There’s Magic in the Telling – Writing is Good for Your Health

Creating a record of your life for loved ones is a wonderful goal. Being published is fun and occasionally profitable, but writing memoir for yourself may be the best reason to write.

Researchers have found that writing about your life and sharing it with others isn’t just enjoyable, it can improve your health.

Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin,found that participants in his focused writing study had lower blood pressure, went to the doctor less frequently and had fewer absences from work.  College students earned better grades and senior professionals who had been laid off got new jobs more quickly after writing. [1]

“People who are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals have changes in immune function,” Pennebaker says.

Writing about turbulent, exciting, or sentimental times gives the writer a chance to explore old thoughts and feelings from a new perspective.  Finding meaning in those experiences transforms them into wisdom. Having those stories heard by a supportive listener (or listeners, or just yourself) reminds the reader that his or her life history matters.

Many people want to write but don’t know how to start. They worry about finessing spelling and punctuation before they’ve had a chance to explore their stories. Or, they allow doubts and fears to stop them before they start. My writing workshops and classes are designed to overcome these obstacles. Using creative writing exercises and positive feedback, I coax my student’s timid creative selves out to play.

Vintage House for seniors in the Sonoma valley areaI’ll be teaching a Workshop at Vintage House in Sonoma on Tuesday, May 28th, from 1-3:30pm, in room 113.

I also teach tuition-free classes in  Santa Rosa on Wednesday afternoons, and Friday mornings, through Santa Rosa Junior College’s Older Adult program.

[1] Pennebaker, J. W. and Chung, C. K., Expressive Writing, Emotional Upheavals, and Health. (2007). In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds.), Handbook of health psychology(pp. 263-284).  New York: Oxford University Press.AutoBioPromoW

Instructor’s Bio: Instructor Stacey Dennick is a digital storyteller who has written stories for KRCB North Bay Public Media. Her humorous memoir pieces have been published online and in anthologies. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco, and teaches writing courses through Santa Rosa Junior College’s Older Adult Program. See clips: sdennick.com

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Etsy shop makeover

Has anyone not heard of online craft and vintage superstore Etsy by now?  Photographs sell products on Etsy.  Descriptions help.  If you don’t have strong photos, you won’t have strong sales, or get into galleries, fairs or heaven.  Okay, you might still get into heaven, but not artist nirvana.

Artist Susan Wosk enlisted my help to transform her Etsy shop.  She paints Mexican picture frames and fills them with whimsical images. They’re three dimensional, tin wall niches with protective glass over the pictures. Very fun, and also very challenging to photograph. Many cameras can’t focus correctly on glass. Plus, the reflections that make glass so beautiful can create glare, hot spots or confusing reflections.  But not to fear, my Canon T3 camera is here, uh, there!

Holy Nichos!  Pansy garden frameHere’s the old photo of the pansy flower frame.  It’s colorful and focused with no glare or hot spots (easier said than done) but the background is too cluttered and it would look better lighter (IMHO).

For the new photo I used white foamcore for the background (no ironing required), propped the frame up with a small bowl so it wouldn’t look distorted, and shot it with a large f stop for better depth of field.

Holy Nichos!  Pansy garden frame

I still had to take some blue out of the background and up the saturation in Photoshop, but it only took a couple of minutes.

I think you’ll agree it’s a much cleaner, more professional photo.

I like white backgrounds because they really let the product stand out without adding colors.  In the next example the turquoise tablecloth made the top of the sacred heart nicho look turquoise, rather than the green it really is. That could upset someone who bought it sight unseen, over the internet.

Sacred Heart by Holy Nichos!Sacred Heart by Holy Nichos!
For the new shot, rather than shooting head on, I tilted the nicho to create a diagonal line that draws the eye and adds a sense of movement.

I’d love to transform your Etsy shop too. Don’t have one? I can help you set it up. Shoot me an email – Stacey