I turned to journaling in my teens. There is so much to process as you come of age, and it was long before technology allowed you to confess 24-7 to your friends, and so I confessed to my journals (and on my bedroom walls which were enormous vision boards). Journaling was a way to process experience, to claim what I wanted for myself, to make plans. It was the critical tool that gave me voice at a time when most adolescents struggle to find their voices. And finding my voice, I figured out really early, is what would keep me safe. If I wrote something, it was the way I turned. I couldn’t write one thing and do another.
When I became a high school teacher, I figured out that many of my students lacked voice. Hmm, I wondered. Why did I have a voice at 16, but they don’t- even though we shared other things in common: economic stress, immigration, a first language other than English, significant family responsibilities? The journal, I thought. The journal must have given me voice.
And so, even though I wasn’t an English teacher, journaling became a significant part of the classroom experience I created. And, hence, journal prompt creating became a significant part of my curriculum development.
In my late-twenties, a dear friend gave me a piece of art (by maryanne mbl radmacher) that said: writing is the process one follows to learn what is really known deep within… words matter. pay attention. write to learn what you know.”
That piece of art still hangs in my little space today, capturing exactly what I think about writing in general and journaling specifically. We know so much already. We just rarely allow ourselves the ability to capture it. We’re moving too fast, processing too much, not quiet enough to hear what is happening on the inside. Given the chance to capture that which is coursing through us, our truth reveals itself. Because I believe journaling- the act of capturing voice- is such a critical tool to self-actualization, I included a fair amount of it in Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance.
One of my favorite prompts to use with my high school students, and later my college students, was to encourage them to list 10 careers where they thought they could find happiness and satisfaction. When we’re young, especially, we think there’s one right answer. First of all, that doesn’t have to be the case (although it can be. For the record, though, I’m on career 3 (writer), 4 (college professor) and 5 (non-profit administrator) right now). And this isn’t to say that everyone needs a paying professional career as I don’t think that is true (for example, while I might being a non-profit administrator as one of my gigs, it isn’t a paying gig. But it’s a gig that I take as seriously as I would any paying one.). But by considering multiple careers that are interesting to us, regardless of if we have one or none, we can often discover hobbies, interests that would be satisfying to us even if we can’t make that career idea a reality right now or ever. We can find crucibles to our happiness, if we are just willing to allow ourselves the opportunity to capture those careers in some way in our life. The closet torch singer might thrive with voice lessons or by putting money aside each month to purchase new music. The aspiring jockey might enjoy regular horseback riding.
So, today, let’s consider careers (and toast Day 137 in Beautiful You). What are ten careers you would love to have (with the caveat that the skills, training, and lifestyle you have right now are of no consequence)? And what does that list teach you about yourself? Are you living in a way that plugs you into the passions that list illuminates? If not, what can you be doing to better embrace the passions evident in the list?
My Careers List (in no particular order):
Community Activist/ Instigator through Art (Eve Ensler’s ability to take human truth and then make into both art and movement leaves me awed. Living life’s purpose that way. Wow).
Radio Personality (I’d love to have a show that is about living authentically, that allows people to call in talk about what they are doing to give the world their best and that allows listeners ways to support, encourage, and teach one another)
Professional Athlete Community Engagement Consultant/ Organizer (I’d love to work with athletes to plug their talents into a community need.)
Creativity Consultant (Oh, I love the brainstorm. And I so love brainstorming with people and then tweaking, considering later. I also love naming things. Time spent brainstorming possibility and then creating action plans for realizing possibility, oh how satisfying!).
Organic Vegetable Farming (I’d want just enough land and produce to have a stand at the local farmers’ market)
Professional Organizer (This goes with the love of brainstorming. I also love system creating- although I have a comic confession coming up soon about my organizing tendencies once I finish a current project. My very favorite systems to create? Closets and planning calendars. How do you get through life in some semblance of order when life is handing you a whole lot to manage? That sort of stuff fascinates me).
Forensic Scientist/ Private Investigator (Again, brainstorming and system creating come to mind as essential pieces of solving life’s puzzles. I am fairly certain that I can’t handle the darkness of forensic science but private investigating maybe would be just enough intrigue and puzzling for me).
Retreat Owner/ Facilitator (A few years ago, I traveled to Maine- two separate times- for an adventure weekend at a small little home-based retreat center. And in my past careers as a high school student activities director and college administator, I was in charge of putting on and facilitating multiple retreats throughout each school week. I love creating space for people to dive into themselves or an issue and then make plans for how they’ll continue to address those issues beyond that space).
What does this list teach me about myself? One thing I’m aware of is that I don’t make a lot of time in my life to enjoy pleasures like painting anymore or writing fiction. My minutes are really geared towards productivity and sometimes I make more work than I really need to make. Better embracing some of these passions– for example, not taking the attitude with my vegetable garden that if I plant it will come and instead take the time to really nurture it to come, I believe, will bring me more simple joyfulness in my dailiness.
How about you?