Day 5: Your Journal Loves You (When No One Else Does)

Leaf, not feather

Day 5: We’ve completed the first five days. I don’t post on Saturday, although it will count as Day 6. Next week, I’ll check in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday I’ll blog on other topics–one of those times more detail about choosing a word for 2012.

I’ll also leave a journal prompt each day directly at the top of the blog. You can continue to leave a comments, tips, and experiences. I’ll still highlight wisdom.

Wisdom from the Comments:
Arlene was brave enough to admit, “What I discovered about myself is if I don’t do something right away, I can procrastinate really well the rest of the day. . . . In the past I have simply “not thought about it”, thinking that by just ignoring it the feelings would go away. That obviously has not worked. This time it will be different.

Marjorie touched a deep spot when she sat down to write: “I didn’t sleep much last night. I’ve experienced this before when I’ve begun something that is likely to make deep (and often difficult) changes. I wasn’t stressed, just fully awake and relaxed and a tiny bit scared.”

That’s why you are writing with community, Marjorie. You weren’t alone last night. We are all a little bit scared of our creativity, of change.

*     *     *     *
Alone with your journal, you can tell your story. The glory of writing yourself whole (thanks, Kelly Davies, for that brilliant concept), is that your journal never ignores you, demeans you, or tries to fix you. It lets you be whoever you need to be. But here’s the odd part: we often don’t let ourselves be the one we need to be to dig into the creativity warming our souls.

We lie to ourselves. Yes, we do. A more polite name for it is rationalization. We make ourselves seem blameless, helpful, victimized. Because we don’t want to be abandoned, hurt, blamed. But your journal doesn’t blame or abandon. Your journal is ready for you, whoever you are. There’s a reason we write, “Dear Diary.” We ache to have a conversation with someone who will love us, no matter what we’ve done. And it’s your journal.

If you are a Seeker, your journal may even stand in as the divine. Then what you are experiencing in journaling is prayer. That switch is what makes journaling different from morning pages for me. If I’m in prayer when I’m writing, I’m talking to a source that loves me, that makes me worthy of love, of help, of creating. Again, I’m very leery of religion, and what I’m doing is not a religious act, it is an act of trust. A trust that I can access my creativity and trust it.

If religion makes you nervous, try writing this sentence in your journal: “I am ready to move ahead, and I am worthy of help and love.” If the word “worthy” made you queasy, you can go ahead and smile. There’s still work ahead, but your journal will always love you, and you will always be worthy there.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is exploring creativity with a group of journalers.

21 thoughts on “Day 5: Your Journal Loves You (When No One Else Does)

  1. I had an amazing experience yesterday (Saturday) when I wrote That I wanted to share about. I had written Quinn’s affirmation about worthiness and being ready to move on in my journal where I’m doing my writing the night before, thinking it might be a good springboard for my writing in the morning. When I opened my book again there it was. I wrote for a couple of pages, but nothing really earth-shattering came from it at first.

    Then I decided to do a short sitting meditation to quiet my mind. That’s when the proverbial lightening bolt hit me. I have struggled with my own worthiness most of my life, so that part certainly struck a chord in me. However, what really stood out was that I have just had surgery for hip replacement 6 weeks ago and have been recovering from this since then, so now I am really ready to MOVE FORWARD in the new year!

    I have been a fan of Louise Hay and believe that there are emotional components to every ailment. In her books, she talks about the hips as being indicative of moving forward in life! Now I am so much more able to do this! Physically and emotionally! As part of this insight I realized that I now have my word for 2012: MOVE.

    There were other insights as part of this quote too. Being able to accept help and love were something I definitely had practice doing during my recovery process. I am usually very independent and do not like asking for help. This was very difficult for me. Not being able to shower without help, tie my own shoes, put on those awful compression stockings, to name a few things, were real tests for my being able to ask for and accept help and love from my relatives and friends.

    What an experience! Quinn – did you write that affirmation just for me?!

    Sorry this has gone so long.. I haven’t blogged about this and am not sure my art blog is the right place for insights like this, so thank you for the place to express these experiences to people that I know will understand.

    • Louise Hay has a lot of wisdom to check in with. Our bodies are not just random medical machines. And I love your word–Move! That is so refreshing and active. Come back Tuesday when I have a give-away for words. I want lots of people to leave words for others to choose from among.

    • I can so relate to your struggle to accept help. In May 2010 I had to have open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect, one I did not know I had until it nearly killed me. I was helpless then also, unable to shower, dress, tue my shoes, get out of bed, etc… and in my case I strengthened my marriage as I had to depend on my husband for everything. It was tough for me. I remember crying because I could not tie my own shoes. It also gave me much time to think and I made major life decisions in the year of my recovery, including deciding to retire after over 26 years of teaching special education.
      CHANGE or LISTEN may be my word for the new year as I am making many changes in my life at this point in time and moving forward because of this significant event. What helped me realize that I needed to change or listen was reading Julia Cameron’s book “The Creative Life.” There is a story in there that talks about God knocking on your door and your need to listen. I figure I was not listening and so God knocked my door in when I nearly died. Now I take time to listen and celebrate life.

  2. Maybe she just crochets as a form of meditation and then doesn’t know what to do with them so she gives them away. I am a quilter and make little things all the time, then, as you said, how much of that stuff can you have around, but I love it all. My friend was recently visiting and I opened my hall closet and said “what do you do with all that@#$%^&*?” ….. I said ….it is therapy for me…..then shut the door. End of story I guess. I have learned one thing about quilting……mostly quilting people enjoy quilts. I also do some art things….mostly artsy people enjoy art projects. I guess that is just the way it is.

