Rough Draft

First thoughts. Scribble. Napkin notes. Stoplight scrawl. Jot and go, revise later.

I grow tired of being my own rough draft. At almost 73 shouldn’t I be pristine, polished, more than blurb? Not.

Every day is a do-over. Every day is a lesson learned. Words come out that bang against a sensibility known yet not really understood. More words choked back, lost in weakened courage. Ideals buried by a moment’s pragmatism. Beliefs constantly challenged by what actually looks like reality. Memories swallowed for fear of tarnishing the memory of loved ones.

If I kept a daily journal, it could be devastating showing me exactly how rough the draft, how little gets any polish. Maybe that is why I have about a zillion attempts at journaling and zero successes. Kind of like yoga–looks simple, stretches hard.

When I was a kid and into young adult, I did the recommended Catholic daily examination of conscience so I could really get a handle on that catalog of sins, chart my progress. So odd what passed for sin: skipped morning prayers, inattention at Mass, a stray thought, a question better left unasked.

Maybe this rough draft thing is carry-over, a way to catalog all the failures-to-communicate with self. Maybe it really is the gift of do-over, trying again to live it right. Reminds me of a nonsense from long ago: The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

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Personal Best

Journaling is a demanding partner requiring one of two responses:  truth or the awareness that truth gets shunted by a lie.  Truth can sting.   The shunt is duplicitous but often far less painful.

Generally, a journal is private and sharing is minimal.  Our journaling group decided to experiment with writing/reading as enrichment, of stretching the outcomes.  Topics centered on the “The Best of Self”, evaluating the how and when of personal best.

Topic notes to myself stayed  notes, defying expansion, scribble that isn’t worthy.

Today was a particularly difficult day.  Needing to cry,  I turned to Roy Orbison music.  The beauty, the richness of his voice has always reached a deep place.  I lied to myself by saying that it was time for the music I have been unable to hear since October.  I was ready for it.  I could handle it.

Twenty minutes later I was not handling it and needed two phone calls, to sob my need to people who love me, who understand.  They listened.  They held my emotional hand.  That worked.  They helped.  That brought me to a truth about my best self.

My best self is my hindsight self, the one that regurgitates, the one that knew but didn’t know fast enough.  My best self is the self that is rarely on first alert.  It stumbles along, sometimes getting it right but most times wishing for what should have been gotten right.

This isn’t negative.  It isn’t self castigation.  I am an OK person.  I love well and deeply.  I usually commit fully, though my worst guilts are those of unfulfilled commitment.  I know how to give and how to share.  I make an effort to live the values I honor, but…

My best self doesn’t yet live fully on the surface.  It hovers there.  It wants to be on top, but the climb is constant.   Personal best?  Not yet, but working towards it.

Journaling at The K…Keeler’s Women’s Center

Keeler  Women’s Center, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas

Find the time.  Visit the website. Visit the center.  Meet the women of Keeler, Benedictine Sisters and volunteers.  Consider your time, talent and treasure.  I love this place.  You will love this place.

Pat Callaghan is the true expert, trained to facilitate classes in journaling.   Some months ago, she welcomed my participation in a teaching experience  at Donnelly College.  Today we began an ongoing journaling experience at Keeler Women’ Center.

Sister Carol Ann approved our request for time and space.  She, Sister Barbara and Sister Bridget offer gracious acceptance to everyone at Keeler.  They have the gift of validation.  Martha is typical of the strong connection that volunteers feel for The Center where she has worked every Monday for six years.  In addition, Martha volunteers as literacy teacher through a program facilitated at Keeler.

It was a privilege to share the journaling hour.   Our group was small but my learning was great.  These women have wisdom to share, insights to enrich.  Though the group originally scheduled to meet once a month,  the decision to gather every two weeks came easily today.

Our group is informal.  We welcome and encourage both regular participation and drop-in participants.  Check your calendars for 9:30 to 10:30 on the second and fourth Monday of the month.   Communication is a truly fantastic tool for personal growth.

Discovery Through Journaling

Arts In The Heart is an ambitious enterprise of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.  As a 1958 graduate of Donnelly, I participate in some volunteer activities which opened the opportunity to share an arts presentation with another graduate, Pat Callaghan.  Pat and I also graduated together (1956) from Bishop Ward High School.  During those high school years, I believed that Pat Callaghan was totally smart.  She IS totally smart and totally involved in the causes of her passions. Of course I relished the chance to share the presentation with her.  Wise decision on my part.

Pat has taught classes on journaling and she jump started the presentation on that topic, starting with an exercise of a five-minute sprite in which the pen is not to come off the paper–keep writing for five minutes.

This five-minute stream of thought convinced me that my method of journaling needs dramatic revision.  I write on sales slips, old envelopes, the checkbook, margins of newspapers and occasionally my hand.  The desk and the computer table are right-brain filed (piled).

Are you, Gentle Reader, sensing a ramble revving?  Sort of, but a directed ramble encouraging you to start with a five-minute sprite and get hooked on journaling—-in a note-book!

Pat Callaghan spoke about journal entries being kernels of more complete writing, preludes to thoughtful pieces.  And they are, but I loved what my five minutes forced from me.

Tuesday, April 20 2010 at Donnelly College  Five Minute Sprint

Dr. Dorothy Height, Civil Rights Activist, died today at age 98.  That means I have 27 years to become, to be reborn in courage….to become the woman I want to become…starting over at 71… our planet is choking on plastic, an island of it the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean…zero tolerance for intolerance…growing older isn’t actually a journey as much as it is  a grapple, an endpoint…as the body looses strength the spirit begs to soar…reconcillation isn’t forgivess…forgiveness isn’t forgetting…do-overs never work…no personal action happens in a vacuum…I need my church to be my leader…I need my leader to be …

Time!  Indeed—Time.