Don’t Want To!

by Nancy Casey

A major part of adulting, it seems, involves a whole lot of doing things that you don’t want to do. Being disciplined. Being a good sport. Doing it whether you want to or not. Often because if you don’t do it, no one else will—and it has to get done.

Today, fill a page by writing about things you did even though you didn’t want to.

Set up your page with a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

As you do the page setup, open your mind to the recent past. Consider your daily habits. What did you do that you didn’t feel like doing at the time?

Think about the kinds of tasks you dread. And do anyway. When do you motivate yourself only because you have no choice? Do you have un-favorite parts of your job? What do you procrastinate? Are there aspects of your personal maintenance routine that you’d just as soon skip, but can’t?

Did you halt some words before they left your lips? Did you choose to not-engage in a habit that you are trying to kick?

Have you upended a plan so that you could give attention to the needs of a friend, a family member or a stranger? Did you disturb your sleep? Give up an outing? Get behind on a project? Drive somewhere? Get hot, get cold, get tired, find patience?

Life would be a cake-walk if we only had to do the things that we felt like doing. Sometimes people have to direct themselves to do what’s necessary instead of what they want in that moment. Fill a page with ideas about times that has happened to you.

Add drawing, illustration or color to your page in any way that you like.

When the page is full, read it over. Does it sound like complaining? Can you add or change a few words so it sounds more like congratulations? Maybe you can do that with the title you choose.

Whatever a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

A Pleasant Surprise

by Nancy Casey

We make plans. We have expectations. Life happens, and things don’t pan out the way we thought they would. Because they turned out even better. Or some good thing we couldn’t have imagined occurred. Pleasant surprises. Whoopee! Today, write about one or more of them that you have experienced in your life.

Think about unexpected good things that have fallen into your lap as you set up your page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

Have you ever dreaded an event or an encounter only to have it turn into a delightful experience? How about starting a task that you knew would be difficult, if not impossible, and then discovering that it was easy, a piece of cake? What about losing something very important only to have it turn up in the very first place you look?

If you are a bit forgetful, you can pleasantly surprise yourself in hilarious ways. Have you ever completed a task, forgot you did it, then experienced the surprise of having it already done when you set out to do it?

Strangers, friends, and loved ones can surprise us unexpectedly with kindness. Have you ever come up short in a check-out line and had the stranger behind you slap a couple dollars on the counter? Have you ever received a card, a gift, or a message from someone for no reason other than that they are glad that you exist? When have you received unexpected but very useful help?

Consider all those different moments when you saw the future as difficult or glum, and then—through no fault or effort of your own—something happy or heart-warming occurred.

Begin writing about the first pleasant surprise that comes to your mind. If there is still room on the page, write about another one. And another one, if it will fit. Until the page is full.

If nothing comes to mind at first, begin by scribbling or drawing. That can help your mind relax so you can think more clearly. When the memory of some pleasant surprise does pop into your awareness, write about it and see where it takes you. One idea usually leads to another one. If your ideas don’t flow easily, go back to doodling and wait patiently for them to come.

When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still room on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration.

When the page is completely full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.

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Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Milestones

by Nancy Casey

Originally, milestones were rocks alongside the road. Stones that marked the miles. They didn’t tend to be flashy, although they could be in flashy places. On a long journey, you would pass a lot of them.

Today, when we say “milestone” we are talking about reference points in our lives.

Make a list of some of the milestones you have passed so for on the journey of your life.

Major life events make milestones, of course: births, deaths, marriages, graduations, moving to a new place, getting a new job. Anything you start. Anything that comes to an end.

Not every milestone has a big story attached to it. Some milestones are simply markers in your life history that are personal. When you acquired a certain possession can be a milestone—a car, a pair of shoes, a dinner plate, a houseplant. The moments when people or pets came into your life can function as milestones, too. If you can attach a “before” and an “after” to it, it’s a milestone.

Events are often milestones. An accident, a test, a vacation, a trip downtown… It depends on what happened and how and why you remember it.

Milestones also exist in our minds. Learning new facts and skills. Understanding a conflict in a new way. A realization that changes your attitude.

Think about the milestones of your experience—big and small—as you set up your page. Draw a line at the top where your title will go. Write the letters of the alphabet, A-Z, down the left-hand side of the page.

