Renewal Through Nature

Happy October! It is good to be back to the blog. To those who have reached out asking if I was going to continue writing this, thank you. I needed a break. Sometimes we need to unplug and get outside and just write in our journals, which I did a lot this summer.

We are now headed into October and I want to invite you to connect with nature. Go outside and notice the temperature of the air, the color of the sky, and focus on one big nature thing, the sky, a tree, grass, dirt, a mountain, a bush, a bird, a squirrel.

Take a moment to focus in and notice that thing. Then break it down. What do you notice about it? What is its color? Its speed? Does it make a sound? If you can touch it or if it touches you (sunlight, wind), what does it feel like? Take a moment to notice these things and then write them down.

Nature is such a healer. So is taking the time to notice. Sometimes I am outside in nature but moving quickly through it, doing exercise or going somewhere or reading or doing something where I am not really paying attention. I invite you to give yourself a few moments to just look around you and notice what is there, notice the nature there in front of you. Then take another moment to write it down.

You don’t have to form a perfect poem or complete sentences, simply write down what you notice. Then go from there. I always say, keep your pen to the page. If you’ve been writing, just go with it until you feel ready to be done. Give yourself the time to be in nature and the time to write about it as well.

Thank you for writing today! Happy October. If you would like to follow this blog and write for fun and self-care, please subscribe!

Best,

Liza

Liza Wolff-Francis

Break until July

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for following this blog and for writing to support mental health! This blog will take a break until July, so look for us again then and meanwhile, write write write. Look to try to cultivate a regular writing practice. You don’t have to write every day, but don’t forget to give writing a shot when you want to express yourself and maybe another manner of expression won’t be as effective.

Have a wonderful few weeks! See you in July!

Best,

Liza

Loving Yourself

Most everyone has problems loving themselves some days. Learning to love ourselves can make life much easier and better. Problems arise and life happens, but if we love ourselves, the more difficult moments are easier to deal with. Loving yourself affects your emotional wellbeing, your mental health, your physical health, general everyday functioning, as well as moving toward accomplishing your goals.

One major key to loving yourself is accepting yourself just as you are and loving all of the pieces of you, even the ones you might think you don’t love. If you can accept them, you can then also think of changing them down the road if you wish. To love your whole self, even the parts you think are undesirable, you can love yourself for thinking you need to change. Love the difficult feelings. Love the imperfections and love that you believe they are imperfections at all.

Part of that is also loving your feelings and being able to name them, explore them, get to know them, enjoy them. Sometimes it is hard to have our feelings and hard to love ourselves with those feelings. We have to first be open to loving our feelings and ourselves.

Many of us, if not all of us, have a struggle loving ourselves, in fact, we are perhaps write battling against loving ourselves fully.

Write 1:

I invite you to write what might keep you from loving yourself fully. On a regular day, what keeps you from loving yourself? What about on a bad day? A good day?

Write 2:

Next, imagine a person, place, or thing that your love. Picture that person, place, or thing in your mind and notice how you feel that love your body. Now write down the person, place or thing, write that you love them.

Next, try to shift that love you feel for that person, place, or thing to yourself. If you make excuses as to why it can’t shift over or you lose focus, go back to that person, place, or thing (you can read what you wrote) and concentrate on your love for it again, until you can feel it in your body. Then bring yourself in again. Work to feel that love for yourself.

Write 3:

Then, write down that you love yourself. If you feel you are adding “but” or I love myself when… write that you love yourself unconditionally. In fact, just write that anyways and then sit with it. How does it feel to write that? Is there a part of you that doesn’t want to allow that unconditional love for yourself? If so, stop and write about that, then go back to the person, place or thing and work to love it, feel the love, and again, feel the love for yourself as well.

Write the love for you!

Thank you for writing with us today! If you want to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Take care,

Liza

Justice

Today, I invite you to write a poem about justice. We all have an idea of what justice looks like and understanding our thoughts and feelings about it can be helpful to our mental emotional health because it is a large theme we encounter on a personal and also a societal level.

