My recent post on Letting Go received an insightful comment. “Letting Go can be so hard, especially when you've experienced something difficult long term. I appreciate your suggestion to free write to help release the things we hang on to and determine why. Journaling can be such a cathartic practice and can reveal underlying issues, that, when addressed, can change your life. Writing about the things we treasure can also help unearth what really matters to us.” With that comment came an interesting invitation. Dawn Herring, Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter went on to invite me to her weekly journal discussion where “Letting Go” was the the @JournalChat pick of the day and pick of the week. I was honored to be part of the discussion and to learn about her great journaling resource. Visit the latest edition of Dawn’s Refresh Journal to read more about last week’s chat. You can also sign up to receive your own weekly copy.
Journaling was just one of my suggestions for letting go after a loss or lengthy grieving process. Let’s talk about journalling a little more. I use free-writing every morning in order to both let go and discover more about myself. I can’t recommend this practice enough. Since this is a creativity blog I encourage journaling to get in touch with hidden stores of creativity that may lay untapped within each of us. And you might guess journaling is extremely useful for unblocking. All types of journaling will be a regular feature in my upcoming zine, Outlet, because it’s the easiest, and most overlooked, way to find yourself.
No fancy tools are necessary--just a spiral notebook a pen and 20 minutes of your time.
Free writing, or stream of consciousness writing is the simplest way to begin. As I said last week, “go buy a spiral notebook, put pen to paper and keep it moving. That’s the important part. The motion of the pen will connect with the flow of your subconscious and you will let go.” Buy a bunch of college-ruled spiral notebooks when they’re on sale. I prefer gel pens because they flow so smoothly. My best time to write is in the early morning before too much information invades my thoughts. But of course, there are no rules here. Write when it fits with your schedule, whether that’s after the kids leave for school, at lunchtime when you have some down time or before you go to bed. Write for about 20 minutes or 3 pages in your spiral notebook. If you’re doing this for the first time you will have to work to silence your inner critic and simply write. To be perfectly honest, when I first started this practice more than a decade ago I thought it was silly. But I kept at it. And now I can’t really do without it. Even my husband notices the difference in me on the rare occasions I miss.
What about you? Do keep a journal? Or is the time right for you to get started? Add your experiences in the comments section below.
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There are buds on my lilac bush. Ahhh...Spring. It gives me hope to watch the world renew. Yes, we’ll have more snow but it will be dotted with playful crocus and sunny daffodil blooms. The buds and bulbs alert all my senses. Colors, texture, fragrance--it feels fresh and new. The anticipation of a new season helps lift me out of a rut and back in the creative groove.
What about you? Are you in a groove? Congratulations! May your ride be smooth and productive.
And the rest of you? Are you like me, in a rut? My tasks feel heavy. Arduous. Chores pile high like dirty snow. It’s been a somber, grey winter and I need a change. The best way out is to take a cue from Spring and lighten up. Be playful. Think young. Here’s a game of Child’s Play to lift you out of the rut.
Collect a crayon and paper and practice this meditation: close your eyes and think back--to being 7. You are wearing cowboy boots and “Cars” pajamas. (You also wore this yesterday and will wear it again tomorrow.) Run to the kitchen to drink half a glass of juice. Grab paper and crayon. Run to the living room. Stop to knock down your brother’s tower of blocks. Run back to the kitchen to drink more juice. Wipe your mouth on your sleeve. Now run back to the living room to draw. Fling your your body on the rug and burp. Laugh out loud. Draw a picture of your crying brother. Then, while you’re in “time-out” think about some other things you can draw....Now, make your own drawing. Be seven-years-old while you draw. Sing while you draw. Make up a story while you draw. Feel renewed.
It's a healthy way to suspend impulse control. You'll find this exercise works wonders for the psyche. It's as relaxing as meditation and rejuvenating as a brisk walk. And that's a handy tool when you are overworked. Keep a pad of paper and some markers handy, close your eyes and dream up your own seven-year-old meditation and doodle your cares away. Practice often and you might find yourself journaling. You'll be back in the groove in no time. Maybe for the first time since you were seven!
BTW, the absolute best book about this kind of spontaneous, childlike drawing is “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” It's so good I dare say it is required reading. Read it and be seven again!