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About this blog:
I’ve been writing since grade school. My first, and failed, attempt at writing a book began in grade four, when I decided to write about my cat, “Snowball.” About two pages into my book project, I decided Snowball wasn’t very interesting after all, and I gave up the task. But I never was without a notebook–spiral bound and pocket-sized, I preferred to write my deepest thoughts in purple ink. I had a diary too, the little blue faux leather version popular in junior high, but that was short-lived. I’d taken it with me on a family camping trip, where disaster struck. My younger brother snuck into my tent, grabbed the diary, and took off running, with me in hot pursuit. I got my diary back later that day from my tearful kid brother– after being rushed to a doctor in a nearby town for nineteen stitches to close the gash in my leg I’d suffered in the chase. I gave up diaries for good soon after–but not my love of writing. That’s lasted my entire life–it’s a passion, a discipline, and more than once, has gotten me through difficult periods in my life.
Twenty years ago, inspired by the research on the health benefits of writing, I first began leading expressive writing groups for cancer patients and survivors shortly after my cancer diagnosis and later, those groups included the bereaved, heart failure patients, and others wishing to write out of difficult life experiences. I began writingthroughcancer.ca, my first blog in 2006, inspired the men and women who were part of my cancer writing groups. That blog continues to the present day.
In August of 2018, I launched Writing the Heart, intending to similarly focus on the experience of living with heart failure. It allowed for my personal exploration as one with heart failure and as a resource for other people similarly diagnosed, who might also want to write from their lived experience of heart failure. Those prior posts (August 2018 – September 2020) can be accessed in the Archive.
Increasingly, however, I realized my interest was not in the experience of being a heart failure patient–that is, not in stories of heart failure, but in stories of life, those memories and feelings that, as e.e. cummings once expressed, we “carry” in our hearts. And there was something else that prompted me to “see” this blog differently. No matter the initial reason people come to my expressive writing groups, what is written most about is not only the experience of illness or hardship, but of life: the people, experiences and places that hold meaning for us, and, as Joan Didion once remarked, help us “remember who we were then.” Writing about illness, ultimately, is writing about life.
Monthly, I’ll be posting some of the stories and memories that I “carry in my heart” as well as writing suggestions for you, the reader. Perhaps you’ll be encouraged to write from your life too–and even share your some of your life stories or poetry on this site as it evolves. (More on that later).
Welcome, then, to the “new” and revised, “Writing the Heart” blog.