Write Now with Jean Rowe: Jump

guy jumping a cliff

“The feeling like no matter what I do, I’m going to fall. Something will toss me over the edge. Instead of letting that happen, I make the decision myself. I get to decide when to jump.”

Rebekah Crane
The Upside of Falling Down

Jumping into water. Jumping into shorts and a tee-shirt. Jumping into the car for a road trip. Jumping at spontaneity. It’s Summer! It’s arrived! How are you jumping into this season?

Things are lightening up. Maybe you’ll still wear a mask if that is what feels good and right, and that is just fine. How does it feel to jump into the luxury of activities like meeting a friend for coffee? Eating in a restaurant? Being around other human beings? Have you jumped into hugs yet? They feel pretty good.

Be a Jumping Explorer this month and catalog your adventures. What is coming up? How does it feel in your body? No judgment or criticism here – get curious!

You get to decide when to jump – isn’t that wonderful? Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!

Write Now With Jean Rowe: Lush

While from the purpling east departs
The star that led the dawn,
Blithe Flora from her couch upstarts,
For May is on the lawn.

William Wordsworth
Ode Composed on a May Morning

The promise of a bloom, the way the trees fill in with green, the lushness of May is here. Birds return; all manner of winged creatures buzz; the tree frogs sing. It’s this filling in of things that brings hope of new life, fresh air, warmer weather. It’s cyclical rather than linear. It has purpose.

Consider this. How are you filling in? Whether it be interior or external? Big or small? No grand gestures required. What is buzzing through your being? What songs is your mind humming? What feels lush in this present moment? With the longer light, take more breaks, breathe deeply, look around through fresh points of view.

Carry your journal along. On walks around Beaver Lake near where I live, I see blankets strewn, bodies relaxed, books open, pens poised above pages; sometimes a nap.

Wander with this in mind. Capture what surfaces in your pages.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!

Yes! where Love nestles thou canst teach
The soul to love the more;
Hearts also shall thy lessons reach
That never loved before.

Write Now With Jean Rowe: Roots

Lacuna Loft is proud to present our newest blog initiative: Write Now with Jean Rowe! Each month, come on over to Young Adult Voices and read everything LCSW Jean Rowe has to say! Love what you’re reading? Check out the many programs Jean is facilitating (including 30 Minute Tune-UpLost and FoundLacuna Loft’s Weekly Journal Prompt, and It’s a Wonderful Life to name a few) and sign up to join one today!

April 22nd is Earth Day, and what a glorious time of year to invite ourselves to get reacquainted, reconnected with our roots. This could mean – what is the story of your family? Have you ever charted a genogram (for fun, not school)? This could be a time to pull out colored pencils and highlighters and have some fun. You could make the genogram topic-specific like how many people in your family learned to sew or plant roses or grow tomatoes. You could interview an aunt or uncle about their lives, things you may not already know about them. It could be seeing if Ancestry is something you would like to explore. It could be reading your parents’ letters – something I did a couple of summers ago. They were from the 1950s through the 1970s and brought nostalgia and tugs on my heartstrings.

It could be literally connecting with the earth. Bring the outdoors inside with a pretty potted something where you can see and enjoy it. New to digging in the dirt? Don’t be afraid to engage a master gardener at a place like Ace Hardware to ask questions and get some guidance. Don’t forget about your local library and checking out books on how to grow, what to grow, and knowing your zone (important!). It could be hugging a tree. Don’t laugh! It might actually feel good. It could be going for a walk in a neighborhood where much is in bloom and beautiful to behold.

So. Loving the earth helps love yourself.

To recap:

A genogram of your own making
Interviewing a family member
Family Ancestry
Learning to garden whether it be flowers or vegetables or both
Hugging trees
Walking in the woods
Walking in neighborhoods which you bring you joy

And

How about a bird feeder?
Planting flowers that attract bees and butterflies?
Breathing deeply in your own front yard?

Possibilities abound.

 

Whatever you decide, try it and then write about it. How’d it go? How did it feel? What did you learn? What is next?

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!

Away, away from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs,
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress its music.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Beginning Again

rose budding

March is a time which includes celebrating women, the vernal equinox, springing an hour ahead and wearing green on the 17th. Some may moan at the time change, and I encourage us to welcome the longer light. Depending on where you live, you may already be seeing evidence of spring with new blossoms surfacing. Daffodils were the first to wave at me followed now by Redbuds. New life. Rebirth. Beginning. Again.

These latter signs point to opportunity. To fling open the windows and let in fresh air – literally and within your being. To breathe deeply as the earth shows off in its seasonal glory. To rise from hibernation and start down the mountain as the splendid Mary Oliver’s bear is described in Spring (“this dazzling darkness”). To take chances, risk as some of the characters do in the movie Begin Again.