As milestones occur to you, write something about them next to a letter that stands for a word in your description. You’re only going to have one line to describe your milestone. That’s not much room. Write a few words, maybe a sentence, with just enough information that you could recall what you were thinking of if you read it again in a week or a year.

For example, if you remember a time you got a piece of news about Charlie, and also that you happened to be wearing a red shirt, you could write something like any of these:

  • Red shirt that I was wearing when I heard about Charlie.
  • Shirt, red. The one I was wearing when I found out that Charlie…
  • Wearing a red shirt and learning that Charlie…
  • Charlie, and the day I found out that…

Depending on who Charlie is and what happened, there would be other words whose first letters you could borrow to put that milestone on your list.

If you can’t decide what to write, begin by scribbling or drawing around the margines. That can help your mind relax so you can think more clearly. When an idea for something to write pops into your mind, find a letter of the alphabet where it will fit and write it down. Don’t be too fussy about how you start. One idea usually leads to another one.

When you have a milestone for every letter, look over your page carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Warm, Warmer, Hot

by Nancy Casey

What warms things up? What makes you warm? What is the difference between warm enough and too warm? What line is crossed when warm becomes hot?

Think about the answers to those questions and the ideas they lead to as you set up your page.

To set up the page, draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. Or make a frame along the edges that you can decorate. Set up your page with the intent of calming and focusing your mind and turning its attention to the writing task ahead.

You could write about the things that you do, consciously or unconsciously, to prepare yourself to keep warm on a winter day: the clothes and accessories you choose, where you position yourself, what you do or refrain from doing, plans that you make.

Perhaps you have a responsibility for the warmth of people or things outside of yourself: plants, pets, a family member, a car… How do you warm them? Do you have a job or other daily activity that involves warmth somehow?

As you write, you can expand your thoughts beyond physical warmth. What has warmed your heart? What can warm a relationship that’s turned cold? What is the purpose of the warm-up part of activities like sports, music, groups and classes?

Sometimes things, people, or situations go beyond getting warm and become hot. What happens when you are physically hot? What about hot tempers or the form of hot that makes you get every answer right on a test—and fast? It can mean all kinds of different things when one person calls another one hot—what is your experience of that?

Keep your mind under the umbrella of warm and hot as you fill up the page. Don’t plan too much, simply begin writing at the top and keep putting down ideas until you get to the bottom. Perhaps you will write a string of almost-random thoughts. Maybe you will tell one story—or just a part of one.

If you add illustration to your page, you could use warm colors like red, orange and yellow and see if that warms up your ideas more.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Sparkles

by Nancy Casey

Brief and sudden pinpricks of light—glints and glimmers, shimmers and sparks. Write about some of them today.

They can hurt your eyes or cause delight. They might surprise you. Maybe you cause them. Maybe they aren’t quite made of light.

Think about sparkly things while you set up your page. Draw a line at the top where the title will go when you have finished. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. Drawing and doodling relax your mind and leave a record of the moment on the page. So they are a form of writing, too.

The world is full of things that sparkle and glimmer. Sunlight on soapsuds. The spark that causes the flame on a match or lighter. The surprise flash you see when you hook up jumper cables. What you see when you press your palms (gently!) against your eyelids…

If you like, take yourself on a little tour of your world looking for sparks. It might be especially interesting if you venture out after dark.

Sometimes thoughts or events arrive in our life like bursts of light. Sparks of insight and recognition. Glimmers of hope or understanding. Flashes of anger. Ripples of laughter.

Some sparks flash and then fade. Others start conflagrations that cannot be controlled.

Let your mind float around in possibilities about glints and glimmers, shimmers and sparks. Don’t wait around for a perfect idea. Write down the first one that flashes into your mind and keep going from there, alternating between writing and drawing if that’s something that works for you.

When you get to the bottom of the page, stop. Look back over what you have done. Make small changes if you like. Give your work a title. Put a signature or your initials on it, and write the date, too.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

If you want to write more than a page, get out a clean sheet of paper and start a new one. Try writing one page on this same sparkly topic every day. The results will probably surprise you.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Straight

by Nancy Casey

You can go straight. Get straight. Act straight. Walk straight. Look straight. Think straight. See straight…

There’s straight up, straight down, straight to, straight past, straight over, straight through…

Think about all the things you could say and think that have the idea of straight in them somewhere. Let your mind wander around these thoughts as you draw a line across the top of your page where your title will go. Set aside some space for illustration. (If you would rather draw than write, make the illustration space really big.)

