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Family History: They Were Story Changers!

Tomorrow is Family History Day. The day honors the busiest day ever recorded at Ellis Island. April 17, 1907 was a milestone date, with 11,747 immigrants passing through towards their dream of making a new start in America. 

Family History in Context

Ellis Island is a symbolic place to many Americans, primarily those whose ancestors came from Europe. All Americans share a sense of resiliency, no matter the background of their ancestors. The vast majority of Americans share a sense of settling and starting anew from other places, while all, including indigenous peoples maintain special linkages to their historical traditions.

We are a nation of hybrids! Connected both to the United States, as well as to the roots of where our people come from.

Our Story Changers

What stands out to me on Family History Day is the strength and courage that our ancestors collectively shared. Whether giving up everything to save for a ticket to New York, or surviving the ordeal of the Middle Passage, our ancestors were Story Changers. Courageous and inspiring people who through luck, planning, resiliency or determination changed and built their own story — leading to ours today. Amazing!

Perceiving Our Story Changers Through Writing

Today in particular I celebrate the Story Changers we each descend from. And the Story Changers we all our individually — creating the pathway for future stories.

Journal writing is an incredible way to tap into the resiliency and wisdom of our individual and collective ancestors. The story of our families fall into three buckets: what’s known, unknown or hidden.

  • Known is available through records, stories and personal contact.
  • Unknown includes the fact we all descend from 4 grandparents, 8 great-grands, 16 great-greats and on and on. But as time passes we can lose some of those names and stories and information.
  • Hidden includes information that was destroyed, altered, or concealed, often to protect the secrets of others. Hidden information ranges from the identities of the biological parents of adoptees to the tribal connections of enslaved people.

Family History

Ancestry DNA testing is bringing more and more unknown or hidden information accessible and into the light. While empowering to discover, this information can also be unsettling. It can be a complicated experience of joy, mixed with the frustration or grief of what is or had been withheld from you.

Our intuition and perception can be an amazing tool to process unknown or hidden information as it is discovered, or to fill gaps where discovery is not possible. Insight Writing in your journal is a great way to tap your own intuition.

In honor of Family History Day I have shared a free guided meditation audio file on Insight Timer – Dialogue with Ancestors: A Meditation for Journal Writing. I invite you to walk in the shoes of your ancestors for a moment, and then write in your journal with their inspiration.

Celebrate your very own Story Changers today. And as you do so you are paving the stories of tomorrow.

 

Learn More About Your Story Changers

Your journal is an amazing resource to process what’s known, unknown or hidden about your own family and your Story Changers. I’m excited to announce the first of my classes and tools:

Understand Yourself & Your Family: Writing from the Head, the Heart and Your Own Gut Instinct

The first two sessions are open for registration now! Watch for specially designed tools and information coming me soon.

Transitions are Trying — 5 Tips for Letting Go

If there’s one theme that’s followed all of my professional career, it’s this — transitions are trying.

Why Transitions are Trying

In reality, the best use of change management skills were surprisingly — or not so surprisingly — during the 15 years I worked as a real estate agent. Change stinks!

What I witnessed first-hand while working with hundreds of families is what William Bridges mapped out in his famous model that describes why transitions are so hard. A huge stressor in life is when you sit between two places — the way it was, and the way it will be.

The shift between the past and the future is a slow, shifty, unsettled place Bridges calls the ‘Neutral Zone’. Transition happens as Bridges describes it, in the process of letting go during your time in the Neutral Zone.

Tricky Transitions in the Time of Pandemic

In December I wrote for the Insight Timer blog about how the year 2020 engulfed us, without a moment to transition, and why that leaves an emotional challenge.

Now as spring begins, the days are getting longer, the daffodils are starting to grow, the vaccines have arrived. Hope is on the horizon again! But even a New Beginning full of positive things can be a challenging transition. Think about the bittersweet moments that come with huge milestones like becoming a parent or getting married or retiring. Benefits and excitement, absolutely. But also a lot of adjustments, and apprehension and the insecurity that comes with trying new things.

How To Ease Into Transition

In my 20s I lived in Chicago and played in a group tennis league with a great group of friends. The first season started in March, but I didn’t show up until May. Chicago is famous for its ‘cooler by the lake’ weather patterns which creates natural air conditioning in August, but makes for miserable spring tennis! The next season I showed up in March. I let go of my expectations of when summer starts. And to this day I still remind myself, ‘If you wait for the weather to show up in order to enjoy summer, you’ll miss the whole season!”

