I’ve been writing in journals since I was a little girl, although we used to call them diaries. Journals are private, they are a space just for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, dreams, worries and plans. When I’m sad, I write. When I’m glad, I write. When I’m confused, heartbroken, sad, lonely, anxious, depressed, grateful, excited, elated or in love...I write. I know of few other ways to have a good visit with myself as well as I do when I journal. Do you keep a journal? If you do, please comment below with why it's important to you.
How do I choose a journal?
It's important to choose a journal that you like to look at, that's easy to write on (I prefer lined paper for example), and that brings a smile to your heart when you look at it. Over the years I can see how I've changed through observing the kinds of journals that I've chosen (as above). At different times in my life I've been drawn to spiritual covers with mandalas and angels, prairie scenes, quotes of wisdom, damasque (lots of damasque) and more. Keep your eyes open wherever you go because once you’re looking for a journal, you will find it in the perfect place at the right time for you. And if you want to go pick one up right here in Saskatoon the following stores have a lovely selection: Soul Paper, The Better Good, U of S Bookstore, Chapters, McNally Robinson, Scott’s Parable and HomeSense.
What do I write about?
- What I did. This helps me absorb the day and feel grounded. All humans have a limited capacity for remembering the mundanities of life; but there's great value in capturing little things. I often think of this as 'relishing the tasty moments in life'. Here's an excerpt from another of my journals: Jan 14 2006: "Deanna was here visiting from Thursday through Sunday. We had a wonderful time! On Thursday we went to the Greek restaurant, Santorini and then to the Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt. We laughed so hard that I was crying. I was telling her the story of ..." I won't bore you with more but as I read it I had flashbacks of that entire weekend and there's just no way that my brain would have revived that lovely memory if I hadn't captured it in my journal.
- Thoughts and feelings. There's an interesting theory that makes a lot of sense to me which I've read about in Dr. David Burns' book "Feeling Good" and work on regularly now in my journal. He says "All of your moods are created by your thoughts...and research has documented that the negative thoughts which cause your emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortions. Although these thoughts appear valid, you will learn that they are irrational or just plain wrong, and that twisted thinking is a major cause of your suffering.”
When I look at my past and my present thoughts and feelings I can see how I've grown and how I'd like to change. Patterns tend to repeat themselves in both positive and negative ways.
- Lists: Bucket lists, to-do lists, places you've been, places you want to go, people you love, little things that make you happy.
- Dreams: It's helpful to keep to a journal and pen right beside your bed so you can capture your dreams quickly, before they disappear.
- Questions and Answers: How might I feel about this when I'm 80? How can I be a better sister? What do I really admire about my friend? lover? boss? Here's a neat Q&A exercise to try: Ask yourself a simple question (How are you today?), then switch the pen to your non-dominant hand and answer with that one. You might be surprised at what your deeper layers reveal when you trick your brain this way.
- Stream of Consciousness: Inspired by Julia Cameron via her bestselling book The Artist's Way - A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, I enjoy the exercise of putting pen to paper with zero plan about what will come out for a short period of time or a certain number of pages. The only guideline to it is that the pen must keep moving...and you get to be the observer of what comes out.
- Stories: Sometimes I make up a little story or a daydream.
Still not sure what to write? Check out these websites for a few more ideas:
Special thanks to:
Lisa Landrie, Natasha Hnidy, Karen Bardi, Jacqueline Woods, Tanya Nizinkevich, Alexis Normand, Paul Miazga, Lia Pas, Bev Cooper and Jennifer Willems for suggesting where to buy journals in Saskatoon.
And to Lisa Landrie - A Photogenic Life, for taking all of these photos in her adorable and cozy home on a -40 Saskatchewan Sunday afternoon.