How might it feel to rise, to stretch, to move down the mountain, to sniff the air, to listen to the sounds around you, to taste, to touch, to feel – as if a brand new experience?

Absorb this idea and write for five minutes. Stay curious.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!

Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Write Now with Jean Rowe: Matters of the Heart

snow heart held by red gloved hands

Lacuna Loft is proud to present Write Now with Jean Rowe! Each month, come on over to Young Adult Voices and read everything LCSW Jean Rowe has to say! Love what you’re reading? Check out the many programs Jean is facilitating (including 30 Minute Tune-UpLost and FoundLacuna Loft’s Weekly Journal Prompt, and It’s a Wonderful Life) and sign up to join one today!

February brings valentines, and this month, I encourage us to think of ways we can and do love ourselves. Love is action. Love is a verb. Love is a choice. Maybe this feels awkward. Try anyway. You’re worth it.

Here is some wisdom of those who love/loved themselves:

James Brown – Super Bad
I jump back. I wanna kiss myself.

Lady Gaga – Born This Way
I’m right on the track, baby.

Tom Petty – Won’t Back Down
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down.

Whitney Houston – Greatest Love of All
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Lou Rawls – One Life to Live
Why don’t you give it your best shot.

Madonna – Vogue
All you need is your own imagination.

 

What would happen if you use your own imagination, gave it your best shot, loved yourself, kept the world from draggin’ you down, got right on the track, and, yes, jumped back and kissed yourself?

Try this: pick one of those ideas or several. Act as if they are already in place. Write a day in your life with them already in place. Write for five minutes. Have a sense of wonder and open-heartedness at what is revealed.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!

We set the bar for how we want others to treat us.
-Lisa Marie

Your Definition of Love Determines How You Experience It

Write Now With Jean Rowe: Grounded

rock structure

Lacuna Loft is proud to present our newest blog initiative: Write Now with Jean Rowe! Each month, come on over to Young Adult Voices and read everything LCSW Jean Rowe has to say! Love what you’re reading? Check out the many programs Jean is facilitating (including 30 Minute Tune-UpLost and FoundLacuna Loft’s Weekly Journal Prompt, and It’s a Wonderful Life) and sign up to join one today!

2021 has started with a bang.  Let’s focus on how we can stay grounded no matter what is swirling around us.  Let’s invite ways to hold our center and remember to chuckle when, as Betty Davis said, “fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  The hopeful news is that there are simple ways to help ourselves.

Some of what is recommended is common sense and what we already know, and, yet, it is okay to return to this good direction when we need help.  There is no requirement here.  These are options for you to ponder.  Notice what feels right for you.

Connect with others.  You know who your people are.  Remember to share how you are doing and check in on others (even if they appear to be fine).  Take a break from the news.  Take a break from social media.  Get outside.  Get more sleep.  Consider making a daily, small gratitude list.  Try meditation for five minutes.

Journal!

Try this: make a list of the ways you stay grounded (and maybe already are!).  Write for five minutes and see what surfaces.  Are you doing these things?  Might you return to them to help feel grounded?  Did something new appear?

Let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear from you!

You never know what someone else is going through.
Be kind.
Always.
[Quoted often; Claimed by many]

Write Now With Jean Rowe: Journal Writing Is Good For You!

journal on table with flowers

Lacuna Loft is proud to present our newest blog initiative: Write Now with Jean Rowe! Each month, come on over to Young Adult Voices and read everything LCSW Jean Rowe has to say! Love what you’re reading? Check out the many programs Jean is facilitating (including 30 Minute Tune-Up, Lost and Found, Lacuna Loft’s Weekly Journal Prompt, and It’s a Wonderful Life) and sign up to join one today!

—-

Journal writing is good for you!  I am not just providing lip service for something in which I truly believe. The benefits of expressive/journal writing have been studied for over 30 years. Journaling as a coping technique for cancer patients is among them.  If you have taken part in any of Lacuna Loft’s programs, you already know the changes for good, aha moments, and important internal shifts that can and do take place.

Research performed by James Pennebaker concluded that “physical health and work performance can improve by simple writing and/or talking exercises.” Simple. Writing. Exercises. 

Kay Adams, the Founder and Director for the Center for Journal Therapy, calls the journal the “79¢ therapist.”  If you knew that the anxiety, the worry, the insomnia, the punishing voice in your head, the [you fill in the blank] would lessen, subside or even stop by spending 5-7 minutes writing in a journal on a regular basis, would you?  As Glinda told Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “you’ve always had the power.”  

You might ask, how can journaling help you?  Have you felt triggered by the smells of the infusion room?  Experienced scanxiety?  Wondered who you are with/after cancer?  The journal is your ally towards working through those experiences.  You can write anything you want.  No one is going to judge you.  It’s a personal, private space.

