How does journaling help you heal?
Transcript for Take an Art Break Podcast Episode
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So welcome, welcome. We’re here with Mary L. Mccarthy and so excited to to get to know you more and to hear about your, your journey. And if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and how is journaling healing?
Okay. A long time ago when the galaxy far, far away, about 20 some years ago, I had an Ms, multiple sclerosis exacerbation. And I lost a lot of feeling and function and form on the, the right side of my body. So I needed a way to teach myself how to write with my left hand. Well, I met one thank you universe who introduced me to Julie Cameron’s morning pages. And I said, well, that’s sounds like a, you know, a good procedure, cuz that at that point I was running a successful management consulting business. So I just needed a procedure and I needed things done yesterday, of course. So I got into the the morning pages and it was just like, oh, okay, this is great and wonderful. And then all of a sudden rhymes start coming up. I started remembering all kinds of things from my childhood.
It’s just like, oh my gosh. You know, this journaling stuff thing is more than just, you know, words on the pages. And it certainly, I realized sooner rather than later that it was spiritual therapy, emotional therapy, mental therapy, way more than just physical therapy. And I got into that and I thought, wow, I need to share this with the world. So after doing consistently the morning pages and, and this whole getting into this whole process, I set up a business called Create right now. And the, the type of service we provide is introducing people into journaling for the health of it, which gets into your creative health, your spiritual health. And you all is a, journaling is a holistic health practice. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> service. And we all have it. And it’s so like I said, I’m, I’m on a a mission to get more, as I call them, journaling power revolutionaries to join the, the journaling for the health of it re revolution so they can one, heal the issues in their tissues and then explore, embody, and express their true self.
So in 25 words, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. <Laugh>.
I love, yeah, I love your mission. And as Lisa said today, the, the question we’re kind of unwrapping today is how, how is journaling healing? What does it, what does it do? What does it do? You know, how does it heal? Why is journaling the, the place to go to heal?
Journaling, there’s, you know, something magical, mystical spiritual otherworldly about the process. I, I mean, I have all kinds of, you know, sciences are doing more studies as far as what physically goes on in the, the body. But as far as how it’s healing is that it accesses all of our brain. And because I think lemme might just back up. We’re all, we come into this world with talents, skills, creativity, imagination, all of the above. And then we get all kinds of wonderful adult supervision, you know, from parents and teachers and societies about what we should be doing and everything. And everything is so much left brain focused. And journaling helps us get into the rest of our brain and get, and get out of our brain at the same time and get back into our body. Because as you know, we’re also very, you know, we’re some great analytical people and overthinkers and over worriers and all that type of thing. So, so the process of the journaling and healing is a, it just really enables us to access our whole being not just a teeny tiny portion of our left brain that we’ve been using for love these many years.
Yeah. What I’m hearing is it’s a sense of remembering and it’s a sense of like holistic remembering. And then I’d love to know, I, your story’s amazing and so fascinating and everybody needs to hear it, but when you started journaling the morning pages, what, what, you know, you said then you saw rhymes and, you know, all these different things. Rememberings what, like, what happened physically, mentally, and spiritually to you? Like, when did you kind of know like, oh wow, this is, this is magic?
I would say within a week wow. I, I, I felt that I was just, you know, ripe for blooming. I just think, you know, that again, I think it’s synchronicity. I was just really something. It’s like the universe gave me a, a huge wake up call with the delivery of, of ms, and, and it’s just like, you know, it’s just like, we gotta get this girl’s attention. So I just I this think it’s like, it was, it was sitting there really close to the surface, and I just think the, the journaling gave me the opportunity to, to get, get into me and to get, you know, to go on, start my mission on getting the real, you know, getting back to my true self and getting, you know, through all the issues and my tissues and the, you know, all the the things. So I just think it was just a, a question of synchronicity the universe timing. And I just think that it’s just and I was, you know, ready even though mentally and, you know, left brain wise and was like, you know, I had no clue. I, that’s what it was. It was just like, oh my goodness. So, I don’t know.
