For my 2015 New Year’s Resolution, I decided to start journaling. 2014 was a tough, sleepless year for me and I thought I needed to make myself spend five minutes a day reflecting and recording what was happening in my life in order to lift my spirits and focus on all the good in my life.
My great grandmother kept a journal of the mostly ranch-centered details of her life including the weather, animal health and reproduction, ranch business, and family life. I felt inspired by this humble record and wanted to reap some benefit from following in her footsteps.
I created a beautiful bookmark using one of my toddler’s watercolors and a nice black pen with prompts to help me start writing if I got stuck. I opened my favorite but not often used Old Farmer’s Almanac Engagement Calendar and started filling the ample sections.
You might expect a mom with two small children to confess that she simply couldn’t make time to journal. That wasn’t the case. I would put the baby down for his nap and dutifully head to my bedside table for my journal and start writing.
What started out as an attempt to create a positive to-do list for the upcoming day turned into a list of what I could not possibly get done. I named off the things I hoped to accomplish and even as I wrote them I felt heavy hearted and knew I could never get it all done. My hopes for the day were simple and reasonable; I wanted to get the laundry done, do an art project with my daughter, and vacuum. I would think of a great idea for supper and jot it down, and pen out how I was currently feeling.
The problem was I was feeling lousy, overwhelmed, was terribly sleep deprived, and every day that I returned to the journal I saw the pleasant list of things I had planned the day before and could glance into the unvacuumed hallway and knew I had failed. I didn’t cook that great thing for supper and if I did I had felt unappreciated. I didn’t get the laundry done because every being in the house had pottied in anything other than the toilet and there was no way I could keep up. I didn’t make time for that restorative walk for all the reasons a new mom has for not making time for herself. I was desperate to feel better and reflecting on my daily life was making me feel much worse rather than better. I hoped to feel gratified by recording my daily life and really I should have just been focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and forgetting all about the never ending stream of laundry. I started crying when I would get a few sentences in and felt like I couldn’t bear to face the kitchen full of my shortcomings.
I stopped journaling because I was in an entirely wrong frame of mind. I also think I was focused too much on tasks and not enough on emotions, which I still struggle with between my ears. I was madly in love with my babies, enjoying my part time teaching job, but the wave of chores was drowning me and writing about it was only making it worse. I actually started and stopped journalling several times in the first six months of the year and each time I quickly realized I wasn’t in the right place of mind or heart to reflect further. Until the tide of to-do ebbs a bit, until the baby sleeps more consistently, until I can refocus and forget about chores and accomplishments in the right now, I don’t need to reflect on the day, and that is something you don’t hear much of. I think that sometimes a gal’s best course of action is to heed the words of William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus (that I make my 8th grade students memorize and recite) and while a girl’s head may be bloody, it better be unbowed.