Writing Our Hearts
A Quarterly Column
by Nessa McCasey
We are very pleased
to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com as our
newest columnist! With each new issue, Nessa will offer
a poem or short writing based on our magazine's
theme and will provide techniques for creative
expression that you can use to explore the topic
Balance -- Creating a Map to Take You There
This is a difficult topic for me to
feel informed about, but I am trusting my great
companions: poetry and writing to inform me, as well as
you, so here we go!
Honestly, my life has been
seriously out of balance this past year and so often I
am earnestly seeking to right myself again from some
place that I am simply laying low. With my father's fast
decline due to Alzheimer's and then his sudden death
this past December, combined with my son's descent into
severe mental illness on top of autism, and then my own
diagnosis of celiac-sprue disease (an intolerance for
gluten, found in all foods containing wheat, barley,
rye, and often oats), months have gone on and on without
any real resolution beyond these circles of grief. The
continued warring of our nation is disheartening to me
and to so many others, I know.
My dreams have become chaotic for
the first time in my life. My inner world at night is
like being in a theater with scary, frenetic movies that
I would never choose to watch in my waking hours. At
times I have considered that they were provided to help
me understand what my son was going through, but I don't
know if that could be true. While all of this was going
on, I was trying to continue with daily tasks, such as
going to the grocery store, as if everything was normal.
Some days, my sense of well-being
is overwhelmed. Something as simple as hearing about the
news of a hurricane developing in the Gulf of Mexico
becomes too large for me to swallow. Instead, I want a
world around me that is safe, known, and above all --
compassionate. But how will this be possible in our
impersonal and harsh world? I have to create my own
haven with my writing practice. I use breathing -- in
and out, over and over. I use my words, writing poem
after poem until my soul has finished screaming for the
day and my eyes are finished crying again after finally
emptying my heart.
Every day that I am frustrated, I
turn to reading poems and writing my own. I teach this
in small groups to others working their way out of
difficult situations. I want to offer this to you,
telling you that it does work. I have seen how writing
helps others, and I feel it work within my own life.
Here's a poem that I found today.
Where I Got My Map
by Naomi Shihab Nye
I unfolded a stone.
I dug a hole between the lilies
planted a blue button
and covered it over.
I lined up one hundred acorns
on a sidewalk,
I turned around three times.
I almost did something
I wrote my name in the weeds
with a finger.
Only bugs could read it.
(Come With Me, Poems
For a Journey, by Naomi Shihab Nye, Greenwillow Books,
an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000. Copyright
protected; printed here for educational/therapeutic use
I wanted to write my own map after
reading this poem. Why don't you try to do that for
1. Write your own map to the place
2. Perhaps you will want to
describe how this place (Balance) looks to you. Name it.
Draw or make a collage of it. Make this place become
REAL to you. Fill it with the characteristics, the
colors, the smells, the sounds that help you to feel
healthy and fully You.
3. From this place you will be able
to... (Fill in the blank with all that you can do from
this place of Balance.)
Once you have created this as fully
as you wish, you will have a place to return to again
and again. You can revise it, you can create another
version, you can discard your previous version and start
creating it all over again. The choices are all your own
in your writing, just as they are as you create your own
Once I worked with this idea for
quite some time, I started doing some organizing of my
paperwork. One piece of paper at a time, which led to a
phone call and then another, until there was space again
for peace in my brain. Soon I started making soup, which
led to peace in my soul. And then later, when I ate that
soup with my family, I offered peaceful digestion to my
body. This is my own circle of peace, created by writing
my map to Balance.
© Copyright 2005 Nessa McCasey. All Rights
Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:
Oct - Dec 2004
- Letting Go and Moving Forward: Writing as a Map of
- Sept 2004 - Writer’s Block and Then… Moving Forward Again
- May 2004 - Identifying Our Crossroads
- February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud
2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace
2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to
2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?
Nessa McCasey, A former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She is charting a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as a State Representative for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) where she facilitates group or individual poetry therapy sessions and presents poetry and writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression.
You can reach Nessa at: email@example.com
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