I will share with you a few of my on-going thoughts regarding the practice of keeping a journal.
I am not an expert on subject: but I am a proponent of the art.
This is a highly *personal* article, and segments of what I have written may not read well in your opinion.
There's a reason for my leaving things as they are: most of what you will peruse in this short piece is from my journal, and I don't always make entries that "read well."
On the contrary, my overall purpose for keeping a journal is to engage in a practice which helps me *live well.*
May these very simple -- but hopefully not simplistic -- meditations be a blessing to you in any one of the following ways. Should that transpire, I will deem the time and effort I have taken to formulate these ideas a success. It would be an honor for me if what I share...
1. Encourages you to begin the practice of keeping a journal or at least give it a try for a period of time.
2. Causes you to reflect on your own life in a way that is meaningful for you.
3. Prompts you to continue living "the good life." A life of excellence.
4. Inspires, encourages or motivates you in any way!
IN THE BEGINNING...
Recently I decided to begin the practice of journaling once again in my life. In order to assist me in the process, I joined a forum and began to engage in a "21 Day Challenge" of personal development.
As a part of the process, I wrote down my own guidelines for the adventure.
"I will give myself the freedom to be creative in my journaling.
It may be a quote, recording a victory, joy, or struggle. I will also give myself the freedom to vary in my 'purpose' for each journal entry.
I may 'use' my time for simple expression, professional development or a variety of other on-the-spot 'reasons' for a day's entry. In this way I will attempt to capture a 'life in process' -- the journey of my days during this time period."
In other words, I defined what I wanted to accomplish with a measure of personal freedom and creativity in mind. I did not want to jump-start a 21-day guilt trip for myself by setting my expectations to high!
In addition, I decided to design something that was "doable." Below was the backbreaking endeavor I set out to accomplish .
"Goal: 15 out of 21 days, M-F. each week."
Based on my experience, I have two recommendations for you. Should you decide to begin or renew your own practice of journaling, I would encourage you to:
1. Design a "non-killer" objective. In your own mind what you set out to do should be *believable* and *achievable.*
2. Define a set of "guidelines" or statements that will serve to free you in the process.
Having said that, I will now continue to share a number of random observations, insights and suggestions related to the art of keeping a personal journal.
The comments after the headings in capital letters are the thoughts from my journal. They are in quotation marks and will serve as a running commentary to highlight the main topic of discussion.
I would suggest that you...
TAKE TIME TO PREPARE
One of my first entries after I made the decision to begin my journaling activity was this:
"Being 'prepared' helps -- i.e. a journal file open and ready to record things if the opportunity comes up.
Get something to record in. Make it visible."
If I were to continue that line of thinking today, I would record...
"Take note of the time frames and locations that 'just seem to fit' when it comes to 'making it all happen.'
Capture those moments that appear to rise up and say to you: 'Now is a good time' or 'This is a good location.'
Preparing does help. It really does."
I wrote these words about the "freeing aspect" of my goals:
"Glad I 'freed myself' by making it simple and attainable -- that helps.
Principle: create your own 'emotional freedom.'
Do whatever you have to do in order to give you...
A sense of freedom as opposed to obligation, Delight instead of duty, Encouragement instead of exasperation."
"Just starting the process helps.
How do you get up the mountain? Begin. Not new, but true.
Like anything else, just beginning the process helps. That's an advantage of making it simple and attainable."
CAPITALIZE ON WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Concerning the importance of incorporating into your life anything that prompts you to accomplish your mission, I wrote:
"Utilizing the motivation of this board helps.
Utilize whatever -- or whoever -- personally motivates you to 'get the job done.'"
MAKE IT FUN
These comments speak for themselves:
"Do what's fun.
Structure it in a way that is fun or record in a way that is fun.
Incorporate the 'fun factor' into your journaling experience. I have found that helpful."
USE YOUR JOURNAL TO HELP YOU FOCUS
One day I decided to create a "gratefulness ledger" and record various things for which I was thankful. I could have listed *many* additional items.
My goal was to give me freedom, remember? I wanted to see life that day through grateful eyes.
Here is what I recorded:
"Gratefulness ledger for this day...
I'm grateful for a loving, godly wife.
I'm grateful for good health and the Lord's blessing with my health.
I'm grateful for my ministry and the leaders He has given me to serve with.
I'm grateful for being able to influence others for eternity.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue to develop my writing skills.
I'm grateful for a loving family.
I'm grateful for a past that didn't totally destroy me.
I'm grateful I can pray."
CHANGE YOUR STYLE
On another occasion I designed a section called "about journaling" and recorded these thoughts concerning how we we journal. A given "style" if you please.
"Changing the 'style' helps.
For instance, this day I quickly wrote down ideas in the 'Here and there' section, added the 'About journaling' section, began with a paragraph style, and added a 'Gratefulness ledger for the day' section.