Here is a prompt to try.  Write for 5 minutes.  Then, read back over what you wrote and give yourself an impression of what you feel or think about what you wrote (i.e. I notice…)

Describe a place in your home where you feel safe.  What makes it comfortable?  How do you relax there?  Is there a certain time of day you spend there?  What is the view outside the window?  Is anyone there with you?  Where are you in the room?

Tell me how it goes! I’d love to hear from you.

-Jean

 

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

-William Wordsworth

30 Minute Tune Up: A Journal Drop In

writing on desk

We have a brand new program forming!  Join us each week for a 30 Minute Tune Up: A Journal Drop In program!

Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, Certified Journal Therapist returns to Lacuna Loft for a new program.  This journal drop-in is designed to help you tune in and reset during a chaotic time.

In the chaos of our everyday lives, with COVID anxiety and racial tensions at an all-time high across the country, we want to extend the opportunity to spend 30 minutes each week in a drop-in journaling workshop. Come, journal with a group of young adults facing cancer (young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers all welcome), and get tuned up for another week.  You are welcome to drop in once or come as often as you like.  These journaling techniques will be short, concrete, and time-contained.  Sign up below!

Where: Online video chat. We’ll send you more information about joining after you register. Please have a microphone headset and a webcam.

Who: Young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

When: Thursdays, July 16 – Oct 1.  9:30-10 am PT / 11:30 am-noon CT / 12:30-1 pm ET.  Please be on time 🙂

The Fork In The Fight: Recipes For Calm And Creativity

Andrea and Grace have a lovely history together.  Go here to learn more about them, and to read the first three posts in their first segment of The Fork In The Fight series.  Look forward to reading Part 2: Navy Bean Root Vegetable Stew and Part 3: Introduction to Ayurveda later this week!

The Fork in the Fight: recipes for restoring our souls and thriving in the face of cancer

Part 1: Recipes for Calm & Creativity

This is the first post in the second segment of the Fork In The Fight series.  In this three-part segment, we will be sharing a recipe for the soul in finding retreat in creativity, a recipe for the body with a delicious navy bean stew, and a recipe for the mind as Andrea introduces the world of Ayurveda. Stay tuned!


retreat
Andrea’s California retreat.

 

Solitude & Retreating – Andrea

Over the past month, emerging from the wilderness of ocean waves in Big Sur for a retreat with Scott Blossom, and hours in front of books, family or movie classics, I’ve found that turning inward, away from the social engagements beginning to brew, has been a very sound choice. Even with my partner and husband away for one month on his own sabbatical of sorts, with solitude and quiet setting in around the clock, longing for even more has not been uncommon for me. I have canceled a few appointments, and gotten to bed early. A few nights I have also stayed up late watching a new favorite television indulgence, sipping wine and writing. These, too, have been a practice of healing. There are many ways to wander inward. Cooking, Meditation, like the practice we shared in Breathing Into Self-Awareness And Ease, Yoga, and writing are my top four. What are yours? Not sure, but want to try something creative and different? We encourage you this month to fight for some YOU time. Take a stab at something creative. Find stillness in the gentle movements of your hand while painting, drawing, or writing.

Stillness & Creativity – Grace

Boy, do we all know that life can be messy and unexpected, and sometimes just completely overwhelming! There can be moments when it all seems too much or we lose sight of reality. It has taken mistakes (loads) and time (a lot) to teach myself to breathe, to be gentle, to seek happiness in all moments, and most importantly, to act positively and decisively when I feel stress creeping in. I learned much of this along my cancer journey, but I continue to turn to use these newfound superpowers everyday and you can easily master them, too. The most helpful of them all has been meditation (followed closely by x-ray vision).

I am a creative person and a voracious reader. During treatment I didn’t always have the energy to think creatively or concentrate on reading but I still yearned for those outlets. This is how I stumbled upon “doodle meditation.”

After finding an interesting audiobook or podcast, I’d grab a pen and paper. As I sat listening to these stories, I would begin to doodle. I never had anything in particular planned, but I always started with a single point and drew outwards from it, balancing a squiggle here, with a squiggle there. I made a point not to concentrate on my drawing, but rather to let my hand and mind doodle freely as I listened. I would feel more relaxed after even a few minutes of this, and my buzzing and whirring anxieties would be calmed.

Whenever I find myself stressed or too caught in a moment, I start up doodle meditation. It’s the easiest thing in the world and absolutely everyone can do it.

