I was sure I’d do more than this
That was my recurring thought in my 30s as I looked at the way my life was unfolding.
I felt stuck, stifled and oh-so-aware of the passing of time, but I was unsure how to bring about the changes I needed to make to my life.
And I was confused too, because I had done everything “right”. I studied hard, got my degree and a “proper” job, ditching any notions I’d previously had about being a writer or owning my own business. That was something that “other people” did, there’s no way I would be able to do it…
I stuck to the sensible plan, assumed that one day it would all feel right and that everything would fall into place.
But it never really did.
After I had my twin boys, I knew my life wasn’t set up in a way that allowed me to do what mattered to me most - look after my family, build something worthwhile for my children and do something I enjoyed at the same time. It’s not that becoming a mum changed my priorities, it just gave me a reason to live them.
The penny finally dropped with me that if I wanted to change something, I could learn how change it. I took writing courses and workshops to set me on the path to writing fiction, meanwhile I turned to a blank notebook to write about my real life too. Call it what you will – a notebook, a journal, a diary – it was the place I worked out what I wanted to do and then planned a way to take action. Writing in this way helped me gain clarity and inspiration, and then, more importantly, take action based on what mattered to me most.
I’m not going to pretend for a second that it’s been easy (lots of tears), nor that I’ve got it all figured out yet (nope), but it’s definitely up there as one of the better decisions I’ve made.
When I left my day job in 2016, I was ready to take control of my career and build my business round my family but, as so often happens, life had other plans.
Around six months into my business, I lost my wonderful dad. He died one night unexpectedly and his passing left a massive hole in all our lives.
I thought I was doing OK. My practical side kicked into gear. My dad had always been the capable one and I was determined to pick up the mantle. “I’ll do it, that’s no problem,” became my over-used phrase. It took me a year to hit a metaphorical wall. All the time I thought I was handling it like a trooper, but, really, I wasn’t. I was trying to make things better for my mum and my children, trying to work on my business, trying to get back to “normal,” but all the time I felt as though I was operating from under a pile of bricks.
It took me too long, but I finally went to my doctor and got some help by way of anxiety medication. It’s given me the breathing room to start mainstreaming healthy, supportive, enriching practices in my life again, and for me that includes writing and journaling.
Did journaling help me when Dad died? Honestly, no. I couldn’t face what was happening nor how I felt about it, so the last thing I wanted to do was write it down. It was about six months before I mentioned Dad in my journal other than obliquely, but this is common. It’s documented that journaling best helps us process difficult feelings and events once we have some distance from them.
But it’s not all about easing the difficult times! Journaling can do so much more. I believe an intentional writing practice can infuse positive change in our lives, help us explore and express our creativity and, best of all, have more FUN.
That’s what I’ve found, anyway, and I’d love for you to find that too!
You can develop your own journaling practice and inject more fun into your life.
If that sounds good to you, join the community. We’d LOVE to have you there.