Naming (and Claiming) Your World

I read the following passage the other morning, as I was sipping my coffee, the morning light slowly rising.  It struck a chord.

Reading and writing one’s world is a way of claiming one’s personhood. …to name your world is to claim your world. …In a real sense, your impulse to write lyric poetry can also be understood as your struggle to become fully human:  to name and thus lay claim to your experiences and feelings, and to derive your values and beliefs at least in part from these experiences and feelings.

from A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry by Gregory Orr


This idea of writing to claim one’s world (to claim one’s self) feels true for me.  It’s why I write in my journal (and guide others in doing the same); it’s why I write anything.  It’s how I make sense of things.  Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”…yes, that.  It’s also why I pick up my camera (because photography, for me, parallels writing). In both the writing and photography, there is a naming (a giving voice) which grounds me.

We don’t have to have it All Figured Out when we begin to name our experiences.  Whether the naming happens with words or photographs, with swaths of paint or notes plucked on strings (because there are certainly crossovers in expression) (hell, maybe your naming shows up in the baking of bread), we just need to begin. We just have to start.  (Isn’t this always the case?)

So we pick up the pen.  We write one word, and another and another.  We name our experience. We begin and we continue, weaving one experience into another. We craft our stories, be they poem or list or song (or bread).

Who are you? What is your experience?

And maybe we share that poem or list or song…because something magical happens in the naming and sharing.  Sometimes, others recognize themselves in the story shared.  And that gives them courage to embrace their own story (and maybe share their story with someone else too).

It can go on and on.

There’s power in story.  There’s healing in story.  For the storyteller as much as for the listener.

On and on and on.

Who are you?  What is your story?
Will you name it?  Will you claim it?
Will you claim


Sending a little love your way, m


P.S.  When I set out to write this, I didn’t intend it to be a lead-in for my creative journaling class (that starts soon!!)…but today’s words do underscore the work we’ll be doing in Get It Down.  Much of the work will be playful…but there will be the opportunities to dig a little deeper. I can’t wait to see what stories surface for the community who gathers.  Will you join us?  Click here.


10 thoughts on “Naming (and Claiming) Your World

  1. I continue to journal every single morning, sometimes the same things and sometimes it’s a different thought in my mind. I end with what I am grateful for each day. I thrive on a schedule so early morning means it gets DONE before the day gets busy I and let other habits crowd out what I think is important.

  2. I have been pondering whether or not I should continue blogging…reassessing my reasons for blogging and where it fits in at this point in my life…and your post has given me food for thought, Michelle. There are so many times when I read a post or an article and I find myself nodding my head in agreement and wanting to respond in some way, to share my own experience. Reading this post makes me think that perhaps I still do have something to offer.

    My life has been filled with wedding plans (joyfully so) and my writing and art have taken a backseat for now. Perhaps if I just set a goal to share once a week, even if only to post a photograph and favorite quote. Thank you, Michelle, for giving me something to think about. xoxo

    1. Trust that you’ll find the right pace for yourself, Grace…with writing, with art, with joyful wedding plans (yay!). It’s hard with all the noise out there saying there’s one way we should be doing things (there isn’t one way).

      Thank you for sharing what you’ve shared here.
      Here’s to thinking (and feeling) our ways through… xo

  3. I laughed, out loud, at this:

    “hell, maybe your naming shows up in the baking of bread”

    I love that you said it… and also for me personally (as you know ;-) ) mine definitely does not show up there LOL

    Hope you’re well!




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