My Love Affair with Journaling
by Donna Soluri
I’ve been reading and writing since before I was altogether able to read and write. It’s embedded in my DNA. I’m confident I’m dating myself when I tell you how excited I was as a very little girl when the door to door encyclopedia salesman came by. We purchased our first set of books. There are pictures of me, still in diapers, dragging those books around, building forts, and falling asleep with open books as a pillow. My mom encouraged that behavior and fed it even more by buying me notebooks and journals to write my own books. I took that task to heart and feverishly penned tomes of complete gibberish every single day on those blank pages. When I grew older, and my ability to piece together words and complete sentences kicked in, the sky was the limit. My mother probably regretted starting this journaling trend so early. I can not imagine the money she sunk into my notebook fetish, but she never let on, and I never ran out of spaces to write my thoughts. When I say I’ve always kept a journal, that is not hyperbole!
As I grew, my journaling topics of interest naturally changed and matured. Teenage angst, loves lost, unrequited love, gossip, detailed book reviews, you name it, I wrote about it in my own private space, usually locked away with one of those flimsy gold-toned lock and key contraptions. When I became a mother, I chronicled all of the firsts, well, for the first child, at least. My poor second child will have to rely on word of mouth to learn about her firsts; poor second children, always neglected in history! Back in January, I discovered a new way to journal in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This book is touted as “a spiritual path to higher creativity”, but for me, it was a way to organize my brain and focus on my day.
“When I say I’ve always kept a journal, that is not hyperbole! “
We all take what we need from books. My big take away was to spend time each morning and, before the chaos of the day begins, before checking my phone and doom scrolling through social media, I write. I write my “Morning Pages” after I feed the cat while drinking my coffee, no interruptions, no real prompt, honestly, no planned direction, I just write. Three pages. It usually starts as a stream of consciousness. I describe the weather or what I see out my window, and before I know it, my brain kicks in. By the time I finish, things I didn’t realize needed getting off my chest fly through my hand onto the page, freeing up my mind for the rest of the day. It’s the simplest thing, and it has made such an impact on my life. Three pages, that’s your goal. Sometimes I might only get one, sometimes I can write five pages on an exhale. Three is the goal, but I’m kind to myself on either side of it. Part gratitude journal, part therapist, part listmaker/to-do list, my Morning Pages are my lifeline. They are my way of ensuring my day starts off right each and every morning. 2020 has been a year filled with crap, but I know each and every day I’m going to have at least thirty minutes of good. Of course, The Artist’s Way is a lot deeper and more complex than just journaling for three pages each morning, but, and I say this with my whole heart, if that’s all you get out of the book, then you’re doing alright. Adopting that simple change, that luxury I give myself each day has literally changed my life.
Also, let’s take a moment to talk about that office supply fetish I mentioned earlier! Of course, selecting a journal is a very personal thing. You can go small, like this one, go big, go fancy, or just use a notepad, there are no judgments in journaling. I personally use a pretty colorful 8.5×11 size. I’m currently on my fourth one this year! I realize three letter-sized pages is a lot to ask, especially if you’re new to journaling. Try this smaller yet still pretty one (pictured above); it’s even called Autumn Moon, which is timely, no? As for pens, I love this pack of colorful, fine point Staedtlers. They dry fast without any smearing or smudging. I like selecting a new color every day to reflect my mood. My journals end up looking like a rainbow of thoughts; it’s wildly satisfying.
“2020 has been a year filled with crap, but I know each and every day I’m going to have at least thirty minutes of good.”
For almost my entire life, I’ve used nighttime as my time to journal about my day, speaking in the past tense, listing off accomplishments, looking back, not forward. This shift to morning journaling seemed decadent at first and was a conscious decision I had to make each morning. It wasn’t an easy mind shift for me, but it has made all the difference. There were times early on where it felt like yet another chore I needed to do, but now I’ve settled into a pattern, and I need my journaling time almost as much as I need that morning cup of coffee to kickstart my brain. I hope you’ll give it a try, and I’d love to hear how it works for you.
Donna should be an empty nester, but she’s not, thanks COVID-19. She’s a voracious reader of all books; she can’t pick just one sub-genre. A staunch supporter of seasoned romance and a lover of cupcakes, you’ll often find her with a cup of tea and a mountainous TBR pile close at hand. Follow her @DonnaSoluri on B+M Bites.
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