I’ve journaled since I could. From pink cotton candy books with golden locks to spiral notebooks and leatherbound journals. I stopped writing longhand once I got a laptop, opting to record my thoughts on Word instead, but it never really felt the same and I journaled less and less with each passing year until three loved ones sent me journals for my birthday. There is a difference in writing your thoughts on a glowing screen and pressing a pen between your fingers and watching a blank page fill with your familiar handwriting. Incase you were interested in journaling I thought I’d share my process.
Method: You must be comfortable with the medium in which you write. Choose something you’ll love writing in instead of what’s on sale. I watch my pennies but when it comes to journaling I buy a journal I’m excited to mark up. My dear friend Tracy sent me a moleskine for my birthday and its now my favorite brand. Pens? Equally important. I use Sharpie fine tipped markers- I love the colors and the way the pen glides along the page but its really about whatever pen works for you. [Not being paid to sing their praises, just love the brands- but should anyone want to shower me with multi-colored pens and journals you will not find any protest here! 🙂]
Content: I don’t limit journaling for only extremely deep and inspirational thoughts worthy of Walt Whitman‘s awe. This was a common hangup for me in the past. It’s so pretty. I don’t want to ruin it with my gibberish. A journal is meant to be used and worn- scribbles, smears and doodles:
My journal topics range from grocery lists, story ideas, questions for the pediatrician, the phone number for the cable guy, to more meditative things- the key for me is to hold no limit on content. By writing anything I want, I am more inclined to keep it near me, making it more likely it will be nearby when a meditative thought or observation comes to me. Plus its fun to look back at your year in scattered notes of reflection, poetry and reminders for coconut milk because that is how life is, seamless. That being said, I do have a few things I write daily as a practice to encourage gratitude and reflection:
One Sentence Journal: I no longer have the time I had in my angsty teen years to write down the daily minituae of my life but a sentence to summarize the day, or a special part of it, helps you realize life isn’t mundane- because it really isn’t. We just fail to see this in the daily hubbub of life.
Five beautiful things: I do a Three Beautiful Things Thursday but write five beautiful things every day in my moleskine. Studies show people who write down five things they are thankful for on a daily basis have elevated levels of happiness and lower incidences of depression. This practice centers me and helps me realize that despite how bad a day might feel, there is beauty within. And major props to Susan who does this daily on her blog.
Accomplished Today and Plans for Tomorrow: As an attorney I could define my accomplishments in clients interviewed, opposing parties contacted, my days were scheduled. As a SAHM my days are more unstructured and I run the risk of not focusing on writing, or reading, in favor of cleaning, and I also run the risk of thinking I didn’t do anything of value. While each day feels brief its the stuff life is made of so in an effort to be more purposeful with each day, each evening I write down the things I accomplished from cooking dinner, running, organizing, writing, reading and I write down some goals for tomorrow. Sometimes its as simple as keep eyes open and care for baby on particularly sleepy days, and on some days its more elaborate and hopeful. Still, this has helped me feel and be more productive.
Journaling has been a truly transformative experience for me particularly on the difficult days when its hard to see anything beyond that which is clouding my heart so I thought I’d share my process in the offchance its of benefit to anyone else whose always wanted to journal but never knew exactly how to start or keep it going consistently.