What is writing if not expression? Get ready to hear a bold perspective that would have writing redefined as something beyond just scribbling words or typing letters on sheets of paper. Frustrated by her inability to type her thoughts efficiently in a writing exercise, Samantha Postman thought of doing something unique that would lead her to an epiphany about the art and action of expression. Struck by the profoundness of these realizations, Samantha gets bravely vulnerable in sharing her journal with us in this episode. A journal is private and sacred, but Samantha believes that this one has something to teach all of us. Listen in and be inspired to take your expression to the next level.
Watch the episode here:
- Out Of The Box Writing: Expression Redefined
- Knowledge Adds Perspective
- My Smart Notes Writing Journey
- Writing To Us Is Like Spanish Is To English Speakers
- To My Younger Self
- The Art Of “Writing”
- New Writing Journey
Listen to the podcast here:
Out Of The Box Writing: Expression Redefined
Samantha: Something profound happened to me. I’m starting a brand-new book club on Smart Notes from Sonke Ahrens. It’s not a normal book club like you would think. This is based on a brand-new app that’s been out in the last bit. It’s from Roam Research. They call it a note-taking app, but it’s much more than that. It’s this way of back-linking and cross-linking all of the thoughts that you have. It’s like what Tiago Forte calls the second brain. It’s a way to build a second brain. It is ground breaking and it is going to change the world. I might even talk about it a little bit more in another episode.
Why I’m here right now is to tell you about our writing exercises. This book club is more than reading a book. It’s about writing. It’s about developing our writing and developing it inside of this app. We had a prompt from our instructor. The guy’s name is Beau Haan. He is an aspiring actor out of the US and he’s got a gift for teaching and inspiring. He doesn’t just educate, he adds elements like this meditational type of music. He prompts you in a way that gets your mind thinking and gets you into a mental space that you didn’t think you would. How this book club works is a network of thoughts. We’re all in this collaborative space where the book resides. In it each day, we have daily lessons and we can record our journaling inside of the app on our own pages, but then we can link to each other’s pages and we can link by day.
For example, we were on day three. It was titled With Child-Like Experience. I’m not even sure of the title now. Both starts out with this thing that you can find on YouTube to get us going and thinking, and then he leads into this 28-minute music. It’s an instrumental medley. To get you on-page, we write in our own journals each day. It’s categorized by our date and what we’re writing on that day, so we have a prompt. What happens is that prompt is linked. It’s a hyperlink and all of us can hyperlink to it. The prompt was, “I remember the first time that,” and so that is hyperlinked and we all type under that.
If I want to know what anyone else wrote, I click on the hyperlink. That hyperlink will bring me to a new page that will show me all of the entries from that day. Only the people who entered will be on that page. I can go on and see what everyone else was writing. I can’t change their block once they write on it. It’s locked but I can add thoughts to it, so then it becomes this branched-out network thought which is what we do when we think. We have all of these ideas and experiences that are brought into us. From that, we create our own thoughts that branch off of all of those other thoughts.
I’m not going to get into more about what Roam Research is right now. You can check it out online. There are tons of amazing YouTubes on it if you’re interested in getting into it. I’m not here to sell Roam Research and I’m not getting paid to say this. Although hopefully, Roam Research, if you want to sponsor me in future episodes, I totally tell everyone about how amazing this app is. It’s more or less a beta version. Just so you know, if you go onto this app, this is not completely developed. Most of the people who were on here are people who can do some CSS coding. I’m not one of them, but I can stitch some things together. I’m using it in a fairly rudimentary way until they get to the front-end ability where an average user can easily click everything that you want to do. If you’re willing to put a little extra grunt work, and get in on the ground floor on this. As Beau says, we’re on the frontier right now. It’s something new.
I’m going to put you back into my place. What happened was we had this writing prompt. I’ve committed to doing these writings every day. However, I have an obstacle that other people don’t have. When you look at me or you see me online, you’re going to say, “This person doesn’t have a disability.” However, I have quite a few invisible disabilities. Not all of which I’m going to go into right now, but I’m going to talk about one specifically and it’s typing. I don’t type very well. When I type, my fingers don’t type the letter in the order of the way I want to spell it. This is a big disability for me because I have a hard time writing.
