I’ve been interested in journal writing since I was in my late teens because of its free expression, its help as a place to vent and get thoughts and feelings out of my head and on to the paper. Journal writing helps me contemplate my life, my mind, and my creativity.
I took Mari’s course, “Start Journaling for the Health of It Write Now!” to help expand my journal writing toolkit and to use the exercises to find new perspectives and ideas to keep my writing fresh. Beginner’s Guides, or starting guides help me, a seasoned journal writer, look at old things, old ways of thinking, and old ways of being in a new way. I love the freshness they bring to my old writing habit.
By writing through the exercises in the course I certainly got some new perspectives – looking at old habits and listing the lessons I’ve learned from prior successes. Contemplating these successes has helped me create new good habits for the future. By seeing how I have overcome obstacles and challenges in the past, I feel more confident that I can meet the obstacles and challenges that now face me. I went from a couch potato to a half marathon runner, to a consistent member of a local gym, to name one accomplishment I’m proud of.
One particularly important chapter in the course asks you to consider if documentary film makers were to create a highlight reel for the film of your life. Too often in my own head I only play the blooper reel or the scenes I’d rather have deleted. This chapter helped me focus on the positive things – challenges overcome, and goals met.
Through Mari’s course I learned that I am a creature of habit (both good and bad) and a creature of routine. One of the exercises asks you to look ahead to where you will be in one, five, and ten years (the dreaded interview question!). For each time frame I found I was writing that I was doing basically the same things, feeling the same, and going through the same motions. I answered the chapter a second time, adding consideration if I took one of the habits, one of the goals Mari helped me define in the course. Looking at just that one goal (reducing my added sugar intake) I could see big changes as I looked forward that one, five, and ten years again. I was thinner, more aware, more energetic when I looked forward this time.
I was surprised how my life could change with just that one, consistent change. I imagined then how my life would change if I added other changes and habits. One step at a time.
The course made me consider goals in a new way. I’m used to the “SMART” goal setting that, to be honest, I’ve struggled with in the past. Mari’s idea of doing one small thing every day to help advance toward the goal helped me believe that I could conquer the bigger goal.
At the end of Mari’s course, she asks the journal writer to write a letter to yourself, a letter of encouragement as you start your next chapter. Despite my history of journal writing, this exercise terrified me. A letter to myself? I began to write. What surprised me was that the letter didn’t contain a whole lot of what I’d considered directly in the course. My daughter’s words of encouragement, “You got this, Dad,” appeared. Affirmations giving me permission to feel the feelings I feel, to believe that I am important to my friends and family appeared. Be brave, I told myself. Ask. Always ask. And of course, love and be kind.
I’ve got this!