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All Articles © 2011 by Jenny Davidow, M.A.

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A Dynamic Partnership with Your Deeper Self

A partnership with your subconscious helps you to feel more fully alive, able to handle stress, and be more healthy, peaceful and productive. This partnership is the most effective antidote to stress; it comes in limitless supply; and it is always available.

You may ask, "How can this partnership happen?" Your subconscious stores everything that happens to you, information that is far more detailed than your conscious mind could ever hold or remember. The conscious "you" may not know something, but the subconscious "you" often knows very well and is ready to offer a wider perspective and choices to help you get what you need.

Most people are frustrated because they don't believe their subconscious wants to help them or is willing to communicate with them. Inner Coaching helps you discover that the subconscious wants to both help and communicate. This intelligence will show up in surprising and creative ways to offer support and guidance.

Albert Einstein once said, "Problems are never solved on the level on which they were created."

Einstein described his creative process as thinking in images rather than words, such as imagining what it would be like to ride a light beam into space.

Like Einstein, when you penetrate beyond words and logic, you go beyond the limitations of your conscious mind's assumptions and tap into the vast energy and awareness available to you - to discover deeper levels of knowing. You can then understand and solve problems in ways your conscious mind cannot: from a larger perspective, on many levels at once, often with leaps of insight.

Your Subconscious Provides a Map to Inner Peace

A healthy partnership between your conscious mind and your subconscious creates a blend of doing and being that your conscious mind cannot achieve alone. Your doing will be more focused and confident; your being will be more peaceful and comfortable.

Living a life that balances doing and being may be considered an act of both courage and skill in today's world. Our most valuable possession, and perhaps the rarest, is "peace of mind." You can have all the wealth and success possible, but without inner peace, it is worthless. Without peace in your own mind and heart, you can't enjoy life.

High stress is so common in our lives that we tend to accept its signals and symptoms as a necessary price to pay in order to succeed. We are all pressured to "try hard," but ironically the harder we try to succeed in the world of externals, the less inner peace we feel. This is why success can feel empty and meaningless.

Your deeper awareness is your greatest resource, yet most people ignore this vital aspect of our brain-power. We try to achieve goals or change behavior patterns or establish healthier habits, but sheer will-power isn't enough. We can't get it to happen without the agreement and support of the subconscious.

Your subconscious can actually help guide you back to inner peace. This is because your subconscious holds a large portion of your perceptions, assumptions, memories and skills. Inner Coaching accelerates the natural ability of your subconscious to combine the information it holds in new and creative ways, helping you to solve problems and generate fresh perspectives. Your awareness of yourself and others increases, giving you more choice in the present moment. On physical and emotional levels, you are more comfortable and resilient.

Unacknowledged, the subconscious is a powerful force that can hold you back. But when you are willing to communicate with it, you are empowered beyond anything your conscious mind alone could offer.

Is Stress Necessary?

©2009 by Jenny Davidow

"Our life is what our thoughts make it."
-- Marcus Aurelius, 150 A.D.

"There is no illness of the body apart from the mind."
-- Socrates, 600 B.C.

"God save the man who thinks with his head alone."
-- William Butler Yeats

"Crisis = Opportunity."
-- Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Most people are unaware that a certain amount of stress is desirable. “Stress” really describes your body’s level of readiness to react quickly to a given situation. For an athlete, “stress” can be an ally that gives him or her the necessary adrenalin and energy charge to deliver his or her best. Less than the optimal level of “stress” would result in a lackluster performance, while too much “stress” would impair the athlete’s ability to be focused and move freely.

You can imagine the positive and negative effects of stress on a bell curve: The lower the stress, the lower the productivity and performance level. At the peak of the bell curve, the level of stress reaches its optimum point for peak performance. Then, as stress increases in intensity past the optimum level, it is more and more difficult to perform well. The higher the stress past the optimum point, the lower the productivity.

