About Life Writing
I was shocked that, as I was writing, new revelations were pouring onto the page giving me clarity and understanding of the hardest parts of my life. I have done lots of therapy and counseling, but writing privately and pointedly gives an opportunity to explore the deepest trenches of your heart, where no one else can enter. I so appreciate the steps forward I was able to take as a result of this program.
I gained much more than I could have imagined. …Often I’d write so purposefully a lightbulb would go off and I knew instantly my healing was happening. I could feel my younger self detaching from her burdens and letting present me in to bear witness to the understanding. I never had to remove any part of me. I was able to just accept myself. Accept my life, my loved ones and most importantly myself. For the first time in my life I know myself, I trust myself. Those are the things I gained that I never consciously knew I needed.
I wanted to share a memory that just popped into my head from the last session; I don't have a car so I was walking home after our last meeting and I was pretty overcome with emotion but somehow felt more clarity than I have in what seemed like as long as I can remember. I stopped to watch the clouds move across the sky for a bit and sit with my emotions and for the first time in years I genuinely felt as though things were going to be ok. I am a big music person, and this song came on shuffle, and it was so harmonious to how I was feeling that I burst out into happy tears- for once I didn't try to stop them and let myself feel fully and deeply because I trusted in myself to know that I could handle the scope of my emotions.
The irony of the Life Writing for me was that writing about me and how I felt made me more in tune with the emotions, experiences and possible realities of my loved ones. Obviously, I don’t know but I was more empathetic to their experiences which then made me more understanding and forgiving. …To write it down and see it on paper I could read it and acknowledge that it has happened in the past, I’m safe and I overcame ALL of that and I’m still here. The deep reflection helped me to achieve clarity without the cloudiness of…blame!
Two hours every week for eight (8) weeks felt like a huge time commitment. Once I started Life Writing it didn’t feel like enough time to dedicate to myself. It’s two hours solely dedicated to working on yourself. In those few hours I found myself digging up memories that I tried so hard to swallow. Writing it…truly felt like I was literally purging the sadness out of my body. …There is a huge difference between simply thinking about your feelings and writing them down…
Despite being out to friends and being in long term relationships with women, I never broached the subject of sexuality with my family because I was so petrified of the mass of hurt that I would encounter as a response - I didn’t want to add to the web or create new narratives of trauma. Now, I am so resolute in my sense of self and capacity to process my emotions that I am making plans to have these conversations after years and years of avoidance.
I feel like this was a very enlightening experience. I feel free now to explore life and all it has to offer. I found that I can forgive those who wronged me in the past. I feel validated. Like a weight has been lifted off my mind, heart, and soul.
Learning how to write through the eyes of myself, my younger self, gave me the freedom and opportunity to let go in so many ways. … I have begun the task of taking ownership for my future and choosing to allow closure and forgiveness to bring joy into my life. What a process this was - I am beyond thankful for this experience and opportunity to peel back the layers that have held me back.
I’ve tried different ways of dealing with my issues. Nothing seemed to work. This group, as hesitant as I was, has been a major stepping stone on the path I need to be on. Had me addressing situations I wasn’t even aware was bothering me. I was able to get closure with things without addressing it with that individual. Directed me with a more effective way of coping with situations. I’ve addressed suppressed issued that are now just memories, no longer burdens of my past; just my past.
