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Where It All Began

On Saturday 10th October 2020 I opened up a brand-new journal and wrote the words "My book - The Importance of Looking Up." I then followed this title with a series of notes "Research on gazing up. A positive approach. Cloud watching or star gazing. Action of lifting our heads. Away from screens, our situation, the ground..." I listed possible chapters: 1. Physical - body language, yoga. 2. Vocabulary - language and words. 3. Mindset - positive psych, affirmations, faith. 3. Environment - trees, mountains, horizons. 4. Others - serving, beyond ourselves. 5. Faith - searching beyond what is seen.

And so, Upward: The Power of Looking Up was born.

My journal writing has been a constant throughout my life. I have always found comfort in writing. Putting pen to paper has a rhythm and process that allows my brain to slow down, my breathing to settle and creativity to flow. I have used journals in all guises - teenage diaries, which held lots of blank pages, as I didn't know what to write and then soon forgot. Poetry and quotes copied by hand in the evenings during my university years. And most recently as I form of recovery from my breakdown.

I use a gratitude journal now, one that has been designed to capture my thoughts at the start and the end of each day. This, I have found, serves as a great reminder of what is important, of what I have and am thankful for. It prompts me to focus on what is in my life, rather than what is lacking. It also has a quote for each day, today's is by Don Miguel Ruiz "1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don't take anything personally. 3. Don't make assumptions. 4. Always do your best." Great advice, don't you think?

This quote is something I need to bear in mind as a new author. And as Upward goes out into the world to bring hope, encouragement and a different way of looking to others, I will do my best to follow Ruiz's wisdom. It is 18 months, nearly to the day, that my book was published, since those first notes in my journal. Writing has the power to make things so. It clarifies and solidifies ideas and can turn thoughts into action. English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, that 'the pen is mightier than the sword'. And I believe that to be true.

In my book, I have a chapter dedicated to words and I have added prompts at the end to help the reader use writing to create positive change. Here are some ideas from that list:

Speak it out or write it down. Taking a favourite poem, prayer, hymn, or verse, speak it aloud to yourself. Hearing yourself saying the words has a powerful effect and engages your senses more fully. Writing it down will also help you remember it more easily.

Keep it in sight. Put your written poem in a place, preferably at or above your eyeline, in your home or workspace – a place where you can see the poem every day. This could be inside your bathroom or kitchen cabinet, on a wardrobe or dressing room door, an office wall or the inside of your garden shed.

Create your own poem. Compose a few words in simple rhyme or verse. Make it easy to remember and start small. You may want to recite this onto a voice recorder and play it back to make you smile or for others to enjoy.

Put pen to paper. Write a card or letter to a friend or loved one. It can be a simple thank-you note or even a postcard from your holiday destination. You may want to select a poem or verse and include that too.

Free your mind. ‘Brain dump’ all your thoughts into one space. This is especially good if you have lots of ideas, worrying or overwhelming feelings, or simply a lot going through your mind. Emptying these out onto paper, or even in a voice note will give you the mental space to focus on what is most important. It also enables you to know and understand your thoughts more clearly.

Bedside habit. Keeping a notebook and pen by your bed is a good habit. It allows you to brain dump, journal, or write down the things you are grateful for. These can be done as part of your night-time routine and may help you sleep better.

I'd love to know your thoughts on writing and if you find it beneficial. You can get in touch in the comments below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter You can also buy Upward: The Power of Looking Up from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle using this link

Cover Design: Claire Wood, Spurwing Creative

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