My entire life has been an unrelenting existential crisis. Even as a child I spent much of my alone time asking “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose in this world? Why am I here?”
These questions only intensified when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of thirteen. I knew that I would have died from the disease had I been diagnosed before insulin was discovered. And that made me feel like I really had no right to exist. Or I had to prove I was worth the space I was taking up on the earth.
So it probably comes as no surprise that I am a devoted journal writer; a seeker of truth who has carted around numerous spiral notebooks with every move I’ve made
since the age of seventeen, when I left for college.
My journals have been mostly a brain dump: a place to write down whatever I’m obsessing about at the time. They have also served as a place for analyzing myself and everyone around me, a long-standing favorite pastime. Sometimes I would write down a “practice run” of a difficult conversation that loomed before me. Basically, anything I wanted out of my mind was chucked into the journal.
I wanted to try the 27-day challenge of Peace of Mind and Body: 27 Days of Journaling to Health & Happiness because I liked the idea of using prompts for journal writing—something I had never tried-- and because I was curious to see if I really could improve my “psychophysical health.”
On the surface some of the prompts seemed rather simplistic: on Day 1, for example, I was to write “I am aware” at the top of the page and keep writing… everything I could think of, in a stream of consciousness kind of way. Reviewing my list, I found that my awareness consisted solely of negative ideas and situations; I expressed zero awareness of anything beautiful or hopeful or remotely sanguine.
To say I found this shocking is an understatement. As a psychotherapist of 20+ years, I have often told clients that we don’t react to a situation; we react to our thoughts about that situation. Nothing in life has any power over us until we stamp it with meaning. And by (unconsciously) allowing my awareness to be dominated by what was disappointing or unpleasant, I had been creating and living in an undesirable world.
It was only Day 1, and already I was hit with a significant insight.
There were many more insights to come. The 27-day challenge helped me to explore my values, perceptions and issues in life in fresh, creative ways. The exercises also facilitated a greater understanding of and respect for the powerful connection between mind and body.
Our physical, mental and spiritual selves can either nurture or damage one another. To live in a state of well-being and happiness, we must cultivate a deep awareness of body, mind and soul.
And that’s what the 27 Days of Journaling to Health & Happiness has done—and
continues to do—for me.
Sue Carrizales has been writing since the age of 8, when she learned that poems don’t have to rhyme. She has been published in two creative nonfiction anthologies, “A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers” and “A Cup of Comfort for a Better World” as well as the book “Caring for the Diabetic Soul.” Sue has also published magazine articles and currently works as a contract web content producer, supplying national and international customers with blog posts to enhance their presence on the world wide web.
Sue is a licensed clinical social worker living in Denver, Colorado with her husband, 2 Labradors, Monte and Charley, and best-cat-ever Gabriel. She moved to Colorado for the mountains and enjoys hiking and walking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, dancing, reading and photographing wildflowers.