Before life writing, I didn't really know who I was—I hadn't owned my story, my life, my past. I felt lost. The process of life writing has changed me. I know more about myself, I am confident that I can feel and own an emotion, and call it mine. I have met my life story, head on, and I have learned to live with and even love the parts I hadn’t before. I’ve learned that being myself is the best person to be. And even more than all these things, even bigger than becoming more assertive, confident, and resilient…I have been taught to live life fully, completely, without inhibitions or worries about what other people might think. I have realized that who I am, and what I’m about, is something the world needs to see more of. The world is waiting for me, and I want to spend the rest of my life, giving my very best to the world. ~Justine, NY
After having completed the writing series, the knot in the pit of my stomach, for the first time, is not there. I feel lightness, freedom, flexibility, openness and acceptance inside. And a much greater capacity to love myself and others. This has truly been an amazing experience. ~ Liala, GA
Despite being out to friends and being in long term relationships with women, I never broached the subject of sexuality with my family because I was so petrified of the mass of hurt that I would encounter as a response - I didn’t want to add to the web or create new narratives of trauma. Now, I am so resolute in my sense of self and capacity to process my emotions that I am making plans to have these conversations after years and years of avoidance. Thank you infinitely for creating this atmosphere that is so universal. ~Sophia, NY
I am honored - through the process of life-writing - to connect more deeply to my essential nature and to recognize again, the rightness of my work as a psychiatrist. ~ Kristen, Psychiatrist, NY
This felt really different. I wrote out my stories with a beginning, middle, and end and found that monologuing to myself about my past and about who I was and what I was thinking was harder than I imagined. It felt different than participating in a dialogue with someone. It forced me to really look at myself and connect with what I was putting down on the page in a way I've never felt before with other forms of self expression and communication." ~Emma, NY
This has brought me an interesting feeling of relief and gives my heart such tremendous satisfaction. I've noticed through my writing that the things I thought were affecting me, were not really important. Through my writing I found moments that had a huge impact on me and I had no idea the intensity of their worth. I compare life writing to cleaning out from underneath your bed. Things fall down there, things get tucked away, you may even intentionally hide things down there. Life Writing allows you to go through these things that are hidden down underneath and determine their worth to you. Things that are not meaningful-you throw out; pictures or memories that have sentimental value, you store neatly in their proper places. Once you've finished, you have decluttered your space and can breathe a sigh of relief. No more mess. No more baggage. ~ Daaiyah, GA
This is hard but everything tells me this is exactly where I need to be. ~ Michelle, NY
It's astounding how compelled I am to write between conference calls. ~ Siobhan, NY
I appreciated the peaceful, isolated time set aside to do this. I now have a lot better understanding of the why of so many things –especially in my immediate family and in regards to my boyfriend. I am also very calmed by this group and see the purpose of the community in this work. ~ Judith, NY
" ...in the face of some very undesirable conditions that will change someday, hopefully, strangely enough, I am not depressed for the first time in what seems like forever. It isn't that I am not sad.... It isn't that ever-present feeling though like it used to be. ~Daniel, NY
"I felt myself evolving through the life writing process." ~ Stephan, NY
"I'm amazed. I've done a lot of work on myself already and I'm surprised at how this seems to tap important things. I'm fascinated by it. Wow." I find your work very complimentary to other course I’m taking and am deeply grateful for how it found me. We live in challenging times but, having said that I also see so much good going on—your workshop being one! ~ Siobhan, NY
I loved the writing. I very much appreciate that you leave some thinking time for your questions to sink in. Tonight's writing has left me wanting to write more. I feel a door has been opened. …. I can see myself getting up tomorrow morning, hopping in the shower and getting on with my day. ~ Kim, NY
This was very powerful. One of the exercises surprised me. It clarified a key thing I needed to have change. Thank you for the work you do! Aihi, I was very touched by tonight's session. I have been told several times in my life that I do not let people get to know me, that I am superficially friendly but then people hit a wall of my self-protectiveness. It was very moving for me to feel seen by people and that I allowed myself to be seen. Thank you for that gift. ~ Sharon, NY
I overall have less barriers or walls when it comes to meeting strangers because now I do believe we are one. I am more comfortable in my own skin around others who I might have prejudged or thought could not relate to me. ~Tina, NY
I saw how attached I was when I called back a couple of times to the conference, eventually it kicked in to me that it was over. That must be tough work trying to figure out how to end such a powerful process. ~Natasha, NY
This morning while meditating, I was able to go back and forth from past to present bringing a lot of memories into focus. It was great. One of the miracles I love the most is to receive something at just the right time. Your course, and this book are real treasures right now. I am so grateful. ~ Cathy, AL
Tonight's writing has left me wanting to write more. Thanks again... ~Kim, NY
