changing your life, life lessons

A life observed – Journal writing: why it is so good for you and where to begin

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I have been writing journals most of my life and have found them to be the best tool for putting life in perspective and order. While photographs record a moment caught in time, it is just the external captured for that single second – a journal is a record of the inner journey – thoughts, emotions, fears, joys.

It is how we experience our lives, how we reacted to what was happening and what was important – on that one particular day.

If you have not kept a journal – I hope that this blog post will convince you of that journal keeping is worth the small investment of time.

a journal is your dearest friend

A journal is the best friend you can have

Make a pact with yourself – that you will never allow anyone else to read what you write and you will discover a sacred place where you can be yourself and where your soul finds its voice.

A home for your wildest dreams, your ideas, hopes and plans.

A journal is a gift you give yourself, it is your kindest, most patient listener, your loyalist companion and your tolerant loving confidant. It is a place you can go any time; day or night – where you are never judged.

Captured within the bound pages of a journal –  is place of safety to pour out your heart, express your fears and record triumphs.

Those blank lines can hold all the emotions that course through your veins – the disappointments, the jealousy, the rage,  once expressed, have a tendency to lose their potency. You can lay bare – the thoughts and feelings that could not be discussed with another living soul.

life is fleeting

It gives your life perspective

I have been journalling over twenty years, there are a stack of books that represent my life so far, not the external –  photograph albums but the internal – thoughts, emotions, reactions and lessons.

Life is fleeting, days fly by and before you know it years or months have passed, a journal is like catching each day, and preserving it.

At any moment I can travel back to a particular day and read what was on my mind. It helps me to see each day as a page in my book of life, one that moves the ‘story of me‘ – forward.

I have the photographs of my daughter’s wedding, but I also have my joy recorded in the pages of a book, the elation, the laughter, the pride – the preparations and small incidents noted that would be forgotten. Any day I choose, I can go back and re-live that moment of triumph- preserved forever.

Journalling gives perspective

It helps us to solve problems

Life gives us lessons, sometimes painful lessons; our journals can be a place where we can record how we react, but once the emotion is spent, we are able to discover our own inner wisdom.  It can be where we reflect and explore strategies to handle similar problems in the future.

We can re-read the some of the darkest moments of our lives with the benefit of hindsight – the fear that gave us sleepless nights – resolved itself eventually.

We can read how we were knocked back by life – and yet, slowly, day by day, got back up and began again.

Hopefully – when the same lesson presents itself – we know we shall survive. We are able to see how much we have learned, how well we handled the situation – and how much faster we recovered.

Arguments and disagreements feel like monumental events – but  as time moves on – they change,  incidents can lose their importance. The argument with the woman you work with – years later is someone who’s name you had forgotten. The period of unemployment – was an opportunity to review your career path and a change of direction.

words have power
Kipling

It puts you in control

If the past is still haunting you, a journal can be a place to re-write the story; laying events to rest so they don’t overshadow the present. You can record all the great ‘come backs’ you could have said, or write an ending where you come out on top. The job you didn’t get – can be a blessing.

Just the act of writing these things – helps us to release the grip of pain and regret so that they don’t take up any more of our lives than necessary.

Simple Abundance Companion - Sarah Breathnach
Simple Abundance Companion – Sarah Breathnach

This lovely quote from The Simple Abundance Companion always fills me with joy – words have a tremendous power to change our feelings, change our perceptions and alter the course of our lives.

When you write in a journal, that power is in your hands.

the power of the pen

It makes you happy

We live in a world full of advertising – bombarded on all sides with glimpses on a better life that are designed to make us dissatisfied with what we have. A journal can be a place to record all the blessings we have which give our lives balance.

Happiness comes from within – recording just five things that you are grateful for every day – focusses your thoughts on what you have. It can turn the worst day, into one where it is good to have a warm bed, good health and something to eat.

It helps creativity

As the digital world takes over, written documents are becoming increasingly rare. Handwriting becomes an exercise in mindfulness, it slows your thinking.

The Artists Way advocates morning pages – three pages of stream of consciousness writing – it gives an outlet for all the thoughts running through our heads, clearing our minds for creativity.

Ideas can be captured, expressed and developed – all within a place of safety, until they are ready to emerge.

Anias Nin Quotation

Journalling is accessible and affordable

I tend to use blank journals, a diary has limited space and if you are busy there are no empty pages to greet you when you return. Some days I can write night and morning, or I will miss a week or two.

You don’t need an expensive notebook, some of my early books were simply exercise books – you need something that you aren’t afraid to ‘spoil’.