The incredibly taxing social, health, wellness, political and medical phenomena of the COVID-19 pandemic will take years for us to fully put it behind. But here are some ideas to help you start seeing what’s Ending, as we all begin to live in the New Beginning. These are ideas as we live right now in the Neutral Zone:

  • The obvious first — write in your journal. Keep the prompts simple, like:

What’s going on?

 

Or my internal weather report right now is…

 

  • Always end in reflection. Remember, transitions are not easy. Reflection Writing is a really simple way for self-care, self-soothing and self-growth in whatever combo you need those!
  • Watch for patterns. You don’t want to wait for the warm, perfect weather of summer before you start enjoying the summer! After a while, using simple prompts like the ones above on a regular basis will help you see the movement happening in your world. Like a daffodil sprouting you’ll witness and learn from your own transition as it unfolds.
  • Be patient. Transitions do not move in a logical line. As we shift into a post-pandemic world, some days will be full of hope and excitement, others will be stressful or discouraging. Be present to whatever is happening, remind yourself that the Neutral Zone is constantly shifting and keep a focus on what you are learning about yourself and your own resiliency.
  • Try. We’re all waiting for the all-clear from the CDC and other health experts that the time for safety measures is complete. We’re getting closer, but not there yet. In the meantime, it’s OK to start thinking about a wishlist for ‘normal’ experiences, or to start figuring out how to get back to some old activities again that work most easily within the safety protocols.

Assessing Where You Are

As you think about the Neutral Zone, here’s a way to consider where you are at right now.

Picture your favorite pair of ‘evening out’ jeans. Where are they right now? How weird would it feel to pull them out again? To try them on? To wear them out in public?

Isn’t that crazy how a simple pair of jeans can carry so much baggage right now?

Sorting through that sort of experience is what the Neutral Zone is all about.

The Cool Thing about Letting Go

friends focus futureWhat I remember most from my days selling real estate is that moment when I saw a client finally let go. Happens in a split-second. But then there is JOY!

The process was always something along the lines of starting with apprehension about finding a place that was ‘just right’. And then apprehension about packing, finding a new grocery store, meeting the neighbors, saying goodbye to cherished memories. And finally whether it was before a contract was even signed, or after settling in for a while, that moment of Letting Go, of taking more steps in the world of the New Beginning than in the Ending. And from that point, more and more steps into the New Beginning each time.

It won’t be easy, but the New Beginning is starting. The last year has aged us, but we’ve learned so much about being resilient. Be patient in the Neutral Zone. Use it for the springboard that it is. See you in the New Beginning, let’s shoot for sooner rather than later!

More Tools for Transition

I teach Insight Writing as a method for journaling that is inspired, efficient and insightful. Whether for general self-care or in a time of transition, Insight Writing is an amazing way to tap the wisdom within you. For more information, find free samples, free mini-podcasts or a list of available workshops on my website. Or find me on Dabble where you can sign up for mini-workshops or drop-in for a free class! My featured class on Dabble is called, “Transition Time | Leaving 2020 in the Rearview Mirror!”

Try Reflection Writing for Yourself! Free Drop ins on #WellnessWritingWednesdays

Reflection Writing in your journal is an amazingly simple tool. Most amazing because it’s a secret no one really knows about.

Learn the Simple Power of Reflection Writing

In a quick moment of mindfulness after you write in your journal you can capture the wisdom within. Be your own self-development coach, identify that next big idea, give yourself the quiet hug you might need.

Want to learn more? Join me for free drop-in sessions on Wellness Writing Wednesdays. We try different prompts based on seasons of the year, current events and more. But we always end with a reflection write so you can see the power of these insights for yourself.

Sign up for my next free Zoom drop-in. Or book your own free private session any time based on your own calendar.

 

April Reflection Writing Inspiration & Wellness Writing Wednesday Drop-Ins

For variety and depth in your journal, see suggestions by date. Visit my blog for more info. Or follow me on your favorite social media channel for prompts as I post them.

Apr 14 / Wed Wellness Write (Perceiving family ancestor wisdom) free drop in*   
Apr 17 / Family History Day (Prompt: Resiliency in my family teaches me…)  
Apr 21 / Wed Wellness Write (Stream of Consciousness Writingfree drop in* 
Apr 22 / Core Tools for Your Journal Register on Dabble  90 min, Zoom
Apr 25 / DNA Day **NEW** Explore Family Connections: Known, Unknown & Even Hidden Register on Dabble  90 min, Zoom
Apr 28 / Wed Wellness Write (Prompt: ‘Could Have’, a poem by W. Szymborska) free drop in* 

May Preview: 

May 6/ **NEW** Explore Family Connections: Known, Unknown & Even Hidden Register on Dabble  90 min, Zoom
May 8 / Birth Mother’s Day (Prompt: ‘Dialogue with Ancestors – A Meditation for Journal Writing‘ in Insight Timer)  
May 13 / Journal to the Self  opens 6 week self-paced course

 

And, you can always find the latest tools, resources and courses on my website. For 2021 all courses are available as personal sessions just for you, or private group sessions and anyone special you’d like to include.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash.