Life writing has helped me realize my goal of becoming a fully functioning happy and emotionally healthy adult. I took the course when I was 21. The course also gave me powerful tools for dealing with current difficult events productively. The skills and habits gained from Life Writing are helping me process complications in an extremely productive manner. Because of Life Writing, I am leaps and bounds ahead of the curve in my ability to deal with and learn from life's complications. I am not sure I would have ever had the courage to do that without Aihi's help and for that I am grateful. ~Daniel, NY
"I found this to be incredibly useful. It differs so much from traditional methods which force you to face an issue abruptly and openly with someone you barely know. This allows you to touch upon issues only as far as you let it go, and there is no pressure to share since change is happening within by simply writing words on a page. I found myself more free, inspired, yet still full of emotion after the first session. My favorite part is that you don't have to leave with any action items other than letting your newly found feelings marinate over the course of the week. I am so excited to learn more about this process which I believe would be an innovative and effective way to reach out to individuals from different backgrounds and bridge the gaps defined by today's society." ~Katherine, NY
"I participated in Life Writing during my sophomore year in college. I did not know exactly what to expect from this program; I figured that Life Writing would just be one extended journal writing exercise, but it did so much more for me than basic journal writing could ever do. Life Writing really dug deep and helped me put what I want for my future into perspective. Aihi taught me a way through which to understand my past, come to terms with it, and move on. Life Writing is an invaluable tool that I will take with me from Cornell University and use for the rest of my life." ~ Ashemsa, NY
"…getting it out,…talking to you, but more talking to myself. Saying things I wouldn’t normally say, but because of your questions, it's making me aware of myself..... I wouldn’t even have started.... Things would have been still hanging, you see, in my background. And, like I said, it’s only like until we did the thing on the paper…the mind map…. It gives you the reality. Plus we started out with the past. So there was a lot, a lot that was uncovered. So you have no idea, that maybe didn’t get in the record…but it made me think…there was a lot of stuff that I never said. We never had enough time. There was a lot I had to think through. You started something in that class and I’m not going to stop until it’s done. [I wish] more of the guys had come to the class. It could have touched everybody." ~Anonymous, GA
“It was real helpful…in changing, even back in my childhood days, some things I had to cope with. I was able to forgive…and…put the past behind and…look toward the future. Everything is out of the way. I just have to go about getting everything in process by doing things." ~Anonymous, GA
"This helped clear the clutter from my mind, heart, and soul, leaving a safe space for creativity, love, and growth. People for whom I previously had little respect, I now understand better and am more able to forgive. ~ Christa, NY
"[The workshops] helped me to speak out more. You have to let a person know where you are, if not they will just keep on doing what they want to do and you will still be in the same little bind, scared to speak out. ...When we started talking about our child-life and how we went on about that….By just sitting down expressing, discussing about each person’s... stuff. It helped me a lot because it released me." ~Anonymous, GA
"I knew this would provoke a consciousness of unresolved issues, but I did not comprehend the degree that this would help me process and purge those issues."
~ Willie, NJ
"When I heard you speak, I knew this is what I need. I’m excited about your workshops. It’s like once you get some of the old garbage out, digging in talking about your past and stuff, it gives you a more solid foundation to go on. The best thing about it for me was when we did the sessions sharing about our visions.... You know,…[that] was a big, big thing for me." ~Anonymous, GA
"This is very powerful, because when it's just you and the paper, there are no defenses from the truth, as felt by your heart. Aihi creates an involved, deeply personal space where people can experience unresolved issues and channel those emotions into building a personal, lasting, and coherent sense of purpose. Given the experiences and insight that we're gaining from this, me and a group of others doing this work would like to expand it to the general youth of the community. We believe that a community outreach program of this nature would help youth (especially those at-risk of making destructive decisions as a function of their experiences) to cope, and construct and apply a meaningful sense of purpose and direction to their lives." ~Joanna, NY
"I was able to dig deep within myself and think about the people closest to me."
~ Anonymous, NY
Life Writing has helped me find myself in ways that I would have never thought. Initially going into this project, I didn’t really think I needed it or that it would really have any affect on me. I usually write when I have something bothering me, and I already was confident in who I am and knew what I wanted in life. I was also mentally stable and didn’t have many fears in my life that I was avoiding. Because of all these things, I felt that the Life Writing Project would just be something nice to do, but not particularly beneficial to me. These initial thoughts changed as weeks progressed and meetings became more intense. This project really allowed me to understand myself better, learning why I do some of the things I do and why I have some of the relationships that I have. It helped me to think back on events of my childhood and finally put closure to them. This project was refreshing, self-building, and healthy. And everyone, no matter where they are in life, should experience this."
