The Art of Journaling to Change Perspective

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing.”

~ Camille Pissarro

Every single day, millions of incredible things happen. Whether or not they happen to you, the world is filled with little miracles and beautiful moments that occur each second.

However, we often find ourselves so wrapped up in our lives and our worries that we neglect to see these things. It takes an awareness of the surrounding world to tune outside yourself and really see all that there is.

The sun sets perfectly between two rocks over the Pacific Ocean.
The sun sets perfectly between two rocks over the Pacific Ocean.

“The world is filled with little miracles and beautiful moments that happen each second.”

While at first it may be difficult, with time this practice will flow more and more easily. But even when we do notice these moments for a smile, it can be hard to remember them. The more we practice, the easier it comes. Writing down what we see not only tracks our progress, but helps us remember little beautiful memories over the days and years.

Inspired in part by the movie “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” I decided to track all of the tiny perfect things each day that I bear witness to. Each moment I see that brings me or someone else even the smallest spark of joy, I document it. Every pure, honest, beautiful, true moment that I witness, I flag it in my memory, and write it down before bed.

What began with a single journal, a fresh page, and three perfect things has become so much more. Slowly, I noticed that my little notebook page seemed to grow smaller and smaller as my list grew longer and longer. Not only was it becoming easier to recall perfect things throughout my day, but I was able to recall them so much more descriptively.

“What began with a single journal, a fresh page, and three perfect things has become so much more.”

Journaling about moments of beauty in daily life.
My first ever journal entry on Saturday, March 6th, 2021.

I try to recall not only the moment in its visual depiction, but also the feelings it evoked or the way it touched me. When I read what I wrote, I want it to make me feel the same way it did in the moment it occurred.

It is incredible the power that this exercise has had on my life. Even on the worst of days, I can often find at least three beautiful moments, even if none of them happened to me. It is the most reflective and invaluable way to end my night and completely change my perspective on a seemingly awful day.

It is no exaggeration to say that this practice has changed my outlook on life. When you begin to notice these beautiful moments, it seems as if they are drawn to you. I believe that they were always there, but merely veiled to most who do not pay attention.

Now that these instances are unveiled to me, I am able to draw on little moments of joy throughout my day. When I feel my worst, I can find moments of happiness wherever I look. I am able to live more in the present and notice my surrounding. I actively search out the beauty in life. I see beauty in others hearts and in nature and in the mundane tasks of day-to-day life. It is far easier said than done, but each day I grow better.

Someone writes "love" out of grass on a sand dune by the ocean.
Someone writes “love” out of grass on a sand dune by the ocean.

“I actively search out the beauty in life.”

If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this: just begin. We are all guilty of wanting things for ourselves but never committing, telling ourselves that we will just begin tomorrow. The only reason I am able to see all of the beauty in life is because, one day, I decided to change. I chose to begin. I resolved to open up a new journal to a new page and put pen to paper. And I do not regret it.

“The only reason I am able to see all of the beauty in life is because, one day, I decided to change.”

Journaling about moments of beauty in daily life.
A recent entry from Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.

If you are unhappy with your life, it is within your power to change it. Your mindset it everything. And while it takes time and discipline to change your mind, it can be a relatively simple process. All you have to do is begin.

Dear Future Self,

Hey there. Remember me? It’s the beginning of a new year. You moved to California a few short months ago, and are learning the ins and outs of how beautifully cruel the world can be. You reapplied to college recently. I’m not too attached to where you end up this time around. I hope you’re proud of your choice. I believe it will all work out the way it is meant to.

When it feels like the walls are closing in around me, I think of you. I think of all of the incredible things I know you are out there doing. You inspire me each and every day to keep pushing forward.

I know you have grown, but I hope you didn’t lose sight of who you are. I hope you made the choices you wanted instead of the ones that were expected of you. I hope the only person you are obsessed with pleasing is yourself. I hope you defied cultural standards and carved your own path. I hope you never let anyone tell you how to feel. I hope you let yourself feel — deeply and fully. I hope you trust yourself and your ability to make the most informed decisions. I hope that in the dark moments you remember your strengths, and in the light you celebrate them.

“I hope that in the dark moments you remember your strengths, and in the light you celebrate them. “

Photograph of the author looking over over a sweeping view of the Western Connecticut foothills, celebrating her strength.

You have already come so far, and I can’t wait to see how far you go. You are my role model. While I believe no one can truly figure life out, I imagine that you are more confident in yourself and your choices. I picture you at ease in the world, at ease in your own skin, at ease with your thoughts. I dream of you smiling easily and laughing often and traveling the world.

I hope you adventure. I hope you meet like-minded people. I hope you are challenged by people with differing perspectives. I hope you surround yourself with people that lift you up. I hope you slow down and watch the sunset. I hope you wake up to be blessed by the sunrise. I hope you climb mountains. I hope you surf often. I hope you continue to push yourself. I hope you’ve been to Europe. I hope you try new and exciting things. I hope your days are filled with childlike wonder at the daily miracles of the world.

Photograph of the author looking up at a massive redwood in Northern California, filled with childlike wonder at the daily miracles of the world.

“I hope your days are filled with childlike wonder at the daily miracles of the world.”

There are so many things that I want you to have done and be doing and dream of doing, but I trust that you will grow and adapt and make the best decisions for yourself. I know that may mean that your dreams change, and I want you to know that I’m okay with that. As long as you are following your heart and chasing your joy, the possibilities are endless, and the dreams are limitless.

