Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, where we talk to wellness professionals from around the world to gain their insights into healthier living. I'm your host, West Malik. Today our guest is Mari L. Mccarthy, who is the founder and chief empowerment officer of Create Write Now: Home Of Journaling For The Health Of It. She shows health-conscious people how to use therapeutic journaling to heal the issues in their tissues to empower and express their true selves. She is also the multi-award-winning author of Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy, Life You Want to Live and Heal Yourself with Journaling Power and she’s also the creator of 20+ journaling power E-workbooks, including Declutter Your Life, Love Your Body, and Take Control of Your Health. Mari, welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. How are you today?
Mari: I’m doing very well, Wes. Thank you so much. How are you?
Host: Excellent. I am in very good spirits and I'm looking to learn quite a bit from you regarding health and well-being. And I wanted to ask you about, you know, what you do and what you teach and that is journaling. I'd like to just jump in right away and ask you… What is journaling?
Mari: Journaling is the ultimate self-therapeutic tool that helps people realize their inner worth, to understand who truly lives in their body, deal with what I call “issues in their tissues” that we’ve been carrying around since childhood. Get all that garbage out of the way and reconnect with our true self and live the life that we want to live.
Host: When you say tissues, I mean, you mean to say as in like the Kleenex and the runny noses that were thrown away, right?
Mari: No, no. Tissues in our body, somatic tissues like, you know, the muscles in our bodily site and the muscles, the bones, the cells of our being.
Host: So, it is the literal tissue. I mean the tissue and the muscle mass and the matter that makes us.
Mari: Exactly. Yes, because what’s happening, Wes, is that when we come into this world we have everything we need to live the most fantastic life possible. And then we get socialized and parentized and teacherized, influenced by all the people that have not done their inner work. They just, you know perpetuated how they parented from their parents and on and on and on. What we’ve done is that we just really lost who we are and journaling helps us reconnect with who we truly are.
Host: So, it’s a very important part of self-discovery?
Mari: Self-discovery, self-development, self-healing, self-care. Any word that you associate with the word self is it goes journaling, yes.
Host: I find it so hard working on myself. I wish somebody could work on me for me. I could maybe… (laughing)
Mari: Indeed. And that is the scary part, you know, it truly is scary because we are so much living in our head. We come in with full-body, mind-body, soul and then we get taught how to live out of a teeny tiny part of our brain and that’s how we lived our life, so blame further and further into us is an extremely scary proposition. And just like you say, it would really be nice to find someone who could do this for us. (laughing)
Host: I find myself working on myself every single day I wake up and I'm like, “You know what, today I've got to do this” and what I mean, what I have to do is work on myself. You know, I've got to eat right. I've got to do this, I've got to think right. I also, you know, notice my own behaviors and say, “You know what, maybe I should stop saying this or, you know, maybe I shouldn’t be so negative and stuff”, but then I forget. And then that thought just, you know evaporates and I don't know if I've worked on myself or not.
Mari: Indeed. And a wonderful thing about journaling is that’s your documentation of your process in your self-development and your, “Hmm, did I do that?”. That’s one of the things that is fantastic about journaling is your journal loves it when you ask questions. And this is like in every perfect thing for you to sit down with your journal and say, “Hmm, I was wondering. Did I get enough done on myself today?“ or whatever it was. It’s like, it’s really an open-ended opportunity for us to stay connected to ourselves. As you know, it’s really difficult for us to stay connected with our mind, body, and true self. So, your journal is a fantastic tool that just, you know, even just to sit down and help you process your self-development, your self-growth, you know, your self, your self-management.
Host: So break it down for us, Mari. What is the process or the items that we do in journaling? Is it like writing a diary?
Mari: No. It is basically connecting to, how shall I say. It gets you out of your head and it gets you into your body, your soul, your emotions. All those things we were supposed to deny, step down, and things like that. So it is truly a process… It’s a huge behavior change process. It is getting us into ourselves and gets us to the point where we’re living our life from the inside out, dealing with our thoughts, our emotions, creating the life that we want to love as opposed to running around with our to-do list on how to save the world.
Host: So, this must have a structure to it?
