Write for You: Eat Something

by Nancy Casey

One thing for certain about today’s writing exercise: you can’t do it on an empty stomach! Today you will write from direct experience exactly what it is like to eat something.

What must you eat? Anything. A meal. A snack. Something that you like. Something you don’t like. It really doesn’t matter as long as you eat it.

It can be a favorite food, maybe some kind of treat that you like to have on hand over to holidays. It can be a completely ordinary food, something that you eat every day. It can be something that you cooked, bought, or received from a friend. The important thing is that you take a moment to eat it thoughtfully, and then write down everything that happened.

Begin by explaining what the food is. Then take a bite, chew it up carefully write down your observations. Then take another bite, and another, each time recording what happens.

A lot goes on inside your mouth when you are eating. You don’t simply “chew” for example. Try to notice what your tongue, teeth and cheeks do to make sure that the food is lined up right so that it can be chewed properly. Which parts of your tongue are the most active? How does the lump of food move around?

Pay attention to which teeth are the busiest. Do the teeth on one side work harder than on the other? Do some teeth avoid working altogether? Are certain teeth more active at different times during the “take-a-bite” and the “chewing-up” processes?

Try to notice other sensations: wet, dry, hard, soft, rough, pointed, crisp, hot, cold. The sensations you have will depend on what you are eating. Try to notice as many as you can. What smells can you smell? Are there bursts of flavor or changes in texture? What do you hear?

How do you know when to swallow? What is it that you do, exactly, as you swallow? Does it have a special sound? What parts of your mouth are most involved? What are all the things that have to happen before your mouth is empty again.

How does the eating experience change as it continues? Is a bite from the middle of a sandwich different from a bite from around the edges? Is the first bite of a donut the same as the last one?

The beginning of the end of the eating experience takes place as you put the last morsel of food in your mouth. How does “eating” finally finish? What kinds of things happen to tidy up the inside of your mouth? How long does it take before every single sensation that has to do with eating is completely gone? What is the last sensation that you feel?

Try to surprise yourself with all the things that you can notice in the process of eating one small meal or snack.

Be sure to give your work a title and write the date on it. Here is an example of what a person could write: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/eat-something/

 

Nancy Casey has lived in rural Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work at http://planetnancy.net/ If you would like her help with a writing project, large or small, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Circles in the Sky

by Nancy Casey

The work that you will do in your writing practice today is in two parts. In the first part you will do something. In the second part you will write about what it was like to do it. The thing that you will do is an exercise that relaxes your neck and supposedly improves your concentration.

You have probably seen setups where bright spotlights shine up into the sky, making it look like light sabers are scribbling on the clouds and stars. You are going to pretend that you have one of those spotlights shining straight up out of the top of your head.

But first you have to pick a number between 8 and 20. Do that now.

Then sit comfortably, in a position where you will still be comfortable in 10 or 20 minutes. You can sit at a table, in a bed, on the floor, in a chair. Your feet can be high or low, legs straight or crossed. Give your back some support so you don’t have to hold it up all by yourself. You might even want to support your head and neck a little bit as well.

Once you are settled, close your eyes, turn on the spotlight on the top of your head and try to draw a slow even circle of light in the sky. I say “try” because you must do this with the whole rest of your body completely relaxed. So the circle probably won’t be round. It will probably be small. Depending on how much tension you have in your neck and shoulders, the circle you draw might be so small that you only imagine drawing it without moving your head.

Remember that number between 8 and 20 that you picked out? That’s how many circles you will draw. Staying relaxed is the most important thing. Going very slowly is important, too. The shape of the circles isn’t so important. It’s kind of interesting to notice how lumpy they are and how they change.

Count slowly to yourself as you make each circle. If your mind drifts off or you lose count, start over. (That’s the “improves your concentration” part.) When you have drawn all the circles in one direction, reverse course and draw the same number of circles in the opposite direction.

What if you keep losing count and it seems like you’ll never get done? Just say “Oh well” every time you have to start over. If you keep at it for 10 or 20 minutes, that’s certainly enough to say that you gave it a good try and stop. If you only had time to make circles in one direction, draw a couple of circles in the opposite direction before you quit, just so your neck can unwind.

Then write about what that was like. How it felt. Whether it was easy or hard. If you kept forgetting about what you were doing and thinking about something else, write about what you were thinking. You could end up not writing about making circles at all. Whatever you write, give it a title and put the date on your page. Here is an example: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/relax-your-neck/

 

You can draw these circles in the sky at any time. In the bathroom when you want a few moments of privacy to refresh your mind or calm down. In bed when you can’t sleep. In the morning when you wake up.

Change it up. Experiment with different numbers of circles. Imagine the spotlight is on your nose, or that you have one on each ear.

Anything goes, as long as you make circles, stay relaxed, and cheerfully start over each time you lose count.

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work at http://www.PlanetNancy.net. If you would like her help with a writing project, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Continuity

by Nancy Casey

Things that stay the same in our lives over time are what give our lives continuity. These things could be situations, such as a job, a support group, or a relationship. The continuous things could be places: a town, a library, a home. Our lives can derive continuity from possessions we have had for a long time: favorite shirts, certain books, that cup, a car.

