Sheree Clark talks with Mari L. McCarthy as part of her January Talk Series on Fork in the Road.
From Sheree's website:
"I created this talk series because I want you to know that you have permission to change. You are allowed to welcome new things into your life. It’s not too late.
● Dump the lump in your throat and find peace with making big decisions
● Answer the voice in your head that is asking where you’re going with your life
● Be both healthy and confident in your body"
Sheree Clark (00:00):
Hey, it's Sherry. I love that you're here, and I wanna make sure you take advantage of everything I offer. Like, are you in my free birthday club? If you're not, you wanna be. There's a link in today's email. Welcome to Sherry Clark's talk series from Midlife Women. I'm your host and midlife courage coach, Sherry Clark. Have you ever had a meaningful conversation with a good friend, one that made you actually begin to think differently? That's what I look to create in every segment of this series. A way to bring new ideas into focus. So let's get started with today's special guest.
Sheree Clark (00:39):
How you and I get our news and information today is vastly different from when we were kids in my family. We gathered around the TV for the evening news. In a way, it brought everyone together, even if we had different opinions about what was being televised. Depending on when you were born or where you lived, you might remember Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Harry Reisner, or the duo of Huntley Brinkley. My parents read the Daily Paper and my sister and I each had our own transistor radios that gave the news at the top of the hour. Fast forward to today and the age of fake news. Gone are the days of we interrupt our program to bring you this important message. News happens fast now. Today's headlines will be tomorrow's forgotten story. It's easy to miss things because of how quick stories can get turned around and shared.
It's also, frankly, overwhelming stress producing and creates huge divides in society, in families, and even within ourselves. Today's guest says that you can choose to give into this madness and be manipulated into submission, or you can join the power of journaling, the journaling revolution and reconnect with yourself. Mary McCarthy believes in journaling for the health of it and taking the opportunity to do the inner work. Enough, she says, of all this mainstream media, gloom and doom, the sky is falling. Rhetoric, you can connect with yourself, your body, and your own authenticity. Mary's latest book called Mindset Medicine, a journaling self-power love book, is right here on my desk right now. And as I go through some of the journaling prompts, I'm glad for a respite from politics, the latest variant and Ill behave celebrities. Mary, welcome. Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here. Mary. I'm an on again, off again journaler myself. And like many of our listeners, I did the morning pages for years. I took a break. I did art journaling, bullet journaling. I've kept food logs done, gratitude journaling. Is it right to call all these different approaches? Journaling.
Mari L. McCarthy (02:59):
There's only one right way to journal, and it's your way. So whatever feels good to to you. Morning pages, bullet journaling, uh, crayons, uh, online journals, doing it in the morning, doing it in the trained to work, whatever, it's, it's absolutely, there's, it's all journaling. Anytime you put pen to the page, that's journaling.
Sheree Clark (03:27):
So has it transitioned for you personally over the years? Do have you changed up how you do it?
Mari L. McCarthy (03:32):
Oh, absolutely. Um, for a long time I was doing, uh, ambidextrous morning pages, and then I was doing night notes only, and yeah. Um, but I, I've gone back to, um, sort of for, been in the, the phase for a long while of just having a three, uh, three ring. Uh, a binder. Not a binder, excuse me, a notebook, a spiral notebook. I'm, I'm in a little bit of trouble with my words today, <laugh>. Um,
Sheree Clark (04:04):
You need to journal about that, <laugh>.
Mari L. McCarthy (04:06):
Exactly. Uh, I think it's, you know, it's, this seasons are changing. I think my, my body is, is trying to adjust to, uh, the different season. But anyway, but now write the, uh, uh, my, uh, practice is, uh, in the mo uh, morning, first thing, just, uh, a page or whatever. And then at night I do what I call my growth and gratitude. During one, I just, uh, write down, uh, the things I've learned, how I've grown, how I've changed during, during the day. So, and that's completely different than what I was doing a year ago. So,
Sheree Clark (04:48):
So the methodology, it sounds like it changes. Does the purpose change for you two?
