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Balancing Pain and Illness Through Poetry

Reprinted with the kind permission of Celeste Cooper [1]

“Poetry is writing about yourself waiting to see what will show up,
the words are the finger points of your soul.”
~Sandford Lyne, author of Writing Poetry from the Inside Out~

Maintaining forward momentum in the face of pain, fatigue, and unpredictable symptoms can be challenging. In our book Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, SPRING DEVOTIONS [2], we talk about inner expression through poetry and how it can help us cope with pain and fatigue. All our books [3] have tips for writing for self-exploration. Poetry is one of those.

Poetry is often thought of as the conduit to our soul. For me, writing poetry heightens my senses and provides an alternative path that promotes mindfulness [4]. The words I choose give my thoughts texture, making them palpable, at least to me. Writing poetry provides a beautiful detour, because unlike physical pain and illness, there are no boundaries, no limitations. We have unabashed freedom to explore and express ourselves using colors, shapes, and concepts we might not otherwise.

I am in awe of the power of randomly chosen words and their ability to bring me peace. Whether I am working through a difficult situation or embracing the wonders of the world, I know when I’m done, I am connected to an inner being I only know through poetry.

I wrote a blog [5] on how to write “I am” poem, which you can use as a template to write your own.

I love it when the words fly, coming together effortlessly, but that isn’t always the case; at times, I have to put my words aside or work from a different angle. But that’s why I love to do it.

I wrote this poem staring with four random words: truth, bird, broken, observe. It went through several transformations before I felt a deep meaning for myself. Some of my poems don’t make a word of sense to others, but they don’t need to. They are mine, just as yours will be yours.

This Is My Truth© by Celeste Cooper

Like a bird with a broken wing,
I can stray off course, my flight pattern disrupted.
Wounded from the fall, I will not judge, because
As a wise owl, I observe, I accept, I understand—
Before I take flight, I need time to mend, plan a new course.

This is my truth.

Imperfection as clear as a broken mirror,
Though broken, goals are transformed.
Seedlings forced into maturity will not thrive.
Accepting that mistakes are the seed, I cultivate.
The broken mirror affords a self-reflection of reality.

This is my truth.

I falter, sometimes wretchedly, but enlightened.
Sweet is the nectar of success—not synonymous to perfection.
Erupting from deep inside a reminder from Edison,
“I did not fail; I found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I accept my imperfections—only then—can I take flight.

This is my truth.

I hope you will pick up a pencil and a piece of paper. Write down some of your favorite words, you can find them in crossword puzzles, a good book, the dictionary, or make them up; that’s the beauty of it. Let your mind float and your hands glide across the paper as the words guide you to a new place, a place hopefully free of pain and illness, but if you need to work that out, you can go there too by observing until it dissipates in the background. Just do it.

Additional Reading: Minimizing the Consequences of Pain and Illness by Exploring Your Creative Nature through Poetry by Celeste Cooper [6]

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN


Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth.  She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four-book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com [7].