Find what soothes your soul

I took a little break from writing and figured out something important. Writing soothes my soul. For most of my life I have taken writing for granted. It’s somethiart-1284384_1280 (2)ng that I have done since before I even knew how to form letters. It was so much a part of me, I didn’t realize that it was a gift.

When people would tell me that writing was hard for them, I thought they meant that they just hadn’t given it a chance. I know that there are good writers and not so good writers. I’m not talking about talent or winning awards. I’m talking about writing until you feel better. I love writing other people’s stories. I love writing letters. My husband said I am the last person since the 1940s who still writes post cards. I just hadn’t realized how much writing has been responsible for keeping me from falling off the planet.

Four years ago we had several deaths in our family. I called it the Winter Everyone Died. It wasn’t quite everyone, but it felt like it. I signed up for a “Writing to Heal” class. I didn’t know where to go with the grief I felt. The class reminded me of an old fairytale where a man had a terrible secret that he couldn’t share with anyone. Because he couldn’t say it aloud, he dug a hole in the ground and shouted the secret into the hole. His secret was safe in the earth and he no longer had the burden of carrying it around by himself. That’s how I felt about grief. The page became my hole and I wrote my feelings onto it.

It was a good thing that I did, because there was more grief on the way. My dad died next. And I lost my job. Everybody has the same kind of loss in their lives. What I have found is that everyone needs a place to put their feelings. Our family and friends want to help us (sometimes), but our culture does not encourage us to talk about hard things.

When we say, “How are you?” most of us want to hear “I’m fine, thanks.” We also need the answer to be 15 seconds or less. We love a good sound bite.

To soothe my soul and to help you soothe yours, I developed a writing class. It is called Soothing Your Soul – Writing through Life’s Hurdles.  This is a class that gives people a place to write what’s in their hearts. It is intended to be fun and creative. Each class will begin with topic guides and a theme. Write that letter to someone who is long gone. Write a poem that expresses how you really feel about a success or a loss. Just write because it feels good. You can choose to share your writing with the class or keep it for your eyes only. Saying what is in your heart on paper helps you to feel heard. Writing is a way to gather up all those feelings and put them in one place.

I plan to offer the class in September through the Holly Springs Arts Council. I’ll post more details in plenty of time for you to register.

Contact Janet Kangas at janetkangas@hotmail.com. (Instructor Janet Kangas is a lifelong writer and editor. She is experienced at teaching Writing to Heal and Guided Autobiography.)

Coconut Pie: More than dessert

Plenty of people will agree with me when I say that for many of us food is love. Let me tell you my own special love story. Every time friends visit from out of town we end up at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. classic-baking

You can eat lunch and walk around. There are plenty of places to get North Carolina trinkets and beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables were the last thing I wanted when we passed the bakery. I found pie. It was coconut cream pie, the kind my mother used to make 40 years ago. It was my own personal search for the Holy Grail. For years, I have tried making healthier versions of this pie – crustless, low fat – all wrong. The pie I found at the Farmers Market looked like someone who knew what they were doing baked it. It looked like my mother’s pie, the kind you could have a personal moment with on that first bite.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Who gets this excited about pie?”

I do. I thought about it on the off chance that I am too excited about the combining of sugar, milk, eggs and coconut. Then, I realized that the attraction isn’t the pie itself. It is the memory it evokes. During that first bite, I am transported 40 years in the past to my childhood kitchen table on a warm summer evening. The supper dishes are done and put away. There is no place I need to be, nothing that concerns me. Voices of the people I love can be heard throughout the house. It feels like one big relaxing sigh at the end of the day. What takes you back to that place of comfort, love or just a big dollop of pleasure?

Love is the answer

I have been a writer all of my life. I have loved writing about other people and the amazing stories that every one of them has to tell. Someone asked me why I wanted to write a blog and I had to think about it. I have written everyone else’s story but never my own. I can’t write my own story without mentioning other stories along with it, because all of my life I have been a people watcher. I am always looking for the happy ending. If you have lived at all, you know the happy eriver-tubingnding isn’t always easy to find – but I have learned that it’s always there. If you choose love no matter what happens, it’s always there. I like to think love and joy go together, but sometimes love and grief are holding hands for a long time. Love is there if you look for it. This blog is about how I learned that love is always the answer.