Writing Towards Healing

(My responses to the e-course offered through Writing Our Way Home.)

November 1, 2016

Satya suggests that I think of kindness when I see the sun. I like that idea. To be able to immediately associate something that I see everyday with the strong virtue of kindness will prove to be of immeasurable worth to me, I am sure.

enveloping me in yellow / the kindness of the sun (c)Susan Sonnen

November 2, 2016

So much of being kind is small. Moments of small kindnesses make up my day. I find that I am doing things that others might not even register as kind, because they are so tiny. For example, an uplift of my mouth as I move through the crowd is my way of letting the harried and frustrated to know that I am peaceful and I wish them peace, as well.

No hurry / no wait / all is momentary / all is fated (c)Susan Sonnen

November 3, 2016

Small kindnesses. We can’t heal the world. We are unable to even be kind in every moment of every day. We are human. I am human. And so I will do what I can when I am able. It is my hope that as time goes by, what I am able to do will greatly expand.

a bee

trapped in the laundromat

but for my hummus

might have been

left for dead

(c)Susan Sonnen

The above is an example of a small kindness. Only it was huge to the bee. The bee would have probably never found its way out of the laundromat. I set down my hummus and the bee climbed onto it. I returned the bee to its proper world. So simple. So beautiful. And no one knew but the bee. πŸ™‚

November 4, 2016

One small sweetness. I am not certain that I was able to give one on this day. My excuse is that no opportunity opened itself to me. Such a weak excuse. But wait! I was kind to myself! Several times today, in fact! I gave myself encouragement and love. I reminded myself that the weekend was upon me and I would be able to rest for two days. I needed that reminder just as much as I need these two days of rest.

a large and wet maple leaf

slammed into my neck

and I was grateful

for the reminder

(c)Susan Sonnen

November 5, 2016

β€œBeginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” ~Og Mandino

What power in those words. What immeasurable power in those actions seen through to the end. How will I be able to begin using this method? Obviously, I will start with my own children. I live with one daughter and my four other children live in Kansas City, Missouri. I will send each of them at least one text, email or snapchat a day. I will let them know how much they mean to me, by taking a moment of each day to say, β€œHi, I’m thinking of you.”

That sounds so miniscule. So insignificant. But what I wouldn’t give to receive the same from all of my family and friends! So, then, perhaps it is not so miniscule after all.

In my bed this morning, I loved on three of four cats. The fourth did not seek me out, so I will seek him.(c)Susan Sonnen

I noticed in the accompanying Writing Towards Healing Booklet, that I was to find a poem about kindness. One that reminds me how to be kind. I have chosen a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favorite poets. I will copy and paste it below. I am to see how my relationship with the poem changes throughout the week. There is not much of the week left, but enough to see a change, I am certain.


Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

November 6, 2016

I am hurting today. The arthritis in my back is really bad. This will not stop me from being kind. I may do it from my couch, but I will strive to be kind all day. And if I am not, that’s ok. I will try again tomorrow.

the elderly man from Mexico

always so kind

calls me lady

(c)Susan Sonnen

November 7, 2016

This is the final day for a focus on kindness in Writing Towards Healing. I am pleased that I dared to spend the money and jump into this e-course!

This week has aided me greatly in my desire to be a kinder person. I am enjoying being reminded to be kind by sight of the sun. I still need to work on being kinder to myself. That is the primary reason I bought this e-course, so that I can make time to sit down and write something specific. Writing is one of the very kindest things that I can do for myself. On days I haven’t written (which, sadly, are many), I feel lost. I flail. Sometimes I still flail when I have written, but more calmly and knowing that relief will soon be mine. πŸ™‚

I am daring to be kind / I hope you don’t mind. (c)Susan Sonnen

That little verse above is so big for me. So many people are uncomfortable with kindness. I wonder why that is?

Edit: It turns out that I am a day ahead of myself! So…this is really my post for tomorrow…Hmm..I’m so confused. I might write another November 7 post tomorrow anyway. πŸ™‚ (postscript: didn’t happen)

November 8, 2016

In the workbook, there is talk of listening to your body. What is your body trying to get through to your head? I’ve been sick for a month. A sinus infection is not clearing up and has left me temporarily deaf in my right ear for 21 days. What do I think my body is trying to tell me? That I need to slow down. That I need to manage my time better. That I need to take time for myself. Every freaking day.

