Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please!
A review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Mari had me on page 2:

After a year or two of regular writing therapy, I found I didn’t need the masses of prescription drugs I’d been taking.—Mari L. McCarthy

As someone once on six different medications, Mari’s pronouncement that she too found a way to reduce (or eliminate) her dependence on pharmaceuticals sparked my interest in reading more of Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live. In this part memoir, part how-to book, Mari L. McCarthy shares how her worsening symptoms led her on a search for health, and shares what she discovered so we can all benefit.

I identified with her hitting a point of desperation and discovering a solution. My memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, explains how running put the missing piece in place for me and pulled my health into balance. Like Mari, I was “in a desperate bid to recover my health.”

For Mari “writing therapy” was that missing piece.

Physical health is so completely intertwined with emotional health that it’s a wonder that so many of us deny the link.—Mari L. McCarthy

Mari suffers from MS and the onset of more extreme MS symptoms took away her option for the exercise she previously enjoyed. When she discovered Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” (three handwritten pages first thing each day) Mari soon experienced the kind of profound shift that I found in running.

At one of her lowest points, Mari could no longer write with her right (dominant) hand. Thinking of it solely as physical therapy, she trained herself to write left-handed. In that process, she not only discovered the way therapeutic writing transformed her emotions, but the act of dragging her pen across the page brought back circulation into part of her body being ravaged by MS.

My long-time teacher,  best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones, Three Simple Lines) often says, “Writing is a physical act.” Mari would agree.

Before I took up running, in addition to taking those many medications, I studied with and assisted Natalie Goldberg for several decades. Natalie teaches “writing practice,” the freewriting technique she founded based on her Zen practice. Similar to Mari’s journaling results, writing practice offers insights, and infuses the writer with a sense of calm and clarity.

Writing Practice

In the years before I began to run, I’d stopped my daily writing practice. But the pandemic and my husband’s health crisis drove me back. I began to study with Natalie and and “met” online or over the phone with other writing practice regulars to write and read out loud. While Natalie didn’t intend writing practice to serve as therapy, similar to Mari’s “regular writing therapy” writing practice is therapeutic.

You Should Be Writing, the writing journal I co-authored with Brenda Knight, serves as a safe landing spot for therapeutic thoughts. Our journal offers author quotes to serve as inspiration and instruction. Whether a person wants to write for publication or seeks healing, the quotes in Chapter 8, “Writing as Medicine” show how writers throughout history felt the salve writing offers.


Mari’s method of journaling is also a form of meditation. Mari writes:

Instead of reaching for more caffeine, I would just sit with the tiredness, breathe deeply and acknowledge: “You are exhausted. Let’s just explore what’s going on.” I would approach my issues from a heart perspective. I stopped reacting in a knee-jerk fashion and expecting instant solutions. I learned to live more in the present moment.

Because of the scientifically-proven benefits, meditation earns a spot in my “Three Ways to Heal Your Mind,” completing the body—mind—spirit trifecta we require for stable health.

Mari found her own wellness trifecta, with a pen.

About the Book

Can the simple act of putting pen to paper every day lead to healing?

In the multi-award-winning Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live, Author, Musical Artist and CreateWriteNow.com Founder Mari L. McCarthy shares her story of how she used her own writing to relieve her symptoms of multiple sclerosis, become a 5-octave singer and created 20+ Inner Journey Workbooks.

This best-selling self-help memoir teaches you how to use your own journaling power to heal the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual issues in your tissues and embody and empower your True Self. You get step-by-step guidance on how to:

  • Reduce physical pain and overcome illness
  • Heal emotional wounds from past traumas
  • Resolve inner conflicts and create self-compassion
  • Eliminate limiting beliefs and fears
  • Reconnect with your inner healer
  • Reduce stress and find your inner wisdom
  • Set realistic goals and discover the motivation to make them happen

Whether you need to heal from stressful life events or learn how to put yourself first, Mari L. McCarthy guides you on a journey of well-being and self-care. With Journaling Power, you unlock the powers of this self-healing tool to lead a life of joy, compassion, creativity, and growth. So, grab a notebook, a pen, and a quiet space, and reveal the strength of your unconscious mind.

