On a mission (statement)

Recently I met with a career coach. My intention was to see how my (rather unorthodox) skills and experience might translate into the “real” world and a “real” job. Well, you know that saying, “Physician, heal thyself”? My session with her was a clear example of how we can be blind to our own needs even while helping others.

Although she used different terminology and visual examples, the ways she suggested I figure out what I wanted to do when I grow up was practically the same as what I have my clients do with journaling techniques. In one word: visualization.

After our session I went home and go out my journal and wrote what was, in Journal to the Self parlance, a Perspective. That is, I wrote about my ideal day, my ideal life — I visualized myself already living the life I wanted. When you give yourself permission to imagine in this way, you allow for things not probable, but possible.

First, after you have acknowledged the things about your current life and career that are not what you want, you can dream about how those things would look different. You can ignore the realities of your present life and the supposed inevitabilities of future bills and car break downs and frozen pipes, and, if one is of an artistic bent like me, the “starving artist” syndrome must also be pushed aside.

This wasn’t a difficult exercise for me; I know exactly what my ideal life looks like. On paper I’m great at ignoring “realities” and “probabilities.” (I say “on paper” because in my real life, the one in which I am married to an idealist dreamer-type, I have to be the realist, you know the one who considers that we might actually need plates to eat off when we go camping or that moving across the country requires careful planning and lots of boxes, not just a truck in which to throw all your belongings in a big pile… )

Yup, on paper and in my head my perfect life trips along happily without toothaches or empty oil tanks or kids home from school due to snow for the fourth time in two weeks, bored and fighting and apathetic of my looming deadlines.

And it was on this paper that it became clear the “real” job I’ve been pursuing isn’t what I really want, but rather a desperate attempt to squeeze myself into a box, the only box I could see as a potential paycheck-producing one. On paper, the grim realization dawned that my most passion-driven, authentic life has no (immediate) guaranteed financial advantage. Crap.

However, one other thing rang out loud and clear as my words flowed across the paper: I had a mission.

Now, I thought I already had established this a long time ago. I knew that I wanted to help others find their authentic life through writing (see, it says that in the header of this blog). What I didn’t realize was that I was being too vague and that I hadn’t yet established a niche or focused in on what I know best.

I have presented journaling and expressive writing workshops and talks to business women, teen moms, tween girls, teachers, guidance counselors, stressed people, spiritual-seekers, and aspiring writers. I have written thousands upon thousands of words for my local paper about my city’s people, events, and businesses. But my personal life, my experiences, my graduate research, and above all, my own wounds all point to my greatest strength and deepest passion: Finding Voice through Writing.

I knew this but yet I have skirted around it, creating workshops of a more general nature, pursuing work that I thought I “should,” and landing myself a freelance job writing about things I care about but aren’t my expertise or passion, and for which I do a lot of brain-wearying head-writing instead of my beloved heart-writing.

The upshot of all this is, while I still don’t know my next exact step(s), I know I must keep writing, researching, and facilitating. And now I can focus — focus on the exact path I want to be on. When an opportunity arises I can ask myself if it fits my personal mission and as time and finances allow I will be able to let those things go which don’t.

And as coaches and inspirational speakers love to tell us, it is when, and only when, we focus on what we are called to do — which is usually, painfully where our own deepest wounds lie — that the people who need us and the money will find us.

So, here, dear readers, is my personal mission (most likely to get tweaked as time goes on):

To help the silenced heal their voice through story, creating new narratives to live by.

Now to stay open to the opportunities wherein I can be the most helpful and find the most meaning and fulfillment… and money; can’t ignore that very basic necessity of life!

For more information on writing mission statements, please read my Examiner article.

Prompts: In my ideal day I would be…

It is my mission in life to…

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Wise Women Speak: 1.22.13

Above all, don’t fear difficult moments, the best comes from them.

Rita, who passed away at 103

Are you a Wise Woman? Inspired by a recent gathering of Wise Elders where a 75 year-old great-grandmother shared this life wisdom with us younguns: “Remember to Laugh!,” for my 2013 blog project I plan to share the gems of wisdom of older women. Please send me your wisdom (or words you have heard from the older, wiser women in your life).

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.


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

Jour du Journal: Perspective of your future

Guess what? I’m a prophet! An en-visionary, a manifester, a future-maker!

Yesterday while I was teaching a workshop I shared a Perspective I had written on 10.23.08 but had dated 10.23.09. I discovered much of it had come true.

A Perspective is a journal entry written from different angle, in this case, from a future date. (There are other forms of Perspectives but I’ll leave those for later post.) You write the entry as if it is that date, making note of how your life is in this “unknown” future. This is where you can imagine where you might be, what you might be doing, and how you got there.

While reading my journal entry, I discovered something important: Only the things that were truly meaningful to me had occurred (or were well on their way to happening). For example, the very first sentence of my entry stated I had been published. In October 2008 I was not published, however, by October 23, 2009 I had three articles in print. I also wrote that I was no longer working outside the home, and instead working as a writer and workshop leader, even though at time I was barely a month into a new job.

Further into my writing I stated I was successfully and efficiently keeping the housework under control. Oh, don’t I wish! Well, actually I do kinda wish, but this is where my authenticity can’t be disguised – I am not a good housewife and I don’t really care (that much). If keeping my house in order was a true ambition I would have somehow made it happen.

Purpose and intent: This is what makes the difference.

So, while channeling your authentic purpose, date your page one year from today and write…

(Be sure to save it and revisit it one year from now to see what a prophet you are!)

Jour du Journal: Looking down the road

Yesterday I read a post about a couple making the most of early empty-nest syndrome while their children were at camp. For me, their week alone without children to hamper their spontaneity was a glimpse into my own future – a future I look forward to. For those of you who have no offspring to chip away at your sanity the post won’t have much significance. However, the anticipation of a happy future is something we all need.

(And for those of you who are planning to have children in future, PLEASE DO NOT take for granted the freedom you have now. Make the most of your alone time, the quiet, the ability to go out on a whim, and the fact that your things stay put and unbroken.)

“Perspectives” is a way of envisioning your future, the way you would like it to look. In this post I prompted you to envision a path for yourself. How I want you to get more specific.

In your journal date a page 1 year, 5 years, or even 10 years from today (ex. August 6, 2014). Now just starting writing. What’s the weather like, where are you living, what did you say to your partner/friend/self…? Just have fun with it. Imagine what your life will be like – and imagine BIG because it’s hard to aim at a far-off target if it’s too small.

(For an example of how Perspectives have worked in my own life, go here.)

Please feel free to leave a comment on how these journal prompts are working for you. And if you feel moved to, please share your writings!