When Times Are Tough (a post on journal writing)
Written by
M Kathy Brown
March 2011
Written by
M Kathy Brown
March 2011

A fellow writer recently remarked, "I think people sometimes forget to dig deep and find strength." 

The truth of this statement intrigued me - especially the "forget to dig" part. I asked my oh-so-wise-sage husband what he thought, and was pleasantly surprised by his rather immediate response. He reminded me that we had once been taught (by an equally oh-so-wise sage), that one of the reasons for keeping a personal journal is to have the resource to go back to when times are tough.

Weighing his reply, I again realized that when an individual is reading pages that were written in triumph, one can be reminded of their own strength and even fired up enough to take on the greatest of mountains. Is this not what often inspires us from the stories we read of other people and their lives? How much more convincing it would be if the main character of that story was indeed, yours truly

In my last post, I wrote:  When people have become complacent or frustrated from living without answers, often they will buckle, bend or break to the strain. 

Complacency is defined as: contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned. And, the Princeton wordnetweb definition of frustration is: the feeling that accompanies an experience of being thwarted in attaining your goals. I can definitely see how frustration could cause complacency. Wow! But I also realize there may be other reasons for becoming complacent.

My strength can seem so small when I have no answers, and the temptation is so great to simply not care - to become contented to a fault and unconcerned - almost calloused, or even bitter. I wonder how many areas in my life are on this course - or are starting to consider this path. Hopefully - none. But it never hurts to do the ol' check up from the neck up

Earlier, I also wrote: Some are simply stronger than others - that doesn't make them better, smarter or right - just stronger (and only in some areas). 

Perhaps some people appear stronger simply because they remembered to dig deep to find strength.

Over this past week, I have had four of my six koi suddenly die. At first it appeared to be an outside predator. But, as we diligently disassembled the pond, cleaned it, bought a new pump and filter, and finished all the spring cleanup of it, I have concluded it was natural causes. 

I wanted to blame myself - not staying on top of it through the winter. The temptation was to simply get completely out of the "fish pond business" - today - less my possible neglect might bring about further demise, and to avoid any more attachments. These thoughts arose primarily because I had no answer as to what caused them to die. If I had answers, I'd probably just fix whatever it is and continue to enjoy my koi. 

In the face of adversity, no matter how overwhelming or trite, resolution comes not in re-acting, but in acting. To move forward, we don't always need an explanation. I moved forward with cleaning up the pond and taking care of my remaining two fish, Shadow and Bogie. In moving forward, I was able to overcome the frustration and avoided complacency. This time I remembered to dig deep to find the strength.

But for those times when I sometimes forget just how strong I am, I have my journals. The various subjects throughout my life are diverse - heartbreaks, divorce, education, drugs, family, religion, God, personal loss, health issues, conflicts, purchasing a home, financial struggles, parental care giving, success, love and even great peace. They include the records of my hitchhiking trek across half of Canada and scaling the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. And, all are written - thankfully - in triumph. 

When times are tough, and I forget to dig deep to find strength, I can pull out a journal and read one of those inspiring stories that fire me up enough to take on even the greatest of mountains - a very convincing story in which the main character is yours truly.

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  • M Kathy Brown

    Ey ~ Writing about times of grief is fine *as long as* you keep writing until it becomes an uplifting triumph. Perhaps I'll do a blog post on the elements of great journal writing sometime :~)

  • Ey Wade

    I think I should get me a journal. I tend to clean out and toss (both mentally & physically) all that saddened me in the hopes of starting over with no remnants of anything that caused me grief.