I take one week holidays in the country during Winter, Summer and Fall. Each sojourn is an opportunity for my busy brain to slow down. Although it can take up to three days for my spirit to recognize the reduction in auditory and visual noise, I eventually start to relax.
Currently I am sitting on a porch overlooking a large river. The air and water is so still, I can clearly hear a loon call. In this moment I am inspired to visit my personal journal. What do I notice about it? The beautiful, iridescent colours in the design on the cover still make me smile. The size fits comfortably in one hand, while my other hand opens the book and touches the thin silky ribbon that marks the last place I made an entry.
Turning to the front, the first page states that I picked up this book six years ago, yet on the next page is a poem I wrote in January, 2014. In between, tied into the binding, are slim stubs of paper, bearing evidence to a careful cutting out of dozens of sheets. At the bottom of this next page is a brief note written in a different colour of ink, referencing September 8th, 2014. Turning to that page it reads: “This is the best thing, to get rid of pages up to the end of 2013…”
Why remove pages? Ever since symptoms that suggest anxiety started to appear in my life, a recurring habit has been to visit the past often, ruminating on what did or did not happen. I often say that I am thankful for all aspects of my journey because everything has shaped who I am and I like me. However, I can acknowledge the negative experiences but I do not need to dwell upon them, so the removal of written evidence is purifying in some way.
What was in those pages? I recall lots of activity, and worry, and painful stuff. But the details are softened with their absence. I have moved on by consciously improving my life through thoughtful curation. As a minimalist, I have more mental, emotional and physical space to marvel at beauty, welcome in love and play with more joy. The messages in this book since last year reflect positive and supportive well being.
To not completely forget, I did reprint a short list of milestones, in point form on one page, so I could see how far I have come. In stressful moments, it helps me slow down, to appreciate what I have accomplished and this puts things into perspective. I also pulled forward a few nuggets. “Breathe Beautifully” was one that attracted me. I do not know why I wrote it but it speaks to me now so it continues with me.
“Krrack, krrrak!” proclaims a raven flying overhead. The wind begins to gently lift the needles on the white pine branches, communicating a unified whisper throughout the forest.
I also notice I am writing down more feelings than events. It is a way to let them out and they are easier to detach from so I can move on. This journal, after all, is me talking to myself. I have a penchant for the present moment. I do not need to report what I already know about work, family and health. What I get out of this newer approach is a conversation encouraging mindfulness, care and connection. Fewer stories and shorter reflections. Get to the point, Jo.
The book has less than 20 pages left. This makes me smile; room for a couple more chapters in this current story of my life. Yes, when they come to an end, I will likely let go of it all. I will start fresh with a new cover and ribbon, and lots of crisp empty pages to place my ‘new nows’.
And now, it is time for a walk in the woods.