One of the things I love best about blogging is the “total strangers turned friends” I have connected with in the cyber-world. I have connected with writers whose path is similar to mine and writers whose path is far removed from my experience. I have been comforted, supported, and challenged. Often, I find humorous posts, which in turn leads me to read more posts…which in turn consumes more time than I had planned on spending in front of the computer… which often results in out-loud laughter…which in turns prompts the “What are you laughing at?” question from somewhere in the school room and my quick admonition, “Do your work!”…which in turn draws me back to reality and to my work. But, I digress. Suffice it to say, there are some really great writers out there just waiting to be read.
My 17 year-old daughter, C, is a writer as well. She can craft an amazing story, but it’s her willingness to excavate herself that has always impressed me. It’s a rare find in a young person. When she was in the 9th grade, she was assigned an “Autobiography Project” in a composition class she took outside the house. It was a really neat project–not your typical “write your life story” type of assignment–assigned by a teacher my daughter really likes. She jumped into the assignment with a writer’s soul and miner’s determination. In addition to an introduction and 13 optional categories, the kids were given 7 directed and required categories they had to write about: likes/dislikes, personal metaphors, looking back from the future, remembering things past, the perfect present, Top 10 rewarding experiences, and a look into the future through fantasy and fact. At the risk of sounding like a boastful mom, the result is one of the neatest–anythings–I have ever read. It is such an accurate snapshot of who she was at that time–who she has always been–and where she is headed. I remember watching her go through the process; the internal struggle to “take the easy road” but wanting to really “do it right.” She did it right. She wrote from the heart, deep within her heart, and she gave herself the gift of honesty in her paper. I have read and re-read parts of her story (with permission.) I have seen the baby I held, the little girl I comforted, and the young woman who spent a month in Mongolia. She is there, in those pages, in her own words, beautifully recorded.
John Mayer sings a song, “Say What You Need to Say.” The chorus is like a “call to arms” for writers. Writers write because we have something to say–usually. Sometimes, I write to just plain figure out what it is I need to say. Those times are usually reserved for my journal. 🙂 Writing can help us discover who we are, why we are here, and where we are headed. The beauty of a journal is that there are no other eyes that ever need see the words recorded. They are for you. It is a gift we give ourselves.
At the “Finding Purpose” meeting the other night, (Driving through fog–on purpose), one woman asked how she could “discover her purpose without journaling.” “What?! No journal?!” I recoiled just a bit. Though I didn’t regularly keep a journal until my adult years, it is the primary tool I use to excavate myself–because I am a writer. However, I forget that journaling is not the only tool I have in my box. And, it is not the right tool for everyone. I went home and I rolled her question around in my head, “What would I use if I didn’t write?”
Then, I remembered something C had written in the “Rewarding Experiences” section of her autobiography:
8. Pages and pages of personal opinions: I read, a lot. I am most passionate about manga and fictional novels, but will read most anything. Though I read for entertainment, I discovered that literature has offered me a hidden gift. I have developed an awareness of my own personal tastes. Through books, I have found that I am put off by some things I would not have thought about, had it not been for a story line. I have had an opportunity to gain exposure to “forbidden” ideas and language, tucked in the pages of a book. This exposure has allowed me to explore my personal feelings and opinions around a large variety of topics preparing me for the world around me. On occasion, I find I surprise myself with an opinion I would not have expected of myself. Literature offers many rewards; entertainment, information, and not the least of which is self discovery.
Reading the words of people outside my “little universe” regularly opens my eyes and broadens my perspective. “Wait!” I thought, “I do have more than 1 tool in my box!” It is a tool both of my daughters use as well, leading me to conclude it can be shared.
Though my primary focus is on my transition from “full-time, hands-on mom” to the “empty nest years,” anytime is a potential “transition time.” Transforming ourselves begins with desire and self-discovery, and there are many tools available to help the process. I brainstormed so that if I am asked again, “How, besides journaling, can I discover my purpose?” I’ll be prepared. Thus far, my list looks like this:
1. Journaling–Oops! Besides journaling–right!
2. Reading–Novels, non-fiction, magazines, blogs–and then, discuss them with others.
3. Make a list–Pick a topic, like “Play” or “Childhood dreams” or “Rewarding Experiences”
4. Create a visual journal–Create the “Perfect Day” from magazines and paste pictures to tell the story.
5. Art–Paint, draw, sculpt, color. Remember, there is no right or perfect–just play.
6. Take a quiz–There is an abundance online, in magazines, even in the bookstore.
7. Photography–Discover who you are by what your eyes capture.
8. Examine your home–What do you surround yourself with–and do you love it?
9. Window shop and notice the windows that call to you–Is it the color, the items, the theme?
10. Spend time at the fragrance counter–Which scents please you and/or draw forth memories?
11. Watch a movie and ponder the behavior of the characters–Do you agree with their choices? Why or why not?
12. Meditate–Listen to your own voice.
13. Garden–What do you plant; what colors in your flowers, which vegetables do you choose?
14. Create something–Knit, bead, sew, embroider, etc. and notice the colors, textures, and styles you choose.
15. Pray–Listen to the voice of the one who made you.
We all have plethora tools in our toolbox just waiting to be used. I had forgotten many of my own until I started the above list. Which tool in your toolbox is your favorite? Please, share it in the comments so that someone else might add it to their toolbox. It might just help someone unlock their purpose.