Mari: No. There is, as I tell my clients there is only one right way to journal and it is your way, and it needs to be pen to the page every day. Those are the only two if you will structure. But if you want to do it first thing when you wake up, if you want to do it last thing before you want to go to bed, if you want to do it in the middle of the night, if you want to do it on the beach, in the coffee shop, if you want to do it on a fountain pen, if you want to do it with, you know, unlined journals, whatever floats your boat is open for successful journaling.
Host: Now, how did you get into journaling? How did you start?
Mari: It was for purely physical therapy purposes. I had an MS exacerbation where I lost feeling and functional on the right side of my body and I was, at that point, a high-powered management consultant. I had my own management consulting firm, and so I need to have the procedure right away to teach myself how to write left-handed.
Mari: So, I needed to be productive. I mean, good grief! You can't be not productive. So, I was introduced to a book by the name of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and in it, she has a thing called Morning Pages. And what you do first thing in the morning is you open your journal and you just write three pages of stream of consciousness, whatever.
Mari: I thought, “That would be interesting…” As much she says, “Just do it”, so okay I got into it. And then the process opened up. It became a spiritual, an emotional… So, I’m remembering things in my childhood. It’s just like, “Oh, my goodness”. I was just completely blown away. Again, being so focused on the procedure and doing it right. It blew me up to all of me, my spirituality, my brain, my body, everything. So, that’s how I got… So, it turned out way much more than just physical therapy, exercise and I just thought, “Oh, this is awesome”, and I decided I’m going to keep doing it. Then things started showing up in my journal and phrases and words and I came up with the idea for my company, Create Right Now. Journaling for the health of it because it really was a holistic experience, just like yoga or meditation or things like that. So I was so excited. A very synchronistic experience of getting into it purely for physical therapy reasons and it became spiritual therapy, emotional therapy, mental therapy right away.
Host: It must have been very cathartic?
Mari: Oh, my gosh. It was unbelievable. And it was like I blocked off a lot of things from childhood. I certainly knew I had a childhood…This really being able to get into the whole process. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons I became left-handed, very legibly left-handed very quickly, because one of the things I remember while doing the Morning Pages was that I always was left-handed and the nuns changed me.
Host: Oh, okay. So you started out left-handed when you were a child and then the teachers, I’m assuming Catholic school, asked you to write with your right hand?
Mari: Absolutely. Because we certainly, good little Catholic girls can't be guilty with the devil. You know, it was like, you know, all that kind of, so I was just like…. And it was interesting because at that point my mother was still with us and I asked and she verified that yes, that’s what happened.
Host: Are you ambidextrous now? Can you write with both right and left?
Mari: Yes. Exactly.
Host: That’s so unique. Not a lot of people have that skill and it’s fantastic. How does a journal connect, or how does keeping a journal connect with my health and better health?
Mari: I have to say that…I couldn’t tell you scientifically how that occurs. All I can give you some anecdotal evidence. I just, I think again, this is just the way we’re brought up, so focused and limited, we are just so much, we are souls and spirits having a human existence, so there are all kinds of vibration. We are holistic beings. We are, again, socialize it…Everything is looked at compartmentalizing. But, no, journaling helps us look at us as spirits, souls, bodies, minds, all of the above. That’s what makes up the human existence.
Host: Right. Okay. And how do you, you know, teach your clients how to journal and, you know, empower and express their true self? How do you teach that to people?
Mari: One of the ways I have is, I have about 26 what I call Journaling Power Guide Books that deal with issues and challenges that people face in their life. One book is called Who am I? Another book is called Heal Your Life. Another one is called Deal With Money Matters, and 7 Days, Set Better Goals, all kinds of opportunities for them to deal with whatever their issue is. Maybe they’re having money issues, maybe they’re having, “Hmm, I really like to know. Who does live in my body?”. I offer those types of guide books. And then I offer sessions with people that when they get started when they get back on the wagon, shall we say, it’s a very customized process. And one of the things I have them do before sessions with me, is do what I call a ‘5-minute mission' that does some freewriting about what the goals, the sessions are, and help people crystalize what they want to get out of the session. That’s something that is new and a lot of people are so, as you know busy, running around. There’s a whole thing of the structure itself, discipline, and goals as something completely foreign to a lot of people.