What you write about may be large. It may be small. I met a child a few months ago named Justice. Was the child justice for something? To the world? To the parent’s life? For a particular situation?

We may have a lot of ideas of what justice means and we may never truly see what we think justice is come to pass. That is a fact we also have to live with and negotiate for ourselves.

So, let’s write a poem!

Write ten sentences about justice. You can start with: Justice is _________________. Continue along this line. Justice means____________. To me, justice is ____________.

You don’t have to be making some huge proclamation, just explore what you think it means to you. Maybe you think about justice in your own life or at your job or maybe you think societally or for the planet. Does it mean equality? Fairness? Equity? Try to explore the concepts you write about using concrete images and colors. Use your 5 senses. What color is justice and why? What does it sound like? How does it feel to the touch? What does justice taste like?

At the very end of your poem, after your tenth line, write another two sentences at the end about how you will survive/be okay if you don’t ever see in your lifetime the justice you imagine or want.

Afterwards, sit with your new poem for a bit (maybe a few days), then go back and see if there are lines you might want to rearrange or reorder or take out or change. Go back and reflect on what you wrote. Do you still feel the same? Is there something you forgot? What does that mean to you? Write about that for a moment.

Justice is a topic we could write books on, people have. So, summing up what you want to say in 10-12 lines is challenging. That’s okay. Just go with it.

Thank you for writing with us today! If you would like to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Take care,

Liza

All the geese we’ve seen

I have been reflecting on the amazingness of geese. Down by the river, I see them flying above me in their V shape. I looked them up and learned a few new facts about them as well. They honk at each other to make sure everyone’s okay and to notify each other when they need to switch out of the lead role in the V.

Geese are attuned to the experiences of others around them! It’s been determined that the heart rate of geese increases when they see their companion or family members in conflict with another goose.

I invite you to think about a time when you felt that you have had a goose person in your life, one who is looking out for you or who is tuned in to your experience. Or maybe you have been the goose looking out for other geese.

Write about that time when you were the goose looking out for others or when there was a goose person looking after you. You can write about it in the first or third or person. you can write about it as if you were an actual goose- why not? Or you can just be a human you in your writing.

If you can’t think of a time, imagine a time when you could have used a goose person to look out for you. If you wouldn’t want someone there to support you, write why. Maybe trust. Maybe it’s hard to ask for help. Maybe you need more social support. Write about it.

And when you see geese flying, notice them, remember them. Somehow, it seems we are not so different from geese, we just fly in different ways.

It can be hard to write about our vulnerable selves and about us needing other people, but we all do and in the continuing pandemic, we have had to be and continue to have to be creative to get the connection we need, to be sure we are connected to others.

Thank you for writing with us today. If you would like to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog!

Take care,

Liza

Write an Emotion Poem

Sometimes we need to vent, to just get things off of our chest and we don’t necessarily want to talk with someone or maybe we’re already all talked out, but we still need to work on dealing with feelings we have. One great way to do that is through writing, which is what this whole blog is about-ways to do that. Today, I’m going to ask you to take a moment to really tune in to how you are feeling and then to write a poem about it.

Close your eyes. Take several deep slow breaths. Focus on your breathing. Tune into yourself right now. What does your body tell you? Your thoughts? Which emotion do you need to write about?

I invite you to write a poem today. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it down. You can always revise later. When you feel you know what emotion you need or want to write about, open your eyes and begin to write.

Exercise 1 Option (more structured than Exercise 2 Option):

If you don’t know what emotion you need or want to write about, stay focused on your breathing and tune in to how you feel in your body. If you really aren’t sure, go through a list of emotions and ask yourself whether you notice that emotion in your body. If you don’t know where to begin to write, start with the phrase:

“Today I write about_____________________ (add emotion in the blank)”

In the first stanza, describe how the emotion feels to you. It can be five lines more or less, just write it all down and you can come back later and arrange it if you wish. I would say write a sentence or phrase for each number below, but if you want to write more or less, go with that. Your creative self will know what it needs.

