“A pen in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
What this blog is and is not: It’s not for sharing secrets but for sharing methods, experiences and insights about journaling. At the present time I’m experimenting with metaphors. I liked the book “Strangers to Ourselves,” by Timothy D. Wilson.
Excerpted from Ira Progoff’s Journal Writing Workshop:
The contents of your journal need not be limited to handwritten or typed words. Some people with a flair for art (or just a penchant for doodling) like to include drawings. No art critic is present, and you don’t have to compare yourself with Leonardo da Vinci or Remb randt…
You can play it safe in your journal and stay a the level of outward events, restricting yourself to the facts of what happened. However, you get more benefit fro journal writing if you include your feelings about what happened.
….If you find yourself feeling fearful or anxious or depressed, explore that feeling in your journal. Express it in words. Write how you feel.
VISIT http://www.gerrystarnes.com/journal/ and see what you think.
EARLY JOURNAL ENTRY April 9, 2005
…Before this I had started feeling like I should quit fighting faith and give in to what we’ve been genetically profiled for–a belief in God/benevolent universe. Why fight it when I need it? My intellect does not have to support it.
THE GIFT OF A FINE PEN by Walter J. Wojtanik https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/200180
The ink that flows is the milk of a million ideas,
released with every scratch across the page.
All sage words live within it, it is an extension
of my expression. All painful memories come
in torrents of her indigo flow. I can show you
my pain with each strain of her nib.
Give me a pen, and you’ve given me freedom!
For no soul can be sequestered when a writer
writes. Every sight they have seen is given in return
all in remittance for the gift of a fine pen!
© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2017
My spoken words are rarely of value. Maybe yours are, but I find it difficult to get below the day-to-day routine interactions and communications. It is only when I stop and think and feel and shape words by hand that they seem to take on any wisdom or even meaningfulness. Perhaps it’s partly due to the listener’s impatience with waiting for the words to flow, but in part is also due to the automaticity of knee-jerk habitual verbalizations. And neither speaker nor listener is mining deeply, except sometimes in a therapy session.
A large portion of my own journal is in my book “FALLOUT: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders.” Possibly journaling helped more than I know. Timothy D. Wilson, author of the book Strangers to Ourselves, writes that writing about emotional experiences tends to promote both mental and physical health. He cites James W. Pennebaker, whose website
contains abundant research findings on the topic. Pennebaker observes that “health gains appear to require translating experiences into language.” (p 164) . Now that I think about it, it does seem to make sense that translating experiences and emotions into words would foster improved internal/cognitive processing, kind of an economics of energy spent, and would facilitate the newly recognized importance of parts of the brain communicating with each other. The brain, we are told, is capable of change most if not all of our lives. .This is a largely unexplored field..
Wilson suggests that “writing seems to work by helping people make sense of a negative event by constructing a meaningful narrative that explains it.” (p 177). He compares psychotherapy to adopting a new narrative about their problem that is more helpful than the story they told before. “There may not be one ‘true’ story that people must adopt to get better, however; there may be a range of healthy narratives.” (p 181).
Pennebaker recommends the following–at least, during his experiments his instructions are:
What to Write About
Something that you are thinking or worrying about too much
Something that you are dreaming about
Something that you feel is affecting your life in an unhealthy way
Something that you have been avoiding for days, weeks, or years
If you’re like me, I always assumed I’d become famous and someone would like to read my journals. Gradually, as I failed to become a child prodigy and even an elder prodigy, the question arose as how (or if) to dispose of the journals.. During graduate school I began copying quotations and adding page numbers to them, to facilitate use in future writings. That was a habit I recommend, since it proved quite useful. I knew my children would not have the time to invest in reading my journals, so whether as a solution or happenstance I chose some of the entries and published them via CreateSpace,
From rantingalong.wordpress.com by floridaborne :
I love writing my way through life. It gave me back my humor, the discovery of thought, feeling, scents and sights I’ll not see again except through the written word. To write is to breathe life into words. To keep the words inside you is as deadly to the soul as constipation is to the body. From my perspective, the dust of life constantly accumulates, which requires constant cleansing of the soul. Maybe I should draw a circle on my computer and write next to it in elegant cursive, “The enema tube goes here?”
I remember years ago when I realized that insights don’t have to become fully conscious and cognitively understood for them to have an effect on us. I’m saying this badly. For example, a dream of ours can be correctly interpreted by ourselves under hypnosis, although the interpretation may not become conscious but still have an effect. I’m saying this badly so I will wait to resume this topic later.
