I have been taking some time to re-connect with the writer within.

Recently I attended an art therapy journaling workshop where we learned about Grief Therapy through artwork. I am working on summarizing that exercise and will share it here when I complete it.

I also recently completed an online workshop by Mari L. McCarthy on 27 Days of Journaling to Heath and Happiness. (www.createwritenow.com)

In 1993 I took a writing workshop at Mississippi State University taught by Rebecca Hood-Adams. We studied the book WRITING DOWN THE BONES,  a book I have carried around with me through various moves and life changes. This book was referenced in Mari’s class as well.

It has been so long since I followed the advice of Natalie Goldberg (in Writing Down the Bones) or Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) in taking time each morning to finish 3 pages of writing.

If we journal for three pages (no more, no less- 8 1/2 X 11 one side), we are able to sift through the clutter. Mine often began as to do lists or snippets of ideas.  By the end of the 27 days I was writing short essays about events or milestones (my son graduating from high school) or the birds outside. I wrote a poem, my first since Ossabaw over a year ago. I felt the songs I have buried deep within beginning to gurgle with interest.

My thoughts during the day almost “skip past the mundane” and jump right into problem solve mode based on what I wrote or pondered that very morning or maybe the day before.

I have come up with ideas for paintings, house plans, dreams of the next hopefully 45 years, as tomorrow I turn 46!

For a while my life consisted of moves no fewer than every two years. I grew up in my childhood home and remained there all through high school. A few weeks ago I went back to stay with my mom.
“You never come home anymore,” she told me.

At 46 with four children, an exchange student, two dogs and a cat and a husband who likes to live life in overdrive….sometimes it is great to come home.

I perused through my old closets, my notes and photos. My memories of things that mattered so much to me at the time that “I might just die!” that now my 16 year old and 18 year old are experiencing.  They still live within my heart and probably many of them are some of my fondest of times, but they are only kept alive in my journals and in my own recollection of what those times meant.

This year marks the longest I have been anywhere (in the same house) for more than two years since college and this year I will have been here 8 years.  We just put our house on the market, our lake house too, with the idea that we are ready to do a bit of what European writer Lynn Huggins-Cooper calls DOWNSHIFTING TO THE GOOD LIFE.

We are not sure where we are headed but we are excited at the thought, both my husband and I, of something green, open fieldish, with horses and a slower pace. I feel certain that will become something that as I am journaling, we will figure out in detail. One thought has already surfaced in my reading of magazines and journaling and that is that we want to build using only AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS.

I encourage you, if you don’t journal, to dig deeply within the confines of your memory and unleash some of those moments that made you. There are some that change us for the better, some that hurt, but they are all uniquely ours and something to preserve for all time, if not in truth, in fiction or perhaps a lesson to those who follow us. And then journal towards WHERE YOU WANT TO BE or WHO YOU ARE IN YOUR CORE so that you won’t waste precious years living someone else’s life.

I still read the journals my mother’s mother kept. She died when my mother was 9. I would never have known anything about the woman who bears my same name if she had not scribbled favorite quotes. Although her scribbles look more like calligraphy than doodles. I can touch the page where she neatly planned for the blank book at the beginning “1917 This book belongs to Catherine Allison”.

And then I look at my pile, my stack of journals. One to three every year since I was 5 and writing “we played barbies, we jumped on the tramp” and I wonder if my children will ever be curious about what I might have done or thought or dreamed.  I wonder if they will see the paths that took me off course of be able to identify the ones that sent me on this path where I am today?

Perhaps they won’t need all the nasty little details but this spring I have taken the time to read through all of them, even the ones during my divorce, and understand myself and others in a new light.

We all are focused on the circle that immediately surrounds us unless we agree to take off the blinders and look at life through a broader perspective.  Our journals help us do just that by removing the I on the pages so we can focus on the life going on around us during our precious moments that we call days.

I hope you will join me in journaling this week and let me know what you have found.

Perhaps you too might decide it is time to get to the core of who you are and just what this life means to you and be packing up all the stuff and heading to greener pastures.

Blessings and happy journaling!