In the News

Would-a, Could-a, Should-a

by Nancy Casey

Would-a. Should-a. Could-a.

Those are the words we use when we imagine a different past. We’re often advised not to use them—neither out loud or when we talk to ourselves. And when we do, we get reminded that we would-a, could-a, should-a said something different.

Sounds exhausting. It’s terribly hard to refrain from thinking certain thoughts. Because you have to think them to remind yourself not to think them.

Today in your writing, let ‘em rip. Open the gates and let them in. There will be a few other requirements, too, but first, set up your page while you allow yourself to imagine some of the things you wish were different about the past.

Draw a line at the top of the page where you can put a title when you finish writing. If you want to set aside a space for doodles and illustration, do that next. Then draw lines to divide the remaining space on the page into four roughly equal parts.

Write the words Would-aShould-a, and Could-a as headings at the top of three of those spaces. Leave the fourth one blank, at least for now.

In each of the spaces, write about something that would-a, should-a, could-a been different. Maybe about something that you did or didn’t do. Maybe about the actions of someone else. Perhaps one event will fit in the small space, or maybe more than one.

Each time you tell a little Would-aShould-a, or Could-a story, add the words, “But, oh well, …” and write at least one more sentence that places the event(s) in the past and says something about the present.

You might say something about how you survived, what you learned, or what doors wouldn’t have opened without the events you (sort of) regret. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe you had fun, or it worked out well for someone else. Maybe it was the best way to learn what not to do the next time.

When you have filled the three spaces with Would-aShould-a, Could-a stories, write anything you would like in the fourth space. Maybe some more Would-aShould-a, or Could-a stories, or some comments about what you wrote, or what you thought about writing it.

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 or encouragement 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.

Apples

by Nancy Casey

Fall has arrived on the Palouse. The morning air is crisp—and so are the apples! Today, write about apples. Maybe a story from your life, or one from your imagination. You could write a list. Or a string of two-sentence stories or observations. Just start with an apple (or many) and take it wherever it goes.

Set up a page with a line across the top where your title will go so you are certain to have a place to put it when you have finished writing. You can also draw a box, a border or a blob that you’ll use for illustration. You can even start with the illustration to settle your mind and give you time to think.

Here are some approaches you could take for writing about apples:

  • Eat an apple with all of your senses turned on and describe the experience.
  • Begin with a memory of eating, buying, or picking apples.
  • Comment on a fairy tale or myth that has one or more apples in it.
  • Begin with one of the many of the expressions that have apples in them: the apple of your eye, an apple a day, road apples, apples and oranges, rotten apples…
  • Start with something made of apples: cider, juice, vinegar, pie…

Pick an apple-thought and start. You don’t have to decide everything you are going to say in order to begin. Just get yourself going and write about whatever comes to mind next. If you stray from the subject of apples, so be it. You can’t mess this up.

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 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.

A Novel Approach to Crisis and Recovery Services in Rural Idaho

The founders of the Latah Recovery Center and Rural Crisis Center Network recently participate in the Region 10 Opioid Conference. Click here to listen to them talk about the unique way their centers partner to provide rural recovery and crisis services in Idaho.

Slow Changes

by Nancy Casey

It can be hard to wrap one’s mind around the fact that everything, every single thing we see and don’t see, is changing. Always. Today you will have a chance to slow your powers of observation down and think about that.

You will be writing sentences patterned more or less like this:

Slowly, slowly ______ turns into ______.

Think about that as you set up your page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go when you have finished writing. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. Or make a decorative border around the page. A lot of people find that working on drawing and writing at the same time helps their mind relax so ideas can flow.

Slowly and carefully write the words, “Slowly, slowly . . ” and then write down the first thing that comes to your mind that doesn’t seem to change at all. Next, write something about how it does changes. You can say what it slowly turns into. Or you might decide to describe how it makes the world or your life different.

Add another sentence or two that tells a bit more about this change. You could tell how it happens, why it matters, who it affects—whatever further ideas come to mind.