I need to do what needs to be done for my health and happiness. That starts with my home. I need a clean and lovely home. I need to follow a set up daily rituals to keep my home clean and lovely. Then I will move on to the next thing that needs to be done for my health and happiness. πŸ™‚

In the stone wall

I saw a face,

Then another,

Then many.

The entire wall

Was made of faces.

Some of their mouths

Were open, wanting to speak,

But going unheard.

That is us all.

Trapped in a wall.

(c)Susan Sonnen

November 9, 2016

I don’t want to listen today. I don’t want to hear about this new president. Still, it is necessary to listen for out of the mob there will be voices of reason. Individuals encouraging me to keep believing, to keep doing my part. And I, in turn, will be encouraged to encourage.

November 10, 2016

I’m trying to listen. For 24 days, I have been trying, but one ear betrays me. One ear tries to separate me from the goodness of the world. But my left ear is working double duty, trying to keep me informed. And my entire body begs my right ear to break down its dam.

November 11, 2016

I am finding that with one ear being β€œout of service,” I am very much grateful for the hearing that the other ear provides. This is something that I have always taken for granted, but now that I know what it like to lose it, it is so very precious to me.

I can’t hear you

Don’t leave me

I can’t hear you

Don’t go

(c)Susan Sonnen

November 12, 2016

Today I am conversing with my non-hearing ear.

I hear the whorling

although it is within

Spin, spin, spin –

(c)Susan Sonnen

And I do hear the whorling within. It is almost comforting because there is something being heard. I wonder if it is comforted by the fact that I can hear it?

November 13, 2016

Today I am trying to listen to the good and only the good. It is difficult with so much stress lingering in the background and foreground. I do believe, however, that we choose our way. We choose our answers. And I choose the positive. I choose the good. I choose these things for myself and for everyone that I love.

Even this morning, I received good news. John Mark and Chance have been able to spend this weekend together. They have seen Trolls at least twice now! πŸ˜€ Chance adores his father. This will not be changed. Their bond is strong. Their love is true.

in the living room

the patter of kitty feet

the cold grows colder

but still no snow

(c)Susan Sonnen

November 14, 2016

We have moved onto acceptance. I am actually becoming somewhat good at acceptance, I think. I think. Note the lack of confidence.

Over this past year, I have diligently tried to accept things as they are – even to presume that things are as I want them to be. More tomorrow…I’m so very sleepy.

November 15, 2016

Self-acceptance. I have been pretty good with that these past 3 years or so. I really do like me. I try to improve everyday. I try to be my best everyday. Authenticity is something that I have been studying in my Theories of Counseling class. I want to be fully authentic. Unashamed. Battered and brave.

November 16, 2016

What am I having difficulty accepting? The fact that my five children do not get along with each other. It is hard for me to go visit them because it is a matter of finding times when I can see them all individually. I had a big family so that they would have each other. Now this. It hurts me. But I have been working on accepting it. I have been pretending that I had planned all of this. So in a way, I am owning it. And I envision them working it out and never letting it happen again. Each other is all we have. Our loved ones must be precious to us.

November 17, 2016

I sit.

I breathe.

I continue to sit.

I continue to breathe.

I accept that this is my lot

And I am happy for it.

I sit.

I breathe.

I continue to sit.

November 18, 2016

I am a guest house to many. Tonight I am hosting Fear. Fear of Trump to be more specific. I am truly scared. I grew up assuming that democracy would be alive and well throughout my lifetime. Now it is as though its obituary has already been written. This man is evil. He is evil. The United States of America elected Evil.

I will continue providing a room for Love and Hope. They are strong!

November 19, 2016

There are people that I think I have forgiven. My father. Chris Singleton. Dan Carley. But I am not confident of this forgiveness. So it is a daily thing. Well, not daily, but whenever I might happen to think about any one of them, I remind myself that I have forgiven them. I think of the good things that have happened since they were in my life. One day I will understand that yes, I have forgiven them.

November 20, 2016

God, Goddess, everything Holy…they love me. They are me. Or they are at least part of me. They remind me that they are here and that I should not forget that fact. And so I pray. I always pray. I pray to whoever might be listening, to everything Holy.

