Welcome back at the page, with pencils sharpened, pens flowing and alert. Trusting that our ThoughtBooks are ready to receive wisdom, delightful folly, or both.
Today I am offering exercises that – in a spring 2019 session, pleasantly located at Cambridge University Botanic Garden – I shared face-to-face with life-writing companions.
At the time, I recall, I was very poorly with a relapse into deep clinical depression and anxiety, and so it has been quite strange for me to look back into my Collected ThoughtBooks and locate what I wrote that afternoon, alongside my lovely and supportive companions.
I mention this to remind myself, and to tell you, that I am – just like some of you – sometimes vulnerable to mood fluctuations and episodes of mental distress. And to say:
I am not a qualified therapist, and I remind you that each of us is responsible for seeking whatever help we need for our physical and mental wellbeing, during the current Covid-19 crisis and afterwards.
That said, I’ve found free-flow writing, journalling, sending love-letters to myself, and other creative activities to be therapeutic. And others with whom I have shared my practices have appreciated them too.
I hope – sincerely – that this is true for you.
Please remember to treat your writing self very, very gently and with as much kindness as you can, and reach out to a trusted other, not to me, if you need support.
In the UK, you can call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org. They are there to listen to you – in complete confidence. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also call Mind on 0300 123 3393 or visit www.mind.org.uk.
In your ThoughtBook, try one, any, or all of these, just letting the words ease out like ripples from a splashed raindrop, for ten minutes at a time:
(The outcome is for your eyes only, unless you choose to share it in another context, now or later. In your ThoughtBook you can address yourself to as many issues as you want, and it’s wise to do this with an attitude of “kindfulness” .)
We can choose to put our Inner Critic – politely – on “mute” while we write.
Today I feel at home with/at... Today I don’t yet feel at home with/at... Today I am grateful for these simple home comforts (three things): ~ this ... ~ this ... and ~ this ...
Repeat for as many times as you want, for as long as you can comfortably write.
Now put down the pencil or pen, and come home to your body, the Address at which you live.
Feel the contact of your buttocks on the seat (or perhaps become aware of your hips if you are lying down). Press your feet into the ground, to feel the solidity of the Earth supporting you. )
You may want to push down … and then let go.
We might remember to tune into our legs, to tense and then relax them like this, at any time during the writing sessions . Allowing them to flex and extend like tree roots into the nourishing grouns of our imagination.
And perhaps we might transfer attention to the breath, feeling our contact with the air around, as if we were the leaf canopy of that tree, of that wild and wonderful forest community.
First, make a list of all or some of the addresses (at the level of ‘street’ or ‘house name’ ) at which you have ever lived. Today we don’t need to specify city, state, or country, unless that serves you.
Your list can be very incomplete, and doesn’t have to be in order, although if you’d enjoy making a complete list, in chronological order – go for it!
Next, I invite you to write a remembered or imagined experience of approaching the door (front, back) or gate to one or more of these places, using as many sensory triggers as you can.
While you are “outside”, what plants do you notice? What’s the weather like? What time of day or night is it? Who else is with you, or might welcome you? What happens next?
This may take a while, so get yourself cosy before you start, perhaps having a drink to hand, and maybe a box of tissues. Your “journey home” through time might be funny-laugh-out-loud, or surpringly moving. It can be fantasy, true-to-memory, or – like perhaps the best writing – somewhere on the scale between the two.
Who lives where?
For the next exercise, I invite you to select an address from below, and imagine what the dwellings might look like, and who might live in them:
Fern Bank The Pightle Capulet Crescent Belmont Place Chantilly Martinstiles Road Lilley Bottom Doctors Lane Pondicherry Lightfoot Way .... Island
You can also use as a prompt a real or imagined locality of your own choice or invention, or a picture to which you can ascribe an address.
Home-work, to do now (or soon)
Set an intention for one special thing you’ll do today (or at some stated time) at home/ when you get home, to celebrate any simple pleasure that your home gives you.
Write this in your ThoughtBook now, in a box like this
Sign and date today’s work (as a resource for the future).
And as usual, just before today’s Extra Resources, I invite us to share our appreciations:
Today I am grateful for:
This week a friend posted the film below as a link on Facebook, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. The short video shows a pair of puffins re-uniting and home-making on Skoma, an island off Wales, and was made for BBC Radio Wales.