Mari L. McCarthy (04:54):
Um, I, I guess my, my only purpose is to get to the page. Cause it, it feels really good. <laugh>. That's my, yeah, I just, uh, it's, this is like, uh, it's my safe space. It's my, my sanctuary and I just, you know, and I, and I do it for myself every day and I just, uh, I just love it that way.
Sheree Clark (05:18):
You know, the reason I asked the question was kind of a, a selfish one because I, I've personally have journaled for various reasons over the years. And when I very first started, I was in a relationship that was imploding and mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I used my journal as a bitch board <laugh> because my friends, my friends were sick of hearing about it. And so I just, and then, but what happened was I started reading it and I realized I was caught in a spiral. And, but I wouldn't have seen that had I not gone crying out loud. Sheri, you all you do is you bitch and bitch and bitch about the same things over and over. So do you I kind of use it as a therapist. Do you ever, do you do that?
Mari L. McCarthy (06:02):
Oh yeah. Ab absolutely. It's your, uh, at home right there, therapist, uh, 24 7. Exactly. It is, it is journal, it is therapy.
Sheree Clark (06:16):
And then, then the other things that you were talking about, like gratitude, journaling for me, you know, that's also another one of those things where sometimes I can get caught in the feeling of, I guess I wouldn't say entitlement. I don't consider myself an entitled person, but where I'm like, you know, I got a lot going for me that I need to really think through <laugh>. And so, so it's that. And then I don't remember if you mentioned that you did this, yeah. You talked about crayons, the creative part. I've painted in a journal before, like I've gotten Do you, do you do that too?
Mari L. McCarthy (06:49):
Oh yes, absolutely. It, it is like you're, uh, it's a, um, what do I say? It's, it's a, it's a come as you are party. It's wherever you are, you know, and that's what people, and I always get the question, oh, how do I start, how you start from where you are, what do you feel like doing that thing that's, you know, that's your, your journaling practice.
Sheree Clark (07:12):
And then how about the guilt? Because we all we're women and we pile on, we should all over ourselves. What happens? Because it happens to me, it's happening right now. When I go a stretch and I haven't written a word, I haven't sat down with my journal, I haven't allowed myself that. What then how do I get back to it? Or what do you think? What's the process?
Mari L. McCarthy (07:34):
Oh, I, my my suggestion is as always just get, you know, your piece of paper, your notebook, your, your pen, and sit down and write a question at the top of the page and then just do some free writing. That's, and that's the way, you know, like I said, I, I'm gonna go back just saying, just start with where you are. If you wanna bitch and own and complain or know, beat yourself up, go for it wherever, whatever you feel like doing, and just do the, the dumping. So, but like I said, I also have have found that, uh, your journal loves questions. So, so it's like, okay, why have I been away so long? Why have I, you know, like not in a, um, uh, a beat beat you up, type of a, a mode of a what's really going on inside of me as, as to why I've been, I've not been journaling for so long or, or whatever. Just again, just being, being a good loving kind parent and take it from, from there.
Sheree Clark (08:41):
You know what I love, you just gave me a great idea. I think I know how I'll get back to mine. I think I'll write it like it's a letter to the journal. Like, I might absolutely great,
Mari L. McCarthy (08:52):
Sheree Clark (08:52):
Like, dear journal, I'm sorry I haven't, uh, in touch lately. And I could hear that being the kind of thing that for myself would be just what I needed to start opening those doors.
Mari L. McCarthy (09:08):
Right, exactly. And then, and we're all unique individuals and that's what works for you. So go for it.
Sheree Clark (09:16):
Yeah. What tens do you write in? Do you write, um, in first person, third person? How do, or does it vary?
Mari L. McCarthy (09:22):
Uh, it mix mixes up some someday. I just feel like, you know, writing a story of, you know, what she did and all the kind, yeah. So it, that really varies. And it just means just getting to the page and, uh, wherever you are, just go for it.
