Journaling changed my voice

Sakura Moleskine, fountain pen case, in front of homemade cork tray/Photography AdS

I have been journaling daily now for exactly one full month. In the picture above is the journal I am currently using. It is from the Moleskine ‘Sakura’ line. I had left that brand years ago for Leuchtturm1917 as the width of their journals suits me better however, I could not resist the Sakura line.

Writing daily has changed my voice.

I am calmer.

There is a difference between saying F^&* my life, thinking it, and writing it. It is in the tone of the voice.

When you say it, it comes out with a level of anger. This anger level can even be harsher when you think it because nobody hears it. It is all in your head, right? When I write it down and then read back to myself, something interesting happens, and it happens when I directly read it back to myself or, if there is a time delay. It is the split-second or moment to regroup.

When I put down the pen and read back even the most mean words, there is a slit-second delay. In that moment, my brain has changed tones. I calmed down a smidgen, and that makes the difference in my tone. How you speak to yourself, what your heart and soul hear coming out of your mouth, how you internalize that, matters.

What I angrily say or think out loud about a situation or myself, gets internalized in that angry tone. What I write, it is first seen and at that moment, my eyes make the spit-second decision to tell my brain to adjust my tone.

I read back what I wrote about various things that have upset me in the news these past few weeks. No need to rehash that here, you can all think of a thing or two. Every time I reread it, another voice pops up and counters the angry one: this happened, yes, now how are you going to respond to it?

Writing is a phenomenal way of venting frustrations and helps to sort out all possible reactions and actions you can take. Even if you cannot change a situation, you can decide to keep following it in the news to educate yourself. You can decide which news channels or shows to block, you can decide if there is one person or group to blame, and how you can reduce your interactions with them.

In other words, writing daily for a month has strengthened the other voice inside of me and has calmed the angry one. I still vent on paper but I say less out loud, and when I think it, I try to immediately write it down. If I don’t have my journal with me, I email myself a few words with my mobile phone or I use scrap paper. I then try to write down my full thoughts in my journal that same day.

Have you experienced this too when journaling?

Monday Morning

Photography AdS

It feels good to do things the old-fashion way again. I don’t mean like in the 1950s but just pre-pandemic. You know, B.C. before covid.

I had a wonderful routine: starting the Monday (and thus the week) with one of my girlfriends. We’d meet somewhere in town or near campus, walk in a fast pace for at least an hour, and then go somewhere for lunch. In bad weather, we walk inside a mall.

We get 10’000 steps in easily, talking the whole time. We catch up on the weekend, reviewing the coming week, find the trouble spots, and either find a solution or acknowledge that we just have to get through this. It sets the right tone for the day and the week. After that, we usually do a grocery run and then back home.

Since a few weeks, we are back in our old routine. In our town, we have an old cinema. They play just one movie per week. On Mondays, there is a 10am sitting. It is usually quiet so it is an excellent form of entertainment that you can do covid-safe. So, if there is something playing that caught our eye, that would start the day. Movie, move, munch, and market!

Enjoy your Monday!

Uncomfortable Discomfort

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Going to the dentist never came natural to me. There was always a ding or a dang and the man just made me uncomfortable. Every procedure was my fault, I caused my parents trouble and of course, expenses. All this never made it easier for me to go to the dentist. But I do, it is routine maintenance and I care about my health.

My current dentist told me that I needed a crown. The last procedure was a long time ago so I had forgotten the discomfort that comes from getting local anesthetics injected in the back of your jaw. Despite the numbing of the injection site first with a q-tip, one look at the syringe and I was ready to leave.

But to be honest, the real discomfort came from being in the dentist chair for two hours, mouth wide open, and getting a dry throat. The rinses could not come often enough. I started to wonder whether anyone had thought about a rinsing machine with properly chilled rose or chablis. My jaws were getting tired and wanted to lock up for the day. Lucky for me, I didn’t bite anyone.

To add to this expected discomfort, my left leg decided that this was an excellent opportunity to fall asleep and my foot decided to get cramps just to add to the memorable experience. I longed for a chair where your legs would be elevated and your calves would get a massage.

So ultimately, I was in the chair thinking about cold drinks and massages, with both shoes off, legs pulled up, and doing my pranayama breathing. But I got the crown!

No, I still have not written a reply to your email.

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During the pandemic, we have seen people around us take early retirement. We have seen people quit their jobs, pack up, sell their house, and move closer to their children so they could help out with the grandchildren, either babysitting or homeschooling. We have seen people become roommates or buy a house together as going alone through a pandemic, is not ideal.