Start drawing in the illustration space if you like, and invite your mind to keep  thinking thoughts (and tell itself jokes) about the many different ideas connected to the word straight.

Rather than wait for some “good idea” about straight come into your mind when you start writing, write down whatever thought about straight comes tumbling through your mind as your pen hits the paper in the writing space. Even if it’s not the one you were planning to write a nanosecond before.

Then keep going wherever your thoughts lead you, and take note of everything that’s straight along the way.

If you tell a story, put as many straight details in it as you can think up or remember. Use the word straight as much as you can, even if it seems to make your story turn goofy. Even if the story doesn’t get told by the time you’ve reached the end of the page.

You could decide to write something more like a list, jumping around from one straight thing or idea after another.

When you get to the bottom of the page, stop. Read over what you wrote. Do you find connections that you didn’t really plan to put there? Sometimes those kinds of connections can help you think up a title.

Whatever title you decide on, write it at the top of the page. Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

If it turns out you had more ideas about straight than could fit on one page, call the page “done” and the get out a clean sheet of paper and start a new one, same way you did the first one. Keep writing individual pages that way. You would probably get tired of writing pages about straight before you ran out of ideas.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Many Times

by Nancy Casey

It’s a New Year’s tradition in our society to make a list of things that you hope you will do (or not do) in the coming year. But what about all the things that you know you are going to do? The ones you don’t have to resolve to do because you are going to do them no matter what. Today, write about some of the things that you know you will do in the coming year not just once, but many times.

Give that some thought as you set up your page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. You can start to draw or doodle in the illustration space while you stretch your mind to imagine the whole year ahead of you.

Imagine the meals that you will eat and the people you will encounter. Think about your habits—thoughts and actions—without judging them to be good or bad. Remind yourself of all the obligations you will fulfill, both to yourself and others. Are there things that you do over and over again at your job? With your family? Just for fun? Don’t forget life’s basic maintenance activities, such as laundry, brushing your teeth, or putting on shoes. Are you planning to breathe? To go outside? To walk, drive, bike, or take the bus? Will you be picking up stuff and putting it down somewhere else?

Write some sentences that have this form:

By________, I will have _______ many times.

In the first part, set a deadline: By the end of the month…. By the time summer comes… By April… By my birthday….

In the second part, name something that you are certain to have done many times by then.

After that, you can add some more to what you wrote. You could explain why you know you will have done this many times or tell why you do it and whether or not you like doing it. If you don’t have anything else to say, just start again with a new one:

By________, I will have _______ many times.

Fill up your page with ideas that match this pattern. By the time you reach the end, you will have made a list of predictions about yourself that you are certain will come true.

Add an illustration or some other decoration to the page if you want to. When you are completely finished, look the whole page over carefully. Make small changes if you like.

When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Quarterly Accomplishments

by Nancy Casey

When one year ends and another one begins, we have a tradition of both looking forward and looking back. Today’s writing is an opportunity to look back and remember what you did well in the past year.

It’s not easy to recall a whole year at once. When the temperatures plunge and the snow piles up, you likely stop thinking about what was happening and what you cared about when the days were long and the temperatures were sweltering. In this exercise, you will divide the year into quarters and think back over your year in chunks that are three months long.

Allow your mind to begin floating through your memories of the past year as you set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will go. If you want to set aside a box or blob for illustration, put it in the middle of the page. Next, draw a line across the page an inch or two from the bottom. Then draw lines to divide the remainder of the page—your writing space—into four equal parts. As you do this, mentally divide the past year into four equal parts as well.

Label one of the writing spaces Jan/Feb/Mar. Label another one Apr/May/Jun. Label the other two Jul/Aug/Sept and Oct/Nov/Dec. In each one of those spaces, make some notes about some of the things that you accomplished during those months.

Great big accomplishments tend to stand out in memory: having a baby, completing a big project, renouncing a destructive habit, learning a new skill. These are the types of things that other people might notice and congratulate you for.

Some accomplishments are no less important, although they might be invisible to other people: living through another day of grief, holding your tongue, forgiving yourself, being on time, listening to another person, changing your routine.

