Journaling over time creates an enormous visual roadmap of your personal fluctuations in energy. This map, this evidence, is invaluable as we stumble forward through the seasons, both literal and figurative.
Because I enjoy being productive, it’s difficult to surrender to the times of lower energy. But it’s essential to honor the need of my body and mind for rest. We need to refill the well of our creativity. One cannot go go go constantly and expect to maintain that level of activity for any length of time. It’s not sustainable.
I don’t know about you, but I can be a little hard on myself. My own affliction extends beyond perfectionism and into something deeper and more pervasive. I maintain exceedingly high standards for my own productivity and performance.
Being driven is good. Expecting myself to operate at peak performance 100% of the time – not so good. My journal is the tool that’s taught me to honor the ebb and flow of my own energy and creativity.
Patterns power the earth, nature, and the even the body we’re wrapped in. (It’s easy to forget we’re wrapped in bodies sometimes, isn’t it? So full of Head are we.) All of life ebbs and flows. The tides, day and night, cycles of the moon, seasons. Why shouldn’t our lives and souls cycle likewise?
Journaling throws a light on the many patterns and cycles that define our lives.
The clear cut seasons of New England provide structure and phases for me, and my body and mind still expect them. In the Pacific Northwest there’s pretty much only two seasons: raining and not raining. The longer I stay, the more subtleties I discover. But it’s not the same as a clearly outlined Boston October or July.
In one of my favorite Folk Implosion songs, Lou Barlow, newly relocated to Los Angeles, sings: “Without the seasons, will I know how to change?”
I initially felt disoriented without the pre-fab phases created by changing seasons. Through journaling, I’ve defined my own cycles. While my personal ebb and flow is sometimes linked to my external environment, my phases have created a life all their own.
I’ve become so intimately acquainted with some of my cycles that they’ve been given names. I’m learning to welcome them like old friends. The past week or two, I’ve been in Cocoon Mode.
I’m not sure if my personal phases are moon, weather, or hormonally induced. Perhaps they are a mix of all three — plus some influences I’m not even aware of yet. But following any burst of activity, productivity and creative output, I go into Cocoon Mode.
It usually lasts a week or two. I feel myself withdrawing. Output screeches to a halt. I sleep more. I spend more time in the dark, in the water. Womb-time. I take long baths and wear fuzzy jammies and read novels. I hold marathon movie sessions. I still journal, but other creative endeavors tend to float where they are.
Cocoon Mode used to drive me mad. I saw it as a failure of my productivity. I felt like I was losing momentum. But our bodies are not machines, and even our minds and souls require rest and downtime.
Looking back through my journals, I can see each completed Cocoon Mode lead to a burst of creative output, a flood of productivity. My writing takes on a new vitality, thoughts leap off in a new direction, I’m inspired by a cascade of fresh new ideas.
My body, mind, and spirit needed time to rest.
I enjoy comparing it to the process of breadmaking by hand. After mixing and kneading, even the dough needs to rest before baking.
We must learn to honor the natural ebb and flow of our bodies, our lives, and our environment. Journaling helps us do that by outlining our natural patterns and cycles, makes us more aware of what phase we are entering or exiting.
I admit it’s a little more difficult to honor my need for “filling the well” and descending into Cocoon Mode when I maintain a blog with dated entries. I’m working at accepting this challenge as the nature of the beast. There will be weeks of rampant output and weeks of quiet reflection.
I guess I’ve picked a perfect time to go into Cocoon Mode since I’m going on vacation at the end of this week, to visit my parents in Florida. I intend to lie on the beach and eat fruit. So you may not hear from me. Or the trip may provide lots of writing fodder. We shall see.
In the meantime, journal about your own cycles. What phases do you witness in your own life? What brings them on and how long do they last? Are you learning to trust that they are necessary to your wellbeing? How do you honor them?