During a difficult and challenging time in my life I began to write morning pages as an exercise to shine the light on my emotions and my stress. (Morning pages writing exercise is from Julie Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.)
Morning pages is pretty simple: get up in the morning, and start writing three pages. The only rule is not to edit your writing. Let it flow.
According to author Julie Cameron, the mere act of writing three pages helps unblock our unconscious emotions and allows us to understand what is holding us back. To be honest, I go in fits and starts. Just when I make the writing exercise a habit (30 days), I go AWOL. (The smell of coffee lures me to a comfy chair; my yoga and meditation practice takes priority; my husband wants to go for a long walk by the river. Oh, the many temptations. Everything, but writing!)
But there is good news from this procrastinator: Some writing is better than no writing. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
But this I know: When I write morning pages consistently for a few weeks at a time, I always learn something new about myself. So many insights and self-awareness. And that is the point of the exercise. (And, of course, to practise writing.)
When I was a little girl, our family often spent the summers camping in a tent. Many mornings my father would rouse us from our comfortable, warm sleeping bags and insist that we trek down to the beach to watch the sun rise. We’re talking dawn, people. When you are very young, rising before dawn is not really your number one goal in life. Staying up late around the campfire, roasting marshmallows? Yes. Sitting on the beach in the dark before the sun comes up? Not so much.
But over the many years (My father has gone now; my mother was in a long-term nursing facility until recently. She died a few months ago.), I look back on those memorable moments on the beach with awe and deep gratitude. How lucky am I? My father gave us such a gift – nature transforms a navy blue sky into a golden, red glow each morning – a miracle to witness! My father honoured and savoured such moments. In his own indomitable way he shared with us all the beauty that he knew, instead of the ugly things that he had witnessed in his lifetime.
Sunrises, sunsets, camping in the woods, eating dinner on the beach (hot food kept warm in newspapers), standing in line to peer into a telescope to see a solar eclipse, jumping into the family sedan to drive to a better location to see a rainbow. While writing morning pages, I am flooded with memories of family outings, all outdoors. To this day, my sister and I relish nature in all its glory – we both often quote John Muir, “Nature is my Church.” For us, nature is the way (the portal) to our spirituality.
In retrospect, I often think of the many gifts that our parents gave us and I am always humbled that my father’s simple act of introducing nature transformed us. It matters to me that the words and affection that he couldn’t show then, I now understand that his deeds and actions clearly reflected love. Only a loving father would share a sunrise or a sunset with his daughters. Only a loving father would recognize that nature (in all its beauty) would open our hearts and our minds to joy.
Gifts. In the beginning of a writing exercise, I didn’t intend to write about gifts, or my father, but that’s why this morning pages exercise is so powerful – it leads to self-discovery, themes, repetition, and insight. Oh, yes. It leads to answers to the great question, “What do I want?”
I want for nothing. I have what I need. I have so many gifts. Now, I just want to share them. As my parents did.