Ghosts of Years Past

I was supposed to have scheduled several blog posts for the rest of this week and into next yesterday on my day off. Instead, I sprawled on my bed with old journals, and read and scribbled longhand.

I had diaries and journals in college, messy notebooks of morning pages in my 20’s, but I haven’t kept most of those. They weren’t organized, they weren’t intentional. In January, 2004, I started a project that was a little more organized and intentional.  Eventually, I labeled my journals in numeric order.

Yesterday, I re-read volumes one and two of what is now a 39+ volume set.  The photo in the header of this blog is my shelf of journals. I read the blue and read books at the far left of the image. I’m currently about 2/3 of the way through filling Volume 40.  For the number-crunchers, that’s an average of 4.4 journals per year, but they aren’t all the same size or length, and some years were more heavily journalled than others (2005 might span 7 or 8 volumes, while 2012 only touches two).

These books began as an earnest attempt to catalog, record and watch the growth of my poetry. I had a stack about 2 inches thick of scraps of notebook paper, torn out pages from legal pads, memo paper that was slightly better than a post-it note.  There were drafts and iterations of some of my poems, common themes that ran between them.  There were childish drafts from High School, rewritten “artsy” versions on the same theme from college. Sometimes, I’d make a note to try to rewrite some of the better ideas later.

My journals grew into more than a few books listing my attempts at poems. They became a resting place.

There are hints, in those first two volumes, of what was going on in my life. I wasn’t always honest. I was usually oblique and vague. I didn’t get down and gritty and therapeutic with my journalling until volume 3 (then, WHOA! no holds barred).  It is possible to tell with careful reading, that I was unhappy. I can remember specifics of things that I only hinted at in writing.

The reason for this exercise was because I remembered the silly numerology idea that our lives run in 9-year cycles. Which means that 2013 is going to echo 2004. I wanted to remember 2004 and look for patterns that I could use as lessons-learned in the coming year.

Important things of note from 2004:

  • I was horribly overstimulated. I didn’t have a word for it. I only intuitively understood what I needed to do about it. I complain about how overstimulated I have been since the wedding, but looking back, this is nothing. I was absolutely desperate for quiet, for alone time, for a resting place.  There are passages and passages where I try to explain the rage that doesn’t seem like it’s mine. Where I try to explain the sensation of living inside my overstimulated brain. I didn’t know it was a natural part of my personality, I didn’t know there was a way to fix it. I just ached, raged, and suffered. (I’m certain everyone around me suffered, too.)
  • I realized I wasn’t living my dreams. Corporate layoffs made me wake up. These journals show my process of blinking sleepily and then  scrunching my nose at the idea of spending my career in a cubicle. “I don’t want to be a vice president of anything. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wearing pantyhose.”
  • Further, I realized that I wanted to be a writer. (I hadn’t even begun to describe myself as that yet).  I drafted stories, I daydreamed plots. Smatterings of fiction began to appear on journal pages.
  • I wrote my first Mission Statement in 2004. I revisit those annually now, but I hadn’t gone through the process of envisioning who I was, what I was about, or where I wanted to be.
  • I trusted my gut.  I was up against a looming job loss, and the sole provider for my family.  My gut told me that one of the positions I was offered was entirely wrong for me. I declined an offer for a position that included a raise in salary, and a few weeks later ended up getting a better position. It was the first time in my adult life that I had really tapped into my intuition and trusted it.


2004 was a pivotal year. There was not a whole lot that “happened” in the outside world, but a whole lot happened inside me. Most of the big changes that were sown in 2004 didn’t really happen until 2005.

My guess? 2013 is going to feel like I’m shifting big things around inside myself, but only those who are the closest to me are going to notice it.  My most recent mission is going to be important – yoga, journalling, listening to myself. Those things are going to be crucial to facilitate all of that internal transformation.

My guess is that big external changes (changes in jobs, publishing books, etc) will actually happen in early 2014, but that perhaps contracts, completed works, the stuff that leads up to those big things will all take place in 2013.  I think that much of this shifting most certainly will have to do with my determination to move from writer into published author.  After all, this is the renewal of that cycle that was started 9 years ago – and becoming a writer was a key part of that.

Oh, and I’ll bet you a shiny penny that I’m going to end up visiting my therapist again this year — at least once.


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