About the Author, Mari L. McCarthy

Mari L. McCarthy, Founder and Inner Work Tour Guide of CreateWriteNow.com shows curious health-conscious people how to use Journaling For The Health Of It®️ to heal the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual issues in their tissues and to know and grow their True Self. She’s the multi-award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live and Heal Your Self With Journaling Power.  Additionally, Mari created 20+ Journaling For The Health Of It® Inner Journey Workbooks that include Who Am I?, Declutter Your Life In 28 Days, and Take Control Of Your Health In 24 Days.

Find her online at:

Website: http://createwritenow.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/CreateWriteNow

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwtlBKKHXAfl_fZjLtOGMHA


Blog Tour Dates

March 1st @ WOW! Women on WritingJoin us as we celebrate Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power. Read an interview with the author, find out more about the healing powers of journaling, and enter to win a copy of the book.
March 4th @ Reviews and InterviewsVisit Lisa’s blog and read her interview with author Mari L. McCarthy about her book Journaling Power.
March 5th @ Bareroot HealthVisit Heather’s blog where you can read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 6th @ CK Sorens BlogVisit Carrie’s blog and read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 7th @ Joan PorteVisit Joan’s blog and read her review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.

More reviews!
March 8th @ Author Anthony Avina
Visit Anthony’s blog and read his review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.
March 9th @ The Potpourri ParlorVisit Chelle’s blog and read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s Journaling Power.
March 10th @ World of My ImaginationVisit Nicole’s writing blog today and you can read guest reviewer, Angela Clay’s review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy.
March 10th @ Leslie’s Voice  – Join Leslie as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy book Journaling Power.
March 11th @ Living UppJoin Stacy as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 12th @ World of My ImaginationVisit Nicole’s writing blog today where you can read guest reviewer, Wendy Kipfmiller-O’Brien’s review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy
March 13th @ The Faerie ReviewLily shares her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 14th @ Book Review CrewJoin Sara where she reviews Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy
March 15th @ Freeing the ButterflyVisit the Freeing the Butterfly blog and read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
Even more reviews!

March 16th @ My Question LifeVisit Kara’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 16th @ Pamela CumminsVisit Pamela’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Mari L. McCarthy’s Journaling Power.
March 17th @ Nicolle NattrassVisit Nicolle’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 18th @ Deborah Zenha-AdamsJoin Deborah as she spotlights Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 20th @ Because of WordsJoin Cassie’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 22nd @ Not Without My CoffeeVisit Angelica’s blog today where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 24th @ Anne Janzer’s BlogJoin Anne today at her blog where she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 25th @ The Frugalista MomVisit Rozelyn’s blog where you can read her review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 26th @ Melanie FaithVisit Melanie’s blog today and read her insights into Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.

March 26th @ Nita Sweeney – YOU ARE HERE! Join Nita as she shares her thoughts into Mari L. McCarthy’s new book.

March 27th @ Anne GreenawaltJoin Anne as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s new book.
March 28th @ Christy O’CallaghanJoin Christy as she reviews Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
March 28th @ The Knotty NeedleStop by Judy’s blog today and review Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
April 1st @ Eden LiteraryDeirdra will be spotlighting Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.
April 2nd @ International Association for Journaling WritingRead Lynda’s review of Mari L. McCarthy’s book Journaling Power.

If you purchase something through the affiliate links on this page, Write Now Columbus, a collection of resources for central Ohio writers and readers, will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Write Now Columbus – February 2021

Write Now Columbus – February 2021

Dear Writers:

My running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, just “badged” again.

DHAMT #1 Bestseller in Bipolar






Badged? What’s that?”

I didn’t know it was a thing until my editor emailed me the first time it earned a “#1 New Release” badge. The “badge” is that orange “#1 Best Seller” banner under the 4.6 stars.

