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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
April-May 2004

by Nessa McCasey

We are very pleased to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com as our newest monthly columnist!  Each month, Nessa will offer a poem or short writing based on our magazine's monthly theme and will provide techniques for creative expression that you can use to explore the topic yourself.

Identifying Our Crossroads

Perhaps the most often used of all poems in Poetry Therapy is this one by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Copyright Material – Presented Here for Educational/Therapeutic Purposes Only

An interesting exercise is to write down all the places where the road diverged for you: where you had a choice to make in your life, creating a timeline of your life choices. Going to college, getting married, having children, taking a job, changing jobs, moving, divorcing… each of these major life decisions involved your making a choice between doing that and not doing that. Doing something or not doing something. How different your life would have been if you had not made the decisions you have made in your life! You might find regret* or deep satisfaction or a hearty mixture of these emotions as you look back over the choices you have made.

Try decorating the timeline in any interesting way. Maybe there are photos that you can use to illustrate the journey. I have done this several times, adding on to previous work on my timeline, illustrating with color and sparkles and anything to keep my interest. It has become its own reward, such an interesting and beautiful piece that marks my life’s passages. I have appreciated the honesty I can have with myself in looking over past choices.

Once in a while, we have an opportunity clearly presented to us, allowing us to make a conscious choice. Does that make it easier for you? Often it does not. I have a choice presenting itself to me right now. I recently went on a tour of our town’s homeless shelters, and it is very obvious that I could volunteer my time there doing poetry therapy with people. This could also be a literacy avenue for so many who need basic skills. I met one woman in particular who especially intrigued me, though inside myself, there is much fear about doing this kind of work. I am so different from them – will I be able to stand up to such diversity, truly different from the life that I lead? This is a decision that feels like a crossroad. Will I turn to meet new adventure on this unworn path?

I will let you know how it goes, in future columns here. I know that it is good for me to act as witness for the kind of change I hope to see happen in the world. Please tell me how you do this, too, how your life choices are creating your own future and how you think it will impact our shared world. There are so many writings out of this one view, transitions/crossroads. Please share with me and with others what you envision for yourself. It is always interesting and so often helpful to read how others live.

Here is the response from last month’s request for YOUR words in Dreaming a New World. Mary Dean Carter has sent in a short poem that says so much. Oh, if only the world was as our words can describe it! Thank you Mary! This is so beautiful and full of hope…

May we know the joy of fulfilling our dreams
May we dream the world alive and awake
May we awaken our dreams with joy

When we open our mouths to sing,
May we hear the beauty of our own voices,
May we see the beauty of the earth as
We sing the world a lullaby of peace.

— Mary Dean Carter

My hope is that we will use our words to heal ourselves, build our own lives into what we want them to be, and, together, to create the world that will shine hope for all. I will be honored if you choose to share your writing with me.

with peace,

* Please seek the support of a qualified mental health professional if you have a deep emotional response. You can also contact me if you would like to discuss your writing further.

© Copyright 2004 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

January - February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud

December 2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace

November 2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to Learning

October 2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?

Nessa McCasey
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: poetnessa@writersofwrongs.com


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