Helping hands in service

Bookmarks – June – It’s the Best of Times

Jun 4, 2022

It’s the Best of Times…

It’s the worst of times.

It’s June.

It’s time for graduations, baby showers, weddings, vacations, kids’ and grandkids’ ball games, gardening, Al-Anon conventions, you name it. While all these occasions can be joyous, they also can also be stressful, especially when they come in bunches.

So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I find reading The Forum a great way to get my head on straight.

I also find it useful to write about what’s going on inside of me. It’s like talking at a meeting. Getting it out—either in the air, on paper or in pixels—is cathartic. I know that keeping stuff bottled up is, well, toxic to me.

Merriam-Webster reports that the term catharthsis comes from a Greek word meaning “to cleanse, purge.” In English, the adjective cathartic first meant a cleansing purge of the bowels (didn’t you want to know this?). M-W continues: “It didn’t take long for people to start using these words figuratively in reference to emotional release and spiritual cleansing.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. It seems that the transfer of my internal emotional and/or spiritual state into words gives me some sort of release. I should say the “attempted” transfer, since it’s sometimes hard to express feelings in words. But I try, and in the trying, I get the therapeutic lift, be it partial or total, that I am seeking.

Sometimes I need to let things “percolate” before I can begin to verbalize or write about them. Actually, the act of writing also helps me clarify my thinking.

If you’re keeping a journal, you know what I mean. Journaling can have the added benefit of serving as a stream-of-consciousness forum (there’s that word again) for you alone. You can rant and rave, and get it out of your system without harming anyone. Then after you’ve had your catharsis, you can go forward in a more serene state of mind.

Back to reading and writing for The Forum. Yes, I snuck “writing” in there. Think you can’t write? Think again. If you have the courage to share your experience, strength and hope at a meeting, you can write about it for The Forum. As the June issue says, “The Forum needs your sharings! Please consider serving the fellowship by submitting your writing. All Al-Anon-focused topics and perspectives are welcome. Submissions should range from 150 to 800 words.”

If you’re going to the PA Al-Anon Convention this month, consider coming to “Slice of Serenity: Writing for The Forum.” It’s one of our ten workshops on Saturday, June 11. (Sorry. Registration for the Convention is closed.)

You’ll be joining other like-minded Al-Anon folks who are interested in beginning the process of writing about their experience, strength and hope for possible publication in The Forum. You don’t have to write your entire life story. That’s probably a bit much for 800 words anyway. But think about a time, perhaps, when you were at a meeting, or talking with your sponsor, or reading from our Conference Approved Literature, and something clicked. You had an “A-ha” moment, and you started to change. These are the kinds of stories you read about in The Forum. They’re written by people just like you, going through the same kinds of things you are. So, of course, you can write about it! We’re all in this together.

We can talk about that at the workshop, and have a practice session with an opportunity to share what we’ve written. Sharing is service. Service helps others but it also helps us grow further into recovery. It’s kind of amazing.

But you don’t have to attend a Convention workshop to write for The Forum. Send your articles to The Forum,  1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617; to [email protected]; or submit online at

If you don’t get The Forum, consider that too. It’s only $11 a year and comes to you digitally or in print once a month. I call it a slice of serenity.

Thanks for letting me share!

In grateful service,

Ellen C.

Literature/Forum Coordinator

Panel 61