Writing has always been a passion of mine and keeping a journal has blessed my life as very few things have. When I write I am relaxed and in a quiet and peaceful place. Being in this creative state opens my mind and my heart to make significant discoveries and to be more in tune to things of a spiritual nature.
When I got cancer, I found that my mind traveled places it had not been before. I also discovered that fear and panic were closer to me than they had been simply because of my situation. Because neither of these emotions come from a positive source, it became necessary for me to keep them at bay. I also discovered that mood swings are a significant part of our lives no matter what we are experiencing and they can change on a dime. One minute I found all to be well in my life, while within an hour or so my outlook had changed. My house needed endless repairs, my job was too stressful, my hair looked funny, I hated all of the clothes in my closet and I really needed to lose weight. I discovered for me the best course was to enjoy the positive moments and to let the negative ones blow over me like a wave and not to give them too much energy. Nothing lasts forever and "this too shall pass" became a pet phrase of mine.
Another discovery I made is how hard most of us are on ourselves. Journaling helped me to get a more accurate picture of my accomplishments. Rather than punishing myself because I don't make quilts, I don't can fruit and I hate to sew, I learned to give myself credit for the contributions I do make such as writing books, poems for my grandchildren, directing music, singing in choirs, or listening to many friends when they need to vent. I came to find value in my unique way of giving back to those people I love.
The most interesting reality I began to understand, however, was the power of the written word. I found that people (our children included) many times don't listen to what we say, but they always read what we write. It is like phone calls vs. email or texting vs. actual conversation. Recently, my youngest son, Nick, came to me and asked "Mom, where is that journal you kept for me when I was little?" I replied that I wasn't sure. He then persisted, "We need to find it, I know it was in a green notebook.". Together we looked until we found it and he asked if he could take it home with him. He and his wife were expecting their first child and he later told me that she read to him out of it at night before he went to sleep. Somehow, the mental picture of her reading him words that I had written over thirty years ago gave me great comfort.
So when life gets stressful and complicated (and it does many times doesn't it?) I look for a pen and my journal then head for a quiet place. I know if I take the time to put pen to paper, I can usually figure things out.
-Kathy Christensen, guest writer