Everything you have done that required focus and effort is an accomplishment.

Reviewing an entire year is a big project. You can skip from one quarter to another as you remember things that you accomplished. Maybe it will work best for you to carry the page around for a while and note the accomplishments as they filter slowly into your memory. Decorating the borders that divide the sections can also help your mind open up to let the year’s accomplishments in.

When you have filled up each of the four sections, read over what you have written. In the remaining space at the bottom of the page, write one last thought about the year’s accomplishments. This can be any kind of comment about anything you have written above it.

When the whole page is full, look it over carefully one last time. When a title floats into your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You might find it interesting to do this exercise several days in a row. After all, a whole year has gone by. You can’t fit it all into four little spaces. The more you think about it, the more you will realize how much you have accomplished.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

Gonna Change

by Nancy Casey

Things change. Sometimes we like it. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re surprised. Sometimes we’re not. You can’t possibly predict all of the changes that are coming, but some of them do arrive with plenty of advance notice.

In your writing today, focus on the aspects of your life and situation that you know are going to change.

Set up the page first. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration.

Describe something in your life that you know is going to be different—in a day, in an hour, in a year or merely someday. Write about the way it is now and how it will be different at some point. You can comment further—explain why this is good, bad, or neutral for you or why you know this change is coming. You can explain as much or as little as you like, just be clear about what the change is. If the story of one change doesn’t take up the whole page, write about another, and another until the page is full.

You can draw or doodle to get started. This can relax your mind and allow ideas to come to you. Or maybe an impending change will pop into your mind right away.

You can consider the routine changes that the world provides: sunrises and sunsets, patterns of stars and moonlight, the weather. What changes do the seasons or the calendar reliably bring into your life?

Changes happen inside you. Aches and pains come and go. Sensations like being hungry and feeling full don’t last. Growing and healing are both forms of change. So is learning.

The configuration of our lives changes—jobs, living spaces, friends, co-workers, the ebb and flow of clutter and chores.

Many of our plans are about change—how to bring a change about, what to do if and when a change is coming.

Our tastes and desires change, too. It can be hard to imagine we’ll stop wanting what we want now or start to want something different, but sometimes we can anticipate that. When it comes to food or entertainment, people or places to live, our likes and dislikes might not stay the same forever. Can you guess what some of those changes will be for you?

Start writing about a change that you know is coming, and let your thoughts and words flow from there. Write about more than one change if you have room. When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still space on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration.

Look over your work carefully and make corrections if you wish. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

On Your Mind

by Nancy Casey

A mind is such a peculiar thing. Everybody has one. Yet you are the only one who knows what yours is truly like.

In today’s writing you will take notice of some of the qualities of your own mind.

First, the page setup: Draw a line at the top where the title will go. Then make four equal-sized writing spaces on the page. You can do this by drawing a vertical line down the middle of the page, and then a horizontal line across it. Or you can draw four shapes of any type that can hold approximately the same amount of writing. The second option leaves you some space to draw or doodle while you think.

In one of the writing spaces, write the heading Remember.  Head another one with Plan. In a third space use the heading Figure Out. Leave the fourth space completely blank.

Remembering, planning and figuring things out are three of the many activities that go on in people’s minds. How these activities play out in your mind is unique to you, however.

In the space about remembering, write something about how your memory works. You could relate something that you remembered and why. You could explain something about how you are “good” or “bad” at remembering things. You could tell how your power of forgetting seems to work or not work. Anything at all, as long as it has something to do with your mind remembering things–or not.

How do you use your mind to make plans? Write something about that in the space headed Plan. Do you follow your plans? Is a good day planned or unplanned? What is the difference for you between planning and worrying?

In the Figure Out space, tell something about how you use your mind to find a solution to some kind of problem. We figure out things all day long: what to eat and wear, how to get a point across to someone, where you left something you can’t find. Anytime you have a question you don’t know the answer to, you have to figure something out.

Fill the fourth space with anything that comes into your mind about your mind. You can continue a thought that you started in one of the other spaces. You could write about another activity that you mind engages in, something like longing, excitement, arguing with itself, boredom, joking, getting stuck on an ear worm song, or…? If you like, you can fill the space with doodles and drawing and try to quietly notice how your mind works when it is not trying to put your thoughts into words.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but in the spring, Covid permitting, they will return.