The Good Survives…….choosing how we remember

Not the day it said 'No fishing', The day the osprey looked at us.

Not the day it said ‘No fishing’,
The day the osprey looked at us.

The Good Survives

Not the time Jane threw a coffeepot at Don,
but the time they swam with turtles in Puako Bay.

        Not getting drunk and crashing your friend’s car,
        but handing him your #20 Adams, that’s caught fish all day.

Charles Harper Webb

These are the opening couplets of The Good Survives by Charles Harper Webb. This poem was recently selected by Natasha Tretheway in the New York Times Magazine. She said:

As a child, I would often recite poems to banish some painful or unpleasant memory. Words became a kind of talisman, as they are in this poem, a way of willing the mind to recollect all the good that lives alongside what we want to forget.These opening couplets remind us about the selective potential of memory and, more importantly, that we can choose how to remember someone or some event. 

I used this poem in a mental health recovery group; a participant said it reminded her that she could choose the memories that survive and not be overwhelmed by the dark, the sad, the traumatic. These can be the memories that so often come to the fore, obliterating the good and potentially overwhelming someone. Knowing that we have a choice, finding a sense of our own agency, is a powerful part of becoming ourselves. The group wrote their own couplets; a participant said that writing and reading ‘made the thoughts in my head dissipate’ and that writing gave structure to his experience in a new and containing way.

Writing prompt: Write a poem about an event or person. Write in couplets counterbalancing a negative with a positive aspect:

Not………………………………..

But………………………………..

Notice what happens to the memory as you do this.

Writing does give structure to our experience. If trauma is a rupture in the narrative, writing can provide a way of restoring the narrative of experience. Find out more at this workshop in Boulder where we will experiment with different structured writing techniques that have proved to be helpful:

Expressive Writing in Health & Trauma Recovery: Tools for Counseling Practice

September 19th 2015 9.30-12.30pm

Facilitated by:

Kate Thompson, MA, CJT, existential counselor, journal therapist and author of Therapeutic Journal Writing: An Introduction for Professionals

Carolyn Jennings, Journal to the Self® facilitator, author of Hunger Speaks a memoir told in poetry whose journals were key to her recovery from an eating disorder

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Wild Soul Stories….

Wild Soul Landscape

Wild Soul Landscape

My friend and colleague Mary Reynolds Thompson (yes, really – no relation) and I love working together – see our upcoming workshop at the end of this post. This week she interviewed me and invited me to tell a Wild Soul Story. When Mary invited me I went to diaries I had kept in earlier life and found an experience from early adolescence to talk about. You can listen to our conversation by clicking here. I could have chosen many other Wild Soul Stories…..Landscape has always been a powerful agent for my relationship with the self.

A Wild Soul Story is an account of an occasion when you and your environment, your inner and outer landscapes engage in significant ways. Mary says:

No one Wild Soul Story is like any other.  To all of us, however, it bridges the false divide between inner and outer nature, Earth and Soul.

Living this story, we come fully alive. We embrace a sense of self that is connected to the Earth and to our own true nature.

Journal Prompt: Think about a time when you became deeply aware of your environment.Write a Wild Soul Story of your own. Write about how it affected you at the time and how you remember it. Has it changed your relationship with yourself or with nature?

Mary Reynolds Thompson and I are teaching our popular workshop on December 17th:

WORKSHOP: Literature, Landscape, and

Winter Landscape

Winter Landscape

Imagination

December 17 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Book Passage,

51 Tamal Vista Blvd,  Corte Madera,  CA 94925 United States

+ Google Map

A strong landscape has an emotional effect; it creates a type of memory in which the landscape plays a vital role and becomes fused with the self. We will explore how landscapes––real, literary, and imagined––can create a topology of memory that infuses our writing and lives with deeper awareness and creativity.

We hope you can join us.

Let us know if you’d like us to bring our workshop to a location near you.

Writing in the wild………..

At the weekend Mary Reynolds Thompson and I facilitated our Wild Places Lost & Found writing workshops.

On Saturday the participants came up the winding road to the top of Flagstaff, to the views of the Continental Divide, to sit and write in forest and mountain.

On Sunday, people found places under trees, in sunshine, on grass.

They were seeking the wild places outside and inside themselves and came together to write and to share.

Saturday began with a visit from 3 coyotes. As we drove to Lakewood on Sunday for the second workshop a coyote crossed the road in front of us.

In Native American lore, a coyote is a trickster, a creature of duality and paradox, a creative figure, a creator of culture and a breaker of taboos.

Their appearance seemed to invite us into the wild.

Writing took people into their wild imagination.

We looked at archetypal landscapes: Mountain, Forest, Water, Grassland, Desert. Mary brought us images from her Reclaiming the Wild Soul work to look at, to choose from, to enter, to write about.

Journal Prompt

Which landscape are you most drawn to? What does it mean to you? What are the feelings it evokes in you?

What is that landscape in you?

One participant said she had always found writing outside too distracting, she preferred to have a ceiling – but on this occasion her written words belied her spoken words.

Writing in the wild

How is writing outside in nature, in a garden, different from writing inside, in a coffee shop?

What do you experience when you write outside?

What are your favourite places to write?

This I will Remember

This I will remember,

Everyone’s sharing,

The courage it sometimes takes to read out loud.

This I will remember:

How a child touches your soul,

The distance and closeness of stories.

This I will remember:

Beautiful are the hearts of the people

Who shared this workshop,

And the profound beauty of this place.

By the participants at the Wild Places Lost & Found workshop, facilitated by Kate Thompson & Mary Reynolds Thompson. Boulder, Colorado, 21st April, 2012 

Note from Mary and Kate: Saturday and Sunday’s workshops brought together an amazing group of men and women thirsty to explore the wild places within and without. Their only complaint–we need more time. To that end, please look for an upcoming October 2012 “Wild Places” weekend workshop in California, details to come.

workshops this week

If you want to treat yourself and explore your creative self in beautiful settings, there’s still time to sign up for exciting workshops here in Colorado this weekend:

Wild Places Lost & Found: Writing the places of our Hearts, Minds & Souls

Journalling and poetry with Mary Reynolds Thompson & Kate Thompson

SATURDAY, APRIL 21, BOULDER, COLORADO (in the mountains, watching the Divide)

SUNDAY, APRIL 22, LAKEWOOD, COLORADO (next to the park)

10:00-4:00       $95 

No previous writing experience is needed; writers and poets also welcome.

For information or to book your place:

303 443 3816 or e-mail kate.thompson@journaltherapy.co.uk

If you’re a therapist and missed the workshop on March 24th at Boulder Psychotherapy Institute then take the next opportunity:

People House 

Professional Development Series
APRIL 20th 

8:30am to 5:30pm

“Using the Journal’s Eye: Gaining Insight into your Professional Practice through Journal Writing”

Internationally acclaimed therapist and author, Kate Thompson shares the healing power of journaling. In this experiential workshop participants explore journal prompts writing techniques: Captured Moments, Dialogues, Unsent Letters and Perspectives and self-reflection. Relationship with self is central to self-care; journal writing develops intimacy with and knowledge of self. Presenter: KateThompson,MA;303-732-6823; Kate.Thompson@journaltherapy.co.uk
sign up for this class;
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