Sunday, April 30, 2017

Journaling: Z = ZZzzz

A bit of a stretch for the letter Z but hey... it's the last day of the challenge, and it works for today's topic: Dreams.

Journaling our dreams can take two distinct forms.

One way is to keep a notebook and pen by your bedside. As you transition out of REM sleep and vaguely recall a nighttime dream, jot down a few notes. Reading even unintelligible scribble the next morning may help you recall the dream in detail. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Journaling: Y = Yearly Word

For several years now I have participated in the Word of the Year movement.

The concept is fairly simple. Select one word you wish to focus on to help with personal and spiritual growth. Typically I try to choose a word that helps to combat or overcome certain deficiencies in my life.

Brainstorming which word has been the subject of many journaling sessions.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Journaling: X = eXercise

I've mentioned Julia Cameron before with regards to Morning Pages. Another routine she is adamant to maintain is the weekly walk

This is not the cardiovascular exercise walk to increase heart rate, but rather a long, slow meander to increase mental observation and emotional well-being.

When I go for these kinds of walks, I try to clear my head before heading out the door. I want the walk to inform my thoughts, not the other way around. I don’t set out with a pre-determined question I need to answer, or problem I need to resolve. Rather, I allow my mind to be free from life’s distractions so I can enjoy the peace and beauty of God’s creation.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Journaling: W = Wellness Wheel

The Wellness Wheel is not a new concept.

The idea is to review the various components of our lives - the roles we play and the work we do - and align them in perfect harmony. Everything is moderation would be the motto of the Wellness Wheel.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Journaling: V = Values and Beliefs

Core values (definition): fundamental beliefs and guiding principles that dictate behavior and action. Core Values help people know right from wrong, and determine whether choices and decisions are in line with our true beliefs. 

Understanding your core values is essential to an authentic life. Rather than making decisions based on popular opinion, you make decisions based on who you are - at the core. Knowing your core values is essential to finding peace and joy with yourself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Journaling: U = Underlying Themes

Once you've been journaling a while, several months or perhaps years, you will begin to notice recurring themes in life.

At this point, you are ready to begin what Dave Fox refers to as Reflective Journaling.

Reflective journaling is a thought-filled process. Rather than rushing to get the words on paper, reflective journaling reads the words you've already written. It combines those written accounts with other life experiences, which allows you to discover patterns that were not so obvious before: Underlying Themes.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Journaling: S = Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones are what I consider the defining moments of life - moments of great significance and/or transformation.

Each life experience helps us become closer to the person we are intended to be. And each prepares us for the next logical step in life.

What do your Stepping Stones look like?
Think of the milestone moments in life first - watershed moments that you never forget. Place those on the timeline of your life. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Journaling: R = Retreat

Retreat has two distinct meanings.

One is more negative in nature: to withdraw from a situation, possibly for safety reasons. I imagine an army retreating from the enemy.

The other is more positive: a place of refuge. In this instance, I think of taking a writing retreat to a small cabin in the mountains by the lake.

Journaling can incorporate both of these definitions - at different times, depending on the circumstance.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Journaling: Q = Quotes (as prompts)

Yesterday I talked about using the Visual Arts, specifically photographs, as journaling prompts. Today I will focus on using the Literary Arts to prompt our journaling efforts.

Using the words of others to inspire our own writing is a valid method of brainstorming. It isn’t plagiarism if we don’t publish it. Since journaling is for our eyes only, there is no risk.

Music especially has a way of transporting us back to a different place in time. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Journaling: P = Prompts (visual)

Some people have no problem sitting down to journal. They write whatever pops into their mind. Others struggle with the blank page. 

Prompts provide the reluctant writer a  bit of structure.

A simple Google or Pinterest search will yield more than enough writing prompts to last two lifetimes. But it is easy enough to develop prompts on your own. 

Today I will discuss how to use the Visual Arts as journal prompts. Tomorrow I will focus on Literary Arts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Journaling: O = Organize

While the primary purpose of journaling is to get thoughts and emotions out of our head and onto paper, there may be times when you desire to re-read entries.

For this reason, it is a good idea to give some thought to organization before you delve into a deep journaling practice.

I personally subscribe to two different organizational methods. One is to maintain a different journal for each particular subject matter. The other is to journal all thoughts into one notebook.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Journaling: N = Nine Writing Tips

I’ve spent quite a bit of time these last few days telling you to ignore the inner editor. She is detrimental to self-discovery. Organized rational thought is of little consequence at this point in the writing process.

When you journal to explore your thoughts, feelings or anxieties, there is no concern for proper grammar, spelling or punctuation. Getting words on the page is the priority. After all, this writing is for your eyes only.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Journaling: M = Morning Pages

In her book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron talks about the value of "morning pages" for the creative artist in all of us.  

