Awareness, Triggers and Full Circle Stories

Squeezing the Nectar

 Awareness, Triggers and Full Circle Personal Stories

© Joanne Klassen —

Transformative Life Writing™ provides easy-to-use tools for getting the most out of our life stories by guiding us directly to them with awareness; getting specific using “Triggers,” and then helping capture the essence of a lived experience, often in just five minutes (J5M). Further, Transformative Life Writing™ moves us on to discover the gift each experience offers today. I call this “squeezing the nectar.”

“Full Circle” stories take us from the present to the past and back again, full circle, to arrive with fresh insight. This process includes three phases:

  1. What happened?—Begin by writing the details of the experience, as you remember them.
  2. So What?—This is where the awareness or memory took you, or its gift.
  3. Now What?—Take a step back and see how you can use this awareness now.

Here’s an example:


As I drove to my condo yesterday I became aware of a Trigger; my eye was drawn to a decal on the rear window of the car ahead of me. It was the symbol of Free Masons.

Immediately memories of my Grandpa, Charles W. Mellerup, my mom’s dad, from Iowa poured in.

What flashed across my mind was a black and white photo of Grandpa on his 90th birthday at a party in Mesa, Arizona, his winter home. He is dancing in a chorus line with two of his Mason buddies. The three of them have surprised the assembled crowd by appearing dressed as women.

Grandpa, a mountain of a man, a big Dane, well over 6′ tall, is muscular, sturdy with dazzling sky-blue eyes. His usual spiky white brush-cut is covered by a blonde wig. Decked out in make-up and earrings, he’s kicking up 3” heels.

I can hear Grandma Mellerup’s voice, that of a true Victorian lady, chiding Grandpa on so many occasions when his frolicking child-like side would emerge, “Charles, please.” She was probably thinking this as Grandpa surprised the crowd dressed in her clothing.

So What?

The gift, or ‘news I can use’ from this story is the joy Grandpa lived and gave others when he slipped free of propriety and stifling self-restraint. Grandpa reminds me today to take risks, to stretch limits, to live life more fully–surrounded by good friends.

In truth, I can’t remember when I last threw my head back and laughed from my nose to toes. Lately I’ve been way too busy with work, focused on obligations and tasks that I think require my attention. I’ve been more impatient and critical than I’d like.

Now What?

Grandpa Mellerup always made everything around him seem lighter, brighter. He made me and others feel special. His early life was very hard, but he still chose to enjoy the moment. This balance is what I want for myself. His ability to play freely is his true legacy to me. This story inspires me to schedule more time with friends, especially friends I can be goofy with. Nina, Lynne and Gloria come to mind; I’ll reach them today.

 We all carry the buried treasure of countless life-enriching stories within us. Transformative Life Writing™ gives us step-by-step tools to become aware of and uncover Full Circle stories, complete with timeless gifts of yesterday that we can enjoy and benefit from today.


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Join our September Classes

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Join our September Classes

This is your invitation to join a Heartspace Transformative Writing™ class

Learning that Changes Lives

Breathe new life into your writing and your relationships

Join a light-hearted circle of writers who support one another’s courage and writing

  • Each week explore creative channels and topics to enrich your writing and your life by expanding awareness from fresh perspectives.
  • Give your words new vitality in this safe “no red pens” course.
  • Based on the book Tools of Transformation Infinity Publishing, 2004 by Joanne Klassen

FREE UP YOUR PEN is limited to the first 10 registrants.

Note: If there is enough interest, an afternoon session will be added.

Instructor: Joanne Klassen is founder of Heartspace Writing School, home of Transformative Life Writing™–Learning that Changes Lives, with centres in North America and Europe. Joanne’s stories appear in the 101 Best Chicken Soup for the Soul Stories; her books have been translated into Greek and Russian. Heartspace writers have published more than 50 books, all Mc Nally-Robinson bestsellers.

Joanne loves paving fresh pathways for life writing.

4 Wednesdays starting September 20, 27, October 4, 11 2017 Time: 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Cost: $225.00 plus GST

Special $25 Discount for Returning Students

Location: Osborne Village area, Winnipeg

For information or to Register: Contact Leah Bueckert, Co-Facilitator, at

Visit our new website for a preview Passport

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What is Transformative Life Writing?

What is Transformative Life Writing?

Transformative Life Writing™ brings together the reflective, expressive, healing tradition of personal writing (journal, diary, memoir), and the artistic, creative tradition of literary writing (poetry, short story, novel). It is writing creative non-fiction, based on lived experience.

The textbook for Life Writing for Transformation™ courses is Tools of Transformation, Infinity Publishing 2004 by Joanne Klassen, originator of this process. Transformative Life Writing™ includes 25 tools designed to help writers create an enduring, joyful relationship with writing. Examples of the tools are:

  • Writing Triggers to spark stories
  • Free-style Writing
  • Mind Mapping to generate & organize story themes
  • Focusing Techniques to stay on track
  • Techniques for quieting the Inner Critic
  • Timed writing to complete stories
  • “A String of Story Pearls” to capture life shaping experiences
  • Feedback that improves writing—without criticism, ever

Four “Creative Channels” strengthened through Transformative Life Writing™:

      1. Moments
      2. Imagination
      3. Memory
      4. Inspiration

“Full Circle” stories include A) What happened? Experiences: emotions, actions B) So what? The significance of the experience

C) Now what? The gift, change/ new awareness

Life-enriching, transformative stories are nurtured in writing circles where encouragement, support, acceptance and guidance are provided. The result is stories that carry the wisdom, experience, and adventures of one generation to the next, and the next.

© Joanne Klassen 5-12-2014 Winnipeg, MB Canada


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A Writing Exercise

A Writing Exercise for February, the Month of Love

Last night was our first new Free Up Your Pen. . .Free Up Your Life, Transformative Life Writing class for the month of February. To dive into the topic of love, we took an imaginary journey. Closing the curtain of our eyes and relaxing into the…

via A Writing Exercise for February, Month of Love — Free Up Your Pen. . . Free Up Your Life

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Friday Fun – How to keep writing during turmoil

Check out this blog for many perspectives on the journey of writing.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.


It’s no secret that writers tend to be sensitive souls. Some of us have already written about how difficult it is to write during chaotic times. Recently, we’ve been hearing from other writers who tell us they are also having difficulty writing when there appears to be so much uncertainty and turmoil surrounding us.

It feels like a betrayal and selfish to isolate ourselves just to write and yet we need to continue writing.

What do you do to keep on writing when things seem to be overwhelming?


wendy-shotWendy Thomas– I recently got an Alexa – that little Amazon hockey puck that sits on your desk and talks to you. She…

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