Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taking Journaling from Overwhelming to Inspiring

I've kept notebooks for organizational purposes since I was in gradeschool. I'm a compulsive list maker and I liked keeping them all in one place. But this summer, while purging for our move to Hawaii, I came upon a box packed with list notebooks. They had become a burden instead of a tool. I tore out pages where I was reflecting instead of listing, and tossed the rest. It felt great.

Since then, I've switched to making my obsessive lists on post-its that I toss at the end of the day. I think of it as tossing out the day's worries and cares. I'm striving to fill my journals with thoughts instead of to-dos. It's harder but more inspiring.

I've developed a ritual each night before bed. First, I sketch what I wore that day- juvenile but gratifying because it's about celebrating what I have. Then, I jot down what I ate that day- I've read that a food diary helps one maintain weight by making one more conscious of what one is eating. (Put good in, get good out, right?) And finally I write down one beautiful thing that I noticed, did or felt greatful for. Sometimes it's just a sentence or two and sometimes it turns into an outpouring of thoughts and feelings in a great wonderful tangle.

I wouldn't mind coming across a box full of beauty and gratitude years from now.

I don't get to my journal every night, but I try to be kind to myself and jump back in as soon as I can. I'd like to take it further by jotting down things as they happen throughout the day- I think it would be great fodder as a writer and artist because so many of those quick flashes of thought are lost by the end of the day. I keep my notebook stashed in my handbag just in case, but I haven't yet developed a good habit of pulling it out as something occurs to me.

What about you? Do you keep a journal? Do you have a ritual of your own? Do you refer back to your thoughts, or is the act of writing enough?

P.S) I've included this photo of all my beautiful blank journals to inpire myself to keep writing (I have all those lovely pages to fill!) and also as a reminder that I don't need any more until those are bursting at the seams with thoughts and ideas!


  1. Great post and beautiful photo! I like to journal about the things I've done to contribute to my self-care and also what I am grateful for. In the day-to-day busyness of life, it's easy to forget about looking after ourselves but it's the best gift we could give to those we care about. When we make our self-care a priority, we have more to give to others. Reflecting on this at the end of the day is a good reminder for me.

  2. oh my, becky, journaling.. now that is something i DO and have DONE forever. and those books are a bit of a burden, but so beautiful externally and in that i can't seem to toss them like you did your ones of lists. i have slowed down on the journaling as i was beginning to feel incomplete if i didn't write about what happened in almost every day. now i turn to it when i need to process more intense things and when something beautiful or creative comes to mind that, i too, don't want to lose. however, i think i will take your cue and begin new rituals with recording beauty in my days. i like that one a lot. my journaling habits need a full make-over. they are still much like they were in the 90's.

  3. Luckily for me my list notebooks were housed in plain jane composition books, so it was easy to let them go. The ones in the photos would be hard to part with, so I want to fill them with great stuff!

    Thanks Helen & Lizzie for sharing your thoughts on journaling- you are both right, it is such a valuable tool for self insight!

  4. I do journal. Probably not enough as I should. It is good to get your thoughts out on paper; sometimes I find answers to problems that way. I also keep a sticky note pad in my purse to jot down ideas when I get them for blog titles/post or of jewelry designs that come into my head. The worse thing is when I get an idea while I'm driving and want to jot it down before I loose the idea!

  5. I do a ton of journaling from simple lists to art journaling. I feel the need to chronicle my thoughts and days. I do a lot of emotional processing by writing things out by hand. I do some form of it everyday. I can't say I have any specific rituals. It's just not a complete day unless I wrote something. I'm a compulsive list maker, too. I have paper and pen with me at all times!


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