To awaken the faith, courage, insight, and creativity in me and those around me.

Posts tagged ‘emotional health’

Morning Pages


I awoke this morning to Errol Flynn making fun of me for being melodramatic. How ironic! The next half hour was spent arguing with him in my morning pages. This poor misguided drama king has not been properly trained for his role and has been given the wrong script. He’s supposed to keep me real, yes, but not to the point of blocking my writing. After three pages, I believe I have won round one. – Day 15

I’ve been reading a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that was written to help people unblock their creative side. The author refers to the block as a little voice in your head that tells you there are more important things to do, and you’re not good enough to be wasting your time on these creative endeavors. She calls it the “Censor”, and says that it’s part of the “Logic” brain. Some people may be more familiar with the term “left brain”.

One of the exercises she recommends is the “morning pages”. You’re supposed to write three pages of whatever comes to mind when you first wake up. It’s not supposed to be good. It’s supposed to be a release or vent of all the whiny anxieties that “stand in the way of your creativity”. I call it getting-all-the-crap-out-so-I-can-focus-better.

It’s interesting to note that writing requires the use of both sides of the brain. The left brain or logical side is needed to put words into a logical order of structured sentences, and the right brain or creative side is needed to find the right words to convey the thoughts. The act of writing helps unite the two sides for a common purpose, creating more of a balance between the two.

I am not a morning person. My mind is anything but peaceful when I first wake up. Sometimes, there’s an entire army of negative thoughts marching around in my head. I usually try not to pay attention to them; try to force myself to focus on positive things. When that gets too difficult, I daydream; dream up happier places to go to. All of this is done without realizing it. The morning pages have made me more aware of my thought patterns and habits first thing in the morning.

On some days, I write 3 pages of rants, on others, it’s a 3 page pity party. On my better days, it becomes a list of things I need to do that day or hope to accomplish sometime in the near future. I find that I am able to think more clearly throughout the day, and remember things better, since I’ve started this.

Not long after I first started writing morning pages, I had a weird dream with Errol Flynn over-acting a scene where he was supposed to be relating a sad childhood story. He was dressed as one of the Three Musketeers with a sword in his hand. The acting was so bad it was funny. While I was writing about the dream in my morning pages, I realized he was making fun of me, especially the sword-pen connection. At that time, I was still putting this blog together, and still writing my personal weight loss story. My “Censor” was trying to tell me that all of this was a waste of time.

Those 3 pages became a lecture to my censor, which I have named Errol. I spoke as a boss to an employee, or a director to an actor. I said things like: “Your role is a necessary role, but you have become confused about your job description. You are overstepping your boundaries. Stop blocking my writing!”

Therapists call this self talk. Affirmations are a form of self talk. There are some rules to remember with self talk. For example, the subconscious doesn’t recognize negative words like “don’t”, “not”, “no”, and “never”. If you say, “Don’t block my writing.” It hears, “Do block my writing.”

Another is that you can’t deny a part of yourself, because you don’t like what it’s telling you, which is essentially what I had been doing by ignoring the negative thoughts. If your finger was broken, you wouldn’t cut it off. Likewise, the negative voice or censor shouldn’t be cut off (or told to get lost), but redirected to function in a healing capacity. If I say that it has become confused about it’s job description, then I need to redefine what I want it’s job description to be, which is what I tried to do that morning.

It was a struggle first thing in the morning to find the right words to tell Errol what I thought he shouldn’t be doing. I kept wanting to use negative words. And then, I had to figure out what I thought he should be doing. It took a couple of mornings to get it right, and may take a few more. Hopefully by putting it in writing, I’m forcing both sides of my brain to work together on this. I think it’s paying off.

At the end of each day, I write a random paragraph about anything that comes to mind as an exercise for a writing group that I belong to. The paragraph in italics above was that day’s paragraph.

Why the Name “Awakening The Sleeper”?

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Faith, courage, insight, and creativity, like a muscle, need to be exercised. As a personal trainer, I can appreciate the importance of exercise. There is a group of muscles referred to as core muscles that act as stabilizers for the skeletal frame. They’re usually smaller in size and atrophy faster than the larger muscles, like hamstrings or quads. Most injuries occur when these muscles get weak and fail during physical stress. Faith, courage, insight, and creativity are part of our emotional core. We need them to endure during mental stress to keep our emotional frame work healthy. Anyone that is wanting to be successful at making life style changes in diet and exercise to improve their physical health, will need to have a healthy emotional core.

What does emotional health have to do with whether or not we’re successful at loosing weight? Well, let’s start with faith. Obviously, you need to have faith in yourself to succeed, but you also need to believe that this endeavor is worthy of your best effort, a worthwhile cause. Next you need to have courage to overcome the doubts and set backs. “But, I’ve failed so many times before.” is one example. Insight is needed to be able to see what your potential shortcomings will be, like “I crave sweets and hate doing cardio.” And creativity is how you will find ways to get past these hurdles, like “I love dancing and will try new desert recipes that use fruit rather than sugar.” This formula can be applied to anything you want to be successful at, not just exercise and weight loss.

There are more important areas of life that will require the flexing of these mental muscles, – relationships, family, spirituality – so exercising them is vital. The more successful accomplishments you have, the stronger they become, but first you have to start with the easier exercises and build them up, just like your workouts.

A client said to me the other day after finally being able to do a certain exercise she couldn’t do before because of weak core muscles, “I really like how you say we’re waking the muscles up.” There are neuro-pathways to muscles that get “sleepy” and sluggish when not used regularly, and my job is to find ways to wake them up.

As I was thinking about what to name this blog, I remembered what my client had said earlier that day. I thought about how we have to wake up the mental core sometimes, too. It prompted me to go back to a series of life coaching exercises that I worked back in 2008, and found this “mission statement”: My mission is to awaken the courage, insight, and creative abilities that have always been in me, and use them to communicate the things I’ve been learning along my journey. Six years ago when I wrote this statement, I knew that these abilities were weak and needed to be exercised, but I feel like my client who was finally able to “find” her muscles, that I’m just now starting to “awaken the sleeper.”

This blog is a continuation of my exercises and mission statement. The drawing of the emerging butterfly was created at the same time as my mission statement, and has now become my business logo.