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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Read

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.”
Henri Nouwen The Genesee Diary

Whether we read or listen to books, blogs, podcasts, or videos we are purposefully engaging in a new perspective or experience. Even if it is assigned reading. Yet we can only really participate emotionally if we come with the intent to learn. Even if we are looking to be entertained. If you have a particular subject or author or research you want to pursue for a season, then consider keeping a reading journal. Whatever you are reading, look for your own personal connection to the content and explore away.

Here are a few examples that may not be considered typical reflection reading.

Poetry speaks through figurative language and metaphors. You don’t need to be a poet or have any intention of becoming one, but reading poetry captures images and language in a succinct style that enables any reader (and writer) to explore sensory perception with sharp precision.

Paintings or photographs can be read for theme, story, and image. When we "see" the effect of micro-scenes, we can then apply the insights to ourselves, and writers can adapt the techniques to fictional scenes, therefore deepening their effect. When we read non-fiction, we can re-experience their personal presence for ourselves.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

Briefly journal these questions as an initial response.

A. Have you ever had to defer a dream? (define)
B. What did it feel like? What images stay with you?
C. How did you respond more to the explicit or implicit images?
D. Two prominent images are the broken-winged bird and the barren field. What are some feelings you associate with these images?

Action Steps:

1.     Read Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey” from her collection Dream Work.
(One link can be found at

2.     Go back through it and write down all the words that you identify with your own feelings.

3.     Take each word or phrase you choose and write the words in a scattered pattern in different colors on a sheet of paper.

4.     What thought jumps out for you?

5.     In what ways does her poem or thoughts connect with Langston Hughes’s poem?

Share: What emotional resonance do you most identify with in this poem? Why?

                                                            Read deep, marcy

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