We write to communicate, make lists, leave messages, write thank-yous, correspond with family and friends, share recipes, arrange for events, leave reminders, fill out applications, pay bills, make labels, give directions, make complaints, take minutes… The list goes on and on.
Then there are those of us who write because we have to. We have something to say, to explain, to teach, to understand, to envision, to brainstorm, to remember. We need the page to seek answers, put things in perspective, come to terms. We write to create a record, an illustration of the evolution of our families and ourselves. We want to leave something behind that is tangible.
Are you kidding?? I don’t have time for that. Besides that, I can’t write!
Relax. Writing can take different forms and need not be the least bit intimidating.
In Success is a Journey, Jeffrey J. Mayer recommends creating what he calls a “master list”. This is no ordinary, “manageable” to-do list. This is a mind dump! Get yourself a small notebook (4×6”). Make a list of every single thing you think you need or want, or wish to do or have: obligations, home improvements, events, things that you really want to do with your family, places you wish to go, shopping lists, chores, decorating ideas, recipes, every single thing that has been running around in your mind keeping you awake at night and making you feel stressed and miserable
I keep mine in my purse year-round for writing movie ideas, books I want to read, great quotes, gift ideas, garden ideas. Even if you don’t use it as a checklist (I rarely even refer to mine), you can look back at it another time and be amazed by how much you have accomplished, or how much it didn’t matter. Plus, it serves as a diary of sorts.
(Remember this: So often when we are beating ourselves up for not getting this or that done, it is the result of our own unrealistic self-expectations. Once I realized that no one else knows how much I don’t get done, it didn’t matter as much!)
Another form of writing is journaling. Journaling is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It had been recommended over and over before I finally decided that I was willing to do whatever was necessary to be a better parent and a better person, and this turned out to be the ticket.
The challenge comes not only in being faithful but in completing the three pages that are necessary to untangle the mess that clutters our thought processes, preventing us from fulfilling our deepest dreams and fullest potential.
Now, three pages is a lot to write every day and at times you will find yourself at a loss for what to write. So you look around you and write about the mess, or how lovely your house is, or the weather, or any random thing and before you know it, you have found another thread to unravel.
Setting aside time for journaling- each morning, or while the kids are doing their homework, or after they are in bed- will change your life. It helps one to center; to work out conflict, anger, depression; to plan and dream… When you have those old negative tapes running around inside your head (“I’m fat, ugly, stupid, a bad mother, a bitch, blah, blah, blah…”), you can get them out, over and over if need be until they become so diluted they become meaningless; or you realize that you can only whine so much about something before you recognize that the only way things are going to change is if you do something about them!
Writing helps to keep your mind free so that other thoughts and inspirations may enter. When you go back to reread your pages at a different time in your life, not only do you have a record of happenings, you are able to see just how far you have come on life’s path.
When I get out of the discipline of writing a full three pages every day, I become out of sorts and lost. Like the Master List, it keeps my mind open to inspiration and the positive energy that helps us to create the life we are meant to have.
You deserve to do this for yourself. Still, need convincing? This will set an amazing example for your kids. And isn’t that what being a good parent is all about? -RDW (2007, revised 2010)