A preteen version of myself is seated somewhere in economy flying over mid-America. On the outside silently listening to my coveted disk man CD player, but on the inside, unbeknownst to my seatmates (aka my Dad and sister),I’m deeply feeling the melodies of what at the time felt like my heart songs. That’s right, cue Britney Spears’ early album ballads: Dear Diary and From the Bottom of My Broken Heart. Deep, I know.
I guess we should back it up a notch. Something you should probably know about me is if I ever do get around to taking the Enneagram test ( I KNOW, don’t come at me I’m too busy at the moment with my insomnia and googling old Britney Spears’ videos, k), I would without a doubt be whatever enneagram number-letter feels the most feelings in the most sensitive way. Okay, since that’s out of the way let’s get back to the story…
I’m 11, I’m feeling all the feels, my Dad is likely sleeping in the aisle seat head tilted back, mouth slightly agape, my 6-year-old sister next to me probably trying to talk to the people behind us, the flight attendant or anyone who will listen. We’re on our way to California to visit family. A trip so familiar, I could measure it by how many ballads I could listen to on my disk-man and knew that I would get at least 2, 6 oz servings of Cocacola down before landing. Why is this trip different from the hundreds before? Well, inspired by the melodies of Britney, I had packed away my diary. This is the first memory I have of documenting my thoughts and feelings. It’s comical now to think back on my pre-teen angst. However, I think had I not turned to writing to channel the heartbreak I thought I was feeling, the actual heartbreak I may have been dealing with, the growing pains and more, I do wonder how that would have shaped me differently. All this to say, I cannot remember a time where writing was not an outlet for me. I mean, I started this blog as an outlet of sorts which leads me to now, drafting this newsletter at 3 AM because sleep is not something I can do until my thoughts are out and on paper (or cyberspace).
Why am I telling you all of this?
I think back on memories I have journaling. While most journaling takes place on a seemingly ordinary day, others stick out as pivotal moments in my life. 9/11 for instance, I remember coming home from school and writing down what had happened on a piece of my stepdad’s yellow notebook paper I foraged from his desk. I wish I could find those words right now, go back and give that little girl a hug. Around the same time, I was trying (and failing) to process my parents’ divorce. For whatever reason, I decided to open a word doc on my Dad’s computer and type out my feelings, because that is super stealth (a pre-blog foreshadow perhaps). While that particular piece of journaling didn’t stay quite so close to my chest (my Dad discovered what I had written and we had a tear-filled talk that is still seared in my memory), the point is those words and thoughts were something I innately felt the need to release. In other early memories, I wrote a piece (a piece, lol I was 12…maybe) on how my mom was my hero, still true! And bless her for buying me countless diaries and notebooks throughout the years, and for probably being my first intro into writing down feelings. Our lunches, a random Tuesday, birthdays and holidays were benchmarked by little love notes from Mom. In later years, my journals were filled with other formative experiences, which at the time seemed ordinary, but now I can see how they made me, me.
I share all of this to say, writing has gotten me here. Whether you are or aren’t a journaler, I can confidently say you may be needing a release or a welcome distraction these days. I want journaling to bring you the same comfort it has brought me. I hope you will join me in weekly journal prompts.Grab a notebook, scrap paper, type it out. Scribble down bullets, or write in long-form – whatever your jam is please make this yours. I’ll provide the topic and you roll with it. I hope this will become a healthy habit you look forward to weekly to get through these uncertain times and beyond.
We are all in some way, being affected by the impacts of COVID-19. It’s here, this is happening, and it will inevitably become part of your story. By journaling, I hope you find a few moments to set aside for yourself amidst the uncertain times. May we one day look back on these journal entries and feel a sense of pride for pushing through, and may our words be a lifeline.