  1. What is your experience of that emotion?
  2. Does your perception of time change with that emotion?
  3. What color does your emotion take on? Or what color are you reminded of by this emotion?
  4. Can you bring in something that this emotion makes you think of in nature?
  5. Does it have a sound or sounds that go with it? Ex. __________________ is the sound of tires screeching, geese honking, the crack of lightening, nonstop wind. What does the emotion sound like to you?

In the next stanza, write:

  1. Does this emotion have a scent and does it feel familiar? Good? Bad?
  2. Look within yourself, what is the true origin of the emotion.
  3. Write: “This ___(emotion)______________ is ____________________ (is there a concrete object that reminds you of this emotion, it might be in nature or in your home or childhood…)
  4. Connect it with a color again and/or with time
  5. Either repeat your line about sound from above or make another sound line that connects with your emotion.

Third stanza:

  1. Write a short sentence/line about why you feel this way
  2. Go back to either nature or time or both and write a line connected with your emotion.
  3. Add to the object that reminds you of this emotion (the one from above)
  4. Describe how the emotion feels to you right now- it can be the same as above or new
  5. Is the emotion different now than when you wrote about it in the first stanza? Write how.

Exercise 2 Option:

If the poem prompt above is too detailed and feels frustrating, just write beginning with “Today I write about __________________” and then add in pieces from the list that call to you. They don’t need to be in the above order, that’s just an option. A poem can form and shape however it comes out, however you want it to and there is no set order.

The important thing is to write, to get it all out.

Thank you for writing today! If you would like to write every week, please follow the blog!

Be safe and be well.

Best,

Liza

Focus on projects

Internet life can take us all over the place, to a poem, to the news, to family, and down a rabbit hole or five. It’s easier than ever to get distracted these days, which means that right now, more than ever, it’s important to focus in sometimes. That might be with our goals, with our awareness, our tasks, our self-care…

Focusing in on one thing and working on it can actually help us feel calmer and more stable in our lives. Too often we are scattered and we feel scattered, so allow yourself to practice focus on the projects you want to work on. Being focused is not something that always come naturally, so we have to practice it.

I invite you today to focus in the best you can on a task or project you want to work on. Set intentions for what you want your day to look like. I can’t think how often I think about what I want to do and then get distracted looking at something else on the internet or even doing something else around the house. And often, I let myself. I say, well, it’s interesting. I like looking at this, I like doing this, or, it needs to get done anyways. But what I really set out to do, is still waiting to be done.

What things do you wish to do today? To complete? To work on? Take one and really focus in on finishing it or working on it. If you get distracted, go back to it. Don’t make up excuses not to, just go back to it. If you really want to continue with the distraction task, make a note of it and tell yourself you can come back to it later. Then go back and focus on the task you set out to do.

WRITE:

Write down one thing you want to complete, then write down five things that might distract you. First be general with those distractions and then be more specific. Next, write your reason for continuing with the distraction reason.

Example: you might write down “internet.” To be more specific, you might write: “I might get stuck scrolling through Facebook. How else would I find out that Jon is in the hospital with Covid or that Betty is pregnant and that Mich had her book published?

Go through 3-5 things like this, first writing down what you want to do or focus in on and then, write the distractions that might come up for you (being specific- even to the point of being funny to yourself- I might get stuck watching videos of adorable dogs dressed as cats) and then the excuse you might give to continue with the distraction.

Then work today on focusing in on the tasks or projects you want to do and if you get distracted, think of what you wrote and focus in again on your task.

Allowing yourself to get distracted is okay and your mind wandering is okay (minds do that and people get distracted), AND bringing yourself back to focus is okay too. In fact, you need to help your mind focus. Just gently bring your attention and focus back to what you are working on rather than doing a million things and calling it multi-tasking.

