Sixteen years ago on this day, 27 April 2001, I began keeping a journal. This has been the very best thing that I do for myself.
Journaling is a sanctuary, a place to pour out my thoughts and feelings and get them organized and integrated. It is a creative outlet, a place to collect and safeguard my life experiences, a space for all the little things I want to hold onto (like movie ticket stubs and cards from family). My journal is the repository of dreams, and the safety deposit box for things too precious to be forgotten.
For me, my journals grew out of one of the darkest chapters of my life. On 22 February 2001, my father died instantly and without warning from a heart attack. He was only 55 years old. He and I had a habit of writing emails to keep in touch (because I was working my first post-college job in Arizona and he lived in Michigan). I loved those letters. And after he died, I found myself missing the habit of writing. What I really miss (and cannot replicate) is the advice he gave out in his letters. But writing out my daily life, it helped me be centered and helped me survive.
I encourage anyone who will listen to keep journals. It's a form of self-care. In the frantic pace of life, none of us ever seem to have enough time. There is no time to think deeply, too many chores to do. There is not time process the experience because we are being bombarded by the next event before the first has even wrapped up. Journals are stolen time. Time just for oneself.
I have often heard women, especially wives and mothers, say they have no time for journaling, because they are already over-committed. I would argue, that is the best reason to journal. If you only ever take care of others, eventually, you will use up the well within you and have nothing left to give.
When I look back at my journals I find I am rather proud of them. I am currently in the middle of volume 84. I never expected to reach a number like that when I began. Every page is evidence of the life I've lived and it has been a good life. So today, on my anniversary, I've decided to share a few pages from my journals. I hope you can't read much of the text, that's private. :-) These are my gift to myself and if I could share that and inspire even one person to take up this art form, then it's worth being a little vulnerable for that.
Best wishes to you,