I'm having a love affair.
It's true. I've been in love with my journal for as long as I can remember. It has been a witness to nearly every sentinel event of my life. From times of great joy to periods of deep grief, my journal has been my constant companion and closest confidant. Journaling is my go to self-care move, a way to process what I experience and how I feel. As Joan Didion says, “I don't know what I think until I write it down.”
Journaling is essentially keeping a diary. But, I like to go beyond merely chronicling where I went, who I met and what I ate (although having a record of things is nice). I use my journal as a memory keeper, a home for stories. I write about my triumphs, my struggles, my thoughts, my emotions, my hopes, my dreams, my past, my present, even my future.
In short, I write about everything.
I believe journaling is one of the best (and simplest) ways to practice self-care. There is something healing about taking whatever is thrashing around inside of your head and dumping it onto paper; it cuts through the mental clutter, quieting your inner voices and reducing anxiety. Journaling literally takes worry away from you and deposits it outside of yourself.
It is also an opportunity for creative expression. My journal is filled with color. I like to sketch and mess around with watercolors. Let me very clear: I know I am a mediocre artist. I don't care because that's not the point. Expressing myself and making art make me happy. And I love saving mementos. I tape in pieces of ephemera - cards I receive, ticket stubs, photos, notes, quotes. A journal is the perfect repository for life's little treasures.
My journal has 'eyes only' security clearance, meaning nobody better be reading it except this girl. Journaling is meant to be private. What I write is free form, stream of consciousness and spontaneous. Sometimes it's rambling, other times I write pages dissecting dreams and ideas to the core. I am completely open. Unedited. Uncut. Uncensored. Raw. Messy.
I know. It's fucking scary.
This type of journaling requires a vulnerability that is absolute and an honesty that is unflinching. I record things in my journal that I don't even tell my therapist. That's how I access my voice and my inner wisdom. It also requires trust. You have to know that the people in your life aren't going to read it (someone who really loves you would never, never invade your privacy). My husband has never been privy to the secrets of my journals...but he does have express instructions to burn them in a really moving and sacred ceremony - something involving prayer and song, a drum circle and maybe, chanting. But, he'll probably just torch 'em in the grill. Which is fine because my husband totally loves to grill.
Ultimately, you can go as deep as you want in your journal. Or as superficial. It's yours. There is no wrong answer. But I think the benefits you get from journaling grow in direct proportion to the depth of exploration contained within its covers. In other words, you get out of it what you put into it.
“A good journal entry- like a good song, or sketch, or photograph- ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.” ~ Anthony Doerr
Want to know the best way to begin keeping a journal?
What are some of your favorite journal prompts?
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