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Day 22: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Today we list 5 perceived flaws or strengths of ours. Or else of someone we admire. Do that now!

Then we flip it. Explore how that strength can also be a flaw or how the flaw can be a strength.

Lisa Tener Joy of Writing Journal

It’s a useful exercise in expanding our perceptions and perspective.

I have trouble with the Day 22 prompt. I can make my list of flaws no problem. But how are these strengths? I can’t see it. I skip ahead to Day 24.

I return to Day 22 another day.

I start with the flaw, but what soon emerges is compassion for myself. Here’s an excerpt:

Lisa, I just want you to know I love you. Sometimes you’ll listen with your ears and heart, with the hairs on your skin prickling, and sometimes you’ll remain so focused on what you planned to say you may need to ask the person to repeat their words because they went right through you….

…and I still love you…

Lisa, when you notice you’re not listening, you now have a choice to continue not listening. Or to try to listen, to open up to the person with curiosity, or if that’s too hard, to open up to yourself with curiosity, “That’s curious that so and so’s mouth is moving and I am not receiving the words. I wonder what that’s about.”

Curiosity and wonder emerged from a mindfulness course offered by my dear friend, Communication Coach Donna Rustigian Mac. Thank you, Donna!

Your Turn to Share

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

What’s it like to explore a flaw or a strength? Can you flip it?

Share an excerpt or a struggle, an insight or a phrase.

Or share anything provoked by the experience I share. Can you bring compassion to your exploration?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Deborah Louth says

    Lisa – Your listening skills struck a chord in me. Sometimes, when listening to others mouths moving and not hearing the words, can be an indication of realizing the person just wants to hear themselves talk: ad infinitum, while your inner listening skills recognize this and wants to move them from there to get to the meat of the matter.

    Day 22 – Perfectly Flawed – Prompt – Perfectionist

    Picky, picky picky some may call me. It’s true. When I see something out of order, I want to put it in it’s proper place; even a picture frame slightly askew in a friend’s house. I can be relentless in my quest for making a perpetual peace treaty with chaos. I have learned to let go of the hypervigilance that goes with this supposed flaw. The flip side of this skill causes me to pay attention to detail, have a greater awareness of what other people can’t or won’t see and be able to offer them a way out of their confusion. In the past, a way I honed this skill is; When I noticed something that was there, which had always been there, but never registered in my conscious mind, I asked the proverbial question, ” What else don’t I see right in front of me”.

    • Lisa Tener says

      I love your inquiry Deborah. And thank you for showing me a positive side to my lack of listening skills. I think often it’s just a habit of not being present, which of course invites me to be present, once I notice it!

    • Mary Ann L says

      Deborah- your flaw could have been a job! My dad was once on the Inspector General’s team and that was his job to notice anything awry. Needless to say, I didn’t get away with much! I totally get what you are saying about “seeing”- so much more than vision going on. I can see you or us writing about “What else don’t I see right in front of me.”


      One of my biggest flaws is being disorganized. A friend of mine told me, Mary Ann whenever you bring something new into your home, you have to take something out. Whoa! Really, you can’t just jam your closets or bring stuff to the basement? What if you need that tchotke that you paid good money for like the indoor fountain with floating chiming bells? Or what if Aunt Betty comes to visit and you can’t find the plate that doesn’t match anything else in the house that she gave you for your wedding forty years ago? Or what about the artifacts that once touched your heart but no longer spark joy like the doll collection- Japanese geishas with wigs, Seminole Indian woman, Thai dancers, Eskimo in leather and furs, even a female clergy member in habit?

      When you are not organizationally inclined, let me tell you, it’s hard, sometimes teeth gnashing to as Elsa in Frozen says, “Let it go, let go…” But when you start to reclaim corners in your bedroom, begin to see spaces where there once were piles, it’s as though a door has opened and your mind is free. Where you once walked in a room and felt oh no, there’s stuff everywhere and you feel stuck like the stuff has a chokehold on you. You feel like a failure and walk away. Go out and play tennis, go shopping, tend to the garden, but by all means get away from the stuff that brings you down.

      My eldest daughter recently decided it was time to do an intervention and so she got me a copy of Marie Kondo’s book and made me read it. Then she scheduled time with me to go though the piles. “Look Mom, it’s not fair of you to leave all this stuff for the rest of us to deal with, like grandma and grandpa did. And there are people out there who might be able to put some of this stuff to good use.” We sorted the “free” stuff we could put on the curb, donations, trash, and recyclables. With each new reclaimed space I felt less like a failure and was gaining control of the chaos. And I didn’t miss a single thing that disappeared from my sight.

      It took me far too many years than I’d care to admit that acquiring stuff is far less pleasurable than giving it away. The fact is you don’t really need a lot of stuff- like god forbid you don’t have the serving dish for deviled eggs- they can still sit happy on a dinner plate. Sometimes, many times less is more, especially with plastics and items with built in obsolescence. I’m thinking that these thoughts might mark my age or increasing quirkiness, but the silver lining in my disorganization is getting organized at last. When I think of my stuff marching out my door, going to a better place, the feeling is full on euphoria with a capital E. To quote Marie Kondo, releasing the stuff I held hostage, “sparks joy”!

      • Deborah Louth says

        It was fun reading your writing, conveyed like a good story around a campfire. I can relate to the not letting go apprehension. Would you believe I picked up a deviled egg dish years ago and have never used it once, though it sits there for me to admire from time to time – it’s lovely, I say.
        And, my mother was a doll collector and I have 2 Tibetan boy/girl dolls left, costumed in silk – just say the word and they are yours.

  2. Maureen says

    I really like the idea of turning flaws into strengths, and vice versa. Thanks, Lisa! I think it helps our mental flexibility and creativity.

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