‘We can’t go back to the beginning and change what happened, but we can start from where we are and change the ending.’
As a health care provider in clinical practice, I am acutely aware of how demanding our work can be. This is especially true for those in palliative care, for diverse reasons you are all very familiar with.
Taking time out to reflect, debrief, and re-imagine is essential for our well-being. Regular creative practice, particularly with the support of community, can help us manage our lives more creatively and less anxiously. To this end, the Life Righting Collective www.liferighting.com has been running writing courses for the past seven years. Last year Barbara Matthews invited me to share a PALPRAC online webinar presentation, and I then I ran a memoir course online for the PALPRAC community, and at the conference held in Cape Town this year, I presented what our NPO can offer health care providers, the terminally ill, and their carers.
The PALPRAC steering committee have supported my suggestion to offer a monthly Monday evening online forum for members, starting on Monday 19th of June from 7pm to 9pm. The first session will be a try out, thereafter, if you decide to sign up, there will be a charge of R600 for 6 months. I am open to suggestions according to your needs. The format I suggest is a short meditation to ‘arrive’ and check in with yourself, followed by a quick check in with the group. Then I will guide you to write about either some aspect of your life that strengthens your resilience, or else one that undermines your serenity.
The PALPRAC team is also keen that, where members are comfortable to do so, they eventually share their experiences as stories on the PALPRAC blog and the Life Righting Collective website – see examples of LRC members’ stories here [click here]. Advocacy in the form of story-telling can help to increase awareness and visibility, raise funds and grow compassion and understanding.
To book a place on Monday 19th June 2023 from 7 – 9 pm for the free try out session, please email Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0827738467 and they will send you a Zoom invitation.
Should you wish to watch or listen to more information about our work, view below:
Here is the link to the PALPRAC webinar where I presented with Barbara Matthews:
Neuroscience has shown that creativity is a birth right that helps us to learn, imagine, and foster relationships, yet we have been trained to ignore or to fear our own capacity for this life skill. All acts of creation and play – dance, music, drawing, singing, painting, collage, clay work, theatre – are valuable resources to help us find meaning and to manage our lives better. They provide insight, empathy, pleasure and a way to debrief from trauma.
I know from my own practice, and from running creative writing courses for the past twelve years, that creative writing is a valuable resource that helps us
- to learn through play
- to expand our ideas about who we are and what is possible,
- to communicate more effectively, primarily with ourselves, getting clear about our habits, tendencies and motivations, and then with others if we choose to share our writing. This is a valuable tool for advocacy in the arena of palliative care
- to step out of the trap of hope and fear, and into curiosity
- to take agency in a situation that feels out of control or that feels as though it is victimising us
- to grow confidence, to find and develop your voice and character
- to find out what you think and feel
- to learn how to be alone
- to uncover or revisit the story you have been telling yourself about your life, and reimagine how to proceed where it is unhelpful of even harmful
- to finish unfinished business, to put something you have been carrying down, by writing it down
- to have fun and pleasure in situations that could overwhelm us if we did not find relief
We mostly don’t know what is going to happen next to our health, our finances, our education, our work, our economy, our community, our loved ones, and to those who are most vulnerable in our society. Once we have contributed everything we can to ameliorate a stressful situation, we are left with ourselves and our worries. Worrying, we know, is not helpful; in fact anxiety can contribute to illness.
This is an opportunity to do the writing that you perhaps have always wanted to do but did not know where to begin. Or perhaps you would like to step out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill.
The creative space is the holding space where we explore, discover, connect, learn. It is also, by definition, where we work with what we don’t know we don’t know; this practice of writing into the unknown can help us enormously with coming to terms with uncertainty in the rest of our lives.
Dawn Garisch [Life Righting Collective]