A part of me has always known that the act of putting pen to paper held an innate power. In elementary school, it’s how I discovered if someone liked me. (I think my first such note was to my grandfather.) In middle school, passing notes in the hallway kept this only child feeling connected and in high school, writing was the natural choice for breaking up with boyfriends. Nowadays, writing continues to be a helpful tool when communicating my deepest feelings to someone.

Three weeks ago, however, writing took on a whole new super-power. I’d just polished off a medium-siized ice cream and realized that if the truth be known I would admit to feeling more like a blowfish than a satisfied customer. If only I could remember how I’m feeling at this very moment I doubt I’d order a medium ice cream any time soon. On a whim, I headed to my side table where a stack of rule-lined index cards stand, eagerly awaiting my random thoughts.

This is what I wrote:

Dear Self, The next time you contemplate ordering a medium-sized ice cream stop and consider this: After eating, you will feel like a blowfish, fat, and unfit and you will regret it. Eat watermelon, make a smoothie, walk, do something – anything – other than eating that ice cream. You will thank me later. 

And I have. Since writing that note to “self” I’ve gone to the ice cream shop one time (just this past Sunday) and instead of ordering a medium-size, I enjoyed a kiddie-size portion with no regrets. Over the past few weeks when I’ve had an urge for ice cream (my vice) I’ve made my way to the side table, picked up my note, and read it. Immediately, I recalled how I felt following the frozen delight and chose something else.

Turns out, scientific proof may back up the super-powers of pen and paper:

Writing by hand is different from typing because it requires using
strokes to create a letter, rather than just selecting the whole letter
by touching a key, says Virginia Berninger, a professor of psychology at
the University of Washington. These finger movements activate large
regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory, and language.
-Reader’s Digest

Surprised and energized by the difference my note to self had made, I decided to try it with exercising. This required a sheet of paper but as a result, I’ve added walking to my list of priorities.

In all honesty, there’s a part of me that would like to keep this discovery under wraps because once exposed, I feel pressure to carry it out perfectly. For people like me who tend to be a little too hard on themselves, that often equates to a major backfire. So, for now, I’ll settle for the old adages of “one day at a time” and “life isn’t a sprint race but a marathon.”

If you decide to give this super-power a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out for you.

And remember: With great power comes great responsibility. -Spider-Man

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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