Journey. How Poetry Saved My Life

"there is only one journey" quote by rilke

There is only one journey. Going inside yourself.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

This one’s for you is you’ve ever said, “Thank God for poets.”

Of maybe you’ve said thank God (or Goddess or the Universe) for writers, artists, teachers…

As for me, I’ve said Thank God for Poets (and Poetry) so many times it’s like a mantra.

You see, it was through the doorway of poetry that I first made the connection between artmaking and healing.

I can’t say exactly how.

But I can remember sitting in the stacks of the Arlington Heights, Illinois library. Sitting right there on the carpeted floor in the poetry aisle, pulling hardcover books off the shelves like medicine. This is where I found refuge after a particularly “difficult” year.

I’m putting the word “difficult” in air quotes, because, well… difficult is wildly understating it.

I was sixteen years old and had just gotten my driver’s license. Literally my first thought upon getting that license was, “Good. Now I can drive to any library I want.”

Before that, barely a year earlier, I was in a locked psych ward. Before that, I was in the hospital hooked up to a bunch of machines after I came out of a coma. Before that, I tried to off myself by overdosing on whatever combination of street drugs and prescription drugs I could choke down with a quart of vodka.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’ve never wrote about my suicide attempt publicly. I’ve barely even talked about it with people who know me well.

But this is what happens when I open up my creative process and share. We’ll see where this goes.

Thank God for poets.

As a kid who got a do-over and didn’t die, I felt so grateful for poets.

To me, these were people with as much despair as me—or more. But they also had the hope, love, faith, courage, or something, that compelled them to actually sit down and try to connect their inner world of feelings with the outer world of words.

To turn that despair into art.

Maybe I could do that, too, I wondered.

It’s by reading that I learned one can turn suffering (or any strong emotion) into art. So I started writing every day, privately in my journal. This became my new lifeline and my creative practice.

Maybe I’m writing this, right now, so that you can take heart when you sit down and dare to write.

Take heart. Take courage.

Whether you are daring to write your private thoughts in your own journal, or you are daring to write your poetry, or a memoir, or a novel…or your own blog post. Maybe you’re in the throws of publishing.

By all means do it.

You never know who might connect with your words.

You may never know how your words or your example are a lifeline for someone you’ll never meet.


Journey: 30 Day Journal Project with Lisa Sonora30 Day Journal Project

This post is part of the 30 Day Journal Project. Our theme for 2017 is the Creative Journey.

You can get the whole scoop and join the 30 Day Journal Project here. It’s free to participate.

For now, here are today’s writing prompts inspired by poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

Writing prompts for your journal…

The journey I long to take…
This journey is inspired by…
Going inside myself looks like…

Video Writing Prompts

I’ve tried something new with this year’s 30 Day Journal Project and created a video of the writing prompts. I read the prompts to you, as you write along. Just like I do in my workshops.

Audio Writing Prompts

Prefer plain audio? You can get an .mp3 of today’s prompts

Journey: How Poetry Saved My Life, blog post

17 Responses to Journey. How Poetry Saved My Life

  1. Nicole Hague-Andrews February 6, 2017 at 7:13 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    I have been participating in your thirty day journal series, and on the back of that was inspired to take your ‘bundle’ of online classes last year…dreaming on paper, creative practice and seven creative powers. In a confusing plethora of online journaling classes I keep coming back to yours. Lucid, no silly gimmicks, authentic, rich and deep. Thankyou that you had the courage to share your own journey in order that others may benefit, I think that’s the definition of a gift.
    I would love to join in one of your passport travels one day, but for now filling sketch books with colour is more than enough, putting the essential component of play back into education and self discovery…
    Growing into my own strength with heart is my intention for this year…creative love to you, Nicole

    • Lisa Sonora February 6, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      Nicole – Thank you so much for sharing your experience with my online classes. It means a lot to get your feedback, because there are so many classes to choose from (yay!) but hard to discern which suit our style of learning and absorbing material.

      The classes are about to get even better (that’s my intention) as I’m in the process of putting everything in video tutorials to go along with the photo and text tutorials.

      I’ll look forward to greeting you on a creative passport adventure, when the time and place are right for you.

      Until then, I’m so glad you’re filling your own sketchbooks. It IS enough. Creative love right back at you! xoxo

  2. Kathy Kirby February 4, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Great idea – I’ve joined in with the first prompt .. you can see it here

    Many thanks


  3. Carolyn B February 4, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    This brought tears to my eyes! Such a beautiful person, such a beautiful soul almost lost! This gives me so much more to think about in my own journey and journaling. I started this to help me grasp my creativity, and now I think it’s just right there in front of me, if I just open up. Thank you Lisa!

  4. Teresa February 4, 2017 at 7:06 am #

    Lisa, your sharing means so much to so many of us. It is courageous and generous.I am so grateful to you for showing me your way of journaling, the sketchbooks, and your kindness. You have reconnected me to a creative self that I’d somewhat suppressed. It has been helping me navigate the life changes that I have been experiencing and those I am now actually planning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Rena February 4, 2017 at 3:55 am #

    Thanks again, Lisa for being brave and sharing your words with us. I am in again for the ” Journey”. It sounds like you have another book in you that needs to be released. Blessings to you dear one for being the light that you are. Much Love, Rena

  6. Angie Trianta February 3, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    Your vulnerability, courage and braveness are your shining light in this world. This post resonated with me and touched me deeply, Lisa. Writing saved my life as well. I love how this is your purpose for doing the 30 Day Project. I’ve not yet taken the next step on my journey to share my words, my story…I feel ready and inspired by your example to do so. Thank you. xxx

    • Lisa Sonora February 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

      Angie! I am so proud of you. i know that so many need to hear your story. Much love coming your way!

  7. JoAnn February 3, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    dear Lisa,

    with deep gratitude for your open sharing heart and truth, sharing your practices through 30 Day offering and all your workshops, and for the great gift of you – in our lives, in our world –

    aho sister!

    peace ~

  8. Michelle Casserley February 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    Yay! Love that this year the hidden becomes open. Thank you for your courage you amazing woman…love you xxx

  9. Tanya February 3, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

    And…I LOVE that quote! It is exactly how I feel and experiencing.

    • Lisa Sonora February 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      Good! I hope you try the writing prompts, too!

  10. Tanya February 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    Oh how this post touched me so. Writing in my journal probably saved my life many times. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Emily Cline February 3, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

    You brave-ass, gorgeous genius you. I heart you. Thank you for setting the bar so high with your vulnerable, incredible, creative self. xo

    • Lisa Sonora February 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

      OMG! Emily! this means so much to me. Thank you so so much! Love and miss you chica!

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