Journaling is a very healing and creative exercise and I think it should be part of every school curriculum. Like anything else, we get better at what we put time and effort into. If we make time to hear our inner thoughts, dreams, and hopes they will begin to make themselves known to us. I remember when I had my students keep journals in French and Spanish class. Some would say, “Oh, I have to do that. I have such a boring life. There is nothing to say. Nothing interesting happened. Then I reminded them that a journal is not just a chronicle of daily events. Our journals should include our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and observations we have about people along with the events in our lives I told them. Some of the students would turn in their journals on Fridays with that blah look of “Oh, I hope I at least get a C or a D on this assignment.” Fortunately a few really enjoyed writing and discovering new things about themselves. A couple even expressed an interest in taking a creative writing class and began to write poetry, and short stories. Reading those poems and stories was as refreshing as a banana split.
One of the exercises I did in my early journaling days back in college was to do what I called “project into my future.” I would capitalize the word WILL for emphasis. I actually began projecting into my future long before that. I remember fights I had with dad when he put me down and told me I’d never amount to anything just like my mother. I always had a counter attack phrase ready, though I knew that his verbal abuse and attacks still wounded me very deeply and had a lot to do with my low self esteem issues. “I will show you,” I would tell him. “I will go to college and get away from here. “I will make something of myself. I will prove you wrong. I said these phrases constantly, and it was just as important that I hear them as my need for my father to hear them. Dad might ignore them and make fun of them, but I did not. I always fought back when he started in on me. I think that deep down he respected me for standing up to him; otherwise, I feel sure he would have hit me or punished me in one of his cruel ways.
The “I will” phrases made their way into my journals. I would go back and read them often. It was one way to help myself cultivate and maintain a sense of optimism. It is important and vital that we do this in whatever ways we can according to the means available to us. One of my favorite songs is “Cockeyed Optimist” from the musical, South Pacific. I love the line that goes “I hear the human race is falling on its face and hasn’t very far to go. But every whippoorwill is selling me a bill and telling me it just ain’t so.” And the ending that goes, “But I’m just like a dope with this things called Hope and I can’t get it out of my heart, not this heart.” Those are some of the wisest and finest lyrics ever written if you ask me.
In looking back through old journals years after graduating from college, I had a ball reminiscing over my “I will” phrases. I will go to France. I will travel in Europe. I will make good grades. I will get in choir. I will go to the nursing homes with the People who Care Club on Saturdays and sing and cheer up the old folks. I will not stay sad and depressed. I will be happy. I will not let my problems and obstacles get me down. I also had a lot of I won’t phrases and I’d use the present 'to be' tense a lot. For I have learned in working with positive affirmations that keeping them in the present tense is more effective and brings about quicker results than if we state them in the future tense. One of my favorite phrases was “My procrastination days are over.” I would get so irritated when I put off studying for final exams and had to wind up doing the late night study shift burning the midnight oil. I’m surprised those no doze caffeine pills didn’t do me in. I often put off reading assignments or writing reports and essays. I especially could never seem to get an early start on what we used to call “those monstrous term papers.” This was one instance when writing and saying my affirmations didn’t help. I really disliked term papers. One of the reasons I probably left my French doctoral program is that writing a dissertation is like writing several long term papers.
I had gone through my old journals one day when I had the blues back in the early 1980’s A couple of days later I wrote “Transition.”
The sad moon peeps through
rolling shadowy clouds.
Clouds do not last.
Darkness will not forever envelop my soul.
Tears stream down my cheeks
when somber is my day.
Tears do not last.
The breeze will dry them and caress my face.
Sometimes I feel cold inside.
Cruel men’s words chill my heart.
Words do not last.
They fade like the morning mist.
The darkest cloud gives birth to light.
Enough tears will drown all pain.
The nightmares of life will not last.
Tomorrow’s dreams will melt them away.
I liked that little poem or writing. Aren’t all of our lives in transition I thought. We are growing and changing every day to hopefully become smarter, wiser and kinder people. We are all passing from one stage to the next and it is a lifelong process. 'The Writing' reminded me that it is acceptable and alright to have our blahs and down times as well as our joyous happy ones. It reminded me of the old saying “This too WILL pass.” At times it does not seem that the darkness will pass, but I believe that it indeed does. And we must all do our part and not stick our head in the sand and refuse to look up at the sky, the stars and the light.
I had been in a dark phase for quite a long time back around 1982 and constantly entertained thoughts of suicide. I finally decided to see the therapist Mary had recommended. We worked for about six weeks then one day I told her, “Rita, it seems to me that my choices are obvious. I can either choose to get my face out of the sand and look up at the sky or I can just keep it there and spend the rest of my days in the abyss I am in. I think I would like to start taking risks and getting involved with life again.” That ended our sessions and she wished me much luck and success, and reassured me that we were all born to win and entitled to happiness. She said she thought I would find it. It is nice to have a shoulder to cry on for that if no other reason. Just to have someone tell us that we are worthy of love and happiness and to verbalize their belief that they have faith in our abilities to heal and find that which we seek can help so much.
Yes, it takes courage, determination, and effort to reach out to another, to bare our souls, and to ask for help when we are hurting. Pride must sometimes take a back seat. And sometimes we must reach out even when we are trembling and shaking. I was a nervous wreck that day I first went to the counselor’s office in Berea. I looked around for several minutes to make sure no one could see me. I had thoughts go in my mind giving a dozen reasons why I should not see a counselor. But I knew I needed help and sure was not about to get any if I did not ask for it. It’s important to be honest enough with ourselves to admit when our lives are not working and need some fixing. Like they say, admitting the problem is half of the solution.
We are all in transition and moving to higher vibrational frequencies that are enabling us to move into higher awareness and consciousness so we can create the magical life that we wish.