As a teenager in the throes of OCD I found signs everywhere. The world was speaking to me and with no filter I found it overwhelming and deafening. Crippling. So I conditioned myself to ignore most of the “noise” and I shut my intuition down. These last few years, very gradually, I’ve been tuning in to it again.
I’ll trust my gut and listen to the niggling voice in my head. I’m making myself open to signs and nudges from the universe too as I acknowledge incidences of synchronicity. Jung explained Synchronicity as ‘an acausal connecting principle’ that links seemingly unrelated and unconnected events. I love when it happens and find it affirming. So a week like the one I am having is reassuring.
On Saturday I attended a workshop on journaling. A full day, it flies by. I hadn’t expected to encounter so much new material. New books to read, new sources of wisdom to mine. Most people there were starting their journey with expressive writing. I recognised that I’ve already travelled quite a distance and this was good. I got what I needed and was further convinced of the benefits for all of journaling and committed to my own personal practice as well as my place in the expressive writing field.
In our last half hour our generous tutor casually referenced the Great Diary Project at the Museum of Childhood. She didn’t know if it was still running. I instinctively knew this was something for me to pursue. On the journey home I googled events at the MoC. The exhibit was finishing the following day. As luck (or the universe) would have it, I didn’t have plans for Sunday so with little fuss I was able to make a trip back in to town. I took my 10-year-old daughter with me. She loves that museum. Visits there serve as a reminder that today we are living the history lessons of tomorrow. Some of the exhibits are old friends. The red Raleigh chopper bike in a display case is a replica of my own first ride. How I came to get my chopper is a story for another blog post. But whenever I see it (on every visit I make there) it connects me with my ten-year old self and I remember the joy I got in acquiring a brand new bike and not a hand-me -down from older sisters.
The Great Diary Project is the brainchild of Irvin Finkel who is on a mission to “rescue diaries”. He sees their value as a record of social history. I concur. A selection of diaries from his collection were on display.
I loved this proviso from Godfrey William (age 8 in 1881) ” Take note: All persons who look at this diary without my leave are Beastly sneaks”. My sisters knew better than to peek in to any of my diaries – I had secured them with a curse. Bad luck would befall any trespassers. It seemed to do the trick.
As well as the Great Diary Project, there’s an exhibition on children’s author, Jacqueline Wilson,”The dreams and diaries of Jacqueline Wilson”. Her childhood bedroom is recreated in the upstairs hall. Essays and diary entries are framed and on the wall. So are school reports. There’s original correspondence between her and her editors as well as first drafts of manuscripts to view. She was a young teen when she questioned, in a diary entry, why Enid Blyton didn’t write about real life. Jacqueline had the urge to write about real people with real issues. And years later she did just that. Her self-belief was astounding.
Another reaffirming day. I was reminded of the self-reflection that can come from reading back on old diary entries. What subliminal messages was I writing at age 10 for my older self…. I’ll look out for those next time I dip in to my old diaries.
On the journey back from East London I offered my daughter a detour. One of the South Kensington museums or Hamleys toy store. Later as we wandered through floors of toys at the giant emporium I wondered how many of them would end up in glass cabinets at the Museum of Childhood. Amber felt loom bands had earned their place and she agreed to offer her current project – fingerless gloves made entirely out of loom bands – to the MoC. I like that she gets the notion of living history.
On Tuesday, my writing day, I hopped into my car to drive to my writing haven (which deserves a blog post all to itself) and turned on the radio as I normally do. I landed straight in to a discussion on diary keeping. A Zeitgeist moment. Fraser Harrison spoke about his diary keeping in the 1980s. His entries ended up in a book, “A father’s diary”, chronicling a year in the life of the author’s two young children. Later that day I was meeting a pal for lunch. When I arrived at the cafe I found her already at a table leafing through a glossy magazine. She pushed it aside to greet me. I glanced down at the two page spread and felt goose pimples as I took in the topic. Teen diaries!
That night, I went with a pal to an alumni event at her old university. Personal branding coach Malcolm Levene spoke about the benefits we can get from personally developing ourselves. He didn’t focus only on professional advancement but on achieving happiness and fulfilment in all areas of our life. He didn’t make it seem like a big commitment either. It can start with a small change. Even a breath. Take a deeper fuller breathe. Hold a door open for someone. Start your morning thinking of 5 things to be grateful for. Smile.
Then he asked us to think of someone we admire. The usual worthy names got a mention – Gandhi, Mandela, Obama etc. I spotted a magazine on his desk with Jacqueline Wilson on the cover – I kid you not! So I offered her up. He asked us to think what it is about them that we admire. I was bowled over by her self-belief, her sense of purpose and her industry. Such output. He said we’d find that what we admire in them we need to work on in ourself. How true. My self-belief deficit is honking at me and I am starting to do something about it.
He spoke about working the fear-less muscle (mine is beyond flabby) by doing something that scares us every day. I’d already made a start. To get to the university I’d to drive through a one-way system I’ve spent the last 10 years avoiding.
Finally to cap it all that night I get the sweetest email for a very special friend and fellow purpose-searcher. “I have a very strong feeling that you are uncovering great gifts and ideas that are going to make a massive difference to you and those you meet and connect with”.
This morning as I walked by my local dry cleaners I chose to take the deeper breath Malcolm talked about. The air was infused with the scent of freshly laundered linen. I enjoyed that moment, that breath and I knew I was ready to take on my life-laundry.
These “incidences” stacked up over the last few days have given me what I needed – a nod from the universe that I am on my path. Maybe nod’s not the word I’m looking for here. Blessing is a better fit.