Yeah. I, I, it’s really interesting because, you know Lisa and I are on a mission it feels very similar to yours, right? I like the, the word revolution revolutionaries you know, we’re in this taken heartbreak movement and we’re looking for people to make art as part of their daily routine. You know, make it just as important as, you know, brushing your teeth and your morning cup of coffee or tea just sort of part of your ritual. But we get a lot of people who aren’t in the position that you were in to welcome journaling into your life. What steps could, do you think or that we could use, or what steps have you used to sort of convince people who are, who would otherwise still be stuck in that part of their brain that is overanalyzing journaling and making art, making part of their daily life at, for a health benefit?
My suggestion is, well, first of all, I tell people there’s only one right way to journal, and it’s your way. And I think just that point that it’s like, oh, okay. Cuz I think everyone with the, you know, the left brain prominence is looking for procedure now, how do I do it? When do I not? And all that kinda stuff. And it’s like, well, hold the phone, just like, just just take a moment. And then I think the, the whole process I, I find with with people and with clients is to get them just to take five minute or a short period of time in their favorite place, bring a, a notebook and a a pen and just have the experience of what it’s, what it’s like to, to be with yourself. And I just think that because we’ve just been so much, you know, again, left brain stuff focusing on the externals, the the passing, the, the standardized test, you know, all that, that type of thing.
So I think it’s, it’s just such a brand new experience. It’s about reconnecting with your body. So I, I find that that’s the, the starting point. And it’s just like, you know, and, and just be, just start the whole awareness process of what’s going on, and you’re going to hear the inner critic and the gro isn grim, and just be very honest that that’s what’s going on. Cause with me, that, that’s what my experience was in, in the journaling, it’s just like, I just really got really, really scared and just not knowing where all the sphere and everything came from. And, and then boom I found a lady who wrote a book about the art of fiction writing and talked about the inner critics. So I was like, I had no clue what an inner inner critic was. So I, I just think that it’s, it’s, it’s such a huge monumental behavior change.
The best thing you have to, you just have to take one step. And my suggestion is to just sit it, sit there and feel and experience what it’s like to be with yourself. And then my, when you feel, that’s my, again, my favorite four letter f word is feel. When you feel ready, you know, pick up the, the pen and, and the the notebook and write a question on the page, like, who am I today? Or, you know, how do I get, you know, how do I set up a journaling practice? Or, you know, you know, why does my mother-in-law rag on me so much? Whatever, whatever comes to you. And then take a, say, five minutes, take a page and just write, write, write, write, write, and, and, and just really tell your inner critics or your overactive brain, whatever your goonies and gremlins are that are up doesn’t know, tell ’em to, to have a coffee breaker or whatever, because this is your time.
So it’s, and, and then just, you know, get into the process and have the experience of what it’s, what it’s like, and it, it will be scary. It, it will be different because we have so much old programming in us that is like, anything that we do for ourselves is so selfish, selfish, selfish. So, but that, that is what I have found to to work is, is just like, okay just just start the process of, you know, taking the five minutes and, you know, what is, you know, self care like and, and what is this whole process of just being with you all by yourself for five whole minutes, you know, that type of thing. So I just think we I’ve just found disbanded. It’s just such a huge behavior change and, and, you know, change is really challenging.
And what we’re talking transformation, while we’re talking about transforming ourself into, you know, dig, doing the heavy lifting, the deep digging and re reconnecting with and returning to who we, we were when we first came into this world. And there’s a, you know, a whole lot of stuff that’s, that’s in there that doesn’t belong to us. So we have a whole lot of, you know, work to do. Like I said, I think the, the key is just to take the first step and just take, okay, I’m gonna have a cup of tea and have a, get the pen and the the paper and, and just, you know, just sit there and just have the experience of, you know, what it’s like just to be, be with yourself as opposed to, oh, I gotta do this, God, all that type of thing. So it is just that, that I said that, that at this point, that’s the way I have found.
And it’s just like, oh, I guess think with, with people, it just, it’s everything will come to them in the, in their time. You know, I think when you have a physical health challenge that that forces she to sit, sit down, so that, that helps the process, like I said, I think that’s what, what helped me. I mean, otherwise just being the high powered businesswoman running around and all that kind of stuff, I just ended of myself. I never would’ve come to journaling by myself. So it just, it, it just took a thing, but it’s just like, you know one of my clients she she had a harsh situation and you know, the doctor all, I’ll keep track of your meds, da, da da, da kinda stuff. And she said, they didn’t ask me how I felt about this, what is my body?
