7 Great Reasons You Should Start Journaling Today

standard October 16, 2015 1 response

So, what’s the deal with journaling? Why is everyone talking about it? Why does everyone say it’s something you absolutely must do, like right now?

Well, first of all, relax. The good news is that journaling is possibly the lowest hanging fruit of all the healthy things you could decide to try. You don’t have to learn to sit still and breathe. You don’t have to wear specialty clothing. You don’t even have to eat kale. You just need something to write on and something to write with. That’s it.

Start Journaling Today

There are as many ways and reasons to journal as there are types of journals available for purchase. Some are leather bound and seem very solemn and serious. Others are simple school composition books, less imposing and grandiose, but no less functional.

Journaling is the same. There are no hard and fast rules for how to do it, or even why to do it, but here are a few reasons you should consider trying your hand at putting pen to paper.

1) The little things are all too easy to forget, and so very worth remembering

I have almost zero recollection of my youngest daughter’s first year. She hardly ever slept and I was working full time. It’s amazing to me that I survived that year, but not all that surprising that I remember nothing beyond the bone deep exhaustion that plagued me.

Luckily for me, largely inspired by Anne Lamott’s memoir, Operating Instructions, I did make time to journal every day that year. Some nights I could barely string together more than three sentences. Other nights I was able to wax poetic about some mundane aspect of life as a working mom to two little girls.

So I can’t remember that year, but I can read about it. Cracking open that journal is bitter sweet. It was a hard, hard year, but I love being able to visit my baby and “see” her again.

You might think that yours days are too ordinary to bother recording, but our lives are made up of tiny little things that only seem inconsequential as we’re living them. What might seem routine today might be a treasured memory one day, only you won’t be able to remember it if you don’t write it down.

2) When you journal the trees, you can see the forest.

Writing down the little or not so little details of our lives can help make sense of it all. What seems like noise and chaos sometimes just needs to be set down on paper and looked over at a later time for patterns and logic to emerge.

You might not realize how crucial your work-out routine is to your well-being until you look back at some journal entries and see how differently you think the weeks you can work out from the weeks you can.

You might not spot a quirk in one of your children’s behaviors until you see it written about again and again.

Consider your journal a daily log that helps you keep track of the details of your life, even those you don’t yet know are important.

3) Everyone deserves to hear themselves think

Our lives are so very noisy and busy that sometimes it seems like it takes super human strength to not only have a complete thought, but to have time to ponder that thought and let it lead us where it wants to go.

Journaling is a great way to put these fleeting thoughts somewhere safe where they won’t be pushed out or blown away by more thoughts and more chaos.

And sometimes, you don’t even know what you’re thinking until you sit down and put pen to paper. It’s amazing how clear your mind and your heart can be after just 5 minutes alone with a journal and a pen.

4) It’s a brand new way of processing

Something happens in your brain when you place your pen on the paper and start to write. Things come out you didn’t even realize you were thinking, were feeling, were agonizing over. Little joys pepper the page, surrounded by a myriad of other thoughts and worries. And once it’s all out, you feel lighter, stronger, and sometimes clearer than when you started.

You can think of it as a cheap form of therapy. It definitely helps justify an expensive journal purchasing habit.

5) It’s a safe place just for you

We can’t all stand in the middle of our homes and yell out our frustrations. We can’t hit things, break things, or even have the tantrums we so often deserve.

Journaling is a fabulous, safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of daily life.

It’s your space, your utterly 100% private, no one will ever, ever read it, secret place to say anything and feel everything. And then, when the words are out, you can go back to being the sane, responsible person everyone expects you to be.

6) Processing to the nth degree

You know how sometimes you come home from an event and you just know there’s a lesson to be learned from being there, but life rears up and clouds everything up, keeping the wisdom just out of your grasp?

Well, journaling is the answer.

Sit down, write about what you experienced, re-live it. And presto, there’s your learning moment, just waiting to be plucked off the page.

7) Ask and you shall receive.

There’s a lot of truth to the notion that sometimes just putting something out to the universe means that you’ll get back exactly what you needed.

Have a question weighing on your mind? Ask your journal the question and then sleep on it. Often we wake up with the answer, or the answer comes to us the next time we write. Facing a doozy of a challenge? Let yourself free-write for 10 minutes and discover that the solution was hiding deep inside the recesses of your brain.

It’s seriously like magic. Magic we can all wield.

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It has been proven that people who journal are healthier, more in touch with their emotions, and more well balanced. The good news is, you don’t have to write well, you just have to write. Still worried about how to get started? The Zen Pencil has the answer. Sign up now and be among the first to know when the service that will start you on your journaling journey launches!

The Zen Pencil - Journaling made easyThe Zen Pencil – Journaling made easy

We are the stories we tell ourselves

standard October 7, 2015 1 response

Who were you when you were a kid?

I was the lazy one. The underachiever. The one who got by by doing the least humanly possible. Who read all day instead of studying or working.

I told my husband this the other day. Then I told him that I still thought of myself as lazy, as underachieving. He just looked at me and burst out laughing.

He’s known me for over 15 years and never, not once in all that time, have the words lazy or underachiever, been words he thought of when he thinks of me.

