A time to reflect

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. — Anne Bradstreet

 

Dear Readers,

It is four days before Christmas and my to-do list is long. My children finish school for Christmas break as of 3:15 today. For the next two weeks, out of self-preservation, my mommy hat will be the only one firmly planted on my head. While I crave to sit at my computer and write (I have so many things I want to reflect upon in writing and to share with you, dear readers!), it is not in the cards for now.

But I will be taking the time with my private journal to reflect upon my own journey, to ponder the paths I have taken, the ones I have been lead down, and to envision those I have yet to take. So, at this Solstice – the turning towards Light, Newness, Beginnings, and Growth – I invite you to open your journal and take some time to consider your paths of the past year(s). Be kind to yourself. Do not judge your decisions or your emotions regarding them. Accept them and yourself. Let the feelings flow through you to your pen and onto the page. And leave them there. Write your story but don’t live it over and over again. Write a new story. An exciting one, a challenging one, an open-minded one, a creative one, a lovely one.

And then live it.

This is where I have been …. and I have learned this… Thank you!

This is where I am…. and I accept myself and my feelings unconditionally. Thank you!

This is where I shall go next…. and I do so with courage and faith in myself. Thank you!

My next step is… and I can’t wait to see what I can do!

I wish you Joy and Peace at this junction of Darkness and Light. Until next year…

Namaste ~

joanna

____

Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the Process, pt 3 (The Question)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

Tweet This Blog Post!The mantra at Goddard College is “Trust the process.” Every day one or more faculty advisors included in their discussion, “… and, well, trust the process. It works.” With no syllabus or course curriculum most of us newbies, those who had been educated in a strictly outlined, non-critically-thinking fashion (oh, that would be all of us who went through the American education system), were beginning to feel like we’d been thrown in a whirlpool. Nothing to grab onto, just whirling round and round, trying not to drown in our own possibilities. We were overwhelmed by the very freedom of intellect for which we had come to Goddard in the first place.

Over and over again I heard my fellow students express the fear or concern that they were doing “it” wrong. What is the right way to do…? How are we supposed to be do…? How do they want us to do…? But there was no right way. Our way was the the right way and we would find it if we just let go of all the perfectionism and societal expectations, and to tell those critics in our head telling us we were obviously doing something wrong to shut the hell up! And the faculty kept telling us, Trust the process! But what did that mean?

Some of my cohorts became obsessed very concerned with their study plan. They stayed up until all hours of the morning early in the week just to get it “right.” I was so caught up in the fact that I didn’t yet have My Question (a point on the map towards which I could point my nose and begin my journey, but would not necessarily be the final destination) that constructing a plan seemed as impossible as plotting a travel itinerary before knowing to which continent I was headed.  The pages of my journal began to look like the brain-storming session of a mission-less board of directors: mind-maps here, lists there, circles, arrows, question marks – lots of question marks… and plenty of self-doubt.

Monday, the fourth day, marked the height of my anxiety. All around me I heard fellow students ask, Have you found your Question yet? The reality that I did in fact need to have a succinct question in mind and a study plan submitted in less than three days, one with a full bibliography and a schedule of what I would read and critique over the course of the next six months when I could no longer even tell you what I initially planned to study, had me seeing stars.

But at the same time I was in heaven. Surrounded by intellectual, insightful, free-thinking, accepting, gentle, fun and talented writers, musicians and artists I felt at home. Completely and utterly HOME. And, inspired by them, I wrote:

I’m so anxious to begin. But terrified to begin at the same time. This little bubble of intellectual energy, it’s enticing, bewildering, intoxicating.

I did finally find My Question and I was able to put my plan together – what a relief! I got out of my own way and just let the thoughts and ideas come. My journal let me thrash around, never judging what I came up with, never laughing or doubting my ideas. The one thing I wanted to know came to me because I let it come. I trusted myself.

And that’s what trusting the process meant: trusting yourself to find the answers. To find your own way.

Although the water was still deep and the whirlpool circling faster with all the new questions that sprang from The Question, I felt like I had found a foot-hold. Something to hang onto as I made my way through to An Answer. It had happened. I had trusted myself and the process, I had found my question and I was on my way.