But what the heck does it mean?

Well, for at least an hour (Amazon refreshes hourly,) the ebook of Depression Hates a Moving Target, sold more ebooks than any other ebook in the bipolar disorder category, more even than Carrie Fisher’s memoir, The Princess Diaries.

DHAMT #1 Best Seller Category List







It looks good and, frankly, it is good. But it is also a bit of an illusion.

Does that make me a “best selling author?” Only on Amazon. And only for the ebook. Only in the bipolar disorder category. And only for the period of time that badge stays.

Now, if it floated at #1 in the bipolar category for more than a few days (three days is its record) or if it hit #1 in a bunch of categories at the same time or if it rose to the top 100 of all ebooks, then I might call myself a “best selling author.”

For now, I’ll enjoy the pretty little orange badge for as long as it lasts.


Tami is preoccupied with good cause. She sent a sweet note:

Howdy all. Tami here. As I write this, I am a week away from undergoing partial knee reconstruction surgery. I figured I should get it done during the winter so I can get out and about when Spring comes. And yes, it will come!

Please know we welcome your feedback about the newsletter.

Nita and I can be reached at writenowcolumbus@gmail.com.


Notice the new email address. Eventually, as your donations allow, we will move Write Now Columbus to its own website.


Which brings me to YOU. Thank you so much to each of you who donated and to those of you who inquired about paying for a subscription to help us pay the expenses. We’re still researching the best subscription options since the ones we’ve found so far charge large fees.

In the meantime, if you feel moved to contribute, just click DONATE and it will take you to a page with a paypal button. Or you can email Nita for an address to send a check. We spend every penny toward keeping the site up and running.


Since not every subscriber on this list is interested in running, mental health, meditation, writing practice, and dogs, I created a separate newsletter. You can see the archive here and SUBSCRIBE HERE.

You may also download my free ebook Three Ways to Heal Your Mind which will subscribe you.


Events have picked up a bit as I believe businesses and colleges are figuring out more about pandemic life. We have 27 events on the calendar to date and will add any more that we learn of as the month goes on.

We added two events that are NOT this month, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops. They occur in June and July, but we wanted to alert you that applications are open now.

If you know of an event we haven’t listed, please email Tami and I at writenowcolumbus@gmail.com and we will add it. And if we can do anything else to help you, please reach out.

Thanks always for reading and have a great month!

~ Nita

If you purchase anything from the affiliate links on this page or in this email, Write Now Columbus will receive a portion of the proceeds. This helps us keep the website up and the internet on.

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

A Love Note to My Running Tribe


A Love Note to My Running Tribe

My running group, Marathoner in Training (MIT), asked members to write a “Good Thing” that happened during the ever-so-odd and nearly cancelled 2020 spring season. I contributed this love note to my running tribe.


This week’s “Good Thing” comes from Nita Sweeney who refuses to choose between the 13:00 Run/Walk group and the 14:00 Run/Walk group, and who often finds herself finishing after the Walker group.

This MIT season has been filled with both “good” and difficult things.

In February, while my husband Ed and I were on book tour in California, for Depression Hates a Moving Target, Ed, had a heart attack. He also had pneumonia twice, and open-heart surgery in March that left him on a gastric feeding tube for two months. Gratefully, he continues to heal and is returning to good health.


Ed and Nita Sweeney on Plane

Ed and Nita Sweeney returning from California in February 2020

Meanwhile, with bookstores and libraries closed, and book festivals cancelled or postponed, I launched a second book. This, a writing journal, You Should Be Writing, I co-authored with Mango Associate Publisher Brenda Knight.

For my sanity, I returned to running after everything I just mentioned (combined with a pandemic and a civil rights revolution) had derailed my training.

Nita and Scarlet

Nita and Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog

But those aren’t the “good things” I want to share.