In today’s modern world, stress is often psychological. We may be stressed by a person, a challenging situation, or even an anticipated change. Stress is much more than a mental or emotional phenomenon: it affects both mind and body. Short-term stress causes a series of dramatic physical changes: increased heart rate, quicker breathing, adrenalin pumping throughout your system to enable you to act quickly. An athlete, public speaker or actor uses short-term stress to his or her advantage, to enhance performance. That is because the stress response, also known as “fight or flight,” actually makes you stronger, quicker and more alert.

The need for the “fight or flight” response used to be clear-cut: either a caveman escaped the wild beast chasing him or he didn’t. Either way, the stress was short-term. Nowadays, though, things aren’t so clear-cut. Our stress response is less often the result of physical danger, and more often because of a perception, expectation, or emotional reaction that may or may not be accurate.

Recent research has shown that regular doses of unstructured and unplanned “play time” help both adults and children to be emotionally balanced, creative individuals. For healthy living, we need time to just be, wander, tinker and explore.Yet from an early age, with the best of intentions, we pressure our children to achieve more. When facing stressful demands, we pressure ourselves to “try harder.” We schedule every aspect of our day and multi-task, adding more pressure.

Stress can rob us of our ability to concentrate, complete our work and be creative. For instance, you may find yourself in a personal or work relationship that stresses you. Your body reacts by pumping adrenalin, increasing your heart rate and breathing. But what if the stressful situation is difficult to avoid or resolve? What happens then?

Unresolved short-term stress leads to long-term stress: Your body-mind remains in “high gear” for days, weeks, months or years -- producing adrenalin, cortisol and other biochemicals.

Chronic stress causes exhaustion, loss of inner peace and diminished interest in life, because it blocks the physical process by which our body and mind restores and heals itself. We feel anxious, run down and lacking in vitality. We often feel overwhelmed and worried, which may manifest physically as body pains such as stomachaches, backaches, and headaches.

Research has shown that if excessive stress continues for months or years, we are more at risk for disease, including heart problems. (See the “Stress Inventory” by Holmes and Rahe in the next section.)

You may not be able to control certain external events in your life, but you can control the way you perceive and respond to those events. Scientific research has shown that hypnosis produces optimal conditions for continued health: regular heartrate, rhythmic breathing, lowered blood pressure, and a state of relaxed comfort in the body.

In other words, hypnosis is a powerful method for communicating with the body-mind, instructing it to turn off the stress response and turn on the relaxation response.

Since stress can be both a valuable resource for optimum performance and a potential health hazard, it is important to be able to recognize and manage your level of stress. Hypnotherapy and Hypno-Coaching, along with self-hypnosis tools you can easily learn, will enhance your health, performance and emotional well-being through effectively controlling stress.

Make an appointment with Jenny for an individual consultation by Jenny today.

© 2009 by Jenny Davidow

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How Stressed Are You?

by Jenny Davidow

Stress has been shown to lead to changes in the function of the hypothalamus, which mediates the stress response in the central nervous system. As a result, certain antibodies are suppressed and immune function is impaired.

The creators of this Stress Inventory are Drs. Holmes and Rahe.* They are medical researchers who have studied the connection between stressful life events and the onset of disease in more than 5,000 patients. Drs. Holmes and Rahe concluded from their research that mental and physical illness are consistently preceded by a pattern of stress from significant life changes.

Surprisingly, the life events listed in the Stress Inventory are not all negative. Many of the life changes listed would be regarded as positive to a great many people: marriage, birth, a new job, graduation, vacation, increased social activity, and more. In spite of the positive nature of these events, the body-mind tends to react with stress to anything that necessitates a change or adaptation. As a result, each of these life events is associated with some amount of stress, as you will see.

To take the Stress Inventory, think back over the past 12 to 18 months. Check off or circle any of the life events that have happened to you. Then add up the assigned point values and determine the total number of stress points.

After you are done, refer to the scoring guide in the last section.

