27 Creative Ideas for Keeping a Journal: Supporting Your Out of the Box Midlife & Beyond Healing Adventure
Someone recently asked, “Do you journal? What do you write in it?”
I began journaling when I was 15. Journaling is how I developed into the writer that I am. It is also how I got to know, express and process my life.
There are many ways to journal and I have experience with a number of them.
When I started journaling at the age of fifteen, I mostly wrote (1) poetically about experiences, feelings and wonderings. My first journal is full of reflections on relationships, society, mind and duality. At sixteen I had a spiritual awakening and all I wrote was with a philosophic bent.
It wasn’t just a phase.
I continue to feel amazed and affirmed when I see that who I was, is who I am. The spiritual, rebellious, contemplative personality that emerged as a teen, is still familiar to me, though toned down on the rebellious aspect. I am glad to see that my staunch belief in living in accordance with my values has remained. Indeed, it is a thread that I have used to move through my life.
The difference between then and now is that when I was in high school and a young adult, I was judgmental and impatient with those who didn’t see life as I did. Now, I live my life as I see fit and if people are inspired by or learn from that, wonderful. But I am no longer trying to change people. Change is an inside job and I am only responsible for my own.
Writing to or for whom?
Later, my journals were filled with me (2) talking to myself or “someone who was listening.” In these journals I shared all my realizations, feelings, thoughts, desires, challenges, and more. I got to know myself and for better or worse – I defined myself through this type of writing.
In terms of intention and audience, always in the background, unconsciously, was and remains the sense that I am writing to someone or to everyone who I could be of service to through my experiences and learnings.
What to do with all those journals?
When I left the States for Mexico in 2006, I went through all my belongings, including boxes and volumes of journals. I ended up burning most of them.
As I’d written those dozens of journals over decades, I always thought the contents were important. That my writings and explorations revealed deep truths that in the future, would be able to help people when they read about me and my life story.
Surprisingly, When I went through each precious journal in 2006, however, I found so much of the content redundant. It was a bit sickening. “I was still writing about THAT?” I thought. “After all these years, still the same issues?”
And so I ceremonially burned most of the volumes that I found repetitive and tiresome.
I did keep some of the “key” volumes as “data” to refer back to - journals from particular moments of my life - times of big changes, movements and decisions.
Journaling after a big change
During my first seven years here in the village where I live in Mexico, I wrote prolifically. My writing during that period (3) documented and recorded my experiences, reflections and learnings living simply, in the countryside on the outskirts of the village.
These writings, became my book, “Calling Myself Home: Living Simply, Following Your Heart and What Happens When You Jump.” Available on Amazon and other online booksellers.
Today, my journaling is completely different. I find I don’t have the patience nor interest in writing the details of my days. I’m fully occupied living them to the best of my ability. Now, my journal is filled more than 90% with (4) my dreams.
The rest are stray (5) short writings or thoughts; not even full sentences, often. At this stage of my life, I don’t have energy for mulling over the same old stuff, yet again. Now, I live the process of living in real time, and do my best, using my vast array of tools, to maneuver through them as they occur.
At this stage of my life, I don’t have energy for mulling over the same old stuff, yet again. Now, I live the process of living in real time, and do my best, using my vast array of tools, to maneuver through them as they occur.
Instead, I am motivated to write directly to and for those who might benefit from what I’m thinking about and awakening to. I accomplish this via blog posts, stories on social media about my life in a traditional Mexican village, and intimate, supportive letters to my community of subscribers.
What I’ve used for journals
At different phases of my life, I’ve been attracted to different types of journals.
My first journal was a (6) blank hard covered book, without lines on the pages. This leaves the journaling open to whatever forms it wants to take.
Later, when I was married and being a happily staying at home mom, I was attracted to (7) pretty, fabric covered journals. All of this type of journal, from that phase of my development - hit the flames in my burning ceremony.
Before and after marriage, I resonated with those (8) lined composition books with black and white mottled cardboard covers. Sometimes, I’d intersperse the black and white composition books with the great find of a composition book with turquoise or purple mottled cover. Two of my most important journals – in terms of tracking and seeing what I was about at big transition times - were simply spiral notebooks with narrow lines.
How I’ve used journals
Mostly I’ve used journals (9, 10, 11) to write and try to help myself in the form of venting, processing, and recording in order to honor and remember certain experiences.
But I’ve also incorporated into my journals:
I have special journals that have themes, including favorite (19, 20, 21)
I’ve also created and used journals for specific events, such as (22, 23, 24):
Other journal themes have been (25, 26, 27)
This is a summary of my history with and varied and evolving use of journaling.
There is so much more you can do with journals. For me, as a natural teacher and ultra creative soul, I have created many exercises for myself within my journals to help me gain clarity, make decisions, express strong emotions that words don’t reach. A benefit of my almost 45 years of journaling is that it has enhanced use of my imagination for creating inroads to healing – for myself and my clients.
I hope what I’ve shared here gives you ideas and reminds you of ways that you like to express yourself, some of which might work well through journaling. I’d love to hear how you use journals or how you’re inspired to give it a go!
If you're an experienced journal keeper or you're intrigued to use journaling for this stage of your growth and transformation, I invite you to check out How to Skillfully Manage These Times We're Living In - a mini course that will help you disentangle from, re-establish and re-emerge as who you want to be and at your core, already are, in the midst of all the changes we're living through. Course runs May 1-8. Register by April 27.
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow living
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