I’ve been writing a journal for over thirty years. The content of my journal is varied. Anything from how I am feeling, notes and draft content for work projects and articles to quotes and notes of interest gathered spontaneously throughout my day. I see my journal as a working book, sometimes a work in progress. It is a living book I am always returning to look things up, retrieve a quote or expanding on ideas started on her pages.
My journal travels with me everywhere. You will often find it squashed into my handbag, sometimes claiming most of the space. But knowing I have it in my possession is oddly a comforting feeling, one that ironically always conjures up a feeling of safety and connection.
My journal entries are precious to me. More precious than most of the other contents in my handbag. A message brought home recently when I bounced off a train from Derby and in between walking from the mainline train station to the underground managed to leave my handbag and all its content in the middle of Kings Cross train station. Now that’s a story for another day but suffice to say in the hour or so before I was re-connected with the entire contents of my handbag (I know, you’re thinking how lucky is that!) what I worried most about more than anything else in my bag which included my purse, all my cards and both sets of keys for the car and home was my journal. I would have paid a handsome reward just to get my journal back.
To be honest without it I felt shipwrecked. My journal hosts many precious ideas, quotes and notes that may appear insignificant on their own but when pieced together with other projects and content are not. It is through the practice of regular journaling that I enable myself to become more self-aware, more mindful, often thoughtful and reflective and I hope as a result often a better person and human being.
Don’t get me wrong. Keeping a journal doesn’t suddenly make you into a saint. I am far from perfect and my journal knows this but it is amazing how non-judgemental and forgiving my journal is 24/7, something I deeply respect and hold dear to our relationship. I have noticed that with my journal by my side I am more willing to own up to mistakes and wrong doings and thereby be better placed to made healthier choices and decisions about what to do about them.
Journaling offers perspectives on life that are real. Very often coming to my journal brings distance to emotionally charged feelings. It helps me in uncanny ways to see other sides of the coin when I slow down and examine situations and events with a more discerning eye. Journaling allows me to become more thoughtful and mindful when I write. Keeping and sustaining a journal has helped me to open doors in my imagination to my dreams and aspirations which may have remained closed had I not chosen to commit to a practice of regular journaling and reflecting on the page.
I love the creativity that explodes when I write and engage with my journal. It gives me a different experience to the sometimes, demanding pressures of work and modern life that seem to suck out life force through the demands of day to day activities.
I love the things I tuck into my journals, the random yellow index cards with a quote captured from something I was reading or a train ticket that reminds me of a poignant moment on a journey which could easily have been forgotten. Many times I am surprised by what I find when I return there.
I am not sure how far I would have made it in my life if I had not written regularly in my journal. It has been a healthy dose of self-therapy and on many occasions self-coaching against a backdrop of low self-esteem, self-doubt and low levels of depression. Journaling was a self prescribed writing prescription that brings with the practice a range of physical, psychological and emotional benefits. Then there are the times when the journal is like one of those friends that doesn’t know how to do anything else than tell you the truth no matter how hard they try to hold back.
I believe I am a better person because of my journal. It allows me to be more of myself, more often and that has to be a good thing. By this I mean when I take refuge in my journal I am more akin to express myself wholly and sincerely and not dumb down who I am which we can sometimes do when we are with other people. It has saved me countless arguments because the journal seized the intensity and sometimes ridiculousness of my feelings and processed them before I projected my unprocessed feelings onto my nearest and dearest, colleagues or total strangers. It has also been the balm when I have felt overwhelmed and distressed and not sure about what to do the next. My journal has always helped me to find a way through.
That’s why it works for me to write my journal first thing in the day. I write around 6am and flex my journal muscles by writing in-between the gaps of my day on public transport, at the wheel of my stationary car or in waiting rooms. Wherever I find myself doing it sets me up for the days. Journaling nourishes and strengthens the roots of who I am. Journaling creates healthy conditions that allows me to step forward to go face the world with greater confidence and stability that has originated from within.
Writing a journal has led to a rich inner life that has served as a safe harbour I can return when the storms of life rage. Keeping a journal makes you an author of your own life. When you let go and trust you will often find that the writing has information for us rather than the other way round.
There are things in my journal that are intensely private and will stay private and there are private things in my dairy that are common to all human beings that warm our hearts when they are shared. Keeping a journal is not a lonely act. On the contrary it connects us to the tribe called the human race by giving us a voice, a safe place to tell your stories, shed your tears and build your dreams. This is what connects one human soul to another. Journaling connects you to a global community of other journal writers all around the world.
I wonder what will motivate or inspire you to keep a journal in 2016? Can you think of the ways in which a journal will help you become a better person, be a better person or live a better life? Are there ways in which keeping a journal can support you to upgrade your work life, or help you become a better observer and listener?
Not sure where to start with your New-Year journal entries. Are you in need of more inspiration for your journal pages? Then treat yourself to my free downloadable Juicy Journal prompts, which I hope will inspire you to hit the pages of your journals in 2016 http://ow.ly/WuJxw
The kit includes fifty-five custom designed journal prompts with inspirational quotes. There’s no email sign up and you have permission to share them around.
Lets share the love in 2016.
In service of your wonderful writing self.
Happy New Year!