Writing As Therapy – By the authors of Living Lightly Kim Alexander & Dale Curd
KIMBERLY ALEXANDER is a therapist with an online practice. Dale and Kim founded The Child Therapy List and The Men’s List, online mental wellness professional directories, to help normalize therapy and end mental health stigma. They operate LivingLightlyToday.com as an online community to acknowledge and connect with readers. In 2015, Dale and Kim left city life to live on a historic farm in Muskoka.
DALE CURD is a mental health professional, the host of CBC TV’s Hello Goodbye and a co-host of Life Story Project on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The creator of an acclaimed Empathetic Listening Method, Dale leads specialized workshops for law enforcement, hospitals and corporations across North America.
Have you written your will? I am writing mine in letter form, using a “spiritual will” format I discovered on Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s award-winning blog, Velveteen Rabbi. I hope to have many years to come, yet writing my will feels empowering, as though I am taking charge of my time here with a little more clarity, gratitude and ease. I hope you find writing your will to be rewarding and heartwarming.
A spiritual will is a document that outlines what I hope to leave to those I leave behind, not just in the tangible sense of possessions and money, but in an emotional, intellectual and spiritual way. I am sharing with you a part of the will I wrote for my daughter. I hope it inspires you to share who you are and the gifts you leave.
Dear beautiful daughter, I am writing this first draft to you at the age of fifty. I tried to write this letter when you were born, and again several times since, but I haven’t been ready. Today I am writing because it is so important to me that I tell you what is in my heart, even though you already know.
You have been my biggest gift in life because of who you are. Your light is so very bright, and today, when you are eleven, it shines so brightly. You come from heaven, you awake singing in the mornings (and in the shower), animals are your best friends and you understand people and see deep inside them.
My hope for you is that feeling deeply leads you to a rich life filled with loving people and colourful experiences. I want you to know that life is hard at times, really hard, and can lead to disappointment and loneliness. In those times, I hope you feel comforted by people and animals and plants you love, and that when those difficult times pass (and they always will), you will see that life is better because of how deeply you feel. I want you to be happy, healthy and safe.
I appreciate your creativity as an artist, a baker and a maker. You create independently, being confident and willing to try. I hear you singing and feel you at peace when you sit crocheting or painting. Please keep that always. I love watching you run! Your body straightens from your core and you become still and so very focused, while your legs gracefully stretch forward. So lovely. Please keep running in your life.
I am completely myself when I am with you. Here are the gifts I leave with you. My appreciation of nature and giving every being and thing a name.
Laughter—taking over our bodies, silent steam-whistle laughter, being ticklish around my neck, carefree and looking silly, dropping everything to wrestle on the grass to make each other laugh.
Belief in possibility—I want you to focus on what you want, in as much detail as you can, and it will happen. The universe will send you even better gifts than you imagined.
Gift of tears—crying whenever I am touched, moved and inspired. I can’t help myself!
Travel—I see as many parts of the world as possible. I want you to see pandas and Japan and everywhere else that calls to your heart. I love Africa, and travelling to a place you already love is very rewarding. Spices—rich, flavourful curries; ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon; cardamom and garam masala—cook with them. Be friends with people from those places, like Auntie Michelle. Ever since you were little, your favourite restaurant to celebrate your birthday has been a Pakistani place in Toronto. I love that. Be spicy, girl!
God, spirit and angels exist. Ask for their help. Pray and trust as often as you need. Live a life you love now. Don’t wait for someday. And choose with your heart. We moved to the farm from the city because nature was calling us, and we listened. Even though it was a risk and a big change, we have never regretted that decision and it has made us very happy.
Money is unlimited, and the more you have, the more you can create and share. Money is a good thing.
Do your best—I am still learning to do my best, and it is very satisfying.
Saying I am sorry—we apologize when we speak in anger or fear and when we are wrong. We always accept apologies and are willing to start fresh.
How many handshakes we have shared since you were a toddler, to restart the day and be connected! Singing “Hush, Little Baby,” lying together as you tell me about your day and what is in your heart, then singing your lullaby while I scratch your back or play with your hair before completing our day with promises to meet you on the mushroom top in our dreams.
You have a family that spans Bavaria, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and England. You have your awesome brother, and I wish for you two to stay close to each other and take care of each other for the rest of your lives. You have cousins, aunts and uncles, and quasi- aunts and -uncles. You have special people who care about you, like Nancy the librarian; Margaret, who owns the ice cream shop; Coach Lynn from curling; neighbour Morgan, who babysits you; and many more amazing women who know you are special and want to be with you. Let good people help you. Learn from them and know that you are a gift for them in return.
Molly, thank you for being you. I love you always and I will be with you always.
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