Finding Joy in Writing Again

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I’ve been on a long blogging hiatus, and actually I haven’t been journaling as much as I used to either. There are many excuses I could offer: life got busy, I was moving to a different city, I needed to find a way to add to my dwindling bank account, I was starting all these new projects and all of these things meant writing was no longer a priority. Months, a few ocean crossings and a handful of plane rides later, I’m recognizing how important writing is for my own self care.

I’ve always approached my blog as a journal, a public platform where I can write openly about my experiences, feelings, struggles and accomplishments. I personally don’t enjoy writing content that tells people what they should do. But, to each their own! It’s important in the blogging world. These pieces get tons of traffic and I read these pieces myself if I’m ever feeling stuck in a new city, so there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just not my style. The downside with how I like to write and why I feel like I haven’t had the energy to do so in the last 6 months, is that sometimes after I finish writing, I feel quite drained – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. All the processing that happens during writing leaves me tired, with the feeling of “no energy”.

Writing can be daunting. Especially if we associate it as a task to complete, something we need to do, and then it becomes work. We write essays for school, we write reports and emails for work – no wonder writing can be draining! Recently, I’ve come to appreciate how writing can also nourish and heal. The written word is a creative, communication platform. It’s a wonderful way to process and connect back with yourself – your body and your emotions.

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The last six months have been a whirlwind of activity. After my last blog detailing my exciting decision to move to the big city of Saigon, I unexpectedly found myself on a flight back home to Toronto, Canada. My aunt was diagnosed with brain cancer last summer and in November, the prognosis was 2 to 4 weeks. If I wanted to spend some time with her, I needed to go home ASAP. My unexpected return home after a year, purchasing a flight I couldn’t afford, trying to stay strong to support my family, experiencing reverse culture shock, carrying a lot of guilt about this detour in my journey, feeling like “this was the end”, not knowing what was next, what I was supposed to do with myself, and if I’d ever travel again left me feeling quite lost and tired. I was always tired. And this lasted for about 2 months. I felt like I didn’t belong in this place that was supposed to be “home”.

Buddhist monk and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says that we’ve lost the ability to connect and communicate with ourselves. I’m currently reading his book, “The Art of Communicating”, and in it he says in part, “Many of us spend a lot of time in meetings or e-mailing with others, and not a lot of time communicating with ourselves. The result is that we don’t know what is going on within us. It may be a mess inside… We think that with all of our technological devices we connect, but this is an illusion. In daily life we’re disconnected with ourselves. We walk, but we don’t know that we’re walking. We’re here, but we don’t know that we’re here. We’re alive, but we don’t know that we’re alive. Throughout the day, we lose ourselves.

To stop and communicate with yourself is a revolutionary act.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
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Writing and journaling is just one way I communicate with myself. It’s allowed me recognize my feelings and emotions, embrace them with love, and frankly, not be so damn hard on myself (you know, that cliche saying, we are our biggest critic). I’m journaling again and taking refuge in communicating with myself. There are many ways to stop and communicate with yourself – walk in nature, try a yoga class, meditate, put the phone down when you’re talking to your friend and look at them, eat a meal alone (without your phone), and see what your body and mind are telling you. What’re your thought patterns? How does your body feel? Where do you hold tension, and where are you most relaxed? Only when we take care of ourselves, we can take care of others.

I’ve found joy in writing again and can add writing to my toolbox of mindful activities. And, hopefully get this blog up and running again 🙂

Until next time friends, xx
V

Photos: from my recent trip exploring the Hai Van Pass and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Central Vietnam (connecting back with nature is also an amazing, mindful activity and opportunity to reconnect with your body).