It’s a difficult time in everybody’s life at the moment. We are all an island unto ourselves as we deal with the hand that we have been dealt. We all handle it in our own way and the pressure can be totally dependent on our stage of life. Young kids are demanding, but so are older kids. The expectations we put on ourselves differ between us. Some like the quiet life at home, others are cut from a different cloth and need to get away. Marriage or relationships can carry their own burden with the pressure cooker effect that isolation can impose. 

In my life, I’ve only ever been able to imagine the devastation to people’s lives that World Wars inflict. My parents went through this as young home makers and parents. Their lives started with the First World War. Imagine. The Corona epidemic is giving us our own window into what that might have looked like. Fortunately at the time, they didn’t have the 24 hour endless barrage of news from the “front”. They were able to get on with their lives – totally restricted of course – but without the brutal analyses and updates.

I have always written notes on my thoughts, feelings, ideas, emotions and moods

I have always written notes on my thoughts, feelings, ideas, emotions and moods, and words from books I’ve been reading. I’ve got various diaries of random size and type which sit near, at hand. Importantly, when I had major difficulties at stages of my life and felt the roof closing in – or crushing in at times – I always put my thoughts down in writing.

But my one really important book is the A4 RED Collins note book. It sticks out like a sore thumb. I started it in 2001, in the middle of my major melt down, and it became my bible of how I wanted to live my life and how I had to change. I still add deep and meaningful stuff, as it comes along. This book has become my partner during the toughest of times.

I’ve been in this place before – and survived.

And today, these are the toughest of times. This note book reminds me that I’ve been in this place before – and survived. It reminds me that catastrophes are common in life and that we are resilient. It reminds me that suffering teaches us something. It reminds me that these times will pass. It is sitting beside me as I write. This is a good time for us all to develop our own red book of life. 

Opening mine now, what have I told myself? 

Firstly, the inside cover page outlines the things I must DO, every day, to protect myself. “Daily/ Regular Actions for Body and Mind” are pretty basic things and amongst them are healthy eating, fitness (and the various options), rest (which we all forget) and meditation (which I practice and recommend to all). It’s a full list and they couldn’t all be done in a day, let alone a work day, but at some stage they have to be actioned by me to help me maintain my sanity. We could all draw up this sort of list and SIGN it. If I had my time over again, it’s the sort of list I would have shared with my wife, and hopefully she might have been encouraged to do one herself. You may laugh, but right now, let’s start thinking differently about each other.

The next page talks about important things to me 

  • Family
  • Friends 
  • Health
  • Love
  • Nature
  • Sport
  • Time
  • Empathy and Compassion

The interesting point in all of this is that the word Money does not come into into this.

The interesting point in all of this is that the word Money does not come into this. It is critical in itself, as is Work, but I never regarded them as being the essence of who I was.

Now the next two pages are pretty scary. Written in 2003, post-divorce and post-depression, it is a letter to myself. “My Life Plan. How I See Myself In The Future.” As I read it again now and without divulging any secrets, I find it confronting. I have done a good deal of “work” on myself but I’ve got a fair way to go. Often when I get off-track again the book reminds me to refocus. It’s a bit like not honouring your New Year’s Eve resolution. It’s just that the red book is more serious than that. 

Then I have more than two pages of AFFIRMATIONS. These are Positive Affirmations, and when I’m feeling shithouse I read them out loud – to the mirror! For example…
“I let go of old ways of thinking, and I access awareness.”
“Now. I choose to stay fully present in the now, and this is the place that I will come to know.”

These might sound pretty wanky and of course you may have different ideas of your own. Write them down or Google Positive Affirmations. They challenge negativity and this challenge is upon us now. 

The book continues with a bit of a wish list, although not of the “100 Countries type.” It included a couple of overseas Test cricket trips. It was written around 2000, and I predestined myself to form Life Again. I actually did a 10-day Vipassana Silent Meditation retreat that makes Covid 19 look like a walk in the park. 

The balance of the book is notes from people I’ve trusted and admired, including my personal counsellor of many years – he’s been my friend and mentor and has been critical in my life.

Writing is so cathartic, for anybody, and what better time to write than now

Opening this book has taken me back on my journey. And what I haven’t emphasised yet is how important the writing has been through all stages of my life. Writing is so cathartic, for anybody, and what better time to write than now when our mind has moved into this new and testing time? 

There is no better time than now to bring the diary of your life up to date and think about the future. For rest assured, it will be a brand new world we are moving into. The past is history.