~ Marian, NY
"I appreciated having focused time set aside each week to think and write about the important relationships in my life. Life writing gave me a chance to start to clarify what I would like to do next in my life and to see what type of obstacles I tend to put in my own path." ~ Jen, NY
"There's some healin' goin' on!" ~ Ira, NY
I wish to let you know how greatly your work and studies have affected my life. I’ve been meaning to put down in words how grateful I am for the work we did in the lifewriting sessions. Looking back on the past two years since I completed the lifewriting workshops, many great things have happened in my life. It was just recently that I made the connection between the great and mighty changes in my life to the reflections and concentrated efforts of writing through my life’s experiences. Daaiyah, GA
Aihi's ability to navigate and to integrate the personal with the professional is nothing short of magical. ~R. Levine, Social Worker, Owner, Mindful Elder-Care
It is so rare to be given permission to speak our truths and be respectfully heard. What I can offer without reservation is my appreciation for the work that you are doing and for how much of yourself you bring to your work with us. May the love that you so freely offer us come back to bless you many times over. Warmly, ~Masani, NY
The workshop series was deep and meaningful. For me, it brought to the surface the issues that I thought I had resolved, but now know still need work. The atmosphere was professional. The participants were so open and it was a space of safety and trust. I highly recommend this series to anyone seeking the gift of truth. Aihi led with professionalism, care and deep respect. ~Joan, NY
Creating a climate of acceptance and some boundaries for the group was good. I never felt ill at ease. I felt that Aihi was in control and had a good handle on where she wanted to take the group. ~ Cathy, AL
"Marilou Awiakta, an Indigenous Cherokee author and former translator for the U.S. Air Force, has noted that "all people have poetry in them. Some can't write it, but the poet can listen intently to what people say and send it out into the world. It's a process of translation for the people." I love this quotation because it crystallizes what this has taught and done for me. Aihi too is a poet and a translator, giving voice and story to all of us, no matter how little poetry we think we have." ~ Irene, NY
I came to appreciate the life writing process as a powerful tool for individual growth & development. And Aihi really knows her stuff! Her expert, gentle, and nonjudgmental guidance allows group members to learn and grow together. Thanks, Aihi! I have really enjoyed this process -- understanding life writing from the inside and experiencing you as you guide others in the life writing process --- so wonderful! ~ Risa, Psychotherapist, NJ
"I would recommend this type of work to everyone I know. Aihi has an incredible talent for helping others analyze and clarify their life experiences and memories as well as helping others find the meaning of them. She cares deeply about all of the individuals she presents this rewarding experience to and she improved my quality of life.” ~Paola, NY
"I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say this. Aihi was a very very important part of my life, because there was no one to listen to me. I had people around me, my family, but, you know, I guess they say, “Get over it girlfriend. You’ll be alright." I was about to have nervous breakdown. Really, I believe I think I already had one, but didn’t realize it. I was just barely functioning. The workshops make the difference in my life –the communication, the talking. I was able to sit down and express myself. It took a while because I’m not the type of person…use to be the type of person that didn’t open up, but now I do. I don’t know how to express it. I don’t know the words for it. It was Aihi. The way she was always there and always made herself down to earth. She always started out with the way things worked out for herself and the way things happened to her. It was like she wasn’t sitting interviewing, sitting there pure. I don’t know how to put it into words. I walked around for a long time with something on my heart that I wouldn’t tell anybody, and I was able to let other people know about it and that was liberating. [I just needed someone to reach out to me." ~ Anonymous, GA
Aihi has an unerring instinct for what is sound and valuable. ~ James, GA
Thanks for your courage, humor and leadership. You rock! :-) ~Michelle, NY
And you, Aihi--just love you! : ) I so appreciate you taking the time to see something wonderful in each of us. To let us know that we have potential, and possibilities, and that we are amazing people. Every time you listen to us, I feel heard, and every time you share with us, I feel strength. I have to say, this life writing is one of the best things that's happened to me. Thank you so much for this gift! ~Justine, NY
I am so happy to have been a part of your life story. Thank you for introducing me to life writing which has changed the way I view my life and how I interact with those around me. This will forever be a part of who I am. I am so grateful! All the best,
~ Kathy H. NY
Aihi, you are truly an inspiration to me. I trust you with my heart and my feelings. I tore out a few pages from my journal that I want to share with you as feedback and an update expressing how lifewriting has helped me to grow and move forward in my life. Thank you for following your dreams and for helping me to realize mine. ~Daaiyah, GA
I need to thank you once again for everything that you have brought into my life by sharing yours. I feel so different than I was just a few short weeks ago and knowing that I could count on such a safe place to land gave me the courage to truly let me trust the process. I look forward to future correspondence and please call on me if I can share my experience and express my gratitude. ~Chrissy, NY
I appreciate your efforts and your kindness. Khetam, NY