Why writing matters right now

When I start workshops, I usually tell those gathered that writing is good for our health. Giving voice to the swirling thoughts in our heads can lower our blood pressure. It boosts t-cell production and strengthens our immunity. Those wellness benefits often seem like bonus points. But not now. Physical health is not a given during a pandemic. As the days isolating at home (or working overtime for some heroes) start to stretch out, the need to take care of our individual and collective mental health becomes even greater.

I’m not doing well with my writing habits right now. News, social media, and converting work to online everything – all seem more pressing. I can feel my anxiety rising. Maybe you can too. That’s why I’m dusting off this website and wanna-be writing business I began with some baby steps two years ago. I’m going to start sending out writing prompts so we can write alone or in company with one another. It’s mostly for myself. But I’d love to have you join me.

Here’s a prompt to start from Mary Oliver:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~from “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.

Friends, what are you letting go of today?

Be well,

Julie

8 thoughts on “Why writing matters right now”

  1. Today I am letting go of our Dutch exchange student, Sanne. In an abrupt end to her exchange year, she flew home to the Netherlands on Friday. There was a moment that day—when flights headed to the New York area we’re being turned back—that I felt the panic parents must feel when their children are in danger. She was already in the air! In that moment I felt so helpless and stupid. My simmering fear that she might not be able to make it home boiled over. Fortunately, the airport opened and she made her connection. She is home with her family now, but her departure isn’t quite real for me yet. This morning, I woke up and wondered whether Sanne was awake yet, wondered what we’d have for breakfast, then I remembered she’s not here. The Dutch vocabulary words posted all around the house, the case of Korean ramen noodles in the pantry, the queue of BTS videos in our YouTube lineup—these reminders of Sanne’s contributions to our family life remain. Our love for her remains even as we let her go.

  2. Today, I let go of the notion that bodily security is mindless comfort. It is not. Security is fleeting, therefore purposeful. It’s stressful. It’s a mask worn against other people’s disease. It’s isolation. It’s self centered and cruel. To have bodily security is to strive for what cannot be, though strive for it we must.

    1. Thanks for this Beth. Each time I read the line about the mask, I heard and visualized something different, in a powerful way.

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