Journal Prompts

For those who would like to do some writing this weekend, here are some journal prompts you can use. I find journaling to be really relaxing and to help me when journaling through my story and figuring out what to write next. It works for fiction and non-fiction, as you can journal as though you were your characters to help understand what they are thinking.

Scripture Affirmations

In case you are having a rough time, here are some scripture affirmations for you to speak over yourself. On my lifestyle blog, I shared some affirmations for those who prefer ones without the scripture. I have been speaking these over myself each morning before I begin my day to ensure my mind can stay in the right zone as I continue with this new routine of working from home AND overseeing my daughter’s schooling since her school closed for the rest of the year. This is an unprecedented time for many of us but I am thankful that we are making it through and continuing to grow as we do. If I can share resources or help you, please let me know what resources I can direct you to so you can use this time (if you gained time) to complete your goals and dreams.

~Shell

Let Yourself Go…

When I was first divorced my world was shattered. I remember looking out of my living room window one morning about six months after my ex-husband left our family and releasing a deep breath. One of those kinds you feel throughout your entire body. Not long after that, I was listening to a country mix on iTunes when I heard the song, “She Let Herself Go” by George Strait. I couldn’t imagine at that time giving myself permission to let go. Fast-forward to today and I am so thankful for songs like that and the power music has to heal. Those words gave me such healing that I now give myself permission to let go often.

I am so thankful for people who don’t hold back and who share their thoughts and emotions through writing and music. For the people who remind us we aren’t alone in our struggles, feelings, concerns. Right now, more than ever, we need to know there are others out there like us. Some of you are scared and truly don’t know what to do. Some of you don’t feel okay. Not today. Not tomorrow. Maybe not next month. It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to share with someone that you aren’t feeling okay. That you are struggling with the changes and that you are scared.

For many who have faced death, we have an interesting way of looking at life. Something within us says, “If I made it through that, I can make it through this.” Not everyone has had that experience. For some of you, this is the scariest thing you’ve faced. I see and hear you. I want you to know that we will get through this together. It’s not really that your kids are too much…it’s that you’ve been working so hard you haven’t had time to truly enjoy them. It’s not that you don’t love your family…it’s that you’re really good at what you do at work but feel less confident about your parenting and marriage. It’s not really that you love being around others…it’s that you don’t you don’t like how much you can hear your own thoughts in the silence. It’s not what is appears…it’s deeper. And that is okay.

If we all do our part and listen to the regulations and follow the guidelines, we will be okay. If we all take a moment to exhale deeply, to reflect on what we can do with the moment we have, and to check in with those around us, we will get through this as a community. If you’re not feeling okay mentally, check in with a trusted friend or therapist who can help you process the emotions you are experiencing. Reach out to share with someone what’s going on inside. If you are in danger, call the national hotline for help please. If you start to feel anxiety at a level you can’t hand, check in within someone.

Give yourself permission today to let go and be where you are, whether that means you are okay or not okay. That is the only way you will get to the place where you are okay.

Trust the Wink

I was working last week while a family member watched “Survivor” and I heard this quote from Sarah. I guess someone had winked at her during a time when the contestants were being placed on lock down by another contestant. I put the quote in my phone and moved on. I had a million thoughts about the application of this quote ton our daily lives and needed to narrow them down to this one I’ll share with you.

In Sarah’s case, she had to believe her vote would be okay since she couldn’t talk to anyone. In our case, we receive winks daily from God, nature, friends, family, that we choose to trust or ignore. We can trust that it’s going to work out, or we can get inside our heads and think of all the reasons it won’t. We can wonder, “What if I fail?” Or we can trust, “This is why I’ll succeed.”

Life can be a scary deal. I get it. But trusting the winks we see daily and allowing them to continue guiding us will help us arrive right where we are supposed to be at the time we should be there. I won’t spoil what happened with Sarah just in case you’re not caught up. I don’t watch the show so I’m not fully aware of how the outcome affects things, but I loved that statement in that moment and the connotation we can take from it if we think of the winks we encounter daily.

As you’re at home unexpectedly this week and next, take some time to finally write that book, work on that song, develop that app. You can accomplish quite a bit in two weeks. People ask for extra time and now the world’s granted it for some folks. Let’s look at the wink not all the negative aspects. And let’s accomplish more than we believe is possible.