November 21, 2016

St. Francis reminded the sow of her beauty. Why can’t I see mine? And why should I expect that no other person could find me beautiful? I am beautiful! Even my gobble turkey neck and pudgy belly are gorgeous! Truly, they are! I believe that each morning I should greet my body with acceptance and unconditional love. That’s all that any of us wants anyway. πŸ™‚

November 22, 2016

The final week concentrates on reconnection. We are to forget ourselves and notice what is around us. I try to do this each day. Well, I notice what is around me, but I don’t try to forget myself. Is this like pretending that I don’t exist? That the beautiful world goes on without me?

November 23, 2016

I do need to make more space for my writing. Not physical space. Space within my days and nights. And physical space, as well, after all. A special place for writing. I will clean off my writing desk tomorrow and begin using it for writing…of all things! I am excited to make more time for writing. And for reading, as well.

November 24, 2016

β€œKeep going back to the things you want to remember. Keep writing. Keep seeking out the connections.” Everything that has happened to me – everything that I have done – has made me who I am today. There are so many possibilities to consider. And so many poems to come from the possibilities! For example, how did falling and scraping the inside of my elbow bring me to this place in my life? It taught me to get up and carry on. It taught me about rise above and shine. It taught me not to give up!

Note: I missed weeks here. I begin again.

December 11, 2016

Satya speaks of my tender leaves. It breaks my heart. I just wrote a prose poem about a beautiful fir that I loved and that was abruptly cut down and removed one summer day. Tender leaves are very vulnerable. But yes, I am branching out and budding. Tiny leaves are appearing. I have finished the first semester of my Masters program for counseling psychology. I am on way to a career that will satisfy me mentally, emotionally and financially and that will see me through to my death. This is perhaps the best choice I have made since having my children and divorcing their father.

In order to continue on this path, I have realized that I must get my house in order. That phrase always reminds me of my step-father saying, after my mother’s death, β€œShe had her house in order. That was important to her. She had her house in order.” With order in my home, I will have a true refuge from the bites of winter, work and academia. My tender leaves will find shelter. I work better, both creatively and practically, when I have a beautiful and welcoming home. And it has become such. There are still some piles of papers to be gone through and a messy pantry to be dealt with, but otherwise, it is lovely. I will be working on the pantry and paper piles during my upcoming vacation. By the time school begins again, my home will be exactly how I need it to be…lovely and warm. Uncluttered. Happy. And so today, Satya asks what I will do to support myself. I will clean my bedroom, write my work email and prepare my lesson plan. Then hopefully, I will have time to start on the piles of paper. But only after I have taken time to relax, which I believe today will entail reading.

December 17, 2016a

Satya has posted the beautiful poem Snowdrops by Louise Gluck. I have honestly been very accepting of myself of late, I am happy to say. Even when I am not happy with something I have said or done or not done, I forgive myself and move forward. I suppose I am breaking through the earth again with each acceptance; risking joy. I like that thought.

This is a rather random thought, but I am determined to be published next year. I know that I say it every year, but I really believe it this time. Of course, I say that every year, too.

December 17, 2016b (mid-afternoon)

A thousand fibers connecting me to others…as an introvert, that disturbs me, but I have come to understand that in order to lead a happy elder-hood, I need to develop and maintain good relationships with others. And so I have strived this year to make friends. I have one that I believe will be a life-long friend and a good friend, Joanna. But I most certainly need more. I have numerous acquaintances, but there is a vast difference between an acquaintance and a friend, isn’t there?

Now connections to the natural word…that comes much more (ahem) naturally to me. I wish that there was a hiking trail or large park near me here in Chicago, but I must travel to them. I do however enjoy every aspect of nature that I encounter with this city. The snow topped bushes, the waddling pigeons, the supermoon… Yes, I think I am in a good place regarding my connection to the natural world.

December 17, 2016c (mid-afternoon)

And this is the last entry. I do not feel that I used this course wisely. Obviously, because I let the chaos of school and work come between myself and my writing. Again. But this course has helped me to more clearly understand how important it is that I write. Daily. Truthfully. Fearlessly. I will begin by enrolling in the Journaling Our Way Home Course for January. And I will write daily and specifically. I am greatly looking forward to it, as a matter of fact.