    • Quilting is a form of therapy and it is relaxing. There is scientific research that proves sewing lowers blood pressure and I know from experience when I do not spent time quilting, knitting, or doing other art related things I am more stressed. I did a quilting/art journal for a couple of years and compared it with my journal about my life and noted that the times I wrote about being really stressed were the times I had noted in my quilting journal that I not been quilting or doing anything art related. I know that taking time each day even if all it is is 15 minutes makes a difference in my stress level and my online quilt group have pretty much all made a commitment to try and spend 15 minutes a day working on our projects. I too have many quilts laying around and my husband asks what I plan to do with them all. I told him one day I plan to have lots of grandchildren to give them to. Now if I can only get my sons to cooperate. 🙂

    • Art is about making meaning. However that works for us is what art is for us. I’ve had people shrug off my book–it’s OK, then it’s not the book for them. There are lots of things I don’t find engaging either–Desperate Housewives, Donald Trump, sodium lauryl sulfate–it’s a big world.

  3. Bo, I remember when everyone had doilies everywhere. My sister makes them. She has stacks and stacks of them that she crochets. But she doesn’t do anything with them. I mean, you only have so many tables, couches and chairs. I told her she should frame them and sell them. Personally, I think she has OCD and expresses it through crochet. It makes me laugh every time I think of her carrying out this big bundle of doilies when I visited her last year. It’s like she’s a little kid saying to me, “See what I did?!” Cracks me up. Of course, really, I’m probably just jealous that I don’t know how to crochet.

    • Sounds a little like, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” If an artist makes art and doesn’t sell it, is it art? Actually, if she makes meaning with it, it’s art to her. If she does it because she’s compulsive, she may just be saving a ton of money in therapy fees. She may also be my mom’s secret daughter. We used to joke that if you held still too long in our house, my mom wold cover you with a crocheted cozy, like a toaster cover.

  4. Sometimes I find I am in the midst of walking, and something will catch my eye. Today it was the leaves wearing their frosty lace edgings. I stood there, long enough to suddenly realize I was freezing cold. The lacy edges of the leaves carried me right into the 1960s living room of my grandmother, where she decorated every cloth with tatting, lace embroidery…It was a calming experience, almost other-worldly.

  5. Wanda, I find that the mind needs time to work itself out. If you can keep up the walking for an hour, you’ll find the last half of it the most peaceful. All of a sudden, you’ll wonder, “Where am I?” And you’ll see you’re lost in the moment. Otherwise, if you’re really good at this, you can train your mind to focus on the breath. That’s where yoga comes in handy. Other than that, just use your 30 days to practice.

  6. Writing about friendship made me very reflective today of all the friends who I have lost touch with over the years and the reasons why. Military moves as a child and as an adult married to a military man I have lost touch with many friends who were treasures in my life. I have found some again, but there are others who I would love to find and who I mourn the loss of years later, still. I grieve for the lost laughter and the memories we could have made in those lost years. It is also a blessing that I reconnected with one of one of those friends just today. via Facebook.
    I am going to have to work on my focus when walking as my mind kept wandering to things I need to do, instead of relaxing and seeing what was there. I walked for 30 minutes and it was only during the last 7 or 8 that my mind felt clear and open.
    Writing will come later, today. I have appointment that must be taken care of before writing today. I enjoy writing in the morning, but it is not always possible as I sub since retiring from teaching and some days are not mine, though these next two weeks are free.

    • As Jackie said, that’s a great beginning. Sometimes walking is much like morning pages–we complain and get angry, and then, in the next space, we are calmer. You already to that. Keep up with it, it works.

  7. I find it so strange that today I also blogged about prayer. Something must happen by Day 5, but I’m feeling very reflective today–and a little sad. I needed prayer to lift me up. And I probably need some more. TGIF.

  8. I’m not sure why life tends to lead us to forget our worthiness. We were born; therefore, we are worthy. It is that simple. Why do we forget? Is it because we are afraid of the unconditional love that this concept brings? Is it that we are afraid that we will lose something so incredibly precious and valuable?(like other things we adults realize that we can love and lose) We give away our worth to others- thinking they can make us whole. You are not broken. You have not lost pieces of yourself- they are merely asleep, buried in the hurts of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. Love. Always. Unconditionally. The action word- not the noun. Walk. Write. Live. Do it naked.

    • Your writing style is so vivid and alive, it’s wonderful to read. I’m not sure why we feel this way. I’ve explored a number of religions and I don’t care for their answers (original sin, everyone IS unworthy of God’s love, etc.) and it seems opposite of what a Creator God would be. For us recovering perfectionists, I think it’s working with being flawed that makes us feel unworthy.

  9. I found I was at risk of making the walking meditation something else “hard” in my life yesterday. I decided to relax and enjoy the walk instead. When I got back to the car, I realised that without knowing it, the walk had become a walking meditation. I’ve posted about it in my blog if anyone is interested in more detail.

    I agree Quinn that writing can be a path to connection with something larger than ourselves. I’ve found I sometimes stumble across a line that really resonates for me. I might then write it out a few times with my left hand (I’m right handed). This makes me write slowly. I also look at how unformed the letters are, and experience how hard it is to write this way, and it connects me to little K, and to a more childlike vision of the world. It also encourages right brain activiation (doing anything with your non dominant hand is supposed to encourage this), and therefore more connection with your own creative potential.

    Enjoing the journey, thanks Quinn

    • We DO make things a chore when it doesn’t need to be. And when we get pleasure from something it’s often a surprise. What made you think of these inteeresting non-dominant writing exercises? It’s very interesting. And now, off to read your blog.

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