“I’ve been journaling since I was 15. It’s a wonder that I’ve managed to be a successful human being considering how pathetic I appeared in many of my daily musings.” –Oprah, in Oprah Magazine April 2011
I caved. I was standing in line at the grocery store waiting to check out and glancing over the magazines they strategically place right near the counter when I read the cover for Oprah’s newest issue. In the magazine, she shows you pages of her journals from 1970-1985. I had to read it. And wouldn’t you know, most every page had to do with some boy. She’s been keeping a journal since she was 15, and I’ve been journaling since I was 13. I’m sure a fair amount of my “daily musings” were about boys, in fact I’m positive they were. But, I also changed the purpose of my journaling just like Oprah did. At some point in her life, she began to use her journal as a place for gratitude and blessings in her life rather than recounting all the bad stuff. By allowing herself that positive space she allowed good things to enter her life. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. It isn’t. Despite all the advice I get from Oprah, or from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, which I read last year and which prompted the beginning of this wayward blog, I by no means have it all figured out. But, I’m getting there.
I’ve also been reading the book Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. It’s a young adult novel about a 10 year old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder that makes it difficult to understand and express emotion. Despite her disorder, I find Caitlin extremely delightful as she practices naming emotions on the playground, making friends, and celebrating the things she’s good at like finesse. Here’s an excerpt that made me laugh, because I know exactly how she feels. The scene is Caitlin is in the school office talking to her counselor on the phone.
She says I have to be patient and keep trying. Sometimes things don’t work the first time but then eventually they do.
And making friends?
Even for me?
Absolutely. I have confidence in you. You just have to keep trying.
Josh is walking into the principal’s office when I get off the phone.
He turns his head to me and whispers, Loser.
I know, I tell him, but I’m going to keep trying.
To put it in Caitlin’s terms. “I Get It.” I know how she feels. Because I feel that way too. What does Oprah and a 10 year old with Asperger’s have to do with your blog, Jess, you ask? I guess they represent where my head is at in this writing journey of mine. I know I’ve come a long way, but I have to keep trying.
Case in point, an excerpt from my April 1, 2000 journal ( I was in 8th grade):
In the future I want…
- to be a famous, or at least published authoress
- to travel all over the world
- to happily marry a wonderful, handsome, God-loving man
- to some distant day have a baby girl and a baby boy
- to maybe direct or write or act in a good movie
- to meet my penpal, Andrea
- to be rid of this dreadful retainer!
Lylas (love you like a sister),
What do you think? What parts of your writing journey do you have to keep working at? What about your happiness journey? Do you have goals from childhood you’re still working on? Ever pull out your old journals and try to name the emotions in them? lol.