Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Look into Journaling

Do you journal?

Whether online as a blog, on a computer, in a little black book that you carry everywhere, in a secret notebook hidden from everyone, many people seem to partake in some way in the art of journaling. From what I've read, journaling is not exactly the same as keeping a diary. Writing in a diary seems to be completely about the day-to-day events of ME, only me, like a personal newspaper; it sounds dry and unappetizing. Journaling encompasses not only one's own tiny world but also expands to become ideas, questions, exclamations, meditations, expressions, scenes, and images of the greater universe all around us. 

Artists and writers alike can benefit from journaling. Or, if you're a particularly absent-minded person like me, it's almost necessary to carry a notebook wherever you go, so that everything and anything can be written down at a moment's notice without being lost in transient memory! Here are some reasons in favor of journaling listed by a woman who has been doing so for over thirty years:
  • A [journal is a] record of stories for all kinds or experiences. - It is very healthy to “get it out” and put in a book.
  • For taking notes.
  • Journals are a great referral system. 
  • In the front or back of a book, Deborah reserves a few pages for quotes or even recipes.
  • You can press a flower in the journal.
  • Notes when traveling (she uses a small book as a travel journal).
  • Write down a poem that impressed her or a poem she wrote.
  • To write down things that she was grateful for. Gratitude lists.
  • Notes from a book she is reading.
  • She is a writer. She will use her journals to write stories and to use in talks.
  • We all go through different phases and changes in our lives. “A new phase in my life is a new journal.”
  • Your journals will be a treasure for your family when you are gone. 
  • The journal will be a great help for you now as you record the things that are important in your life.

Frida Kahlo, a famous artist, kept a journal. It's fascinating to look through the pages she wrote and sketched to see who she was. The real her was colorful, deeply fascinating, and strange. What would people think of you if they saw what your journal looked like, many years after you were gone?

Some people use mixed media in their journals, a conglomeration of a craft project, freestyle writing, variations of art mediums, or pictures taken from other sources.

It can be as plain or as elegant as you want. And who says the writing has to be legible to anyone except you? As long as you can read it, that's all that matters.

Maybe you just have random thoughts to jot down. Lots of people doodle on the back of receipts, calenders, or any spare paper lying about. A journal allows you to keep these seemingly random "doodles" in one spot. Maybe looking back at what you wrote/drew later will bring some insight or a new thought!

It doesn't always have to be cheerful or uplifting. Here is another page from Frida Kahlo's journal. I don't know the translation of her words, but from the look of the accompanying art they don't appear to be positive. A journal may be the one place you don't feel like you have to lie. Hopefully you have friends who provide listening ears no matter what your mood, but a journal is another quiet friend whose pages wait to hear and see through your eyes.

You don't have to be an amazing artist or a talented writer, either. If it makes you happy, if it accomplishes the purpose you intend, then nobody can call your journaling method "wrong". Any age, any level of ability can start a journal.

I would encourage you to use both art and words in keeping a journal. This is far more possible if your journal is a physical book that you can take everywhere; computers are very handy in this age, but they are still very limiting. For more reasons as to why visual art is just as important as writing (even for those people who say that they are not artists, myself included!), check out this article about visual journals.

While I was researching journaling, I came across two websites that had fun ideas for journal art. Zentangle and The Doodle Game are creative ways to explore sketching for those who feel hesitant about leaping into the artistic circles or for people who like their hands moving while they think!

So what do you think? Interested in beginning a journal?

Edit: If you are wondering how to start a journal, check out this Journaling 101 article, which was recommended to me by a friend!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being Humbly Confident

Once again, I am in the position where I have a million thoughts buzzing around my head, but not enough time to write them all down so that I can "process" them! I am the sort of person who gains better understanding and works through things by either speaking them out loud or writing them down. Even still, if I am trying to figure something out, talking out loud often doesn't cut it, because there are so many pauses as I attempt to think through every little detail. Writing is the best way for me to "think" about things... something about my keeping fingers moving and the speed I can type/write is just right for my train of thought.

Life is beautiful right now. My husband and I, together, have thirty rehearsals and performances during the month of April. So we've been quite busy! Today we both have concerts. He just left, looking spiffy and handsome in his black dress clothes, and soon I'll be attiring myself the same way to head out the door.

Four things I have continued to keep up on this month: my quest for truth (reading, praying, studying the Bible, discussions), a few little creative art projects, musical journeys (learning music, listening to music, growing as a music teacher, etc.), and some personal writing. As you have probably figured out by now from this blog, I like trying to explain things by using lists. My lists are not the sort that I feel encompass every single area of the current topic, because I use lists to help my mind understand a topic, not to search out and define the ends of it. I hate putting anything into a little box. It feels so absolutely restrictive. And it makes me feel like a know-it-all. Which I don't want to be.