1 Simple Journal Writing Secret: Change Your Writing Forever!

What if I told you there is ONE very simple journal writing secret that can change your writing — and your life — in just two minutes.

I’ve been a journal writer my whole life. I even learned the Intensive Journal Method in my twenties and have been using it ever since. But about three years ago I learned the most amazing journal writing secret. And now it’s the basis for my own personal growth, and everything I teach about journal writing.

The Secret Tip for Journal Writing: Reflection Writing

Reflection Writing is the simple act of ending your journal write with mindfulness. It is as incredibly simple as it is powerful. The practice just takes two minutes, and combines the mindfulness benefits of meditating with the insight and personal growth benefits of journaling. The act of reflecting on your writing is an essential part of the journal writing process if you want to encourage your own growth and tap your own wisdom within.

Journal writing itself is useful for processing thoughts, reducing stress, making connections and more. But a reflection write takes your intuition and insights to a deeper level. A reflection write sets you up with momentum – the writing tells you what is going on. The reflection tells you what you want to do about it.

What is Reflection Writing?

The reflection write is the practice of ending your journal writing session. It is a moment to be present to what you have written, how the ritual of writing was for you, and what you learned about yourself, others, or your world.

To do a reflection write, simply:

  • reread whatever you have written,
  • take a deep breath,
  • then take a moment to observe the writing process, think about any surprises, themes or bigger messages, notice any feelings that come up, physical reactions.

For example, maybe the content of what you wrote was sad, but your handwriting indicates energy and happiness. Perhaps it shows the moment when you let go of something difficult and took that very first step into a new chapter for yourself. Or maybe you feel butterflies as you reread the entry — a signal from your ‘inner cheerleader’ that you are right where you need to be.

Reread your journal write almost as a detached and curious third-party. Are there ah has or themes or key words jumping out? Are you sensing a reaction somewhere physically in the body, or maybe a strong emotional tug? Sometimes in the reflection you might jot down a creative idea that came to you, a follow up writing idea, or any other action or follow up.

It’s best to set a timer for two minutes — this is plenty of time to take a deep breath, skim what you have written, take another deep breath and then with curiosity, write a reflection about whatever is standing out to you. Give yourself more time and you’ll end up trying so hard to search for big meaning, you’ll miss the little gems that are right in front of you!

Prompts for Reflection Writing

Any one of the following suggestions makes a great prompt for a journal reflection write. Ponder one for just a moment and then begin writing your reflection about your journal entry.

As I read this…

          I notice…

          I’m aware of…

          I’m surprised by…

          I’m curious about… 

          My follow up is…

Or anything similar.

 

Simple Journal Writing Secret Helps You Become Your Own Best Coach!

The best part of a reflection write is that it’s so quick and simple. you’ve just put the raw material in your journal, and with a quick skim you can see the imprint of those words in a bigger way wherever they land in your heart or your intuition, linked to your personal vision, or providing yourself a gentle hug if you need it, or enlightening a brand new path around an obstacle.

 

For more insight on Reflection Writing in your journal, listen to my free mini-podcast on Insight Timer.

Want to explore further? Check out the tips and resources on my Workshops & Tools page. All of my class activities give you a chance to explore reflection writing for yourself. Or download free journal prompt worksheets, schedule a free, personalized one-to-one trial session, or join a free mini-session on Wellness Writing Wednesday right from the Workshops page.

Celebrating Our Story Changers

Aug 16th (8/16) is what I call Story Changers Day. A day to honor ancestors known, unknown or hidden. We all come from 8️⃣ great grandparents, 1️⃣6️⃣ great greats, 3️⃣2️⃣ great great greats …
Some of their stories we know — and appreciate. Some we know, and let’s say, we’ve learned from. Others we have a sense of based on assumptions or gut instincts.
Nonetheless, for the average person ~80-100 years back we’re connected to 1️⃣6️⃣ amazing people who lived so that we could be here today.
In those 8️⃣ or 1️⃣6️⃣ or even 3️⃣2️⃣ people you have your ‘Story Changers’. People who faced poverty, or war, or slavery, or discrimination and thru determination, or luck, or hope beyond hope you live — with a tiny bit of their DNA inside you!

Celebrating & Honoring Story Changers

If you have a moment , write a note of thanks to one of these folks, or sit and be present to any that might call to you.
Each and everyone of us has their magic inside!