Sheree Clark (09:39):
Do you have a write? Do you have a write to other people? Like a letter, you know, you're not gonna send?
Mari L. McCarthy (09:45):
Um, I, when my mother passed, I wrote lots of letters to her. Yeah. Um, but, but, but good positive, uh, letters, like, you know, thanks, uh, thanks for, you know, introducing me to the, the standards, the music, the, you know, reading the, all, all that type of thing. So it's just, uh, but also, uh, yeah, but also I was, I was honest with some of my, my feelings of what I, you know, how I thought, how I thought she could've been a better, better mother and all that kinda stuff. But it's just like, it was just a really cathartic therapeutic, uh, fantastic experience. And it's just like, you know, you know that, uh, she heard me through the, through the pages.
Sheree Clark (10:34):
Yeah. You know, it is, it's kind of like when we were talking about it being like having a conversation with a therapist. And so sometimes in my experience of therapy, you know, you're talking about something and you kind of wanna stay in an area for a little bit longer, but the therapist wants to ask another question, and the journaling lets you linger and you can go in whatever direction you want. And that seems like it's just there. It's valuable.
Mari L. McCarthy (11:00):
A absolutely. Yeah. And it's like, you go, whatever's inside you, wherever you are in that thing, go for it. That's what you, my favorite four letter F word feel. Whatever you feel like doing, just go for it.
Sheree Clark (11:15):
Do you think you'll ever publish any of, will your journals ever become memoir or autobiography?
Mari L. McCarthy (11:22):
Uh, no, because they're all in the gar with all with the garbage amendment at this point. <laugh>, when I finish a journal, I, I throw it out.
Sheree Clark (11:30):
Really? Tell me about that. Why?
Mari L. McCarthy (11:32):
Oh, oh, I just, I, I, I just, I think that it, it's, it's because when I started with, um, you know, morning pages, I, I did and did and did and all that kind stuff. And then I, I looked at about 10 of them. I said, well, that's really good and really interesting. I, I really have gotten a lot of stuff, but it's like, okay, let's move. And I just gave to the garbageman. So I just, again, it goes back to who, who you are and what style it is. And, and for me, it's just like, okay, I, I worked things through, I found, you know, I've had my ahas or whatever. It's like, well, yeah, I'm, I'm done for the day. And it's like, okay, time to go on to what's ever next. Because I, I know that with the process of, of doing the, uh, the, uh, the daily journaling, I, I work through whatever I, I need to, and it's like, okay, been there, done that, I got it, or, you know, and then I just trust the process and I'll be in the shower or making dinner. It's like, oh, that's what it was. So, and, and it's like, and you get the, I mean, for me, I get the, the answer, the resolution just by doing the, the daily, uh, process. And it's just like, oh, okay, fine. It's just, uh, you know, the, that, that, again, the, my style.
Sheree Clark (12:53):
That makes sense. You know, you're, now you're making me think, I love, I'm loving this conversation because you're making me think I have all my journals mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I have them in a cabinet downstairs, and they go back years and years and years. And I don't really ever look at them. I sometimes will look at one when I flip back, when I finish one, I'll flip through it, literally flip and go, where did I start this? You know, what was the themes or whatever. And I guess now that I'm thinking about what you've said, they've run their course, they've served me, and I've also had people say this to me before when I've talked to them, oh, suggested that they journal it. They say to me, what if someone were to stumble across it and they want to preserve their own privacy of thought? So does that enter into your thinking at all? Do you worry that somebody might run across it
Mari L. McCarthy (13:41):
Never did. It's like, you know, and the thing is too, if the, if they find, cause I'm, I have some, uh, in a bookcase in my, my office when I first started. Cause I, I think it was like, um, um, books or something like that. I just, I just felt warm and fuzzy, just keeping them nothing. But it's just like, I don't care if people come, uh, you know, whenever it find that, like, I have, I have nothing to hide. So I was just like,
Sheree Clark (14:09):
Right. Yeah, I guess that's true. Yeah. And if, and if there's thoughts or feelings in my case, like about my ex, he pretty much knows what I think. Anyway, <laugh>.