(*Source: T.H. Holmes and T.H. Rahe, The Social Readjustment Rating Scale.)

STRESS INVENTORY*

Life event -- Point Value
1. Death of a spouse -- 100
2. Divorce -- 73
3. Marital separation -- 65
4. Jail term -- 63
5. Death of a close family member -- 63
6. Personal injury or illness -- 53
7. Marriage -- 50
8. Fired from job -- 47
9. Marital reconciliation -- 45
10. Retirement -- 45
11. Change in health of family member -- 44
12. Pregnancy -- 40
13. Sexual difficulties or change in frequency of sexual relations -- 39
14. Gain of a new family member through birth, marriage or other -- 39
15. Business readjustment -- 39
16. Change in financial state -- 38
17. Death of a close friend -- 37
18. Change to a different line of work -- 36
19. Change in number of arguments with spouse -- 35
20. Mortgage or loan for a major purchase (over $40,000) -- 31
21. Foreclosure of mortgage or loan -- 30
22. Change in work responsibilities -- 29
23. Son or daughter leaving home -- 29
24. Trouble with in-laws -- 29
25. Outstanding personal achievement -- 28
26. Spouse begins or stops work -- 26
27. Starting or finishing school -- 26
28. Change in living conditions -- 25
29. Revision of personal habits -- 24
30. Trouble with boss -- 23
31. Change in work hours or conditions -- 20
32. Change in residence -- 20
33. Change in schools -- 20
34. Change in recreational habits -- 19
35. Change in religious observance or activities -- 19
36. Change in social activities -- 18
37. Mortgage or loan less than $10,000 -- 17
38. Change in sleeping habits -- 16
39. Change in number of family gatherings -- 15
40. Change in eating habits -- 15
41. Vacation -- 13
42. Holidays/Christmas/Hanukkah -- 12
43. Minor violation of the law -- 11

TOTAL SCORE: _____________

Your Score*
(*Source: T.H. Holmes and T.H. Rahe, The Social Readjustment Rating Scale.)

  • If your score is under 150 points, you are in the normal range.
  • A score of 150 or more gives you a 50-50 chance of developing an illness or emotional problems, according to the research of Drs. Holmes and Rahe.
  • A score of 300 or more means that you have, statistically, a 90% chance of developing a significant illness or health change.

If your Stress Inventory score was 150 or more, please use this information as a wake-up call to lower your stress and find healthier ways to deal with unavoidable stress.

Make an appointment for a hypnotherapy or hypno-coaching session by Jenny today.

© Jenny Davidow 2009

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If Your Brain is Awake While Dreaming, What’s it Doing?

©2006 by Jenny Davidow, M.A.

Scientific research now shows that the brain is awake while dreaming and reveals the importance of dreaming to health, emotional well-being and learning.

The startling fact that the brain is fully awake while dreaming has been proven very recently through brain thermography, comparing the brain activity of a dreaming individual to the brain activity of the same person while awake. So, if the brain is awake while dreaming, what is it doing? Research now confirms that the brain is learning.

A study of pregnant women shows the importance of dreaming to health and well-being. One group of pregnant women were asked to simply write their dreams down during their pregnancy. The other group of pregnant women did not do so. Neither group attempted to understand the content of their dreams. Yet, for the group of women who simply remembered and recorded their dreams, their labor and delivery were far shorter, and they suffered significantly less delivery pain, than the control group.

Consider how much you could benefit from the natural learning that dreams offer every night. With a few simple skills, you will improve your sleep and remember your dreams, and even decrease stress and physical discomfort. Further, you can enhance the learning in every dream with easy steps that help you to understand the meaning of your dream symbols and stories. These tools are provided in dream sessions and dream workshops with Jenny Davidow, as well as in Jenny's book, Embracing Your Subconscious, and her CD, Dream Visualizations.

