Haiku by 8 year old, plus Guest on Radio Show

by Sheila Finkelstein on April 27, 2016

Haiku for Healing

Image from “Always Love: Finding the Light in the Darkness – Caregiver Tips”

I felt honored recently to be interviewed by Bert Copple as his guest on the Caregiver Cafe Radio show, Tuesday, April 26.  We spoke of using Haiku for stress reduction and much more.

In the Metro Detroit, MI area the show was live-streamed and could be heard on the web in many areas throughout the country.  I’ll post the replay link here once it’s available.

During our time together, I was particularly impressed with Bert’s considering throughout this past week about ways Haiku writing [3 lines – 5 – 7 – 5 syllables] could be used by Caregivers in working with their loved ones and/or clients.  He reflected: “One might think ‘How am I going to capture emotions and feelings…into just 17 syllables?'”

The “Icing on the Cake” for me was Bert’s story on how he decided to “test” some of his thoughts with his just-turned-eight-years-old son Brady.  As he was tucking Brady into bed, the latter declared, “You know, Dad, the bed’s so cold, I can’t fall asleep.”

Bert continued his story stating: “Thinking about what I read on your website, I got the idea to get Brady to refocus. I told him, ‘I have an idea. Let’s write a Haiku about how your bed’s cold.'”
Bert then  went on to explain Haiku to his son.

Within 5 minutes of working together, Brady declared:
“Cold bed freezes toes
Heart-racing warming my nose
Tucked in tight. Good night.”

Pretty awesome, especially for an 8-year old, wouldn’t you agree?

I was moved and close to tears, particularly as Bert continued:

“Here’s what I noticed… What I loved about this is that as he was writing, he got to share and express his emotions and his feelings… he felt validated and he got heard…In the process of doing it, the environment around him changed. His bed became warmer. He became more comfortable…

He took a situation that was not good, that he was not happy about in his little 8-year-old body and brain and he was able to all-of-a sudden transform it into a piece of art and use that artful expression to help calm himself down.”

Amongst the elements playing on my emotions were:

1 – How Haiku opened up new experiences with father and son… perhaps an even greater bonding;
2 – The actual demonstration of how things were altered for Brady in his environment;
3 – The using of the experience to transform, as Bert said, negative into a positive;
4 – The clear example of how transferable the writing of Haiku could be for easing and providing relief in so many situations.

As the interview continued, Bert asked me how one would get started writing a Haiku poem. I suggested the following. AND I invite you now to think of something that might be bothering you, perhaps a negative “refrain”, so-to-speak, that the voice in your head might sometimes, and/or regularly, nudge you with.

Speak it…
Finger count the syllables…
Pare the words down or add to it for 5 syllables total.
Then create a 2nd line of 7 syllables,
And the 3rd line…5.

Turning the above instructions into Haiku:

Troubling words out loud
Finger count the syllables
Feeling control now.

I now invite you to do one or more pieces of Haiku yourself, and share what you write in the comments below.  You can see more on the Haiku for Healing page on this site and you can get my Haiku for Healing PDF by filling in your name and email address on the form in the right sidebar.

A final Thank You to Bert and Brady. You made a difference for me and I’m sure many others now and in the future.

Again, please leave a comment below…Share a Haiku and/or a caregiver or family experience of your own.


Rainbow Soul and Tears – Storms in Life – Timed Writing Prompts

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 11, 2015

Laurel Burch Rainbow Soul Mug

“The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears.” Laurel Burch

This quote is on a mug that I purchased from Amazon shortly after Sam died. During those first few difficult months, I gave myself permission to buy little, what for me were, “luxury items” as comforts for my soul, I suppose.

I do have several Laurel Burch mugs and hadn’t seen them since we moved here. The beauty of the image on this one initially drew me in and, even more importantly for me, the writing in the center of the mug was a reminder of tears… that tears are ok. Only I wasn’t doing much crying, permission or not. So that’s the story behind my having introduced the quote to our [writing] group today…

“Rainbows, I’m forever chasing,” I stated the other day when I went chasing a beautiful rainbow (to photograph) after a violent thunderstorm. It seems to me that perhaps the most beautiful rainbows come after turbulent storms rather than gentle rains.

Does my soul, thus, need turbulence to have rainbows in it? Does it need to have the tears to create whatever combination creates a rainbow? Beautiful colors? Shapes? Purity?

(and the 4 minute timer called the end….Interestingly, for me, the next prompt somewhat continued the “conversation.”)

