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Lessons in a Roof Leak

There’s nothing like a roof leak to show you where the cracks are—in your home and in your life. On a Monday morning a few weeks ago, we discovered water pouring down our family room walls. There had been a big storm the night before, and it was still raining. We rushed to put out buckets and towels, but the damage had already been done. So for the past few weeks I have been dealing with water and mold (yes, mold can form that quickly) remediation, insurance, roofing, and the new project manager for the inside repairs. It’s been noisy, dusty, distracting, and disruptive.

Here’s what it has to do with writing: it means I haven’t done any! I’m taking an exciting curriculum development class through the Therapeutic Writing Institute, and I am behind on my homework. I had promised myself that I would write a blog post a week, and I am going to be one short for February. Plus I had to postpone an article that was due (luckily with a flexible deadline). As for the deeper, richer writing that I long to get to—hah! It’s not happening.

Now at this point I can:

  1. Beat up on myself for not being superwoman and sticking to plan.

  2. Dust myself off, say that past does not predict future, and jump back on the horse.

  3. Take notice of how one “extra” event has upended my life and ask if perhaps this is a sign of a larger issue.

  4. Accept that “life” sometimes insists that left-brain matters take precedence over right-brain desires and let it be.

In truth, I have done all of the above, not necessarily in that order. Mostly I have been living with the third option right now, as I always find it valuable to just notice what’s happening and see if there is a lesson in it for me. After all, here I am, a writer who leads writing workshops, and the first thing to go in a crisis is my own writing! What’s up with that?

If you ever find yourself in a similar circumstance—maybe not a roof leak, but an unexpected and undesirable life interruption—here are some useful questions for your journal:

  • What’s going on?

  • What do I want?

  • What does this situation have to teach me?

  • How can I best take care of myself and the situation right now?

But there’s so much going on! How can we take the time to journal? Here’s a little adage I’ve heard more than once: “It’s important to meditate 20 minutes a day. If you don’t have time, meditate for 40 minutes a day.” So, I would add, if you don’t have time to journal, it’s doubly important to do it! I can personally attest to its head-clearing, plan-formulating, emotion-venting powers. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

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