Reflections on the year



“The more reflective you are, the more effective you are.”

                                  Hall And Simeral

Anniversaries are natural times to reflect. Prairie Wind Writing Centre has produced a newsletter each month (12) during its first active year.

Each newsletter has focussed on a theme, suggested readings, relevant research, and offers a writing strategy to personalize each theme. For fun, we included a photo question in each edition.

Please take a few minutes to give us your feedback and suggestions by giving us your feedback (Newsletter Feedback Form link below) on our first twelve newsletters.

We are also interested in requests that you may have regarding future themes.

Newsletter Feedback Form

Now let’s review the themes and the writing strategies we addressed in our first year.

If you wish to review the original one of the full newsletters, simply click one of the titles below, they are actual links.

To write or not to write?

There is only one point to writing.

It allows you to do the impossible.

Writing makes sorrow endurable, evil intelligible,

justice desirable and love possible.

                                             Roger Rosenblatt (2012)

This inaugural newsletter outlines the benefits of reflective writing. Enhancing reflection in your own life, supporting others who are significant to us, guiding others we may be working with, and strengthening our writing skills, to mention just a few. It also provides links to solid evidence of the benefits. The strategy of the month is the pyramid strategy. A good starter for writing projects.

About Hope

     Ask people about hope

     and they will tell you a story.

                      Sarah Jane Pennington

The About Hope newsletter introduces ‘this thing called hope’. “A day with hope guarantees nothing. A day without hope is difficult.” Stories are central to reflecting on hope and to your hope focused practice.

To deepen the understanding of hope, readers are directed to Hope Studies Central at the University of Alberta and to a body of research demonstrating the value of hope. The strategy of the month is story.

Celebrating Joy

Joy is to fun, as the deep sea is to a puddle.

 It’s a feeling inside, that can hardly be contained.

                                                Terry Pratchett

Celebrating Joy highlights the benefits to your physical and emotional health of living life with joy. Recognizing your own joy triggers the chance of noticing the available joy. Similarly, understanding your blocks to joy enhances your ability to deal with them. The writing strategy for the month is the list strategy.

Staying in the Calm Zone

     Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.

                                    Ma Jaya Sali Bhagavati

Staying in the calm zone begins with a look at the challenges in this period of time in your life. Are you over or under stimulated? How is the stress affecting you? The calm zone is the emotional zone in which you can feel comfortable, safe, composed, and even relaxed. The benefits of being in the calm zone are outlined. As is the process for arriving and keeping your position in the calm zone. The suggested writing strategy is the dialogue strategy.

Cultivating Courage

      There is not enough darkness in the world

      to extinguish one candle.

                                        Saint Francis of Assisi

Cultivating courage looks at the circumstances in which you feel the need for courage, and to whom you look to as models of courage. It reminds you that “courage is not a single act but a mental set” deeply connected to your values and beliefs. Courage itself does not guarantee an outcome. Whether you need a small or large dose of courage, you have a choice to live from a place of fear or from a place of hope and courage. The “This I believe essay” is the writing strategy of the month.

Caregiving is not for sissies!


Caregiving will never be a one-size-fits-all.

                                                Nancy Kriseman

Caregiving is not for sissies addresses the complexity of caregiving. Caregiving is a task that is either imposed or chosen by many and comes with challenges: to consistently respect the capacities of those you are caring for; accessing resources often hampered by bureaucracy; and your own well-being.

The caregiving experience does have its rewards. Special memories get made. Regrets get avoided. New perspectives on your own life emerge. “Journaling in the third person” is the writing strategy of the month for caregiving.

Pathways to Lightheartedness

      If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.


Pathways to Lightheartedness recommends, despite a world fraught with serious issues, that it is never too late to be happy. Unlike people who are constantly heavy hearted, lighthearted people are not burdened with the expectation that everything needs to go well. The newsletter describes the  pathway to lightheartedness as a process and provides helpful guidelines.

For example: restricting exposure to negativity, using humor, being selective in your language, redoubling your gratitude, and engaging with others who have positive attitudes.  Contrasting strategy, the strategy of the month, is a method of using writing to explore the best and worst scenarios.

Befriending your inner author

      Nourish your inner author, and she will flourish.

      Starve your inner author, and she will perish.

                                                    Sarah Jane Pennington

Befriending your Inner Author speaks to that part of you that yearns to write, whether a poem, story, essay, novel, or journal. We provide prompts to help you get to know your inner author and your inner critic. A lighthearted list identifies the many interruptions that can distract your inner author. The newsletter asks “what encouragement do you need to begin or continue writing?” Letter writing is the strategy of the month.

Improving Your Practice

      Commitment and practice are powerful partners.

                                                  Sarah Jane Pennington

Improving your practice is a reminder of the simple reality that becoming proficient at anything takes time and practice. This isn’t just about physical skills. It takes time and practice to develop a commendable character. One begins with a decision and follows it with practice. It’s never too late or too early to begin. Developing a reflective writing practice records progress and addresses shortfalls. It will literally change your life. The strategy of the month is the thirty day challenge.

Letting go of needless baggage

Accepting your history need not be your destiny.

                                                    Joseph Palmar

Letting go of needless baggage invites you to examine the unfinished business and clutter in your life. To free up space in your life, mind, and heart for creativity. There is a need for selectively letting go of physical and emotional baggage.

It begins by identifying what should go.   It may or may not be important to understand the “why” of how the needless baggage  accumulated. Metaphor is the strategy of the month.

Saying No, the easy way

Not everything matters equally.

                                 Gary Keller

      Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

                               Oscar Wilde

Saying No, the easy way confronts the age old challenge of deciding on your priorities. The yes/no dilemma is not always straightforward. There are healthy reasons for saying yes and yet learning to say no is the key to preserving your physical and emotional energy.

Avoiding the ‘yes” traps takes practice. Specific strategies and reflective questions for understanding your willingness or hesitancy to say “yes” or “no” will get you practising. Written rehearsals are the strategy of the month.

Images and Echoes:

The Power of Photography

     Images of our memories repeat,

      like the fading echo of a trumpet in a mountain valley.

                                                                                Joseph Palmar

Images and Echoes describes the power of language and photography to take us, not only down memory lane, but to visions of the future. The newsletter provides numerous examples of how images influence individual lives. Photo-journalling often unlocks understanding not reached with one medium. This newsletter is packed with suggested readings. The strategy of the month is free fall writing.


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