“Who do you want to be?”

me reading

I recently stumbled upon a podcast called “Write Life.”
As an avid journaler (journalizer?, journalist?) – ummmm – as someone who is avid about journaling, this podcast truly resonates with me – the power of writing thoughts on paper.

me reading

Those of you who have been following along for a while have probably surmised that my last year, before deciding to retire, was – well – pretty bad; as in miserable.

In a past episode of her podcast, Kim describes a difficult time in her life, then asserts that although we don’t always get to choose our circumstances, we do get to choose who we want to be while going through them. “Yes”, I thought, wondering whether she had discovered a secret window – looking into my life.

me with camera

During the past year, while under new “leadership” (yes, quotation marks – sorry), and a depleted staff, I turned to my journal to help me sort through my thoughts and emotions. I journaled my frustrations; I journaled my anger; I journaled my sadness. Asking myself throughout – who do I want to be? Because – although I did not and would not have chosen my situation, what I did get to choose was how I handled it – who I wanted to be.

in the mirror

But nothing changes if nothing changes, so I journaled potential solutions, then more potential solutions, then different potential solutions  – adding the question, “Where do I want to be?” It soon became obvious to me that my office was no longer part of my dreams for the future.

I am not sure that I can even begin to explain how powerful this is – taking the time, writing it down. We are all dealing with “stuff” in our life – and I know that many people are dealing with things so much more challenging than workplace unhappiness. Often, our only real choice is in how we deal with it.

me with coffee

Ultimately, my solution was to retire, but it could have been to find a different job, change professions or any number of other options. Everyone’s options are different, but they’re out there. And then, what I really wanted was to jump ship – right in the middle of our busiest time of year with a brand new staff and ineffective management. There was so much work ahead and
I Did. Not. Want. To. Do. Any. Of. It. But again, “Who do I want to be?”

It was hard; it was emotionally draining; it was life; it was amazing. Yes, amazing. Without everything that happened, I would not be where I am, right now – a truly incredible place. Journaling and making my own choices were key in finding that light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel.

Me and Chessie

So – who do I want to be? This question is as important in good times as it is in bad. It would be too easy to take life for granted.
I choose to be someone who is eternally grateful for all I have and all I have been through. I choose to be thankful for those who supported me and continue to support me. I choose to feel gratitude for opportunities I see around me and to feel excited about the road ahead.

I hope you have a wonderful week!
Should you have any interest in journaling – I highly recommend the podcast linked above.


9 responses to ““Who do you want to be?””

  1. Sarah Avatar

    I think you also chose to be a finisher. You didn’t leave when it was toughest, even though you could have and been fine, but I think you needed to finish and prepare the way the best you could for others. Now you can truly move on to your new life knowing you closed that chapter of your life. I feel great things lie ahead for you. You are at the very beginning of a wonderful new path.

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      Thank you for your perspective – I hadn’t really thought about being a “finisher” – but yes, I really did (do) care about my new staff and hoped to make the transition smooth for them.

  2. Lynne Avatar

    Journaling has been part of me for years . . .
    When younger . . . it was a diary . . . (Wonder where those are).
    I always wrote . . . daily. I called it “my figuring it out” time.
    Amazing how many times I would be “stewing” and my diary/journal helped me.
    I continued through college, marriage, children although it became “my life saver”
    when my husband died suddenly at 41 years of age, I have three books . . . still have them.
    I poured my heart and soul in those pages, truly saved my life.
    Introspection is healthy . . . journaling has a way of fostering reflection.
    I am going to check out the podcast. My turning eighty has me asking “self” . . .
    “Who Do I Want To Be.”
    Happy for you Karen . . . Joyful to think of you on this new path . ..
    Loved seeing your pictures, reading your post . . .

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      I really like that we never stop asking ourselves who we want to be. We are ever evolving.

  3. Carola Bartz Avatar

    Journaling has helped me throughout my life (I started journaling in my teens) and I truly missed it in those times when I felt completely unable to write (after our disastrous wildfires). It was actually through one of Kim’s writing classes that I got the last kick to find my way back to it, and I’m glad for pretty much the same reasons you mentioned here. It really helps to write down my thoughts, unclear feelings, uneasiness etc. on the page, so many things become clearer and makes me feel lighter. I’ve also been listening to Kim’s podcast (even though I roll my eyes at her constant “oh my gosh” and I’m not fond of her many “you should”, but that’s only minor), there are many good thoughts that resonate with me. What you wrote about your work spoke to me as well since one of my two jobs is not a favorite (to say it mildly). However, writing about that has helped me to change my attitude and I feel much better about that job by now.

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      I’m so glad that writing has helped you change your attitude about your job. Getting it down on paper can be so helpful.

  4. Debbie Avatar

    wow, you have had a lot on your plate, i didn’t really know that….as i sit here with not a worry in the world. i am content to not be what i always wanted to be, a practicing nurse. i am a nurse, but have not/can no longer practice…and i am content to be almost nothing. a blogger, an amateur photographer, a mother and wife, knitter, crafter, i make it enough. i did enjoy this entry, all of the photographs…i enjoyed seeing you with your beloved dog most!!

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      It’s wonderful that you are content to be who you are – but “almost nothing?” – no way! I’ve been following your blog for several years and you are a talented and inspiring person. Thank you for your kind comment, I always love to hear from you!

  5. Barb Avatar

    Hi Karen, I thought I commented on this but apparently not! When I was younger, I wrote a page a day in my journal which was always just a spiral lined notebook like every school kid has. Over the years, I had boxfuls of them. I moved them 3X . Finally, several years ago in this house in CO, I destroyed them. I never regretted writing my thoughts and feelings in those journals, but I felt they were very private. As I got older (and older), I really started wondering if I wanted my grandchildren reading them. So one day, I overheated the shredder getting rid of them! While I was writing in them, I know they helped me sort my feelings and make important decisions. I’m not as inclined to journal nowadays. I use the blog as a creative outlet, but that is entirely different than my journals which were more real and more raw.

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