Dear Person who has Been Hurt by the Church (An Open Letter)

Dear Person who has Been Hurt by the Church,

I am sorry.

I am sorry that as a church we have become more concerned with beautiful buildings than bleeding hearts. That we have spent more time developing economically sufficient social clubs instead of reaching out to our communities and the people who need us most.

I am sorry that each time you have walked into the doors, we ask you for money and tell you what an awful human you have been instead of learning more about you and finding out what made you come in the first place. That we most often times will ignore you after we publicly applaud you for showing up and ask you to raise your hand so we can shove our Information Cards in your hands and get your demographic information in exchange for a coffee cup, water bottle, or bag of candy from our greeting team.

I am sorry that it is more important that you are dressed right and look like you’d fit in with us than that we see your brokenness and share with you that we were once just like you: walking into church for the first time, confused about life, searching out faith, wondering if anyone would be willing to love us, looking for friends and family in the place where we find God, wanting to find a safe place for our family to learn and grow.

I am sorry that each time we walk through the doors of the church, we all become plastic, shiny people who forgot that just before we exited our cars to enter the building, we too were hurting, scared, lonely, and fighting for our lives. That we act like we don’t have imperfect families, broken marriages, addictions, and desires we don’t know how to control at times. I am sorry that we fail to let you see our hurts and scars and instead cover them up with Jesus tattoos to ensure you know how holy we are.

I am sorry that as we lift up our hands high and stand on our stages singing to you, we look down on you for not knowing the words or being able to keep the beat. That we ensure you feel out of place if you come from a church background different from ours and love to worship freely in our congregations that confine the Holy Spirit. That we judge you for not singing like us, worshiping like us, praying like us, or being like us.

I am sorry that instead of willing hearts and listening ears, we welcome you with fake smiles and put a program in your hands and direct you to the next set of ushers. That instead of truly extending a heart-to-heart plea of humanity uniting, we rush you to be seated before service starts because it would work better for our schedules than actually ministering to you through conversation and proximity.

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It’s Your Choice

This is where so many people get it twisted. This is where we differentiate whether we are an overcomer or a victim, a warrior or a worrier, a message or a mess. This is where the proverbial fork in the road is before us and we have no choice but to go right or left.


You choose.


You choose whether to stay in the relationship or walk away. You choose whether to buy things you can’t afford or be financially responsible. You choose whether to say “yes” or say “no”. You choose whether to celebrate the good or whine about the bad. It’s all up to you to choose how to respond to life.


Your choice determines your story. It determines how you’ll view yourself and your world. It determines how you’ll replay the situation for years to come. When we realize we have a choice, we accept that we also have a responsibility. Sometimes that reality is too hard for us, so we choose to play the victim or allow others to celebrate our pain with us. After all, it feels great for a little while when you’re the victim and people come around to support you and remind you how unfair life is. However, when we accept responsibility for the chapters we remained in too long, for the ones we stopped short, for the ones we went back to and wrote more of after ending them a first time, suddenly we become empowered to make additional life changes. It takes time for many people because it is a hard process to admit we made a choice that led to consequences, but when we see that we made a choice and that we are the author of our story–not anyone else–suddenly the world changes and we can gain new life after we heal from traumatic events and choices.

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The Difference Between Your Story and Your Voice

As a voice discovery coach, I am often asked by perspective clients what the difference is between their story and their voice. It’s something that people confuse often, feeling like they can’t share their story because it’s not unique or because someone with a similar story has shared it before. However, your story is not your voice. Your voice is unique to you.

What do I mean? I have been looking for an example that may be more relatable to folks than TD Jakes and Lysa TerKeurst. I finally thought of it tonight when thinking about a young woman whose blog I follow.

Caralyn’s story is that of someone who has overcome an eating disorder. You’ve possibly met others with a similar story and maybe even have one yourself. But if you take time to listen to the video, you will hear her voice and understand that you haven’t heard the story told in her voice previously. When you read her blog, the same voice that shares this story in spoken word format shares recipes with you and quips about dating and developing a stronger relationship with God. You recognize her writing because she has a distinct voice, which is apart from her story.

