What would fill the pages of your story – Mystery? Romance? Adventure? Intrigue?
How many times have you decided to write your life story only to put it off for another year or two – or 10 or 20? What’s stopping you?
I get it that most of us think our lives are pretty small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We go through life feeling like we are having similar experiences to everyone around us. But, only YOU can be the main character in your life story with your special talents, quirky personality and idiosyncrasies woven into it. As you look a little closer and dig a little deeper, your personal journey will hold many things that are special and unique to ONLY you. No two people will ever have the same experience or perspective as they travel through this precious journey we call LIFE!
Why do we dismiss our personal history as insignificant or think our life story isn’t compelling or adventurous enough to be of any interest? Ok, so we’re not famous, and most likely we haven’t done anything that could be categorized as earth-shattering, dramatic or even fascinating. In all reality, our story probably doesn’t have anything in it that is “major,” but the truth of the matter is, just the times we live in provide a pretty provocative story. More importantly, our personal journey navigating these times will be of most interest to those who follow.
No matter how ordinary we consider ourselves, we can be assured that in every family there will be someone in future generations who will be curious and interested – someone who will find our lives rich, meaningful, and yes, even a little inspirational. There might be someone who will discover and cherish that personal connection they feel to a name and face on their family tree. Think of the possibilities of writing words on a page that could bring encouragement, passion and hope to a great, great grandchild trying to make their mark in life, or words of experience and wisdom that would go a long way in carrying him or her through a difficult time. That’s pretty “major!” Our lives matter – and as our story unfolds we will be reminded of what’s truly important to us, the threads of truth that carry us, and our deepest beliefs.
A life story can be hard to write. Some old memories might be painful. Each life has its share of ups and downs and possibly the painful experiences outweigh the joyful ones. But who’s ever read a truly great story that didn’t have love and heartbreak, laughter and tears, victory and defeat? That’s what makes it fascinating, meaningful and real.
How do we begin? The first step is to BELIEVE your life is important! Recently, my daughter-in-law, Holly, and I took an art-journaling course with a curriculum that convinced us that we are amazing, brave girls who are living unique and authentic lives. We learned that journaling could be soul-searching, validating and even a little therapeutic. Throughout the process we shared stories and experiences with one another; and although generations apart, we found how relatable and connected we felt. We also found that each other’s perspective helped us see things in a different light. It made me wonder, could that same connection happen generations from now when a great, great granddaughter blows the dust off my faded journal and reads my words? Will they matter? Will they speak to her?
Art-journaling is creative and takes one back to their childhood, which is a good thing when writing one’s life story. Cutting, gluing, drawing and painting in the simplest form adds depth and meaning to the pages. Who knew journaling could be so fun!
We built a timeline. This project was amazing and provocative as each five-year span brought back to memory people, things, and events long forgotten. We used phrases and key words to prompt sweet memories, joyful moments and difficult losses that stirred tender feelings. We laughed and cried over parts of our lives that hadn’t been remembered for years. It was enlightening and insightful just sharing our experiences. We discovered that everything about our timeline is what makes us the person we are today and we learned to be kind to ourselves. Once the timeline was complete, we took the prompts to our journal and began our personal story.
Holly began writing long before I did and one day whispered to me, “Journaling is where the magic is!” She’s right! Writing one’s story is magical because we become reflective and grateful for the life we’ve been given. We learned to be objective about the course our life has taken and forgave ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. We addressed the difficult times realizing that growth and strength come from our trials. And we found an increase of love and gratitude as we revisited the many wonderful and joyful times. We reflected on the miracles in our lives as our stories unfolded and acknowledged the hand of others in “being there” when needed.
We’ve found that strength comes from many sources, including personal experience and looking forward to the future with excitement, anticipation and hope!
Today as I think of my life – the innocent little girl, wide-eyed teenager, excited young bride, happy mom, and now a blessed grandmother – I realize I am still and always will be growing into something more. I wonder sometimes what really defines me. Am I somebody’s wife, mother, daughter, friend? Yes, I am all those, but I think what defines me most is that I’m someone just like you, a whole person who has been given one precious life to live on this beautiful earth, who can love and be loved, who has a lot to learn and a lot to give. Someone who has a wonderful, unique, exciting story to tell.
So curl up, get in the zone, put ink to paper and just start writing. Although, none of us has been guaranteed a “happily ever after,” each of us has been given a “once upon a time.”
Value your life. Write your story. Find your “MAGIC!” You’ll be so glad you did!
To learn more about “Art Journaling” visit the Brave Girls Club