This Life: Journaling

Life changes. Some changes are big and significant, some are small and not-so-significant, but many more are less easily defined as “big” or “small.” I find that many of the changes in my life that have affected me most significantly do so in a way that is often mysterious. I often don’t see the change that is coming, both in myself and the effects that the change has on the day-to-day minutia. For me, if I don’t find a way to slow down, reflect, ponder, obsess, analyze, and just think on the things that are transpiring in my life I often feel left behind in my own life, like things are happening to me rather than with me.

My tool for slowing down, for the better part of my life, has been journaling. I started my first journal when I was 6 or 7 and I’ve kept one, on and off, since then. I think part of my connection to journaling stems from my love of the written word. (Way back in the day, long before I contemplated having a handmade jewelry business, I wanted to be a fiction writer.) Journaling allows me to pick something apart as much or as little as I like. I often come to realizations I didn’t see coming, through my writing.

The author Ann Patchett, in an interview I heard on one NPR show or another, once said that for her, if she doesn’t write it down it’s sort of like it didn’t happen. (I’m paraphrasing here of course.) She is a renowned fiction writer, but in that comment she was referring to keeping a journal. There is a part of me that resonates with that statement. I feel more whole and more alive when I am pausing to write about and reflect on what is happening in my life.

A few years ago I went through a period where I rarely wrote in my journal. Nothing tragic was happening, in fact, lots of good stuff was happening, life just sort of swept me along and I stopped taking those pauses to write, breathe and reflect. Over the course of the last year I’ve found my way back to journaling, granted not as often as I once did, but I’ve developed a habit of sweeping all other obligations aside when I feel that urge to just sit down and write. 

Besides the HUGE benefit of slowing down and reflecting that writing gives me, there is another benefit though, one that has slowly revealed itself to me over the years, and it’s simply this: I can’t lie to myself as readily. That’s the indirect benefit that comes from my taking the time to journal. I find that I must be more honest with myself about all aspects of my life when I’m taking the time to stop and reflect. This might sound strange, but I can be the QUEEN of lying to myself. Life gets busy, I get in my “go, go, go” mode and I kind of stop really being mindful about how I’m feeling. Journaling makes me stop and see all the sparkly little facets of life. 

If you like, share a little bit in the comments about what you like to do that helps you slow down and reflect. I know everyone has their own thing, and I always love to hear what others do that help them “show up” for their own life more fully and completely.