Thank you for writing with us today. If you would like to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Happy focus! Take care,

Liza

Liza Wolff-Francis

Last stretch of the marathon

The end is in sight, but we’re not there yet. More and more people are getting vaccinated. Things are starting to open up. We are SO close, but let’s not give up or get too careless. This is a marathon and we are still running it. I think we hit our wall a ways back, so we can still push forward. Towards the finish line.

What does the finish line look like? I think it looks like a time when we can get together again with minimal risk and I think that time is coming soon, but we’re not there yet. So, I’m writing to encourage us today to continue to stay present and safe.

This has been a long tough year but things are changing. Let’s continue to keep on track for all of our safety and wellbeing.

WRITE:

I invite you to write today about all the things you want to do when it’s safe again. I also invite you to write about the things you realize you don’t actually miss, that maybe you are surprised that you don’t miss. And lastly, I invite you to write what things you have done to stay safe these past 12 months and what you will continue to do and what you will begin to ease up on.

If you have had COVID, write about how you will take care of yourself with any after-effects of it, how you will emotionally care for yourself around that. If you feel fine and that it doesn’t affect you- great- write about that and write about what you would do if you were to feel sad or overwhelmed.

Keeping up our mental emotional wellbeing is also a marathon- and one that doesn’t end. We must always care for ourselves emotionally- mentally, so we can be as strong as we can. We might go outdoors to a park or natural setting. We might meditate while looking at a houseplant. We might write every morning. Go to therapy. Take care of animals. Take a bath or other self care. All of these things and more are taking care of our mental emotional health. Let’s keep going with healthy emotional wellbeing.

Thank you for writing with us today. If you would like to write with us every week, please follow the blog. We’d love to have you.

Take care and be well,

Liza

One year ago

It’s so hard to believe we have been at this pandemic for a whole year. One whole year of a strange unsureness, of being in our homes more, of not seeing people without masks, of separate togetherness times on Zoom.

It could seem strange to say good job for living through a difficult time when so many have not, but it’s important to recognize your strength. So…Congratulations for your strength, for your bravery, for your resilience. I am saying that sincerely. This has not been an easy year.

I remember about a year ago, just before the pandemic shut everything down, I went to the opening of a new re-modeled hip warehouse food court with a bunch of restaurants inside. It was the place to be at that moment in the city. And there were all kinds of people packed in there, waiting in the lines, saying hello, chattering with each other. I saw a couple of people I knew, waved to them from a distance. I remember going in there, saying to myself, if anyone coughs or sneezes, don’t lean into them.

How little I understood at the time of what this virus is. I had heard it was dangerous. I had heard it was coming for us, but I really didn’t understand how much it would impact my daily life. All of our lives.

In today’s post, I’d like to take time to remember, be grateful, to grieve, and to look toward the future. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but I feel hopeful. I see there is a path of hope ahead of us.

In the U. S. alone we have lost over 535,000 people. In the world, we have lost more than 2.6 million people. This is something to grieve.

Many more people have had COVID than have died, some of them walking away fine and some with long term complications. Whether you are someone who had COVID and is doing okay or continuing to have a hard time or someone who has lost a loved one to COVID or even from something else during this past year, or someone who has been through other hardships during this time, or someone who has been okay, but under the pressures of life in a pandemic, I’d like us to write.

Let’s write with balance in mind- a balance of grieving and gratefulness. If we get stuck in the grieving, sometimes it’s hard to see the hope we have or can have. If we only have hope, we deny the sadness that has been a part of this past year.

People sometimes think therapists don’t have or shouldn’t have problems. That’s not true, of course, and it certainly isn’t true in a pandemic. We are all in this storm. We may be in different boats, but the storm is raging still. There is hope and we see the storm subsiding, but a lot has been lost. What have you lost? And what are you thankful for?

WRITE

I invite you to write first something that you are sad about and next to write something you are grateful for. That might be your own health, a new kitten, a hike outdoors, a loved one, rain. Right now, what are you sad about from this past year, what are you thankful for? This could be a journal entry, a poem, a list, but create a balance of the sad and the grateful.

