How Journaling Life Lessons Helps Us Discover Our Personal Power

abstract image of a golden apple to signify life lessons for women set on a watercolor background with pink, blue, and gold

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Reflecting upon my experiences, I realize the life lessons I learned during that time continue to shape my journey abroad and guide me toward a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.

Dear readers, today I invite you into the pages of my personal journal from 2020, a year marking a transformative chapter in my life.


In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is often challenging to pause and truly contemplate the impact of our choices, the weight of our possessions, and the sacrifices we make for love.

Yet, through my journal pages, I discovered profound insights that have resonated with me to this day.

From the beginning, I recognized our material possessions’ overwhelming influence over us. Inspired by “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, I embarked on a decluttering journey, liberating myself from the burden of accumulated belongings.

Little did I know that this simple act of letting go would pave the way for a minimalist lifestyle that allows me to cherish and appreciate what truly matters.

But it wasn’t just about physical possessions but the sacrifices we make for love and the strength we find within ourselves.

With the unwavering support of my family, I embarked on a new chapter abroad, leaving behind the familiar comforts of home. It took immense courage to follow my dreams, trust in the path less traveled, and honor my love for myself and those closest to me.

In doing so, I discovered the true essence of love – the profound connection between sacrifice and growth.

Journal for Self-Belief

As I poured my emotions onto the pages of my journal, documenting the uncertainties, the fears, and the moments of sheer vulnerability, I realized the immense power of self-belief.

Despite the doubts that occasionally clouded my mind, I held onto the belief that I am strong, independent, and capable of embracing change. This unwavering conviction has guided me through the challenges and empowered me to craft a life that aligns with my most authentic self.

Today, as I continue to journey forward, I am reminded of the lessons etched within the pages of my 2020 journal.

Explore the Depths of Self-Discovery with Your Journal

Each day, I consciously make choices that honor my values, cultivate joy, and contribute positively to the world around me.

My journey abroad has become a testament to the transformative power of embracing life’s lessons and staying true to oneself.

Dear readers, I invite you to join me on this ongoing adventure as we explore the depths of self-discovery, resilience, and the pursuit of a fulfilling life together.

Let us be inspired by the conscious decisions we make each day and the boundless possibilities that unfold when we embrace the journey with an open heart and an unwavering belief in our own potential.

Celebrating My One Year Chinaversary (December 20th, 2020)

Good day, my beloveds. Well, my one-year Chinaversary came and went, and I decided to dedicate this post to what I have learned after my first year in China.

Life lessons came to the forefront of this experience.

Discovering the Impact of Our Stuff

Last January, a friend asked me about my first month in China. So, of course, I replied that it was great.

At that time, we were going on trips out of town to the hot springs, attending banquets and parties, going on city tours, and enjoying all that Beijing has to offer for local and international cuisine.

But, as you all know, the next month everything changed.

Our Story with Stuff is Simple

Our story with stuff can be simple. I read the book, ‘The Story of Stuff’ by Annie Leonard many years ago.

This book started as a movie, lecture, and movement. It highlights our consumer-crazed culture and how our obsession with stuff impacts Mother Earth and humanity.

In 2011, I started to become obsessed with decluttering. But only actively embraced a minimalist lifestyle wholly in 2019.

Embracing Minimalism

In 2011, I donated our home library of books and cannot believe I kept books like trophies on the shelves.

I promised myself at that time to only have a library card and no longer purchase any books. I held to this promise and now only buy books I want to keep in e-book format.

I started to recycle clothing every six months in donation bins for charity.

Kitchenware I did not use in six months went to the donation bin, then most anything that had no place in my home went to the donation bins.

Surprisingly, when moving to China in 2019, I realized how much more I had accumulated and needed to figure out what I would do with it before moving.

Starting Over with a Minimalist Lifestyle

In July 2019, I removed anything that did not fit in two suitcases and a carry-on.

I decluttered not only my closets but also my vehicles and other unnecessary things for a single woman starting over with life abroad.

Items no longer needed included my house. Once my girls had everything they wanted, including rubber maid totes filled with family pictures, I sold what had value, and the rest when to charity.