These were all spontaneous ideas."
Please push the pause button on your mental control panel for a few seconds and visit this phrase once again: "spontaneous."
I would encourage you to be spontaneous as you journal. Spontaneity and creativity are soul mates.
Are you "in" to pictures? Add a photo to the pages of your journal. After all, a journal is an expression of your life.
That is only one example. I'm sure you will discover many additional avenues to explore as you express *your* life, in *your* way, in *your* journal.
RECORD YOUR INSIGHTS
A journal can be a place to collect various types of wisdom.
One day I recorded this observation:
Transparency goes a long way in 'connecting' with people.
For instance, today in my class I shared about dealing with temptations. I'm sure that my openness and transparency assisted me in having the students be open to what I was sharing."
FOLLOW YOUR DESIRES
By "follow your desires" I mean do what you feel like doing.
As an example, I enjoy creating quotes. The ones below were crafted as a part of my journaling process. I was "in the mood." Remember, spontaneity and creativity are soul mates.
The opportunity God gives me to seek His face and quietly trust Him with the deepest needs of my soul.
TRACK YOUR EXPERIENCES
While going through some hard times, I recorded my feelings about the times we call "hard."
I penned these reflections...
"Expect and accept your emotional ups and downs. You may find your emotional pendulum swinging in wide range of directions, for instance. In my way of thinking, it's gotta happen!'
Don't expect or demand everything to make sense. It doesn't.
I think there is a measure of acceptance about life that is required of all of us sooner or later.
I'm not talking about an acceptance that turns a blind eye to injustices, inequities, or the pains associated with our journey on earth: an acceptance that does nothing.
I am, however, speaking of accepting the best we can to the tensions in life. The tensions we face as we find ourselves located at various places along the sliding scales that run somewhere between the good and evil, pain and pleasure, in our own life experiences.
For me, as a Christian, I can say 'I don't have to know why. It's enough for me to trust God and walk through this with Him.'
Return to whatever brings you stability and comfort.
This could be any number of practices or people that have helped you during the difficult days of your past.
If walking, journaling, resting, praying, talking to a trusted friend, or listening to music helps you, then take a walk, write in your journal, take an extra nap, pray, talk to a friend or listen to the music!
The point: do whatever you need to do for your own comfort and stability."
As I was intently viewing a television program, I wrote:
"I'm watching the Hallmark special, and again I'm reminded of the love, strength and fortitude of moms. Amazing."
Impressions recorded in church one day went like this:
"Today's choices become tomorrow's legacy.'
The choices you make today will, over time, become your personal legacy."
"Creativity communicates. It can...
Inspire to action, Challenge the mind, And touch the heart."
RECORD LIFE INSIGHTS
I will share two examples from my journal:
"Leadership insight: keeping people informed every step of the way during change is needed."
"Each role we have in life has its unique set of demands and fresh opportunities for growth and renewal. We are in an on-going process of "becoming." The question we must face is: 'Who?'"
ASK YOURSELF IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
After reading a section of a book, I noted:
If I looked at a primary role in my life to be one of a listener and learner...
What would that mean for me?
How would I change?
What wisdom would I collect?
Who would I contact?
How would it affect my 'time' with God?
ON TO THE ADVANTAGES
One day I decided to record a few -- just a few mind you -- of the advantages of journaling.
I have chosen to limit my comments concerning the advantages of journal keeping to that singular day.
For two reasons:
1. The purpose of this article is to encourage you in the art of journaling and give you a few "how to" ideas along the way.
2. Not enough space. It is a lengthy article as it is!
My reflections went something like this:
"The advantages of keeping a journal...
It helps you remember.
This is only my 10th day of starting to journal, and in reading over some of the thoughts I've written I realize they aren't as "fresh."
It is a good place to quickly store ideas.
Good ideas. Ideas that can make a difference in your life.
You can begin projects in your journal.
Kind of like an on-going file folder for a 'someday project.' Like writing an article on journaling, maybe LOL!
You can record suggestions or advice you give to others.
An example: I recorded in my journal questions and thoughts to share with a couple about whether or not they should stay in their present ministry or seek another place to serve the Lord."
WOW... THAT WAS LONG!
Long or no, I hope that somewhere in these 2000 or so words you have been motivated, inspired, encouraged or challenged in one way or another.
And I congratulate you for making to the end of this commentary!
Yours for a day filled with beautiful moments in time,
P.S. The forum I referred to where I took part in the "21 Day Challenge" is Total Life Success. If you decide to stop on by, be sure to say "Hi" to Mark from Lee! Here's the link --> http://success-forum.com
------------------------------- Lee is a seminary administrator, has a part-time business at home, and writes two motivational ezines: "A Beautiful Moment In Time" and "Hope For Daily Living." Permission is given to distribute article. This paragraph must be included. Email: Lee@seariches.net Link: http://www.retirequickly.com/89863