My last post ‘the lighter side’ leads to what I believe transforms the journaling practice. Somewhere in my 30s I began re-reading every journal before I began the next. Most people know that empty feeling when finishing a wonderful novel, not ready to have it end, not ready to jump into the awkward start of a new book. I would experience the same feel when I wrote the final page of my journal. This re-reading practice provides a soothing transition. I typically find trends of thought, trends of concern or worry weaved into many entries. Sometimes it wakes me to the depth of a worry or merely affirms what a significant issue something had become. While I could put it off, shut it away in a safe place during my conscious day, I kept returning to it when I wrote beyond the boundaries of my day. I love when I come across experiences which have brought me joy vs angst. I know I need to build more of that into my conscious day. I began to think of these trends as “threads weaving themselves through the fabric of my paper”. ** The threads travel along through the pages, longing to be noticed. Others would surely notice them much sooner. For me, avoidance works until I am bombarded with it to the point of nauseam, finally having that ‘aha!’ moment.
Curiosity led me to read journals from a tumultuous period in my life; a time before I’d begun reviewing my journals. It was a time when I forged ahead, ignoring signs of what was happening, what was wrong in a relationship. I was astounded by the events I quietly, methodically swept under the rug. It was glaringly obvious! I wondered, had I reviewed the entries then, would I have acted sooner, made different choice. No going back, just changing responses now. I learned slowly, shifted later.
Eventually, even with the review practice, I observed my own pattern of droning on and on about a topic, but doing nothing. After awhile, I couldn’t stand it….couldn’t believe how long I was letting myself slide by without changes, adjustments. These situations aren’t particularly large, definitely not ominous. They are typically about my response, my desire, my hope; they are very present, very key to my happiness.
That’s when a pivotal practice changed what I DO about my threads. I track themes, threads and I write them down. Sometimes I notice 2 or 3 themes, sometimes 6 or 7. I transfer these thought threads to the beginning of my new journal. It soothes the transition. I am not leaving behind my old friends of redundant worries. I am telling them I have noticed them and I am pulling the threads, bringing them along so they are not forgotten.
Very often I carry the same themes forward across several journals. Those threads percolate, shining brighter, until it’s time for me to DO something about them. Some things must percolate for a long time before circumstances allow action, before I find courage, and in some cases, before I can simply say, “Enough, it’s done, dues are paid, let bygones be bygones”
**threads of thought was a term I developed for my published journal in 2002 and used when I taught a journaling class in 2011.