I’m excited by a number of new cognitive frontiers opening up. One book that I found encouraging was Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself. The New York Times wrote that “The discovery that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains–even into old age–is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries.”. In a way we are our own subjects in the growth process, via journaling.
Julia Cameron, AUTHOR OF The Artist’s Way, observed that “There is a recognizable ebb and flow to the process of recovering our creative selves.” (41) These include being harsh and critical of what you have produced (that’s the ebb) and appreciating and valuing what you produce (that’s the flow).
The photo below could be labeled “The Introvert’s Lair.” Differences between introversion and extroversion were recognized and explored by Carl Jung.
On the culture of character vs. the culture of personality
“To some extent, we’ve always had an admiration for extroversion in our culture. But the extrovert ideal really came to play at the turn of the 20th century when we had the rise of big business. Suddenly, people were flocking to the cities, and they were needing to prove themselves in big corporations, at job interviews and on sales calls. …
“We moved from what cultural historians call a culture of character to a culture of personality. During the culture of character, what was important was the good deeds that you performed when nobody was looking. Abraham Lincoln is the embodiment of the culture of character, and people celebrated him back then for being a man who did not offend by superiority. But at the turn of the century, when we moved into this culture of personality, suddenly what was admired was to be magnetic and charismatic.” From Quiet., The Power of Introversion in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,by Sarah Cain.
MY guess is that if you chose to visit this site, you are an introvert. I plan to buy a copy of the book because–obviously–I am an introvert too.
THERE ARE MANY APPROACHES TO JOURNALING, and I might as well tell you upfront that I’m partial to journaling for “growrh.” That’s probably because I’ve been a clinical psychologist most of my life. Although I can’t think why anybody would object to that term or that approach, I can imagine many who seek to use journaling to organize their life, etc. Just so you know
THINK BACK TO CONVERSATIONS YOU HAD TODAY
What things did you not say that you’d like to say? How would those words be received? Are most of the things you don’t say to others positive or negative or neutral feedback? You may have heard of Gestalt therapy. In it, you imagine that you’re yourself sitting in one chair, and then “switch chairs” and become the other person, answering you. It’s surprising that we seem to know how they’d answer, and what questions they’d like to ask you. It’s been helpful to me to imagine that I’m talking to a therapist, or an “Inner Self Helper” (ISH). There’s more than one level of knowing within us. And it’s an interesting and usefui journal page to reflect back upon..
ONE JOURNAL ENTRY
In “trying to get organized,” I came across a page from my journal in April, 2010, which I’ll share here:
What do I truly seek? To be heard, but saying what? To be accepted, but for what? To be understood, but how? As a jigsaw puzzle, a mewling kitten or as a blind woman walking a maze? The words keep rolling ad infinitum, ad nauseum, sometimes glossalalic.
I am tossing, in the throes of an intellectual menopause even as my word-finding ability slips into decline. They say that more people are living today than ever in human history. If true, it is a sobering and somehow horrifying fact. A poster reads, “I am a child of the universe.” (Me and 3 billion other people).
One consoling thought is that my body contains at least one atom from my stone age grandfather, his troglodyte meal, Mary Magdalene, Joan of Arc and Beatrice Potter; even Helen, whose face launched a thousand ships, and the blind Homer. (I notice that I have expunged from my awareness the more problematic forbears, the villains of history whose atoms undoubtedly lurk in the Shadow side of myself and others.)
Has my journaling taken me from one place and deposited me in another? In what direction am I pointed? If being truly born means arriving on the scene as an eccentric, is that better or worse than not showing up at all?
I think I’ll crack my shell, emerge and find out. Oh, you didn’t know I was one of those, eh?
WOW, look what is on cherilucas:
PAGE FOUND when cleaning t my home office:
What I have learned so far:
Not to hurt people when I get angry
To let go of hate
To respect others’ boundaries
To accept as goals to be more open and assertive
Be less ashamed of who I am.
AS AN ATHEIST, WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT life after death, God, purpose, etc.:
My heart believes the universe is benevolent
I am buoyed up by an attitude of love (as the oceanic)
I feel that I have a guardian angel looking out for me–I feel blessed and grateful
I guess I unconsciousy assume that upon death I will experience an old familiar state of being–like coming home.
