This summer is unlike any summer we’ve ever had. This summer will be the first time we’ve seen loved ones in over a year. This will be the first time we peruse the shops and streets after the isolation of a pandemic. This is our chance to be grateful again for things we all took for granted. Things like hugging and kissing our grandparents and having birthday celebrations. As we rejoice and gather together again, we should also continue to do the work, and grow intellectually. Reading and writing are both my favorite ways to heal and learn simultaneously. New seasons bring opportunity to grow and spend time on new interests. Many want to take up reading, but don’t understand the benefits or know how to make time. Many also haven’t experienced the release a good journaling session can bring. Reading and writing have both improved my growth as a person, and I want to share the everlasting wonders of these simple pleasures.
Writing To Heal
Writing to heal has been a tool for me since I was very young. We all have thoughts, plans, and feelings that can’t always be openly expressed – but need to escape somehow.This is where writing comes in. Writing in my personal journal makes me feel like I am talking to a sacred friend who I know will keep my secrets. A friend who helps me understand myself more, and holds space for expression. The profound thing about writing is how much lighter you feel after a committed reflective session. Another sincere thing about writing is the natural manifestation that occurs when writing of your dreams and desires.
As humans, we naturally have never ending thoughts swirling around in our heads, some new and some old. When we don’t empty our minds from time to time we may experience fatigue, burn out or depression. This is especially true for those who also aren’t very verbal to begin with. The dedication it takes to sit still for half an hour and just free write serves as a reward in the end. A reward for being in tune enough to dedicate time to ourselves. As an educator, I’ve learned that it’s the act of writing that people can’t push past. They think it’s work to write and don’t know where to start. I assure you that once you really try and your thoughts start and continue to flow, you won’t view writing as work anymore. Writing gives you the opportunity to free your thoughts and fears, so that you can make new mental space and be refreshed.
Find Your Genre
The same can be said about reading a good book. Reading is a leisure I pick up and put down over the years, but I always return. Reading books is the most healthy distraction you could have. If you are experiencing something traumatic and feel the need to escape, books can be your best friend. When you find a book that can keep your interest, it will become so important to you. Making time for reading won’t be hard, because you’ll be desperate to get a page in. You’ll be at the doctor’s office waiting, reading your book. You’ll be in your kitchen cooking and also trying to read your book. Your soul will crave the rest of the storyline, and you will have completely immersed yourself into the novel – and then the end comes. Getting to the last page of a book is sad because it’s over but rewarding because you did it! The biggest key to becoming a reader is finding your genre and what you are entertained by.
I personally have a thing for self help books. Any books that can change my way of thinking and strengthen me mentally peak my interest. Something fascinates me about being one learned concept away from being a new and improved version of myself. My latest read was, “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Alan Singer. This book allowed me to understand how valuable the time I have left on this earth is. It also allowed me to understand that how I react to things holds more power than the happening itself. This book digs deep into navigating fear, and overcoming mental and emotional roadblocks we create within ourselves. “Sacred Pampering Principles” by Debrena Jackson also stole my heart this summer. This book taught me how to love myself in better ways as a woman, and to unpack some ancestral trauma I couldn’t have done alone.
After the death of Tony Morrison, I decided to read every book she ever created. One that lives in my mind is “The Bluest Eye”. When reading this book, my inner and younger black child felt so seen. This novel is raw, honest and sad. Aside from self help, I like books that make me feel something. When I close a novel, I want to feel like a changed person. I want to take something from the book with me into life. ‘The Bluest Eye’ allowed me to be acknowledged in ways life has not provided yet. If you are someone who struggles with reading or finds it boring, I urge you to find your genre.
Reading and writing can both be sacred practices of healing and self care. Something I enjoy about these hobbies is that they can be done independently. It does not matter where you are, or how you look that day – you can always read or write. These are two past times that are non performative and all for you. If you have been thinking of writing or reading to heal, here is your sign. Do it! If you struggle with writing, you may just need to start with guided writing. Below are some reading and journaling suggestion books in no particular order:
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Image featuring book titles courtesy of Chloe’ Flowers