Amuletum (from Latin) meaning "an object that protects a person from trouble".
Yes, I know. It's been a while since I have posted here. Life has stepped in quite a bit, and in many ways that has been fantastic for me. Life has big feet, and as long as Crocs aren't involved, we can be friends.
Anyway, I'm digressing. I have kept up with my journal during my longish absence here. If that stopped or even slowed, I would have certainly fallen off a cliff. It has taken me many years to get to a place of consistently writing down my private thoughts, and being totally and brutally honest with myself about them. I am now in my fifth year, and journaling is on the same level of self-care as brushing my teeth. Journaling is not a luxury to make life "nicer", it is a requirement, almost like breathing, even though it can take up a fair bit of my time. My journal is like a best friend. It listens really well! It never judges. It is there when I need it. And most importantly, it provides insights I would never get to "on my own".
I realized it was time to resume writing here when I saw the news about the Ohio kidnapping rescue. I said this long ago: If you have a voice, you owe it to yourself to use it. If you have something to say, speak up. Every voice helps. And I have more to say.
There is a difference between writing only for yourself and writing publicly. While there are many different ways to journal for yourself, the hardest for me is to step back and look at the big picture. Writing publicly is almost always about perspective. That is why it has been helpful for me and why I look forward to jumping back in.
If you want to come along for the ride, hop on in. There's plenty of room. We have places to go.
One of the things Deb—I want to start using real first person names for people in my life instead of descriptive terms like "Healing Guide"—has helped me with is planning for potential responses before I do something.
On the surface this may seem like over-planning or over-thinking, but it is not if it helps and makes life easier and safer. While life is filled with unpredictability, there are ways in which I can make it more predictable. And there are ways in which I can control my internal responses even in the face of what is externally unpredictable, which in turn helps me be more resilient.
This is perhaps the best benefit of increasing internal and external awareness. With time, and journaling has helped with this too, I learn all about patterns, mine and others. It engenders a sort of personal wisdom.
I thought I would share one of the skills I use to plan. For a while now I have mentally "set an intention", usually before I take on an significant event. I would say it is similar to how athletes approach a competition. They do what it takes to either relax or get pumped up, or both. Setting an intention is putting yourself in a certain mindset which, in theory and often in practice, makes it more difficult for an unexpected event—or a trigger if we can use that language—to be derailing. The intention remains as a sort of constant or a focus. I think I came up with this on my own, but Deb has always helped remind me to do it.
My friend Danielle has been fond of actual objects. She gave me a "No" button for Christmas (which will be the topic of another post) and gave me a "Compass" medallion a little while later. I have been no stranger to objects as aids. A few years back I put two pins on my briefcase, a blue child abuse awareness ribbon and a puzzle-pieces "dissociative disorders" ribbon, which looks much like the autism ribbon. A couple years ago Deb gave me a clay labyrinth she made as a grounding exercise and I gave her a compassion stone inscribed with Om mani padme hum, which sits in her office.
Getting back to the compass medallion. It had been really helpful for me, because it was something I could carry with me wherever I went in my pocket. That was the new piece for me. I didn't have something like that before. I also carry my iPhone all the time which is a grounding object because I can connect to people quickly or read or write in my journal. But it's vastly different. The compass has been a tangible reminder to always remember I must know where I am going. In some ways it's an intention. But then I realized that single message loses its luster after a while.
So, I tried a variation on a theme. I have recently started setting the intention for each day at the beginning of the day. Here is how I do it. I have recently collected a bunch of amulets on my dresser. Every morning I lay them all out. Then I reflect on what is to come for my day, check-in on the inside, and then ask what my intention needs to be for the day so I can stay the most present and emotionally well.
I take the amulet, put it in my pocket and keep it with me all day until I get home, and then it goes back on my dresser with another check-in of how well I did with the intention. In effect, I create safe bookends for each day.
The amulet really does feel like a protector. If I have trouble during the day or need some help, I can pull it out and look at it. Or I can reach into my pocket without anyone needing to know, hold onto it and usually just breathe. It does not always work like a "charm", but it most certainly helps.
By having the possibility of a different amulet for each day, the process becomes more meaningful. There are intentions for specific events and situations. For example, I co-led our elementary school's Lip Sync shows this past weekend and I set the intention to Embrace the Moment, which seemed to match what was basically a "performance". I did not have as many responsibilities for this event as in past years, so I was able to just go with it, connect with the kids, and be myself. That carried me right through.
Today's was Keep it Simple. I started to feel like things were getting a bit complicated and there was really no reason for that.
I don't know what tomorrow's will be. And that is sort of what is great about it all.