Finding our purpose. Living our dreams. Being the person we want to be. These are strong notions that need deeply instilled values to implement.
The oak tree has huge significance to me as it probably does to so many people. When my son was in the hospital battling cancer, this poem was sent to me. It was a daily prayer to Nick that he would never break from this disease. His spirit never broke, but unfortunately his body did.
Then this poem and all that it signified became my personal mantra, symbol, and prayer to keep going without one of my boys. I have bent, lost my way, cracked branches, had holes drilled into me, have bared my soul, but I have never broken.
Through my journaling and becoming self-aware through yoga, I have learned what I stand for, and not only how deep my roots go, but also what I value in this life. As part of that knowing, my purpose is to share with others, so that under the worst possible circumstances, you have hope. That is my purpose, that is my impact word–HOPE. We all need it.
Over the next couple days, I will share this process with you. It began with my last post of writing about your personal awesomeness. Start there if you please.
You can use this image of an oak tree, draw your own or find another image. The point is that the oak tree symbolizes ourselves and our foundation.
Step One: Journal on the following questions:
- What are your core beliefs and values?
- What is important to you?
- Why do you have these values, where did they come from?
- How were they instilled in you?
- How do they impact your life?
- How do you live by them?
Step Two: Write your values in the roots of the oak tree. Words such as honesty, trust, dependable, etc. are words that you will have chosen to describe your values after you journaled. There are no wrong answers. It is whatever is right for you.
Be honest with yourself as this is the path to your purpose and you want it to be true.
Let me know how it goes for you. Keep it in your journal as we will come back to it tomorrow.
Journaling is a practice. As with anything else, you only get as much from it as you put into it. Committing to journaling every day can be daunting, but when you see the difference it makes in your life and how more self-aware you are, it becomes an integral part of your day.
I track my calendar, my dreams, daily journal entries, creative writing, research, and notes in my journal. It’s basically my whole life on paper. I looked back at the month of November to check in. See how the month went, what journal techniques are working, what isn’t working. It sets up the following month and what I want to focus on or let go.
November was chaos.
I know this is a math image of fractal chaos, but it visually described last month. The beauty, the colors, the chaos, the out of control actions that all make up who I am and what I do.
First thing I noticed was that I was all over the place. Physically, mentally, project-wise. This is nothing new, but there was a great deal of stress making sure I was getting everything done. I had signed up to do the NaNoWriMo challenge where you write 50,000 words in a month. I started off great, but died out before Thanksgiving. I did write 16,000 words, which probably would not have happened otherwise, so for that I am grateful.
I was selected to be part of the Nuts, Bolts, & Business Artist Entrepreneurial program through the Troy Arts Center from a grant that I wrote. This is a seven month venture and will require a great deal of my time, and it began in November. I had homework and a presentation to prepare, but I am very excited about growing my business.
Basically, I wore many different hats including book sales, writing my application for BOCES arts in ed, which was accepted, and I can’t wait to get more involved with teaching writing in the schools. Stephen was home, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him, Thanksgiving, yoga. And if that wasn’t enough, I had my bedroom painted and redecorated!
Good stuff in November, but also high stress, which ramped up my poor eating habits. The one change I did implement in November was a weekly Stay at Home day. Because I am always out and running around, I needed to be more grounded. When I plan my week, I schedule a day to work at home and not go anywhere during the day or night. I absolutely love it. It forces me to get paperwork and business done and reduces my stress.
So what did I learn from November? I am most effective when I remain true to myself, my purpose, and I sit and do the work. Also by daily writing what I am grateful for, my attitude changed, and I focused on what nourished me.
For December I will:
Continue the weekly Stay at Home Day
Track my exercise, eating, and water intake for better personal health, which includes kicking gluten out of my life once again.
Daily December Gifts to Gratitude letter writing (see previous blog)
Focus on promoting Shimmer’s Eggs and writing Saving Atlantis (Book Two!)
Enjoying my family during this festive time of year.
If I hadn’t written everything in my journal I wouldn’t have remembered all the wonderful activities I did in November or how hard I worked or how stressed out I really was. It takes a toll on my health. Now I am more aware of what I need to do going forward.
Can you commit to 5 minutes of writing daily in your journal? Then review it weekly or monthly to see what is working and where you want to go next. It’s a path to healing and living a full and wonderful life!
My dad was a carpenter who built houses from the ground up. He knew a house was only as strong and durable as its foundation. If any of the columns were off kilter, then so was the house. Each column stood alone, but also in conjunction with the others to support what was built on top.
This concept of a solid foundation is integral to an empowering yoga practice. Each of us can stand alone, but the energy skyrockets when we are together. Each of us holds the other up. If our individual foundation, our True North alignment is off then we are not as strong as we could be.
Thanks to the influences of two of my favorite yoga sisters, Kayla Marie and Jess Padula, I have been reading Brene’ Brown’s latest book. I have enjoyed her other books, but this one is making me think all the way down to my personal foundation.
She writes about True Belonging. My interpretation is being my authentic self, living in my True North, speaking and acting in my truth not only when I’m alone, but also when I am with my community. Wilderness is her main theme and that “Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness–an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.” (36) The wilderness can be scary, but we brave it to stand in our truth.