Prompt: Worry can be debilitating. What do I need to let go of – to trust the process – so I can move forward to something positive and exciting?

_______

 

Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.

Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

New Writing and Wellness Center Opens

New Writing and Wellness Center Opens

By: Joanna Young, Reporter for Wisdom Within, Ink

Rutland, Vermont: In the midst of Rutland City, there is a tiny haven. It stands behind a fence on a residential street and started life as a garage. However, it now heeds a higher calling.

The Writer’s Refuge is a place of healing and creativity. It is a place where you can come to write your novel or write through pain, grief, trauma, joys and transitions. It is a place where, surrounded by flowers in the summer or by a cozy fire in the winter, you can unleash your creativity and ideas, discover your authentic self and reinvent yourself according to your hidden dreams and aspirations. It is a place where self-reflection and self-expression will lead to self-discovery, helping you ultimately gain self-confidence.

Founded by writer and certified journaling instructor, Joanna Young, the Writer’s Refuge is itself a dream manifested, first in writing, then in reality. As a husband-wife team, Joanna and Brad, an adult psychotherapist, provide workshops, classes and counseling for those ready to manifest their potential and who are searching for a fulfilled life.

——

The above article is about a place that has not yet been created. The building exists and, most importantly, so does the vision. While I teach self-discovery workshops now, the Writer’s Refuge (which in various forms has been a dream of mine for almost 20 years) itself is still a work in progress. The building is so close to functional but there are still vital things that need to be done (new flooring, a heat source and a new bathroom, for example). At this moment the only obstacle is financial, but with less than $2,000 and some TLC this vision will become a reality.

Look for it soon! The Writer’s Refuge will be open for business in the near future!

Prompt: Write about a dream you want to see realized as if it has already happened.


Tweet This Blog Post!

P.S. Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization, and almost everything in between.

Gratitude, even while leaning over the bowl

I believe in gratitude. I try to be thankful for everything, to find something to be thankful for even in the midst of a blitz of ugh. I won’t deny this is very hard for me. I love to complain. Love it! Too cold, too humid, too hungry, too tired, too poor, too, too, too. But I am practicing gratitude and practicing finding the positive. I’ll get good at it yet!

Being thankful for what you have now instead of being focused on what you haven’t got is a very healthy mindset. Being grateful for everyday’s little blessings does not mean you can’t dream of bigger and better, it just means being content in this moment, now. After all, our life is ultimately made up of minutes. What you do, think, and say during the minutes is your life. Constantly wishing for something else makes a mockery of what you have now. Thankfulness for what you have now opens the door for more to be thankful for in the future. Contentment in the moment brings happiness in the long run.

The last two days has found me holding one or other of my children while their poor little bodies convulsed to void themselves of illness. This has meant two days when I couldn’t be at my computer rambling away as usual. I had to pull my mommy-nurse hat firmly down over my ears and set to comforting my weakened children. I tried not to think about the two looming article deadlines or the last minute marketing I could/should be doing for a workshop starting this week. I tried to immerse myself in housework that I never have (never allow myself) time to take care of. I tried to live in the moment even while mopping vomit off Little Lady’s chin.

It was hard. My work kept sneaking up and taunting me. And I had moments of frustration when I tried to sit at my computer while Elmo occupied my offspring in the other room, only to be called upon for more water or a tissue.

But then I realized something. I am so blessed! I can be home with my children. I am not letting anyone down at the office or using sick days that I might need for myself at a later date. I am not shorting us a paycheck and I am not subjecting anyone else to my children’s germs. How wonderful that I can be here to hold a coughing child and bring him hot milk.

I am so grateful that Hubby and I made the decision to stick to our guns and pursue what matters to us. It was incredibly important to me to be here to see our children off to school in the morning, to be here when they come home in the afternoon, and to eat dinner together at night. Yes, my dream to write and teach writing was an extremely high priority also, but the fact that these priorities merge almost seamlessly is an amazing blessing.

