Sharing Spontaneous Writing Using Loaded Words
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Available April 2, 2017!
From different families and from different childhoods, three women remember and speak out about the secrecy, silence, and shame of having an alcoholic parent.
Through spontaneous writing with “loaded words” and person-to-person sharing, three women embarked on a transformative journey in which secretive and painful images and interpretations were exposed to the light, were accepted, and became less painful.
Transforming Memories is a collection of their writings and an invitation to others, whatever their past burdens, to use the technique of spontaneous writing to address their own memories. Readers are encouraged to use the power of spontaneous writing to reveal difficult memories more clearly.
Transforming Memories is not just for children of alcoholics, but for anyone who has experienced challenges or trauma in their lives. Alcohol abuse in a family is not the only experience that sets up feelings of abandonment, fear, emptiness, or constant guardedness.
The healing effects of spontaneous writing are not trivial. In addition to offering emotional relief and a sense of burdens being lifted, there is growing evidence that translating stressful events into written language improves both brain and immune system functions.
Readers can simply read and share the authors’ journey, or they can explore the possibilities of using words to spark their own memories, or find a friend and share something they’ve not discussed before. No rules! All that is needed is curiosity about potential discoveries and the desire to heal.
“What a great gift this book will be for readers. Transforming Memories is like a comforting walk with an understanding friend—three friends in fact. The three authors are so brave, so candid, so experienced, and so encouraging in how they work through issues from their own pasts. Their example is a beacon of encouragement for anyone who has experienced challenge or trauma and wants to hunker down to work through their own memories.”
Gillian Deacon, author of Naked Imperfection and There’s Lead in Your Lipstick
"We each have moments from our past that jolted us from the innocence of childhood into a sometimes unforgiving realty. This is a book of such moments. Through guided writing exercises, the authors do an exceptional job of aiding their readers to write about their moments and, through such writing, find meaning and bring healing to old wounds."
Donna Morrissey, award-winning author of five adult novels, including her recent bestseller, The Fortunate Brother
"It's miraculous that deep in the human psyche and spirit is a force of healing - waiting, ready to push us towards surprising insights and transformation. With guidance, with intention, we can release this amazing potential. These three wise women - through their honesty, open hearts and wisdom – can be your guides. Let the alchemy begin when the first words appear at the tip of your pen."
"What is exciting about this book is that it doesn't just tell us what to do; it shows us with examples coupled with suggestions and prompts. This is memoir in action where the reader will experience intimate stories from the authors’ lives as they make their own discoveries. Perhaps because so much has been shared by the writers, it feels as if a safe space has been created and anyone attempting a similar journey into their past will be held and supported within the suggested structure.
Transforming Memories also points the way to a new way of working. Writing is so often a solitary occupation often enlivened by the environment of a workshop or writing group. In this book is the template for a more collaborative way of working where the therapeutic benefit of writing is immediately shared with fellow writers.
This is a wonderful book that combines the power of personal narrative with a new way to unlock our own stories."
Paul Dodgson, UK playwright, musician and creative writing tutor
"Transforming Memories is a powerful testimony to the personal transformation that can begin when one finds the courage to take a flying leap across the chasm of isolation and silent self-judgment to a place where curiosity about the self one might become has a chance to flourish. Compassion, for ourselves and for and from others, helps us find that courage. Some embark on this journey of self-realization alone, others, like the authors, find strength in a trusted community. There is no map for this uniquely personal journey, but the authors offer some tools and resources one can use along the way. These are tools that just might enable one, in the words of the poet John O’Donohue, 'To live the life that I would love.'"
Beth A Lown, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Mount Auburn Hospital; and Medical Director, The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare
Table of Contents
We explain the choice of the title and subtitle, highlight discoveries we made as we wrote and shared memories of our alcoholic parents and childhoods, reflect on who this book is for, and offer thoughts about how to approach both the examples of writing and the prompts for readers to try spontaneous writing and sharing themselves.
Chapter 1 – Good for Your Health – Writing, Gathering, and Sharing
We describe the nature and benefits of spontaneous/expressive writing along with some of the research that supports the value of writing about traumatic experiences and painful memories. In addition to the power of writing, we underscore the importance of sharing and listening along with thoughts about how to begin such a journey.
Chapter 2 – Our Process – Sparks from a Common Bond
The three of us, with our common bond of having grown up with an alcoholic parent, explain how we found ourselves engaged in a process of spontaneous writing, then gathering to share our memories and experiences.
Chapter 3 – Childhood Snapshots – Original Writings
We reflect on the significance of childhood years affected by having an alcoholic parent and then present our three original pieces of writing, which showcase significant images from our childhood memories.
Chapter 4 – The List – Our Loaded Words
We originally generated a long list of sixty-eight “loaded words” to serve as prompts for spontaneous/expressive writing and ultimately chose fourteen of them. The ensuing writings are presented along with relevant dictionary definitions and short commentaries about each word.
Chapter 5 – Your Turn
We invite readers to consider writing themselves and provide suggestions and prompts for writing exercises to act as catalysts for self-discovery.
Chapter 6 – Living Our Legacies – Who We’ve Become
From writing and sharing together, and from the additional perspective of now looking back after several years have passed, each of us reflects on the legacies of having had an alcoholic parent and what we’ve learned from our process together.
Chapter 7 – Reflecting . . .
Our journeys are not over, but from this point in time, we offer both reflections and words of encouragement.
Appendix A – The Benefits of Expressive Writing – Selected Research Studies
Appendix B – A Selected Bibliography
About the Author
Liz Crocker’s career has included teaching, broadcasting, writing, and running several businesses. She currently owns Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore, which she cofounded in 1978, and holds leadership positions with a number of health care and cultural organizations. Liz is the author of two children’s books and hundreds of chapters and articles in books, magazines, and newspapers. With Bev Johnson, Liz coauthored Privileged Presence: Personal Stories of Connections in Health Care, published in 2006 with a second edition in 2014. She also edited The Healing Circle: Integrating Science, Wisdom, and Compassion in Reclaiming Wholeness on the Cancer Journey, published in 2010.
Polly Bennell has worked in publishing, advertising, and education; has been an independent filmmaker; practiced psychotherapy; and taught writing and film at the university level. She currently maintains a life-coaching practice for writers, among others, and also practices writing herself.
Holly Book’s path has taken her on an amazing journey of motherhood, owning businesses, and being the editor of a children’s magazine. Holly eventually attended seminary and became a Transforming Memories 174 hospice chaplain. For the last ten years, she and her husband have been ministering to the homeless and those struggling with addiction on the streets of Atlanta.