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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
December 2003

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.

Joining Together With Our Words of Grace

Living gracefully is how I have always dreamed of my own future as an old woman. My vision has been as a woman who moved gracefully and without stress or pressure. The woman in my mind’s eye was Kathryn Hepburn and as I learned more about women poets, I chose many of them as models for growing my persona into age. Muriel Rukeyser, Denise Levertov, Marianne Moore, May Sarton. They were all lovely and yet fiercely poetic, creative, and themselves.

No doubt we all have different visions of grace and how it looks. What are the qualities that speak to you of living gracefully? Is it a quiet strength, a sturdiness of character, or a determined way of living purposefully? Is it in the kind of shoes you might wear or is it getting on with life (and its physical wear and tear) without complaining? Writing about your own interpretation of grace will help you to find it within your own habits and lifestyle.

One aspect of graceful living involves gifting others. December is a particularly appropriate month to think about how gifting others can affect you; what happens to you when you get into a generous mood, offering little and large gifts of your time, energies, and finances as you desire and are able? And how will your gifts make others feel? Helping others to feel full, sated, or happy is a generous manner of living that I consider graceful.

The times when I have felt that my actions in some way made the world a little better have also been when I felt a "flow" in my living that seemed very graceful. When I become self-absorbed with pain, depression, and stress, I move about the world with a clumsy gait. I have found, however, that when I am walking around in that disjointed manner, I can help myself through a simple process. As in the poem below, prayer and meditation brings me out of myself into the larger world, and that creates a feeling of gracefulness for me. Will it do the same for you? I hope so. Read the poem aloud to yourself, slowly. See how you feel as you are reading and then again when you have finished reading the poem. Write about your reactions.

by Lisa Colt
May we reveal our abundance without shame.
May we peel back our sleeping wintery layers
like snakeskins, like the silk chrysalis,
like clothing cast off during love.
May we unravel with abandon like lover's knots
before knitting ourselves back to the heart.
May we settle into our own rhythms as tides do-
within the borders of the moon's calling.
May the music of our souls
be accompanied by grand gestures
and the persistent clapping of hummingbirds' wings.
May the milky fingers of the moon
reach down nightly to cherish and unveil us.
May we turn our bodies generously in its light
like tranquil fish glinting underwater,
like precious stones.
When we open our mouths to sing
may the seasons pause in their long journey
to listen and applaud.
(Published in Claiming the Spirit Within, edited by Marilyn Sewell, 1996.)
Copyright Protected – For Educational/Therapeutic Purposes Only

Through the example of the author’s listing of requests, we can write our own Prayer. What graceful world might we create with our requests and wishes?

May we ______________

When we open our mouths to sing, may ___________

How would you fill in these sentences? You might have your own ideas or you might choose to borrow an image from Lisa Colt, included in her poem above, "Prayer." Those images that first come to your mind are likely the most important to you. Close your eyes for a moment and let images come to you. Use the poem above as a guide to start you out on this wonderful journey of dreaming a graceful way of living for yourself. Change the pronoun to "I" instead of "we" if you prefer.

I would like to collect the wishes and dreams of everyone and present a collaborative poem here at SoulfulLiving.com.

To get you started, here are a few examples of how the lines will collect:

May we realize our power to help each other make a better world.
May my own light shine brightly to make a difference in how another might see.
May the winds blow a good season of growth and sustenance.
May peace flow on all hearts.

Please email me here at SoulfulLiving.com, at: nessa@soulfulliving.com, and send your own lines to me and I will do the rest. I have done this kind of collaboration with others—it is inspiring and exciting to see your own words amidst others, ultimately creating one large combined vision.

We are very powerful when we combine our energies. As we can individually inspire ourselves to live gracefully on this planet, we will also combine our efforts and make a difference beyond ourselves. There’s something especially rewarding about this, too. You will feel a sense of grace unlike anything that material sources will give you. This is a connectedness with others that brings divinity into awareness on this earth. And yes, that is GraceFull.

with poetic care,
Nessa McCasey

© Copyright 2003 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

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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