Welcome to the Transformation Through Journaling column with Identity writer, M. Shannon Hernandez. As owner of The Writing Whisperer, Shannon coaches and motivates women to hone their writing skills, particularly in non-fiction and business writing. Join her on the journey to transform with creative journalism.
Most of us leave extremely busy lives. We are bombarded with more information than ever before. A short walk from my house to the train station in Brooklyn yields advertisements whizzing by on busses, flyers handed out on street corners, and newspapers thrust at me as I descend underground. I didn’t even mention that you would most likely see me checking my voicemail, email, and text messages along the way too.
One day I was sitting in a hotel room in Baltimore, getting ready to give a presentation to a group of ladies. I was trying to remember a conversation I had had with my mother a few weeks prior. It wasn’t one of those earth-shattering conversations, but it was a nice phone chat where we checked in with one another and shared the little things going on in each of our lives.
The problem was that I couldn’t remember the conversation. This upset me terribly. I realized later that day that I couldn’t recall many of the “everyday moments” happening in my life. It was on this day that I was also given a weekly planner for the new year, from a dear friend. This particular planner had only six lines per day, so I wasn’t sure how I would utilize it.
The next day, the idea for The Conscious Reflector Journal came to me! I decided that I would use this weekly planner to capture short reflections, in words, about moments that characterized my everyday life.
Writing in a succinct fashion was super difficult for me in the beginning. I am a writer and lover of words and description, so I had to focus on a few key moments that I wanted to capture about my day. I began by using the who, what, when, where, why, and how framework to help me zoom in on the moments I wanted to record.
One of my earliest entries reads:
I arrived home from Baltimore today to a clean house, wine, bread, salad, and freshly made pasta sauce simmering on the stove. To top it all off, my awesome husband also had a bouquet of sunflowers – my favorite! – waiting for my arrival. He’s a keeper! Shakti was glad to see me too.
When I look back and read over this entry, a smile spreads across my face and tears fill my eyes. This was a special moment for me – one that had I not written it down – it may have been lost forever. One of the many benefits of journaling is being able to “go back in time” and relive memories near and dear to you.
Another entry reads:
Drove home from PA today in the thickest fog I have ever seen. I couldn’t even see 2 ft in front of the car at certain points in the mountains. The car was shaking and sputtering- it still doesn’t like when moisture gets into the gas line. I wanted to cry. I also saw a huge black bear, dead on the side of the road, with its ear tagged. Astonishing and saddened to see a dead bear! I should be more prepared when I go hiking.
As I read back over this entry, it reminds me that I need to get my car serviced. This short entry also reminds me that I need to order bear spray, and put it in my hiking bag. But above all, the next time I encounter fog like that day, I am pulling off the road. If you take time to read over your past journal entries, wonderful insights will be revealed.
If you have been wanting to get into the daily habit of writing, I believe The Conscious Reflector Journal would be a welcoming way to start. The entries are short, but they are so important in capturing the moments which define your life. The time commitment is minimal. This journaling technique only takes a few minutes at the end of every day. (My journal stays on my nightstand and writing in it is the last thing I do before I turn off the light and drift to sleep.)
How are you capturing your everyday moments and preserving them for later self-reflection and personal discovery?
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
My word for this past year has been “truth.” I have accepted that my truth is just that – it’s mine – and it doesn’t need validation or approval from anyone else!
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I have learned to slow down and live in the moment more now than ever before.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I finished writing my first book about why I left the failing public education system. It is due out in a few months, and my goal is to take it nationwide and spark discussions on education reform around the country.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
When I am on self-inflicted overload, I must tell myself that saying no to others is not selfish, but rather selfless. I have learned that I can’t be the best I can be for everyone if I’m not the best for me, first.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
…journals. I am currently active in 5 of them – all for distinct purposes.