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Common Dreams

  • the lights won't light, or the phone won't connect
  • you're late for a school exam, or you can't find your locker
  • you're being chased by a dark or scary figure
  • you're having a wonderful time with a dream lover
  • your dream lover is great -- but you realize you shouldn't be doing this
  • you are lost, or you can't find your car
  • you're flying high -- feeling light, powerful, playful and happy
  • you're flying, but then you're afraid you're going to fall
  • you're trying to fly, but it's hard to get off the ground
  • you're playing beautiful music
  • you're playing an instrument or performing in front of others, and you can't remember what to do

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About Jenny's Dreams

Jenny has been recording her dreams for 35 years. She used to have recurring tidal wave dreams -- the scary kind -- until she developed the Inner Dialogue steps to help her understand what her tidal wave was trying to tell her. She discovered that the power of the wave was also her power!

Later, Jenny was able to change this recurring dream, conquering her fear of the wave and then riding it for miles. Imagine the energy and confidence of a tidal wave inside of you. It is there, ready to be liberated.

The complete story of Jenny’s tidal wave dreams and instruction on how to do Inner Dialogue on your dreams or waking symbols can be found in Jenny’s book, Embracing Your Subconscious.

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Dream Logic

Did you know? Your dreaming mind is creative, brilliant, and has its own form of logic:

  • All dream symbols are parts of your energy and consciousness.
  • Every detail is there for a reason.
  • All dreams of a single night are related, exploring an issue on many levels at once.
  • A dream message repeats until you understand it and use it in conscious awareness.
  • Symbols grow and change as you reclaim and use their energy: dream images of falling will change to flying, fear to strength, despair to hope, and isolation to loving.

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Healing a Recurring Dream

"Why Do I Feel Lost?"

©2006 by Jenny Davidow, M.A.

At the beginning of the dream workshop, Mary introduced herself and told the group that she’d had a recurring dream in which she felt lost and couldn’t find her way, or she didn’t know where she was going.

"This is not an unusual dream," I told her.

Then Mary added: "Well, I’m 94 years old, and I’ve had this dream my whole life."

Mary went on to share, "I’ve lived my whole life with a sense of being incomplete. A feeling that something is missing." As her goal for the workshop, it was her wish to finally understand these lifelong recurring dreams which she’d had for 90 years.

Mary clearly had set her intention for the workshop.

True to her word, Mary enthusiastically joined in the first visualization and dreamwork exercise, even though her eyes weren’t good enough to see the steps on the sheet I handed out. Her partner read the steps to her, one by one.

During the second visualization, designed to take people deeper to find a new symbol, Mary saw herself at six years old, lying in a hammock under a strong old oak. When asked later to explore the oak tree as a symbol, Mary spontaneously responded, "My father was like that strong old oak. Strong and silent."

Rather than see this jump to her father as a digression away from the oak tree symbol, I sensed there was a reason. I asked her to imagine that her father could speak to her now. I told her, "He is the age he was when you were six years old, so he’s quite a bit younger than you are now. And he can speak to you across time, as if you are still six years old, lying in that hammock."

Having an Inner Dialogue with your parent is something very powerful to do at any age. Your parent may still be living, but there may be unresolved issues that you carry around which are limiting your relationships or your confidence. You may not feel free to take the problem to your actual parent, but with Inner Dialogue, you can explore the feelings and issues for your own benefit.

In Mary’s case, her father had been gone for decades, and she said that she herself was near the threshold to leave this life. Yet there was something important left for her to do, and talking to her father seemed right.

Mary spoke as herself at age six and said to her father, standing there under the oak. "Daddy, I needed your love. Where was it? Where were you?" This was the very first time, Mary told me, that she had voiced this feeling to her father.

Mary then spoke as her father. He said, "I am too old to have a young child and raise her by myself. I didn’t feel equipped to take care of you after your mother died giving birth to you. I’m sorry."

