Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Journal of Delight and Discovery - Tools for Living An Authentic Life

In her book, Simple Abundance, author Sarah Ban Breathnach proposes for consideration, that "most women know what makes our parents, partners, or children happy.  But when it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things in life that bring a smile to our face and contentment to our hearts, we often come up short."

I've been reading Simple Abundance annually nearing twenty years now.  With each reading, as I put most of Susan's practices into place, I learned to trust her guidance and began making notes of other books she would recommend.  In the same passage mentioned above, she references a book, A Life of One's Own, written by *Joanna Field (Marion Milner).

Written and published in 1945, the journal was the result of a time in the author's life when she felt her life lacked authenticity, and that she had grown out of touch with the things that made her happy.  She shares,

"It was written in the spirit of a detective who searches through the minutia of the mundane in hopes of finding clues for what was missing in her life."  To counter this, she began noting the things that triggered a feeling of joy and delight in her daily life. And in that effort, she discovered that she delighted in red shoes, good food, golden bursts of sunset, reading in French, answering letters, loitering in a crowd at a fair and, "a new idea when first it is grasped."

In referencing Field's works, Breathnach suggest that "what is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living.  It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor, small, authentic moments that bring us contentment."

Though I would say that "savoring the small" has been a natural inclination of mine for most of my life, the draw and influence of social media has made that more of a challenge in my adult life. Which is why I so appreciate being reminded again to touch base with my inner self from time to time and insure that I am living and moving from a place of authenticity.

One year, inspired by Fields, I kept a journal of "Delight and Discovery", in which I noted the things throughout the day that brought me joy. And while that original journal was kept in a simple spiral notebook and is clearly nothing to look at, I enjoy looking back and reflecting upon the similarities and differences in my preferences, both then and now.

Back then I listed, "The sweet sound of Kate's voice when she pleads for "one more story" (she was just four years old when I kept my original journal), and "the smell of cinnamon, cloves and apples simmering on the stove", which was around the time I first discovered simmer pots, which have now given way to wax melts and essential oils. But there are things that remain the same, as well.

- the sound of rain as I fall asleep.
- the smell of a freshly cut grass on a warm summer day.
- Peonies, marigolds and chrysanthemums.
- The smell of cookies baking in the oven (although these days that is not nearly as often)
- The feel of a warm, gentle breeze though an open window.

Of course these things may delight others, as well, but they each speak truly to who I am at the center of my soul, and knowing that grounds me. Having kept that journal for a year, the final list of things is quite long. Looking back I don't know that it would need to be a year long project. If I did it over again, rather than trying to come up with something different every day, I might allow for repetition. In this way, specific things would be revealed that could be incorporated into my days with more frequency.

As you might have guessed, I'm considering keeping such a journal again! As I had already purposed to find pockets of slow in my days over the summer, I think a fresh take might be in order, and I'd LOVE for you to join me! My plan at the moment is to begin on June 1 and end on August 31. I haven't decided yet if I will make daily entries, or just jot things down as they occur, though I do have concerns about consistency and falling out of habit. I will most likely try for at least one entry per day. Some days will naturally have more and others may spark nothing, and that is all good and well. I also don't know if I will share my discoveries along the way, or wait until the end after I've had time to reflect upon it and them share my findings in early September. But, I'm fine with not having all the nuts and bolts sorted for the time being. The most important thing is to remember to be mindful and to document my findings. If I think about it to much, things become complicated and I'm less prone to want to do it at all.

So again, if this sparks your interest, then I encourage you to buy a journal, or dig up a simple spiral notebook you already have on hand. Again, don't overcomplicate things! Then, beginning on June 1 (or now, if you'd rather), begin noting the things that bring you joy and embark on a journey of self-discovery! I remember the last time I did this it was very eye-opening and I learned so much about myself. I can't wait to do it again!

Until then, my friends, savor the small!

*Joanna Fields is the pseudonym of Marion Milner

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