“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

journaling for the Soul

A look at what journaling is and what it means for me

These two quotes sum up what journaling means to me. It is the telling of a story, my story….my story that lives and breathes in me. Unaltered. 

Journalling is something very close to my heart, simply because it is a part of me. It is me in written or illustrated form, in black and white or color. Usually, I am black (or sometimes blue) words on a blank page and that’s how I do it, that’s how I like it.

I started keeping a journal regularly in the last 3 years. Before, it was a practice but I wasn’t regular. The main purpose and content were also different – to write down thoughts based on my daily devotional reading. I would write down Bible verses, observations I had, points for application, and end with a prayer. And that was a good spiritual discipline. 

But 3 years ago (2019) I started wearing my heart on my pages. It became much more than a recording and lessons of my spiritual journey. It was my everything – all aspects – emotional and mental particularly, poured out on the written pages of my journal. Unaltered.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

It became the breathing of my heart. 

Some of you would be more familiar with the concept of a diary. As a child, I remember keeping a diary or at least trying to keep a diary. It never lasted. It started and soon stopped. Then another start-stop cycle would soon start until finally, I decided to put it aside for good. “Maybe, I’m just not a journaler”, I told myself. It seemed like I didn’t have much to say to myself, not much to remember. I don’t blame myself, life was pretty uncomplicated. I was uncomplicated. There was nothing to hide, nothing to deeply reflect on, and hence no compelling reason to write.  

I preferred verbs that sprang into action; not just verbs as latent words on the pages of a book. I preferred to live life through experiences. I preferred to experience life with family and friends. I preferred doing rather than the sit-down seemingly boring task of writing about myself or writing to myself. What good would it do anyway? Who was going to read it?

All the while I grew up, I grew older. Life became complicated. Tough at times. I hit a stage, or maybe the age when I became more reflective. And I turned to my journal. I started this journey 3 years ago, and have not stopped since. Journaling has been my voice talking to me. A safe place for me to understand myself without judgment. A safe place to rant. To challenge my thoughts and even get creative. Nobody has ever been invited in. I don’t see a reason why.

I’ve self-talked in different ways. Sometimes it was to encourage me and to give me a pat on the back. On those days I talked to myself in the second person, “Jamie, you did so well today. You thought about Sue and you gave her a call.” On other occasions, it was to challenge me, “Jamie, let’s think about what you’re feeling. Why are you feeling so? Should you be feeling this way? What does the Bible say on how you should respond?”. I’ve also used it as a gratitude journal. “Today, I’m thankful for ………” And more recently I’m keeping a nature journal. Check me out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natureandartwithjamie/

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” – Mina Murray, Dracula

So, there is no fixed way of journaling. And therein lies its beauty. The invitation to journal is open to all. It is not just for the learned and the reader or writer, it is not just for those with good hand-writing or outstanding artistic skills. It’s for you and me and everyone else. Anyone can journal. Anyone can journal. In whatever form you like. Because everyone has a story. 

One day may look different from another day. One year may look different from another. Your interests may dictate your journaling style. See your life unfold in and through your journal. See your journal catch the rays of joy, the tears of sorrow, and everything in between. 

Reflective journaling always forces me to slow down. Not just the S….L….O….W process of writing with a pen or pencil on paper, but also the slowing down that comes with facing myself, and understanding myself. Joe Strummer says, 

The toughest thing is facing yourself. Being honest with yourself, that’s much tougher than beating someone. That’s what I call tough. 

How can I make sense of what’s going on in my surroundings if I don’t allow myself to understand myself? By understanding what’s going on outside AND inside and the many links that connect the two realms, I begin to understand everything a little bit more.

I learn many things as I write, primarily about myself. My journal is my mirror, it is my true mirror. It beats any reflective material that we are used to. It tells me about me, it shows me the real me. I can’t run, hide or lie. I am forced to stare myself in the face. I am what my journal tells me I am. It crystallizes me. Sometimes it can be hard to accept the person I see but it’s a gentle teacher and a silent listener. It doesn’t condemn. It gives me the space to face myself. I’m with no one else. I don’t have to perform. And that takes the pressure off.  

In the next blog post, we are going to look at the benefits of journaling. I’ll also give you some ideas on how you can get started on the post after that. Check out the brief video below where Conor Neill talks about the impact journaling has had on his communication skills. 

This is a guest post by Jamie Solomon, a dear friend for almost a decade and an enthusiast in making her life and the life of others, better every day. 

Jamie is wife to an amazing husband and mother to four incredible kids. A stay-at-home mom who occasionally gets paid for her work. In between all these, she thinks and writes. As she tries to figure out life and understand its complexities, she aims to live life to the fullest, with her warts and all. 

Making others happy, makes her happy too. She enjoys good company over a cup of coffee. She is a fan of dark chocolate, Greek yogurt, and cashew nuts. She is fond of learning, sharing, and meeting new people. Audible is a game-changer for her. She can ride a motorbike, has bungee jumped. She loves nature journaling and birdwatching.

Follow Jamie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natureandartwithjamie/