Day five in my Seven Days series of things that helped me to learn to live with my childlessness. You may have noticed another day’s gap but there is a universal law that says, ‘Commit to a seven day “off-the-cuff-ad-libbing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” blog project and much stuff will happen that scuppers your plans!’ So, I’ve decided that ‘Seven Days’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Seven Consecutive Days’. Anyway, here is today’s ‘way’ with no apology for the short break in transmission!
Mastering the Art of Zen Journaling
Today’s ‘way’ is something that might cause a few folk to react with a weary sigh. Journaling? A waste of time? A bit of a chore? I certainly used to think so. I can’t tell you the number of times I started my journal promising myself to write every day. After a few days there would be a gap and my next entry would always begin with an apology for not having kept my word. Then the shame of not writing regularly would gradually make me give up. My journal had become a task-master – an evil block of blank pages sending out bad vibes and pointing out my inability to stick to the task.
Eventually I thought, ‘Well, exactly who’s in charge of this journaling thing?’ An evil block of blank pages or moi? So I established some non-rules about the writing of the journal.
- Stuff the ‘every day’ nonsense. I will write when I want or need to.
- Words schwords! I can use words if I want to. But I can also cut out cartoons, doodle, paste in my own photos, include a beautiful quote or line of poetry… whatever.
- No apologies for gaps.
I also gave myself one little task that I like to think of not as a rule but as a ‘ritual’.: every journal entry would include a ‘sorrow’ and a ‘song’. This ritual was a way of self-acknowledging the difficult stuff and celebrating some of life’s joys. I’m not going to define ‘sorrow’ or ‘song’ for you. Rather, if you choose to use them then you are free to go with whatever they mean for you.
I’m not making any miracle claims about journaling. There have been studies that suggest it can help people process difficult feelings. Equally, for some people it’s just not helpful. But it has helped me and has given me a precious visual record of how I have grieved and grown, fallen and risen over these last seventeen years of learning to live with loss.