When I heard Mary asking a heartfelt "Where were you, Daddy?" I was reminded of her earlier description of feeling ‘lost’ in dreams. I asked her, "Mary, do you think there might be a connection between your lifelong recurring dreams, with your distress of feeling ‘lost,’ and your feeling a lack of real connection to your father as a child?"

She stopped and took a deep breath. "Oh my goodness!" A look of recognition and relief came with a big smile. "I just had a huge breakthrough," she told me. "To finally understand that ‘lost’ feeling, after 90 years! It’s the breakthrough of a lifetime."

Mary would have been content to stop there, but I suggested that this was a valuable opportunity to take it further -- from insight into action. I suggested to Mary that she could talk to her father every day -- and use this renewed connection to heal herself even more deeply: She could hear from him all the things she’d needed so much for him to tell her as a child: that she’s loveable, and deserving of his love, and smart. She could imagine with all her senses that her Dad was there for her, interested and caring, right now.

"It isn’t logical," I told her. "But in your subconscious there’s really no sense of time -- everything is in the present. So when you hear your Dad lovingly talk to you or when you talk to him, it can help you heal whatever hurt or wound has been there for so many years. And then you can be curious and watch to see if your old ‘lost’ dreams come back or not. Because once you really feel this loving connection with your father, I think that those dreams will not need to come back any more."

Mary was eager to try these daily talks with her father. Was she really communicating with her father, or was she talking with an image of him she’d carried inside her for 90 years? It really didn’t matter to her. She told me she’d never felt loved by him, and that now she understood that was where the ‘lost’ feeling came from. Now, at the end of her life, she was excited to have the tools to help her ease the burden of the past -- and to experience, in the present, a loving and healing connection with her father that could wash over all the years of her life.

(How to have an Inner Dialogue with a parent, living or not, is explained in detail in Jenny’s book, Embracing Your Subconscious.)

Make an appointment for an individual dream session or hypnotherapy session by Jenny today.

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Flying Dreams

©2006 by Jenny Davidow, M.A.

“Angels fly because they take themselves lightly,” says philosopher Alan Watts. To experience a flying dream, we must also take ourselves lightly and recapture some of the playful wonder of a child.

While awake, you can incubate a flying dream by using all of your senses to imagine to a place of transcendent beauty; or you can imagine swooping out of a fall and soaring comfortably above the trees.

When you experience the pleasure of flying in a fantasy while awake, you plant the experience in your subconscious – so you can dream about it later. Your dream flights will become more playful and exciting, and your confidence both awake and dreaming will “soar.” Even more, while in dream flight you can become aware that you are dreaming – and fly across the “lucid” threshold to experience the wonders of another realm of consciousness.

As children, we often fly in our dreams. As we get older, though, many of us lose this natural ability. Instead of the lightness and energy of flying, our dreams get heavy and anxious, sometimes taking the form of falling dreams.

The good news is that you can learn what your flying – and falling – dreams mean on a personal level. And you can also learn how to change the anxiety and fear of falling dreams into the pleasure and freedom of flying dreams.

Surprisingly, falling and flying dreams are connected: the physical sensation is really not that different. With just a little bit of intention and incubation, the anxiety you feel in a falling dream can be transformed into the excitement that propels you into unlimited flight. The degree of freedom to fly in your dreams can help you gauge the degree of freedom you feel to “take off” and be empowered and in charge of your life. There are four basic levels possible for dream flight:

