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Medicine for the Self

“It takes hard work to differentiate our inner voices, and in crises, there is no time to waste. So spend an hour a day writing. Separate real from unreal, what stays from what goes. Then leap beyond anything you ever imagined.” — Marion Woodman

Back in the day, I used to keep journals that looked more like scrapbooks and art projects than great spills of cursive ink or smudged graphite. Over the years, I amassed boxes full of these handcrafted tomes full of my tracings through my days, and through my mind and heart as it worked through the whole lot of existential things that you face in your 20s and 30s. 

Those blank pages were my soul companions over the thresholds, peaks, and valleys as I trotted out to meet life only to need to come home again to piece together what I learned and what it all meant. The text and images arranged therein marked new revelations that were coursing my inner landscape. I was tracking what was mine and what wasn’t, finding my inner voice from the noise. In those journals, I was tracking my truth. 

“Following your own star means isolation, not knowing where to go, having to find out a completely new way for yourself instead of just going on the trodden path everybody else runs along,” wrote Swiss psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz in The Way of the Dream.

If I were to revisit those journal pages of mine, what gold would I discover from those pages now? What threads of truth have I brought with me through life? What parts of me, or what knowings, would I be reminded of now and would be worth reaching back for? Who might I see, or how might I see myself differently? 

In this podcast conversation, Jerry talks with Ian Sanders, author of 365 Ways to Have a Good Day, who found himself at the edge of rediscovery at the beginning of the COVID lockdown. Fumbling and longing for ground, he dove into his past by paging through his old journals. Unearthing the stories of his life at that moment reminded him of who he was and what made him tick.  

His collection of entries from his daily sojourns solidified an understanding of who he was and who he might want to be. In a record of noticing and documenting, we note what brings us joy, what our hurts or anger have to tell us, what we’re scared of, and the glimmers of moments when we feel whole. Jerry adds that in doing so “We then, in effect, end up assembling perhaps even instructions for how to be ourselves.” 

There are many benefits to journaling, and this is one of the grand highlights. At once in those pages, we work with our present self, discover our old self, and dialogue with our future self. We track our dreams and the future that’s calling us into it. We excavate our hearts and say what we need to say as our first fidelity. The practice hones us and allows us to find, hear, and spend time with our true voice, that part of us that has been there all along that knows better than all the other parts of us do. As you trod along the path of life that is yours, it’s this voice that you need to navigate in integrity. 

I wish for you As Clarissa Pinkola Estes wished for us: “I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories…water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”


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