The 5 Things I Learned About Myself by Journaling (nearly) Everyday in Just a Month

JounalI joined the site Medium last year after coming across a number of articles linked to it.  It’s free to use if you only read about 3 articles a month.  I was finding so many that I had a back log of nearly 75 saved articles.  Knowing I would never have a chance to read them all at that rate, I joined.

Feeling at a crossroads with a big-number-impending-birthday (yes, it’s that time of year again), I was looking at articles related to self-help, following your passion, goal setting, keeping momentum and focus, etc. and I read a number of articles about journaling.  Growing up, I had friends who kept diaries.  I was not one of them.  It’s just never worked for me to remain consistent, but after seeing how people were discovering things about themselves through this process, I decided to give it a try.

A real try.

I started mid-December and wrote everyday, almost, for a month.  I decided not to review anything I had written during that time, to see what would repeat.  I wanted to learn if there were areas in my life that were seeking attention and needed it.  Then we took a mini break to California, so nothing happened for about a week.  When we returned home, I decided to look back on what I had written to look for patterns.  Here’s what I discovered about myself.

  1. My writing is important to me and I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.  When I quit my job at the end of November, a panic set in about our next steps.  Were we ready to move overseas?  How could we do it?  Where would we live?  What about our pups?  What about all our stuff?  I created an Etsy store after weeks of research and narrowed down our possible move, but all of it was so consuming I couldn’t write.  But being away from it for a couple of months gives me anxiety as well, so it was enlightening to learn how important it is to my life.
  2. This lead to a new idea.  I want to obtain my Master’s Degree.  In my research for the move, a student visa was one easy way in.  I started looking at schools with film and screenwriting programs, and I got excited at the prospect.  I wasn’t a great student the first time around but I enjoy learning new things now, so I’m interested in pursuing this further.
  3. But one thing that did keep coming up was my lack of focus or motivation.  I go on binges and then lose steam.  I know this has been an issue, but finding it written down, repeatedly, made it more relevant.  At this point in my life, I either need to do it or move on.  This half-assing nonsense must come to an end.
  4. I need therapy.  I had a turbulent childhood – an alcoholic abusive step-father, for one.  While on our mini break, we watched old home movies and I realized that my faulty memory is most likely due to self-preservation.  There are enormous chunks of my childhood and even teen years that are complete blanks.  Watching myself on the videos was like watching someone else.  There is nearly no connection to anything we watched.  That was a startling discovery.
  5. I want to buy a home.  The Sis and I have been renting for about 13 years now and I’m tired of it.  For a couple of years now, maybe it’s because I’m in my 40s, I’ve wanted to “settle down”.  I want to paint my walls and grow a garden.  I want to pull up the crappy carpet and put in a farmhouse sink.  I want to stop hoarding Amazon boxes like a doomsday-prepper and not feel like we’re always in limbo.  It’s hard to start things if you’re always thinking about the next move.  I haven’t bought things, like a dining room table because I don’t want to move it.  Kitchen appliances are on hold because I don’t want to move it.  A new dresser…because I don’t want to move it.  This has been our life for a long time and I’m over it.  Such a simple thing, and yet the tendrils associated with it are long reaching.

This is just in one month.

I’ve continued on in the same vein, I’m not reading what I’ve written this past month.  With my 45th birthday just having passed, I felt like these weighty issues were becoming amplified at my own displeasure for not making more out of my life at this point.  I was feeling a writer’s mid-life crisis looming, but because I’ve articulated so many things that have been bothering me through journaling, I have a better path laid out before me to make some changes.

A random discovery from such a simple act.  Thank you to all those writers who shared the positive impact journaling can have on your life!

Do you journal?  How has it helped you?

Oh, February

Hiddles BdayEven though February is a slightly shorter month, it really did seem to fly by, and it had its moments.  From wanting to quit my job to celebrating my birthday, playing in the snow and buying a new computer, February was a rollercoaster of highs and lows.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was officially written up at work for a few small things that could have easily been solved with a conversation.  At my current employment, they only start paperwork when they want a paper trail on people they’re getting ready to fire.  I took the hit hard because their accusations implied they thought I was capable of lying and stealing, among a couple of other not so flattering personality traits.  And the source of it all, the one person I trusted.  The person I share a very small office with.

Needless to say, it’s been a difficult few weeks in the aftermath, but it was also an enlightening moment.  Previously I wrote about having taken stock of my life near the end of last year and realized I had become too invested in a job that I didn’t truly care about.  I wasn’t nearly focused enough on my writing and the career I actually want, so having it reiterated to me so effectively was enough of a boost to shift my attitude and focus.

The following week was my birthday.  Dinner with friends and a numerical reminder that I’m not where I wanted to be by this particular moment in time.

SnowDayThen it snowed.  Like a lot.  So much so that the city issued a snow day, well, technically, a black ice warning.  Now, for those of you who live in places where you have actual winters, you may mock us here in the desert, but the truth is, we don’t see snow very often and we are not at all equipped to deal with it.  It was awesome though.

It was during this confinement that I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new computer, something I had been deliberating for months.  With the desire to move my writing career forward fueled by the past weeks’ infuriating nonsense, paying a pretty big penny for a new piece of equipment that’s meant to help me suddenly became the easiest decision.