I can handwrite very well. I draw lines around and quick erase. I especially like whiteboarding. It’s my favorite thing to do, but that’s not how we write and it’s not very fast. When I handwrite things, I have to go in and then type them, so I’m still running into the same problem that I have if I want to log this. I’m committed to this writing exercise. I start the writing process after the prompt. What happens to me is I have red lines everywhere because I’ve got typos and the grammars are not correct. It stops my mind.
My real disability is I have terrible arthritis in my hands. You’re going to know a little bit about it but it holds me back. I lost a lot of physical things that I could do because of this debilitating arthritis that I have. At times, sometimes, I can do more than others. I lost a lot of my passions. I used to do a lot of photography. Although phones have caught up. I can do quite some great photography with my phone now. What has happened is I need to be able to express what’s in my mind because I can’t physically do a lot of things as we used to do like art, photography, gardening, or doing things with your hands that are an expression of yourself. Handwriting is an expression of ourselves. I can’t type very fast and I think very fast. I talk very fast and I can’t keep it up at that level. I’m thinking how am I going to figure out how to do 42 days of writing.
Here’s the other thing of watching a website right now, which hopefully, by the time this show gets published will be released because I do have some writing. I did my Master’s not that long ago. I’ve got some great academic writing in there.
Apparently, I can academically write.
It takes me a long time. I need to be uploading a lot of blog content and I have so much to share with the world, but my hands are holding me back, which is why I decide to start a show. I’m a perfectionist. I’ll re-record something five times and I’m super nervous.
What I’m about to share with you was not intended to be used in this episode. What I’m about to share with you is very private and vulnerable. I even tried to re-record it so I could adjust some of it to make it more perfect. However, I couldn’t repeat the heart without it making it sound a little red off. I’m going to do something crazy. I’m going to share with you my journal. It’s audio and bear with me. The first little bit, I’m getting up some courage to get deep, but if you hold on for a little bit, it gets deeper fast. What happened during this journey was while I was frustrated with typing, I switched to my Otter app. It’s Otter.ai. I’m not getting paid to tell you this, but I absolutely love my Otter app. I was like, “How am I going to complete my writing app?”
I realized that writing is not handwriting anymore. The word has changed. It’s more like expressing through words. That can be speaking. However, with all the tech that we have, we can now speak to text. I found a workaround. I turned my Otter on and started dictating in my journal entry. It was to myself. It was supposed to be private to begin with or shared with book club. I know you all want to know about it and you’re like, “Samantha, stop talking,” but this is important. As I was going on, I realized that I might be able to share this. You’re going to notice me switch to this place where I start talking to you and not just to myself anymore. I’m doing both.
I’m quite nervous about sharing this, but I trust that you will appreciate the vulnerability, that you will be kind about it, and know that even those of us who have a professional background have this personal background. Anyone who thinks that you can separate your personal from being a professional, you need to go through therapy. They are mixed. We’re blended people. There’s no such thing as professional self and personal self. We can try to separate those entities but they’re not. I’m going to professionally share something very personal because it makes me who I am. It makes me good professionally because there’s a depth to me, just like there’s a depth to you. With the younger generation, it’s more okay to share this.You know Writing is Art? Click To Tweet
I’m glad because we need to work out how we can blend ourselves and show our blended selves. That’s what I’m about to do for you. At the beginning of it is the prompt that Beau had for us. It’s going to be a short note of Beau and then me. We had a music meditation instrumental. I’ve embedded the instrumental inside of the recording. I had no idea I was going to use it in this episode. I just hawked on my audio and started talking out loud. I will catch you on the other side of the recording.
Beau: There’s a certain frustration that happens when things don’t work out. It’s annoying. We get mad and often, we look at the thing that hurt us with disdain. Even though we have all had that happen, I want to know how it was like when things did work, when things flowed. After you open up your template for day three, you’ll have a prompt that says, “I remember the first time I learned that.”