When Ed came home from the hospital, and his care transformed me from “award-winning author” to “accidental home health aide” overnight, I feared I wasn’t up to the task. My MIT friends saw my distress. Food, supplies, cards, and stuffed animals flooded in and have not stopped even now that Ed is recovering.

All You Need is Love and a Unicorn

All You Need is Love and a Unicorn










But their real gift came one Saturday when I got a text that said:

“Look out your front door.”

After a few of them had met for a socially distanced run, they had each driven separately to our house. When Ed and I looked out, we saw them, standing six feet apart, holding motivational signs like those normally seen at races. It brought Ed and I to tears. We both felt as if Ed was in a race for his life.

MIT Folks at the Door

MIT Folks at the Door

That brings me to the “good thing.”

Whether you’re struggling to get in the miles, having a bad day, or feeling so low you’re not sure you want to stay on the planet, please reach out to me or any other member of the MIT family. We will stand with you and cheer you on the same way these MIT members have done for Ed and me. MIT is family, nothing less.


Even if you don’t live in central Ohio and can’t join our MIT family, if you run, you’re part of the tribe. That makes you family! The offer I made to the MIT members stands for you as well.

Fewer Meds? Yes, Please! A Review of Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Private Runner

Private Runner

“I’m a private runner,” I told my sister when she invited me to the first annual Steps for Sarcoma 5k. She had signed up to walk the three-point-one-mile course in memory of her daughter, Jamey, who died at twenty-four of osteosarcoma. The race raised money for cancer research. I hung my head as I declined, but the thought of running “in public” turned my stomach.

I’d only recently begun slow jogging the quiet streets of our suburban central Ohio neighborhood after a high school friend posted her interval workouts on social media. The thought of my neighbors watching me haul my flabby, overweight body down the street so terrified me that I leashed up Morgan, our yellow Labrador dog, for emotional support and headed into a wooded ravine where no one could see. It took several sessions before I summoned the courage to leave the ravine and jog in front of houses from which my neighbors probably weren’t watching anyway. I couldn’t possibly take part in a race.

A friend also suggested a charity race after she learned I was running. She told me how raising money for an important cause, this one breast cancer research, warmed her heart.

Again I refused. “This is something I do for myself.”

I don’t think of myself as selfish, but chronic depression, anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks made it difficult to focus on anything beyond my symptoms. Running at all felt like enough of an accomplishment.

But I couldn’t shake the image of my niece in her hospital bed. She had been a runner and mistook the pain of a tumor in her femur for athletic aches. By the time they found the cancer, it had spread to her lungs.

Meanwhile, my sister kept asking.

During one workout, I consulted Morgan. Did he think I should do the race? He nodded or perhaps shook a bug off his copper-colored ear. He wasn’t afraid. Perhaps, with him as my example, I could face my fear and run in public.

I told my sister I was in.

To reduce my anxiety, I researched race etiquette and learned that the race number (a.k.a. “bib”) goes on  the front of the shirt, not the back. I also discovered I should line up toward the end of the starting group so faster runners who cared about more than just finishing wouldn’t have to dodge me. The day before the race, my husband and I drove the course. Because of this preparation, on race morning I woke more excited than afraid.

When we pulled into the parking lot and I saw the crowd, my anticipation flipped to stomach jitters. I closed my eyes and remembered Jamey’s smile. I was there to honor her. We found my family and friends and soon, the festive atmosphere felt welcoming. Sarcoma survivors, their friends, and family members gathered for a survivor photo. A volunteer offered signs for us to fill out. I penned “In Memory of Jamey Ax” on one and my sister pinned it to the back of my shirt while I pinned my race number on the front.

Once I crossed the start line, my remaining fear vanished. I started out too fast—a typical rookie mistake—so a hill toward the end challenged my fitness. When my mind spun with negative self- talk, I remembered Jamey. Through five hundred days of treatment and illness, she had remained strong.

I finished, proud, tired, sweaty, and not quite last.

