Brightdark, this

living. Sore and soaring.

Joygrief. Loveloss. Fearhope.

Do you feel it too? The paradox.

I once described my journal as “a space for everything.”

There’s nothing I can’t say in my conversation with myself on the page. Things I can’t speak find a home there. There’s plenty of room to play with words, from letting their sounds lead through alliteration or repetition to exploring their multiple meanings. Then there’s the permission to discover what lurks, unconsciously. And all those feisty and sometimes hard-to-accept paradoxes belong.

As a recently initiated caregiver, there are particular feelings and experiences I hesitate to talk about. And yet, in my journal I can open up, be honest, and tell the messy truth about being human. Here’s an example:

A home for unspoken things

I hear my husband blow his nose as the water rushes over his thin skin. Thin and becoming thinner. His emotions so close to the surface and I wonder sometimes, if I can hold them all. If, at some point, there will be too many to carry.

Alliteration & repetition

If I am meant to be so close to someone who is so close to terror and tremor and tired, so tired.

Is it fear that feeds the question? Fear and my own heart quivering with emotions too complex to name.

The loose hairs draped across his red fleece, silvery filaments. Unkempt. Messy. I want to scoop them up, get rid of them. Make him presentable. To whom? It’s just me and him.

Just me and him here and I have been afraid of him. My husband. Afraid of the thinning of his hair, the narrowing of his face, his scooped in tummy, the loose flesh like chicken necks under his butt cheeks. Afraid.

Permission to discover what lurks, unconsciously

Afraid of his illness, his less than perfection. His growing fingernails. He has always kept himself so well-presented. A carpenter working with his hands and still they were always so tidy, clean, soft.

Expectations of how he should look. I feel his head against my chest, the back of his skull. He leans into me. Silent.
“Are you comfortable?” I ask.

“Yeah!” he hesitates. I hear, it’s not an easy task, getting comfortable. I hear, this body doesn’t do comfortable any more. I hear, just hold me and don’t ask.

It is quiet in the kitchen. I have done all the dishes. Turned the overhead light off. Just him and me on the grey couch. No devices near us. No tv or radio. Just this sitting here. Here with my husband. His thinning hair, scalp red and flaky. Those filaments on his shoulders. I put my hand on his head. Breathe my love into him. Here we are.

In bed, I move closer and the fear subsides. Not the one about being able to support us. That one still surfaces. I awake mid-sleep with it, a tug in the gut. The one about living with Gregory, his illness, stiffened hands like chicken feet.

Plenty of room to play

There must be other animals I can compare him to, besides chickens. Swans, their necks soft and graceful. His heart is soft and graceful, sometimes. Fussy and agitated others. His voice soft mostly. His eyes. The skin on his belly, his legs. Flappy and soft. Birdlike.

Feisty paradoxes

His head in my lap now. He has calmed down, his nervous system regulated, his right arm, still. He tries to do as much as he can. Today I am so proud of him. So in awe of him. All morning he was exercising. Taking care of his body. This new body. Parkinson’s body. So humbled at his courage. How brave to keep stepping into life. Keep meeting the body as it is, keep pushing it further, into health, into movement. Into strength.

Exploring multiple meanings

I am no longer afraid. His filaments. Sacred threads, like those animal or plant fibres found in nature. Intimate. I lean in, right hand holding his. This is our journey now.

Now it’s your turn.

Tell me how your journal is “a space for everything”.

  • In my journal I write about­­…
  • One paradox I have discovered is…
  • Some ways I love to play with words are…
  • Things I can’t speak but need to say are…

Tend Her is a 3-month guided online journey bringing creative sanctuary to the stress of caregiving. Taking place from June 12-August 24, 2023, during two weekly sessions participants will learn to tend to their own self-care using writing and other creative and meditative practices.

Are you a woman who is caregiving a spouse, children or parents?

Do you work with clients who demand a lot of your emotional, mental attention?

As caregivers, we need space to rest and to express emotions we may not have an outlet for. We also need a community to hold us as we learn to pause, and give ourselves time-out to play and rejuvenate

An invitation to immerse in the magic and healing of the creative process, Tend Her will support you to connect with the wonder and beauty of existence and gain access to parts of yourself which have been lost or neglected.

Find out more…

To find out more about this nourishing 3-month journey of program visit

Please note, this is not an offering but rather something Ahava offers through

Author: Ahava Shira

Ahava Shira, PhD is a long-time journal writer, published poet, memoirist and midwife of the creative process whose passion is helping writers develop the courage and confidence to tell their stories and share them with others. Co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion & Connection, Ahava has helped a diversity of writers express themselves freely and deeply with words including middle and high school students, midlife and retiring women, clients in a mental health drop-in centre and people with chronic illness. To learn more about her current online programs, including the nourishing 3 month-long Tend Her starting in June visit her website at and be sure to sign up for her newsletter so you can receive a free copy of Writing Yourself Through Change, a 7-module transformational writing journey with prompts and practices for gracefully navigating life’s bumps and curves.