Samantha: I remember the first time that I realized how powerful writing was. It was shortly after I had finished my Master’s at the age of 42. For some reason, I couldn’t stop writing. It’s strange because before I had started my Master’s, I disliked writing. I had some bad experiences in the past with my mom reading my journals from when I was young. I always felt that my thoughts could be used against me. I bottled it inside and tried to hold all the information I could in my mind. As I finished my Master’s, I realized that I had unleashed the power of writing.
There were two full years of writing every week. Handing in paper an essay. It’s strange because when we’re in a post-secondary school as well as junior high and high school there are tests. When you get to a Master’s level, there are not tests. It’s all essays, reading, assimilating, processing, and then putting it out on the paper. Something that was so powerful to me was this realization or this epiphany that when you write, it becomes the paper. It takes part of you, the essence of you, what is stored in you, and puts it on that paper or on that medium that you’re using.
The power is that powerful. It takes everything that you’ve been accumulating and gives you this opportunity to put it out on paper, and process it in ways that you didn’t. When you see it, it activates an extra part of your senses. You take what’s in your mind, you put it on the paper, and you see it. Sometimes, you see that it’s smaller than it is. Sometimes, you see that it’s a lot bigger than what you thought, and then you go and run with it.
Even more powerful realization in this was that I realized that the paper, essay, or anything that I wrote, even a journal entry, it’s becomes a part of you. It’s this reciprocated relationship with the writing. The world pours into you, and then you pour out into this expression. The expression reciprocates and pours back into you, which generates more writing. Your writing becomes part of the world that has assimilated and then pressed onto you. It’s so powerful.
When I finished my Master’s, it’s like a whole universe unlocked in my mind. I was unlocked. Ever since I finished, I can’t stop writing. I’ve written more in the last four years than I’ve written in the last twenty years. It’s everywhere. It’s on sticky notes. Every time I have thought, I’d put it down on paper. What’s crazy about that is I put it on paper because what I found is that it helps release it. I don’t have to store it in my mind or try to remember, which I found was a lot of work trying to remember all of these things. I have an appetite for knowledge, like not many others.
Knowledge Adds Perspective
I love to learn. I love ideas in my head, coming up with ideas, seeing things in new ways, taking something in my hands, and turning it around in multiple ways. I love looking at it from the top and from the bottom, changing the light and adding different elements, or moving it over to a different element and seeing if it acts the same way. What I would do is store all this information in my mind because I love playing with ideas. It’s like creative Lego for me. It’s like a puzzle. For me, it’s all these pieces. If I can hold tons of pieces in my mind, then I can create any picture I want, or even pictures I never even thought were possible.
That’s what I love about learning. However, I’ve lately come to this realization that I need to start sharing what I’m learning. I need to slow down. This is where the writing process comes in because what I was doing, I was thinking about slowing down. I was taking the information that was in my mind and writing it down, which released me from holding it. Something even more powerful happened. I ended up having more room for new ideas because I wasn’t holding them in my mind anymore.
My Smart Notes Writing Journey
Even though I had this monumental library stored in my mind and I started to be able to create open spaces for new information when I started writing things down. Now, I’ve got to the point where I’ve discovered Smart Notes, Sonke, and this crazy awesome teacher like Beau Haan with excitement and a passion that you want to see in people. It makes the world a better place. It’s starting to inspire me to take what I know as I go along and create something that I can share, so that I’m passing the information on. I’m not pouring information like a waterfall into my mind as fast as I was before, but I’m transferring it to other people.
A lot of people have fed information into my mind. My knowledge bank comes from other people. There’s nothing completely unique in my mind that wasn’t planted, embedded, started, watered, or fertilized from somebody else. It’s time for me to give back to the universe the same way that the universe has given to me, which is why I’m hoping to launch a website pretty soon. What I was stuck on was that writing was something that you had to put on a piece of paper. It’s funny because in this guided writing exercise, writing is something we do with a hand, at least in my generation. I have a picture of someone writing with a pen and paper or a pencil and paper as a child, writing and trying to get all the letters perfect. The term writing has changed because now writing is typing to the younger generation. When it says guided writing exercise, every one of you is typing this out. That’s how you write. It’s typing. It doesn’t say guided typing exercise.
