Episode 51 | (00:00):
Hey there, friend. Are you looking for more midlife clarity? Well, of course, who isn't? Today, I'm going to be talking about journaling and how it can help you find your midlife purpose and a whole lot more.
Grabbing on to midlife clarity is a process, and journaling has been one of the most effective tools I've ever used to help me do this, to help me get clarity, to help me find my purpose, to really find what matters to me and where I can get more meaning and fulfillment out of life. Are you ready to find out about journaling? Let's do this!
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I'm going to say something right now, and you may want to sit down for this because you might be a little shocked. Are you ready for my big announcement?
I am an introvert. Are you surprised? Yeah, most people are but seriously, I am. I mean, I'm not just a "kind of" or "occasional" introvert. I am a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the introvert club.
When I was little, I used to be so shy that when grownups talked to me, I would cry. The slightest thing would make me cry. And I am sure that my behavior concerned my mother on many levels but, like the champ she was, she hid it from me. I never saw it. I never even had an inkling that my mother was even remotely concerned about this very nervous, very excitable child.
My mother once told me that she could get my brother talking with a trip to Dairy Queen after one of his baseball games. She said it took a while to get him going but once he started talking, he was an open book. Then she said, "But with you..." And yes, I was a tough one.
The great thing about my mom was that she knew my true thoughts were locked in my brain and that I held my thoughts very closely in my heart. And I wasn't going to release them easily.
So as I got older, I think maybe sixth or seventh grade, she gave me my first journal. She knew that I was creative and I had this crazy, wild imagination, and I needed a place to express it. So she gave me that first journal, and I am so blessed that she did that because over the years, this has been a lifesaver for me.
I've learned so much about myself through my journals. I know some people call them "diaries" but potato, po-tah-to, we're not going to get into that right now. I wanted to share what I know about journaling, give you a few examples and leave you with my favorite type of journaling.
First, what is journaling? Basically, it's a way to record your life on paper. The thoughts, the feelings, the memories, the emotions, all of those juicy, delicious things lurking under the surface of your consciousness. These little lurkers, they are the things that are going to help you understand yourself more.
They're going to help you get clarity on your purpose and what's going to make your heart sing at this point in midlife. They're going to help you see things that you may have easily dismissed or glossed over because you thought they were unimportant or irrelevant.
Journaling can reveal parts of yourself that you didn't even know existed. It can reveal feelings and emotions about certain things that you need to take action on. And it can even help you realize who your true friends are and who the impostors are.
Journaling has been around forever, and I do get a lot of questions about the "right" way to do it. So I'm going to tell you. I'm going to tell you right now what the "right" way to journal is.
It's whatever feels right for you. That's it. If it works for you, that's all that matters. :)
I'm going to give you a few ideas today, but I'm not going to be giving you a whole lot of specifics because you need to figure that out for yourself.
I'm also going to leave you a link in the show notes with a few ideas from a Skillshare blog that I found. It gives you 10 types of journaling and at the bottom of the article, it will give you a guide on how to get started if you're new to journaling.
If you don't hear anything else I say this entire episode, please hear this: The most important part of journaling is deciding the purpose of your journal. What are you trying to achieve with this journal?
For example, if you want to feel more grateful in your life, then you'll do a gratitude journal. If you want to make time and have a place, a safe place, to practice your art, then you're going to have an art journal. If you want to be out in nature more, you can have a nature journal.
Are you seeing a pattern? Are you seeing where I'm going with this right now? These are just a few examples, and these types of journals have a very clear purpose.
But let me ask you: What if your purpose is to have no purpose? What if you just want to get stuff out on the page to get a better idea of what's going on inside of you?
Well, if that's the case, welcome to my world, my friend. You could do stream of consciousness journals; it's also called freewriting. Freewriting is just continuous writing for a certain number of pages or a certain period of time.
You do it without stopping. You keep your hand moving across the page the entire time. Don't stop to think. Don't stop to figure out what to write next. You just go with your first thoughts. First thoughts, best thoughts. Whatever comes out on the page in that moment is exactly what is supposed to be there.
A lot of freewriting is trusting the process. Don't overthink it. Now I know what you're doing. I can see you already starting to overthink all this. Don't overthink any of it. It's very simple. Whatever is in your mind at that moment, you write on the page.
