On Writing Pages
February 2017

Books Bed

Beyond the environs of our garden, the world outside is misty and foggy. I can just make out the silhouette of the hills in the distance. My hips are not aching so much this morning, even though I slept on my back most of the night. I feel like I've slept well for the first time in days, and in spite of dreams where I was lost, travelling to a place that I could never reach…

This is how I begin to write my “pages” most mornings, describing the sensations I experience in my body and reconnecting to the world of sight, colour and sound through the large dining room window. From the outside, it seems innately boring to be writing this every morning, yet I know the thoughts, which subsided during the night to make space for dreaming, will quickly push their way to the forefront, at times as soon as I sit up vertical from the bed. Usually, they dwell on the one thing I didn't manage to get done the previous day (my blog), and how I can fit this incomplete action into my schedule for the coming day, or days. It takes a conscious effort to reflect on, and dare I say even celebrate, what I did achieve (an online training for a new company I am joining as an associate coach, completing and sending off a questionnaire for a workshop I am attending, cooking a delicious chicken curry and chapatis for lunch, which I did with love because I know how Denis loves to eat chapatis, designing a ‘vision board’ workshop I'll be running in Lyon, arranging various meeting for my upcoming trip to London, and completing the scene structure for the revision of my novel).

As I write and attempt to keep listening to my thoughts, feelings and emotions, my hand is simply moving across the page. The intention is to keep my hand moving continuously, to not let it stop, because at some point I will begin to hear the more intuitive layers, the strata of my subconscious, which lies beneath the surface of the Ego. It is here that I find the juicy information about my values and beliefs; who I really think I am, the truth of how I perceive my husband, family, friends, what I imagine is the meaning of my life, my fears, worries, and so on.

Currently, I've been living in my beautiful home/retreat for over a year. Yet I still feel very unsettled. Since landing in France a couple of years ago from my 6-month Indian sabbatical, the primary experience I have of myself is one of uncertainty, displacement, doubt, and constant questioning. What am I really here on this earth to do, I wonder? Deeper still, I'm aware of the ingrained beliefs I've been battling most of my adult life, a lack of self-worth and being undeserving of my amazing life, where I feel I am playing at being a strong and inspiring woman, who's made choices against the flow of society and culture. I married late in life, have no children, pursued several careers and passions, do not own my own house, and since being made redundant from what I thought was a great job and company of consultants, I've decided to make my creative projects (dancing, writing, painting) my priority. It was a conscious choice to show the Universe my appreciation and thankfulness for the support, generosity and kindness I've been given by so many people in my life, by focusing on what enables joy, love, insights, and happiness within me; hence, what I truly wish to share with the world. And this journey of the past 6 years has been the richest, most intense and rewarding of my life, because I've come to accept and engage with the reality that ‘life is uncertain’.

I began writing pages in January 2008. (Nowadays, it's also known as journaling, expressive writing, wild writing, free writing, etc. There is a plethora of names for the process, which modern self-development gurus aim to ‘copyright’ as their individual specialism, however, I prefer not to keep reinventing the wheel, and use the term I first encountered in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, in her 1992 book.) Other than a couple of periods when I stopped for a month, and the odd day here and there, I've written pages every day. Yep, every day!

“How can one person possibly write three A4 pages every day for that length of time?” people ask me in amazement. The answer is I don't know. In fact, it is the wrong question. I am not interested in tallying the number of notebooks in my storage box, as though it's something to stand back and be proud of. The most important aspect of writing pages is to write them. To sit with my pen in my hand and move it across the page, and then do it again the next day, and the next day. Every. Single. Day. It takes roughly an hour of my time, which may seem long, however, the value of this one hour (let's say in comparison to some studies that show the average person spends more time on their smart-phone than they do sleeping) is priceless! In this time I give to myself, I write whatever arises and let it sit on the page; the critical and negative thoughts, the insights and sensory wonders of the world around me, the musings of who I think I am, that I know deep down is not really who I am because there is an essential, vulnerable part of me that is indescribable in words, and so forth. I write it down and the page holds all these ideas without censure and without judgement. Over time, I am able to lift the veils of illusion and listen to my wisdom, work through problems and unhealthy emotions, as well as have great ideas for my stories and blogs.

After nine years, I am truly grateful for having the tool of my pages, a place where I can gently lay down my whole uncertain self (mind, body, emotions) and somehow begin the day afresh; sometimes one that is so different to how I feel when I first wake up. It is like having a second chance to wake up with a clearer sense of who I want to be and how I want to live my life that day, rather than simply letting it happen.