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Sasha Laghonh Of Sasha Talks: How Journaling Helped Me Be More Calm, Mindful And Resilient

An Interview With Heidi Sander

Pace yourself. It’s normal to produce a lot of content on one day while the next day may feel like a drought. This is about quality and not quantity. Don’t force yourself to produce material beyond your innate quota on a given day. Go with the flow. It becomes easier with time.

Journaling is a powerful tool to gain clarity and insight especially during challenging times of loss and uncertainty. Writing can cultivate a deeper connection with yourself and provide an outlet for calmness, resilience and mindfulness. When my mom passed on, I found writing to be cathartic. When I read through my journal years later, there were thoughts that I developed into poems, and others that simply provided a deeper insight into myself. In this series I’m speaking with people who use journaling to become more mindful and resilient.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sasha Laghonh.

Sasha is the Founder of Sasha Talks, an educational and entertainment platform that integrates self & professional development into nurturing meaningful outcomes. As a speaker, mentor and author, she partners alongside clients, from individuals to organizations, to capitalize upon their talent. Through her work as a strategist, speaker, and author Sasha strives to make a real difference to every aspect of her clients’ goals. Learn more at www.sashatalks.com.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story of healing. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

My childhood traces back to my California roots where I recall chasing butterflies in my parents’ garden and entertaining playful strolls at San Diego beach. Only a slice of my childhood was spent in California since my family was accustomed to uprooting themselves to address life obligations that came calling from all directions. These travels and moves introduced me to people from all walks of life. It was normal for me to invest a year of school in one town and/or state then uproot myself to be present before another set of audience. It’s an experience that military brats can relate to very well. Thanks to these experiences, I have canvassed most of the United States with the exception of maybe seven or eight states. This includes my experiences abroad and travels during my early academic years. Overall, these opportunities provided a channel for me to start working at a young age while managing my academic studies. Fast forward, as an Alum of Boston University, holding an MBA in Global Management and a Doctorate, I’ve acquired enough mileage to leverage my options for how I want to contribute to the world. Historically, I’ve entertained roles serving different industries by working in niche market spaces among global organizations and private companies which include start-ups & entrepreneurial institutions. As the Founder of Sasha Talks, I’ve discovered a way of packaging my life & professional experiences into a platform that delivers content to audiences seeking to transform and elevate their living experiences. The platform has evolved by partnering with other initiatives that place the spotlight on the latest movers and shakers producing great work from different industries and corners of the globe.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about journaling. Have you been writing in your journal for a long time or was there a challenging situation that prompted you to start journal writing? If you feel comfortable sharing the situation with us, it could help other readers.

I initially started journaling at the young age of nine which continued until I was about twelve. Those journals were all written in pig latin. Why? If the journal got lost, the person finding it wouldn’t be able to extract much value from it. When I look back, I raise my eyebrows and think “I don’t know. Kids do silly things.” By my early teens, I became too involved with extracurricular activities that journaling took a back seat due to limited bandwidth. All the writing that I did was for assignments, writing competitions and applications for my professional endeavors. It was much later in life, I was open to revisiting an outlet that would help me focus and heal at the same time.Writing is basically thinking. The same goes for journaling. How do we process our life experiences? Sooner or later, we need time to reflect. I had heard about Oprah’s gratitude journal for many years yet the lifelong student in me wasn’t ready to take action. More life events played out which made me open to working with Marisa Peer and her team for nurturing one’s inner growth. I reached a juncture in my path when I had nothing to lose by finally starting a journal that would focus on gratitude first then all other affairs of the day that welcomed attention. I promised myself the activity would be practiced everyday, no excuses — even on days when I’m running on the 22nd hour, I still had to sit myself down and pen my blessings. This included sick days, days when I was entertaining red eye flights and foremost bad days (I’m human too!). There’s wisdom journaling on bad days because we learn to recognize the silver linings in our path. Those are the days when this activity serves its greatest purpose. How do you react and respond when life isn’t going your way? It’s been almost eight years since I’ve been practicing gratitude as a lifestyle, not as a convenient ploy when it serves my agenda.

How did journaling help you heal, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

The initial theme of my journal focused on gratitude. After about three months of journaling, I implemented another layer to this activity by incorporating “forgiveness” into my day. Everyday I choose to forgive at least one thing, one person or one circumstance. People overlook that forgiveness is a choice. It doesn’t mean the subject being forgiven necessarily is guilty of any offense, nor owes me an apology, but this activity focuses on TRULY learning to let go. It might take a few tries but eventually we get there. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we’re extending a pass to a situation that allegedly wronged us. We’re acknowledging while life is not fair, we’re choosing to redeem ourselves from being held hostage by circumstances outside of our control. Even though we can’t control life and its sources, we can control how we choose to move forward in life. I can imagine all control freaks grinding their teeth while reading this reality check. It’s easier said than done but with daily practice, one slowly starts to see shifts in their life. It’s been an earned blessing in my path because journaling can heal if the activity is practiced with mindfulness, authenticity (the raw truth can suck at times) and willingness to explore the unknown. Everyone’s journey with journaling is different. I’ve seen shifts in my life that are reflected back by the people and opportunities that seek me out. I’ve always been a person who’s viewed the glass half full regardless of the hardships and trials that I’ve managed to overcome. I believe I’ve incurred progress in my journaling endeavors because it’s encouraged introspection and reflection while forcing me to remove band-aids that historically masked the old paradigms that needed to be re-written with a new operating system which has catapulted my growth in all aspects of my life. Our human wounds function like the ego — we don’t know they exist until they are scratched. This awareness grants us an opportunity to question why we react to things the way we do and why it’s important to address our blind spots (rather than ignore them) if we want to start living our best lives. The greatest benefit I’ve acquired from journaling is the non-negotiable time I’ve set aside to perform this activity. If we neglect the mind and heart then we can’t complain why life isn’t responsive in a timely manner, or up to par with our desired outcomes. Our self-care is reflected back by the type of environment that responds back to us. Everyone is responsible for their own well-being. They can point fingers to avoid accountability but remember there are still four fingers pointing back at you.