So that’s how she got into journal. She’d been a intermittent journaler, and she was sort of doing it, but then she could, I got into the feelings and what’s going on and how’s that, that’s affecting my body. And, you know, all parts that, you know, were above and beyond that. So that’s, like I said, I guess. So I think, you know, just as far as the whole starting process, it’s, it’s just like take a step one of just having the experience of what it’s like to be who you are right now in this moment and this, you know, day and just, and just, you know yeah. And just have the, the experience. And then, like I said, then when you feel ready, just the journal, your journal loves questions, so write a question. And you had, and it’s, there’s no, there’s no right or wrong que question whatever you feel like writing, and then just, you know, do a page, take five minutes and just have that experience. And yeah. And you may get scared and you must like, whoop, not ready for that today. Or it’s like, oh, isn’t that interesting? So yeah, like, I, I
Love it. I love this conversation. I was listening to a talk and he, he was the guy who was doing the talk was talking about writing and the power of writing, and he was talking about emotions. Emotions have energy obviously inside our bodies as well as memories have energy. Can you talk about that? Because it’s a way of getting it out of your body and onto the paper, and then you becoming a witness. Can you kind of gel that all together?
Certainly. I, again, it goes, goes back to, excuse me. You know, the way we were brought up in this is like, especially those of us who, who had a strict Catholic upbringing or a religious man, you know, thing, it’s like emotions is like, it was almost like emotions is, is, it’s like saying a, a swear word or so or something. So that is and again, the way we were brought up, supervised taught or, or whatever we were, the emphasis was put on, you know, were doing saving the world and all that kinda stuff. So when we’re into the, the journaling and that, that’s where it comes in with the issues in our tissues because we, we, we have literally stuffed down our feelings, our emotions and so the journaling helps us to get those emotions that, you know, that they have told us, don’t, don’t make any sense or are bad for us, and all that kinda stuff.
Again, you know a, a, a change in behaviors. It’s like, of looking at that, it’s like emotions are part of who we are as human beings. Yeah. So, so so what the, the journaling does, it, it just enables you to, to get okay with feeling whatever it is you feel, if you feel rage, that’s part of who you are. It doesn’t mean that you have to do everyth something about it. It’s just like, that’s part, part of the human process that gets us into the, you know feelings and emotions, creativity, imagination, all those, you know things of that. And it’s like, again, we just get all these things out on the page. And we also find that in addition to the the part of the issues and the issues with the emotions is that we’re carrying around a lot of other people’s thoughts and feelings, you know, based on how, what they told us we should be doing and all that type of thing. So it’s, it just provides a release to really, oh my goodness. Oh, I’m not crazy for thinking that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. It’s just so yeah, it just, and again, it’s creative self-expression and creative self-expression is chaotic. It doesn’t follow a, b, c, d type situation. And that’s okay. That’s part of the human being experience. Hmm.
Yeah. I I’m, you’ve got me thinking a lot about sort of the fact that society, we kind of set ourselves up for failure, and then we have to like, deal with it <laugh> when we’re older because we just we sort of categorize everything and we make people put things inside boxes in their brains and push things down to the bottom of their belly because they’re afraid of them, because we are afraid of them, because we’ve never f you know, felt comfortable with letting people be themselves. I, I, I don’t really have a question. I’m just always curious about what we could do. Like what’s a, what’s a shift we could make as a whole community maybe to got that down a little bit? You know, because I, I think of that in terms of our educational system that does have, there, there is a right answer to everything, and there is a step-by-step process.
