Journaling: Self-care, week 14


Journaling is good for the soul. It is just between you, God and the paper you write on. It gets junk out of your mind that really can’t, or shouldn’t, be said out loud. You can rant and be angry or even rage, without killing someone with your words. You can make it a diary, sharing your secret crushes, deepest dreams and worst nightmares. You can write love letters or poetry and never worry that some self-appointed poetry critic will make fun of you.

Your journal can be your therapist. Most of us really know- deep down- what we need to do in “those” situations. If a friend told us what we’re telling the paper, we’d pray, we’d hug her and comfort her and then give her some really sound advice. I can’t tell you how many times I raged and fussed and complained on one page. Then, on the next page was able to see how I was thinking wrong, or feeling hurt, or being unforgiving. And once I saw the true problem, was able to work my way to a place of peace and acceptance or perhaps calm down enough to¬† see a plan.

At times, I simply want to remember beautiful works spoken by someone- or even by me! Maybe I want to remember a funny meme or a heartfelt quote. I’ve journaled ideas and dreams and notes from webinars.

I suppose there is someone out there who has come up with “Rules for Journaling”, but, if you see ’em, don’t pay attention! The beauty of journaling is that there are NO rules. You make up your rules and you are free to change them at will.

I’ve journaled Bible verses that speak to a situation I’m concerned about, then all of sudden, insight and inspiration will come and I find myself writing and writing. When I look back at it, I ask myself where all that wisdom, beauty, or understanding came from. I often preach to myself on the page.

Nothing ever has to be shared with another soul- if I don’t want to. Or I can turn what I write into a blog, article or even a book- if I want to.

Journaling helps you become aware of what you’re thinking. Writing gets those swirling thoughts out of the confines of your head and onto the cold white page, where you can SEE them. You can organize them. You can question them and see if they’re telling you the truth.

I had a long start-up to journaling. I’d write a few pages, maybe for as long as 6 months at the time. Then I’d get busy or discouraged and give it up. Or at times, re-living a particular event would be so real and raw, I’d get angry again and I’ve been know to jab my pen into the page… Well, pages, really, because the pen will pierce though several pages when the force of rage is applied. And so I’d give up again. Because, well, nice ladies who journal surely never have such a violent response to bad events. Right?

But over the years, in spite of about 10 journals begun and abandoned, I’ve become a journal-er. And I miss it when I don’t do it. My journal is a good friend. (No, I don’t name it.) I’ve had small ones and big ones. College Comps and gorgeous embossed ones. I’ve discovered my preference- spiral bound, notebook size. Add a closure and I’m in journal heaven. I still write on any handy scrap or Post-It note when I’m inspired and the journal isn’t nearby. I re-write all those scraps into the journal. I also tape whole pages in rather than re-write it. Is that being lazy or smart?

Getting Started:

* I’m a big fan of small. Start small. Don’t buy the biggest journal at Ross (even though the price is so very good!). Buy a small blank book. Even the old faithful College Composition book now comes in pretty colors and is a great choice for your beginnings. You don’t want to feel intimidated by the book. If it’s so extravagantly gorgeous, you might feel you’re responsible for writing your own War and Peace. Get some with something with some humility, something that doesn’t try to boss you around. The College Comp book friendly and already well-known to most of us. Your humble beginnings will thank you for a humble page to start your journey. And a journey it is- whether it’s a beautiful quote or grocery lists. Whether it’s rages or poetry- it’s your journey. As you move more regularly and confidently in the journey, you might want to move into something a little nicer. But perhaps, you’ll find you enjoy the undemanding College Comp book. Or just maybe, you’ll find the beautiful ones less intimidating because your own confident beauty has grown.

* Start small. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write whatever pops into your head. Write a list. Tell the paper how you feel about the weather. Ask yourself a question: What do I need? What’s my next step? Write a quote. Write a sentence.

* Don’t worry about grammar or even spelling. If you can read it, it’s fine!

*If you’re just beginning, don’t plan to write everyday- even twice a week is a good place to start.

*Keep it tucked out of sight. Protect your privacy!

*Don’t forget to date your page. Believe me, at some point, you’ll want to know when your wrote that!

*And don’t worry about your handwriting. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. Just your own regular hen-scratch is fine. Beside, as you continue to write, you might find your handwriting is improving. An added benefit.

And there ARE benefits to journaling. I have a whole list of them. Let me know if you’re interested in what scientists have found out about journaling. I don’t want to devote another 1000 words to all that right now. A blog is “supposed” to be about 800 words. (Who made that rule, anyway?). I’m already well over that limit!

Are you thinking of adding Journaling to your Self-Care Toolbox? It takes some effort, but it’s well worth it! I hope you’ll give yourself the gift of journaling.

So, please tell us, do you journal? How does it help you?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share!

God bless you!


