These past few days I’ve been feeling a little high, like I’ve been taking happy pills, despite nothing changing in my circumstances. My husband is still across the border working and with complicated red tape as to when we’ll see him again or when we’ll be living together as a family. My kid’s began distance learning again this week, after almost a year of not being back in school full time, and I’m still unsure when it will be possible for us to return to our home country (Australia) for either a holiday or to repatriate permanently, as so many other long term expats have done or attempted to do with the changing landscape that is our world right now. Just like the rest of the world, we are living in a state of flux. But one thing’s for sure, my reaction to all of this has definitely lightened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that checked out of reality that I’m unaware of the “coronacoaster” of emotions so perhaps I’m on the peak of the ride, but knowing this makes me more present to this moment and how I can count the blessings in each moment.
So what’s changed?
Last week I began a daily practice of writing Morning Pages or Journalling. Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, talks about Morning Pages as a way to cultivate creativity, excavate buried dreams, and a tool for personal growth and change. It can also alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s a practice of writing 3 pages per day of long-form free-flowing stream of consciousness, preferably first thing in the morning. It’s used to help artists unlock their creativity but really anyone can use it as an uncensored way to make sense of whats going on in the hidden crevices of your mind, manage anxiety and stress (hello anyone living in a pandemic!!), and if the greatest leaders in the world use it to tap into their greatness, why shouldn’t we give it a go?
What do I write about?
Well, to begin with, I’d just write whatever came into my mind, and mostly it was just a to-do list written in long sentences. Over the days, the words just started to flow and the writing just spewed out of me. The idea isn’t to re-read your notes (at least for some time), or be perfect, and don’t censor your writing. Keep it private, as this is not to be judged by you or others. There is no right or wrong and it’s all up to you how to go about it. I also include what I’m grateful for. I try to come up with 10 gratitudes per day and they can be as simple as I love my hair today, I’m grateful for the sunny weather, I’m grateful for the roof over my head, or more detailed as I’m grateful for the way my partner wakes me up with a cup of tea or the way my dog loves me unconditionally, or that my friends are always here for me when I need them.
I’ve also been getting into daily Affirmations after being guided by my coach, Wafa Obaidat. She reminded me how to get back into a state of flow and by having these daily rituals of Journalling, Gratitudes and Affirmations, these will anchor me in such unsettling times and give me back my power in a time where things seem so out of our control.
Even my husband has witnessed a complete and positive shift in my manner and mindset this last week, so I’m excited to continue and experience the expansion.
When do I do it?
Well, the idea is to do it first thing in the morning, however, this isn’t always practical as a mother who is homeschooling an 8 and 10-year-old. So I do it when/where I can and sometimes not even in one go. Usually, I’ll do it once the kids are occupied with school, mid morning, but I’ve also done in the carpark last week after school drop off and just before bed on a busy day.
How long does it take?
For me, 3 pages, takes about 20-30 minutes or so but depends on how long it takes you to write. Don’t let the fear of not having the right conditions, environment, or time hold you back from just starting. You can find time anywhere to do this, even while your kid is playing independently and you’re sitting on the floor with them, or your spouse is channel surfing on the couch.
What else have I experienced?
One of the weirdest things I’ve discovered was the expansion of time. I used to get worked up over all my to-dos and the time allocated and then I’d feel paralysed by inaction and not get any of the jobs done. Now I’m ok with chipping away at getting things done in snippets and chunks so essentially projects I’ve procrastinated on for months, get done in a week. Case in point, declutter and organising our spare/multi-purpose room.
Also, I’ve experienced such a lightness of mood and I’m hardly ruffled. I’m less reactive and I’m more focused on the positive outcome, not the negative. For eg; the difficulty of getting to Australia vs being thankful we are happy and healthy right where we are and there is no immediate need for us to return home just yet.
Giving up coffee took the edge off my anxiety (not that I’m a huge sufferer but I have pangs pop up now and then) but Journalling has certainly kicked it almost to non-existent.
How to get started?
Just start, but if you need you can watch this short video to show you how or go grab Julia Cameron’s book here.
And if you do start, I’d love to hear what you experience, better yet, film yourself on timelapse on your phone like me and tag me on Instagram for accountability and encouragement @robynjlaw.