Tag Archive for journaling

Dead Air or Well-fed Relationship?

mother-daughter

“Just the headlines!” Paige demanded, interrupting me with more brass than a marching band.

I’d known her game through years of friendship.  As a retired broadcaster, she gets impatient with lengthy descriptions.

“Okay, okay!”  I feigned defeat, waited for her reaction, then went right back to telling the same story, only faster.

She tilted her head back into her thick mane, pursed her lips and squinted her eyes in submission.  If uninterrupted, I knew I had her for another ninety seconds.

Too soon, her phone vibrated on the table like a half-dead locust.  She diverted her gaze as she picked it up.  That’s when I stopped.

“It’s Peri,” she said beginning to text her daughter, then, without looking up or missing a keystroke, she added, “I can multitask.  Continue.”

I didn’t, preferring to wait for her full attention.  Instead, I watched her focus on making a point in minimal words.  Those two text all the time, talk on the phone weekly, and keep a strong face-to-face relationship at least once per month.  Each mode of communication enhances the relationship.  Paige views texting like keeping an eye on the ticker crawling across the bottom of the news channel, whereas phone calls are news programming, and being together is the up-close-and-personal unedited interview.

Texting complete, Paige looked up with faux irritation.  “Go on.”

And I did.  It was my turn under the network lights.

That doesn’t happen for me all the time.  I think of Hal, a buddy who texts occasionally, but when I return it, especially if I ask a simple question about how he’s doing, there’s dead air.  When I see him, he doesn’t share much either.  He gives out soundbytes like Halloween candy, a sweet little tidbit before smiling and closing the door leaving me outside.

Another acquaintance from years ago, Fiona, loved talking on the phone, so I rarely saw her personally.  Her modus operandi for gathering and disseminating information was simple:  share  a little to break the ice, ask leading questions, and get the juiciest morsel.  When she heard a gossipy soundbyte, her mind raced to an internal rolodex to determine who to call while the person finished the story and asked for support.  Like what happened to Marla sharing her heartbreak. gossip.girl

“You’ll be fine,” Fiona snapped.

“But I hoped—“

“Someone’s beeping in.  Call you tomorrow.”  Fiona got what she wanted and disconnected.

When tomorrow came, Marla didn’t hear from Fiona, but heard her brutally edited story from someone she never would have told.  Marla felt manipulated and betrayed by Fiona’s over simplification, which added to her pain.

Where’s personal reflection and honest interaction?   Hal hides it away from everyone, maybe even from himself.  Fiona fakes it and feeds off it from a distance over the wire.  None of this is new in our culture of mass communication, ever-increasing information, and survival-mode summarization.  Still, our fondness for using electronic devices instead of having face-to-face contact where we can sense emotional reaction and read nonverbal communication leaves something big out of the conversation.  Many feel the loss.  Some mourn it.

Though my friend Paige is sometimes anxious to get to the point, she still wants to experience the journey.  She loves the interpersonal, is integral within a large community, as well as treats family and friends with equal care.  She’s laughs, cries and hugs it out with her wide circle.  Paige achieves this by balancing written and verbal communication, as well as by integrating text, social media, Skype, phone calls and personal contact to nurture rich, rewarding relationships in today’s hurried world.

Soundbytes are simply a tease.  Headlines are just an invitation.  With the important people in your life, do you want to nourish relationships with nibbles or five-course meals?  And what would you like to consume to feel nurtured and satisfied?

 

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Today Is A Holiday Of Gratitude

gratitude.journalLike a giant, motorized float, gratitude is paraded out and cheered at Thanksgiving, its ultimate holiday.  Many acknowledge what they are grateful for, even announcing it while sitting at a table with family, friends and a sumptuous feast, truly a gratitude-inducing event.  This continues into the year-end holidays, again around food, but with the addition of decorations, lights, music, and gifts.  We give and receive, grateful for both.

But what happens when the celebrations are over, the bright lights and decorations put away, and the gray of winter settles in?  Often, it’s simply cold, damp and colorless.  Do you still feel gratitude?

During these times, it’s often more profound to feel it, to seek and find the tiniest little things, mundane even, to be grateful for.

Consider uplifting this recognition through the practice of journal writing.

Write your gratitude in a little notebook, perhaps one you like and are grateful for.  Type it on a computer or in the notes app on your SmartPhone.  Send yourself gratitude text messages.  Try different ways; keep the practice fresh.

Write these items in simple lists, or jot notes down with goofy doodles next to them, or write five each morning as a great way to start a new day, or highlight several points of gratitude within a story.

Think about specifying topics from your life that are important or you want to become important.  Do any of these headings make you feel grateful just to consider focusing upon them?

  • My Healthier Food Diet
  • Building Community
  • Something New Today
  • Strengthening My Body
  • Expanding Relationships
  • Relaxation in Stressful Situations
  • Loving Myself
  • My Writing Practice

Be grateful for your creativity and expression.  Play, and feel the thankfulness well up in your body and fill your spirit.  Read your gratitude journal along the way; your words will inspire more joy to write about and live from.

Having gratitude opens your heart to receive experiences you dream of.   It feels good and allows more good.  And the more you practice living with gratitude, the more you instantly recognize good in your life.

The Last Line: Writing Through Grief

Friday morning before dawn, my mother’s life came to a peaceful end after a 12-year struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

“Dad,” I said on Saturday evening after the visitation as we sat in his home blankly watching TV.  “The minister asked if we wanted to prepare something for her eulogy.”  I mentioned I’d talked to my brothers, and I briefly shared their stories with him.  I asked if he had something to share, adding how hard it is to sum up a loved one’s life in a few paragraphs.  He said nothing.

I went upstairs and delved into 40 pages of remembrances I’d written over the last six years of Momma’s life.  Through my tears, I pulled representative stories into a cohesive order, and then wrote the opening 600 words to tie it all together.  However, when I went to save it, I somehow lost what I’d written.  On this night before the funeral, I felt deflated and guilty, but intuitively knew the words had already served a higher purpose.

In the morning, I found Dad typing at his computer.

“It hit me when I woke up,” he said with a grin.  “She was an only child, and when we married, she became part of a large extended family.  She loved that.”

When he finished, he asked me to read it, then polish and add to it if I wanted.   His written words were simple, yet profound.

I sat alone with only moments to add a few details, including the final sentence he couldn’t write about how the two of them stood side by side, heart to heart for 59 years, a statement about how much she loved him.

He smiled and nodded as he read the piece.  When he got to that last line and began to tear up, I realized that all my years of writing about her, along with the reading and writing the night before, had deepened my healing, clarity and compassion.  My contribution added something to Dad’s words that touched his heart while honoring my brothers’ stories and my mother’s life.

My union with writing and the Creative Spirit I feel through the intimate process of journaling and memoir brings me home to my center and helps me extend to full presence with others by knowing myself more fully and deeply.  Writing nurtures my heart and spirit, then facilitates confident expression in times of sorrow and in times of love.

Affirm:  I allow my writing to serve my spirit, to clarify and lift me through my own words. This process, even when kept private, benefits me, as well as those in my family and community.