It's a process
the magic that happens when we admit our truth on paper
Yesterday morning I was scrolling through Instagram and the thought I had was: IF I NEVER POSTED ON INSTAGRAM AGAIN I WOULDN’T CARE. Professionally was what I was referring to but maybe even on my private page. And don’t get me started on Facebook! I’m hardly on there as it is. I find the whole Social Media thing overwhelming and unfulfilling. And lately all I see is what I’m not doing or creating or being. Yep I’ve been caught in a comparison trap — not me as an individual per se — but in my ‘career’ as a writer/creator. Everyone else’s paddocks look so much greener than mine (see last week’s Instagram quote post). And rather than this inspiring me to work on what I want to grow in my paddock, all it has done is cause a kind of creative career paralysis.
Anyway, back to yesterday’s out-of-the-blue thought about not wanting to post on Instagram anymore…
I began to think a little deeper about this idea and realised that Instagram IS NOT the work. Writing and creating is the work. And all I should be doing on Instagram is sharing it.
You probably already knew this —as did I — that Instagram is JUST a platform for sharing.
It’s NOT the work. But sometimes we can know things but not really know them as in fully accept them until we’ve been exposed to them several times. It’s like this student wasn’t ready until this particular morning and moment.
And even though posting on Instagram and other social media platforms feels like a whole lotta hard work to me, it’s not the work!
It started out as a place for me get the work — my work — down and done. I would use posting as a way to write and get my messages out to people, and that served me well. Hell, it even helped me realise what I was sharing was book-worthy, enter Find Your Way which I self-published in 2021 as a place to honour what I had learnt through all my years of dealing with the chronic pain of IBS-C and more recently a journey with breast cancer.
But things have changed.
I have changed.
And now I just want to do the work - my work.
I know I will still want to show you my work…especially if I’m making products and offerings with you in mind! But I’ve spent so much time thinking about what to post and when to post (and where to post) that it takes me away from doing my work.
And on this morning, it hit home, that I want to focus on doing my work. I want to make a valuable contribution to people’s lives — not a fleeting feel-good moment or a quick-read that took me hours to create.
What a revelation!
But I wouldn’t have had it if I hadn’t taken it seriously and taken it in - reflected on it and and then dug a little deeper for what that initial thought meant for me and to me. And the words to explain it so I could understand myself better, and clarify my needs and desires wouldn’t have come through if I hadn’t explored it on paper. And the urge to change my ways wouldn’t have surfaced if I hadn’t taken this insight to the page and processed it (aka journaled it).
Interestingly, and coinciding serendipitously with this admission to get on with my real work, was the introduction to Caitlin Cady’s book The Hope Dealer which ‘requested’ to come home with me a few weeks ago when I was scanning the shelves in Dymocks, Melbourne. Since welcoming it into Seeker & Sage HQ I dipped into it and soon discovered that Caitlin has created an app called Heavily Meditated. What a great title! — for a meditation app and a way of moving through life.
Impressed with her writing style, message and creativity, I delved a little deeper and found that she has had a long battle with Lyme disease and that meditation was her medicine.
And although reading about her story and what she gains from meditating got me wanting to re-commit to a regular sit, it got me thinking about ‘my medicine’ — what has been the medicine I have turned to for all these years of managing chronic and at times quite mysterious gut pain, and the emotional turmoil and mental torment that went with it? What is the medicine I wouldn’t have been able to function without?
And my answer:
And not your 5-minute, line-a-day, gratitude-inducing kind of journaling.
The journaling I did this morning to get me to where I am with this discovery and depth of understanding it.
The journaling I like to call Process Journaling.
I’m talking hard-core, put-it-all-on-paper, take-your-challenges-to-the-page and process-the-shit-out-of-your-life kind of journaling (no pun intended but boy does it fit RE the IBS-C). The kind of journaling that can scare you because you see yourself and all your fears and faults and fantasies as they really are. But you also see the beauty and the bravery and the boldness and the bright light that radiates from within.