To continue, pick out a word or idea from what you just wrote and plug it into the pattern sentence that begins “Slowly, slowly . . .”  Write a few sentences about how change comes about for this new thing.

Work your way down the page like that, describing things that don’t seem to change much, telling a bit about how they do change.

Maybe a story will come through in your writing. Or a pep talk. Or a clear description of the world. Maybe not. Don’t make a big effort for everything to be connected. You might notice connections later. And if you don’t, you will still have written something interesting. Slowly, slowly, some kind of picture will develop.

When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still room on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration. If you write only a few sentences and switch over into drawing, that’s just fine.

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 the title 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.

Acts of Kindness

by Nancy Casey

There are oh-so-many ways to be kind. Big ones and little ones. For your writing today, recall some moments when someone showed you kindness.  Think about that as you set up your page.

Draw a line at the top to save room to write your title when you have finished. You might want to divide the remaining space into several sections so you can write a little bit about a few different acts of kindness you have experienced. Or maybe you want to leave the space wide open while you think about what you will write.

While you are thinking, doodle or draw a little bit to get your pen moving and bring your focus to the page.

Some acts of kindness are unmistakable and enormous. Someone steps up and solves a problem for you that changes everything. Without expecting payback.

Tiny acts of kindness are no less important than the big sweeping ones. Someone makes eye contact across a crowded, confusing room and lets you know you are not alone. A stranger rushes ahead to open a door for you when you are too burdened to do it easily yourself. A message or voicemail reminds you that someone cares about what will happen to you. Communication from someone lets you know they remember an important anniversary in your life.

Maybe you remember a time when someone forgave you for a mistake you made, making it clear that they understand how it happened. Or a time when you asked for help and someone said, “Of course,” and stepped up for you as if it was no big deal. Or maybe you didn’t even have to ask, they just noticed and took action.

Some acts of kindness leave a person reeling with gratitude for a burden lifted. Others are so fleeting that it takes some mindfulness to recognize what happened. Sometimes you notice the kindness by the feeling it brings on–relief, gratitude, surprise, joy…

Consider the acts of kindness that you perform for yourself. Deliberate self-care, a vacation, comfort food, or taking the time to fill a single page with your thoughts.

Open your mind and memory to times you have been the recipient of kindness. Write about one of them, and if there is still room on the page, write about another.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. Add color or decoration—it will make you like the page more when you look at it later. 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.

Surprise Yourself!

by Nancy Casey

In today’s exercise, you must first do something. You can take as much time as you like—a few minutes, an hour, the whole day. Afterwards, write about what you did and what it was like.  The thing you must do? Surprise yourself.

How do you do that?

You simply do something that you didn’t know you were going to do until you did it.

Maybe you will spontaneously alter your daily routine. You could do your normal steps in a different order. You could add a new step. You could skip a step.

On your way to somewhere, you could suddenly turn left when you usually go straight and end  up taking a different route.

You could dig out an article of clothing that you forgot you had until just now and put it on. Maybe you’ll take it right off, or maybe you’ll wear it all day.

You could give yourself a present.

You could suddenly do a task that you have been procrastinating for so long that the procrastination is itself a habit.

You could get in touch with someone who you didn’t think you would be in touch with today.

You could drop everything and meditate for five minutes. Or one minute. Or two breaths. Or ten hours.

The funny thing about this is that you can’t plan it or figure it out ahead of time. If you do, you will lose the element of surprise. You must simply and spontaneously do something that wasn’t the thing that you thought you were going to do next.

For some people, this is very hard. For others, this is how most days unfold. A whole lot of people are in-between.

Once you’ve surprised yourself, write about it.

You can describe what you did and what it was like to do it. You can discuss with yourself how easy or how hard it was to surprise yourself in this way. Fill up the page with your thoughts about what you did. Illustrate it, too, if you like.

When the page is full, look over all your work and make changes if you like. Put a title at the top of the page. Put a signature or your initials on the page somewhere and write the date, too.

Here is an example of what someone could write. After they did something to surprise themself.

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.