconscious, the creative part of your brain, to tell the story. No matter how simple or trivial it may seem in your mind, write it down just as you remember it.

It can often be helpful to have a witness to our writing. I welcome any and all of you to share your creative process, anonymously or not, as your journey may inspire others or spark a tasty memory for baking another person’s story.

The writing prompts will be available weekly on Airmid’s blog at airmidwellness.com.
Remember, writing for just 5 minutes a day will enhance your immune system.
So, enjoy and stay healthy!!

Tips for Getting Ready to Write:
1) Relax yourself. Take some deep breaths in through your nose and slowly release it through pursed lips as if you are letting the air out of a balloon while pinching the lips of the balloon.
2) Chose a comfortable place and time to write:
3) Embrace your imperfection. Remind yourself that it does not have to be perfect, it is only a moment passing through you.
4) Drift off and allow your unconscious to be front and center and give the neocortex a break:
5) Keep your hand moving. Do not stop. Just keep writing. Even if it is to write “I don’t know what to write.” The words will flow if you just create the space for them and remove any judgement or expectation.

I will leave you with this:

Writing prompt #1:
– Write what you need to write or want to write. Write what you don’t want to write. You can create a list for all of the above and then write from the list.
– Write about the first time you felt fear – personal or as a collective experience (i.e. natural disaster); or write about the first time you remember being isolated from others (for example, a time you were sick, camping alone or even on a retreat).

If you find that your words are quarantining themselves from you, do not worry, just doodle the prompt or collage it!!
Keep your hand moving across the page, free from judgement. Everything that appears on the page is only a moment so capture it and then release it!!

Enjoy!!
Dottie

I do recommend that if you are not seeing a therapist that you consider some therapy sessions as things may come up that feel too difficult to hold onto alone.
If you are seeing a therapist, I recommend you bring your writing to your session to explore further – for support in peeling away the emotional onion.

 

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