As a writer, I have many journals. They’re stashed in desk drawers, closets, and book bags. There are two currently resting on my bedside table. Another sits on the couch, patiently waiting for me to pick it back up. Some of these journals are for recording dreams and story ideas. Others serve as a place to list all of the people, events and places that have inspired gratitude. And, then, there’s the green and white journal that I have had since July of 2010.
This particular journal has seen some things. Its binding is creased. There are pages falling out of it. It has been shelved in a variety of places, too: a hospital room, at one of the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges, my parents’ house, and, now, this apartment. This journal—its cover bearing the words, “Hopes & Dreams”, in permanent marker—has been my travel companion and my confidant.
When I believed in bucket lists, this was the journal that I turned to (and can I just say that #21. “Grow sunflowers and giant pumpkins” still sounds pretty good to me?).
It was a source of inspiration—a place where I recorded quotes that resonated with me, that gave me hope and strength.
It was my planner, featuring daily checklists (i.e. “Write. Something. Anything.”).
When fear cornered me, whispering of infection and complications with surgery sites, this journal heard my prayers:
Dear God, keep me together.
Please don’t let it [the surgery site] open up.
Keep me together, please.
This journal is a time capsule, keeping my memories, my plans, my hopes together. It bears my words, my fingerprints, the pale rings of dried tears. Emotion permeates every page—including those that I filled last night.
You see, Dear Readers, this journal has become a New Year’s tradition of sorts. On the last day of each year, I take this journal from its hiding place and record those goals I hope to accomplish in the new year. I entrust this journal—this old friend—with all the beautiful moments that I dream of experiencing. Once that list is complied, the book is closed, opened only periodically when I am in need of direction.
Do I cross everything off of these yearly lists? No. To be honest, I usually can’t remember half of the things I write down. I create the list anyways, though, because I believe that there is some magic in visualizing the life that you want to live. I am not the only one that feels that way, either. Although the inspiration for this practice has been lost (I read about it while in the haze of some pretty powerful medications and cannot remember the exact source), I owe the individual(s) behind it many, many thanks. Why? Just take a look at this:
From the very first list that I wrote in 2013: #24. Go to Canada at least once.
From the list written in 2014: #10. Attend the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s event, Light the Night.
From the list written in 2015: #22. Become comfortable driving in high-traffic situations.
From the list written in 2016: #15. Build a social media platform – create a blog and post once a week.
It should be noted that I do not approach these lists with a plan to accomplish the items on them. Yet, when I periodically reread them, there are always items to check off.
Did I go to Canada in 2013? Yes, because in that year I welcomed the incredible little girl that is my goddaughter and namesake. In 2014, the opportunity to attend Light the Night manifested and I walked with a crowd of survivors, caregivers and supporters, a white lantern raised and glowing above my head. Although you will never hear me say that I am comfortable driving in high-traffic situations, I did do some city-driving in 2015 and regained a smidgen of confidence.
And, what about that final item taken from 2016’s list? Well, that’s what this is, isn’t it? My weekly post, on the blog I never thought that I would have the courage to create.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this journal—this book of hopes and dreams—is nothing more than paper and ink. It might not have any special powers; writing my goals across its pages may not help to manifest them. But, Dear Readers, even if all of that is true, it’s okay.
It’s okay because this journal has been my mirror—reflecting my journey, reflecting my fears and my hopes.
It’s okay because this journal has become my map, showing me the path to a happy and healthy 2017.