Wednesday, June 15, 2011

...You Have to Write it Down...

My head spins.

I was stretching my neck one day in a meeting, and someone told me it looked like my head was going to go all the way around. Someone else joked that I needed an exorcist. More than likely, I just needed to do some writing: absolute BEST stress reliever on the planet except for maybe laughing or walking your dog. Yep, even better than that other thing you were thinking of.

The reason writing works so well for relaxing you is that it gives you an opportunity to corral all the randomness and toss out any junk. It’s a de-clutter activity. Thoughts need room to move and explore, and writing creates space.

So if you’re having a crappy day, or feel overwhelmed with things to do, try to take a few minutes to write things down.

Don’t worry about the spelling or grammar, or what kind of paper it is, (be it lined, sketch, or graphing) or what you write with (although I’m going to ask you to avoid blood for all the obvious reasons), just get it down.

In fact, sometimes using something non-conventional helps. I have a couple of really old typewriters- yes, really- that I use, but I’ve also been known to use colored- glitter glue sticks, chalk, water-based paints, crayons, cray-pas, markers, coloring pencils, refrigerator magnet letters, and if you use small enough pieces to maneuver, Play-Doh formed into letters, into words.

It doesn’t even have to be words. It your mind operates differently and you would prefer to draw something, or tear a picture out of a magazine or newspaper then by all means, knock yourself out.

The technique is only half of the expression, the rest of the expression is the message: What do you have to say?

Maybe you feel like you don’t have anything to say, or that you have nothing to talk about but, trust me, you do. There’s something you’ve been holding all day. Or something that’s been on your mind since last week. Or something really odd that happened that you just need to get out or a funny memory that you want to share with someone. (Remind me later to tell you about the time I was confronted by a raccoon in a dumpster.)

 If you still need a little boosting, then allow me….Pick any one of these, or two or more, and get going!

 General observations o’ the day.
Aim to get at least five things down, and try to make at least three of them positive things.
If you want, you can make a point of throwing in at least one negative thing just to get it out of your system, but you should always have at least one more positive than negative when you’re done.
Feel free to throw in some random observation as well. My list for yesterday would look something like this:

  1.  Music makes a long drive better.
  2. One of the best things about being single (or as I once referred to it in an argument, “relationship neutral”) is that you can eat cereal for dinner and no one is going to complain about it.
  3. The “meat” on a White Castle cheeseburger doesn’t look like any identifiable meat product, and yet it’s a darn tasty burger.
  4. Sleep sprays are awesome.
  5. Moms are awesome.
  6. (and for one negative thought) I think (person’s name here) might seriously need some counseling. And possibly rehab.

A thank you letter.
This can be to someone, or some thing. Can be a friend, family member, or stranger who helped you without you knowing their name, or a stranger you observed helping someone else. Just tell them “thank you for….” And then list your reasons. If you can mail it, great but if not, that’s okay, too. Just write it. Here’s one for me:

 Dear Pencil,
Thank you for the cool sounds you make as you work so hard to make my imagination something real. And thank you for having an eraser.


 Dear Mom,

Thanks for the sleep spray. I’m not sure how you always find discontinued products, but I’m glad you do. You’re the best. And thanks for the Cuddle Bunny. And for not laughing that I mentioned still missing BunBun.

And thanks for always changing my diapers when I was a baby because at work today there was a really stinky baby in the lobby, and the mom was just sitting there on her phone talking about nothing.


An odd thought or question.
We all get weird thoughts that float through our head at some random time. If one or more popped into your head today, write it down. If you want to research it and look for an answer or connection to something, go ahead. Maybe it’s the most rhetorical of questions that’s ever passed through your mind. Or maybe the answer will come to you later, but write it down.

Some examples:
  • There’s no such thing as a cute elbow.
  • Are kissgasms real?
  • Why do people work so hard to get something, and then not take care of it?
  • You ever plan to try and ease one out only to realize that your body had different plans? You suspect that at worst there will be a light, hollow puff but instead you get the sound of a window washer sliding down a 7 story window with his squeegee, and possibly his face, in full contact with the window the whole way down

A “good to see you” or “good talking to you” email
Write this to someone you’d like to meet, but have never actually met, but… write it as if you have met. You can write whatever you want because it’s about an imaginary encounter and therefore can be as ridiculous as you can stand. Just make it fun for yourself.

As a bonus, if you believe in the Power of Intention (and I do because I’ve tried it and it works), writing it down can set it free in the universe to happen one day. Maybe. Never hurts to try. For example, my email might go something like this…

 Dear Pharrell and Chad,

It was so awesome running into you today at the Ice Cream shop. It was great having a chance to talk to two guys I have admired for so long who have changed my life with their work. You are as down to earth and cool as I imagined you would be, and I enjoyed getting to hear what you’re working on.

Hopefully, we’ll meet again.

Oh and Pharrell, please stop calling me and telling me how beautiful you think I am. It’s embarrassing. Wait, no it’s not. Call anytime you want.


Hate Mail.
Again, this can be to anyone known or barely familiar to you, but write down exactly how you feel about someone (or thing) and all the reasons why. I like to start with “Dear So-n-so” then “I hate you and wish you were (insert horrible torture technique here), you (insert litany of obscene names here). Then I say all the reasons why if I could kill anyone just using the powers of my mind, they would be so dead already.

Probably best to not mail this one, but writing it down will serve you well.

 My example:

Dear (I’ll be nice and not say her name)

You no-talent bimbo, whorebag hack. Not sure who you’re screwing or sucking to drag out your 15 minutes of fame, but I hope they give you incurable STD that burns. By my watch you were done ages ago. Please go away.


A short story or a poem.
The shortest story ever written was by Ernest Hemingway…

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

You don’t have to be Hemingway. But you can use any object in the room to inspire you to make up a short story about something. All you need is a paragraph or two…

One upon a time there was a mysophobic (germaphobic) shoe. Out for a walk one day with his owner, he noticed just up the road a small wad of gum, still wet and gooey on the sidewalk….

And of course there are pictures to inspire you. Type an adjective  or a strange phrase into Google then do an image search, pick something interesting and have at it. You can even use this random word generator to come up with the word or this one for a series of words.  Start here and gimme whatcha got...

A gratitude list.
Any two or more things. This is easier than it sounds, because not only can you note anything you’re grateful for experiencing, but you can note something your grateful for not experiencing like having a boring meeting being cancelled at work, or spotting a cop before she spots you so you can ease off the gas like you were a law abiding citizen who obeys all traffic laws all the time. My list:

64. I am grateful for learning opportunities. 
65. I am grateful for job opportunities.
66. I’m grateful that I’m not lazy ingrate.

Space Geeks:  (In case you missed the live stream like I did)

Paul Carrack "Don't Shed a Tear"

Da Brat f/Tyrese "What'chu Like"

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