Gwen Tuinman




Writing Through Tough Days

A dear friend presented me with a copy of The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. This morning, I read a passage in which Cameron talks about using emotion as fuel for writing. I know just what she means.

Every day can’t be a great writing day. We’re only human and easily derailed. A song triggers the memory of a traumatic event and upsetting images flood our minds. Muscle tension from overworking makes our heads ache. Someone we love suffers hard times and our mind repeatedly veers towards worry like a shopping cart with a wonky wheel. The harder we try to put these thoughts from our minds, the deeper they entrench themselves. Why fight it when we can harness those emotion in a productive way?

Continue reading “Writing Through Tough Days”

Mindfully Watching and Listening

Research by neurologists in UCLA proved that when we watch other people engaged in action, neurons associated with the muscle group used by the active party will begin to fire in our own body. The observer’s neurons “mirror” what is observed in others.

I remember watching The Pianist at a crowded theatre in 2002. At the end of the film, Wladyslaw Szpilman portrayed by Adrien Brody, played Chopin’s Grande Polonaise. When the camera closed in tight for an extended shot of his hands moving over the piano keyboard, the same neuron groups firing in the pianist were likewise activated in the theatre patrons. At the end of the film, the audience remained seated and staring at the screen in silence, perhaps emotionally exhausted like me. Throughout the film as we’d witnessed actors’ sorrowful looks or weeping on screen, the same neuron groups associated with these facial expressions were also activated in us. What’s more, our emotional neurons connected to those feelings also spark. Visual and auditory cues kickstart these empathetic neurons.

Continue reading “Mindfully Watching and Listening”

Growing Compassion for Bipolar Disorder

header shotAnyone whose had a cold will tell you it’s uncomfortable. There’s a headachy feeling that renders us pale and listless. It comes on the heels of sleepless-can’t-breathe nights that leave our eyes ringed in shadows.

The thing about having a cold, is that everyone understands what ails us. We usually garner some degree of sympathy from those around us. Folks understand that the coughing, sneezing, and snuffling are symptoms. We don’t worry that people will find out we’ve gone to the doctor for help when the cold gets the better of us.

What if we changed the wording in the previous paragraph? Suppose that cold turned to bipolar disorder. Imagine that coughing, sneezing, and snuffling became mood swings, altered judgment, and puzzling behavior. What if we could change the words and the paragraphs still rang true? Continue reading “Growing Compassion for Bipolar Disorder”

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