I acknowledge – and do not in anyway demean – that others would not choose the same route as me. Their dream, their priorities, lie on a different path. I do not for one moment intend to imply that those mothers (or fathers) who have chosen, or have no choice but to work outside of the home, care one inkling less for their children. My point is this, and only this: Be thankful for your every moment, even when you spend a morning washing sick-bed sheets when you would much rather be wringing out words and phrases. Being thankful can change your attitude from frustrated to fulfilled.

Prompt: Even if you are not particularly content in your current situation, what ARE you thankful for?

Tweet This Blog Post!

Forget Will, it’s about Mind Power!

If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right. — Mary Kay Ash

Why we fail

Innocent until proven guilty, right? We all know that it is human nature is to operate under the opposite tenet. And we also tend to prefer Believe Once Proven.

We all have things in our life that we want to change, or at least think we do. A bad habit, those extra pounds, time spent playing video games, smoking, or even a certain way of thinking. And why we do fail time after time? Because we won’t believe we can kick the habit or change our behavior until we have proven that we can. Believe Once Proven.

Well, obviously that system doesn’t work so well. As Dr. Phil says, How’s that working for ya? If we don’t believe we can do something until we see that we can, we never will.  You have to believe first.

Know why you will eat that donut even after you have said, I will not eat that donut, over and over again? Because you are focused on the donut. You brain doesn’t hear the “not” and says, OK, Eat Donut! Turn it around and say, I WILL eat the yummy almonds I packed for myself today. I WILL go for a walk instead of turning on the computer. I WILL have a cup of cozy tea instead of a glass of wine.

But first..

First you have to recognize there is something wrong or missing. Then you must truly want to change. Only then can you take the next step. This is where writing comes in. If you are writing from a place of truth (meaning you are being honest with yourself in your journal) you will know when something is wrong. You will also know when you are ready to make the change. If you have acknowledged a problem but don’t seem ready to face it yet, use your journal to explore this. Ask, why am I not ready to make this change?

But when you are ready, keep writing to help you through the next steps of committing to change and to hold yourself accountable.

Focus on the positive always. What you CAN do, not what you can’t or what you won’t do.

This doesn’t just apply to breaking habits or changing behaviors, it is just as effective in how you change your future for yourself. Yes, change your future for yourself.

Write out your positive statements. Write about why you want this change. Write yourself a love letter telling yourself that even with this issue (whatever it is) you are still a beautiful person and why you deserve the best life you can possibly have. Believe you have the ability to reach your potential.

Dear [your name], I love you. Even though I _____ more/less than I would like at this moment, I love and accept myself. I haven’t reached my potential yet, but I have the ability, the drive, and the self-love to do this for myself…

Yes, I will…!

Yes, I can…!

Use the incredible power of your mind to make your life whatever you want it to look like. Believe in yourself and prove you are capable of unbelievable things. Plug into your own incredible power.

Here’s a new tenet to live by: Proven Once Believed.


Tweet This Blog Post!

Booger-fingers will not break my spirit

Yesterday I attended the Women Business Owners Network (WBON) Winter Conference in Manchester, Vermont. Everyone of the speakers was fantastic and one woman noted she felt “drunk on the energy.” I can’t begin to share all the things discussed but I will tell you, it was powerful!

I believe in serendipity, in the power of positive thinking and envisioning your future. In this blog I have attempted to pass along my own experiences to serve as inspiration to anyone who is ready to receive it. I knew there were a few out there who also followed these principals and either saw them enacted in their own lives or were searching for it. I have also recently become aware that there is a move in the community conscious towards these things. The Secret and What the [Bleep] Do We Know are two examples of Quantum Physics and science of positive thinking being brought to, and beginning to be accepted, in the mainstream population. I don’t pretend to understand the science behind how thoughts effect our energy but I have personal evidence and a strange feeling like this is something I have always known but didn’t know I knew. That’s all I need.

But in general, in my little corner of the globe, I felt I was alone with my new “wierd” (hippie/new age) thoughts. Then over the last month some crazy things have happened:

1. Hubby left his job as an employee to become a private practitioner at a Holistic Wellness Center. He is not by training a holistic healer, he is just open to many options and has always been spiritual in nature. Daily he is surrounded by spiritually-minded people and he is happier than he has ever been.