I hope you’ve grown, but I hope you remember me. I hope you explore your passions and chase what you love. I hope you learn something new every day. I hope you hold compassion in your heart for everyone you meet. I hope you give yourself grace. I hope you are proud of how far you’ve come. I hope you are open and loving and brilliant and glowing. I hope you cry and I hope you laugh, both with abandon. I hope you feel alive. I hope you let your experiences fuel you, but not define you.

“I hope you let your experiences fuel you, but not define you.”

Photograph from below of the author jumping off a graffitied cliff into a lake in Northern Maine.

I hope you are out there, doing what you love, making the most of every moment. And I hope you find peace along the way. I hope you made your dreams a reality. But most of all, more than anything else, I hope you are unapologetically yourself. 

With endless love from your biggest supporter,

You.

“Keep your heart open to dreams. For as long as there’s a dream, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, there is joy in living.”

~ Anonymous

Drifting Diagnosis-less

“To heal is to touch with love that which we previously touched with fear.”

~ Stephen Levine

We, as humans, like things that have names. We do not like the indescribable. Things that have names have a nice little box that fits in its nice little slot in the universe. With undiagnosed chronic illness, I am free floating in space with no niche for me to cozy into. Living a life without a diagnosis is living a life untethered. 

The thing about our medical system is that they won’t treat what they can not name. No matter the debilitating symptoms that hold you back from living your life, without a name, you are adrift, alone in the fight. 

The needle has become a familiar friend as doctors run test after test until there aren’t any more and they circle back to the basics. I find myself hoping that my numbers will leap out of the normal range, alerting my doctors that no, this is not in my head. As my blood sugar crashes and my heart rate spikes I demand through a haze of pain,  No. There is something wrong. You just don’t know what. 

Shaded pencil drawing of a hand reaching out towards a frayed rope symbolizing when you are past the end of your rope and you are reaching for something to tether you.

“Living a life without a diagnosis is living a life untethered.”

There is no test to measure the shards of glass beneath my feet that everyone else seems to dodge, no test to determine the level of fatigue in my muscles that tire so much faster than they once did, no test to quantify the debilitating exhaustion that binds me to my bed. I know how I feel. But no doctor, no matter how qualified or compassionate, can feel what I feel. 

And so I drift. I find myself suspended in an in-between space. The space between the sick and the actively recovering. I wait for a wave of relief when someone finally gives me a name. That name holds so much power. I wait for the relief because with that name, there is a plan. A plan of how to move forward, how to anchor myself back down to the land of the truly living. 

But while a diagnosis will show me the path to physical wellness, I have spent enough time in the in-between space to know that I can begin to reclaim my power without a name. There are other avenues of wellness. I can listen to my body, and not push farther than it allows. And while I may not be able to heal my body, I can heal my brain. I can take care of my mental health, and send my body love. Through mindfulness, I can get rid of the thoughts that do not serve me, and learn to find joy. This, in itself, is healing. 

“This, in itself, is healing.”

Photograph of a silhouetted girl jumping for joy in the Pacific Ocean with the sun setting behind her.

Sure, I don’t have a diagnosis, and maybe that means I don’t get the medical attention I need just yet, but I am still growing. I may be adrift, but I am collecting pieces of driftwood, and soon I may just have a raft.

The Power of Vulnerability: This is Me

First Post

We are a combination of what we define ourselves as and what the world sees us as. In our world today, young people tend to put a lot more value on crafting a persona the world will fall in love with instead of prioritizing self-worth and acceptance.

However, both sides of my claim hold equal importance. How we define ourselves holds just as much weight as how we present ourselves to the world. 

A photograph of the author looking out a window as a metaphor for being stuck behind the glass of who we really are.

“How we define ourselves holds just as much weight as how we present ourselves to the world.”

For me, the world always saw me as the person I aspired to be. I was driven, hard-working, talented, athletic, quick-witted. I was the “perfect” student, the “perfect” friend, the “perfect” daughter. I was a role model. 

But being “perfect” is not sustainable. Something has to give. For me, it was my health: a “mild” concussion I never healed from, and an ever-growing list of chronic illness symptoms. 

And yet I fought to maintain the persona I worked so hard to create. I kept pushing my mind and body harder, faster, farther, and eventually, it couldn’t sustain itself anymore. While the world may still have seen me as the overachiever and perfectionist, I defined myself by injury, pain, fear, and loss. 

A pencil drawing of a girl with a split face between how she portrays herself to the world and the sickness she feels on the inside.

“While the world may still have seen me as the overachiever and perfectionist, I defined myself by injury, pain, fear, and loss.”

Over time, I came to see that the way I defined myself was not fact, and the way the world saw me wasn’t entirely true either. I am not defined by the pain I endure or the loss I grieve. They are a valid part of my experience, but I choose to define myself by the gifts they have given me: the grit, the perseverance, the strength. 

These characteristics were hidden from the world when I chose to hide my story. The more I go through, the more I feel ready to share my experience. I am ready to show the world the full picture of who I am.

At times, it may make me feel weak to share the more vulnerable parts of myself, but that is just the human in me. We are all scared of being accepted when we show who we truly are. I hope that by sharing my vulnerability, I will encourage others to share their most open, honest selves, and show that we all have a voice to be heard. 

I am still driven, hard-working, talented, athletic, and quick-witted. But I am also so much more.

I get back up no matter how many times the world knocks me down.

I am a warrior.

I am learning.

I am strong.

I am chronically courageous.