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to stand in the rain.” – Anonymous

This one brings up immediate memories… tearful ones now…of the hurricane of a couple of years ago. I recently came across photos of Sam sitting in my closet… me, too, when I got back in to join him after taking the photo. Close and secure, the two of us, as we waited for the hurricane and its threats to pass over.

Though we weren’t physically standing in the rain we were going with it, no protest, simply enjoying being with one another and whatever was going on… at least I’d like to think there was no fear there.

The effects of that hurricane left us powerless… in electricity that is.. for several days. And we got to appreciate being in the present. Instead of complaining I treasured the time for reading, resting, eating gooshy strawberries that had defrosted and were still cold when I took them out of the cooler.

How glad I was to have Sam with me, my companion, my lover, and, I guess we were learning to stand in the rain of our lives over several years… the rain being the effects of Parkinson’s disease on him and, thus, us.

PS – For cheer when I bought the Rainbow Soul mug I also bought Laurel Burch’s Ponies and Parrots mug from Amazon Ponies with Parrots Mug by Laurel BurchFinal note on this post – Having created a miraculous life of beauty and love with her art and color and entrepreneurship, despite constant pain and broken bones, Laurel Burch sadly passed away (2 months and 8 days before Sam’s death) on Sept. 13, 2007 at the age of 61.

See her spirit and process in a 6-minute VIDEO interview with her. You can also read about her life in The New York Times – Obituary – Sept. 20, 2007.

NOTE: The two Laurel Burch mugs shown here are long longer available. You can find other beautiful ones on LAUREL BURCH MUGS on AMAZON .

First published on Sept 1, 2009. Updated December 7, 2019


A Bump in the Road – A Life-Transforming High School Experience

by Sheila Finkelstein on October 25, 2013

Ryan Dreams of Baseball

Although the following was not written for “healing writing” as such, I wanted to share it with you.

Starting, even before he was 9 years old, my grandson Ryan Finkelstein dreamed of being a baseball player.

And he never got close to it as you’ll read in his essay below.  It was written in response to a college application question:

“Describe a bump in the road in your academic or personal life.”

I was highly moved by the depths of what he wrote as well as the maturity of his writing. With his permission, I share it with you.

If I never lost everything that I was, I never would have become who I am today, and the most important thing I have learned is to have faith and work hard and everything will work itself out.” (His concluding statement in the essay that follows.) [click to continue…]


In AWE – Being Present to the Wonder in Our Life

by Sheila Finkelstein on June 25, 2013

Rocks Balanced by TruskusI am in a weekly writing group where the members and I do 4-minute, free-flow writing to quotes that participants bring. After I read my writing to the quote below, my friends became quite adamant in encouraging me to post it.

Though it wasn’t exactly “writing for healing”, I find all my free-flow writing is healing, in some way, as my subconscious speaks to me. I thank my friends Morgine Jurdan, Marifran Korb and Linda Butler today for their listening and giving me the space to be me.

The specific quote:

If you are not living in AWE you are not paying attention,” Albert Einstein

to which I wrote: [click to continue…]


On Father’s Day – Remembering Sam Bakely, My Father

by Sheila Finkelstein on June 17, 2013

On this Father’s Day, 2013, I’m moved to post here, the “writing for healing” after my father died.  I then ultimately read it at his memorial service on March 3, 1987.

(Note: Top photo was likely taken sometime in 1941 or 1942 when I was 2 years old. The second photo was in Florida from a road trip our family of five took in 1953. I was 12 1/2.)

Dad - Sheila Age 2Dad and Me at Age 15“Beloved Family and Friends,

I feel the need to sum up my feelings and discoveries in search for understandings of me and my father.

Uncle Dave has summed up his childhood.  To an extent the Daily News, his labor years, although it did not mention that my brothers and I are products of a Ladies Garment Workers picket line where Dad fell in love with Mom when he spotted her marching while he was organizing.

As we mourn his loss today, I’d like to share with you his final years in Florida and the man described to me by his wife, Laura, and his friends of the last 10 years.


[click to continue…]


Mother’s Day Memories – She Was My Best Friend

by Sheila Finkelstein on May 11, 2013

Throughout most of these posts my “Writing for Healing” has been around Sam, my beloved late husband, and the various emotions coming up around his no longer being here.

Given that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, I’m reminded of the healing writing I did 37 years ago, much of it on the airplane going back to her home in Florida to be with my father before coming back up to Philadelphia, her final resting place.  I expanded on what I wrote on the plane and read it at the Memorial Service we had for her. Publicly sharing like that was another part of the healing process.

And, 37 years later, there still as a missing along with the deep love and gratitude for who she was that had me be who I am today.

