Suddenly widowed at age 41, my world froze. After several weeks of going through the motions – commuting to work and home again, checking the date on the milk, replacing the empty shampoo – a caring colleague invited me to create space in my daily routine to journal. I was also introduced to a foreign (to me) reading list, beginning with a book by Jack Kornfield – A Path with Heart. He suggested I set the stage by going to a safe place in my mind’s eye – a place of meaning – a place to explore life lessons. That place for me was the ocean shore. So many beach pieces to journal about – to ponder and wonder what lessons they may hold for me. For example, the ebb and flow of the shoreline – I would imagine standing there being touched by the water and would begin writing about the lessons ebb and flow had for my life now without my husband of 20 years. Day after day the pages would slip by, day after day beginning with a bit of reading, followed by choosing a piece of the beach to guide my pen, and quieting my mind to be curious and receptive to what the page might have to tell me.
Journaling is simple, yet profound. It can be a tool to enrich and renew your perspective. It can be a mentor nudging you to listen with an inner ear for what guidance may bubble up. It is a practice to heighten listening to your own still voice – your own intuitions and inklings. It is a way to find out where you are now and how you feel about it. Do not think of it as writing to display what you think – think of it as writing to discover what you think.
A journal can become your quiet companion.
Where do you begin? First gift yourself with beautiful journal – be thoughtful about the look and feel of the cover and the writing pages – the color, texture, size – what one speaks to you? Pick out your pen – you may need to experiment to find the one that is just right for you. Identify the place and time of day. For me, pen on paper is my way of signing in for the day – my journal and pen wait for me in my corner of the living room each morning. For me, during the week 20 minutes works best before stepping into the day; on weekends I indulge by ignoring the clock.
Experiment – try it for a few weeks. There is no wrong way. Write in response to tangible objects– the ocean, a budding flower, bird songs; write to the Universe – Good morning, _____; or set a timer and just skitter from topic to topic. Start where you are. It is not intended to sound good or be real writing – it is for your eyes only. Just let the pen move across the pages allowing your thoughts to move across your mind. Do not be surprised to begin to feel something is communicating back to you.
Your mind and body, working under the stress and strains of the current school environment, need time to pause and give care and love to yourself as a school nurse. Your students and their families cannot do without your nursing services. Journaling can be simple, doable, positive practice to help you make small course adjustments and create space for personal comfort.
A journal can become your quiet companion. Give it a try – put pen on paper.
Most sincerely, Nichole Bobo (Director of Nursing Education, NASN)
p.s. For those interested, here are favorite titles from my ‘foreign reading list”:
Richard Bach, Illusions
Paige Burkes, The Joy of Now Journal – Mindfulness in Five Minutes a Day
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Wayne Dyer, Change your Thoughts – Change your Life
Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention
Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits
Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening – Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
Meera Lee Patel, Start Where You Are – A Journal for Self-Exploration
James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
Oprah Winfrey, The Wisdom of Sundays