There are going to be times when you write, "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write." And then you'll think, "Oh yeah, this is the next thing." Because our brains are literally hopping from thought to thought to thought and a lot of times, they're not cohesive.
It's not a linear thing. It's more like popcorn. It pops up here and there. I've actually had journal entries where I write things like, "My back hurts. Oh, I didn't sleep well. Why didn't I get more sleep? I have a headache. Oh, my head hurts. Why does my head hurt?" There's lots of whining and complaining in mine. :)
So just letting you know, freewriting is literally just a stream of consciousness kind of thing. The best way that I've found to do the freewriting journal is from Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way." She advocates using morning pages.
Her book is focused on creativity, but after doing morning pages for so many years, I can guarantee you these pages have so many other uses as well.
Morning pages is freewriting three pages by hand every morning. You just write, write, write, with no stopping. Morning pages have helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be. They also help me see the gaps of where I am and what I need to do to become that person, that person that I aspire to be.
I've been doing morning pages since the book came out in the early 90s, so it's been a really long time. For me, it's no big deal to crank out three pages in the morning before I go about my day.
Since this is freewriting, I don't want to put any parameters on you. But I do want to give you some ideas that Cameron suggests, as well as a few that I have found very helpful myself.
Number one, do your morning pages daily. Consistency is key because that's going to help you prime your mind to get ready for a big brain dump every morning.
Your mind is going to say, "Oh, it's time for morning pages. We're sitting down in our same spot, and we're getting the pen and the paper out." With the consistency, you're going to start setting things up for your mind to get ready to do this.
Number two, do them every morning when you first roll out of bed. That has been the best thing that I've ever done. You know that half-asleep, half-awake state, that dreamy state? You can get some of the most remarkable insights from yourself about yourself when you're not completely awake. Is that crazy or what? But let me tell you, it works.
Number three, use a pen and paper. I can already hear some of you being resistant to this, but there is something so magical that happens when you put pen to paper. I can't explain it. I don't really even know what it's about, but it's so much different than using a keyboard.
I think it's probably a different experience because the keyboard distances you from the words because you can't actually touch the page. You're just seeing things on the screen and when that happens, there's a little bit of a disconnect there. So please give pen and paper a shot. That's a really important part of the morning pages process.
Number four, don't invest too heavily in your journal. I know you're going to want to go out there and get all "fancy," but don't do that. I use the 25 cent spirals from Walmart or Staples, and I stock up in August during all the back-to-school sales. And the reason I don't spend a lot of money on them is...
Number five: When you're done, toss the notebook. When I moved from San Antonio, I had 68 journals sitting there. 6-8. Yeah, you didn't mishear me. I said 68 journals. And I thought, "Oh, these are so important. I'm going to keep these for my memoirs."
And I looked through them and it was things like "My back hurts" or "I got so mad. I can't believe she said that." They made no sense because I was hopping from thought to thought to thought, but that's what stream of consciousness journaling is, right?
I will add that I keep my journals for a while and every three to six months, I go through them. Because sometimes I'm writing and I'll think, "Oh, that's a good idea for a podcast." I'll put it up in the corner of my notes and I'll circle it. So when I go back through, I pick up all the circled stuff and put it into my spreadsheet.
As your brain is going, you'll find it's kind of like brainstorming and you're going to have other ideas popping up. And anytime you do that, I would highly recommend that you circle the things that you wanna get back to.
This is seriously one of the most lovely, most beautiful ways to discover yourself, to discover your purpose and to get some clarity on who you are and what is going to give you peace at this point in midlife. That's it for today. Let me give a quick recap.
When you're going to do a journal, make sure you understand the purpose behind it. What do you hope to get out of this journal as you're doing it?
And if you want to go beneath the surface and do more of a stream of consciousness type of journal, a freewriting journal, to find out a little bit more about what's going on inside of you, I highly recommend morning pages, which are three pages of handwritten thoughts.
Here are five tips if you're doing morning pages: Number one, do them daily and be consistent with them. Number two, do them every morning when you first roll out of bed. Number three, use a pen and paper. Number four, don't invest too heavily in the journal itself. And number five, when you're done with the journal, toss it.
I do hope you give journaling a try if you've never done it before, or maybe you had a practice with journaling and you've stopped for some reason. It is really an amazing way to find out what is going on with you. It's all about you, my friend. I will see you in the next episode and until then peace, love and blessings to you and yours. Take care. Bye-bye!