Keeping up the momentum I entered two more screenwriting contests and started the whole “get my professional portfolio in order before the big screenwriting conference”.  Yes, I am going to attend my first conference this fall during the Austin Film Festival.

I’ve found that when we get comfortable, things slide.  I know I’ve had this conversation with myself a number of times in the past, getting my sh*t in order, but then my job gets in the way.  In some way or another.  It’s usually my major source of ire, and whether I  have a job that sucks and spend too much time looking for another, or invest too much and lose focus on what really matters, I get comfortable.

The now tenuous work situation has me looking at things differently.  Maybe my increased maturity 😉 is also helping to streamline my focus.  I don’t want to regret not taking this chance.  I don’t want to only ever say I’m a writer without anything to show for it.  And while I’ve said this a time or two before, something’s different now.

Sometimes we have to let things goAfter shedding a number of tears because the higher ups insulted my character, I said some words aloud on the drive home that were meant to give me perspective, and they did just that.  And that’s when I felt it.  The shift.  I literally felt a detachment occur.

As clichéd as it’s going to sound, life continues to put us into situations that we may not understand at the time, but are meant to help propel us in the right direction when we finally realize the pattern.  This is my moment of discovery.  It’s time to take advantage of it.

The Not-So-Impending Birthday Blues

DW10Birthdaycard

My birthday is in three days.

((wince))

Ever since my 30th birthday, back in two-thousand and something or other, I’ve had a sort of distant, disinterested relationship with the celebration of my birth.  Honestly, there are a few people who chose to ruin the day versus letting it pass and ruining the following day, so after a few slights, I stopped looking forward to them.

They haven’t all been bad though.

And the last year, despite some rough spots, was pretty good overall, and even though the number associated with this year’s birthday is a strange number to admit to (like, I can’t really be this old, right?!), I’ve realized a few things that really only come with age.

  1. I don’t care if everyone likes me.
    • It used to bother me if I learned there was someone who didn’t like me.  Why? Because I’m a sweet princess, and what’s not to like? 😉  Then it was my goal to make them like me. That was then.  This is now.  There’s a woman at work, who thankfully, I don’t see very often.  She likes to be nice to my face and then talk a whole lotta nonsense behind my back.  And I’m not her only target.  She’s about 50, and I find this kind of behavior juvenile.  I say good morning when I see her, half the time she ignores me.  Fine.  Whatever.  I’m not going to stop being nice because she’s clearly petty and jealous.  Before I would have gone out of my way to win her favor, and now, I’ve realized some people just don’t deserve that kind of attention.  It’s a waste of my time, which is precious the older I get, and the refreshing thing is, it really doesn’t bother me.  What an odd thing to discover.
  2. I’m comfortable in my own skin.
    • While I feel I have a few pounds to shave off – I mean, almost everyone I know feels this way – I’m comfortable with who I am.  I’m 6′ tall, and I’m currently about 170 lbs.  Even when I was working out last year fairly consistently, the scale didn’t change.  Of course the distribution did, but I realized, like my age, it’s just a number.  I’ll never get back to my high school volleyball playing days, and I’ve accepted that.  Am I still holding on to that one pair of pants I’m striving to fit back into?  Uh, yeah.  Everyone woman I know has that pair, but I think we’re all hanging on to them out of some twisted sense of nostalgia.
  3. I let my geek flag fly.
    • I don’t think I was ever embarrassed to admit the nerdy or geeky things I liked as a kid (kids are fairly shameless, after all), but as with the natural progression from child to teen, the desire to fit in with the people whose opinions wouldn’t matter the moment we took that first step in the graduation processional seemed rather important in those early days.  Then geek became cool, a sort of badge of honor, and joining a fandom became an open door to making the kind of friends who not only understand you, but are the kind of friends you make for life.  Star Wars aside, saying you play video games or want to cosplay will draw out the kind of people you want to know.  Well, that is, if that’s your cup of tea.  I proudly admit to writing fan fiction and getting a geek tattoo with The Sis, and because I’m comfortable in my own skin and I don’t care what people think, I’m not embarrassed to admit to much anymore.
  4. I’m happy on my own.
    • I always thought, and intended, to get married and have a family.  It’s what you’re “supposed” to do.  But I was never fond of the whole dating thing.  And the older I got, the less inclined I was to follow in such a tradition.  Then, when I was about thirty, the man I was dating at the time, yes, one in the same who ruined my birthday, and I had a pregnancy scare.  As the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory, but I remember that moment clearly, as if it happened last week. 😉  It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.  I was turned
      off to the whole relationship idea for years after; he was not a nice human being.  And then I got to a point where I had built a life I enjoyed, and knew it would take a special kind of person for me to want to mHiddles Bdayake room for them, and as of this post, I have yet to meet such a one.  (Except you, Hiddles.  I’d give up…hmm…well, we’ll have to talk about it. ;P)  Besides, two of my beloved icons, Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, never married.  Everyone still wants to set me up, but it’s nice that the stigma of the “spinster” has gone out the window and people accept me for the happy single I am.

So what does all this rambling mean?

Getting older has its benefits, and it’s a gift not afforded to everyone.

So, I’m not not looking forward to my birthday this year, in fact, I think I’ll do my best to embrace it.  There’s a lot to look forward to because I have BIG plans this year!

Ramble over.

xx, Rach

p.s. Thanks for being along for the journey!