It’s been a long time since I’ve published a post, but behind the blog, there is a lot of writing that happens.
I haven’t divulged much about my journaling, but if you’ve listened to my guest appearances on the Take Back Your Damn Life or Nomad on Fire podcasts, you’ve heard me speak of the importance journaling has had on my life.
It seems every major decision I have made in my life these past two years has come from journaling, and whenever I am going through something, whether it be positive or negative, I turn to my journal. In fact, tonight’s journaling is what led to this post!
I am not going to sit here and pretend journaling is easy. September of 2017 was not my first foray into the handwritten word. I had my diaries as a kid, filling up the first few pages with thoughts of Disney World and my latest adventure at Six Flags. I had my attempt at a journal in high school, mostly focused on how frustrating boys are. Those were also short lived, ending after the first few pages.
But 2017…there’s a time and place for everything. For the first time in my life, journaling stuck, bringing clarity, albeit through pain, to my life.
In the past few weeks, I have had a number of conversations regarding the benefits of journaling, as well as questions about how to get started. While I am a firm believer that every person has to find their own way, here are the steps that help me keep up the habit.
1. Use a journal that speaks to you. I can’t stress this enough. I use the soft-cover journals from Compendium because they speak to me. They fit in my purse, are light in my suitcase, and are sturdy enough to withstand my travel. They also have different themes, and are filled with quotes or motivational sayings. My first journal, Ideas Become Things, led me to kickstart this nomadic journey. My second journal quoted Walt Whitman, and stuck with me through my first 5 months of full time travel:
I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.
— Walt Whitman
I’m currently dreaming big, daring to fail!
2. Find your environment. I feel like there’s some myth that you have to be tucked away in a quiet spot, alone with your journal. That couldn’t be farther from the truth for me! My best journaling happens at a bar, either with live music or something like smooth jazz. I think knowing I took myself out for personal time helps me stay focused, rather than finding every distraction under the sun to ignore the emotions. I also thrive on the energy surrounding me while I dig into whatever I’ve been avoiding.
Journaling is hard! I’ve had many a night where I’m crying at the bar as I frantically write as fast as I can, unable to keep up with the words spilling onto the page. (Pro tip: free flowing tears on a plane with your journal often finds you with some free booze and a box of tissues…) Find the space that’s right for you – don’t question it! There is no right or wrong.
And let’s face it….a glass of wine (or two or three) helps the words flow freely, and the emotions a bit easier to handle!
3. Let it happen. I am not going to pretend it’s simple. When I first started journaling, it was a history of my dating life. Eventually, I started to wonder what I was looking for. As I thought about what I want in a partner, I branched into bigger questions about what I was looking for in life, and what would make me happy. It’s a process, one that is unique to each individual. Start. Push yourself to keep trying and see where it takes you. There is no doubt in my mind that my life has changed for the better.
4. Do it your way. I am a free, random train of thought, journaler. Some people need a journaling prompt. Still others pick a particular topic to focus on. There is no wrong way – do what feels right.
5. Don’t be discouraged. All too often, we speak down on ourselves, saying things like “this is stupid to be writing about” or “this doesn’t matter.” At the end of the day, whatever thoughts we’re writing are in our mind and need to get out! Don’t discourage yourself. Don’t let your perceived judgments prevent you from pushing forward. Use them to better understand your thought process, identify trends and think about your reactions. When the feelings you are discovering get difficult to handle, know that you are strong enough to overcome.
6. Perservere. These past few months, I’ve really struggled. I feel like there is something I am actively avoiding, which blocks me from journaling freely. But journaling has allowed me the self-awareness to understand that there is something I need to work through, so while some nights might only be a sentence or two, I push through, knowing I will be stronger for it.
Journaling has brought me a level of self-awareness I never knew before. It has helped me recognize and overcome insecurities, and make decisions I previously thought to be impossible. There is power in our thoughts and words – why not take the time to listen, learn and grow into your true self?
(Current Location: Tbilisi, Georgia)