Journals are your very own story –  recorded in your own hand – who you are and the life you have lived.

journalling

Why not start writing your story today?

Here is how

Or here are some great books that will start your journey into finding your authentic self, click on the pictures for a link to purchase. (I am not being sponsored for these clicks!) they are all books that I have found useful.

kindle-book-heal-v2-2

Simple Abundance Companion

Peace and Plenty

The-Artists-Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Decluttering, Decluttering list of items, Rhonda Hetzel

Less is more

Around six months ago I also become aware that my chaotic approach to finances, meant I had very little idea where my money was going, and I was slowly sliding into debt. It took a great deal of courage to finally face my situation and it was worse than I imagined, but it felt liberating to be in control. It wasn’t until I was out shopping one day and I realised that I could buy something if I wanted it, without the huge stack of guilt on my shoulders about buying – it was wonderful to know that I had money to pay for it, rather than hoping.

I read Julia Camerons – Prosperous Heart,

Prosperous Heart

She was very open and honest about her journey, it made me feel that I was not the only one! that was a huge weight off my shoulders.

The book is very good, it gives workable steps so that I felt I was moving forward. She discusses the concept of getting the right payment for artistic endeavour and helps you to evaluate your spending ‘personality traits’.

One of the big revelations to me was that I could not afford the ‘bigger things’ I desired, so instead I was compensating by purchasing lots of little things, especially when it was ‘charity’ shops. Yet, if I stopped these purchases and gave myself time to consider what I really wanted, and why I wanted things, I could actually afford these ‘bigger’ things. I felt as if everything was within my reach, more importantly I began to feel blessed. I also used affirmations to enforce the belief that the universe provided for all my needs and wants.

The first month was really tight, I had overspent the month before so had to manage on a tiny budget but I was determined to do so. Instead of focussing on the ‘lack’ I began to pay attention to what I had.

I live in a fair size two bedroom flat and when I moved in I was creating a new home having been living with friends in the interim. There was a lot of space, but there were a lot of boxes it took me six months before I finally emptied the last box. In the three years I have lived here, my magpie tendencies has meant my little home has become full of ‘suff’.

lots of stuff

I spent a Sunday afternoon going through my larder, my freezer and my fridge – as I made my list I began to realise that I had a great deal of food and could manage to feed myself for quite some time without needing to do a big shop. I also realised that I was still in the habit of buying for a family even though I lived on my own.

When I began to look around my home all the stuff was making things difficult, to get a saucepan out of the cupboard I had to remove other pans, cooking pots everything in my home was like that. I began to question why I had so many pans when I only really used one or two. Since then I have been slowly, systematically, working my way through my cupboards and bookshelves – considering if I really need it. Once I realised just how valuable my space was, I began to make decisions about wether or not something deserved a limited resource.

glass and china

I had a whole glass cabinet full of so many glasses it was difficult to find the right one. I ended up taking two huge boxes to a local Charity shop. Having room to display the items that pleased me the most gave me immense satisfaction.

My bookshelves were full of books that I had read and would not likely read again, so I took those away and now I buy kindle books because they don’t take up any room.

Its a slow process, one that I do when I feel the moment strikes, I’ll do a shelf – or a cupboard and then rest. If you do too much its overwhelming.

I had three cake stands so I listed a glass cake stand on a Facebook group, offering it for free, and spoke to a fabulous lady miles away who was very much looking forward to owning one. She was arranging for it to be picked up so after finding a big enough box I realised that I could wrap it up in some fabric – I no longer wanted rather than bubble wrap. (We both enjoyed sewing!) and I also found a three tier cake stand that was also a duplicate and that also fitted in the box. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to be able to give things away, knowing that they would be valued and appreciated.

I have been reading around this subject and have found some other wonderful inspiration that has helped me enormously.

The simple Life

This is a wonderful book, Rhonda creates a warm cosiness about her lifestyle, contentment drips off the page. It made me yearn to have chickens and a veg patch. She has links in the ebook to her online community which is full of more great advice and like minded folks.

There are some very good questions that help you to re-evaluate what is important.

Well worth a read you can get it on amazon for as little as 60p.

 

It seems that clutter is endemic according to the BBC and it is affecting our health. I think that there is more to it than merely space, its stressful when you have to unpack a cupboard to get something out, or that you cannot fit all your items in your cupboards. I believe it affects our energy flow as well, living in a cluttered space does not give us the ‘white space’ to relax in.

I would be interested to hear what you think!