And that there is a routine. And, and I’m not saying those are bad things, but they do lean towards certain beliefs and behaviors and processes that don’t allow for that chaotic creative expression that you were speaking to. You know, like, I don’t know, I’m just, off the top of my head, I was thinking like, wouldn’t it be great if <laugh> if you had space, like as a kid, you know, to be a little chaotic? And I do, I do know that some teachers do try for that to not like box kids in and to let them be a little bit more free with their expression. But is there something else we could do? Because I do feel like as adults, you have to just, you have to unpack all that stuff, you know, and
Excuse me. And, and that’s the key. And that’s what they, you know, that’s what’s called inner work. I think you’re, you’re right, that that’s the the system, the scenario, if you will, is that yes, as part of being an an adult, we really have to go internally and it’s just like, it, that’s a and, and there’s an ongoing process because it’s something that we’ve never done before. And there is, there’s no game plan, plan, there’s no, no rule before it’s just like, oh, you know, let’s try this, or let’s do this, or, or whatever. So I, I just think it’s, again, just tuning into your, your, your gut and your feeling. It’s like, hmm, what makes sense? Or how does, how are we going to do this? Or, this is what I wanna do, you know, what’s my first step?
And all that kind. And again, that’s where I, I find journaling comes in so handily, it’s just like the, I just o often just sit there and ask the question, or what am I gonna do about this? Or how do the do, or, you know, like, the questions you just posed, you know, how do we bring this to, you know, the, the community? How do you know, whatever the question is, and just write. And, and, and it’s, there’s something about the process. It will stir up the energies, the, the, the whatevers. And you’ll, you’ll be taking a shower, you’ll be cooking dinner or whatever. It’s like, oh, we could do this. Or, how about trying this? Or, or whatever. So I, I just find it’s just doing, doing the journaling, doing the, the process. Like, like you say, a again, that’s how you get your healthy teeth is brushing every day.
You know, it’s just like, and I think just by the, the doing the, taking the action, you know, taking the action of, you know, you know, with you, you guys and your expertise of, of ours, it’s just like, you know, create, create some audience and or do, do whatever and say, oh, okay, that comes up. You know, and just, you know, do it a little bit in a mindful way. It’s like, Hmm, what about that? So it is, it’s just like I said, it, it’s sort of a internal, shall I say, personal transformation. Work is there’s no painful number, kid. It’s just like, you just gotta, Hmm, this feels right. Let’s try this. Or you know, oftentimes just sitting down with a journal and you know, what is going on? Why is this not happening? Why, you know, or how do I do this? Or, you know, whatever. And, and just, just letting her rip. And it’s just like, Hmm, okay, that was good. That’s, you know, get on to something else and just trust the process that, you know, you know, the, the universe will deliver the goods when it’s time for you to get the goods. <Laugh>.
Wow. I love this. And part of you, you have to get out of the way. I wanna, I wanna tap into the spiritual aspect because have you experienced, like, cuz I’ve experienced this, where all of a sudden something comes to you from <laugh> something larger than yourself, and how do you guide people in, into, into tapping into that? I know it’s really about surrendering, getting outta the way, but if you could kind of talk about that in your experience.
Yeah. It, it’s, again, it, it’s something, it’s, you’re, you’re tapping into a part of you that’s been been there the whole time. It just, you have an access. So again, it is a very scary situation. And Lisa, it was for, for me, it’s like, do, do, do, where’s this coming from? What
And I just think this, this being upfront and an honest with people, it’s just like, yes. It’s like, I, I can’t remember who it was that says, you know, we are, we are not, we are spirits having a human existence. But again, with our, the emphasis and, and the societal influences and all that kinda stuff, you know, we, we’ve been programmed to think that, you know, we’re we’re human beings are supposed to be having a spiritual life. And it’s like no, we got it backwards. So it’s just, but it’s, it’s just like, no, I, I think too, that’s, and I don’t wanna, under underestimate, fear will be a, a very much part of it. Cause you will be tapping into higher realms, you know, the universe, you know, who, who knows the source, whatever else is, is out there.