Host: I love this concept. I agree with a lot of things that you say. But before I ask you more questions, where can our listeners and myself find your books and your E-workbooks? Is there a website or…?
Mari: Yes. My website is createwritenow.com and there is any type of resources you need. There’s only one right way to journal and it’s your way. And you see that there’s a free e-book called Change Your Life In 15 Days that will give you the opportunity to explore journaling and get into journaling and see what’s it all about. And there’s a store with all of my books. There are videos and podcasts that I’ve done. There are probably about 380 journaling prompts that are unique and soul searching that will help if you need some of that. There’s another often comment I hear is like, “What am I going to write about?” and I was like, “Well, go in there and pick out a prompt that resonates with you and just do it”.
Host: Okay. So there are things there that will help you start writing.
Mari: Absolutely. And like I said, all procedure is very individualistic. Just go through and it’s like, “Okay, something will speak to you, will sing to your heart” and I was like, “Oh, yes. That’s what I want to do” or “Oh, isn’t that interesting“ of a book about Who am I? or revitalize your life in 7 Days or whatever. So, it’s very, it really ties into a person’s emotions and souls and heart. It’s like, “Oh, yes. That’s for me”.
Host: That’s createwritenow.com. That creates, writes with a W and now dot com. Correct?
Host: Now, I have gone through a similar exercise that you have done. I attended a training program, many, many years ago and one of the facilitators played some very uplifting or, you know, very inspiring kind of music and turn the lights down and said write for the next five minutes whatever comes to your mind and there are no rules. And I went through the process once and it was quite interesting. Another training program, a corporate training program I attended, the facilitator or the trainer asked us, I believe it was a Stephen Covey training program, and they asked us to write about, you know, what would be on your epitaph. So writing can, you know, bring out a lot of things that you might not be aware of. I've experienced it and I've seen the effects it's had. In fact, those two exercises that I did, oh I don’t know, decades ago, I still have them lying around in leather-bound journals somewhere. And, you know, I have many things written down from life, and my life changed after I had written things down that were inside of me. It does work. It's not all hokey pokey or, you know, it’s not like stuff in the air. It really, really does make an impact. I've seen the impact, but maybe some people might be skeptical of that. What would you say to them?
Mari: If someone embraces it with open arms, it’s definitely an exception to the rule. My response to people that are skeptical, concerned, or whatever their issue with their tissue is about it is to follow what my friends at Nike say, “Just do it”. So that’s why to me when people come to create right now, it’s just getting in there. It’s just got a notebook, a piece of paper, whatever, just do it. Just try the expressions, just tell your brain, your inner critic to go out and play in traffic and just, sit down, just give it a shot. That’s the best way to do it because I could write pages and pages and workbooks on how to, but the bottom line is you just have to take action and do it.
Host: I was just going to ask you how to start and you just answered my question right there. Take action and do it. It’s therapeutic, there are health and wellness benefits of it. Some people already have diaries and they write down a daily diary. I do. In fact, I've been lazy about it for the last couple of weeks because I have been in and out vacationing with the children. So for the past about two weeks or so I haven't written anything in my diary. But how does having a diary help me? And how does having a diary, how is it good for me?
Mari: I’d say it saves you money.
Mari: I mean, that way it helps you physically and emotionally since you’re able to sort out the issues in your tissues, what’s going on, get into your inner life and, you know, inner being you’re able to work through things that they tell you. They may not be connected but they are. It’s just that, you know, this whole thing around stress is like we are responsible for our stress. And it’s based on our training on how we’re supposed to run our lives, how we’re supposed to do things. But if you keep a diary, you have that concept. It’s like you’re giving a huge dose of dark chocolate to your body every day. It’s like you’re doing something for yourself. You’re helping your growth, your betterment, whatever, and I think that’s what the key. And that’s why when I talk about the structure of this, of doing it on a daily basis even if the word count does not make it. Just the whole process it is like you’re giving a constant reminder to your heart, soul, mind, body, being that you’re number one in your life.