I meant for that first 5k to also be my last. I’d signed up to remember my niece and raise money for research hoping other families might be spared the grief our family will live with forever. But I hadn’t known that a 5k is like a party on foot: race signs, cheering fans, flying flags, music, and laughter. Plus, I had run in public! Not only had no one laughed, but complete strangers cheered! Infected with joy and excitement, I couldn’t wait to do another.

Nita and Morgan at Pet Promise Rescue Run

Nita and Morgan at Pet Promise Rescue Run

The following year, I joined a running group and found a community I hadn’t even realized I was missing. Before the pandemic, we traveled to races. We continue to raise money for causes of all types, and support each other through the joys and losses of life.

Since that first 5k, I’ve run three full marathons, twenty-seven half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than 100 shorter races. I participate in the Steps for Sarcoma 5k every year. While I don’t always run for charity, when a race support a good cause, it fills my heart.

I still take medication and go to therapy to treat my mental health issues, but running eases my anxiety and enhances my self-worth. I was able to reduce the amount of medication I need and haven’t had to change medications in several years.

If not for that charity race (and my sister’s nudges), I would have stayed in the neighborhood, running the streets near our house with only the dog. There’s nothing wrong with “private running.” Running of any kind improves fitness, boosts mood, and increases self-esteem. But if I hadn’t risked running that charity 5k “in public,” I would never have experienced the community, the celebration, and the joy of doing something for others. I would have missed some of the most fulfilling days of my life.

Doing good for others ultimately did good for me.

A version of this article originally appeared in Brokeman’s Blog. For more about Nita and Morgan’s running, see Nita’s mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink.

Learning from an Art that Needs No Words


Learning from an Art that Needs No Words

“What can an art of words take from the art that needs none? Yet I often think I’ve learned as much from watching dancers as I have from reading.”—Zadie Smith

Dance. Sculpture. Painting. Instrumental music. Art forms that do not require words inform writers at a subconscious level. We absorb them, inhale them. Movement and sound and rhythm become part of who we are.

Theme Song

Like many writers, I love to find a theme song for each project. Waves of music elicit a tide of emotions. The refrain and the power of repetition, move me. Informed by years as a flutist, and from hearing my mother, a pianist, organist, and singer, practice in the living room of our small house, I often feel I have music in my bones.

My unpublished novel, The Dream, stars Sarah, a pianist. A contemporary piano playlist helped me “hear” her tickling the ivories as I wrote. While I drafted, revised, and pitched my running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, I ignored the obvious cliche and listened to the theme from Chariots of Fire—on repeat. I became one of the athletes on the beach, heart pounding, feet moving through the surf. Most of the many books I’ve written, published or not, have a musical score.

A Different Kind of Music

So it surprised me as I worked on the writing journal, You Should Be Writing, that I didn’t feel drawn to a theme song. I worked in silence adding writing quotes to those my coauthor Brenda Knight had plucked from her fabulous collection she had no doubt been compiling for decades. Stillness buoyed me while I reorganized and added to the chapters. As I drafted the introduction, conclusion, and micro-essays for Brenda to review, the only beat I longed for was the one I wondered if Brenda felt when she conceived this concept, some north star she followed in creating the early draft. I searched for the song inside what she had envisioned.

This process reminded me of high school performances with Mrs. Poe, our choir director and pianist. When she and I played together, my flute and her piano, it sometimes felt as if we read each other’s minds. I could hear the pause before it came, the way her feet shifted on the pedals, the lift of her fingers an extra second as she waited for my entrance. We were reading music, but through practice, we also read each other. At first I had to watch, see her watching me, but by the day of the recital, we could think to each other. We had melted into the music. It led us where we needed to go.

I hope the back and forth of co-authoring this writing journal with Brenda Knight created a similar melody. I hope you can hear that theme when you use it. And of course, we both hope you enjoy our song.

For more wisdom from authors like Zadie Smith, please check out You Should Be Writing, the new writing journal from Mango Publishing by Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney.

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