This is an exercise I thought would show you how easy it is to change the mood of the page JUST by virtue of the focal image you choose. Identical backgrounds here, but a completely different sensation when you look at them, right? That's the magic of visual journaling -- the power of the images and their influence, and how you can use them to draw up your inner workings. I do this SO OFTEN, on a smaller scale (like on the same page in my written journal, side-by-side), to do a visual working of a pro/con situation, or something I have to make a choice about but feel very middle-of-the-road with. Very powerful tool for me. Hysteria. " 'Strike a pose.' No thank you. No posturing, no external bluff & bravado I can't back up inwardly. I like knowing, now, how much to reveal, or not -- the self (seen) so much closer to the self (felt). Now I recognize the trouble tangents and can lead myself mostly away from them -- because I know them for what they are, & I know who I am (or at least who I want to be). I don't any longer need to travel every road, follow every impulse -- I wait instead for the substance, the promise of learning & positive change. Thrills? Oh, always welcome, but not the twisted, tangled, headache-later variety. I want those that help me across the difficult thresholds my growth requires. I want the later reinforcement & internal tables turned & knowledge increased. The more I know, the more I can give BACK, pay FORward, SHARE! A gift, not to be only a taker, a receiver. Instead of challenging life, I challenge myself, & life answers, life fills my heart's knapsack with a true essence: ME. Balance. "Maturity is a blending tool -- a mix of experience & perspective with just the right amount of ongoing dreams & goals. What I know & understand about myself, now, has all been hard-won. I value it enormously & consider it an overriding beauty feature of my singular OWN. My humor & intuitive astuteness is well worth the stretch marks and loosening skin. My listening (& discerning) ability much preferred over fine lines around my eyes. My intellect & creativity far outweighing the frustrations of menopause. BALANCE. 47 years of myself on the roasting spit of life -- the seasoning makes me tender, well-turned, succulent, and to-be-hungered for, especially by ME. To be at peace in my own company, to be confident most of the time, to see where I may need to apply the flame for better self-preparation & to turn TO it, instead of dodging it -- welcoming the adjusting, the changes, the slow, but sure, refinement. Maturity hones the inner self, the truest indicator of my beauty. I've been doing a lot of writing about my attachment to birds as a personal symbol. Finally, this page emerged, with the most succinct explanation. It reads: "Although, ultimately, I am a mermaid, I have finally realized that on earth, I am a bird. With legs, but still not actually grounded. This is why birds are such a symbol for my soul. I am still soaring, through air currents instead of the tides of waters, still tasting all the flavors of the collective world, still freely moving."