Guest Blogger: The Good the Bad and the in Between

I’m very excited to introduce my first guest blogger: Barbara Brown. I met Barbara ten years ago at Flinders University when we were enrolled in the Bachelor of Creative Arts. Like me, Barbara is a mother with a couple of qualifications and a successful career behind her, and like me she did her degree because she wanted to be a writer. We both did a PhD and in the last three years of our candidature we shared an office and the problems associated with intensive and personally confronting research. Barbara’s thesis, like mine, consisted of a memoir and an account of research into therapeutic writing, although our topics and main interests, as well as our backgrounds, are very different.

Barbara is also a fierce defender of the rights of asylum seekers. She actively supports several refugees, men and women who’ve experienced terrible situations in their own countries and found in Barbara not only a sympathetic ear but a source of sound practical advice and assistance. In case I’m making her sound like a saint, you’ll see from the opening lines of her post she is very human. Her post reminds us there are different forms of therapeutic writing and she has inspired me to adopt her approach.

V0C2CIXXN8 ‘Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy – I’ve been yelling at Jim all day. This is the result of doing too much for too many people over Christmas. Each year I promise myself I’ll say no, but when the time comes my need to be everybody’s friend gets in the way. There I go again climbing onto the self-sacrifice merry-go-round. You might want to laugh, but my inability to refuse requests has its dark side. Anyway, it’s over now, so time to shut up, put up and act more graciously.’

You have just read my journal entry for December 26th 2015. The fallout from doing everything for everybody had spread far and wide, but was mainly directed towards my poor husband who consistently maintained his innocence (yet who spent most of the day with his feet up eating shortbread?). As you can see, I have always used journal writing as a way of letting it all hang out. No holds barred.

Journals are my private release valve; a place where I can vent my frustrations and receive a sense of peace when I eventually put the pen down; but these entries are always pretty negative and I don’t want them to be a just record of my moaning. So, I thought I would tell you about another piece of cathartic writing I engage in. My gratitude list. This is where I record my serendipitous moments; the moments that bring me joy

I wrote this in bed one Saturday evening:

‘I am grateful for the smell of lemon scented gums in the park, winning a game of cards after tea, talking to Junie on the phone, and finishing the long overdue beanie for Maurice …’  Lemon_Sc_Gum

You get the idea. This is my Pollyanna time. A list of ‘thank yous’ designed to counteract my feelings of negativity. No matter how awful the day has been I can usually find at least half a dozen glimpses of happiness.

Both ways of writing are important to me, the need to release my anxieties and a place to remember that life is really pretty good. And over time I hope my gratitude list will grow longer and the list of frustrations ebb away. But I live in an imperfect world, and I am a long way from sainthood; so for time being I will rely on these two different styles of cathartic writing to help me stay me sane and balanced.

What do you think? Has Barbara reminded you of life’s bounty? What, right at this moment, are you grateful for?

 

8 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: The Good the Bad and the in Between

  1. Well I have Barbara’s first journal down pat! But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stick with a gratitude journal for more than a few days. Makes me wonder if I know what being grateful is all about.

    But today I am VERY grateful that my brother-in-law’s trip to the ER yesterday afternoon ended up being a uti rather than his kidneys or liver shutting down. Greg has been fighting cancer for three years. I guess if I’m to be honest going through this with my family HAS changed how I view my life and what I should be grateful for. I haven’t tried a gratitude journal for several years. Maybe it’s time again now…

    Nice blog!

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    1. Hi Calen. As I was going through my files yesterday I discovered a gratitude journal I started in December last year. It had three entries! I added another entry today and I hope to maintain the habit, but life – the good and the bad and the indifferent – does get in the way. I am considering doing another of my weeklong blogging mini-marathons, all on gratitude. It feels like a worthwhile exercise and a challenge all rolled into one! Glad your brother-in-law is not in too much distress, and thanks for your ongoing input.

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  2. She is brave to put on paper all the negatives from her mind. I fear who will find my journals once I’m gone. I fear leaving scars on the reader when whatever I was upset about came and went for me but will linger with the reader forever. I find myself writing those things in my own personal shorthand-code even. Funny when I go back and read such, sometimes I cannot even decifer and it’s just as well. No need to open the old wound once it’s healed. Thanks for sharing her writing.

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    1. Lisa, I too have a box of rather angry journals in our garage. I tried to read them about ten years ago but it was too hard. I occasionally found something worth reading, but too often I found my tired, frustrated, inarticulate or depressed self who simply needed to vent. In retrospect, though, putting those thoughts on the page helped me deal with and sometimes resolve my problems. Research has shown, however, that a gratitude journal has a significant impact on a person’s mood and helps them cope with life. As you can see from Kathy’s comment concerning this post, both writing and reading a gratitude entry makes a difference to one’s mind. Kathy’s comment certainly helped me; she lives in a glorious part of South Australia and her comment reminded me of the good times I’ve spent there. I hope to include more examples of writing about blessings on this blog, and I’ll ask the courageous and amazing Barbara to help us along the way! Thanks for your comment and enjoy your summer on your farm. It looks beautiful.

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      1. Thanks Janet. Right now I’m being totally distracted by five squirrels having a family reunion outside my office window. I’ve spent the morning taking pictures of the silly critters. So cute.

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  3. Oh I do so much enjoy life’s treasures.So often it is early in the morning, very early, as I watch the sunrise over Boston Island. Or it might be my walk.
    Other times it is at ‘smoko’ time with hubby. (We don’t smoke but this is a term he uses that reflects his rural/agricultural background and employment.) We look at the waters, the clouds, the vegetation in our garden or beyond.
    Oh the birds, the New Holland Honey-eaters are such characters. We enjoy their play. Then there is the bees, or the flowers or something to appreciate, enjoy. Yes ENJOY.
    We are blessed to have a peaceful place in which to live and circumstances that enable us to live modestly but very comfortably.

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    1. Kathy, you have beautifully described the view from your lovely home. Yes, you have a lot to enjoy where you live. Thanks so much for sharing and enjoy your blessings, you have both earned them. x

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