The Gift that Changed My Life
Life Lessons

The Gift that Changed My Life ... and why you need to go buy yourself this gift today

Giftshave always been about the thought for me. I get so excited when I find the perfect gift; a gift that truly reflects who someone is or compliments his or her life in some way. I have received some incredible gifts over the years, but the gift I received, as a fifth grade student is one that stands out more than the others. This gift truly changed my life!

Ms. Diana Risher was my fifth grade teacher. She is one of those teachers that you remember for a lifetime. She invested in her students; she took time to talk to us, not just at us. Ms. Risher got to know us on a deeper level; she saw things in us that we couldn’t yet see in ourselves. That must have been the reason she gave me this particular gift all those years ago. I don’t remember it being my birthday or other special occasion. I don’t even remember why she chose to give me a gift on this particular day, but I do vividly remember the gift and the conversation that followed. 

What was this magical gift you ask??? A lovely piece of jewelry? Nope. A sentimental piece of artwork? Nope. Tickets to see my favorite band (Journey)? Nope. Mrs. Risher gave me my very first journal… a book full of blank pages. She shared with me that she loved to journal and she thought that I would enjoy journaling too. She encouraged me to write down my thoughts and prayers. That’s it. That was the gift. Little did I know that almost forty years later, journaling would be such an integral part of my life.

I still journal today. In fact, before I started to write this post, I took out my journal and wrote down some things that were heavy on my heart. I needed to get those things out of my head and onto paper, so I could focus on this post. It helped me clear my mind. It always helps me clear my mind. If you follow me on social media, you will hear me often mention journaling. I journal by the lake, I journal in Starbucks, I journal at football practices, I journal at bistros, I journal on my porch, and sometimes, I will just sit in my garage and journal in my car. Lately, I have had several people ask me to teach them how to journal. That is the very reason why I am writing this post today.

 

You might be reading this and asking, why do I need to journal? Oh, friend… you need to journal. Journaling is a safe place to write down your thoughts, your failures, your successes, your fears, your dreams, your intentions, your goals, and your prayers. Most of us have all of those things swimming in our head, even consuming our thoughts day and night. Journaling helps you see those things in black and white. Journaling helps you work through those things once you have them written down. Journaling helps you go back and see how prayers were answered, intentions fulfilled, and how dreams came true. A few years ago I went away to the beach for five days, all by myself. Yep, all by myself (that’s a whole different blog post). I packed up about twenty of my journals and headed south. I was in the process of making a major life decision and I was hoping that my old journals would give me some clarity. They did. I was able to see that the issue I was facing was one that had been going on for so many years. Journal entry after journal entry confirmed my decision. I think the best part about journaling is reading back through old journal entries. It is amazing to go back and read about answered prayers, be reminded about special times, even reflect on the dark times. Recently, I read a journal post from over a year ago. In this particular entry I wrote down that it would be cool to one day read this entry to a certain friend. What is crazy is that I was at a coffee shop siting across the table from that EXACT friend on the day I was reading this old entry. Of course I had to share my entry with him and we both had a good laugh.

I often tell people that journaling is the cheapest therapy available. What do you think? Are you ready to add this gift to your life? Are you ready for some cheap therapy? If so, I created this list for YOU…

  1. Invest in a lovely journal. I have used all kinds of journals over the years. I have used free journals that I received from an event, bought journals at the dollar store, and even used spiral notebooks as journals. However, I have decided that I relish in lovely journals and enjoy the hunt of finding my next, beautiful journal. My favorite journal to date is my current journal. It is a handmade leather journal made by a lovely leather crafter in New Orleans. Her mom had my journal custom made, with a horse cut out (I LOVE horses) on the cover to personalize it just for me. You can purchase one of her custom journals at Nuance Journals . If you can’t afford a custom leather journal, don’t give up the hunt to find a lovely journal that speaks to you. It really does make a difference.

 

  1. Blank pages are better than lined pages. This might be a personal preference, but I wanted to mention my rational. I like to write all over the pages of my journal. I often start writing in a corner and at an angle. I often sketch the scenes around me (even though I am a terrible artist). It isn’t uncommon for me to just write words all over a page. All of this would be much more difficult to write if I had a journal with lined pages. For me, the blank pages gives me more freedom to express myself as I journal.

