Written by: Courtney Ciandella
I often think of myself as a storyteller. A creative soul who needs a blank paper nearby to jot down whatever ideas popped into my head. Like, at any given moment, I could formulate the storyline of my next great novel or screenplay and will desperately need to write it down before my ideas slip out of focus (Spoiler: I have yet to produce either of these, but I plan to one day!). Growing up, I was eager to attend my creative writing or journalism classes because they were the few subjects where the story or equation wasn’t already written for me to memorize. They provided me with a clean slate and an empty canvas to write about anything that I desired.
These stories eventually molded from fantasy to deeply personal narratives. My words seamlessly transitioned from homework assignments to journal entries and, eventually, to published writings. I wasn’t just writing to get a good grade or recognition from others; I was writing for my sanity.
Writing became a form of expression I didn’t realize I needed. Regurgitating my thoughts and feelings down on paper (and eventually my computer screen) helped me gain mental clarity throughout some of the most challenging moments in my life. It was my therapy - without the one hundred dollar sessions and someone sitting across from me trying to decipher my story (to be clear, I’m a big supporter of therapy and have undergone my fair share of sessions). I was never good at reciting stories verbally, but my pen flowed with no question by arranging through the written word.
Writing helped me confront the loss of my grandfather and some other traumatic experiences as a young adolescent. Not to brag, but I earned second place in a writing contest in 8th grade for the telling essay I wrote detailing these events, something I rarely have verbally spoken about since. Through writing, I gathered my thoughts and feelings after an argument with a friend, leading me to better understand both sides while watching it unfold in front of me. Writing brought me back to life after a devastating breakup sent me down a rabbit hole of depression I feared I’d never get out of. Writing supported me through the ups and downs of my anxiety and the swirling thoughts that confused my mind daily. And writing encouraged me to get out of an abusive relationship and move on from the emotional scars it left in its wake.
Our own words are compelling and can explain a lot about what we’re thinking. In a way, I became addicted to this feeling. The freedom to say whatever came to mind and be as vulnerable as possible without any questionable stares looking back at me (I’m not a bad public speaker, but it can be intimidating!). I believe that’s why my form of therapy also grew into an exciting hobby. I began submitting my words to publications, writing about my breakups, heartache, fears, and passions. In turn, they would be published online or in print with my name stamped in the byline like it was my autograph trademarking my story. It felt purposeful, giving my story meaning to others that could relate or resonate with it somehow. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was a calling for me to pursue as more than just a hobby.
And I have quite a few hobbies. One is my passion for improving my health and well-being. Something I’ve fixated on for years in response to a difficult health scare I dealt with as a child (one of those traumatic experiences I mentioned earlier). Fueling my body with nutritious food and taking daily trips to the gym or a yoga class grew into a lifestyle that I was devoted to - more for the mental benefits than the physical ones. I was obsessed with the relief that exercise and a healthy diet gave me, alleviating my anxious thoughts and foggy brain, plagued by my anxiety. I wanted to share this sensation with others, similarly struggling with these mental stressors. So again, I turned to writing.
I combined my passions for health and wellness and incorporated that into my writing. I quit my 9-5 office job in marketing, obtained my yoga teaching certification, and became a freelance content writer, specifically to educate others on how to improve their mental and physical health. Soon I was writing for dozens of publications and sharing my work with an audience, something my eighth-grade self only dreamed about. A journey that I never expected to feel so fulfilling.
I’m now even more than a storyteller. I’m an established writer, soon-to-be book author, educator, and wellness professional. And I don’t plan to have my story stop there.
Yoga Website/Blog: https://www.courtneybethyoga.com/ Instagram Handle: @courtney_beth_yoga