The funny thing about continuity is that we wouldn’t notice anything about the things that stay the same if there weren’t a whole lot of other things that changed.

On top of that, you can’t really predict ahead of time what’s going to stay with you in your life and what’s going to disappear. You can expect certain things to be the same. You can even try hard to keep them the same. But dishes break, relationships end, and suitcases get lost. Only by looking back can you say for sure what parts of your life, big or small, have stayed the same.

Today in your writing, choose one aspect of your life that’s been continuous for awhile. Big or small. It could be anything from your house or your best friend to your shoes. (You can decide how long “awhile” should be.)

Begin by describing what you have chosen to write about. Tell what it is. What does it look or feel like? What do you notice and appreciate about it? What role does it play in your life now, today?

Then think about the past. Think of a different moment when the “thing” was present. It could be sometime in the past when you wore the shoes, talked to the friend, sat on a certain couch. Describe that moment. How this one thing is still present, even though the surroundings and situation could be entirely different.

You could end up writing a lot about one moment, and explain how something present in your life today was present at a significant moment.

You might find it more interesting to write short descriptions of a string of moments where many things changed, but this one thing you have in mind stayed with you or stayed the same.

Whatever you decide to write, it will be interesting. Because no two lives are the same.

When you have finished give your work a title and write the date on it. There is an example of what a person could write here: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/continuity/

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work at http://planetnancy.net/ If you would like her help with a writing project, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: Soon, Also and Then

by Nancy Casey

Today in your writing practice, you are going to write about the future. Any part of the whole imaginary future that could be ahead. You could write about your plans for the rest of this day. Or you could fast-forward to a time when you have super-powers and understand what to do in every situation. You can write about any point in the future, near or far, as long as you can imagine it somehow.

Before you do that, stand up on your feet. Shift your weight gently to the left and to the right for a bit. Try to get a sense of a gentle rocking motion. Don’t try to be particularly athletic or stretch. Let your arms feel relaxed.

While you do this, let your mind wander through some ideas about your imagined future. If you catch yourself thinking about the past, say, “Oops, I’m trying to imagine the future.”

Keep shifting your weight back and forth, and turn your head a little to the left and right. Raise your arms if that feels good. You can put them on your belly or cross them so they make an ‘X’ on your chest. You can even put them on top of your head if that’s not too much of a stretch. All the while, rock gently, look to the left and right, and imagine what might lie in your future.

Then sit down to write. Write about whatever comes to you mind about your imagined future, it doesn’t necessarily have to be what you thought up while you were standing. That might have gotten the ideas flowing so that new ideas come to you now. Write your page like this:
1. Begin the first line with “Soon” and write about something that will happen to you soon.
2. Begin the second line with “Also” and write about what will also happen.
3. Begin the third line with “And then…” and tell what will happen next.
Keep going, always writing about something you imagine in your future. As you continue, start every line with either “Soon…,” “Also…,” or “And then…” You don’t have to keep using those three words in that order, and it’s okay to use the same one over and over. Just be sure that each line begins with one of those words.

However you zip around in your future is up to you. You don’t have to explain anything to anybody else. Just write what makes sense to you.

When you have finished, give you page a title. Put the date on it as well. You can find an example of the kind of thing someone might write here: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/writing-about-the-future/

This is a good exercise to do several times during the week. You could start to notice that your future looks different to you at different times.

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work at http://planetnancy.net/ If you would like her help with a writing project, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

Write for You: A Special Friend

by Nancy Casey

We all have imaginary friends. Think about it. And when you do, you’ll hear some kind of conversation in your head. The conversation might even go something like this:
“Imaginary friends are for children, not adults.”
“That’s right. I outgrew that a long time ago.”
Even in that conversation, someone is talking and someone listens. If the conversation takes place in your mind, it’s between you and an imaginary friend.
Sometimes, we refer to these friends as voices. We might be telling someone a story about ourselves and say, “And then this voice in my head said…”
There are many theories about these voices that talk to us inside our minds, but no theory fully explains where they come from. Sometimes they are echoes of things we have heard or been told. Sometimes they are not. Each voice, however, has an attitude. Not all attitudes are good for you.
Even though everyone is different, there is one voice that everybody has. That is the voice of the imaginary friend who only wants the best for you. Today in your writing, spend some time with this special friend who lives in your mind.
This is a friend who has been with you from the start and knows you completely.
This is a friend whose only motivation is to help you and who never wants anything else.
This is a friend with a quiet, gentle voice who often gets drowned out by other voices, by other imaginary friends with different motivations, the ones who might not have your best interests at heart.
This friend cheers your every success, and at the same time isn’t very surprised when you do well, because they know how capable you are.
When you are in a crisis, this friend says things like, “Did you see that! Are you okay? Let’s find some ways to take care of you.”
When you make a bad decision, this friend says, “Wow, now we know what that was like. I totally get why you did that. Let’s discuss what we learned and how we got stronger.”
This is a friend who helps you notice what pleases you, whether it’s other people, the natural world, or your efforts at housekeeping. When you smile, this friend knows what you are smiling at, and maybe even said the thing that made you smile.
When you are in a bad situation, this friend helps you analyze your discomfort and see that the “badness” comes from the situation and not yourself.
Every morning when you wake up, this friend greets a day full of opportunities for you to be your best self.
One thing to remember about this friend is that they are so kind and so polite that they won’t shout or interrupt others. That means that this friend often has their voice drowned out.
Today when you write, politely silence everybody in your mind but this special friend. If other voices chime in, don’t put their words down. Just tell them that you are listening to someone else right now. Give your special friend some time and space to be sure they can talk without being interrupted.
Record what your special friend has to say about what’s going on in your life. Maybe it will come out as a conversation. Maybe the friend will really get going and give a speech.
It’s possible your special friend is terribly shy and doesn’t have much to say. If that happens, don’t force it, but don’t walk away, and don’t let anybody else talk instead. Ask your friend a few questions and doodle on the page. Quietly reject any information that doesn’t come from that friend, saying, “I’m sorry, but somebody else is talking now.”
Your special friend is in there. It’s worth the trouble to get acquainted. This is the very best friend you will ever have.
Be sure to put the date on your writing and give it a title as well. You can find an example of what a person could write here: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/words-from-a-friend/

