The Power of Story

As you probably already know, I’m doing cancer treatment right now. It’s a difficult process during a difficult time for us as human beings. So, it’s not easy, in fact it’s pretty tough. But is it doable? Yes. And not as bad as it could be? Yes.

There really is so much good in this world — beautiful people, edifying messages, helpful caring behavior, and many wonderful things. But sometimes it’s hard to maintain my focus on them because the difficult, negative, concerning, and fearful stuff is so ridiculously loud.

So, what do I do? Among other things, I turn to possibility thinking, and creative thinking and doing. Lately my creative doing has been writing — in particular poetry and the stories I tell myself.

It’s amazing really, how deeply my thoughts and stories impact my emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Do the words I choose, and the stories I tell, actually change my situation? Hmmm … that’s a tough question because they answer is no, and yes. Or perhaps to quote John Daly from the old What’s My Line show, “We’ll give you a qualified yes.”

What I mean is, even with all the positivity I can muster, even with all the real, beautiful, true things I notice and tell myself, there is currently still Covid, still unrest, and still cancer. However, and it’s a big however, the words I speak, and the stories I tell – to myself and others – make a difference. They make a difference in how I see things. They make a difference in how I react to things. And, they make a difference in how my body, mind, and spirit are able to manage the battles they are fighting.

I still remember working with my brother on his Strength Training for Fencers book. He wanted me to being able to power clean half my body weight. After laughing, I embraced the task. Much like now, it wasn’t easy. But, the ease of the task, and my experience of the weight on the bar, changed depending on what I said as I approached the task. When I approached it with an inner conversation of “yikes this is a lot of weight” I experienced it as such. When I coached myself through it differently “You’ve got this, it’s not that heavy” I had a completely different experience. As amazing, or unbelievable, as it may sound, the weight of the bar appeared to be less, and the task was easier, when I told myself it would be.

Our bodies and minds are incredible creations. They hear what we say, and act accordingly. There’s a doctor who suggests our brain is our second immune system. She suggests it isn’t our immune system that gives up first, but our brain. Our brain decides it’s hopeless and says, “We can’t do this.” Our immune system hearing it, says “Oh, we can’t do this? Ok.” and lays down its arms in defeat.

With all that in mind, I turned to the power of story — in particular written story through poetry. I found an online poetry workshop — or perhaps it found me — that has been perfect for my purpose.

Our first task was awe. Notice the things around us and be in awe of them — the big and the small, the extraordinary and the very ordinary. Our second task was making meaning. Find the things in our lives that mean something to us, remind us of something or someone, speak the truth to us, and then look even deeper, and articulate that meaning for ourselves and others.

Here are my poems. I used a photograph for the first poem’s illustration to show the detail and reality of my words. I sketched the illustration for the second poem — taking artistic liberty — so I could enhance the meaning. The orange pill really is quite tiny – not even 1/2 an inch long. It doesn’t say cancer crusher on it in real life – but wouldn’t it be fabulous if it did? And the plate is not covered with roses. But the story — the meaning — is about the shower of roses and blessing, and the power infused into that tiny orange cancer crushing pill.

I hope you enjoy the stories I tell. Perhaps even more so, I hope you are inspired and encouraged to write and tell your story. There really is power in the written word. Take the risk and write. You don’t have to share it with anyone but yourself. Perhaps you will, but either way, the power is there. It’s changing things with every letter written, and every word and sentence formed.