And I, again, I go back to a, a quote of Maryanne Williamson. And the, the fear, and I can speak this cause I’m, I’m going through this right right now for, for myself is the real fear is the fear of our light. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, and again, because we’ve just been so programmed to, oh, solve this problem, master this challenge, da duh, all that type of thing. It’s like the getting past, the taking time for ourselves, self-care and getting past all those experiences, programming and, and, and getting back into who we are with our talents, our creativity, our imagination, our skills, you, you name it. It’s like, that is what’s scary. And it’s just like, it’s, it’s, it’s just something that’s, it’s it’s an experience. We just have so much, so much weight and garbage and stuff that we’re, we’re carrying that doesn’t belong to us. It’s just a continual situation of, oh my gosh, I really am, you know, it’s like, I’m good. You know, this is like, and, and then, then you say that, it’s like, oh, but I can be, you know,
I, I think I know, I know a great deal of people and I have suffered this myself, that when everything feels equal equilibrium, that you’ve, you’ve gotten there, you’re in harmony, that you’re basically waiting, anticipating for the other shoe to drop. Exactly. I do that to myself all the time because I, and I think you’re right. I think it’s just that and it’s, it, it’s totally anxiety inducing. And it’s very based in fear. And it’s also some weird thing where you think you’re not allowed to be happy. And I don’t know where that comes from, but it happens to me quite a bit where when I’m in that and it, and I do, I feel like it’s a flow of life and they come in, it comes in, it doesn’t come in very often for me, I’ll be completely honest. But when it gets there and, and your quote made me think of it, I get afraid.
And it’s, that, is that light that you’re afraid of because, and then that’s when all the other stuff, like the storm of like, what did I forget? What do I need to do next? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And I, I think that’s, you know, and you can just go into that, that spiral of going downhill. And you know, and I’ve been thinking a lot about like, why, why do I <laugh>, why do I exist like that? That’s not, you know, that’s like a, that’s not a great way to live. And, and life is, is lit is so precious, and we all know that, and we say that to each other every single day. But if it’s so precious, maybe we do need to let ourselves be happy. And why don’t we, I mean, that’s a great question. Like that’s a great philosophical existential question, right?
It really is. You know, and, and that’s what’s so exciting about journaling is that you can have conversations with yourself on the page and it’s like, oh, okay. Or, and then something will come up or, you know, a word or a phrase or something will come up, you know, it’s just like yeah, you’re right. It, but it’s just something that, it’s all there. The potential, the, the answers the talent, it’s all there. But it, it’s just really a question of, of work, work, work, working to get back to us. It’s just ands. The only answer is it’s like, you know, cuz people say, oh, you do the, you know, you do this, you do, or that comes so easily. I said, no, <laugh> guests gotta do the, the, the work. You gotta, you know, I have a great checkup with the dentist because I floss and I brush every day.
You know, it’s just like, and I think it’s like, like you were saying too, the, the answer is just like, I mean, the, the, the, the questions just just keep coming. Just you keep asking those questions and, and keep, you know, using your, your journal to, oh, what about this? Or da da da or, where does that come from? Or Why does, and such and such, or, you know, that type of thing. And it’s just, it’s a con continual, I think the, it is the, the acceptance that we are processes, not, we’re not, you know, we’re not structures, you know, we are. And I think that, you know, that’s what I have found based on my experience with the medical profession. It’s like they treat us as a structure. We are a living, breathing process. So, and like
I love that. I love that too. Yes, yes, yes.
I love that. I love that, that we are processors and create tours. It’s, I mean, that says it all. That’s just, I love
That. That’s like what you say all the time, right? We are art, that’s what we are, you know, and Right. We’re, we are our own art and art and progress. Right?
Yeah. I love that. I, I like the, I love the notion that it’s, it’s all within us, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, what a beautiful notion. It’s just, you have to put the work in. And I do think that first step is that you have to, I say this a lot to my own children and to myself. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And I think that you have to do that first, and then you really will open up and you’re al you’ll almost welcome that fear because you’ll become curious about it as opposed to wanting to just run away from it. And you, you know, like that troll that you were talking about, I know what, I know what he looks like, <laugh>, and he’s not very nice. And, and now I’m at a point in my life where I can just be like, you know, and, and flick him off my shoulder and we can have a good laugh about it.
And we have funny conversations together. But 10 years ago he really would make me sort of completely shut down into myself. And so it is, it’s, it’s a, it’s a constant process, right? And a constant coming back to it and reevaluating it and doing the work that it takes. And I, I think I like journaling because it, maybe it’s a little bit more approachable for folks, because when we put the word art out there, people are like, ah. And so perhaps journaling might be a little bit more approachable for folks to, to find a way to have a daily wellness practice. And I I love that. I think we’d all benefit from that.