How to Doodle-tate:

  1. Find a great audiobook, podcast, or music. If you are looking for a book that can’t help but make you excited to be alive, try “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.
  2. Next, take out a piece of paper and pen. I like to use felt tip pens but any pen and paper will do.
  3. Starting with a single point, draw a shape in the middle. Any shape!
  4. From there, draw what comes naturally. An arrow pointing left or a small spiral twisting right? Or three polka dots under a zigzag?
  5. Perhaps most important to this whole process, don’t stop to think about what your doodle looks like or what should come next. Practice freeing up your mind and just letting the pen move.
  6. Keep doodling for as long as you like!

Doodle meditations are a simple and fun way to take a break and I hope that you find joy in them! If it seems too unstructured to start with, I recently came across Zentangle and would absolutely recommend them. While my doodles weave randomly, Zentangles are “artistic meditation” that use patterning beautifully. On LacunaLoft, Mallory recently posted about coloring for stress and shared a gorgeous free coloring and creativity guide, too!

IMG_5057
Andrea tried the doodle-tate exercise and loved it. Isn’t her drawing whimsical?

We would LOVE to see what you create so if you try doodle meditation and want to share your creations, please comment and we will reach out to you. We may even feature your doodles in our next series!

With love and gratitude,

Andrea and Grace

 

Put A Fork In It! Send us your comments, suggestions and food-fighting ways to support a healing life.

Why And How To Start Journaling

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” -Christina Baldwin

Journaling is a mysterious hobby. I’ve been keeping a journal for years, but I’ve only discussed it with a handful of people- it just doesn’t come up in conversation that often. When someone does discover that I journal, though, they are invariably intrigued. I am asked, “How do you do it?” “When do you find time?” and “Do you have any tips?” However, it’s the unspoken question: “WHY do you keep a journal?” that’s the most meaningful of all.

In the interest of shedding some light on a secretive habit, and hopefully inspiring some of you to give it a try, here are my answers to those questions…

How to start journaling

First, figure out your preferred medium (how you write best). When I started my journals as a teenager, I used big sketchpads and bold markers. (I was inspired by the work of the artist/writer Sark.) I have about 15 of these journals, and I’ve managed to keep them safe and private throughout several location changes. They are a storage issue, though, so I’m grateful that I’m now more comfortable writing on my laptop. I keep a word document called “journal” (original, I know; if you don’t trust your housemates not to snoop, call it “alfalfa pie recipe” or something as unappealing) and start a new file every year.

How to create a journal entry

I like to start with a day/date heading, so that if I choose to look back on previous entries, I can orient myself easily. Other people prefer writing blog-post style, or simply picking up where they left off the day before. It’s your choice.

The biggest potential roadblock to journaling is the dreaded “blank page” syndrome, where you’re sitting there having no idea how to start. You can solve that problem by starting the same way every time, either with a journal prompt (the same one every day, or a variety- Lacuna Loft can help with this); a list, a la Bridget Jones’s Diary; or by cataloging what you did that day. I take the last option, and I’ve never once had to sit and watch the cursor blink. Generally, starting with what I did becomes how I felt about what I did, which leads into deeper topics. If it doesn’t, well, at least I wrote something.

When to journal

This is entirely up to you, of course, but from personal experience I strongly recommend writing every day. Once you skip a day or two, it becomes a lot harder to reestablish the habit. It also helps to write at the same time every day. I like to journal first thing in the morning.

And now the big question:

Why keep a journal?

This is a personal question, and everyone will have a different answer. I don’t mind sharing my reasons, in the hopes that one or more will resonate with you.

1. It keeps me feeling positive and grateful. Like most people, I tend to focus on the negative things that happen to me. Writing about my life gives me instant perspective on my problems. It helps me to remember that when my doctor called with questionable test results, my husband stood there and massaged my shoulders, then offered to get me frozen yogurt. Telling the story of that moment brings the positive memories into greater focus.

2. It helps me release feelings I didn’t know I had. Throughout my teens and twenties, I had a lot of trouble getting in touch with my own feelings. I would act out by overeating or fighting with family, and I would know I was unhappy, but I honestly didn’t know why. Journaling helped put an end to that phase in my life, by giving me time and space to talk about my feelings to the one person who really needed to understand them (me).

3. It’s a great warm-up to the other writing I do. I’m also a musician, and I’m a big believer in a daily warm-up that sets the tone for the practicing my students and I do each day. The same goes for writing. Once I’ve journaled, I feel much more ready to dive into the bigger projects I have scheduled.

4. It documents my memories. I often return to journal entries from meaningful times in my life, such as when my son was born, to remind me what really happened and how I felt about it. It’s also a great resource if my husband and I disagree about when something happened- I can just look it up!

5. Maybe my journals will be a memoir one day. Hey, it could happen!

Best of luck with your journal habit! If you’d like to talk more about journaling, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me at leannesowul@gmail.com, or visit my website, leannesowul.com.