This week I completed another journal and started a new one, my eighth since the start of the pandemic. So much of my recent writing has been personal, filling the pages of these journals and not ready to share … just yet … But I do have a piece coming out in Inside Higher Ed (I’ll be sure to share soon!). And I have several blog posts in-process. And I’m hoping for good reception of an article I revised and resubmitted this spring. And I’m returning to work on the collaborative book project: inching forward little by little.
I appreciate how a writing life involves so many forms of creation, always inviting self-work and self-reflection. Words mirroring the writer’s internal world may never find their way to wider audiences. But reaching for words offers incredible potential. I know that possibilities open for me when I find or build linguistic resources to name, identify, describe, and understand life’s experiences, especially the most tender ones.
For many years, I joked that I studied language (writing, rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies) because “words are hard.” But it’s not just a joke. I recognize that my body relaxes when I can name experiences, especially injustice. In contrast, I hold tension when I can’t access the language. Or when I/we avoid or block naming and, thereby, perpetuate epistemic injustice.
Recently, a somatic experiencing practitioner told me that when we can’t find words, it means that the roots of our traumas are pre-verbal—that they started in infancy or before we developed speech.
As I’m sitting with this insight, I’m wondering how much our work (and play) as writers is about healing trauma. How might working with words be a form of holding closely and caretaking our inner child? What words might be balms or braces? What words are needed to remember, resist, repair, relate, even reconcile? What words invite us into deeper learning and unlearning, clarifying and bringing us back to commitments to justice?
I’m reflecting on these themes—the power of words, the importance of naming, and the healing of trauma—in the midst of smoky air (hazardous air conditions) keeping me indoors here in Washington, D.C. My lungs are constricted by climate crisis. My language is similarly constricted within conditions of oppression. I can’t miss the connection. And I’m wanting to breathe deeply, to keep writing, to reach toward healing and liberation in the midst of toxicity.
My journals are full of longing ~ of pages articulating what I love so deeply that I’m willing to rage and grieve and pick myself up and keep going. Perhaps your journals are like this too?
I am grateful for journals, which provide the space for ongoing self-work. In its many forms, in its winding words, in its calls to come back and forge forward again and again. And in this spirit, to try-try again.
I close this newsletter with a few reading recommendations (scroll to the end). One recommendation I want to highlight has been deeply impacting me and how I’m thinking-feeling-acting-writing-relating-living within toxicity. It is The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté. I am sure to return to this book because it does important naming work: identifying, recognizing, describing, and countering injustice. It offers insights, practices, and recommendations.
Below there is also information about upcoming writing retreats and the open e-course on career discernment. And I’ll preview that Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson and I are developing a cohort experience for the 2023-2024 academic year around burnout. We’ll share more and open an application process in August. Reach out if you’re interested and would like to know more.
I’m also taking some time off this month and again (maybe always?) working on my relationship with money. Last month’s blog post “Can Registration Be Relational? How I’m Longing for Sliding-Scale Registration to Work” has led me to more questions and insights about pricing, resourcing, and striving toward economic justice within capitalism. I’ll be back with more writing and updates about this. 🙂
Always, I send good wishes, and I hope you, too, find spaces for self-work,
- Next Writing Retreat: Thursday 6/29
- Recent Blog Post: “Can Registration Be Relational? How I’m Longing for Sliding-Scale Registration to Work“
- One-with-One Coaching: Options for Personalized Support