Journaling the Path ~ a Blog

By Jo-Ellen Darling

Thinking About Journaling in 2023? Read on …

Journaling is Primarily a Labor of Self-Love  Journaling is a way to stay close to myself and to the God of my understanding. It is loving  myself enough to want to engage in the deep mystery and truth of my own self, not only things  of the past, but in the here and now. Knowing…

My List of What Journaling Can Give Us

Since we’ve catapulted into 2022, some of us are once again in some measure of lock-down, as we deal with a renewed spike of the Corona virus. Yet, we are learning that this is the “new normal” and we must work at living in the pandemic without closing ourselves off totally to friends, schools, workplaces,…

Gratitude: The Main Staple for Thanksgiving

Gratitude is not only one of those necessary staples of the spiritual life, it is the centerpiece of the feast that we can practice on ANY given day, not just on Thanksgiving. We can feast on gratitude anytime and always — when life is going badly or when it’s going great. Having gratitude for “what…

What is Your Calling?

One of my favorite poets and writers, David Whyte, says that ambition is much different than “calling” or “vocation.” Ambition, he says in his book Consolations, is actually an obstacle to our life’s work. I take this to mean that ambition is an obstacle because it is solely focused on success to the detriment of much deeper qualities that are the telltales of one’s callings and ultimate vocation. One such sign is that a calling will have roots in one’s past, even in one’s childhood. If we explore our lives for clues, we often come up with events or people that were change agents in our lives long before we were consciously engaged in our calling. Although I am no expert in finding one’s calling, I can share my own experience, strength and hope regarding my own callings to live more contemplatively, and to practice journaling as a path to know and love myself and others.

As a kid, I began writing poetry at age eight and journaling in my early teens. However, I got into some trouble with my parents when they read my journal, so I mostly gave it up until I turned 30, when I lived alone. In the interim, I loved reading and writing papers in Mr. Black’s high school Contemporary Literature class, and later in college as an English literature major. My desire to write and to find meaning and purpose in my life and the world – became clear from this desire to grow.

Another clue in the past was a pre-teen conversation I had with my best friend. I wanted to talk about our relationship – was she okay with our friendship, was I a good friend, what did she think of me? This was an early attempt to figure out who I was by asking for feedback in my relationships. Later in my thirties, I would find a therapist whose conversations greatly inspired my desire to find the “something more” in me that I talk about in my book – the true self. But between those teen years and my thirties was a tumultuous road to adulthood – fraught with confusion, losses and addiction. Yet even those hard times ultimately propelled me to dig deeper in my life and to find some answers. Reading, writing and then a landmark spiritual experience set me on a spiritual path that continues to this day.

In retrospect, my callings to read, write and grow spiritually – all born out of a deeper desire to heal – have led me to a vocation to accept and be more generous with others and self. This hasn’t been a once and done deal. Rather, it has required a willingness to travel a multitude of pathways to a greater good, such as to leave my anger and resentments behind, to change my attitudes and actions toward self and others, to practice silence and solitude to get to really know myself more fully, and to build a relationship with a higher power, to name a few.

Yet the journey doesn’t stop there. Self-acceptance and self-love are as critical to finding forgiveness and true compassion for others as is it for ourself. It has taken a lot of letting go and staying open. This is why journaling can be a friend and a tool: it gives us a safe place to know ourselves better, to spend time with ourselves, and to value ourselves.

Journaling is a labor of self-love because it is a practice of self-care. Self-care will initially feel selfish to many of us. Reprioritizing our time allotments with family, various causes, communities, volunteering, recovery work, overworking and so on, may become necessary to be able to sink into what is most deeply drawing the attention of our souls. Doing this may present another obstacle: if we do not risk the disapproval of others, we may never know what our callings are. However, I’m convinced that committing to discover our truest self and find a spiritual path are two of the most amazing, grounding, and life-changing choices we will ever make.

Question for Journaling:  What things, people, or activities do you need to let go of, to open some space to spend time with yourself and to follow your dreams, invitations, or callings?

Copyright © 2021 by Jo-Ellen A. Darling. All rights reserved.