In the meantime I shall create a list of things that I have given away.

ttfn x

So far:

2 boxes of glassware

1 glass cake stand

1 Three tier china cake stand

1 Vax upright hoover

A set of six willow pattern dinner plates and bowls

A potato ricer

Two carrier bags of reading books

life lessons

Somewhere over the rainbow….

Unlike the film, you may never reach the Emerald City
Unlike the film, you may never reach the Emerald City

Its January and the media are all awash with New Year’s Resolutions, coming up with the top lists of things people plan to change this year. Its all so tempting, pictures abound of people taking Art classes, or sitting in some beauty spot or looking lithe in a yoga pose the picture of health and blissfulness.

It got me thinking, the underlying message that bombards me is that clearly I am not good enough, my life needs a transformation and I ‘need’ to change.  I should be thinner, healthier, read more, etc…

I read once that although we have far more money and leisure time as a nation than previous generations we are more depressed – the psychiatrist attributed this to one thing, advertising. In order to sell us products a desire or need for that product has to be created so we end up with a life that looks less than perfect and a glimpse of a better brighter future.

Sounds familiar? One article today I read told me that there are 52 Monday’s in each year and every one of them should be exciting, if they weren’t I wasn’t in the right career. Really? It immediately creates a huge magnifying glass on my life and highlights a potential flaw. Not all of my Mondays are exciting, some of my Mondays are actually quite repetitive and boring.

These ‘helpful articles’ create unhappiness, dis-satisfaction with who I am – they encourage me to examine my life – with this belief that every single moment  should be filled with a satisfying career, with time for healthy food, a fit beautiful body and inner peace.

However, its all ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ to a glorious point in the future when I finally get my act together, but definitely not in the now. Worse still, at the back of my mind is the knowledge that I have been here before, made announcements to the world about sweeping changes, my transformation, my brilliant new life that somehow has fizzled away to er… well nothing. I have failed, not even able to carry out a few simple changes, no staying power. I simply have no will power…. it all becomes a huge exercise in misery, wrapped up to look like ‘helpful advice’ to guide us to a better life.

The irony of this is that we can have a life that is full of wonder, joy and peace without really changing that much at all, it is within our grasp and it is a simple act of focus.

Take losing weight for example, I can stand in front of a full mirror and examine my body down to the finest detail. Yes, I am a woman in her forties who has had children and my body has wobbly bits, but you know something my body is wonderful and healthy. It does all that I require it to do – things that give me a great deal of pleasure, dancing, walking the dog, reading and writing this blog entry right now. All pain free. I can sit for a moment and feel the fabric brushing my skin, or listen to the most sublime music that makes me feel blissful. I can walk along the beach and feel the cool sand between my toes. I can squelch in muddy puddles wearing my wellies. I can experience the sheer bliss of chocolate as it melts on my tongue. I am so grateful for my body that faithfully serves me every day. Who wouldn’t want to appreciate that and give it the best food available that helps it to function? In this short paragraph I have closed the gap between this future perfection of happiness and brought it into now, this present moment. Where my body becomes the focus of endless pleasure and contentment.

Easy wasn’t it?

You see, over the rainbow, was actually Dorothy’s desire to get back home,  to the life she had before the tornado struck and she only missed it once it was gone. The Wizard of Oz was a film made at a time when America was on its knees, and people lacked hope for the future. The message was all about counting your blessings, as twee as it might sound. It is the a wonderful way to create happiness and contentment right now in this very moment, not next week after several gruelling gym sessions.

Change because your heart is telling you, not because you feel you should. Alter your perspective from a place of love, rather than beating yourself up because you fall short. If you really want to lose weight focus on returning the dedication your body gives you, by nurturing it with food that cherishes who you are, helps it to function well.

Thank you jar
Thank you jar

Last year I took a large jam jar and decorated it with glitter etc, I also took a few blocks of tiny post it notes and every time something nice happened I would write it down and pop it into the jar. I had to empty the jar twice this year, and all the little tickets make quite a pile. Simple things; the fantastic service I had in a clothes shop. The lovely flowers a friend bought me. The restaurant that kept my phone safe when I left it behind and posted it back to me. The kind compliment someone gave me when I was out shopping. All these things contribute to my blessed life.

Back to Mondays.. you know its a wonderful thing to have a job these days that provides all that I need in life..and working from home, is pretty blissful when the rain is splattering against the windows, the heating is quietly chugging away and the radio is full of traffic reports…  guess that makes every one of my Mondays wonderful…

wishing you happiness .. right here right now..

ttfn.