  1. Falling Dreams: You experience your worst fear – that you are falling from a high place and will be hurt or even killed. In these dreams, you feel panicked and out of control. As a symbol or metaphor for your life, falling dreams indicate that you feel afraid or insecure about a certain situation or aspect of your life. Further, the dream may indicate that subconsciously you feel powerless to change a real-life situation into a “safer” experience.
  2. Pleasurable Falling Dreams: Like diving into a pool, you are falling downward, but now it feels more like gliding or flying. Any fear you have is more than compensated by the sensation of pleasure and excitement and the knowledge that you will not be hurt.
  3. “Flapping” Dreams: Like a bird that has wings but cannot fly, you have to work very hard to get off the ground. You may flap your arms vigorously and struggle against gravity to “lift off.” Unlike the burst of energy that comes with successful flying and soaring dreams, when you “flap” the energy is uneven or seems insufficient to get you into the air. The experience is frustrating. Sometimes you may lift off a few feet or inches above the ground, and then you may have fear you will fall.
  4. Flying and Soaring Dreams: You feel like Superman or Wonder Woman. You are in control of your movements and able to direct your flight. You feel confident, powerful and playful. You can go anywhere you want to. As a symbol or metaphor for your life, this power and freedom of flight indicates that you are “taking off” in your life and that you are energized and confident about your goal and accomplishments.

Try visualizing this tonight before bed:

Imagine and feel your dream flight with all of your senses...

You leap into the air and fly. A pleasant surge of energy propels you lightly above the trees. You direct your flight higher, then swoop down and up again. Feel the wind in your hair and on your skin. See the landscape below you. Sing or hum a song as you playfully turn somersaults and dance in the air. Way up here, there is wonder, beauty and power.

© Jenny Davidow, 1996, Excerpted from “Embracing Your Subconscious”

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Dreams: The Magic Mirror

©2002 by Jenny Davidow

We are dreaming ourselves toward wholeness. As we transform our dreams, we transform our lives. You might wonder, how is that possible? We are all "dreaming" 24 hours a day -- unknowingly basing our feelings and behavior on images that flow through us in a constant subconscious stream. These images, whether dreaming or awake, have the power to either limit us in what we think is possible or liberate us to express our fullest potential.

All dreams, at their core, lovingly tell us where we are in our lives and what we need. As if we are looking into a mirror, dreams give us an honest, up to the minute, spontaneous view of ourselves -- and a perspective much larger than that of our conscious self.

The perspective of our dreaming mind takes into consideration the many levels of who we are: mind, body and spirit. The relationships, conflicts, defeats and victories we enjoy or suffer through in dreams are often visible in our waking lives as well -- because the mirror is showing us how our own energy and consciousness are being expressed or held back. Like a loving friend, our dream wisdom offers us reminders, encouragement, and if necessary, warnings to help us stay in balance and create satisfying and loving relationships.

But the wisdom of the mirror doesn’t stop there. The mirror reflects "what is" -- and it is also a magic mirror showing "what can be." The mirror’s energy is so fluid that it can quickly transform, changing fear into confidence, isolation into loving, falling into flying.

Most people do not realize that there are practical ways to work with dreams -- to not only understand their valuable massages, but also to complete the healing impulse of the dream. These steps can be taken while awake, helping you to free the energy and wisdom contained in even the worst, most frightening nightmare.

As you reclaim the energy that has been stuck or hidden in unsatisfying dreams, you also transform difficult symbols into allies, reclaiming their power. In the magic mirror of your dreams, you become more active and confident, seeking and enjoying more creativity and pleasurable expression.

Quite naturally, positive change in your inner landscape of dreams also reflects ways in which your deepest beliefs and expectations -- about who you are and what is possible -- are being transformed. Changes in consciousness on an inner level are always reflected on the outer level, in your waking life. This means that when your dreams transform to express more cooperation, communication and joy, your waking life will mirror this expansive energy and consciousness.

As you understand dream messages and transform your dreams with conscious awareness, you are working with the raw stuff of consciousness, fluid energy. Before long, you will experience lucid dreams, in which you are aware that you are dreaming and recognize all the characters and actions as aspects of your own energy and consciousness. Often, you sense indescribable beauty and oneness with other beings. The lucid state in dreams is also mirrored in waking life: you reach a lucid or "clear" state of awareness more of the time. Barriers of separation dissolve so you can fully embrace all parts of you, seeing yourself and others with loving clarity and compassion.