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work here: http://planetnancy.net. If you would like her help with a writing project, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: Just the Junk

by Nancy Casey

Do you have a junk drawer? A drawer full of a random collection of things that you don’t want to throw away, but which aren’t quite valuable enough to have their own place to live in your home? Things like padlocks with misplaced keys or keys with misplaced padlocks. Things like lone band-aids, twist ties, or a couple of the neighbor kid’s legos.

Maybe your junk drawer isn’t a drawer. It could be the back of your closet, the floor of your car, or the bottom of your backpack. Maybe it’s the kitchen counter, the refrigerator, your coat pockets, or that spot by the door.

Today, write about what’s in your junk drawer. If you are like me and you have junk “drawers” all over the place, pick just one to write about. Don’t move on to a second one unless you have said everything you can about the first one.

Write about anything and everything that’s in your junk drawer, all the way down to the dust bunnies. You can dump it out on the table in front of you if you like. (But don’t pressure yourself to do anything more organized than dumping it all back in when you are finished.)

Write down what each item is. Then pick one and say something about it. You can say a little or a lot.

These are some ideas for what you could say: Tell how the thing got into your life and why it is still there. Tell why it belongs in the junk drawer, and not under your bed or in the oven or next to your your socks. What it would say if it could talk to you? Did you find any things that you forgot about and were delighted to see again? Is there anything in there that you don’t think you’ve ever seen before?

It isn’t really “junk” is it?

What if you don’t have a junk drawer to write about? No disorderly or random piles of whatnot anywhere in your living space? What do you do with your ticket stubs, receipts, odd mittens and old keys? Do you have certain habits that prevent accumululations of stuff from washing up in the corners of your life? Did you have junk in the past that you don’t have now? If you had a junk drawer, what would be in it?

Whatever you have to say about junk drawers and their junk, be sure to give your work a title and write the date on it.

To see an example of what a person could write, visit: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/just-the-junk/

 

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Her website is PlanetNancy.net. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

 

Write for You: What Did You Expect?

by Nancy Casey (PlanetNancy.net)

When we are hurt, whether by people or events, it is often very difficult to explain what happened. It can be even more difficult to communicate how much it hurt and why. When we try to tell someone about it and they don’t understand, we can be re-traumatized, making everything worse.
There are many reasons for this. One has to do with the fact that there is no Big List in the sky that identifies every crummy thing that can happen to a person and tells why it should hurt and how much.
Everyone is different. Often the pain of an interaction or an event is compounded by the fact that we know it never should have happened. We endure what occurs. We try to heal. But underneath it all, some part of our idea of how the world works has been shattered. This is very difficult to analyze and repair.
Today in your writing practice, write about being hurt. You can write about a single incident or several different ones. But don’t write about what happened, write about what you had expected would happen.
For instance, if you were crossing the street and the light said, “Walk” and then a car came screaming around the corner and hit you, don’t write the story of the accident. Simply write what you had expected at that time. Perhaps you would say, “I expected to be safe in the crosswalk when the light was green.”
If somebody said something terribly mean to you, instead of telling what they said and why it was so mean, perhaps you would write, “I expected to be spoken to with respect.”
Unfortunately, our worldview can become so bruised by the things that have hurt us that we expect bad things to happen. You might find yourself writing things like, “I expected to fail that class.” Or, “I expected to be hit.” If that’s what you expected, write it down.
Write a page like that. Begin every line with, “I expected…” Date the page and give it a title. Then take a second page and write down what you notice about your expectations. Put the date and a title on that page, too.
You can find an example of what you could write here: PlanetNancy.net/writing-prompts/your-expectations

Nancy Casey (PlanetNancy.net) has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.