SHE WAS MY BEST FRIEND – Remembering Eva Grubman Bakely 11-12-14 to 8-1976


Best friend to husband, daughter, sons;
Best friend to family, sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces:
To friends; to those to whom she gave of self;
To those in Al-Anon to whom she helped give a new lease on life–
an inner strength.

Who is SHE?” she would have asked.
was wife; she was mother.
Sometimes one was first, sometimes the other
But never self!

[click to continue…]


Haiku Writing Used to Control Anger

by Sheila Finkelstein on June 9, 2012

As I was writing this week’s post for  Treasure Your Life Now I spontaneously registered HaikuForHealing.com and mask forwarded it over here to WritingforHealing.com.

Then I discovered that it’s been over 6 months since I posted here.  I haven’t been thinking in terms of needing “healing” and that’s kind of “silly”.  I’m thinking I’m putting a heavy weight on the term “healing”.  Writing is a process I use daily in my Morning Pages (a la Julia Cameron in the ARTIST’S WAY and all of her other books).

Oftentimes it’s “healing” when it gets me passed some blocks. The writing itself, when I don’t make it mean something, can be freeing.  Sometimes when “dumping” feels necessary, it can be cathartic. It’s far better to do it on paper than to or at another person.

And, at times when I’ve really needed to get control of myself I’ve used the Haiku process as described below.

harsh words Haiku on photo imageGoing through some old papers recently, I found one of the numerous Haikus I had written six and seven years ago when I was experiencing a great deal of anger at how Parkinson’s Disease was affecting my beloved Sam.

[click to continue…]


Thanksgiving and Always Gratitude for the Gifts of and from Sam

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 24, 2011

Photo on Left is Charcoal Portrait of Sam Finkelstein done by Chester Bloom in 1961. Photo on Right is Sam in Restaurant at Dinner Party in November, 2002, prior to move from NJ to Florida in December.

The Gift of Sam – Eternally grateful for my beloved Sam
The gifts from Sam to me were, and are, countless, some beyond measure:

The gift of unconditional love,
The gift of me,
The gift of my being “Number 1”, always and forever in his life, his heart.

The gift of love beyond measure for me, his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren
The gift of acceptance of what could not be changed
The gift of words, words that surface and sustain me even now, some from 51 years ago.

[click to continue…]


Wind Caresses, Memories and Longing

by Sheila Finkelstein on December 27, 2010

I came across these random thoughts written on a pad as I walked in Green Cay a couple of months ago. Thought I’d add them here, since all writing, for me, adds to some form of healing.

snails at Green Cay WetlandsSeeing loads of snail shells, large ones, out of their element, or is it me?

Breezes sweep past and caress my legs as I look out –
Cameraless, Partnerless, here at Green Cay.

Pad and Pen – Spaces for Tears.
Well, I let them come.  No camera to hide behind tonight.

Feeling breezes again
Quick caresses on my legs.
Oh, how I wish they were yours, that you were here, my Beloved.

Spoonbill was on dry land, dried out spot –
Found way back to walk.
Only for me, dry land – wet land.
There is more to find here on Earth.

Anhinga is spreading his wings and don’t know why it is.
Is it you, my Darling, letting me know through your favorite bird that you’re here?


Bread Soaking Up and Giving Life

by Sheila Finkelstein on September 26, 2010

Today WRITING CAMP, my friend Morgine Jurdan wrote and read about a delectable meal she recently had. Beautifully described, missing, for me, was the bread soaking up sauce part she had told me about in an earlier phone conversation. After the call, I wrote:

Morgine’s bread soaking up the cream mustard sauce – doesn’t matter what the sauce – I see it, feel it, that piece of bread swelling with the fullness of the tasty moisture it is absorbing – all the cells getting full as its body is pushed around the plate to gather up all that is available in the plate of life to put into my gut.

“My gut” – Interesting I’m so harsh about it – “gut” sounds so heavy, almost ugly. What if it were into my “being” – gently, slowly, if I temper myself to taste morsel by morsel and allow myself to digest the treasures of the plate – slowly working their way through my boding, sensing the spaces they need to fill? It’s all liquid, absorbed and softened by the carrier, a healthy piece of bread, bringing out peace of mind, peace of body.

PS – Originally wrote “mustard sauce” and in editing added the “cream” (which had in reality been there). I was tempted to remove the “mustard” part. “Too tangy”, thought I. Then, “Silly, or not, maybe that’s what’s missing for you – the tanginess of life!”

If you missed the link to Morgine’s writing, see I Remember…, halfway down the post, for the meal writing to which I responded.