(NOTE THAT ALL THESE ARE THINGS I FEEL, BUT NOT THINK).
A 1975 Journal Entry
New Year’s Eve 1975 at 40 years of age. How can I keep my head above water? I may not make it. I must get the dissertation behind me but it seems to be crumbling into nothingness….I’m living as though the world of bills is about to descend all around my ears within the month, if the house is not sold. I amaze myself, how I can appear oblivious to the bills,,,My God living is so difficult to experience.
A 1998 Journal Entry
I haven’t a fixed opinion about me or my life yet. I see my desire to “grow” as self-centered. I know that I am not a good mother, nor am I caring mistress to my dog “Gracie.” Basically, in my life I think my compulsiveness has stood me in good stead, over-crowding my life channel energies that might otherwise lead to a more destructive liestyle.
When I get into labeling I vacillate between seeing myself as pitiful versus vain, deluded versus insightful. I sense my blinders but am both fearful and desirous of loosening them.
I don’t fear self-loathing as much as disenchantment–disillusionment–disgust–with life. I am trapped inside a hall of hundreds of mirrors, all warped but one. And I cannot identify the one.
Another DREAM — January 28, 2016 –Toboggan Road
At the end of the dream I am driving along a highway with some friends ahead of me. I am going fast. Suddenly the road turns into a very steep blue toboggan chute and I can’t force my eyes open to steer. I am just swept along at amazing speed and can’t make myself open my eyes to help steer. My body just sort of leans into it. Earlier in the dream I am sitting on the floor of an outside patio with a largish group and a very young child reaches to a man’s crotch. The man–maybe a teacher in a nursery school– tells how that child has acted inappropriately, in her innocence. My father is in the audience and hears his words. I am hoping he is realizing the effects of his actions. Even before that in my dream, a handicapped young man is showing a liking for me, as asking me out with him to take a walk. I go.
In reporting some of my dreams here I am just saving them, not anticipating comments. The night before, I had posted “Were You Affected by Incest?”
I’ve come to realize that I need a place for reflection about life and this seems the natural page for it, so don’t be surprised that I wander from the stated path..
Humanity is always at its best
when two cultures
set aside their differences,
combine their unique individual assets,
& work towards a common goal,
like attacking a third culture
for being different.
Today I Read…
the blogs of two deceased bloggers, and am much moved by my admiration of them. Both died of cancer, and as the blog of Marcy Westerling http://livinglydying.com/ demonstrates, they set a beautiful, strong example of humanity at its best. Not knowing either she or Ruth Rainwater were deceased, I was “following” their blogs. Ruth had three–one was a Gratitude Journal, begun before her diagnosis. I recommend both Ruth’s sites: ruthrainwater.wordpress.com, newbeginningsgratitudejournal.wordpress.com, and a writing blog, sablewings.wordpress.com, in addtion to Marcy’s. I was initially drawn to Ruth’s because of her Gratitude Journal, and then to Marcy’s (Arlene’s?) which was listed as one of the blogs Ruth followed.
Life starts with a beautiful dream. Life starts in somehow believing that one day you’ll get what you wished and prayed for. Life starts with something you believe you can do and dream about. My entries here are mostly about my journey as a cancer patient, a cancer survivor, a mother, a friend, and about the books I read, places I want to visit and have visited, people I want to meet someday and mostly about the daily grind of simple living. Dreams and Escapes is about having enough faith to go on, the will to live no matter how difficult life may seem sometimes and grateful appreciations of all the things one holds dear. It is about the belief that I could share a little of my journey through writing and writing is an escape for me. When things get a little too hard to bear, I put them into perspective by sharing them here.
The Art Inside of Things
In his youth, he’d read a quote attributed to Michelangelo. The artist had answered the question of how he’d sculpted his masterpiece by saying he hadn’t sculpted anything at all. He had only chipped away enough stone to reveal the sculpture inside.
The quote stayed with him. The Grand Canyon, too, was a beautiful thing that had always been there, waiting for the river to uncover it. To remove enough earth to reveal the sculpture within.
The quote might explain why certain pieces of music had such power. They weren’t created. They had always been there, waiting to be played. Music was just mathematics. Frequencies, vibrations, waves. A relationship of numbers described by sound. The relationship isn’t created. It exists. It only needs to be found.
He sat down at his desk with a sheet of paper. It was of the highest quality – a smooth finish, minimal feathering, high opacity. Surely there were beautiful words somewhere, waiting to come out.