Cameron teaches that dumping our thoughts on the page first thing in the morning - 3 pages worth of dumping - will eventually clear the mind and make room for creative inspiration to take a foothold.

Stream of consciousness is key; do not try to make sense out of these seemingly random thoughts. The idea is to empty your mind of whatever clutter remains.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Journaling: L = Love

Love: for self and others.

Let's first discuss how to show love to self.

If you are a perfectionist like myself... self-love is a difficult concept. We are constantly finding areas in which we fall short of the mark, rather than rejoicing in our victories.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Journaling K = Kick Out the Inner Editor

The inner editor is often alive and active during journaling sessions. This is the voice in our heads that constantly offers harsh criticism. 

Sometimes that voice takes on the characteristics of an old English teacher, reprimanding incorrect spelling or misplaced commas. 

Other times the voice is another authoritative adult telling us to stop whining and simply pick up the broken pieces of our lives and move on. 

Still other voices shout that our feelings are not significant, not accurate, not worthy to be shared.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Journaling: J = Journey

For the purposes of this blogging challenge... Journey is a substitute for Travel Journaling.

I love to travel. Since the age of eight when I started French lessons and discovered the beauty of another language, I have desired to see the world.

But travel writing is far more than recounting a vacation. In his fabulous book, Globejotting,  Dave Fox talks about various times we can journal about travel: before the trip, on the trip, and post trip

Similarly, I think we can utilize these same journaling concepts when writing about our life journeys.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Journaling I = Intuition

Intuition: direct perception of truth or fact independent of any reasoning process; an immediate apprehension; a keen and quick insight.

Rabbit Trail: veering off subject or off the point of conversation.

Perhaps not exactly synonyms, but when it comes to journaling, these terms are definitely related.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Journaling: H = Healing

Journaling on a regular basis is beneficial to physical health, mental well-being, and social relationships.

Giving voice to our thoughts and emotions, rather than repressing them, reduces stress and anxiety. 

By writing down our feelings, we legitimize them, accept them as real, and begin to  deal with them in a positive, healthy way. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Journaling: G = Gratitude

Another way to ease into a journaling routine is to begin with a Gratitude Journal.

The benefits of gratitude journaling are well-documented. By focusing on the blessings of life rather than troubles and strife, we develop peace of mind, a sense of joy, and lowered blood pressure.

Some prefer to begin the day on a positive note. Focusing on thanksgiving first thing in the morning jump starts the mind to look for blessings throughout the day.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Journaling: F = Five Year Journal

The past few posts have delved into longer, more emotional journaling methods - like the Spiritual Compass and Expressive Journaling.

Today I thought I would showcase a short simple style of journaling: The Five Year Journal (also known as the line-a-day diary).

For those who worry they don't have the time for more extensive journaling, or fear they don’t have enough content to write about, I highly recommend starting with a Five Year Diary / Journal. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Journaling E = Expressive Journaling

Expressive journaling is the brainchild of Dr. James Pennebaker, Chairman of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin.

About twenty-five years ago, Dr. Pennebaker researched the connection between focused writing and corresponding health benefits. The key, he discovered, is to write about an emotional upheaval in life. Don’t just recount the facts, but delve into the personal emotions.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Journaling: D = Develop a Routine

I happen to enjoy routine. If I designate a particular time and place to a certain activity, I am more likely to develop healthy habits.

The beauty of routine is its ability to keep me on task without much thought. If you desire to journal on a regular basis, then I suggest developing a simple routine.

Of course, it will take some experimentation to find what time and place works best for you - but eventually you will find your groove.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Journaling: C = Compass


Spiritual Compass, that is.

While the Spiritual Compass is not an original idea, I have used this method of journaling for several years.

I was first introduced to the compass in 2012, when I took a weekend spiritual journaling class at the University of Iowa. The instructor, Linda Bendorf, used this concept for an afternoon of self-discovery.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Journaling: B is for Brainstorming

The greatest hindrance I hear to starting a journaling habit is not knowing what to write.

Flannery O’Conner once penned: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” 

I don’t think the problem is as much we don’t what to write, but we don’t know how to access it.

Brainstorming is a great way to access those hidden topics. 

Brainstorming allows the ideas to flow without the inner critic’s interference. Forget about writing complete sentences with perfect grammar and flawless handwriting. All that matters is putting words on a page.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Journaling: A = A List of Supplies

Welcome to the first post of the A-Z Blogging Challenge!

My theme this year is Journaling A-Z ... and I feel as though I am already cheating with the title of this first article.

However, I thought reviewing supplies at the beginning of the month was essential to those who are interested in starting a Journaling routine.

One note before we begin: This blog series is based on my newest book, Journaling towards Wholeness, due to be released mid-May, 2017. If interested, please stay tuned for further details.

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