Project Write Now is excited to announce a new class taught by a new instructor, Lizbeth Finn-Arnold. Lizbeth has been taking classes at PWN for a few years and recently started teaching in our community outreach program. This fall, she is teaching a one-day Restorative Writing workshop on Tuesday, October 15, from 12 to 2 p.m. We recently sat down with Lizbeth to get to know her better and to find out why she is looking forward to teaching this class.
PWN: Why is a class like Restorative Writing so important?
LIZBETH: We live in a busy, stressful, noisy world. Most of us understand the importance or value of exercise and nutrition when it comes to our physical wellbeing. However, our brains also need to be nurtured and nourished. And every once in a while we need a mental detox from all the cluttered thoughts swirling around inside our heads. Writing allows us to dump our thoughts on the page and make sense out of them, without judgment or shame. Once we let go of thoughts or ideas that no longer serve us, we can begin to restore a greater sense of awareness and wellbeing. We can begin to tell fresh stories about who we are. Scientific research proves that writing to express ourselves enhances resilience, improves moods, and increases coping skills.
PWN: What can participants expect during the class?
LIZBETH: Restorative Writing is an interactive experience that may induce laughter and tears in equal measures. I am a big believer that most of us were creative geniuses as children and we just need help reconnecting to our natural essence—one that is playful, curious, imaginative, and a bit wild. In class, we combine mindfulness techniques and creative exercises to get the writing flowing. All participants are encouraged to read their writing aloud. At first this may seem incredibly intimidating, especially for those who have been stung by criticism in the past. However, in Restorative Writing we don’t judge or critique the writing. We honor and celebrate the storyteller for entrusting us with their story. The true power of expressive writing comes when we hold a safe space for each other and share our voices in community.
PWN: How has writing helped you?
LIZBETH: It’s probably cliché to say it, but here goes—writing has saved me and gotten me through life’s major transitions. When I was struggling with early motherhood, I found a community of mommy bloggers. Nobody on the actual playground was being honest about their fears and insecurities, but on the virtual playground we found the courage to share our messy, less-than-perfect, humiliating mothering moments. This made me feel less alone, and less like I was failing. It also strengthened my voice. I’ve continued to share my stories publicly online for the past 18 years because I feel lucky to have the tools to express myself. There are so many people who struggle privately in shame and silence, unaware that many of us are going through the same exact thing. I take great joy in knowing that I can help others through my writing. Helping others helps me. This is the true gift of writing.
PWN: What writing projects are you currently working on?
LIZBETH: For the past six years, I have been struggling with chronic pain and fatigue due to late-stage Lyme disease. There were a couple of years during which I could barely write or read, and as a writer this was sheer torture. As I heal, I am jumping back into a writing practice, but it’s a slow process. Still, I am excited to be writing a young adult novel about three teenagers coping with growing up and Lyme disease. I am also in the process of collecting my medical records and journal entries with the plan to write a memoir about my personal healing journey. I’m just not sure I’ve completed that story yet or that it’s ready to be written. As I like to say, we are all works-in-progress.