  1. Don’t forget the pen.Ahhhh… the pen. I usually write in my journal with one pen. I know that sounds silly, but I like to pick a special pen (or pen color) for each journal. My last journal was filled with turquoise ink and my current one is being filled with a dark purple. Maybe you like black ink or blue? Maybe you like red or pink… I think it makes journaling special to have a special pen. Again, might just be preference here. J

      4. Ask yourself some questions. So many people ask me HOW to journal. I don’t have any special secrets to share, just some basic             advice. If you don’t know where to start, may I suggest asking yourself some of these questions. If you need more suggestions,             there are several Instagram accounts, such as Rustico that offer journaling prompts everyday.

  • How am I feeling today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What did I struggle with today?
  • What do I dream of doing?
  • How can I make those dreams come true?
  • Who could I help today?
  • What could I have done differently today?
  • What scared me today?
  • What can I celebrate today?
  • How could I grow during this time in my life?
  • What is one thing I would like to learn about?
  • Am I living out my purpose? Why or Why not?
  • What would I like to accomplish today? This week? This month? This year?
  • What /Who can I pray for today?
  • What is one thing I would like to do differently tomorrow than I did today?
  • What is something I am proud of today?
  • What is something I like about myself?
  • What is something I would like to change about myself?
  • Who can I be kind to today? How?
  1. Write it all down. There is nothing off limits for me. I write down whatever I am thinking about. If I am struggling, I write it down. If I am excited, I write it down. If I am feeling dreamy, I write it down. If I am angry, I write it down. I have even been known to write down song lyrics because they express how I am feeling better than my own words. I cannot say how valuable this is. As I young mom, I would pour out my parenting failures and insecurities into my journal. Other days, I would celebrate the good days; when I felt I could do this parenting gig. All of those entries were valuable. Write it ALL down.

  1. Try to write something everyday. There are days I sit and write and write and write. On those days, I can fill ten pages. Those days are rare. Most days I fill one to two pages. Other days, half a page. If I am being honest, there have been days I have skipped, I have been too busy or not made the time. However, I always regret those days. My goal is to write something everyday. If nothing else, I will write my high and low for the day. That’s simple. We can all do that, right?    
  1. Don’t be scared to share your journal entries. I am not suggesting that you post your journal entries on Facebook or Instagram, but there are times when what you wrote down can help someone else or confirm a situation. Even though my journal is very private (and I suggest you have a conversation with your household about the privacy of journals) I have been known to open it up and start reading. There are times when a previous journal entry speaks louder than any words I could say. For the most part, journaling is just for me. However, if appropriate I try to be vulnerable enough to share and I suggest the same for you.
  1. Revisit old journals.I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back and read old journal entries and been moved to tears. I remember reading a journal entry before I had kids. I longed to be a mother, I dreamed of being a mother. I was angry that I wasn’t a mother. Now, I am a mother to many and it is everything I imagined. I am so glad I could look back and remember how painful that time was and that I was no longer there. It helps me be empathetic to the woman longing to be a mother. It helps me remember the pain. Sometimes when we are in the dark moments, we think we will always be there. It is so helpful to be able to clearly see how God answered prayers. Of course, there are entries that are still painful to read. Times when my heart was broken, when a friend died, or one of my children were hurting. Sometimes it is enough to know that time has eased the pain and will continue to do so. Reading those entries are a little more somber, but they remind me that hold on to the happy times in my life, in my journey.
  1. Learn from your journal entries. This is a hard one, but a necessary one. I cannot tell you how many times I have read through old entries and turned around and journaled about those very entries. For example… I have read about struggling with a specific situation and find myself still struggling with that issue. If I am still struggling, I need to figure out why. I need to ask myself what can I do differently to so that I learn the lesson needed and move on. I have found that if I don’t learn the lesson, I will keep struggling until I do.

  1. Buy a lovely journal for a friend and encourage them to join you on this journaling journey. PLEASE. Introduce a friend to journaling. If they say they don’t know how to journal, share this post.

I don’t believe it is ever too early to introduce journaling. Parents who attend my seminars will often hear me suggest journaling/story telling with their children. If you would like to learn more about journaling with your children, check out my post on The Homegrown Preschooler

Happy Journaling.