I Am in Awe of My Silver Icon by M. James, June 30, 2020

I am in Awe of My Silver Icon

I am in awe of my silver icon
created by hands
that love the Lord
delivered by hands
that love me

She stands
surrounded by affirmations
prayers and
blank pages
waiting to be filled

She is
Protectress and
of goodness and connection
through time
with great love
to me
~M. James, June 30, 2020

Gather and Speak by M. James July 2, 2020

Gather and Speak

Pink roses
adorn the sides of my cup
reminding me I’m not alone

Therese is letting fall
a shower of roses
from heaven itself

Her loving hands send graces
as we gather at the altar and speak
saints angels and me

A small orange pill
rests in my hands
I ask that it may be blessed

May its power be increased
by the prayers love and presence
gathered here

I set the pill
upon the pink rimmed plate

Then I speak
to my beautiful body
the house of my sacred spirit

Do not fear
do not resist
be brave

Embrace and welcome
this little orange pill
with joyful hope

Accept it as a gift and
magnify its efficacy
with your courageous participation
~M. James, July 2, 2020


15 thoughts on “The Power of Story

  1. Molly I look forward to your work, be it prose or poetry, celebrating your art or teaching or crushing your cancer. YOU ARE ALIVE. I get inspiration to kick my own can further. Howard my husband is a target for COVID-19, as if 18 conditions weren’t enough, one third are immuno compromised. Pray for me as I do for you to keep your hope alive. Howard does daily. The poems were great. Grace Ibanez Friedman Good luck on your journey. May God bless you and keep you strong.


    • Grace! I love that my blog is a way for us to stay connected, and that it’s an inspiration to you.
      I hear ya about the difficulties of being immunocompromised. Just do all you can to protect yourselves — stay in, wash your hands, breathe, pray, think positive thoughts, and maintain hope for the future.
      You and Howard are in my prayers. Thanks SO much for keeping me in yours.
      God bless you too, my friend.


  2. This was so incredibly inspiring. I totally see the power of approach to anything in my own life, and I love the sound of your poetry workshop. This piece gave me so much to consider, and I am bookmarking it to reread later. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m praying for you in your cancer crushing journey.


  3. “The words I speak, and the stories I tell – to myself and others – make a difference. They make a difference in how I see things. They make a difference in how I react to things. And, they make a difference in how my body, mind, and spirt are able to manage the battles they are fighting.” – such a profound truth. I read your words and I can feel your strong and beautiful spirit. You have power of words and creativity not only to take care of yourself but also plenty to share with others. Stay strong.


  4. Molly,
    Your words are a gift, your resilience is not only inspiring, but impressive. I wish I could sit across from you and chat while you sip from your rose covered mug. It is a honor to read your poetry. I am praying for you.


    • Thanks, Ruth! That means a great deal to me. That would be fabulous to have tea and chat with you. Perhaps some day. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your prayers, and your awesome words.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There is much here, a thoughtful expression of your current experiences. I noticed all that. I think it is interesting how the power of story works in the minds of readers, too. For me, I wrapped my mind around your mention of being a fencer. I took in the deeper messages but this mention captured my attention. In High School I fenced(many long years ago :)). So I took a detour of thought into those long forgotten memories and the enjoyment of that sport. Reading is like that sometimes when our thoughts intermingle with the intents of the author and construct alternative meaning.


    • That is super cool! Fencing is such a great sport. I started fencing in HS as well – many years ago. I’ve had the pleasure to stay involved as a competitor and coach. So glad I was able to remind you of happy fencing memories. What weapons did you fence? Foil?


      • Yes it was the foil. It was almost fifty years ago. It was fun remembering. The padded jacket, the mask and the foil. All very exotic to my teenage self as I was the only one in my friendship group to take up this sport for a semester or two. Lovely that you extended your experience into later life. πŸ™‚


      • I started fencing about 42 years ago. Amazing how things change and stay the same. Still super cool and I love it. Difference is woman now fence all three weapons! So I’ve moved from foil to epee which is a great game!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The strength of inner positivity has amazing healing powers. In me, I never know where it leads or what’s around the corner, but I stand assured that whatever comes is for my own benefit (whatever it may mean) and the acquiring of grace. Creativity is such a divine gift, a powerful energy flow to help me ride the waves of life. Thank you for the poetry website link, I’ll meet you thereπŸ’™


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