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Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing Your Past to Open Up Your Present & Future

Much of who I am and how I view the world was formed by my experiences as an undergraduate student at the evergreen state college in Olympia.  This past weekend I went back to the campus for their 40th anniversary celebration.  In true Evergreen fashion, it wasn't just a celebration, it was an experience in learning.  The weekend opened with reflection, where faculty gathered to remember and share stories of their experiences in building the college. There were panels with former students including Matt Groening and Megan Kelso, and workshops led by current and former faculty so you could truly "experience" the teaching style.  Lunch's keynote was given by about the changing face of education and the weekend included great music on Saturday night.

One of the keys I got came from a journal workshop led by Marilyn Frasca, former faculty and artist.  She introduced us to Ira Progoff's journal writing workshop.  I had taken a course on this topic from Marilyn 30+ years ago and it had blown my mind then...and did again this weekend. As you know, I am a big promoter of drawing your future into reality and I learned something very interesting in this workshop. One of the suggestions that Marilyn made was that you actually spend time going back into the "stepping stones" that brought you to this moment and dialogue with them.  The dialogue could open up and release energy that was held in that moment in time, in that experience, memory or thing.

The brain is a powerful tool, and while we assume it runs our world, this technique of going back in time to have a dialogue with a memory, place or object through writing reminds us that actually no, we run the show. We, meaning our essence, our spiritual self, that is both in the experience but not of it. When we take a memory and unlock it through writing, we release the energy that it holds and free ourselves to bring more of who we are into the present moment.

Here is one of the exercises that Marilyn took us through. Write briefly about what it is like to be you, right now.  What is your experience, or emotional tone of this period of time? Then, make a list of all of the experiences that brought you to this place - not your resume, but the turning points that stand out for you, or what Progoff calls "stepping stones."  Choose one of those stepping stones to have a dialogue with through writing. You might begin by writing, "It was a time of..." on a clean piece of paper. Sit quietly and wait, then write whatever comes to you, without censorship. You may find, as I did, that the memory in this "life history log" offers you a deeper reflection into who you are and what is happening today.

Why not "become an authority on your life?" as Marilyn Frasca suggested during her workshop at Evergreen's 40th Celebration. Free yourself up to experience more in the now by exploring yourself and your experiences in the past.

I look forward to hearing what you find out.  

Be good, do good,


  1. Hey Patti, thanks for posting. I'm still glowing from being in Marilyn's workshop the other day.Thinking about going back up this summer to taker her drawing class! Thanks for reading your piece in the group.

  2. I did exactly this on my blog post:
    I firmly believe in letting go of the past and YES, it made us what we are today.