The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

June 2022: Expressive Life

Posted on Jun 15, 2022

June 2022: Expressive Life

It has certainly been a “long minute” since I wrote a blog. I found that I had to re-examine my motivations and associated rewards for keeping up a regular blog. The year started on a cynical note for me with plenty of ‘why bothers?’ to sort through. While sometimes the question of ‘why bother’ is rather cliché or rhetorical, I had to wrestle with it when it came to writing this blog.

My musings are certainly not going to change the world, or even people’s minds. They are not going to attract new clients or be a way to engage with current ones (although sometimes this does happen). My blog has definitely morphed over the years from principally sharing therapeutic information to a personal reflection of my own healing journey. It will likely remain closer to this reflective end of the spectrum. However, now I will be writing for me rather than having an audience or purpose in mind.

This latest morphosis was prompted by reading Drinking From the River of Light: The Life of Expression by Mark Nepo. I didn’t realize the book was set up as a series of writing prompts; so it hasn’t been a quick read. In fact, I’ve hardly begun. I have to be “in the mood/mindset” to read, reflect, and record said reflections. Maybe it will happen more now with a new season upon us.

Nepo talks about expressing oneself through the art of writing (or any kind of creativity) as akin to breathing. I have to write simply because I am a writer. It surprised me to realize there was some truth to this idea. While I am not a published writer (unless you count the months I worked for my uncle’s small-town newspaper), I do write regularly in a journal.

This journal writing began as a way to get the gunk out. It has evolved, as I have, into a receptacle for my thought process. Similar to getting the mental gunk out, but more refined; or so I’d like to think. But my writing has much deeper roots. The first compliment I received in regards to writing came from my Grade Five teacher, Mr. North. It planted the seed that I might actually be good at something specific.

I also received encouragement from other teachers over the years and wrote short stories and poems. Some of which were entered in contests. No major prizes, but it was nice to place in the top three at times and receive the external validation. In junior high, I wrote for the elementary school paper. Sadly, the positive feedback the resource teacher provided had the opposite effect to what she expected. I quit writing as it became pressure to perform. And I ended up doing what I feared most: disappointing the young students.

Creative writing remained a past-time and coping strategy for me until my college years when essay writing somehow killed the desire and ability to write stories and poems. Writing became about getting a good grade. My only source of self-worth at the time. Since my post secondary education, I have not been able to tap into that imaginative mind I once had easy access to and that provided an escape from daily life.

One of Nepo’s writing prompts encouraged “telling the story of…” and as much as I tried, it became reflective writing more so than creative. I will keep trying; but this lack of imaginative fantasy has also influenced the memoir I wish to write. I cannot write my story as an autobiographical account of my life as I don’t have enough detail stored in my memories; but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a story to tell in my own unique way. I am nearly ready to develop an outline, which is rather exciting in a small way, as I have been thinking about this memoir for many years.

An added inspiration came from Self-Care Cards by life coach Cheryl Richardson. The card I picked on a day not so long ago was that of “Achievement: Chase Your Dreams—You may be surprised by where they lead you.” The day I selected that card, I thought it referred to my dream of one day hosting trauma recovery retreats. However, in the wake of a slow client season and lacking the feasibility of running retreats right now, my thoughts about dreams and writing coalesced. Maybe the achievement I need to chase during this quiet spell is writing my memoir.

So with all that in mind, my blog will hopefully become an expression of my life. There will be no “hidden agenda” or purpose other than to keep me writing, whether creatively or reflectively. It is who I am. While I am also a creative person in other ways, writing is closer to my core than home décor, card making, or baking. Writing serves no other purpose other than a life of expression.

Until next time, feel free to share the ways in which you live a life of expression.

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