Did journaling help you find more self-compassion and gratitude? Can you share a story about that?

Yes! Journaling definitely helped me with becoming more self-aware in terms of self compassion and being kinder to myself. We can’t extend compassion to others if we lack compassion for ourselves. The same goes for love and respect. My area of concern was self-compassion. Because I was hardwired from a young age to hold my own, I “used to” forget that it’s okay to be human by allowing myself to breathe and ‘not’ be apologetic for not always being there for others. The worst form of abandonment is abandoning ourselves. I would find myself self-sabotaging opportunities without understanding that my mind and body were fighting one another as well rebelling against my entire being. I had to learn to be kinder to myself. Journaling has made me more cognizant of behaviors that I need to work on and this in essence has shifted my outlook on how I approach (and welcome) new blessings in my path. I’m transparent with my audiences that I am not promising perfection, or they’ll be left disappointed. Also if I were perfect, it would defeat the whole premise of Sasha Talks! I’ve made a living leveraging my imperfections in a world that prefers to celebrate perfection. I’m a work in progress. I’m learning how to be human. Journaling is a tool like any other — how you use it will dictate the return on investment.

What kind of content goes into your journal? For example, do you free-write, write poems, doodle?

I free-write… sometimes I create lists, doodle, note business ideas or write spirit guided messages.

How did you gain a different perspective on life and your emotions while writing in your journal? Can you please share a story about what you mean?

My journaling activities helped me with refining my life focus, valuing time and appreciating people. Believe it or not, I’ve always been an emotional person yet I’m measured in how I go about living my life. Some emotions are sacred because they hold a specific time and space before select audiences. Some personalities are TMI 365/24/7 while on the other hand I have friends who tease me that I’m a prude. It’s debatable. I’m the same person who can exhibit a sailor’s mouth unannounced without a warning. 😇

In my own journal writing, I ended up creating poems from some of the ideas and one of them won an award. Do you have plans with your journal content?

I have content from my historical journals that have served as submission pieces for writing competitions. These competitions welcomed submissions which focused on current events, foreign policy and legal topics. I’ve also been featured in foreign publications in the late 1990’s that covered the human rights conditions during the Kosovo Bosnia conflict, the health crisis among women in Africa and the on-going side effects of violence on television (at that time).

Fantastic. Here is our main question. In my journaling program, I have found that journaling can help people to become more calm, mindful and resilient. Based on your experience and research, can you please share with our readers “five ways that journaling can help you to be more calm, mindful and resilient”?

  1. Set yourself free. Journaling is not a pretentious activity. It is what you make of it. If you want to nurture creativity, go for it! If you want to find ways to express yourself, let your words lighten your heart. If you want to write and don’t know where to begin, celebrate the blank page until you pen your first word. The possibilities are endless.
  2. There is no judgment. Like any tool in the world, journaling is what you make of it. Remember, you are not doing this to serve any master but yourself. Refrain from believing there is judgment unless you’re judging yourself. Judgment entraps us from being authentic when we want to unleash our craziness AND greatness on paper.
  3. Practice. If you’re new to journaling, it might take a while to set a rhythm that resonates with you. Whether you write a phrase or a chapter in one sitting, you are writing for your well-being. Pick a time that works for you which is easy to accommodate without interruptions. Remain flexible on days when life seems to be running your schedule. Even if you write a line, it’s better than nothing.
  4. Pace yourself. It’s normal to produce a lot of content on one day while the next day may feel like a drought. This is about quality and not quantity. Don’t force yourself to produce material beyond your innate quota on a given day. Go with the flow. It becomes easier with time.
  5. Live life. Journaling is a rich activity when we immerse ourselves into living life by absorbing experiences through our senses and evolving lens. Words come to life when we infuse our experiences into our writings.

Afterall, journaling is about growth. Whether we’re expanding our minds or hearts, we’re creating something worthy for ourselves.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of peace to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

I believe in the power of genuine words, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It definitely changes the tone and vibrations from where people operate from in the world. Also learn the names of people whom you cross paths with instead of remembering them by their titles and occupations. Some people subconsciously treat people based on their roles rather than their human existence. This is a liability when good people are overlooked because they don’t come in the packaging that people are conditioned to respect and take seriously in society. Again, we’re all a work in progress.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)

Roseanne Barr. I’ve followed her work over the decades and she still fascinates me with her life stories. Given her foreign travels and faith, I believe it would be wonderful to discuss spirituality with her.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

People are welcome to visit sashatalks.com. Click on the contact page and drop a hello. Thanks!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued fulfillment and success with your writing!

Thank you for the wonderful work you share with all curious minds worldwide.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Heidi Sander

Heidi Sander

Award-Winning Poet & Bestselling Author

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