Writing Our Hearts
by Nessa McCasey
We are very pleased
to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com as our
newest monthly columnist! Each month, Nessa will offer
a poem or short writing based on our magazine's monthly
theme and will provide techniques for creative
expression that you can use to explore the topic
Writer’s Block and Then… Moving Forward Again
This issue’s theme of Moving Forward left me in a
quandary of writer’s block and personal
soul-searching. Ahhhh, I thought, this is going to be a
poetry therapy exercise for myself! The power of
creativity for me, as my strongest vehicle for soul
work, is in this process of not knowing the answer
before I begin writing. Where am I going with this? I am
writing to find out. First, though, I asked for help. I
asked some poetry therapy friends for suggestions of
poems about Moving Forward, Moving On. I received many
wonderful responses from these generous friends. The
gifts come to us, don’t they? If only we enter into
the process of our lives, really enter into that life of
ours, we will begin to know the gifts that wait for us…
Here’s the poem that I chose to work with. My hope
is that through reading the poem and working with my
subsequent writing suggestions, you will find entry
points into your own process whether that be
problem-solving, creative exploration, expressive
celebration, or even prayerful meditation.
Keeping Things Whole
— Mark Strand
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
Material – For Educational/Therapeutic Use Only
- It might be said that we all have many
reasons for moving forward. What are your reasons for
your own movements? Write about one that is most
significant to you (or as many as you wish).
- Consider this line from the poem: "Wherever I
am, I am what is missing." Write about what this
means to you, or about anything that arises as you muse
about it. One thing that comes up for me is a take-off
on that line: "Wherever I go, I follow myself
around." My writing went on to tell me that I tend
to overanalyze myself, "following myself
around." What might your writing tell you?
- This poem also seems to offer a celebration of The
Whole. How are you part of the Whole that is this world?
How are you part of the way that our world is
transforming itself right now, and we see that daily,
don’t we, in our era of great change right now?
- Last, if you have ever been frustrated with that
stuck feeling of writer’s block, or in fact, any sort
of inactivity or frozenness, you might consider asking
IT a question, as if it were a person: What do you have
to tell me? What would your writer’s block have to
tell you? What are you staring at that wants you to
listen deeply? If you can give a face to your fear,
perhaps you can start a conversation that will tell you
plenty and then, of course, you can respond in a caring
way to ensure some form of resolution, some bit of
healing that is inevitably a form of movement forward.
Rather than offering a specific wisdom regarding the
notion of Moving Forward, I am suggesting something
different. Something that I truly believe in. I am
asking you to write the answers for yourself. This is a
way of divining truth, and it comes from within you. It
may be a journey to start to trust your own wisdom, but
starting to write, just for yourself, is one way to
For me, the writing process is an amazing, efficient
tool for getting into the core of my issues. I can’t
hide from myself as I begin to inquire honestly,
comfortably, even sacredly and enter into a writing
time. I walk around my issue, I walk away from it (I can
do the dishes instead!!), I avoid it, I doubt myself,
and I feel guilty about not doing something else (and of
course, this is a long list of other things). But
eventually, I start with the first step that usually
feels like I have just moved a mountain once I have
taken it. I start to move forward, rather than to
continue going around in circles. For example, I asked
for help from my friends in the form of suggesting poems
on this topic.
As with other spiritual tasks, I finally had to
"enter" into this process. It is my hope that
you will find some tools here to work with, for
yourself. And you might also consider the process that I
went through myself. It’s why I so fully believe in
the powers of poetry therapy, as well as all expressive
therapies, for that matter. I use it for my own
This is the reality of moving forward. Finding a way
to unwedge yourself from being stuck.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss your
writing or your writing block. If you are working with a
mental health professional, your writing on the
suggestions above may provide you with additional
material to work with in that forum. I am not a mental
health practitioner, so I encourage you to seek
professional support if you discover important or
overwhelming issues for yourself.
I am always glad to offer additional writing prompts
to keep your forward momentum going as you explore this
amazing world through the powers of exploratory writing.
Be well as you go forward today and all days!
with peace and love,
© Copyright 2004 Nessa McCasey. All Rights
Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:
- May 2004 - Identifying Our Crossroads
- February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud
2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace
2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to
2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?
Nessa McCasey, A former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She is charting a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as a State Representative for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) where she facilitates group or individual poetry therapy sessions and presents poetry and writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression.
You can reach Nessa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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