One list I have been continuing for a few months is my Life Lessons list which I mentioned in my last blog entry. This list is going to be never-ending, of course, but I thought it would be interesting to at least record my findings so far. My first place for wisdom is the Word of God. After that, the wisdom of the ages, and that of the mentors around me. Yet it's been interesting to compile the wisdom that I believe I have learned from experience (or at least seen!) so far in my short life. As far as criteria for a Lesson to be put on the list: it must be true for almost every single circumstance I am in (not every Lesson is true for every circumstance, I'm sure, but it must apply to the vast majority), and the Lesson must be something that I believe would be true for others in normal circumstances, not just myself only.

That being said, I don't want this to become a list of rules that seems to tell everyone else what to do. So don't take it that way : )  These are just bits of knowledge that I have come across personally and found to be helpful in living my life. Some Lessons are very practical, some are spiritual, others emotional or relational... they cover the whole span of my existence! Following my own advice, I want to be "humbly confident" that I am exploring the life I have been given and searching for truth and wisdom in all things.

And please, if you have some Life Lessons that you would like to share, let me know!

No matter how much great
potential I see in a person, there is no use in wishing for them to change if they themselves do not also desire to change for the better.

When you practice the Art of Happy Moments, also called Little Joys of Life, also called Gratefulness, then existence is much sweeter.

A community of people who support you and whom you also can support in their endeavors is essential to being well-balanced and happy.

There are seasons of people who come and go in your life. It is okay to call them friends during that season.

Some people will stay in your life much longer than a season. They are forever friends. Cherish them.

Being yourself is important, but it's very important to also discern which parts of yourself are flawed. 

A discussion is impossible with someone who just wants to argue or tell you how stupid you are.

If you want something badly enough then you will have to work for it.

Don't be a music snob (publicly, at least). Nobody likes you better for it.

No matter how "different" you are, there is always someone similar to you in the world.

Don't take life for granted. 

Don't take love for granted.

Don't do stupid things when you're young just because you think it won't have an affect on your later life.

The vast majority of people are content to be average but that doesn't mean you have to be.

Don't beat yourself up continuously for making mistakes. Learn from them, ask forgiveness, and move on.

Reading books and talking to people are two of the best ways to educate yourself.

If you become sick, there is a reason. Find that reason so you can apply the remedy.

Money is not worth as much as you think it is, both literally and figuratively.

Use the money you do have wisely.

Every single thing you do, say, think, hear, and see matters.

There is always someone who is better at something than you are. So don't be prideful.

What you eat matters. Be careful about what you allow into your body. Eat more vegetables and fruit every day.

You'll never be great if you are content to stay the way you are now.

You probably don't need fifty separate outfits of clothes for each season. Maybe you don't even need thirty. Who knows?

Practice lucid dreaming. It makes sleep a lot more fun. Then write down your dreams.

If you call a place home, even a temporary home, keep live plants. It does wonders for the atmosphere.

People will tell you that they know what is right and not right. The foundation of right and wrong is knowable, so know where to go for the real answers. 

It's okay to not like something that everyone else likes.

Think twice before saying a thought. Think three times before saying it if you are talking with someone you don't like. 

Climb trees whenever you get the chance.

Don't make excuses. 

Only do things that are worthwhile.

Get out into nature way more than you do now.

If you are afraid of something, figure out why so that you can understand or conquer that fear.

Seek advice from people older and wiser than you are. Emphasis on older. That's why it's important to have mentors.

Either be honest in what you say or keep your mouth shut. Don't lie.

Go barefoot whenever you can. Or at least go without shoes. Feel what and where you are walking.

Use the library as the amazing free resource it is.

Draw, paint, dance, sing, and make music even if you think have no talent for it. Express yourself through the arts. Expression is one of the gifts of life!

Try to look at things from a different perspective.

Treat children like the real people they are.

98% of movies aren't worth seeing in the theater.

99% of movies aren't worth seeing at all. Unless you're a film critic : )

Expect the unexpected to happen. Interruptions of your planned schedule are a part of your life, not a detraction from it.

Giving your friends unexpected joys also brings you joy.

When someone accuses you of wrongdoing, think very carefully about your response.

Do what you love. Sometimes money will follow. Sometimes it won't.

Send hand-written letters and hand-made things to those you love, because a little bit of you is put into what you make.

Try new things.

Sit and stare out the window occasionally. 

Find enjoyment in all kinds of weather. That way, no matter what the weather, you'll always find something to like about it!

Care for and about others, but don't worry over them; that doesn't do anyone any good.

Most people would love a listening ear. Is it really so much to ask that you give a little of your time to their stories?

Stories are what life is all about. The Universe is one great Story.

If you are lonely, DO something about it.

Never compromise your morals in an attempt to make someone notice you.
    Be humbly confident in all that you set out to accomplish while always keeping an open ear to those who would give you good advice.