Back in February 2012 I began writing a daily journal. By then I was already a few months in to writing and publishing my daily gratitude blog. My daily journal was just for me; it was a place for me to write about what I was feeling at the start of each new day. After a few days of writing, I attached a yellow sticky note to the front of journal that said, “Writing My Way to Clarity.” God knows I needed clarity during that time. The year that was 2011 had been filled with a “serious of unfortunate events,” that had left me grief stricken, brokenhearted, unemployed, and relocated. To have major life events all crash in on me over a six month period had a fairly dramatic effect on both my external and internal life. I needed a way, several ways actually, to process and make sense of it all. One of those ways was expressing my gratitude in a daily blog, and the other was writing in my journal each morning.
This morning I began Book 12 of Writing My Way to Clarity–I am on my 12th journal book, with those words always inscribed in the front along with the relevant dates. The 11th book ran from August 11, 2013 through January 10, 2014. I have used writing as a mechanism of sense making for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil and put words together into sentences. Back then in the olden days it involved writing longhand in pencil on lined notebook paper. My journal writing implements haven’t progressed much since then: I now write longhand in ink in a lined, legal record book (the kind that has a line near the center of the page instead of at the left margin). It is hard bound and the paper is a bit thicker and fancier than my old notebook paper days, but for the most part it is still filled with my scrawled handwriting and some of my innermost thoughts. My guess is that it could potentially provide some entertainment to my children or anyone who might care to read them after I’ve passed from this world; but honestly, it really isn’t that interesting.
What has been true is that the journals have for the most part chronicled my inner journey through a particularly challenging period as I not only questioned what was happening to me and what lessons I needed to learn from it, but also what were the next steps I needed to take to begin to reclaim a sense of purpose, heal from the trauma I’d experienced, and regain a sense of self worth. I needed to determine my “what’s next,” and spent many hours writing–from my journal in the early morning, cover letters and applications during the daytime, and my gratitude blog in the evenings. I was able to pour my sadness, anger, frustration, and grief onto those pages, as well as a number of “ah has,” prayers and good wishes of lovingkindness to “all beings,” and important lessons learned.
As a writer, my journal has been a place to hone my craft. Even though it is handwritten (which means there’s no spell-checker, and thus there are occasional misspellings), I still adhere, as best I can, to the rules of grammar and punctuation as I was taught them in composition classes many, many years ago. Just because I am writing primarily for my own consumption doesn’t mean it needs to be grammatically sloppy. It is also a place for me to try out new ideas and concepts, so my last few Books have little purple “post it” flags protruding from various pages where I’ve had a particularly important insight, creative idea, or something I wanted to remember to tell my therapist.
Writing is not for everyone. I have a very extraverted friend who would much rather talk out everything that’s on her mind than write it. As an introvert, writing suits me perfectly, and in the end I can refer back to what I was thinking; you can’t really go back and recall all of what you said during a conversation. Writing for me can be a kind of meditation: it allows me to focus my attention on a topic or idea and flow with it. Also as with meditation, I often daydream as my wayward mind wanders and my thoughts scatter to the four winds and I have to drag it back to the matter at hand.
More and more people are using social media as a forum for conversation and interaction, and I suppose that blogging is a form of social media. I consider my journal my vehicle for writing my way to clarity; I consider my blog as a vehicle to encourage other people to find their way to their clarity. Even with the modest readership I’ve had first with my daily gratitude blog, and now this one, I write for myself and I write for others and hope that those of you who read it find value in what’s written here. Truly if I only inspire one person each day (other than myself, that is) then it has been a successful piece. What more could a writer ask for?