Here’s the thing. I’m a terrible typer. I have developed this crazy arthritis from this debilitating disease that took me down when I was 35 and almost killed me. I can’t type very well anymore. I never could type super well. It was my lowest grade in high school. At that time, I didn’t see a use for learning it. It wasn’t easy for me. I see all of you type online and how fast you type, but I make a lot of spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes when I type because I don’t put the letters in the right order. Somehow my brain isn’t processing how to type very well. It blocks my brain up because when I type, it takes forever. I’m constantly seeing the computer telling me, “Wrong, stop, and correct.” If I don’t and I keep typing, then I come back and I see a hundred things I have to fix in 3 or 4 paragraphs. I find that so frustrating.So, if I was going to say something profound to my younger self, I would say, 'Don't worry about what other people are going think about your writing. Your writing is for you.' Click To Tweet
Now, I tried something different and unique. I put my ear pods in. I listened to the guided writing exercise through my ear pods. I went on my phone and I had to deactivate my AirPods. I deactivated the Bluetooth on my phone and made sure that the computer was activated to my AirPods. I’m listening to Beau and to the music that he’s posted and I’m dictating my writing. I’m going to challenge all of you out there who have a difficult time with writing that it’s okay to speak it. We’re not handwriting anymore. We’re texting. The word writing doesn’t mean that you have to type. You don’t have to handwrite, but you can talk.
I love my Otter app because I’m able to express myself in a much faster way. As I was going along, I was coming to epiphanies that I would have had while writing. In all fairness, when I do write, it’s a different processing in many ways because there’s something with the head to the hand for me especially because that’s how I learned to express thoughts in my mind. I am losing the value of what it is to write. However, on the flip side of that, I have gained this ability and freedom to talk when I’m writing in. If I was going to use this online, I would have to correct it. I’d have to take out the ums and uhs, but there would be a lot less of them than all of the grammar mistakes or the punctuation that I have to fix because my typing is so horrible.
Writing To Us Is Like Spanish Is To English Speakers
A little side note, even in three days, one of my discoveries is I should be taking a typing class. I’m seeking somebody who knows how to help me retrain the way my hands and my brain express typing so that I can type better. I’m a good speller when I write. That’s why I find it frustrating when I type. I may have to look into seeing if I can get somebody to help me do that. It’s a little bit more of a psychological issue now than just bad typing. As I mentioned before, my autoimmune disease rewired my brain. There was some damage done during that time of extreme illness and some rewiring. For example, when I talk, I flip concepts. I’m saying them and processing them in a linear way, at least it seems to me, but then when I speak, I flip things in a sentence. People sometimes have a hard time following me when I’m speaking, which I never had that problem before. I find that frustrating.
When I was sick, I started to study Spanish and the language is flipped compared to English. There’s a flipped way of thinking. It’s not just the sentence structure. It’s the way they think about the world that’s different. I love the way they think about the world. Even though it has messed up my English speaking and writing skills, it has given me a whole new way of looking at the world. English is very self-centered and we happen to the world. We’re almost like our own little worlds ourselves. In Spanish specifically, what I’ve noticed is that the world happens to you. You are secondary to the world. That is such a better way of looking at the world. It’s a better way of looking at ourselves.
We would take negative things that happened to us a little less personal. It’s not a personal attack. We’re a part in the world. We are a piece of the world. We play a role in the world in the way I see Spanish or the way Spanish speakers are in Latin American countries. In English, it’s not that way. I sometimes wonder what happened along the way of the culture where English started from. English is a very self-centered language in my opinion. What happened first? Was it self-centered people that invented a language that reflected who they were, or did the language itself self-perpetuate more self-centeredness because of the language itself?