Originally posted by Walt Walker on waltbox.wordpress.com via Michelle W. , and Discover
There’s a difference between a diary and a journal – that it’s sort of like the difference between an autobiography and a memoir: in a diary you record each day’s events and in a journal you write whatever you want about your day whenever you want to write about it. For (Joan) Didion, though, it’s all about the notebook. I, too, keep a notebook – a writing notebook – and when I mentioned this during a presentation I gave on research in creative nonfiction, a hand in the audience immediately shot up: What did I write in my writing notebook? Some writers are dismissive of these kinds of questions – do you write in a notebook or on a computer, what kind of pen do you use, what kind of paper? But I’m happy to talk about the physical practicalities of craft – I want to know about your Pilot G-2 and your Clairefontaines. And I’m happy to talk about the content, too. When I answered the question many people took notes – perhaps in their writing notebooks. Here’s a version of what I said:
I keep three versions of a writing notebook: a journal, a writing notebook, and a writing planner.In my journal I write down what happens to me, what I’m thinking about, occasional random observations, lists – the usual stuff you’d write in a journal. But I include this under “writing notebooks” because (especially as a writer of creative nonfiction) I often look back on journals to remember a certain time or place or person or line of thought – although I never write in my journal with this in mind. I write here solely as a person – not a writer. For the full blog see Brevitymag.com
Passage grave in the snow by Caspar David Friedrich via brudberg.me
Apparently the first assignment in Photography 101 was “Home”. Here’s my entry:
The following is an excerpt from Mindfulness Everywhere, Everyday, In Every Way
It’s time for me to finally find my yoga home in Switzerland. But it’s about more than that. It’s about creating space in my everyday life to meditate, savor the moment and care for myself. No more Manic Miss Apple! I’ll be managing my stress, eating my veggies and striving for balance both on and off the road. I pretty much have two speeds in life, Full Throttle and Under the Duvet so this intention will be the most challenging. But it’s probably the most important one. If anybody has some suggestions on creating more balance in life I’d be happy to hear them. I’ve been to yoga school, meditated in the woods, studied my Yamas and Niyamas, but inner peace is still an illusive little bugger!
May your 2016 be full of laughter, good health and lots of adventure!
The following seems to be a healthy journal entry (also included under incest):
Ahhh, anger. An emotion I have come to know too well these last few years. This image is striking but it is how I feel inside when the anger hits, bounds up in knots and unsure of myself. But notice the little butterfly – it’s sitting there, calming me, letting her know that the anger must not control me and this too shall pass. It is not all darkness.
I have learned to deal with many of the emotions that my family trauma brought out in me. Anger though, it holds on, hiding in the shadows, just waiting for that spark to ignite internal rage.
I have kept it at bay for a while now, until this last weekend when it reared its ugly head. We are in the process of moving. We are renting the house we currently live in and are moving out of. We have two more weeks before the movers arrive. The owner decided to re-list the rental now instead of waiting until we are out. So we have had to clean up and somewhat stage the house so that it looks all nice and neat, putting away personal everyday items. The real estate agent is pissing me off. We keep a fairly tidy house but I did deep cleaning and took it upon myself to stage the house better in trying to help them out. I didn’t have to do this, was not asked to do this, it’s just how I am. The real estate agent came in to take pictures and didn’t seem happy with anything, asking me to remove more things and do this and do that – well we are NOT the owners and we still have to live here for a couple more weeks! Then she said that our son’s bedroom stinks and can we please light a vanilla candle or something when people come to look at the house. Excuse me? Yes, our son’s room has a scent; he’s in his early 20’s and never leaves his room. I had already lit a warming candle in the kitchen that was filling the house. I just felt she was out of line saying that and the way she said it just really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like I had done all that work and it wasn’t even appreciated.
All of the sudden, my anger began to surge forth in a nasty aura of red. I tried to stop and ask myself – why am I so angry? It was minor issues, so why was the anger surfacing? After some reflection, I realized it took me back to the family trauma and drama. It was taking me back to feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of. It was me doing everything I could to help a situation but it not being good enough. It was about me needing to be perfect and putting myself in a situation where it wasn’t noticed or appreciated. Oh boy – this is the biggest issue I am still working on, and it’s the one I will struggle with greatly when I got to find a new job and begin working in an unknown situation with unknown people.