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"To Fly Without Wings"

Essay on Journaling

by Jenny Davidow, ©2001

Climbing up to the high scaffold of a trapeze, knees wobbly, I stand on the edge. I waver in the face of writing as honestly as I can, unsure there’s a safety net below. Part of me wants to pull back, afraid I can’t reach out far enough to grab the swing bar and take off. But I know I have to take this risk in order to be fully alive. It takes courage to kick out into empty space.

Recently, I learned that Anne Frank hid her diaries in her father’s briefcase. When Anne’s family was forced into hiding, the briefcase was hidden with them in the Secret Annex, which was up a stair, concealed behind a bookcase.

Anne was hiding her writing, while in hiding herself. Her father’s strong leather briefcase offered a sense of protection and privacy to her diary, the same way her father’s presence gave her security in those uncertain times. No one would dare pry into Mr. Frank’s locked briefcase, and Anne knew this. Now Anne’s diary rested snugly inside this little oasis of privacy, along with the business papers Mr. Frank no longer needed.

I remember the intense excitement and recognition I felt at fourteen when I first read Anne’s diary. Her certainty inspired me. She never doubted the worthiness of telling her story - through recording her thoughts, feelings and observations of others.

Looking at my teenage journals from thirty years ago, I realize that I learned three lessons from Anne Frank: I wrote to remember I was alive. I wrote to know I had a voice. I wrote to say I would survive.

But a fourth lesson eluded me: Anne wrote the truth. I hid the truth by not writing it down. Rather than hiding my notebooks in a briefcase or the linen closet, I hid them by writing only what would not reveal too much, would not incriminate me.

With wariness of my mother’s prying, I attempted to say the dangerous truth and not say it at the same time. My desire to be free - but not too free - led me to develop my own code of partial truth, one I did not know how to break. I wrote only half the story, sketching the outlines of my experience, but never filling in all the details, the shading of dark and light, the color. By cleaning up my thoughts for Mom and posterity, I lost touch with half of my humanity: the intimate, uncensored, juicy parts of myself.

I could have tried Anais Nin’s solution to this dilemma, to keep two diaries: one a false front, and one which told the truth but presented it deceptively as fiction. A half-solution, this convoluted way of preserving the truth would have left me with a split identity, a false self to present to others and an authentic self which I felt I had to hide.

Writing summed up my life struggle: do I stay hidden or do I risk flying? Words can be walls of cool stone to hide behind. Or they can be rope bridges, swinging uncertainly above a deep canyon, connecting me to others.

For twenty-five years, my journal kept me going through the toughest times. It was a friend, as Anne described it, “more patient than man.” Yet I became discontented. I did not feel more alive while writing in it, did not feel more aware from reading it, did not feel more connected to others by the very partial descriptions and stories within it. I wanted more - more of myself and more of the world. I wanted to touch the raw feeling that made me want to run away from myself and others. I wanted to take off my disguises and discover what was underneath, to meet myself and the truth without flinching.

I am not like Anne Frank, who was horribly deprived of freedom. But now I have learned her fourth lesson: I know that writing the truth keeps me free. Rather than being a retreat from living, an escape from the push and pull of life, writing my full story is as brave an assertion as swinging high above the earth on a trapeze.

Anne couldn’t walk openly in the streets, but she found liberation in her diary. Her mind and heart were fresh and free and courageous. The pages of her diary, dumped out of the briefcase and scattered on the floor when she was taken away, turned out to be one of the most honest and enduring personal histories of any era. The world came alive in her diary because her story was completely told. She described with equal honesty not just her own experience, but the bravery and fear of all the people in the Secret Annex.

It takes courage to write the truth. When I write without holding back and share my writings with others, I feel more room inside me, the uplifting sensation of deliverance. Writing helps me to be who I am. I feel connected to other people, and that connection vibrates in my core and out into the world.

This essay appears in the anthology, “The Spirit of Writing”

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