How journaling keeps me steady
If you don't have anyone to be vulnerable with, you can turn to another source to give perspective; a journal.
I started to think about how "journaling has kept me steady and is a piece of my history" (to borrow that phrase from my friend Morgan). Journaling to me is similar to how Dumbledore in Harry Potter uses the pensieve. I have tons of ideas, thoughts, and feelings racing throughout my body and mind. Taking the thoughts out of my head and placing them on paper ends up being soothing; giving me the freedom to focus.
A few days ago was my first peer-to-peer mentoring group meeting since COVID-19 escalated and during that virtual conversation, my sister asked for everyone to share how they felt and to not give the automatic "good, how are you?," but to state our true feelings. What I shared with the group was that I was feeling like I was stepping into my power and talents, but at the same time having a low hum of anxiety persist daily as a tightness in my chest. Usually, statements like that live in my journal, but in that moment, we all were vulnerable about our feelings about our new reality.
I've decided to share with you how I use my journal in hopes that if you don't have anyone to be vulnerable with, you can turn to another source to give you perspective.
Journaling can seem overwhelming or a chore, but I think it is a flexible method of thought collection. It's best to adapt it to your lifestyle. For example, you might only journal a few times a year, or daily, or multiple times a day. You might write, draw, vlog, audiorecord, or do a combination.
The way I use my journal has evolved over time, but there are some aspects that stay consistent. I write in notebooks, they range from Mead black and white notebooks to notebooks from HomeGoods. I follow the Artist's Way method of three handwritten pages every morning. It's freeform and just a stream of thought. I jump from topic to topic sometimes even within the same sentence. Sometimes, I look back at things I wrote and it makes no sense or makes sense if I read between the lines. I also write what I call evening pages, one page reflections of my day. Mostly, my journal is a conversation between myself. I ask myself questions. I argue with myself. I pump myself up. I sketch out ideas. I just let it all out.
This week, as I thought about how my journal helps me to "stay steady," I decided to share with you some of the templates I have used over the years. I attached photos of different journal entries that I wrote between 2016 and 2019 (By the way, you might notice some of my pages don't have years, I write the year on the spine of the journal, so I don't have to write it in every entry). I shared below five examples of evening pages and one example of a morning page (just one page out of three). I created a PDF with the templates. You can download it and print it out or just look at my images and copy them in your own notebook.
How are you? (and not the usual good). How are you really? If you ever want to chat, let me know and we can set up a time to video or audio chat.
We are in this together,
Review + Doodle: I split the page into two columns, with one column split further into two. In one column, I give a brief overview of what I did that day, then I write three things that worked (that I did "right") and three things that didn't work (that I did "wrong"), and then I write three things I'm grateful for. In the other column (the one I split in half), I write out the three main things I am focused on and then rank them. I then list out all the routines I want to stick to and I check off if I did it. I then doodle in the other half of the column.
Values + Reflection: I list out my values and then I write if I used it that day, and if I did, I write out a short explanation or phrase of how I used that value. If I didn't use the value, I leave it blank. This is my most used template, it ensures I stay aligned with my moral compass. I then write at the bottom of the page anything someone said to me that made me pause.
Three Things + Doodle: I write three things that brought me joy, three things that worked, and three things that didn't work. I then list out my goals for the next day. Finally I end with a doodle.
Reflect + Doodle: I write out what I did that day and what I am thinking about. I then doodle and might share a reflection about the doodle (what feeling I had while drawing).
Zen Doodle: I take the page and I split it into four. In each quadrant, I doodle.
Morning Pages: I write in the morning for about 20 minutes or three handwritten pages (one page front/back and another page front) which ever comes first. On average I write for 15-20 minutes. I just write a stream of thought, no filter.
I shared a few months ago that I use music to ground me. I also use guided meditations and affirmations as a way to remind myself of my power and blessings. This week I made a playlist called "Affirming Self". Take a listen; I hope this playlist helps you relax and remember your blessings during this pandemic.