I digitized the family pictures in Google Drive, created a binder with necessary documents after backing them up in digital format, and let the rest go.

I moved into AirBnb on August 1st until I left Canada on December 12th.

Life Lesson One

I will admit there were times I felt hopeless and a little unhinged at the end of 2019.

Telling people around me, I was living in Airbnb left an air of discomfort in our relationship.

  • Was this my mid-life crisis?
  • Was I detaching from everything from my past life as part of a healing process?
  • Was I running away?

Ultimately, it was all for the best, and the whole process was cathartic. I felt liberated and free. I felt light and open. Now I live a minimalist lifestyle by only keeping what I will use.

First and foremost, it all starts with consciously buying the things I will retain and use consistently.

When I arrived in Beijing, I had two suitcases and one carry one. Although packed to the brim, they brought all I would need to start my life abroad.

Moving from Beijing to Hainan in China, I was faced with downsizing my home again. This time though, all I needed was my angel kitty 盼盼 and my two suitcases and one carry-on.

What I learned is we can become swamped with stuff.

Do I miss it? Sometimes. For the most part, whatever I need, I have.

When I miss the comforts of a luxury jacuzzi or fireplace, I will find an executive suite for a night or two and feel satisfied.

Our story with stuff does not need to be complicated. It is pretty simple. What do you use, what do you need, and what luxuries are must haves? The rest can go.

A powerful life lesson.

Love is Sacrifice

Love is sacrifice.

When I was preparing to leave Canada, my girls were in a state of change.

I knew my 20+ year career at my college was winding down with changes being made in administration, so I needed to make a move for me and my family.

I could have found another similar job but also had a burning fire for travel. I had always dreamed of living abroad, and with both my children grown and independent, I could make that move for myself.

Choosing Love and Sacrifice

People have always told me, and I have always believed that love is shown through what people will do for you.

It may sound selfish, and I get it if you are cringing reading this. However, I have come to learn that love is a sacrifice.

Love is what we are willing to give up for those who we love.

Although love is unconditional, it is expressed through sacrifice. This includes self-love.

Life Lesson Two

Months of discussions about planning for the changes in our relationship, often ending in tears and thoughts of terror, revealed this was the best move for me and our family.

I could not help my children in the way I wanted to if I stayed. Costs of living for a single woman with no dependents, income taxes, and all things considered would leave me with a reduced quality of life and miserable.

Not affording to travel or living bare bones minimum may allow one annual trip.

I am grateful my girls saw the value in my needs, and I still hear my Molly saying, “Mom, you raised us, and you were always there for us. This is your time to focus on you.”.

A powerful life lesson.

Journal to Focus on Yourself

I was a parent at 19 years old by choice. I started academic studies with young ones in tow. I started my career while balancing family life.

This is my time to focus on myself, support my adult children in our new way of being in a relationship, and live out my best life by contributing to the world around me in the best ways possible.

People have always told me, and I have always believed that love is shown through what people will do for you.

Love is Sacrifice

It may sound selfish, and I get it if you are cringing reading this. However, I have come to learn that love is a sacrifice.

Love is what we are willing to give up for those who we love.

Although love is unconditional, it is expressed through sacrifice. This includes self-love.

Journal About Love

What am I willing to give up to express love to myself?

Well, I gave up a need for making things look as they should with our family life, I gave up the need to do what I should be doing for a career or job, I gave up the kind of house and neighborhood I should be living in to feel like I am in my tax bracket.

  • I gave all of this up to live my life for my true self.
  • I also gave up my life in Canada to move abroad to build myself financially and be in a better position to help my children when they need help.
  • My girls gave up the desire to have a mom with a home they could visit for a weekend here and there and for holiday dinners.
  • Molly gave up my being at her college volleyball games.
  • Alexa gave up my needing to be there to help her with her firstborn.
  • Molly gave up her summer last year to help her sister with the baby, and I gave up hugs and kisses and playtime with my girls and grandson to live out my life dream.

Love is sacrifice.

