I’ve journaled on and off throughout my life from the time I was a teenager, but for the last few years, I’ve been so busy with writing for magazines, my websites and various books that journaling fell off my radar. I recently started a daily journaling practice again, and now I don’t know how I did without it all these years.
Initially, I had planned on completing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program. A key part of her program are what she calls Morning Pages. It means writing three pages every day, first thing in the morning. This is meant to be stream-of-consciousness writing, a brain dump, so to speak, and it doesn’t matter what you write as long as you complete the three pages. They are to be written in longhand, not on a computer or an app.
I completed the entire three month-long Artist’s Way program in 1995, and I believe that it was instrumental in helping me make a major career change from a corporate middle-management job that made me miserable every single day to working in veterinary clinics, and eventually managing a clinic for eight years. Since I find myself in somewhat of a transition phase right now, going from working seven days a week for so many years to slowing down a bit, I thought maybe this might be a good time to start the morning pages practice again, just to see whether I might gain any insights into this “third act” of my life.
Cameron insists that these pages need to be done as soon as you wake up. As any cat parent knows, that’s just not going to fly. The first thing we do every morning is feed our cats, right? I also didn’t want to move my meditation practice to later in the morning, so my routine is get up, feed Allegra, meditate (usually with Allegra on my lap,) and then journal.
For the first two months, I wrote three pages every single day. Eventually, I wasn’t quite as strict with myself. Some days, I wrote the full three pages, other days, I wrote less. Occasionally, I wrote more than three pages.
Gradually, I started to see benefits from this new practice. I found that I felt less anxious and worried less. Maybe writing down some of the things I worried about anchored them to the page rather than keeping them swirling around in my mind. I found myself looking forward to my daily journaling time. It made for a more gentle transition between meditating and going to the computer to let the outside world back in by checking email and social media.
I had committed to journaling for three months. I’m almost at that mark, but I already know that I’m going to keep going.
Do you journal? I’d love to hear about your practice.
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I have journaled most of my adult life using different styles of journals and various pens. I like the tactile-mind-spirit connection of journaling. Sometimes I have a Grateful Journal going at the same time as a Free Writing journal. My best seasons are when I am able to take time to journal in the early morning hours. I’ve never saved any of my journals. When the time seems right, I let them go. One last practice I would like to share, I will often read inspirational writings and then journal using a quote and that thought as the seed.
I love the idea of letting the journals go, Sue. I’ve had several people tell me that they would never handwrite in a journal because their handwriting is illegible. Especially with Cameron’s morning pages, that’s irrelevant since you’re not supposed to go back and read them again.
I have journaled off and on all my life. I went through a stage of writing short sporadic entries and then long lengthy entries about the highlights of my day. Many of those entries now form the basis of letters to my parents.
Several years ago, a writing partner gave me a nature journal, wherein I wrote scattered entries about our pets. After my first cat died and we adopted our second cat, I began keeping a journal dedicated to our cats.
The past few years my life has been in transition as I’ve from an office job to running my own cat behavior business. There have been times when I’ve been faithful to my journals; other times when weeks can pass without an entry.
I’m trying to streamline my cat commitments, so that I can maintain my journal habit. Finding a good time is hard too, but mostly I write at night.
I have journaled on & off since my mother gave me a diary with a tiny key when I was a teenager. When I got my first cats 30 years ago, my journaling has always included them. My purpose was to write about all aspects of their lives so when they passed, I could relive those wonderful memories again. There were years when I did not write about my cats as much which I deeply regret. But after losing my beloved Theo last November, I vowed to include the additions to my family, Chloe and Gus. Now when I write about them, it brings up memories of Theo which I add to the journal. Journaling is a calming peaceful practice which will always be a part of my life.
If it wasn’t for me writing about my cats on this website, I, too, would regret not writing about them in a journal. We always think we won’t forget, but time does blur memories.
I have tried to journal over the years and never could stick with it. With my mind so scattered these days, I really don’t think I could do it again.
Well, maybe not fixate on writing three pages…..just do one .
And the suggestion about writing to one’s cat appeals to me, because right now one if my cats is in a new home, where he is safe and warm, but when I have gone to see him, he is not his usual self….seems lonely. The routine and feeding is different…and the cat guardian there is very much a cat person.
Not anything I can do….and at some point when my housing situation stabilizes I can have him return.
Since losing my beautiful torti Bella nearly two years ago, I have taken up journaling for the first time in my life. It is now a lifeline for me, as I write to Bella each time and it helps me to feel connected. I feel it keeps our chord of love strong , and is very calming for me. I slowly hand write to her, as that in itself seems a therapeutic act. I agree with your article, that journaling is a helpful thing to do.
I love the idea of writing to a beloved lost cat as a way to feel connected.