Mari L. McCarthy (14:20):
And, and I, I think people would probably be disappointed to find out that I don't write at all about anybody else. I mean, it's all about me. So it's like they're, they're, you're looking for some hot juicy gossip or, you know, my innermost, uh, uh, feelings about so-and-so, or, or whatever. It ain't gonna be there. Cause this is my journal is about me, myself, and I, and, and getting to know myself and getting to, uh, find out who really lives in my body. So it's just like, like as I said, a lot of people would be terribly disappointed because it's all about me.
Sheree Clark (15:00):
<laugh>, <laugh>, you know, thinking about, um, discarding journals makes me think of another topic that I have known you to write about. And that topic is decluttering. Um, because it feels like, you know, when you're getting rid of your journals, you're, you're getting rid of stuff. You're creating space for new things to happen. Does decluttering and journaling, do they have things in common?
Mari L. McCarthy (15:23):
Oh, absolutely. Um, I, I think d journaling is really a, a, a key way to, to help you understand all the declutter or all the, as I like to say, all the issues that are in our tissues, um, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. And by doing the journaling, it helps you sort through and get rid of stuff that no longer serves you because it doesn't belong to you anyway, <laugh>, it's, you know, other, other people's thoughts you've been carrying around I feelings and all that kind of stuff. So definitely journaling is a great, uh, um, uh, opportunity to declutter.
Sheree Clark (16:10):
When you do physical decluttering, like in your home or whatever, where do you typically start? Is there a place that gets cluttery for you?
Mari L. McCarthy (16:18):
Um, I just, uh, a couple of years ago I just decided to, uh, take one, one room and I spent a lot of time in my, in my living room, dining room area. And I literally just, uh, took, uh, one day and just took one section and looked at the, that section and went through all the, uh, whatever was it was in that area. And if there was some, if it, if, if what was there didn't have some meaning or some, uh, uh, warm feeling in my, my heart about it. It's like, I decided that's only taking up space, so it's outta here. So it was just a, uh, it was a giving myself permission to say, Hmm, what's this all about? And just, just becoming, coming back home to myself and just saying, Hmm, this is my environment. What, you know, how is this, uh, knickknack or, you know, whatever picture that the serving me. And it's like, and, and again, and then using my journal to, to write about the experience of, oh, why is this here? Or, you know, uh, of getting conscious with myself, I guess.
Sheree Clark (17:41):
Yes. You know, when I, whenever I declutter and I really love doing it, I don't resent it, or, and part of it is because I don't let things accumulate to the point where it becomes a daunting task. I've been there before, trust me, it has happened in my life. But, um, what I like to do once I declutter is I clear the space and I clean it really thoroughly. Like yes, whatever it takes, you know, get the cobwebs, get all the things, and then I like to either diffuse essential oil or sometimes I'll even burn sage or those kinds things, you know? Do you do that too?
Mari L. McCarthy (18:14):
Absolutely, yeah. And I, and I love, uh, love, uh, candles and, uh, I just, yeah, just click clean this way. It's like, hmm, wow. And then just really enjoying the experience of, woo. Look at the, look at the, the doors hype opener. Look at the, the energy I now have, or just, oh, it feels so good. So yeah.
Sheree Clark (18:35):
Yes, exactly. Yes. And it's, see, it feels like a fresh start. And even when you said, it's funny when you said the doors are open. I have recently decluttered the office that I'm visiting with you now, uh, from, and, um, I got a while, a bug up my butt to, and I even cleaned the top of the door jams, you know, like where the doors closed that you, it's an area you never think of. You don't see it. I'm not that tall. And, um, and there was dust up there, and it felt so good to get that out of there. And I'm like, I wonder where else there might be dust hiding in here that I could bust out <laugh>. So
Mari L. McCarthy (19:11):
No, absolutely. Yeah. Really it's like, and that's all part of us, you know, our energy, our, our environment. Because I think we, we tend to look compartment eyes, everything, but it's like, wait, this is my living space. This is my home, you know? And I'm more than just a, you know, head and shoulders. I'm, I'm not a, a structure, I'm an energetic process, so
Sheree Clark (19:37):
Yes, yes. And then I like to bring in the new energy of a new house plant when I've decluttered a room or fresh cut flowers or something like that, it just mm-hmm. <affirmative> doesn't, it just feel so much more like everything. What would you say to somebody that's listening to the two of us and going, these two chicks are crazy. I don't care. I don't care how long or how much they talk about it. The journal journal isn't my jam. What would you say that might help convince them that it's worth at least a one-time try?
