Insights from 350 days of journaling

I’ve been an on-and-off journal-writer since I was an adolescent. I knew there was something I liked about the process and idea of it, yet I didn’t have an understanding of how to build a habit (or why to build a habit) so I started, sputtered, stopped, and re-started, over and over again.

(I also had a TREMENDOUS fear of being honest on paper, and then being humiliated by someone else finding it, reading it, sharing it, laughing at me, or whatever. I’ll tell you where that fear came from another time. Stay tuned.)

About five years ago, I made the transition into more purposeful writing, which had a whole lot to do with joining Keller Williams, taking BOLD, and getting a coach. Everywhere I looked people were writing daily gratitude, writing affirmations, writing what they did well, and what they learned, on a daily basis. So I began to do that too.

In the beginning of 2019 I read the book The Artist’s Way, and decided to make another change.

The author’s model for journaling is called “morning pages” and I had heard about this on the Tim Ferriss show. Morning pages consist of writing stream-of-consciousness, three full (hand-written) pages every morning.

Every single morning.

And I thought to myself: why not?

I wrote my first morning pages on January 11, 2019, and 1050 pages later, the year was over.

I wrote 350 days in 2019.

I have realized many benefits from this process over the last year, and one that I didn’t expect was that I get a record of SO MANY THINGS that happened over the course of the year.

Is it all interesting?

Not at all.

Some if it is so mundane it’s embarrassing.

And yet also useful. Things I would otherwise never remember (like what was I reading in March and how did it strike me, or the fact that I had a canker sore in July which apparently was REALLY ANNOYING.)

Perhaps the most powerful benefit I can see from this process so far is that by writing every single day – about whatever – little things, big things, always my feelings, things I want, things I’m challenged by, I get to see the patterns.

Certain things come up over and over again.

When we live inside our heads, it can be very difficult to see the patterns. When we write it all down, the patterns become technicolor.

I had this idea last week that I was going to re-read all of the journals from 2019 before the turn of the year, and then post a neat little summary of the things I learned in 2019.

What I realized is that reading 1050 hand-written pages, (many of which are agonizingly redundant, and others of which are powerfully emotional) all while taking notes and organizing themes, was not going to happen in the six hours that ended up allocating for it between December 30th & 31st.

So, I’m only about half-way through.

Nevertheless, as I took notes on the first few months, I decided it would be worthwhile to share a peek at the top ten lines which struck me.

Some of these might be too personal to make sense to anyone but me, and yet I suppose I don’t know that until or unless I share them. (And if you have questions about what any of these mean, connect with me on Facebook to ask!)

So here are the top 10 journal lines from the first six months of 2019 which struck me:

Journaling helps me make sense of thoughts and feelings, as well as get calm, and clarify who I am and what I want in my life.

Decision-making is affected when tension is high.

Remember that more practice leads to more skill.

When stumped or challenged, one question to ask is: “What are the resources that are available to me on this subject?”

The art comes from God, the artist is the vessel. Art is birthed, like a child. Keep ego and ownership out of it. (Both with your art and with your children.)

Regarding storytelling: The reader/listener is a passenger that we bring along with us on a journey, and we need to think about their comfort and experience.

I’m realizing that even though the stickiest problems tend to be people problems, it’s not actually the people themselves who are the problems. It is our unrealistic expectations of them. Wanting people to be a certain way and then getting upset with them when they are not is foolish.

When we focus on someone else’s behavior, we are in victim mode. When we set boundaries and ask for what we want, we are being proactive and positive.

On the pains and challenges of 2019: The food of my life has been liberally salted and it tastes wonderful.*

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. (Wabi Sabi)

Happy New Year!

 

*This concept of poignancy comes from Daniel Pink’s book When, which I highly recommend.

 

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