My Journaling Life (Part 1)

Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.

I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….

Righting My Life

Words saved my life. 

Writing righted my life. 

And now I don’t want to stop. 

I know that I will never stop writing. My journal is where I can lay my burden down, my journal is where I can explore how I feel, where my fears are coming from.

My journal is the garden where I plant my seeds of ideas, my seeds of who I want to become.

My journal is where I do serious work and it is where I frolic and play!

So, what exactly is a journal?

A journal is your story, your history, your present moment. 

It’s a gateway into who you really are and how you really feel. 

It’s a place to play and a place to get down to some serious work. 

Keeping a journal, whether you do it every day, once a week, or only in moments of strong emotions, (whether they are good or bad), can be so many of these things, and it can be so much more. 

Keeping a journal is meditation, it’s a place where you can open up a dialogue with your inner self, or your inner child, or your inner crazy-person-who-just-needs-to-rant!! (She shows up in my pages quite a lot!)

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For me, keeping a journal has always been my link to myself, a place where I can be my true self, and a space for me to explore what I might become. 

Journal writing is also sometimes called “expressive writing” and it is creativity in action, and it is always good for you. 

Mental Well-Being

Expressive writing has many well documented emotional and physical health benefits, and keeping a journal is recommended by psychologists and therapists, as well as by all of us who have ever used journaling to help us through difficult times.

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As Ruth Ozeki, author and Zen Buddhist priest says …

For me, writing is a way of thinking. I write in a journal a lot. I’m a very impatient person, so writing and meditation allow me to slow down and watch my mind; they are containers that keep me in place, hold me still.

Why did I start journaling?

A long time ago, when I was in a pretty dark place, when I quite literally couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel … a toxic relationship, inferiority complex, self-esteem beaten out of me … one of the most confident and self-assured women I had ever met gave me a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and said to me, “I think you need this!”. 

If you don’t know the Artists Way, it’s a creative recovery self-help book; lots of tasks and reading around becoming the creative person you want to be, that you’re meant to be. And I felt as if it had been written just especially for me. Never was a gift more perfectly timed.

The main tool in what Ms. Cameron calls her “spiritual path to higher creativity” was a thing called Morning Pages … three pages of stream of consciousness writing every morning … basically – keeping a journal. 

You show up at that blank every morning, and you write …. Three whole pages … stream of consciousness freewriting … whatever comes into your head … I know! Scary, right?!

Life Changing

It changed my life. I don’t mean “it made me feel a bit better”, or “it made me feel more positive” … I mean, IT TOTALLY CHANGED MY WHOLE LIFE!!!

Keeping a journal CAN do that. 

I really do mean it when I say that it totally changed my life, this is not hyperbole! 

By about week five, I had admitted to myself that I had ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.

By week seven, I’d written my first poem. 

By week ten, I had enrolled in a local creative writing group!

And I mean LIFE Changing!

The poetry, the creative writing, owning the truth that I had always wanted to be a writer … that’s just how it changed my “creative” life! 

Journaling also allowed me to delve deep into my own psyche, to begin to face my darkest thoughts, to accept my feelings and ultimately to accept myself. (But that’s a whole other story, for another day!!).

Writing allowed me to right my life!

And writing set me free.

Keeping a journal is so good for your mental well-being. It’s a place where you can safely explore feelings, where you can say anything, where you can work things out.

And it’s yours, it’s all yours. You don’t ever have to share the words with anyone else, if you don’t want to. 

You get to write down and look at all those thoughts that are going round in your head, and gain some perspective on them.

I know that, for me, if I put the words on the page, it’s like putting some of the burden down. 

Moments of Epiphany

Sometimes, I find words flowing across the blank page that I don’t recognise as my own. 

There are moments of epiphany, when I literally sit back and think, “Shit, I did NOT know that’s how I felt!”. 

And when that happens, I feel lighter, I feel more at ease, because I’ve named it, that heavy darkness, that’s been weighing me down.

I’ve named it and released it for a while, and I can sigh, stand a little taller and take the next step.

Begin with Gratitude

Sometimes people find it hard to start writing, they feel as if a gazillion thoughts are running around in their head, and they don’t know where to start, how to grab that elusive loose thread that will unravel them all.

My advice? Start with gratitude! 

Start by writing, “I am grateful for ….” And fill in the blank. Do this five times. Once you’re firmly in that place of gratitude, you might just find that your writing will flow. 

And if the words don’t come, write another five things you’re grateful for!! Just doing that is enough, just doing that will set you up for the day with a smile on your face!

The Scary Blank Page

And if you’re scared, because you don’t know what you’re going to fill the blank pages with … just pick up the pen and start writing, even if all you can think of is … “I don’t know what to write” … just keep writing. The words WILL come.

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As Julia Cameron says, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

For me, after more than two decades of journal writing, to sit down at the blank page is such a joy. I use the journals that I create myself, because I love the feel of my nice pen flowing across the soft cartridge paper.

For me, the blank page is no longer scary, it’s an invitation. An invitation to be with myself, to check in on how I am doing.

Don’t be Scared … You’re Safe Here

I really do believe that keeping a journal, writing down your thoughts, writing down your dreams and aspirations, can be immensely helpful on so many levels.

You get focused. You get insight into yourself.   You get clear.

Journaling is such a good way for me to “dive beneath the surface” of my own troubled waters. 

Journaling has saved my life on more than one occasion. 

I know that I would never have been able to break free of bad situations in the past, if I hadn’t had this inner dialogue with my own true self, if I hadn’t had the safe space of my private conversation with myself, to say how I really felt.

It Ain’t All Doom and Gloom in Journal Land!

I don’t want you to think that I only use my journal to wrestle with my inner demons! Oh no! It is so much more than that!

My journal becomes the springboard of new ideas, the fertile soil of creativity. 

I never knew that I could write poetry until that first one flowed from my pen to the blank page. 

And although I do not feel brave enough to always share my words, they mean something to me, and each one is a balm of healing on a sore place in my being. 

They bring me to my calm centre and give me the perspective I need to face the day with gratitude.

My Idea Generation Station

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My Idea Generation Station … that’s what my journal is.

I do my blue sky thinking there. 

For creative women, for businesswomen, for any woman, this is an amazing tool to have in your Self Care Toolkit. 

It’s a place where you can cheer yourself on with your affirmations. You have no idea how good it feels to write the words, I AM ENOUGH! 

For me, it’s so much more natural, easier, more authentic, to write these words in my journal than to say them out loud.

But my journal is more than that … I come up with ideas … for products, for Social Media posts, for Blogs (I wrote this particular blog in there!).

The Aha Place

My journal is the safe and private place where I can give birth to and nurture the vision of what I want to be and do.

Because when my pen starts gliding across the page, then the ideas just come. Thoughts come that I didn’t even know I had.

I’ve had some of my … NO, let me re-phrase that, I’ve had ALL of my big “Aha” moments, my epiphanies, my “holey-moley” moments, in the pages of my journal. 

And I so want to share that with other women. I want to encourage you to pick up your pen, grab your notebook and get writing!!!

If you would like to share your journaling journey, please come and join my Journaling Facebook Group Women Who Wonder … A Journaling Journey … I’d love to see you there!

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