The most foreign territory is within. Alice Walker

This quote speaks to the purpose of my writing prompt posts. There are so many buried experiences that form our beliefs and behaviors. Writing is one way to begin to unearth those orphaned parts within ourselves.

When I was a trainer back in the 80s and 90’s, I often used a video by Morris Massey called “What you Are, Is Where You Were When.” He showed how our childhood experiences formed unconscious biases and behaviors. One of the things he said that has always stuck with me is, “What you didn’t have as a ten-year-old, becomes extremely important to you as an adult.”

What I missed and needed the most as a ten-year-old was to be seen and heard by my parents. One of the gifts of writing my memoir, Listening to My Life, was the clarity I gained about the threads that run through my life. A major thread is my wanting to listen to others and let them know they are heard and seen. This followed me through my career as a teacher, counselor, administrator, facilitator/trainer, and to my current vocation as a spiritual director.
My prompt this week is to reflect back to your ten-year- old self and think about what you wanted/needed that you didn’t receive. Write about it and then write about how it has impacted your adult life.
Remember no editing or critiquing. Enjoy exploring your inner world and write, write, write.

“The secret to finding the deeper level in the other is finding the deeper level in yourself. Without finding it in ourself, you cannot see it in the other.” Eckhart Tolle

Journal Prompts for Going Deeper

These prompts are from Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. who states, “I think journaling prompts are key to continually maintaining a dialogue with ourselves. It is part of building a healthy relationship, or rather a friendship, with yourself.”

Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”

Journaling has been my ongoing spiritual practice. I started after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way over twenty-five years ago. I continue to do morning pages to ask myself important questions, to process an experience, to dive deep into memories, or to just get the blah blah blah’s out so I can move into the day more lightly.

I invite you to read through the following prompts and choose the ones that speak to you and write, write, write.

—My favorite way to spend the day is…….

—If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is……..

—The two moments I’ll never forget in my life are….Describe them in great detail. What makes them so unforgettable?

—Make a list of 30 things that make you smile. ( Pursue these.)

—The words I’d like to live by are……

—I couldn’t imagine living without……

—When I am in pain, physical or emotional, the kindest thing I can do for myself is……

—Make a list of the people in your life who genuinely support you, and who you can genuinely trust. Describe why. (Make time to hang out with them.)

—What does unconditional love look like for you?

—What would you do if you loved yourself unconditionally? How can you act on these if you don’t?

Enjoy building a deeper friendship with yourself. Remember, no editing or critiquing, just write what comes up.

I will devote the next couple of posts to different writing prompts for you to delve into.


As much as we would like to believe that the gender playing field has been leveled, we only have to look at the past year to see that inequalities still exist. The #METOO movement, the anger on both sides of the political divide around the Kavanaugh hearings, only exemplify the gap of understanding between the sexes. I cannot profess to speak to male gender role expectations, yet I do believe they are as crippling for men as female role expectations are for women.

Over twenty years ago, I was introduced to a poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly entitled Imagine a Woman. This poem came to me at the right time, speaking to me at the deepest levels. Each stanza of this poem reflects a woman free of any cultural stereotypes.
Even though this poem addresses women I have included reflection questions for men to enable them to consider the women in their lives, and to determine if any of these stanzas present a challenge to them. I hope someday a man will write a poem entitled imagine a Man.What a gift that would be for men and women to reflect on the impact of male gender role stereotyping.

Imagine a Woman by Patricia Lynn Reilly

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is woman. A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories. Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who believes she is good. A woman who trusts and respects herself. Who listens to her needs and desires, and meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present. A woman who has walked through her past. Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life. A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf. Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods. A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness. Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body. A woman who believes her body is enough just as it is. Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the face of the Goddess in her changing face. A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom. Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life. A woman who sits in circles of women. Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

Reflections for Women:

What stanzas touch you? Why?
Where are you on the road to becoming the woman in each stanza? What barriers keep you from living out any of the stanzas?

Reflections for Men.

 Looking at the stanzas, do the women in your life embody all of them?
Are there stanzas that you find challenging? Why?
 Are there stanzas you wish women would embody? How would that look?


The secret of life somehow always has to do with the awakening and freeing of what has been asleep.           Mark Nepo

As I pondered what my writing prompt would be this week, John O’Donohue’s book, Benedictus, A Book of Blessings seemed to call me. I hadn’t opened this book in over two years. When I pulled it from my shelf it fell open to his poem For Longing. Rereading this wonderful poem, I realized it was exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life.

I am currently in the “in between” or the threshold. Many doors have closed over the past year, but new ones have not opened. I am not sure what is calling me forward. This feeling of emptiness is an uncomfortable place. Reading this poem I am curious what is being birthed within me?  What new wants to emerge? What is longing to be awakened?  Am I staying safe and not saying Yes to Spirit’s whispers?  All questions this poem evoked in me.  Below is the poem.  Read it slowly and pay attention to what sentences or words jump out at you.  Where is the energy in this poem for you?  Where are you in this poem?

FOR LONGING      by John O’Donohue    

Blessed be the longing that brought you here 
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging—in love, creativity and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feelings.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which 
Your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

Reflect on what speaks to you in this poem and explore it in your writing.

New Year’s Rituals

New Year’s is the perfect time to set-up rituals that support you letting go of the past year with grace, and welcoming the new year with hope.  I’d like to share the rituals I began about ten years ago to honor the power of the changing of the year.

The week after Christmas through New Year’s Eve I spend time reflecting on the past year in my journal.  Below is an outline of what I reflect upon:

Overall Summary of the past year

 I write about the challenges, gifts and surprises this past year brought.  I sometimes use my calendar to jog my memory.  After the summary, I reflect on specific categories of my life. Again I write about the challenges, gifts, and surprises each category brought me.  The categories I reflect upon are:





Another ritual I follow is choosing a word that I would like to embody for the coming year.  My word for 2018 was Receive.  I write about how I opened myself to receive the gifts and challenges brought to me this past year.

New Year’s Day

On New Year’s Day I follow the same structure of overall summary, and the categories. I write my hopes and intentions for each for the coming year.  I do not write New Year’s resolutions, but rather my intentions of how I choose to live into each category.  

Right now I am focusing on what word I want to embody for 2019.  One seems to be strongly coming forth this past week.  I continue to ponder this word to feel what it would be like to embody it for a year.

Finally, I keep my journal’s reflection from past year and read through it to see how I lived my intentions and how I embodied my word.

May you create your own rituals to reflect on the past year and focus on the coming year. May your New Year be blessed with good health, joy, and peace.