Host: Does it matter where I write? On my phone, on my computer, on my laptop, on my iPad, on a book, on loose-leaf paper? Does it matter where I write?
Mari: The only requirement is that it's pen to page only. Nothing about the computer. I mean, it’s like, it’s good if you want to use the computer or whatever to express and it helps the process. But the real rubber meets the road, shall we say, is the pen and paper. Something magical, mysterious, medicinal about doing pen to page.
Host: Well, many of us are influenced by Doogie Howser, M.D. and, you know, in the beginning, at the end of the show, he would write his diary on his computer or that blue screen or green screen, and a lot of people write on their devices. I know my kids do. I have, I tried very hard to get my kids to write with their hands like on paper and it’s just a chore for them. (laughing) It's just a terrible chore for them. So I asked them to watch a TV show and write down what they learned from it. They’re young. I get the young ones to do it. But a lot of young people are not into the habit of actually writing things on paper, unless it’s just homework that they have to write.
Mari: Definitely. And it’s a whole different behavior change. It’s like, we, the older generation are going through it and they change from writing to the technology, is what the young ones are exposed to because they come out of the womb with the iPad and the iPhone and types of technologies. But I think tools are so important because the writing, the pen to page, is the connection to the universe of possibilities the way all are. Technology is great and wonderful. I mean, the fact that we’re having this conversation and things like that and all the wonderful things that we’re doing now. It so blows my mind, I was like, “Oh, my gosh. How did we get this far with the computers and things like that”. But it’s just like there’s just some basic truth about the pen to page, that connection to who we truly, truly are down to our core and staying connected to our core. Because that is so, we’ve all gotten so far away from who we truly are. We are just so into out there, other people saving the world, technology, computers, all that type. It’s just like we need to put “me” back into our life.
Host: That’s true. The focus on self is very important when it comes to well-being. Mari, I wanted to ask you, how do you stay healthy? And how do you stay well in your life, personally? What are the things that you do? How do you eat, you know, how does your day go? What are your routines in life?
Mari: Well, number one, it includes journaling every day. And I’ve also incorporated meditation into my life. I find that I mean, journaling is a wonderful experience in itself but adding meditation to the mix is like, “Oh, my goodness”. I guess, what I’m saying is, routines are very important to me. It’s like I meditate every day, I journal every day. And through my experiences of journaling, it has truly helped me with my physical… It’s like it has helped me gain confidence in myself so that I got off of big pharma drugs, like almost 17 years ago and I changed my diet…
Mari: …over the years. And I’ve gotten off dairy and gluten and, you know, sugar and that type of thing. I attribute that again to the journaling, and really helping me deal with the issues in my tissues just really seeing how, you know, we are so into the doctors saying, “Do this and that”. No, I found it. You know, wait a minute, it’s my body. I know my body. I was like, I need to make decisions with myself, what my body wants as opposed to what my head tells me I should be wanting. And I’d been working for the last couple of years with a nurse who’s also a fantastic cook. We tried for the past 1 ½ or so, what works for my body is a Paleo diet. It’s just like over the moon with how fantastic basic All-American, all-natural foods are. It’s just like, you know, and just everything clean. Nothing added like canned, it’s just really…
Host: What goes into your Paleo diet? What do you focus on?
Mari: What works for me are chicken and turkey as far as meats go. And just sweet potatoes, I mean, they go into it. I just really listen to what my body feels like it needs as opposed to what I think I should be eating at 12 o’clock, you know. It’s like, “Hmm, I’m not hungry so I’m not going to eat” and I was like, “Yes, I am hungry. What am I hungry for“? So, there’s a whole different change of thinking as opposed to feeling it, “What does my body want? What do I want?” So, that’s what’s really…My lifestyle is…
Host: Is just wonderful.
Mari: Like I said it helps me. And I routinely sleep, 7 to 8 hours with great dreams, you know, wake up refreshed so it’s like, as I said, going back to the journaling processes has just helped me get into all aspects of Mari McCarthy. And I’ve gotten off almost 12 years now without, I don’t take Tylenol or Sudafed or XYZ.
