Writing, as a form of therapy, is as old as ink itself. Universally understood as a transformative process, the simple act of putting pen to page can effectively jump start personal growth and healing.
Over the years I've had more than a handful of sessions on a therapist's couch sorting through the baggage I've built, bought, borrowed and inherited in my 48 years. Without exception, each qualified practitioner proposed the following recommendation: start and keep a daily journal.
Seems much angst and worry can be worked through with pen and paper. Yet for reasons that can only be explained as part of 'my personal charm,' my journal keeping would start and lapse in record time. Nevertheless, I knew the writing process to be powerful despite my inability to be consistent. Once, after managing to hold my journaling nose to the grindstone for 13 weeks, I leapt tall buildings made of artist block and landed on the other side, with renewed energy and fabulous paid work.
And yet, despite my success, I quickly discontinued putting my thoughts on paper.
Miraculously, last spring, my lifelong writing inertia evaporated with the click of a computer button. As easy as one, two, three, I started my own on-line journal, more commonly known as a blog.
A blog is a web log comprised of a series of posts, about the author's choice of subject, from professional to personal. Every entry is date and time stamped as they are published, giving the material the feel of a traditional diary.
Blog procedure is exceedingly simple and free for anyone with access to a computer. I type my thoughts, press the publish toggle and instantly my rants and raves go live on the World Wide Web. There is no middle person, web mistress, publisher or editor to be found. Blog control post, pace and frequency is in the blogger's hands.
However, there is one distinct motivating difference between your traditional hard copy diary hidden away, under the bed, and your blog. Blogging offers a possible audience.
My first thought was to use a blog to share the unusual adventure of my Calendar Girl life and draw attention to the Breast of Canada project. It took no time to realize that a following of fans was a big buzz, injecting tremendous energy into the somewhat relentless process of making, marketing and moving 3000 calendars every year.
My second blog took on a digest format offering alternative breast related news that was a simple by-product of my role of publisher.
Blog number three was born thanks to a peri-menopausal fit of memory and hair loss. Fondly called 'My Menopause Blog, How to Punctuate Life Without a Period,' This effort truly fits the therapeutic writing model and contributes enormously to my state of mind.
Writing publicly about my petulant period, in real time, is like inviting a bunch of menopausal women over for tea and a heart-to-heart. Not surprising, scaling the dome of silence surrounding menopause, and talking above a whisper about 'The Pause' resonates deeply with women readers.
Shooting from the hip and funny bone, I share my findings of remedies, attitude shifts and my belief that menopause is not a disease. Thinking broadens with each entry; confidence grows as does understanding and a liberated sense of ageing. My Menopause Blog is like a cyber red tent for anyone interested in musing on maturity.
Eventually, curiosity lead to an on-line exploration of blog networks, blog rolls and search engines to see if other women were writing about their lives, health and well being.
Turns out, they are. Thousands of blogs are written by new moms, freshly divorced, empty nesters, the menopausal, survivors of cancer, stay at home parents, clinically depressed and chronically curious. Photos are up-loaded. Advice is sought. Human contact is collected by way of comments that reader's leave like cyber hugs. There's a whole lot of contact being made between people separated by geography, but connected by circumstance.
Clever blog names are common with blog owners. Ellie at This is My Body, This is My Blood offers a hilarious window into her peri-menopausal pity party. 'I'm Out of Estrogen and It's Not Pretty' provides a window into Victoria's menopausal life. A group blog that I randomly come across claims: "Running this blog is about 50,000 times cheaper than a good therapist."
This new cyber kid on the block follows a blogger code of conduct that creates a safe, encouraging and friendly zone where you can let yourself hang out, be human and be heard. Not everyone writes like a professional, although there are excellent pro bloggers leading many a parade of readers. Countless circles of similarly focused, differently skilled people gather in and share the Blogosphere.
My greatest blogging benefit comes from my daily commitment to write just like the psychologists suggested. I clear my head, sort out my hormone-scattered feelings, get cheered on and remind myself that life is dynamic. Indeed, the cyber trail documentation of my menopausal mood swings is time stamped proof.
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