Mari L. McCarthy (20:12):
Uh, that would, my suggestion would be is would I, I tell everyone, just claim five minutes for yourself. Get a pen, get a, a notebook that's lying around the house. We all have, have plenty of, of those around. Uh, and just sit down and just ask the question of, who am I today? And write really, really, really fast. And then after you've done that, you know, fill a page or written until your, your hand falls off, then just take a moment and just be with yourself and experience what's your body is saying to you. But you're, you know, okay, the inner critics are gonna be going crazy and all that kind of stuff because they hate you doing something so selfish, but it's just, just, just try it and just, you know, enjoy and the, uh, the experience. That's all I can can say. And it's like, maybe you, you'll say, Ugh, I'm not gonna go there. I can't stand there. Or, or it gets too scary for you. Okay, but at least you've tried it. I'm giving it a shot.
Sheree Clark (21:31):
That's a beautiful prompt that you could use. You could use that prompt every day for a year.
Mari L. McCarthy (21:38):
Sheree Clark (21:39):
My today, you know, and, and it would never be the same entry. That's brilliant.
Mari L. McCarthy (21:44):
Yeah. So like I said, and, and that's what that people have and experience is, is the best way. Just, you know, we could all spare five minutes for ourselves and just like, it's a brand new experience, something that we we're never in any way shape or form, um, supported in, or, uh, I mean, good grief, anything dealing with the selfish, like, so selfish, you if all those things that we have years and years of self-sabotage and self-criticism, all that kinda stuff. But it's like, okay, something is like getting a, a, a piece of, uh, delicious organic, dark c like, it's like take five minutes for yourself and see what this is all about and, and just experience self care. You know?
Sheree Clark (22:38):
I love that. You know, I, I have an idea for a way to even level it up that I may try myself now. Now it sounds, it sounds like it's a big goal, but I think it would be interesting to take a selfie every day for set period of time. A year sounds terribly ambitious. So maybe we could do it for a week or a month or what, however long, maybe your birthday month. Take a picture of yourself every day and answer that question every day. And when you reread that, look at the picture and realize that we are energetic beings, just like you just said. And the things that are going on inside for us and the conversations that we have with ourselves are projected into that outer world.
Mari L. McCarthy (23:22):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and
Sheree Clark (23:23):
Impact the lives that we have profoundly.
Mari L. McCarthy (23:27):
Sheree Clark (23:28):
Wow. Mary, this has been a great conversation. There's a, forgive me for seeming like I'm running out the door, but I've just gotta go and get my turtle back out because you had inspired me. And I think I'm gonna start with the prompt of, I'm sorry I haven't written in such a long, and here's what's been going on. And, uh, I think that's where I'm gonna start. And I have you to thank for that idea.
Mari L. McCarthy (23:51):
Well, thank, um, I'm so excited to hear because like, it's like, yeah, again, journaling. There's only one right way to journal. It's your way. Start from where you are, and that's where you are. So go for it. Sherry,
Sheree Clark (24:07):
I love these talks. Don't you remember, if you'd like a conversation with a midlife courage coach, I'll always make time for you. I'm Sherry Clark and I hope to talk with you soon.
Sheree Clark is a Midlife Courage Coach who believes that it takes guts to live the second half of your life for yourself.
Find out more about Sheree and her programs at https://fork-road.com