I had planned to go Christmas shopping.
I had planned to order our cards and pick up more wrapping paper.
And I had planned to end the night with treating myself with a trip to the book store.
But, instead, I drove around. For a long time, actually. Eventually, I ended up at the book store but had no enthusiasm for going in and so I sat in the parking lot until deciding to just go home to be with my family.
Well, I’d had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting some really wonderful girls earlier that evening. I had visited a teen shelter to speak with the kids on writing, my journey re: becoming an author, and some of the themes in my book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS. Then, I let each of them choose a couple of journals from a box I’d brought and spoke with them on journaling and how writing can help when you are struggling with emotional things. I talked about writing even if you don’t know what to say at first. How writing, “I’m not sure what to say” is totally valid as long as the pen keeps moving.
I also told them that, if a person is dealing with intense and difficult material, writing in first person is sometimes overwhelming. If they want to explore feelings that they have, writing in third person—writing a fictional character and “giving away” some of their own worries—can be helpful. Sometimes the distance gives the writer some clarity. Sometimes the best way to figure things about your own heart is to take that step away.
Lastly, journals don’t have to be about deep or sad things. They can write lists, addresses of friends, jokes or pictures. Journaling shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be whatever each writer would like it to be. Sometimes that may mean a break from sad thoughts rather than the opportunity to delve into them.
Prior to this meeting with the girls, I had plans of Christmas errands but upon leaving, I couldn’t bring myself to do them. It wasn’t that the experience was bad in any sense whatsoever. It wasn’t that the girls weren’t wonderful to talk with. Actually, it was because the girls were so wonderful. The best.
Two girls, in particular. Their brains were firing. I could see it. One proclaimed that she wants to write a book someday and I told her I thought that she should, but I wonder if I conveyed how strongly I really would like her to. That girl, despite her bumpy beginnings, could really go places. She is uncommonly alert and bright. Keenly observant. And resilient. I could tell.
So, I left thinking about how those girls deserve the best that life has to offer.
I left so, so grateful for the staff members in that home. Obviously caring, thoughtful people and blessings to these girls.
I left wondering what the world would be like if, as a global people, we could achieve that.
And, I left realizing that getting my Christmas errands done was not as important as I thought.
I’ve added these girls to my Christmas prayers; I hope you will as well.