In order to build my community of writers, martial artists, yogis, family, cancer patients, etc. I have to be willing and able to stand in my truth, living my life with authenticity. In order to do that, I need to know what I believe in, what I value, who I am, what matters to me, and how all this leads me along my soul’s path.
Even though that path may change, my internal truth and compass stay the same. Only when I am standing in my truth, can I serve as a solid foundation in my community. When we all stand in our truths, we create an unshakable foundation, made up of unique, beautiful, amazing, and special people who are not afraid to be who they are.
This doesn’t mean that I live in perfection. The truth is I am far from perfect and I am perfectly fine with that! I am vulnerable. I hurt. I make mistakes. I fail. But I do all that, because I refuse to live a false life. I refuse to live the life that others think I should live, because it fits into their plans.
When we stand in our truth as a community, we are like the trees from Peter Wohlleben’s book, The Hidden Life of Trees. Our roots combine, we support and lean on each other simultaneously, and we revel in one another’s growth.
So where does that leave us? How do we find out who we are? Journaling is one of the ways I have identified my truths. You can do the same. Here are some prompts to get you started:
What and who matters to you? Career? Partner? Children? Family?
What do value? Friendship? Family? Success? Honesty?
What is something that you never compromise? Your word? Honor? Promises? Reliability?
How would you describe yourself? Kind? Hard working? Compassionate? Stubborn?
Daily journaling shows us what really matters. Journal for seven days in a row about whatever comes to your mind. At the end of the week review what you have written. You will read about what is really important to you or what is preventing you from being your true self. It may be a combination, but you are on your way to your authentic self.
Also, I highly recommend reading both of these books!
As I went up to bed last night to read, I also carried my two journals with me. Even though my mind was set on reading, I opened my personal journal and recorded my day. Journaling is a gift that I give myself every day. It grants me the opportunity to decompress and let out the emotions, both good and bad, of my day. I believe it has a direct impact on how I sleep and possibly what I dream about.
I can sort out any issues I’m facing, and it allows me to take a step back to see if I handled a situation well or maybe not so much. I can review what I could have done better or what worked. Sometimes it’s just a spewing out of all the crap that weighed me down or how completely I wasted my day. Then once it’s written down, I let it go.
Then I lay my personal journal aside metaphorically and physically and open Stephen’s journal. There are times when a couple days or a week goes by, and I haven’t written to Stephen. I feel terrible, because it’s very hard to remember the details of what we have spoken about, what’s going on in our lives, and news of the world. I will look back at my calendar and fill in some spaces, but writing to him every day holds so much more active energy. I hate having to recap. It can be a quick note and sometimes it’s a diatribe of different phrases he said or a new artist he likes or about whatever is going on in his life. I enjoy the minute details, because this is what he’s going to read years from now. This is my gift to him, and it’s more precious than any other gift I can give him.
After I’ve written for 30 minutes, my eyes are too tired to read words, so I lay my head on my pillow. No I didn’t get to read, but I got to create. I chose to share my thoughts and record the world as I see it. Journaling heals me, so it’s something as important to me as brushing my teeth or eating right.
Check in on your journaling. Do you perceive journaling as a gift to yourself? Is it a chance to take time just for you? How can you change your mindset and do the journaling that you want to be doing? If you are, then that’s great! Keep it going. It’s never too late to start!
It all started in 7th grade as a diary where I could write down my daily events and experiences. Although there may be some insights in this journal that is displayed as to the person I have become, mostly it’s filled with the names of all the boys that my teenage hormones made me think I was totally infatuated with! As the years continued, I wrote poetry, spewed out my pain, wrote of my joys, and basically fumbled my way through journal after journal.
Even though most of it is probably useless, this process has led me to where I am today as a writer. They contain my life history as well as my family’s, my growth as a person, and my climb out of grief. Journaling can be anything you want or need it to be. There are no requirements, degrees, or experience. You just need a pen, pencil, notebook, computer (although I like old school writing) or a sketchbook.
This blog came about because I have been teaching journal writing classes for the last few months and have seen the amazing benefits of this process. It may be as simple as being able to recall dreams, and I’ll share one of my student’s entries on that in my next post.
For 2017, I want to bring journaling to you either in the classroom, a workshop or right from your computer. So starting on January 1, I will post a photo, my journal entry, and a prompt that will hopefully inspire you to begin your own journal. This journal can be for healing, life goals, transformation, family history, or whatever you feel you need. It can be all of these and more. It’s completely up to you.
The only thing I ask is do it every day. It’s a practice that will only get better as you do it.
I want to thank all the people who have supported me in my writing. I am very excited about all that is to come in 2017. Follow this blog for your daily prompts and feel free to follow my other blogs and my mailing list to stay updated on all my upcoming events.
Finally I want to thank my niece, Alysia Thomas, for giving me permission to use her photos as my daily visual inspiration. She is amazingly talented!
Go to my website www.janinedetilliocammarata.com for all the details. I look forward to taking this journey with you and look forward to your comments!