Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.
Today’s guest blogger Cheryl Andrew‘s Amazing Moments Journal arose out of this maxim. The idea caught our attention on social media, and we asked her to tell us how it all started and how it’s progressed and developed.
Guest blogger: Cheryl Andrews
The emotional churn of daily living
I find it enormously difficult to identify and process my feelings. Journaling has been the creative go to for interpreting the emotional churn of daily living, so I can get on with it, this life. My life. It’s a writing form I’m righteously passionate about. But my pen faltered when I tried to write about what was happening in 2020 with the modern plague.
I was snowbirding in Florida when COVID-19 officially moved to pandemic status. Expert advice on avoiding the deadly disease was mixed and contrary, and those who tried were being ostracized in the American news, creating even more panic. The calamitous daily numbers of new cases and deaths soon turned our affable winter community into a ghost town. Locked in and isolated, I went into a tailspin overwhelmed with dread. I had to do something to make it stop, to help myself.
My positive retort to the doom and gloom
A new daily journal would become my positive retort to the doom and gloom of the pandemic. It would shift my focus away from the dark side and back to the magic and mystery that exists all around if I could just shed the emotional paralysis and look. The journal would be dedicated to tracking only Amazing Moments.
I was afraid to go out to shop for a journal, so I clawed through the art cupboard and found one that was pretty banged up. I re-glued the binding and collaged a new cover.
I set myself a writing challenge: paint pictures of amazing moments using only words. A tough contest for an avid artist and photographer. Spring was in full bloom when I finally made it home, the scenery so extraordinary I realized imagery had to be part of this daily writing practice. I loved going back through the journals and hinging in some favourite photos, artwork, doodles, mini collages, slogans, etc. Even my very first attempt at an erasure poem got tucked away in there. As I flipped back through the pages, I was amazed how re-reading the entries continued to bring on the joy.
Healing the troubled mind
Initially I wrote for my own sake, multiple daily entries to sooth my troubled mind, aching heart, and grieving spirit. But others I cared about were hurting too, so I shared a smattering of the journal entries on social media hoping to alleviate some of their pandemic trauma. Feedback said those amazing moments succeeded!
It didn’t take long to fill that first journal. I built and filled Volume Two, then Three and a Fourth. I continued to use ‘orphan’ journals, the damaged ones nobody else would want because I discovered that making repairs and collaging new covers was almost as healing as the writing.
Another amazing discovery, some of the entries had a poetic ring to them. Here’s an example, the only edits being enjambments and a jazzy title:
Bad Ass Beauties
A rare sunlit walk
at October’s end.
New blooms discovered
on the roadside.
Fall Asters – bad ass beauties.
Harbingers of autumn’s close
that keep blooming
on brittle, dry stems
alongside their dead kin
into the first days of frost.
Currently I’m writing in Volume 5. The cover is a tribute to southwest Florida where I’m snowbirding once again and where Amazing Moments got its roots. God, I hope this is the last volume. The project ends when the pandemic is official over.
This healing, daily writing habit is well engrained. I can’t begin my day without setting up a new page. Over coffee this morning, I started page 720.
Enjoy a few random entries:
Watering the flowers early morning while still in shade, set to ‘rain shower’. A hummingbird joined me. Had a drink ,then flew through the ‘rainfall’ and landed on a tree to finish its bath and preening.
Shockingly soulful wail from the loon – one long, heart wrenching note echoes off the rocks. Strange.
Incredible sky, each of the four directions display a unique horizon, all the while thunder rumbles and confused crickets sing though sunrise was 1.5 hours ago. South: grey wash; East: white clouds against pale blue sky; North: darkness – trouble comes; West: yellow cream
A black cat sits, alert, focussed on something in the scattered rocks of the ditch beside highway 400. How did this solitary creature manage to be hunting on the wrong side of the doubled layered animal fencing?
In the midst of a steaming hot shower, my cell rang. Sopping wet, I get the news. Staggered by the implications: positive for CoVID (Delta strain). Quarantined with Cid and Bruce. After the emotional ‘dust’ settles Cid & I do what we always do … make art. Bruce digs through his old DVD’s and finds the entire collection of “Third Rock from the Sun”. Add laughter to the CoVID mix. Adult beverages and Third Rock.
I live in Rainbow Country in near-northern Ontario on the shores of a spring-fed lake surrounded by woodlands. My fascination with the magic and mystery of this stunning, natural world invigorates and influences my creative pursuits.
A lifelong passion for artistic expression naturally evolved from the visual arts to include the literary. When writing I slip into a brightly lit and infinite orientation where time doesn’t exist.
I am most fortunate in my development to be surrounded by a tight-knit group of women writers, the “Lifers” (Life Writers Ink), peer mentors. All are on a similar path and a strong bond exists in the mutual desire to move ourselves forward as writers.
The desire to be the best writer I can be means ongoing development will never have an ending.