Writing from the heart


Mays Imad



  1. I welcome all of you. This is not a place where you’ll be asked to compartmentalize or leave part of yourself behind.
  2. I welcome you to actively engage in each session.
  3. Be present to the degree you feel safe and comfortable.
  4. Take which resonates with you.
  5. Share your reflections and any resources you have found helpful.

Questions for you:

  • For you, what does the term “heart” signify?
  • How do you know when you’re “in your heart?”

What might writing from the heart as a practice bring to you?

This is something that, once again, serves as starting prompts for me. It allows me to pause and engage more than just the intellectual; it permits me to involve my other senses and truly sit with the pen, so to speak, with the words. In this pausing, I have found not only moments of healing but also understanding and numerous openings, if you will.

My colleague, mentor, and friend, Bio Accumulate, says that the times are urgent. It is important to pause, and there are many contemplative exercises, including journaling, contemplative reading, and contemplative writing.

So, within these sessions, my hope for all of us, including those of you who join me, is that we engage in contemplative reading and writing.

Now, I’m going to share with you three prompts, and I will read those prompts and then invite you to reflect on them.

Let’s begin.

Prompt One

The first prompt is inspired by the work of Toni Morrison. I will share with you a piece of her writing; she published an article in The Nation with the title ‘There’s No Time for Despair.’ In this article, she writes: ‘There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and although it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge, even wisdom. Like art.’

This is an article that I consistently revisit. I undoubtedly find comfort and truth every time I read it. I discover new invitations, challenges, and aspirations. Therefore, my invitation to you for the first prompt is within your professional life: Do you create art? Where? How does it relate to your personal growth, healing, hope, resistance, and the future? You may choose to pause and write your reflections.

Where in your professional life do you find and make art?

I will share two more prompts, or you may choose to go through these two prompts and then begin to write. So, it’s up to you. But if you wish to pause, now would be the time. When you return, we will proceed to prompt number two.

Prompt Two

So, the second prompt is inspired by the work of Pádraig Ó Tuama, who is an Irish theologian, community activist, poet, teacher, and healer. In his book ‘In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World,’ there’s a part of a poem that I’d like to share with you. He writes:

“We gather here a room of strangers to speak of our whole plant and talk of our danger…
To make sense of our thinking, to authenticate lives
To humanize feeling, and stop telling lies.”

When I first read this, it immediately spoke to me and my position in higher education, both as a teacher and a colleague. I began to ask myself whether this resonated with the lies I’ve been told or the lies I may have perpetuated. So, my first prompt related to this is: Thinking of your experience within STEM higher education, what resonates with you about this and why?

Take it a step further, as I did. I began to reflect on and even engage in some writing about the following: What lies have I perpetuated within the culture of STEM or within the culture of higher education?

My intention here is that if we want to forge a new path within higher education, a path grounded in an ethics of care, humanity, truth, and justice, it’s important that we reflect on the roles we have individually and collectively played in perpetuating an inequitable system that lacks kindness and fails to honor the humanity of students, staff, and professors in full.

Prompt Three

So, I have one more prompt for you, and this final prompt really sums up the intention behind the series. The prompt is inspired by the work of Madikizela, a South African scholar who was part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In the book that she edited and co-authored, ‘Breaking’s Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition,’ she writes:

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

“It is argued that in the aftermath of historical trauma, restoring human bonds requires a new vocabulary of rehumanization. This new mode of being human calls for a “reparative humanism” that opens toward a horizon of an ethics of care for the sake of a transformed society.”

– Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition

And inspired by those words, my question for all of us is this: What does it mean to be human, thriving and flourishing within STEM, within higher education, in the aftermath of mass trauma and ongoing oppression?

What I’m seeking is not an academic answer but what stirs within you, in your chest, in your heart when you read these quotes and prompts. That’s what writing from the heart is about. Don’t filter it, don’t edit.

Now, there’s an invitation to share what you have written, whether it’s in response to all the prompts or just one or two. If you follow this link (https://bit.ly/writingfromtheheart1), you’ll find a Google form where you can share your reflections. You’ll also have the option to provide your name and email if you wish. Feel free to do so. Additionally, we’ll ask if we may share your writing with the rest of the Writing from the Hearts community. We’re currently working on a website to feature these reflections.

Once again, thank you for joining us, and I’m looking forward to having you in the next session.

Mays Imad

Dr. Mays Imad's academic journey began at the University of Michigan–Dearborn, where she pursued philosophy and minored in chemistry. She earned a doctoral degree in cellular & clinical neurobiology, with a minor in biomedical sciences, from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the...