Bonus Writing: What were you doing last year around this time? What was the last social thing you did before the lockdown? Write about it. You can begin however you want or just start with: Before the lockdown…

Our feelings are so normal. It’s important for us to be able to identify them and express them. If you feel sad, that’s okay. If you feel grateful or happy or joyful, great! Definitely lean into that. All of our feelings are important. It’s also important that we keep them balanced so we are not soooooooo sad that we can’t handle sadness. Keep it balanced.

I am grateful to you for reading this and for your writing and exploring self-care through writing. If you would like to write with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Thank you.

Take care. Be well.

Best,

Liza Wolff-Francis

Happy International Women’s Day

Today the world celebrates women- all people who identify as women. I invite you to celebrate too.

I invite you to celebrate all that women do- whether you identify as a woman or not. All that women make happen. All of who women are. The choices we want to make. How we live our lives. Today we recognize that women are still underpaid in comparison with men and how those salaries also walk along lines of race and ethnicity as do basic rights. Today we recognize that women have advanced agriculture. Today we recognize the fight women make for rights. Today we recognize the work women have done on behalf of our planet. Today we recognize the fight to not objectify, eroticize, dumb-down, harass, blame, shame, or push against the strength of women. Today we recognize men and people of other genders who fully support women and denounce all violence against us. Today we recognize all that women do in our large world and in homes and families. Today we celebrate women and all women are.

Back in the mid-nineties I was in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica and celebrated International Women’s Day at a big festival on one of the plazas there in downtown San Jose. I hadn’t been in the country long, in fact our group was still in training and hadn’t been sent off to our host communities yet. I had gone off to the festival myself as none of the other volunteers wanted to go. It was one of the best things I did. I ended up making friends right there amidst the poetry and music. I had begun to talk to a couple of women there about the festival. After a while, they were like, “our friend is picking us up to go have a drink, want to come?”

There is something about being young and in another country that makes you daring and so ready for life. I followed them, practically jogging through the small crowd of people, all the way to their friend who was waiting for them in her car.

When we got there, the friend was like, “uh, who is this gringa?”

I introduced myself and one of the other women said they had met me and invited me to come along. “Well, come on then,” she said.

I looked around, wondering if I should get in the car with this random person and these other two random women I had met. I hadn’t even been in the country for two months and here I was possibly being kidnapped and I was walking right into it. And maybe it wasn’t smart. Or maybe we’re too cautious these days, so much so we can’t meet new people who end up being amazing. I want that adventure in my life.

From talking with the two women I met, I trusted them- enough at least, or so I thought. We had been talking about women’s rights in Costa Rica, about sexual orientation, about feminism, about women’s empowerment. I really liked those women. They were my age. They were funny. And I think they were just as amused by me as I was by them. So, of course I jumped in the car with them and away we went.

The woman who was driving, drove us to her house where we sat in her kitchen for the rest of that afternoon and into the evening drinking coffee and then eating together. We shared a few shots of guaro (the Costa Rican liquor) right out of the bottle and talked and talked and talked until I had to head out to take the last bus back to Santa Ana where I was staying with a family while I was in training. Not to even mention, I had a long day of classes and training the next day.

This was a kind of companionship with women that I love still today, one that is of kitchen table culture, of secrets and laughter, of friendship and joy, shared because we were women, because we wondered about each other, because we allowed it to happen. And I will never forget it. I ended up knowing two of those women for a very long time. That day was so fun and special that I have never not celebrated International Women’s Day, even if it’s a small celebration.

So, I invite you to write today about a magical encounter you have had with a woman or women. You can be of any gender to do this, simply write about a time you had a magical time with a woman. Why was it magical? Show us. Give us details. Who was she or them? Who were you with her or them?

Celebrate the women you know today. Celebrate all people who identify as women. Celebrate all women all around the world. We need celebrating and lifting up.

Thank you for reading and writing and celebrating. Happy International Women’s Day!

If you would like to celebrate with us every week, please sign up for the blog.

Best,

Liza

Liza Wolff-Francis