Putting Your Soul on the Page

Posted on November 11th, 2013 by in Conscious Living, Creative Corner

writingThis is my story in a nutshell: I grew up in the Midwest, the older of two children.  My mother was emotional; my father was dominant. She stayed home; he worked a lot. I was a strong student. I went to college in New York City, fell in love a couple of years after graduation, and moved to Vermont. I got married there, later moved to the Boston area with my husband, and tirelessly pursued my career. My husband and I divorced a few years ago. I got romantically involved with his polar opposite, and later moved to Los Angeles.

Each of us has a story that’s uniquely our own—a storehouse of experiences only we have had, a perspective unlike anyone else’s. We may think our lives are ordinary or lackluster, that scribbling about our parents’ marriage, a childhood friendship, or a relative’s death couldn’t amount to much on paper. But when we take the time to tell the stories that have shaped our lives, when we describe the events and feelings that are right on the surface, or buried deep within our memory banks, a treasure chest often rises to the surface as if it were being pulled up from the ocean floor.

“It’s cathartic to get the secrets and stories you carry around in your body, heart, and soul and put them on the page, even if you don’t publish them,” says Nancy Slonim Aronie, author of Writing from the Heart and founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. “Keeping your stories bottled up inside can make you sick, but when you write them down, you get them out of your cells. You feel lighter.”

In Nancy’s workshops, there’s only one rule, which comes into play when participants read their stories aloud to the group. “The rule is that we must tell you what we love about what you wrote,” says Nancy, who believes creativity requires safety and validation. “Then people are encouraged to go deeper and take greater risks.”

A couple of years ago, Nancy was a guest on a television series I’d created about alternative ways to heal the body and mind. A participant in one of her workshops also appeared on the show. She had multiple sclerosis and walked with a cane. This woman frequented Nancy’s writing workshops because the opportunity to share her feelings about her condition provided a meaningful release—but there was more to it than that. The experience of writing and reading her stories boosted her confidence; at the end of Nancy’s workshops, she came away uplifted, aware of all she was still able to accomplish despite her disability.

“These workshops are life-changing,” Nancy says. “In writing your story, you can honor your lowest self, and you can access your highest self. It’s a spiritual practice.”


About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind that aired on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For more than 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS, has done natural-health reporting for WGBH-TV, and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston, where she produces documentaries and also works as an actor and voice-over talent.

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