Writing from my heart
My first experience of self care was when I learned to journal to myself as a child. It started with a five-year diary with a little key lock (many women have this sweet memory). The importance of this type of writing practice cannot be understated. Journaling or keeping a diary is now a common recommendation offered by mental health practitioners because it can gently, in our own words, at our own pace, unlock the roots of something traumatic we may be feeling.
Because I never let up on this practice, I have been able to transform small and large notions of suffering in myself — and to write about traumas in myself and as I feel them in the world. It has been an incredible ongoing gift to myself — I would even go so far as to say it has sustained my sanity — and has been a practice of cultivating empathy and compassion.
Some people don’t have to work as hard as I do at sustaining joy (which is tied up with compassion for me). I have taken “to heart” the furrowed brows and the absence of feedback (i.e. “crickets”) by others when I speak or put “myself” out into the world with my words — and this has compromised my experience of joy. I have been told I am too sensitive and care too much, but that is all relative. I like my sensitivity and ability to care; that is who I am.
Interestingly, as I focus more on pleasing the trees and spirits among us, I am receiving more feedback from humans. Just today two people gave me heart-warming feedback about testimony I’d given during a public hearing last month; one said it was “one of the most moving and effective statements made.”
I did a bold thing today. It was bold in my mind anyway. In the spirit of the Wu-Tang Clan (see Day 80) I decided to go to a legacy book publisher in Boston about my Beyond Karen book and also leave a hint about these heart readings. I called in advance to see if the office might be open and was going to Boston anyway for a Youth- and Indigenous-led march/rally to protest Liberty Mutual and Chase Bank for their disgusting complicity in funding fossil fuel pipelines (and having complicit directors on their boards). I paid $2 per minute to park and was not able to see anyone in the office, but I was able to be assisted by a man with a key to their office and a woman who was happy to put my parcel in the right mail box!
During the march I had a lovely walk-and-talk with Bill McKibben (who was in town to fly to Glasgow for the climate talks tomorrow) about the book he’s working on and Beyond Karen — among many other climate details and a few fun things too.
I want very much for my heart-felt writing to be fun and joyous because I want more fun and joy in my life and offering joy as a gift may bring me joy in return (like it does with the trees). But there is so much on my heart that I’m either not there yet in terms of skillfulness, or to write in this way would be disingenuous. Maybe both.
There are many joy-filled stories in Beyond Karen even though it is about the very harsh and triggering subject of white superiority. The act of journaling — and the particular Inner Fortune style of balanced right and left brain journaling — can be both harsh and joy-filled … like life.
It is not easy for me to write about my writing. So I did an in depth heart reading (I breathed into my heart and concentrated on my pulse while hanging upside down, twice). I started to cry, which is not easy to do upside down so I had to get up.
What came through was the image of Marianne Williamson’s quotation (Day 75). Playing it small (and safe)— instead of the brightly shining child of God that I am, and we all are, born to be — is an ineffective way to live.
Here’s to facing fear. Again. But better.
I now hear teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Wabanaki nation about watering these seeds of change (in attitude) and growth.
May it be so.