And yet? I still think of myself as lazy. As doing the least minimum possible to get by.

Even though I’m on the PTA. Chair a volunteer program at school. Wrote a novel. Pack wholesome lunches for two kids every day. Do a million loads of laundry every. single. week. Work tirelessly for three, sometimes four clients, while managing my own blog and starting my own business. Help with homework, push literature until it comes out of the kids’ ears, listen to endless conversations and concerns about school and friendship. And so on, and so forth, from sun-up to sun-down.

And yet? If you ask me, I’ll probably shrug, wrinkle my nose, and say that I probably can do more…should do more…that I don’t because I’m lazy.

Have you ever noticed how the stories we’re told when we’re kids stick?  How they become truth? Indelible truth. In ways that are so very, very hard to alter. In ways that literally shape us and turn us into who we are, or, at the very least, into who we believe we are.

As kids, we all too often become the stories that are told about us. As adults, we are the stories we tell about ourselves. And yes, often those stories are one and the same.

Now that I’m aware of this story I’ve been hearing and telling for over three decades, I’m going to make a conscious effort to change the story and change how I perceive myself.

Because if I’m not behaving like a lazy bum, at the very least I could be giving myself credit for all the work I do instead of constantly berating myself for not doing more.

When I fall into bed, spent, at the end of the day, I’m going to focus on what I did do, not what I didn’t. I’m going to tell myself that I’m a good mom, a great writer, a supportive wife, a trustworthy friend. I’m going to remind myself that a day is only 24 hours long and that I’m making the very best of the ones I can control.

And I’m going to try to change the story I tell about myself and be a little bit more supportive of my own efforts and successes.

What’s your story?

Parenting: The balancing act

standard May 11, 2015 1 response

Balance. It’s that elusive thing we’re all after all the time.

Balance between productive time and down time. Between being a firm role mode and a fun parent. Between work and family. Between being a parent and spouse. Between all the people who need you and, well, you. Between taking care of the house and taking care of the people in it.

It’s the thing that makes parenting feel like a never ending tightrope walk. You’re focused on taking the next step, placing it carefully down, balancing everything at the ends of your hands… and hoping against hope that nothing will come shake your wire and make you drop everything.

Because when you drop everything it takes forever to pick it all back up and feel stable again.

At the beach this weekend I spotted a row of stacked rocks. It happened to be Mother’s Day so I had mothering on the brain, but the rock formations reminded me of the balancing act we all constantly do.

Rocks on the Beach

 

As we walked by the log on which all the little towers perched on, my sister offhandedly asked if I’d noticed all the sand under each one.

“The sand is what keeps them balanced.”

It reminded me that even though it often feels like we’re balancing up there, on our wire, all by ourselves, juggling all the things life throws at us, we’re not alone. We have lots of little grains of sand helping us balance. (And yes, I know my metaphors are all tangled up. Just go with it.)

We have friends who stop by for coffee and offer a supportive ear. We have family members who know us better than we know ourselves. We have spouses who share the burdens. We have teachers who share the kid worries with us. Some days, we even just have the person who smiles knowingly as they pass you at the grocery store. Or the friends in the computer and in our phones, who aren’t with us, but are still doing this thing alongside us, ready to offer a quick word of encouragement, commiseration, or even levity.

Parenting. The ultimate balance. And the ultimate test of our ability to notice the grains of sand that hold us up.

Grains of sand

 

Life is fragile… and absurd

standard May 4, 2015 1 response

On Saturday morning I woke to the news that Sheryl Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg had passed away unexpectedly while on vacation. Now, to most of the world, this is a sad news tidbit people learned about over their morning coffee and forgot long before the day had grown warm, but to our corner of the country, where he was well known and loved, the news threw everyone for a loop.

Successful, healthy men aren’t supposed to die at 47.

To me, the news was particularly poignant, as is all news about dead parents these days. It doesn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes or make me relapse into my grief funk.

I rallied as best as I could. Took the little and a friend to a skate boarding lesson and rallied as best as I could.

And then, while meandering around downtown, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and discovered that she was battling bone cancer.

I felt panicky for the rest of the day. Short of breath. Shaky. Terrified. Life felt just too fragile to bear.

Most of the time, we live in happy denial of all the things that can tear our friends and family away from us. We don’t know about most of the illnesses that can claim or radically alter lives. We conveniently forget about how dangerous it is to even walk down the street or up the stairs.

And then, sometimes, you get hit in the face with one reminder or three. And BAM, the mere thought of how fragile life is, of how easy it is to lose someone, brings you to your knees and steals the breath from your lungs.

I’d love to say that this temporary epiphany made me more loving to my family, made me want to hug everyone close, but really, all it did was make me want to hide under the covers and lose myself in a book. Even when fictional characters die, they’re never really gone. Just flip a few pages back, and presto, they’re back.

I’m sure that in the not so distant future my denial will be securely back in place and I’ll be, once again, able to get on with my life without gasping for breath every time I glimpse what life would be like if it were missing more of my people.

In the meantime I feel about as fragile as life really is.

Life is Fragile