I have been quiet and I apologize. I was working on an article about Eating Disorders in GLBTQ Clients. But now I'm back and catching up on my blogs and so my thoughts are spinning with lots of things, including--what do you feel passionate about?

I feel passionate about making certain that healthcare professionals can recognize when eating disorders are present, which was part of my goal in writing the article. I feel passionate about trying to get promoted at work, which means that I need to have publications. I feel passionate about making certain that people, especially our young people, value themselves, believe in their abilities and pursue their dreams. I feel passionate that as adults, we need to help guide our children through the maze of life by offering advice, but also by demonstrating through our behavior the virtues and principles that we believe in. I believe that I can offer advice, but I don't have all the answers, so I need to be willing to listen to my kids and to other young people and understand their views. I might think that I know best, but my dreams, beliefs and passions may not directly correspond with theirs.

How did I get onto this passion rant? Why am I worried about what our young children are starting to learn and believe? Well, my other two blogs touched on some important issues and they relate to my passions-and maybe yours.

For example, tweets have been in the news recently. What is it about our society that we have become so sexualized and so quick to tweet bulging gray shorts? Is any of this sense that there is nothing wrong with this behavior based on half-naked, underwear clad figures that loom from billboards? Or the barely dressed models in ads for products that do not require them to bare all? Studies demonstrate that exposure to these images reaps havoc with our self-esteem. When we continually bump up against these images, we start to feel bad about ourselves. We question our appearance, our sexuality, our desirability and then we can get lured into situations to try and make ourselves feel good again. We have to question, what we are being told and what we are feeling.

Writing can help us do this in a number of ways.

First, writing can help you clarify your thoughts and how you feel about issues. Sometimes I have to write to understand how I feel.

Second, writing can help you realize the impact from the images and messages that bombard you on a daily basis. Often we don't even know what messages we are starting to accept as true. Once we write them down, we can examine them. Do we want to believe that our self-worth is based only on our appearance? I don't. But this is often a message that is given to us by the images of advertisements. Writing can help you challenge some of the subliminal messages that you've been given.

Third, writing is a way to help express your beliefs to others. It is a way to try and make powerful changes in the world.

• Journal about your passions. Start to understand your beliefs and dreams. Use some sentence starts and write for 5 to 10 minutes. If you get stuck, use the sentence starter again. Maybe focus on one starter until you've exhausted it and then move onto the next. The starters?

o I believe...
o I don't want to believe...
o I dream that....
o I love....
o I hate....
o I worry....
o I know...
o I can't understand...
o I want to learn....
o I am passionate about...

You can develop some of your own sentence starters, but push yourself on these. Don't stop with the easy, first thoughts, push yourself to go deep. And if you find that you love things that aren't in your life or want to learn things that you aren't doing-make a way to get them into your life!

• Journal about the messages that the news or ads are constantly giving to you-what do you believe that you should perhaps be challenging? Since we discussed that self-image and self-esteem can be affected by these images, start journaling there. Write what you believe you are capable of and if you find limitations popping up, examine where they are coming from. Are ads making you feel that if you are not flawless, you can't be successful? Guess what, we all have flaws. Journal about messages others may have given to you that are holding you back. Do you think that you always have to make everyone else happy? What about your own happiness?

• Now if you have discovered a passion or a view that you think is important to express, write about it. Maybe share your view with others. Journal about ways that you can help change the world for the better. Journal about the impact you want to have in your children's lives or in others' lives. Journal-journey into yourself-and then Journey into the world and work to translate your passions into the changes you want.

Now, Go, Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD

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