Congratulations! If you’re still with me, you’re doing fabulous work.
The writing exercise of this week has started a new chain of thinking in your mind. This is not a one-shot event, but a process that will continue as long as you continue to fine tune your life by leveraging your journal. It’s like being your own Life Coach.
Here are the questions you’ve been writing about this week:
- Common factors across the stories you like.
- Specific elements that attract you to each story and its rendition.
- Characters with whom you identify.
- Qualities you admire in certain characters.
- Themes that permeate these stories.
- A description of yourself as a character in a story – an idealized you.
- Actress you would choose to portray your idealized self.
There is a much valuable material in this for you. You’re identifying what you really want, NOT what you’re supposed to want. If you ask, your journal writing will tell you what your next steps are, and/or changes you can make to make your life more joyful.
This exercise is not about me, but I thought it would help you to read an example of how I’ve drawn out a sketch of myself through my childhood fascination with the move, The Sound of Music.
1. I love family. Love large families. The thing is, in my early twenties, I decided that having children would be too expensive and so I began to deny this desire in order to be more practical. (Have you ever done this?) Eventually I was blessed with 3 children, and I designed my life so that I could spend the maximum amount of time with them. Even though my children are older now (the youngest is 11,) family drives my decisions.
This love of large families also explains part of my affinity for Latin American culture; my delight in living in Caracas.
2. I relish international living. I have an affinity for European flair and as a young child I taught myself words in other languages from my grandmother’s multilingual dictionary. A significant number of my friends are not U.S. citizens and my children are both bilingual and bi-cultural. Sometimes I am challenged to merge my international self with my Southern self — but I realize this is part of my essence and needs to be protected and nurtured.
3. I love music, especially chamber music. Fear not, I am not forming the Mixon-Rodriguez Family Singers like Maria von Trapp did. I am NO musician, but 2 of my 3 children are. Listening to them practice and perform brings me much joy and I like to give financial support to musical causes.
4. Succeeding when you’re not “qualified” fascinates me. Remember Maria had no governess training. Yet with her passion and love, she was able to bring those children together in the way no governess had been able.
5. I love uniforms. Remember the clothes made from the drapes? I delight in all aspects of that anecdote — the creativity, the thrift, the unity and the audacity. I had golf shirts and sweatshirts designed for my children during the years we homeschooled (another success without qualifications story in itself.) I got a big kick out of wearing a uniform for the first time when I taught English at Merici Academy in Caracas. I use a stylist to help me put together a “uniform” so I can look chic (sort of) without making too many decisions.
Wow. Enough about me.
Are you thinking, “Doesn’t this woman realize that real life is not reflected in stories?” That’s what I would have thought myself not too long ago. In my desire to be practical and prudent, I gave not one iota of thought to this kind of exercise. For years, I would not give myself permission to fantasize about how I would really like to live.
What about you? Don’t worry, you don’t need to fully analyze your stories in one sitting; I hope this example helps you. The final part of this exercise will be using the information to set intentions in your own life.