• Ariana Friedlander

"What do I need today?" and other inspiration from Journal Jammer Melyssa Mead

Early on in my career, I struggled to find places that adequately supported my professional development. As a self-described misfit, I have long abhorred being told what to do. I prefer educational programs with a strong community foundation that nurture my strengths and develop my skills while enabling me to find my own way forward.


Because such professional development spaces are rare to find, I have been committed to providing them and others since founding Rosabella Consulting ten years ago. Programs like Journal Jams are not for everyone. One must have a strong sense of motivation to learn and a desire to deepen their self-awareness. For some, being given a malleable framework is less comfortable than the formulaic approach. There is an unpredictability for what you will walk away with that requires an openness to possibilities and a willingness to be pleasantly surprised.

This unique approach to professional development is one of the things long-time Journal Jam participant Melyssa Mead enjoys. Melyssa came to the very first Journal Jam I hosted - which was in-person before COVID. And has been attending regularly since we moved to a virtual format last year at lock-down. I'll let Melyssa introduce herself in this Q&A we recently had. In it, she practices Generous Sharing - by offering us a piece of her story, Melyssa invites us to relate to her and gain inspiration from her experiences. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Melyssa as much as I did.


Q: How would you introduce yourself?

A: I am an avid learner of life lessons. I’ve crested the midlife hill which grants me the view of half my life behind me and the other half ahead. I’m about to launch my first baby bird from the nest, while still nurturing a soon-to-be high schooler. Creativity is my driver, and helping-change-the-world-for-the-better, my copilot.


Q: Why did you choose to come to Journal Jams?

A: Because Ariana is rad and I enjoy journaling and knew she would make my practice better.


Q: What has participating in Journal Jams been like for you?

A: Connecting with other Journal Jammers has been the best part – especially when I was working alone and craving connection to new, like-minded people. While everyone has unique perspectives arriving from widely varying backgrounds and life experiences, it’s amazing the similarities that arise. From connection over the loss and disappointment of COVID, to prior Jams where journaling practices align and provide similar insights. It becomes enlightening to hear new yet relatable perspectives.


Q: How has participating in Journal Jams changed you?

A: It’s often I hear someone working out how they deal with certain circumstances which I’ve experienced but have dealt with/viewed/reacted to differently. By hearing their experience, it grants me new strategies to apply in the future.


Q: What makes Journal Jams different than other personal/professional development programs you’ve done?

A: There’s zero-pressure or expectation. Should you feel like sharing, there’s space to, but it’s not required. Should you feel like writing furiously and using the prompts, great! But you can also spend the time writing simply what your heart needs. The intention is for everyone to bring their own version of journaling to the Jam. Sometimes other development programs aim for you to adopt their approach – which could be beneficial – but it’s just a different program.


Q: What’s your journaling practice like now?

A: My journaling practice is more consistent because I try for a daily word or sentence, vs feeling like I need to write a lot or “figure it out” which was my typical practice. I now pair journaling with mediation. After a ~15min mediation, I ask myself, “what do I need today?” If it’s “patience” I write that. If I need to work that out further, I’ll journal my thoughts, but not always. That said, I still use journaling as a growth and self-development tool as I incorporate new heart-minded practices and look for insights about myself.


One of the things I love about Journal Jams is the inspiration gained from Generous Sharing. After hearing about Melyssa's grounding question for her daily journaling practice, "What do I need today?" I started to experiment with using it myself. Some mornings I have a situation I am eager to process, a problem I need to solve, a memory I want to capture or a decision I'm struggling to make. On those days, writing in my journal comes easily.


On other days, reflecting on the question, "What do I need today?" gives me a nice launching pad for a meaningful journaling session. I love the flexibility in that question. Sometimes a word or a sentence is all it takes to lay the foundation for a better day. While I am adept at writing for 30 minutes to an hour, I appreciate a prompt that brings forward valuable insights in just a few minutes of writing. It's a simple question that invites me to consider and align with my needs, which informs my priorities and plans for the day in positive ways.


What insight have you gained from Melyssa's story?


Do you have some big ideas that you keep putting off? Would you like 2021 everything 2020 was not? Kick your efforts into high gear at the next Journal Jam, June 24th for a mid-year review. More information and registration is available online here.

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