Something really special has happened the last few evenings. My kids and I have discovered a new evening ritual. We call it Journal Time.
Normally the time after dinner and before bed is designated for quiet time. We’ll play cards, listen to stories, read books, sip hot tea, or as of late, just sit in a silent row on the couch and pour ourselves into our composition books.
Last night I couldn’t help but wonder what we were all filling our individual pages with. I asked my 11 year old daughter, “what are you journling about tonight?” She turned her page towards me, it was a list. Gifts for friends and family for the holidays. I asked my 7 year old son the same question? He showed me how he was practicing writing his numbers and drawing a picture story about ghosts who meet a human. Then of course I had to give my answer. I was hand lettering an affirmation that was bringing me peace. “Just for today, I will live for this day alone, and not try to solve all of my life’s problems at once.”
Then my son asked me “what are you supposed to write in a journal?” I told him absolutely anything that comes to your mind. Sometimes it might be a list, sometimes it might be a story or a picture, sometimes its a plan for something, or simply the thoughts that are cluttering up your heart or mind. Journaling can help you realize all the things you know. And it can also give your mind a place to create peace and gratitude. Journaling is like a super power! I told them.
I just love writing all kinds of things down. It helps me ground myself and discover my truth. Here are 3 journaling practices I use that are especially good for cultivating more creativity, contentment, and clarity.
Purging for creativity
The purge practice came from the book The Artist’s Way – The practice is to write for a set amount of time, say 10 minutes, without a preconceived prompt or topic in mind. The process implores us to write with complete inhibition, no regard for spelling, structure, or even logic. Just write and don’t stop until the timer rings. The results can bring a sense of lightness or relief. This practice is great for warming up for a creative project as well, cultivating self-awareness, or clearing out a seemingly cluttered or negative mindset.
The Unconditional Gratitude List for contentment The Unconditional Gratitude list comes from Melody Beattie’s book Make Miracles in 40 days. This practice is different from other gratitude practices in that it encourages us to list difficulties and challenges alongside our preferable circumstances. The idea is that we become willing to open our hearts and minds to the unfavorable aspects of our lives and appreciate them for the strength and growth they elicit in our lives. The benefits of making an unconditional gratitude list are endless, but some of the immediate results can include, a sense of groundedness and strength, appreciation and comfort, and It can also be an empowering and effective antidote to depression and/or anxiety.
Here’s what this might look like:
Today I am grateful for:
- The weekend to relax and recharge.
- This instrumental song called Find Enjoyment by Ray Barbee.
- The ache in the center of my back that prompts me to stack my vertebrae, engage my powerhouse, press my crown towards the sky, and breath deep.
- The anxiety I felt this week that sent me searching for peace and finding exactly what I needed in a free audiobook called The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers.
- Tea that smells like oranges and cinnamon.
Getting to Hell Yes for clarity
Getting to Hell Yes communication model came from the book Getting to Hell Yes by Alexandra Jamieson and Bob Gower and it is very helpful in helping make tough decisions or getting clear on group efforts. The practice can be done with one’s self or with another person or group. The goal is to get clear about a topic or endeavor in the kindest and clearest way possible. The process requires each person answer the 4 questions (listed below) in the most complete and honest way possible. It is foundational that the person or persons participating in this are open and receptive, they are patient with themselves and others and pay attention without comment or judgment. The end result is a clear and concise understanding of individual intentions, concerns, needs, and desires. As a result, the information gained can lay the foundation for clear goals and action steps.
Intentions – for this day/goal/project?
Concerns – fears and/or paranoia?
Boundaries – what needs to happen to ensure I feel safe and free, what is needed from self and what is needed from others?
Desires – What would outcome look and feel like if it went exactly my way?