Then, we were informed that people will be calling to schedule a look at the house, calls which can come at any time, so now we are being put out, our normal routines and lives are being disrupted and it isn’t even our house! It happened last night – we got a call just before we were about to start dinner, so we had to rush to tidy up and put personal items away. For some reason, at that point, I was LIVID! I was far more angry than I should have been; I think it had built up with everything going on. Let’s just say that unfortunately, a couple adult beverages calmed me down.
I know this is something I need to work on. At least I am aware of where the feelings are coming from and that the anger is manifesting from them – old feelings, old emotions, old insecurities. Being aware is half the healing process after all. I will keep working on it – I just need to get through the next couple weeks of strangers coming in and out of our home. I need to calm myself and realize that it will all be over soon enough.
picture from Google images via Breaking Sarah
An excerpt from themacabreauthor.wordpress.com/
Having trouble finding your voice? Keep a journal. Don’t think about what you want to put in there, and don’t think about making it interesting or artistic. Just get in there and start writing. Your voice will come out, and it will be unique.
To get started, grab a notebook and a pen. Sit down and write me a letter. Seriously. Tell me some things you want me to know. Send them to me via Facebook if you want. I promise I’ll read them, and I’ll even answer some of them if I have the time.
From the book Keeping Your Personal Journal, by George F. Simons
Certain devices can be employed over and over again to deepen the exploration of specific journal entries or to inquire into parts of our life and experience with the journal, such as the dialogue.
To dialogue is to engage another in conversation, and this is precisely what we do when we dialogue in the journal. We set down a conversation just as if it were the text of a play for the theater. Two parties speak in turn responding to each other…One may dialogue with virtually anything and everything…To create dialogue one needs only to allow it to take place in the mind and set it on paper as it occurs….Allow the dialogue to come to a natural conclusion. It will usually do this if you simply let it flow out of your mind and copy it down as it goes. (This can be particularly useful in terms of dialogues between your Child, Parent and Adult ego states. See Eric Berne’s work on Transactonal Analysis.)….Be creative! Come up with your own therapeutic way to utilize dialoging in your journal.
“I’m sinking under a cloud of doom and gloom,” I wrote in my journal. I squirmed under the weight of grief with no one to listen to my fears, to care if my belly ached, or to notice if I made it home at night.
I longed for my husband Vic and my old life, but he was dead. My old life was dead, too, but my rebuilding project was moving forward. I had finished writing a book and written a book proposal. Swenson Book Development was ready to submit my proposal to publishers which meant waiting for doors to crack open or slam in my face.
I was scared.
I defended against despair like a boxer in the ring but misery dumped itself on my journal pages. As I read what I’d written, I heard my inner commentary. You’re a whiny spoiled brat. Everyone has trouble. Get it together and make a move.
The more I scolded myself, the worse I felt. My heart knotted as I chastised myself for wanting what I couldn’t have and for not being grateful for what I had for so long. Had the years of meditation and psychological work taught me nothing?
I was not only scared. I was ashamed.
Driving home through the dark night, I glanced through a stack of CDs on the passenger seat. At the bottom of the pile was Pema Chodron’s Audio Collection. I randomly chose a CD from the three-box set. “Good Medicine,” the cover said.
In her warm comforting voice, Pema Chodron spoke of maitri or unconditional friendliness with oneself. She reminded me how we accept a friend’s dark moods and struggles with kindness, but attack ourselves without mercy.
“This all has to do with our relationship with pain, our relationship with difficulty…,” Pema said. “A certain amount of pain in life is inevitable…, such as dying…, such as the more you love someone, the more grief there is at the loss of that person.”
Then she suggested we stop struggling against discomfort and have compassion toward ourselves.
I knew she was right. My breath softened as Pema’s gentle voice encouraged me to befriend my pain and so befriend myself.
“Stay. Stay. Stay,” she said about not running away from difficulty. She paused between each word as though training an unruly dog.
“Stay. Stay. Stay,” I said to myself using the kind tone I use with my dog Willow. Stay with longing. Stay with fear. Stay with discomfort.
I let myself feel challenged and exposed, frightened that my writing efforts would become a failure, that my new life was a farce and I wasn’t going anywhere. I stayed. Then I cried. I accepted being unmoored and lost. I forgave myself for being human.
The next morning my gloom lightened. Once again, I saw how exhausting and futile it was to push grief and fear away or run from anxiety. I learned how my darkest feelings showed me the way to compassion and courage.