On Journaling and Growth


There is very little that I find more calming than a cup of hot tea and a blank page to write on when my mind will not allow me to sleep. So here I sit, like so many nights before, with my cup of chamomile and my blank page hoping to get whatever it is out so my mind will be still.

I know what keeps me awake this night, it is my to-do list. What a silly thing to be fretting over, don’t you agree? At this late hour there is nothing I can do about the things on my list. They all have a time and a place where they will soon be checked off and tonight laying restless in my bed I knew was neither the time nor the place for any of these items to be addressed. yet there I lay for quite sometime wondering how I can squeeze more than 24 hours out of a day, like so many of us do. Alas I have no answer to my quandary. And with no solution for my lack of time this week for all the things I need to accomplish it is time to stop dwelling and refocus my mind.

This is one of those posts I have been writing in my head for quite sometime.

I have kept a journal of some sort since the 4th grade. When I was 9 I experienced my very first real loss from someone close to me dying. I struggled. My fourth grade teacher and the guidance counselor at school teamed up with my mother and the hospice social worker to help me work through my pain. One of the results of the efforts was my introduction to journaling.

My first journal was for my grandmother whom I lost. I wrote to her. It helped.

Years later I still found myself writing. I journaled, I took creative writing classes, I wrote poetry (badly in my opinion, certainly not one of my strengths). Written word has always felt like a place where I lose and find myself. What I have found though is that it is difficult for me to go back and read old journals, or creative writing submissions or even posts on this blog. Reading the words from your past from your place in, what is technically the present, but to that past version of yourself the future, (I hope that sentence made sense, it feels very clunky to me).. You are sitting in the future with an understanding that whatever you struggled with before turned out OK so you feel foolish for your past worry or you have grown and maybe feel embarrassed by the younger version of yourself and your thoughts. Whatever the case may be.

While I admit I do not love to read old entries in journals for some of the reasons mentioned, here is what I will say, doing so helps me to really recognize and appreciate my growth. Reading old entries in outdated journals has helped me identify patterns in myself that I would maybe not have otherwise seen. Old entries help me realize nothing is as bad as it seems and most importantly that I do not have it all figured out.

The photo I found above speaks to this last point beautifully. I really do feel that as I grow I lose touch with versions of myself that do not fit with who I am now in this moment. I am sure the same will be true a year from now, 5 years from now, and so on.

There have been times in this process where I have given serious consideration to deleting this blog all together because some of these entries no longer feel like an accurate representation of who I am now. I always talk myself out of it though because the very purpose of this blog was to document my journey as a returning student. It all has to stay, all of it is important, it builds on itself, it outline the growth and the struggle and the success.

Even now I know I am about to turn a page into a new chapter and I wonder if my thoughts and feelings and ramblings from the last 6 months and prior will feel relevant a year from now. I don’t know, maybe not. But that is OK, that is the point. I have to just keep telling myself that.

Again I find myself reflecting on my gratitude for this space where I can clear my mind and share my story. When this experience is said and done I will have so much more than photos to account for this time in my life. I will have my words, my thoughts, my feelings. To me it is worth so much more than a photo on special occasions. Having one photo of me volunteering at Hospice will not speak to the experiences, neither will a photo of me from the first day of school and graduation day. What about everyday in between?

I am thinking about who I was three years ago when I started, one year ago when I started the program, and who I will be next year when I graduate. I look forward to meeting that woman, I hope she looks back on this post and every post before it and instead of feeling embarrassment for what I do not know today she feels gratitude for the journey and the growth along the way.


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