2. Hubby starts coming home telling me things about positive thinking and I’m like: Hey! Preaching to the choir, bud! I’ve been telling you you can achieve this kind of understanding through journaling for, oh, I don’t know, ever!

3. Through this new job he is recruited to become a founder of a new venture: The Center for Spiritual Unfolding (much more to come on this – it’s gonna be good!). I am asked to join the board.

4. Hubby brings home The Secret on his iPod and I begin to listen to it (I had not read it). I’m listening to what I have discovered by myself but increased in power and possibility to almost the point of “it’s too good to be true!”

5. I have a meeting with a minister to arrange for the possibility of my journal workshop being held at the church. He asks about my religious background. No judgment. He understands. Our conversation is great and a relief. While assimilating our talk I begin to – for the very first time with clarity – see how the tattered strands of my religious beliefs could tie to my new belief system (eg. prayer is just positive thoughts being sent out into the Universe).

6. I attend the WBON conference: Making your Vision a Reality. Business women? Yes. Passionate? Yes. Spiritual? Yes! Every speaker spoke of the incredible power of envisioning and positive thinking. Vision boards, meditation, gratitude journals, affirmations, self love, self care, yes, even quantum physics and the power of positive energy in our personal and business lives. These women were talking MY language!! I drove home on a high!

My worlds have come together. First Hubby and I get on the same page, even working out of the same building, reading the same books, and journaling to make sense of it all. Then the realization that there are others just like me – passionate, creative people who are took a leap of faith to start their own businesses and who believe with every cell of their bodies that some higher power gave them wings with which to make the impossible possible.

So why the tears this morning? I think the immensity of my dreams and new-found knowledge suddenly felt squashed by the reality of my everyday life. My mind is spinning with possibility while my son is threatening his sister with a booger-finger and she in turn is squealing with a pitch that could shatter her plastic cup.  The calm and commaradie I experienced for eight wonderful hours yesterday was instantly washed away in a tsunami of missing boots and splattered oatmeal.

It’s a fragile animal, this soul-body we live in. I have a fabulous, inspiring, enlightening experience, I come home excited and so ready to get on with my life and then whap! I’m crying, angry, anxious, and ready to crawl under my bed covers for the rest of this roller-coaster ride called Life. But I recognize this feeling, I’ve had it before and thankfully I now know the nausea and the tears are just the big-toe in a cold sea. It hurts at first then it starts to feel good and soon you are floating, face to the sun, content – and fulfilled. (Shortly after I wrote that miserable post I quit my job and launched Wisdom, Within, Ink.)

I am choosing to believe the tears and anxiety was just fear having a final say before exiting my body…

The only good thing about him

Yesterday I was taking the laundry off the line. We have had so few line-dry worthy days that I try to schedule the washing around the weather forecast – not a simple task. This summer we have had frequent days of digging deep in the drawer for that last-resort pair of undies. As I took down a fitted sheet and began to fold it I was aware that I was thinking of someone I prefer not to. Unfortunately, every time I fold a fitted sheet this boyfriend of my early 20s is there in my mind. Why? Because nicely folded sheets are his only worthwhile legacy.

I was living away from home for the first time. I had a job as a bank teller and he was a customer. It didn’t take me too long to realize he had started coming in daily and manipulating things so he was ready with his transaction just as I was ready to accept my next customer. He would arrive at my window gleaming like the Cheshire cat to deposit his wealth of charm along with his checks.

We began dating. It began as most romances do, all hearts and flowers. I even came home one day to find a bag of marbles on my doorstep with a note that said, “I’ve lost my marbles over you.” Got ya!

Before long I was spending more time at his house than in my own adorable apartment. And not too long after that I was cleaning his dishes and getting instructed on how to “correctly” fold a sheet. His closet was off limits in case I didn’t hang the clothes with the appropriate amount of space between hangers. We did not go anywhere or do anything unless it was something it he wanted to do, which meant I went off to Maine for a romantic weekend – by myself. We never sat in coffee shops or walked along the waterfront. We went to parties of his friends where he was the center of attention. But when we went to the one party hosted by my friends he sat there in a big huff and wouldn’t let me mingle.

