This is Nin-Nin the journal kitty (among many other talents). Every morning I have to fold his blankie for him and put it at my writing desk in my bedroom, where he comes to visit and hangs out while I journal.
I started journaling in 2001. I wish I could say I’ve journaled consistently every day since then but it comes and goes. I started journaling because of a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and if I had to pick one book that’s changed my life, that’s it.
At the time I had just left Jehovah’s Witnesses and I was in a dark place. I thought God was going to kill me at Armageddon, but I was so disenchanted with the religion that I didn’t care. Julia asked me to look again at my concepts of God. And more importantly, how they related to my art. Because, she says, all art comes from God.
That might be an unpalatable suggestion to some people and it was to me, at the time. Jehovah doesn’t care about that stuff, I thought. But I had to learn that she meant (at least, this is how I feel now) that place of the divine inside you, the thing that is soul, or essence, or truth.
Ah, maybe I’m getting a little deep for a Saturday morning. The point is, in the last 16 years I’ve come a long way, baby. I went to my journal to figure out what I thought about everything, because I’d been told for years what I thought about just about everything, and I had to figure it all out for myself again, from scratch. In the meantime I’ve written the odd poem, a lot of essays, a few articles that were published in the paper, and I have come full circle to writing a novel, now. I have ideas for other things I want to write. It’s easy to discount the writing I do on a regular basis. Over the last couple of years I’ve become pretty consistent and I write in my journal every day. I put stickers in it and I write in colored pen that you would probably find obnoxious but I love them and I love the process. I start by documenting where I am in space and time: what am I making (I am always making), what am I reading, what am I listening to or watching, sometimes what’s in the news, what’s Dictionary.com’s word of the day, what tarot card did I draw today, what are my current obsessions. Then I just write, sometimes about what happened yesterday, sometimes about how I’m feeling. It’s the place where meditation, catharsis, rambling and inspiration come together, and I wouldn’t be without it.
Some day I feel pretty sure that I will write a book about my journaling journey because it’s a thing I think everyone should do, and I have a lot to say on the topic. If you have a hard time with a meditation cushion, it’s an active thing that can get you in a meditative frame of mind without navel-gazing. If you’re grappling with tough feelings about something (brother’s death, election went very wrong, whatever), this is where you figure it out. If you’re so tired and bored you can gripe about life. It’s not for anyone else. It’s for you. And then it clears out all that junk so that you can open up the channels and let your creativity off the leash, which is the point of The Artist’s Way. It’s meant to help blocked artists, but it’s done so much more than that for me.
So each morning I sit with my kitty and my cup of tea and from the end of Daylight Savings Time to the beginning, my happy light (oh, I could wax poetic on that topic too!), my colored pencils and my pretty journal and my stickers, and I tell the Universe what’s going on with me. I have no idea whether anyone besides me will ever care to read them… I like to think my son might, some day when I am gone, but there is a LOT to go through because I keep other journals besides these, and there is a whole big box of them in the closet. It doesn’t matter though. I do it for me.
I think you should do it for you, too.