Mari: I’ve been taking Carlson’s fish oil now for 4 or 5 years, as I was having some hair loss and some things like that. But it’s just like other than that, I get all my minerals, fruit, and vitamins like that from the food that I eat so I don’t need a gazillion supplements. And like I said, big pharma is not making any money off of me.
Host: (laughing) That’s great.
Mari: I haven’t been to the doctor in, let’s see, I had distress in the lower traction, shall I say, a couple of years ago, which was like, which really got me into this whole process of really looking at what I’d been eating, how I’d been eating and changing that. Again, and it goes back, I just attribute that to the fact that I have been spending quality time doing the journaling and doing the meditation, doing, just spending quality time with the real true Mari McCarthy. And I just find it, I mean, I’ve been able to do creatively, I was like, I’ve published my second book in the Journaling Power trilogy. I’ve been taking voice lessons. That was one of the things I learned in the journaling. It’s what I always wanted. I learned how to be a singer. I now have a five-octave range.
Mari: And my voice teachers attribute a lot of that to the change in dissent to mop the dairy and the mucus, all those types of things.
Host: Oh, that made a difference.
Mari: Yes. Through journaling, I found my voice.
Host: (laughing) So, through writing a diary, through journaling do we continue a conversation with ourselves? Is that what it is?
Mari: Absolutely. It is a conversation, it is creating a compassionate relationship with ourselves. I mean, whoever has heard of a relationship, loving yourself, I mean, good grief! That’s not what we were taught in school.
Host: Exactly. (laughing)
Mari: It gives us, journaling, the opportunity to stay connected to our true self to be able to continue to explore, like I say I call, I consider as universes of infinite possibilities so it just helps us. And someone says, “I guess, you could hardly wait to get to your journal”, I said, “I could hardly wait to get to my journal because I can’t wait to find out what about myself I didn’t know yesterday or find something new or a phrase will show up or something will happen”. And just knowing that you’ve stirred up the process or whatever and then, you know, you’ll be in the shower and it’s like, “Oh, that’s the answer“ or like if you’re looking for something on Facebook, it will show up and an ad of the right pair of socks that you need. It really improves synchronicity, you know, your energy level. I mean, I can’t think of anything that journaling has not helped me do, discover and do better.
Host: I wholeheartedly agree because when we face issues and we seek out help, sometimes that help comes in advice. For example, therapists will ask you to write down what your feelings are during the day and what caused those feelings and you can discuss them with your therapist. And some doctors if you are, you know, going through an ailment will ask you to write down what kind of pain or the threshold that you've experienced physically, what you think caused it. Nutritionists also ask you to journal or write down a diary of what you've eaten in the day. I’ve actually gone through a process of that. I don't write it down on a piece of paper. I have an app for it where I write down, you know, what I've had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, how many glasses of water. Just to see, you know, how many, just evaluate later on in the day or at the end of the week how I've done. So if these three categories and many other different types of practitioners will ask you to write down many things because they know it helps. And if we start ourselves right now, I love the way you put it. I mean, just put down, you know, your issues and tissues. And I love that there's no set, pro forma, or template that you have to follow. It’s just, you can write naturally. I love the advice that you've given.
Mari: Oh, thank you. And I think that’s there’s a huge sigh when I tell people this. (laughing) Because it’s something that’s scary because we’ve never done that before. We’re giving ourselves permission. It was like as you said, we’re building a relationship with ourselves. We’re finding out what makes us open up that type of thing. It’s like spending quality time with us and ourselves. I’m sure you can attest to your experience. And it’s really exciting, Wes, to talk with you because it’s like, “Oh, my goodness. I’ve found a choir member”. (laughing)
Host: I’m with you when it comes to journaling and writing. We can find all your journals…Your website is fantastic. It has a lot of great stuff. Your blog has a lot of information as well. It's that createwritenow.com and the right is with a “W”. So it's created, W-R-I-T-E, now dot com. And there's contact information where we can get in touch with you as well. Mari, thank you so much for being on the Lifelong Wellness podcast today.
Mari: Well, thank you so much for having me and I certainly enjoy talking with a true believer. Thank you so much, Wes.
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