I used to believe love is the flowers and gifts and all the things we do for each other and give to each other.

Those are nice, do not get me wrong, but what I have learned this past year is that love is sacrifice.

I have never felt more in a state of love with myself and my children and my family around me as I do now.

Choosing love means choosing your most authentic self first. Then, the rest will fall into place.

Courage to Test Our Beliefs

It takes courage to test what we believe to be true about ourselves.

I was always told I was strong, independent, smart, and open-minded. Yet, I felt terrified, weak, alone, and wrong in the days before I left.

I balanced this with glimmering moments of excitement and enduring love from my girls and loved ones. I am grateful.

Discovering True Independence

First and foremost, I learned how to feel truly independent.

No other experience, not even being a mother for the first time, taught me this kind of independence.

On the flip side, my self-esteem developed immensely as I had the opportunity to test what I believed about myself.

Mustering up enough courage to leave all that was familiar and move to the unfamiliar in every sense helped me to test what I believe about myself and refine my self-esteem to include more. I am grateful.

Life Lesson Three

I learned that even the change we want for ourselves could leave us feeling completely gutted and uncertain about our capacity to make it through.

I cried on the plane from Calgary to Vancouver. No, I ugly cried. I sobbed uncontrollably because Alexa called me as I was seated and ready to taxi on the runway to tell me she was having a son.

She said, “Mom, I am giving you the son you never had.”

I completely unraveled.

Once we landed in Vancouver, I tidied myself up, organized my carry-on luggage and clothing, and headed to the Air Canada lounge.

A powerful life lesson.

Embrace Surprises in Life

Standing outside the lounge at 11:30 pm, I see an entourage approaching my direction. It was surreal. Stephen Harper was the last Canadian I spoke to on Canadian soil in Vancouver that night.

Once I saw it was him, I approached him and extended my hand.

His security people came close, and he nodded.

I said, “Mr. Harper, sir. Thank you for serving our country.”

He nodded, smiled, and asked my name. I told him, “Suzanne Marie, and I am a First Nations Canadian.”

He said, “Nice to meet you, Miss Marie; where are you off to?”

I said, “Sir, I am moving to Beijing.”

He smiled and said, “Beijing? It is a beautiful city.”

We exchanged a few more short quips, and he wished me well and was on his way.

Journal Your Memories

I laughed to myself because I was standing there in a hot pink onesie with rawhide beaded moccasins and pink fox fur cuffs. My hair was in a bun, and my face was blotchy with swollen eyes from crying so much between Calgary and Vancouver.

Regardless, it makes for one hell of a memory to say the last Canadian I spoke with was our former Prime Minister.

At that moment, I exercised what I had been told and what I always believed about myself.

Landing in Beijing, navigating the basic everyday tasks, and not knowing what anyone was talking about taught me valuable lessons.


Although this post was to celebrate my one-year Chinaversary in 2020, it highlights important life lessons we can use to take stock of what is around us wherever we may be.

These experiences provided a fast track to learning what I needed to know.

Thank you for reading my post. Sending you all love and light.

Until next time.


Listen to the Podcast

podcase cover image with purple background and picture of Suzanne Marie for Inspiring a Fulfilled Life
Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, and more!

Get Your Digital Self-Care Journal

Get your digital download instantly at Gumroad.

Want more inspiration?

We all have unlimited potential.

Hi! I’m Suzanne and welcome to my blog. For more than two decades of teaching, writing, and public speaking, I’ve been inspiring children, teens, and adults to cultivate their potential.

With proven experience and being a published author of conflict management and children’s books, you’ll find practical strategies for personal development.

Most importantly, you’ll discover life lessons for living a fulfilled life.

Latest from the Blog

View all posts →

Inspiring a Fulfilled Life

Your guide to reduce overwhelm and focus on what matters.

A work of love, Inspiring a Fulfilled Life is a weekly newsletter to help you reduce overwhelm and achieve peace in your life. Get weekly inspiration to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself.

© Inspiring a Fulfilled Life. All rights reserved (2023).

Share via
Copy link
%d bloggers like this: