Journaling is full of surprises—some good and others frightening.
When Mari McCarthy, in her book Journaling Power, shares that through journaling she found a door into her soul, she uncovers the essence of why we write. By the eighth paragraph of her introduction, I was hooked.
Like Mari, through journaling I’m finally able to realize my truth. Hidden beneath layers meant to protect me from judgment, I found courage, honesty, and undeveloped aspirations that had lingered for decades. Journaling has changed my life and I can’t imagine having this gift taken from me. My only regret is not having found it before now.
As a mature woman, I now know my life followed a path shaped by others and not one I would have designed for myself. I spent my life attempting to do all the “right” things, with grit, perseverance and always a smile. How many of us have heard “Don’t cry, you’re okay, be happy” from people who care about us? The truth is they want to protect themselves from taking on our sorrows. Some might feel they have failed as parents if their child shows emotions like fear, anger, or doubt. In the business world, leaders suggested I was “too nice.” “Be bold” they would say. At the time, I took their advice as criticism. Now I wish I’d listened and taken those words to heart.
In her book, Mari talks about her own success in the business world and how journaling helped her maintain a more balanced lifestyle. With the many challenges our world experienced in 2020, stress and anxiety have triggered or exacerbated mental and physical ailments many of us never before experienced. Mari explains: “It’s the process of writing things down that brings about healing.” I’m sold on this concept. Writing is my therapy.
Last Spring, with stay-at-home orders in place, I began walking daily for fresh air and exercise. I learned one day that a child in my neighborhood had drowned. One morning shortly after, I turned the corner into my neighborhood to see pink balloons being released into the clouds and I broke down. I didn’t know the child or the family, but I felt pain for them. Immediately, I went home and journaled about the experience. Although the sorrow remained in my heart, my anxiety diminished, and I was able to go about my day.
Journaling Power presents studies about psychological and physical healing from journaling as well as Mari’s true account of how she has taken control of her own health. She introduces each chapter with an inspirational quote and follows up with writing prompts and exercises as a call to action. She explores ways to confront obstacles we encounter in writing—mental clutter, unresolved emotional issues, and that unwelcome inner critic that regularly shows up.
When I read a book, I underline and mark excerpts I want to return to. My copy of Mari’s book is generously marked up with comments and stories I connected with. Her relatable voice and style, with a bit of humor injected, motivated me to return to writing Morning Pages for continued healing, wholeness, and freedom.
Thank you, Mari!
Author bio: Leslie Cox is a writer of creative non-fiction, with a focus on personal essay and memoir. She loves experimenting with prose poetry when the mood strikes her. Leslie’s essay “My Favorite Chair” was a runner up in the WOW! Women on Writing Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest, and she published two essays in “The Silent World in Her Vase” in 2020: “Bougainvillea Therapy” and “Persevering Through Pandemic.” Prior to semi-retiring from health care administration in 2019, Leslie wrote and published several articles and a guidebook for HCPro and the Credentialing Resource Center Journal for health care professionals.