First, there’s the inaugural workshop with medical education staff at UCSF! I’m thinking about freewriting as professional development, about creativity as a team-building practice, and about the benefits of engaging with and encouraging the “flow” that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes in his books, including Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.
Then, second, I’ll head over to the Pacific School of Religion and spend some time talking with Sharon Bray‘s class (Writing as a Healing Ministry) about writing (about sex and not about sex) with/as sexual trauma survivors.
I did my morning write this morning in my notebook, so I’m going to share a prompt this morning. I’ve used this poem as a prompt in several of my workshops recently(just this weekend at the Writing the Flood workshop, actually) and it always brings up interesting, challenging responses. Here’s one of mine (from the Healing Through Writing workshop at Mt Zion’s Art for Recovery program):
Have you gone to therapy? Isn’t therapy tired, now? What about acupuncture, massage, sex education classes? It was so long ago, don’t you think you’re over it by now? What about hypnosis– that helps you remember all those things that you’ve worked so hard to forget. Maybe you should quit writing about it, talking about it — doesn’t that just upset you? Have you tried anti-depressants?
She says, “why not just try and avoid the topic — think positive. Focus on hpw people are kind to each other.” But there’s no avoiding the topic — rape is everywhere. “Have you read this book about trauma?” One says, and the other responsds, “Don’t youknow reading about trauma just makes you more aware of it?”
Another says, “You should go to the ocean, spend time with your dog. You don’t have a dog? Oh, I had to get a pet after my assault — it’s so much unconditional love, the only place I can look to for affection with no strings attached.” I don’t tell her about the pets lost, the dog I had to leave behind when I was running for my life, how raw the memory still is for me.
Someone else can only watch revenge movies. Another just likes bad sit-com tv where no serious issues get dealt with and everything’s tied up with a bow after 30 minutes.
“Have you confronted your family? Have you forgiven him?” Another says forgiveness is for fools. Are these all the voices in my head, just the ping-ponging of possible healing?
So many suggestions — we’re desperate to fix each other, the way we cannot fix ourselves. “Isn’t it all over now? Does it really still bother you?” She asks, then says, “I read those books, For Women Who Do Too Much, and meditate for an hour every morning, then walk on the beach, then have a nap. You should try it — it’ s great! Why don’t you just follow your bliss?”
And, of course, I understand the sentiment, the sympathy, and I think how much easier it is to follow one’s bliss when one doesn’t have to work to pay the bills.
So my bliss shrinks to fit what time I can give it — 3 pages of writing in the morning right after I get up, a cup of decaf from Peets on the walk from the bus to my day job, a few minutes by the wharf to look for sea lions on my break. Is this really the right way to go? Can bliss be shrunk, baked down like shrinky-dinks into a colorful plasticky diorama to hang around my neck? Bliss doesn’t really get small like that — and while I avoid this conversation with the overly-enthusiastic Follow Yr Bliss-ers, in my heart I know that what I’ve condensed to fit a maddening shcedule is pushing at my edges, expanding like life does, and joy, asking for more spoace and more time: a true, honest hour to spend digging in the dirt, then one more hour to write about it, in as many pages as possible.
Take some good space for you today, if that works for you.