My Word for the Year

Here it is. The end of January. I tend to think of the end of January as the as the End of the Beginning. So, it’s time to move into 2019.

I’ve left all my thank you notes, all my New Year’s greetings until now. Bad on me. I really DO appreciate the gifts and I really DO want certain people to know that I remember them and wish them blessings. Maybe I’ll send Valentines. (Self-care tool: put it off! LOL!)

Rather than putting off, I’ve deliberately left choosing my Word for the Year until now.

I’m not usually so OCD about choosing a Word for the Year but I’m feeling a need to “get it right’ because I’m feeling the need for major change. Now I KNOW I can’t make a major (or even a big) change in one year, one leap. However, I’m feeling this year is pivotal somehow. Besides, I’m not getting any younger and I no longer feel I have the luxury of time. Of course, no one really does because no one knows what might happen in the next moment. But age tends to accentuate the need to make the most of time in general.

Last year’s Word was HOPE. A very good word and something I felt I needed to “work” on. “Work” isn’t really the right thing to call it. “Working” on a Word for the Year is more like reminding myself of it, intentionally looking for it, checking to see if my thoughts and speech line up with it. It was a good Word and I feel like it served me well, helping me BE more hopeful and becoming much better acquainted with it. Hope has become a friend I understand and love, not just a nebulous idea. I can’t say I thought about it everyday but I did come back to it over the course of the year. Re-visiting it, checking in with it. There were times I fought it. Other times I simply embraced it. And in the process of all that, it became real, with a real place in my heart of hearts.

I began thinking about my new Word toward the end of December… continued mulling into the first week of January. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time deciding on a Word this year. It’s just a Word. I CAN change it at any moment. I’m not chiseling it in stone, after all!

Thankfully, I read an article¬† that suggested, among other things, that we take the month of January to try words on, let them simmer and then settle on the Word at the end of the month… begin using the Word as your guide in February. Great advice! (see end notes and read that article. It’s really good!)

As I was having so much trouble find the right Word, I took a couple of online “quizzes”. I put very little stock in those quizzes, but it was kind of fun and, oops, kind of eye-opening. Still. Those words didn’t fit well. I also did an Art Journaling Challenge with Matt Tommey (see end notes). While I didn’t follow the challenge totally (don’t tell Matt), it did help and I filled several pages with words and stars, arrows, happy faces and sad faces, colors and shapes. As I wrote or read or heard podcasts and sermons, certain words would stand out and I’d star them, write them, research them and let them simmer.

A word that kept finding its what to my paper is “possible”. A really good word and one I need to start believing more. “Nothing is impossible with God”. “All things are possible for those who believe”. Although it’s not exactly what I need, it would be a good choice.

“Risk” is another word that kept showing up when I meditated on how to proceed. Risk is not a word I would associate with myself. I’m generally not a risk-taker, don’t like risky situations because I manage to see danger in anything. But risk is something I need! I need to risk belief, to risk putting my art and craft out there, to risk being vulnerable. “Risk” is a word I need in my life. I could (and might) do an entire blog on risk. But that’s not the “right” word, either. Not right now.

I won’t list all the words I considered while brainstorming. I LOVE words, so you can imagine there are many scattered in journals and notes and scrappies scattered everywhere. It got to the point where I felt like I was in a windstorm of words, all swirling around me, hitting me, telling me how much I need each of them. Just reading back over my lists, I start to feel that overwhelm again.

I started in December with the word “abide”. It’s a great word. It refers to a dwelling place. As a verb, it means to remain, continue; stay. Good stuff! Abide can mean to tolerate, put up with; stand firm. Also, to endure, sustain or withstand without yielding or submitting; to wait for. It suggests a determination to stay in agreement with a thing. It showed up on my lists many times.

I have to laugh at myself. Even writing this, having decided and lived with my word, I’m waffling a bit.

But here it is: ABIDE.

I want to ABIDE in God’s Word. I want to ABIDE in the Love of God and share it; abide in love and kindness, grace and mercy. I want to ABIDE in the wisdom He has put within me. I want to ABIDE in painting and writing and sharing creativity whenever and wherever I can. Mostly ABIDE, to me, speaks of peace. It says I’ve already made up my mind and set my heart to calmly rest in what I know to be true. It says I can peacefully focus on what is set before me. It also means I can peacefully consider new ideas.

Now I’m going to make signs (sticky notes!!) for myself and put them around the house to remind me to stop and abide in peace.

I have a long way to go toward abiding. But I will abide in the trustworthy grace of God to move me closer and closer throughout the year.

Thanks for reading all this. I know it’s long. I appreciate your sticking with me.

Please, share your word or goal and how you came to choose it! I truly am interested!

Many blessings!


End notes:

“Instead of Making Resolutions, Dream”, by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review, 1/1/13,

Matt Tommey. He is also on Facebook and Instagram. Check him out!!

Definitions from