It’s you fronting up for you and to you and facing your issues and triggers and challenges with a fierce but loving honesty so that you can finally live as the fullest you and live the fullest life possible.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again here and now — I would not be the person I am without this kind of journaling.
I wouldn’t know who I am. And I wouldn’t be who I am.
I wouldn’t have been able to move through and integrate the physical and emotional pain that I’ve been experiencing almost daily and have done for over 35 years as well as the miscarriages and the breast cancer and all the interstate moves and career challenges and crippling self-doubt and chronic people-pleasing and perfection-seeking, and come through it all stronger and braver and wiser and kinder — to myself and those in my world. For the hypersensitivity, the off-the-charts empathy, the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being a woman born under a Cancer sun and is a 2 on The Enneagram who feels things big and deep and high and long — the page is my refuge.
I thrive because of Process Journaling. It was and is still the tool that enables me to include myself on my list of people to love and care for. I understand myself better, I tend to myself better, I let myself have needs and wants and see that I am indeed worthy, just like everyone else — of having them and having them met.
Process Journaling helps me to make sense when I don’t understand. And when there is no sense to be made because sometimes stuff happens in life that is incomprehensible, journaling takes the hurt and holds it tenderly and patiently and kindly and then compassionately moves me into a place of acceptance and eventually peace and ultimately, forgiveness.
When I process on paper I listen, I learn, I let go — and I let in what I really need to hear and feel and know…that I am loved. As I am. Where I am. For who I am. The page and the pen I take to it are in conscious conversation and there is this ever abiding presence that is unconditional — always giving, always accepting — ‘there’ for me in ways that I have been always found easy to give to others but not myself.
Revelations often appear, mostly with a sigh of relief, but there are also plenty that prod me to take action that provokes me to step out of my comfort zone. But the insights and the ahas are needed and welcomed - invited actually! That’s one of the greatest joys of processing on paper — receiving an answer to a question or prayer that has been plaguing you for some time, whether you’ve voiced it or not.
So my medicine is Process Journaling — using the pen and the page to transform my experience of my experience so that I can learn from it and grow through it.
Because life will throw stuff our way that is hard to grasp and difficult to swallow — stuff that can either erode our self-belief and ability to bounce-back and keep walking the path or help us become braver, stronger, wiser and kinder, more open, giving and grateful…if we let it.
If you’ve made it this far into this post, first of all let me say thank you! Secondly, you’ll realise there are several messages contained within this post that originally started as an investigation into why I couldn’t care any less about posting on Instagram or any social media platform for that matter.
That’s another magical aspect of journaling — I went down this whole unexpected rabbit hole and ended up here, declaring privately and now publicly that it is time for me to make a change.
Important disclaimer: I don’t often share what comes straight from my journals because it’s personal — I primarily journal and process life on paper for me. And that’s what I teach and stand-by. But as a teacher and creator I also know that much of my work is supported by my journaling practice and inspiration and revelations often strike when I am scrawling black and blue ink from left to right.
But this is my medicine. And it could be yours too.
And I’m not sure if it’s my work — the work I need to be focusing on again and going deeper with ( last year I ran a masterclass on journaling and started exploring the idea of publishing my own journal range) but I do know that making Instagram posts is NOT the work — my work anymore.
Yes I will still share over there, but the what has to change. I’m not sure what the what will look like yet; maybe I’ll use it as its categorical title suggests — for social purposes! But if you want to stick around and keep journeying with me over there that would be great.
Otherwise sharing here on Substack will be a priority. I feel I can write more and that only those who really want to join me will be here which in turn means I can share more about where I’m at and what I am learning along the way. There’s even the option to record audio and video so you never know what might appear down the track!
Before I go I’d love to know what YOUR MEDICINE is so please feel free to leave a comment. And if you’re a fellow journaler let me know! And if you’re keen to try Process Journaling I’d love to know that too. Part of my being here on Substack is to create community so now it’s your turn to talk and my turn to listen : )
Thanks so much for being here. Love Gena xx
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