GUEST POST BY PAM LOFTON
I’m entering my third year living in an empty nest situation and my second year of serious journaling. And by serious, I mean being consistent--not missing a single day of writing something, no matter how long or short, in my journal.
I attempted a little bit of journaling while our four daughters were growing up but it seemed like there was no time or I was too tired to bother. OR, truth be told, I just didn’t realize the importance journaling carried. Now, I do.
My consistent journaling started shortly after my MIL passed away in June of 2010. She was a writer of poetry and short stories and felt very strongly about keeping journals every chance she got, regardless of each page's content.
What we discovered after her passing is that we all completely enjoyed reading her journals. We found out that it made us feel good inside that she mentioned us in those handwritten journal pages. We discovered that we found entertainment in knowing what she did from day to day and that knowing how she felt about life, family, weather, religion and love gave us hope and provided comfort. We discovered the woman that she was aside from the mother, sister, friend, grandmother.
What we mostly discovered was that, through her journals, she continues to be a part of us all. Selfish though these discoveries might be, I believe that leaving us these glimpses into her life and heart was some of her intent as she hoped they would give us pleasure, comfort, hope and motivation.
Motivated by her journals, I began consistently journaling in July, 2010 so that my daughters might discover the same comforting feelings when I pass from this life.
What I discovered is that journaling can be quite therapeutic.
In this last year, through journaling, I have made discoveries about myself –some that needed to be changed and others that I was able to put to good use; written my way through some difficult moments-and, yes, for some of these I had to take responsibility; I was able to work my way through all the different emotions from experiencing an empty nest; and I even used journaling as an aid to losing weight- which is a big part of my journaling right now.
I’m so devoted to daily journaling at this point (Ok, it’s a full-blown habit) that I even go and purchase fancy composition books to write in and I use different color pens every day. And no, I’m not being silly. Journaling has become so important to me, that it’s worth buying those journals and pens. It’s also worth the time I spend writing.
Take, for example, my issue with weight. I lost 83 pounds by Christmas 2009. All by myself. And then, in the months following Christmas, I gained it all back. All by myself. (Well, I did let a homemade oatmeal raisin cookie get the best of me and followed that one by another dozen or so and the sugar was back in full appeal). It took me nearly a year to put this weight back on.
Once I began journaling, I eventually discovered my relationship with food was unhealthy (to say the least) and have since been able to write my way through some ginormous issues and into some healthier lifestyle choices that I know will stick this time.
Putting my problems on paper gets all of it out of my system and, with some issues, makes me face up to them which leads to dealing with them and moving on. It doesn’t even matter whether I believe the problems are large or small. If it’s something that needs to be worked out, journaling will get me there.
It’s a process for certain—a life’s journaled journey- that may even offer some sort of enlightenment to my own children when I no longer walk the earth with them.
About the Author
Pam Lofton is a 50 something Early Childhood Development Specialist turned housewife who spent the last 25 years of a 28 year marriage raising four wonderful daughters (the lovelies pictured above) who deserted their loving parents for college, a husband, life in a big city, pursuit of a master’s degree—and left their mother with endless empty hours to fill. I find that writing not only fills up the hours but also serves as an avenue to discovering who I am in this new-to-me phase of life. You can read about her empty nest journey at Empty Nest.