By Holly Levison
Life has fascinating moments of serendipity, often coinciding with monumental change, great loss or the rare occurrence of stepping back and allowing life to take you where it wants you to be – no agenda, no plan, no fear. One of these serendipitous events brought the 23 Days Self-Discovery Journaling Challenge into my life. It arrived like a whisper of salvation and hope. Not only had my 21-year relationship hit an inconceivable impasse, my creative voice stifled, and the looming comprehension of turning 60 overwhelmed my brain. Any one of these could spell disaster for nurturing spontaneous creativity. The combination of all three rocked my world.
Self-help books tell you it takes 21 days to reprogram the human brain. Choosing to actively journal for 23 days not only meets the changeability quotient, it sets in motion the potential for the power of the written word to manifest your dreams. The guided journaling program asks you to sit each day and reflect or envision or consider. It facilitates a new habit, the habit of writing daily. It ingrains the need to get words on paper in an organized thought that enters the universal ether. It helps you accept the idea that you are the master of your decisions and the definer of your success. You can choose to do the work, pave the road toward success, or you can procrastinate and make excuses of why you can’t do the work. Either choice requires you to accept the outcome.
Over the last 23 days, my journey has not always been smooth. In all honesty, there were days I could not bring myself to write, but the next day, I wrote twice. What was at stake was not just success, it was the hope of regaining my authentic life, a life lost honestly in the course of surviving. Our roads through life are fraught with stops and starts, twists and turns, and wins and losses. We wouldn’t want it any other way. We all make good decisions and bad, celebrate successes and recover from losses, throw caution to the wind in times of growth and hoard our resources in times of contraction. Yet, in the end, what makes our life livable? Many will offer their suggestions, but no matter what anyone tells you, you are the only person who can answer this question and the answer changes over time and experience. You need to revisit, reconsider, and revise your answer while remaining forever true to who you are, who you were, and who you want to be – which is hopefully a better person than you were yesterday.
For me, it took the better part of five decades to understand I am a modern-day alchemist. There is no greater joy in my soul than the moment an actor puts on a costume and becomes a character, or a series of random words becomes a memorable story, or a generously nurtured child rises to become an authentic adult. Alchemy is, after all, just the process of transmuting in a mysterious or impressive way something of little value into something of great value. Take the next 23 days of your life and transform your everyday self back into your authentic life. Create your mantra, your song of joy, your hope for a life well lived. Spend time over the next 23 days honoring you, writing about your worth, your talents, your special place in this world because we all have our unique purpose. There is only one of you and the world needs the authentic you. Without you, the world as a whole is one piece short.
Holly Levison is a costume designer and writer living in Vermont. Over the last 16 years, I have costumed theatrical productions for high schools, summer camps, enrichment centers for children and adults with special needs, and regional theatre companies. In addition, for most of my life, I have loved putting words on paper, in the form of plays, speeches, essays, memoirs and stories. There have even been multiple moments of putting words on fabric and creating healing quilts. Before strengthening my creative roots, my world was in banking and finance.