Aside from this, the job market changed. Remote working, meetings online versus crowded conference rooms, working from home, these job aspects will stay and will be key negotiating factors in job interviews. But so is mental health.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am staying away from the screen and keyboard for a while to take care of me. That was exactly a week ago today. Here’s what I noticed so far.

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1: The first two days, I checked regularly whether anyone had noticed that there was suddenly radio silence from my otherwise active SM account. I confess that I was slightly disappointed to encounter the same radio silence. But it showed me that I was right to take a break. With the humongous number of tweets it is almost impossible for an ordinary person to be seen.

Unless someone actively searches for you, your message gets snowed under. Unless you spend hours tweeting, you don’t get seen.

People often complain about the algorithm preventing small accounts from gaining any visibility. I have an account of 21K+ followers and I am in that same boat. But then I realized that I didn’t care.

So what if I slipped away for a week!

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In that week, I rediscovered some Agatha Christie books, read Pierre Bayard’s take on ‘Who killed Roger Ackroyd‘ and firmly disagree with the analyses but not necessarily with the outcome, and am now reading ‘The Harvest Man’ by Alex Grecian. I got back into daily journaling, cleaned up my playlists, listened to new music, tried out new recipes, purchased the famous stamp ‘Russian warship, go %^&* yourself‘ and now eagerly await its arrival, and I saw some of my girlfriends.

After those first two days, I didn’t check anymore. I scroll once a day while I keep a good book right next to my mobile. Scroll, done, read. And I am going to keep it like this a while longer.

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2: With being less online also came less exposure to news. Reading the new is good, crucial, but too much news drives you nuts and can aggravate anxiety. It also temps you to scroll some more, find counterarguments, and then of course, enter the discussion.

I am now less up to speed with current events as I also cut down on watching the news but it is so much quieter in my head. Before this week, I was too restless to listen to a new album in one sitting. I listened to Jon Batiste’s ‘We Are‘ and I love it. I am less anxious too with fewer dark thoughts.

The downside of this week off is of course, that work awaits me. There are cases to explore, newspaper archives to plow through, reports to compare, and let’s not forget the email inbox. Yeah, I know some people are used to a prompt reply and a quick turnaround with editing, etc. However, getting quiet in your head matters.

Mental health, strength, resilience, matters.

You will just have to wait a little longer for that new blog post, that email reply, or report.

My old friend tendinitis is back

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I am taking a break from writing online for a while to give my arm and shoulder time to heal themselves. My tendinitis is back and has made it clear it will not go quietly. So, I hope you will all still find me when I return. I will keep reading blogs in the WP reader but have to restrict screen time and scrolling.

Hope to see you soon!

What you assume is wrong

The word “Wrong” Isolated in a newspaper headline.

The assignment for day 9 of #bloganuary is to write about what people assume about you, their first impressions. Well, this is one assignment that I am not going to write. Why?

If I list what people assumed and what is in fact incorrect, I set myself up for a day of worrying why people had assumed that in the first place without getting to know me.

If I start to wonder what first impressions I left over the decades I will slip down the slide of mistakes and bad memories.

The assignment is tricky. Some of us have gone through bad times caused by those who assumed and acted upon it with injustice, discrimination, and acts of hatred.

Some people will always have an impression about people that is usually based on generalizations or prejudice. It can be very superficial but they do approach you accordingly.

Others approach people with an open-mind and allow the experience to unfold in its own pace.

The latter always end up being friends. The former remain just acquaintances at best.

Meal Plans

Making telor uduk – eggs in coconut sauce – photograph AdS

My last post was about my content calendar. I am working on it and am adding something to it: expiration dates.

When the pandemic hit, we stocked up big time. And now with the stock piles, we were exploring what we have in the pantry, and what needs to be replenished.

I have everything in the pantry sorted mostly by food group. And while doing that, I started placing items on shelves by expiration date. It is easy to forget jars and cans when they are in the back of the pantry. So, I took all the 2021 and 2022 dates out, placed them in order, and the ones that need to be used within the next six months go in the content planner too. Just a quick note like corn, palak, tofu, etc.

Just this morning, I was standing in front of the refrigerator thinking what to do for dinner. Not having any inspiration, I went back to my desk where my content calendar lies open. And, it said what I had to do: telor uduk. It is an Indonesian dish of eggs in coconut sauce. Both should be used within the next 10 days so, problem solved.

What are you doing for dinner?