That’s what’s interesting about this. There’s my a-ha moment here. It’s what happens with writing. You have this tendency to think a certain way or the way the world has influenced you. You create something based on who you are, if we were to use English as an example. People who came up with the English language saw and experienced the world in a certain way, and then they were to process it. They process it through language which is like writing, which is what I’m doing now. As the language progressed, it started to reciprocate and flip back on to itself and embed into them.
To My Younger Self
Perhaps, people that were somewhat self-centered, had a self-centered tendency, or the way they saw the world had more ego to it. When they express themselves, it grew that. It’s like compounding it in a way. I have a financial background, I’m thinking about compounding interest rates. It grew and magnified the language and how the language influenced the culture. Hopefully, I’m saying that in a clear way. If I was going to say something profound to my younger self, I would say, “Don’t worry about what other people are going to think about your writing. Your writing is for you. If somebody along the way discovers your writing and uses it against you, that’s small.”
It seems so large at the time, which it did to me when my writing was used against me, but then look at what I let that do to me. It kept me from years of creating art. Writing is art. I had somebody else reduce my art and my expression. Maybe it’s why I’m such a verbal expresser now because everyone needs to express and we find different ways. For me, it’s verbal. People cannot forget what you say but it’s a lot harder for them to go and physically hand something to you that will embed in your mind. Although now, there are so much transcriptions and recordings.Writing is an act. It is an active expression. If you’re expressing in some way, you’re writing. Click To Tweet
Everything we say can be permanent now. I’m going to do something crazy here. It’s something I learned from my trauma and my trauma specialist friend, Rosalien Stagg. She runs a trauma care center in BC [Britich Columbia]. She does this guided meditation and she has you go into a room of you when you’re younger and talk to yourself. The first time I did it, it was earth-shattering. Who would ever think about going into a room and talking to your younger self? I’m getting emotional thinking about it because when I did, it was in a time that I was processing a lot of emotional pain.
This time, I’m going to use it in a different way. I’m going to do it this way. If any of you out there have the same thing as me where you wished you would have written, for some reason you didn’t, and you need to forgive yourself. I need to forgive myself because right now, I’m mad at myself and I’m mad at what I lost. I gained a lot. This is what I do when I’m not ready to go into an emotional place. I talk for a bit. We’re going to do that for a bit before we go into the heavy space, although it’s getting heavy already. I did gain because I wasn’t writing and slowing down. I accumulated large amounts of knowledge simply because I was going so fast.
I developed speaking skills. I developed verbal articulation. I’m a verbal processor. The pure amount that I processed and creatively thought in this process was quite amazing and such a gift to me. Now that I am able to get a little bit past the emotional part of what I need to do to prepare for this next step, I’m going to talk to myself. If you want to do it too at the same time, I’d love for you to join me. I’d love for you to close your eyes and push everything out of your mind. While you have your eyes closed, then take some deep breaths.
We’re going to take three and then focus on either where you feel the breath. It might be in your nose or in your chest. Take three big breaths and then focus on those breaths. We’re going to do that. I’m going to do that right now. It’s time to go back to that time when you made a decision not to write anymore. That decision you made that writing wasn’t worth it, that it wasn’t for you, that this wasn’t going to be a part of your life, and writing could be used against you. I want you to see yourself in that space. See the room you were in when you came to this realization. See the people standing there if that’s what you need to do. Go over to yourself. Smile at yourself. It’s nice to see the old you. You sure looked younger than you, full of life and excitement about what the world had to bring. Even give yourself a hug. I’m going to do that. I don’t even know what to say to myself. I can feel it. How do I put that into words?
The Art Of “Writing”
I’m going to give it a try. “Samantha, you made a decision that day and perhaps, it changed your life and your path. You thought maybe it did. You lost an opportunity to grow in a very powerful way, but you grew in other ways. Instead of writing, you spent time talking to people, sitting and having coffee, listening to people, laughing with people, and traveling the world. Eventually, you took up photography which is like writing. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. You’ve wrote, Samantha, in lot of different ways. You wrote through your heart. You wrote through teaching your children. You wrote through mentoring and passing on your knowledge. Writing isn’t just taking a pen and writing on paper anymore. Writing is expressing, processing, logging what you know, and leaving it for those behind you if you so choose. You did all those things. Now, in your mid-40s, you’ve discovered the power of writing. Your path was yours to take because you needed to get to this one.”