Still I hung on. For a year. Even when he called me and told me not to come over because his ex-girlfriend had stopped by. Even when he laughed at my (incredibly flat) pot belly and (deviated septum) crooked nose. Even when I began to question everything I was about to say in case it annoyed him. He never hit me or anything close to physically abusing me – in fact, you could say I was the abuser after I slapped him and screamed in his face, “why don’t you just go and fuck her,” after he told me again I had to leave because his ex was coming by. He probably already had.

Over that year I went from having ambitions to go on to grad school to making sure there wasn’t a milk ring in bottom of the glass. I began wanting to write and living the artist’s life in the “big” city and ended up positioning the corners of the fitted sheet in perfect symmetry. I lost myself.

But I sank so low on the self-esteem chart that the only way was up. My need to write and be creative was so strong it pulled me out of the hole in which I was scrabbling. With the help of two priceless gifts, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, and the friendship of two people who believed in me, I began to find my way back. I wrote my Morning Pages every day with the commitment of a drug addict. I put together my Authenticity Book with the joy of someone who is discovering a new friend.

I guess, I actually have to thank him. My sheets would be in a right mess if it hadn’t been for him.

Just a quickie

No, not that kind (get your head out of the gutter).

No, this is just a quick, boastful post to say…

I GOT PUBLISHED!

In Mama Says (this is the link to their blog, not the zine itself). My understanding is it is just a small Vermont publication, but I don’t care. You have to start somewhere, right? and a homegrown zine in my own state is as good a start as any. It is an essay on talking to my children about God and religion. I can’t wait to actually see my name in print.

And, on another happy note: It is official… I will be teaching a journal workshop at the end of February. I will be listed on the Writer’s Center website with bio and everything (not that I have much of a bio).

I believe the life of my dreams is beginning to unfold. Ironically, it is happening at the same time as my day job, my dream job, is becoming a bit of a nightmare. It seems serendipity is poking in its nose making sure I am fulfilled and feeling appreciated at a time when I could be feeling far from it. And I have more proof of this.

Even though I am tired from work, battling children and housework, I have started singing again. Like Agnetha from Abba, I could sing almost before I could talk and I have been singing alone or in a group my whole adult life. My highest achievement was singing with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra chorus, which I had to leave when my unborn child insisted on sleeping on my lungs. Since then, I haven’t sung much at all (which I will also blame on my children). But recently I joined a church choir that has an amazing reputation and an even greater repertoire. A few weeks ago after the performance of Messiah, the soloist approached me and hugged me because she, amazingly, remembered me from my VSO days (over 6 years ago). She told me she remembered I had a beautiful voice and was glad I was singing with Rip (the incredibly talented director of the church choir). I don’t know where this will lead but I’ll keep singing and wait to find out.

I tell you this, not to boast, but to prove my point: DO WHAT YOU LOVE… you WILL have success!

Paah- fection

I’m impatient. I’m also crap at not being good at something (there’s a sentence for you). My learning curves are supposed to be straight. I want brilliance – immediately. I’m an aspiring writer, I’m learning the ropes, I’m starting a new career. But I have a little friend, a toxic friend, the kind that can send you into therapy: Perfectionism.

My friend Miss P. won’t allow me time to figure this all out; I’m just supposed to know.

Positive thinking rained opportunities down upon me, now I have to swim to the surface for some air. My planner is suddenly busting at the seams with articles to write, stories to revise, a journal-training course to complete, this blog to compose; not to mention all the mundane, never-endng household chores and errands. I don’t have a time-slot or brain-cell left available for learning anything.

So, for now I’m just going to do what I know best: Write. And I’m going to try to give myself a break; admit to myself I’m a beginner. Let the mistakes happen and the learning begin – naturally. Perfectionism doesn’t like mistakes. Perfectionism would rather that I give up than look stupid. But you know what, Miss P.? You ain’t sabotaging this one…