This is a very simplistic way of explaining it, but its one that you can hopefully relate to. As a voice discovery coach, I see so many people struggle with thinking their story IS their voice. But your voice changes with your audience and development; your story does not. Today, Caralyn is well known for being someone who talks about recovering from anorexia. In 10 years she may no longer choose to be defined by something that happened in her teen years and may instead become a voice for those who are raising women who feel insecure or unloved. At that time, her story will still be that she struggled and overcame anorexia but it wasn’t be what her voice is most known for. Think of a young man going through puberty and how his voice changes as he develops. Your voice can change as you grow. This is why people can share your experience but not your voice. Only you have the power to share your story the way you do. Only you speak with the passion you speak with about the things you speak about.

More on this in the weeks to come as we talk about journaling to discover your story!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To learn more about Caralyn, check out her blog: www.BeautyBeyondBones.com.

Book Release: When I Stopped Remembering Tomorrow

I sat down at my computer 22 years ago and began compiling a book that would end up taking me years to write because I would pick it up and put it down due to some of the pain within it. I finally finished it last month and published it this week. Today the Kindle version is available the first orders of the paperback will arrive. It feels surreal. It feels like an achievement I’ve waited my whole life to feel. And it feels like something totally unexpected since I NEVER imagined this would be the story I sat down to begin writing.

The book is a poetic walk through my life with reflections providing the narrative if you would like the back story for the poems. Together, they weave this story of how a broken girl fell in love with a boy who led her back to the God she thought she knew and in the falling, she met herself and learned to love herself and God for the first time.

Here’s the first few pages in case you’d like a glimpse:

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Perspective

What do you see when you look at this picture? Is he letting her go? Is she holding on? Is he encouraging her to go forward? Is she pulling him along?

Think about what you see and then look at the picture again from the various vantage points.

Does what you see change when you know there are other ways to look at it?

Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via PicJumbo Premium Subscription

Journal through your thoughts this week and see what you notice.

Journaling to Discover Your Story

I am teaching a journaling class this Spring for the New London Recreation department. If you have a desire to learn how to journal to discover your story, process your thoughts, or have an outlet for your feelings, join us!

In this 8-week program, we will have 45 minutes of instruction on how to journal and flow with your thoughts and 45 minutes of writing / creative time in which participants will apply the skill they have learned by completing a writing prompt. There is an extra half hour built in for discussion and questions so if people arrive late, it doesn’t take away from learning.

  • Week One: Journaling 101: It’s Your Book, Your Rules
  • Week Two: Remembering When: Responsible Storytelling
  • Week Three: Outlining Your Life: Looking at the Timeline of You
  • Week Four: Benefiting from Writer’s Block: Blocks are For Building
  • Week Five: Free Flowing: When You Have Something To Say but Can’t Say It
  • Week Six: Breaking Patterns: Using New Thought Patterns
  • Week Seven: Pulling Back: When to Take a Break & Try Another Method
  • Week Eight: Why Me?: Why People Need to Hear from You

Supplies & Equipment You Bring: A notebook with at least 100 sheets, pencil and pen or any other form of writing instrument you like to write with.

REGISTER HERE.

Here’s the description from www.NewLondonRec.com.

Spring20 Journaling to Discover Your Story

Have you wanted to journal but don’t know where to start with it? Do you have a story to tell but fear you don’t know how to write well enough to share it? This class is for you! You will invest your time learning how to creatively journal through your thoughts so you can tell your story in a way that will make sense when you pull it all together in the future. By walking through exercises and writing prompts, you will pull together pieces of your physical and thought life that combine to tell your story: the story of you.
Date Information: Tuesdays, March 10 – May 5, 2020; 6:00 – 8:00 PM; 8 wks
Cost: $40 residents/ $45 nonresident; $5.00 late fee after start of class
Age Requirements: Ages 16 and up
Location: Winthrop School Library
REGISTRATION ENDS 03/17/2020
For questions contact Sharon Bousquet at 860-447-5230 or email at sbousquet@ci.new-london.ct.us.

I hope you see you at the class if you are local. If you aren’t local and it sounds like something you’re interested in doing, I’m considering teaching an online version of it as well that spans the full 12 weeks from when I first taught the class years ago. Reach out to me if you are interested.