Well, thank you. And I, I, I find it again, and two with the, the whole thing about, I get the whole thing about, oh, I’m not a writer, da da all like, just like, you know, if, if you just take it, you know, take a moment, take a breath, take it one step at a time, you know, that, that type of thing, because we’re just so used to having it overwhelm us, having, you know, it, they, whatever. It’s, it’s like this is this revolutionary. It’s like we’re, we’re, we’re turning the, the, the light, the goodness, all that kinda stuff back on ourselves word. You know, word’s always been. So it’s just but, but you’re right. And the whole, it’s the whole thing about and, and with the, the journaling, I think it goes back to what we were saying earlier about, you know, the, the process.
Journaling is a process, a tool, a self-care practice to help you do the you know, soul searching, the, the return to, to home, whatever it is. The yeah. So like I said, and I think that’s the, just the focusing on, on that. And it’s just something, it’s like, you know, who ever again, just thinking with your, your heart and your gut and your, your, your soul, and it’s just like, oh, wow. It’s like, and, and like you say, and just a getting knowing that’s creativity is chaotic, you know, everything is like, and that’s okay. That’s part of the human experience, you know? And the human experience is vast. It’s, you know, enormous. It’s a process. It’s energy. It’s all those types of things that certainly we are never, you know, told about that at all. And certainly, you know, as, as children, it’s just like, I can just think in, in terms of growing up.
I mean, when you see the emphasis was on, don’t do this, you are not that, da, da, da, all that. And of course, like, it sucked into our, you know, our muscles and our bones and all that, that kinda stuff. So, yeah. And so, and, and two, it’s, it’s, it’s okay. The whole thing about fun, fun is a, is a good, is a good thing, you know? And hap happiness is a good thing. Health is a good thing. All that type of thing is, it’s just like, again, we just, this is a wonderful oppor. Journaling provides the opportunity for us to really find out who lives in our body and find out how wonderful, talented exciting, you know, we, we are. And that, that, I mean, I find, like I say, I, I’m at the point now with my journaling practice is just like, someone, one of my clients told me says, you, you really sound like you know, you’d look forward to the page every day.
I said to me, I think in terms of one of what really turns me on what’s my passion, and it’s performing, I’m a singer. Hmm. And I, to me, well, I’m, I’m, they’re doing my first thing in the morning, in, in my morning pages. It’s showtime for me. And that’s what gets me to the, the page every day. Cause I’m, I’m into the, the feeling, the passion of, you know, the emotion of who Mary McCarthy is. So it’s just like, and that’s a great thing. So I was like, Ooh. And car, I think it was you know, like said, I can hardly wait till tomorrow. It’s like, hmm. What’s going on inside of me today? You know?
Sounds like a fun ride. I love it. I feel like the metaphor for me that’s popped up is like, we come out as these shining gifts, right? We’re like little, you know, golden gifts, right? But as, as you said, as society goes on, we kind of get these masks that make us dimmer and dimmer and dimmer. So for me, what I’m hearing is that by journaling, you’re kind of unraveling that mask. And every time you journal that unravels and the light shines through and sometimes you see more light and you’re like, whoa, what is that? And then I think that’s where the fear comes in, cuz you’re like, who, who is that? Who’s a huge shining beam? So what a beautiful conversation. Wow.
Yeah. Thank, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. This
Has been opportunity for me and thank you ladies. Great. Great. And what your, I checked you out and I was like, oh wow. What’s your, your work your mission and your revolution is all about? I’m there.
Yeah. I, I really, I do think we’re, we are walking a very similar path and I’m, I’m grateful for you for doing that cuz the world needs more people to sort of shout out in the street set. Taking care of yourself is, is not a bad thing. It’s actually very good thing for you, for you, but also in the entire world.
So, yeah. Thank you so much.
All right. Okay. Me,
As I always say, just right on
<Laugh>. Just right on. Beautiful. Thank you.