If anyone out there can resonate with me, know that you did the best with what you could at that time. Now you know and it’s time to own what we know now and move forward in a different way. Move forward in a powerful way to step into yourself. That expression is not just with a pen anymore. It can come out in art and in painting. Writing is expression. We use different verbs, but writing is an act, an act of movement and expression. If you’re expressing in some way, you’re writing, so own it. Maybe you don’t type like I don’t type very well. Find another way like I’m doing now.
New Writing Journey
I came out of my room. I’m supposed to be in my room right now. I’m going back to the room. I’m going to forgive myself. “Samantha, I forgive you. I love you and I love your journey.” Imagine in this big room or the room that you’re in that a hole opens in the ceiling, and a big, bright, white light shines into that room. Everything in that room is now sucked up into that white light, into the hole, and out of the room. That experience has changed now. It’s you and your forgiven self. Depending on how old you are, you can pick yourself up or you can put your arm around yourself and walk out of the room with joy because it’s a new journey. You are lighter, brighter, and ready to go and create.
That was quite a journey. I had no idea where that was going. I started out with the guided writing exercise online and started typing. I was so frustrated that I could barely get through three lines without having to correct spaces. I thought outside the box and see if there was another way I could complete the exercise. I’ve committed to doing these exercises. If I can find a way that works for me and this is going to work for you too, then please, I’d love to hear if this worked for you too. I’ve ended this crazy session with tears and some self-counseling apparently. Hopefully, something powerful that you can take from this just as I have now. This is Samantha Postman. Signing off.
Samantha: I got really vulnerable with all of you. I can’t believe I did that and that I posted that online for all of you and it’s not perfect. This whole thing feels so imperfect to me. The way I’ve explained certain things or I didn’t explain them well enough. I’m starting out. I’ve never talked to myself out loud like this before. I’m better in conversations where I can respond to a person specifically. However, I was encouraged by a number of people who would listen to my original journal entry to share this with other people, so that they could journey in a growing way as well. I know I’ve grown a lot. I’m going to leave you with this. Let’s be bold together. Start with the same prompt that I had and do what I did.
You can do it in different ways. You can handwrite it out if you’d like. You can type it out or you could use the Otter app that I use and text it in or dictate it in. I encourage you to listen to it again afterward if you do dictate it in. When you often will write something and then read it after, there’s power in that. There are new epiphanies. That’s like what I talked about in my journal entry. When you write, it comes back and mirrors back onto you, and then there’s more growing and learning from that. If you do take the time to audio record, please listen to it again or read the transcription if you’re doing it in Otter.
Your phones, everything else has an auto audio recording. You can do that as well without transcribing and then listen to it, even though it’s hard to listen to yourself. Believe me, I’ve had to listen to myself a whole bunch of times to put this together. We’re going to go back to the prompt that I had. We were talking about child-like curiosity and this is the prompt that we had for my journal exercise. Write it down or come back to it. I’ll leave it in the comments. This is what I’m going to leave you with. Be bold like I was bold. You can do it too. If you’re not bold, you’re not going to grow as much. I’m telling you the truth. When you act small, you’re going to grow small. If you want to grow big, you’ve got to be bold and grow a boldness in yourself. Boldness is where growth happens. It’s courage. I like to use the word courage. Have courage.
I’m going to read the prompt off, so I get the words correctly this time. I want you to remember and think about this. Here’s your prompt, “I remember the first time I learned that,” and then fill it in from there. Whatever came to mind, that’s what you go with. I look forward to hearing from you. I’d love to see some comments. Get back to me on this and I’d love to see where the growth goes. As I said, I’ve grown so much by this one exercise. I’m excited to see where this goes and see where it goes for all of you. Thanks again for joining me.
- Roam Research
- How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – Sönke Ahrens
- Beau Haan – Twitter
- Rosalien Stagg at Journey Into Wellness: Transforming Trauma into Freedom (Online Availability)
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