This one’s almost ready to go. It’s framed in terms of letting go, recognizing growth and moving forward. Reflection in action. I’m hoping it can be used in two ways — to reflect on forgiving others and, perhaps more importantly, on forgiving ourselves. An opportunity to lighten the load a bit, to make room for new adventures.
A peek at some early work on a new set of word-themed pages. For now, the words are: better, essential, vivid, brave, forgiven, and cared for. I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion directed inward — about recognizing courage, taking time to take care, and letting go of the past. It's slow going, but I think that's just part of the process. It takes as long as it takes.
This is the first in a series of interviews in which I ask people, “What does it feel like to be you?”
It’s an incredibly personal question to ask someone (even to ask oneself), but what if it’s precisely the question that could help us understand each other better and connect in more meaningful ways? What if it’s a direct and authentic way to find common ground, by focusing on feelings we all experience?
Ella Rose bravely agreed to help me test my hypothesis by sharing what it feels like to be her.
Ella is a single mom of three awesome kids, a dedicated nurse with more than 25 years’ experience and the founder of the Liminal House, a website that helps people tackle decisions surrounding death. Her future plans include journals, retreats and fundraisers, which will one day fund the construction of a contemplative care home for those dying between the ages of 21 and 55.
When I asked her about the feelings that accompany this current moment, as she juggles single motherhood, a full-time career, and her vision for reshaping the conversation around death and dying, Ella answered with five words:
“I always feel like I have to either improvise or improve or manipulate … in important projects and in my life.”
“All of us, if we’re listening, we’re guided . . . Sometimes it’s louder than others, but you know it’s there. You choose whether to listen.”
“I refuse to feel defeated. Even if it’s something heavy, there has to be an upside. But you have to recognize it and hold onto it. Miracles still happen, but people don’t recognize them. They’re in the little things.”
“It means being in between. In between life and death. As a single mom, working full time, looking for a new job, I’m constantly on a seesaw. It’s hard. It can be scary. It can be challenging, but it stretches me to look at other options.”
“I think I always say what I feel. This is something I’ve had to work on. Why do we lie? We’re afraid. What am I afraid of? Because that’s what’s holding me back. We have to be more real with each other.”
In Ella’s hopefulness, I see parallels in my own life. My hopefulness is also rooted in the little things, in recognizing and holding onto moments that carry me through difficult challenges. I also identify with the double-edged experience of being stretched. It feels like there’s never enough time or resources, but it’s precisely the lack of time and resources that pushes me to stretch myself in new and constructive ways. It’s fascinating to me to see the balance Ella brings to this moment – between feeling stretched and stretching herself, in her hopefulness grounded in reality, and most of all in choosing the in-between, the liminal, as the place to fulfill her vision for helping others in their most difficult moments.
How about you? Have you ever experienced any of these feelings in the midst of new projects in your life? Share them with Ella and me in the comments.
Update, July 4, 2019: Thank you so much to everyone who commented for sharing your replies to my journal prompt. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be sending out a secret package to Crystal. I’ll be in touch by email within the next day or so to obtain mailing instructions. Thanks again, so much, for journaling with me. :)
Remember that envelope journal I made yesterday? I’ve decided to fill each of its ten tiny envelopes with a journal prompt and give it away. If you’re interested in receiving a little package from me, leave a comment in reply to the journal prompt below. On Tuesday, July 2nd, at 3:00 pm EDT, I’ll choose one comment at random, announce it here on the blog, and follow up with an email to obtain mailing instructions.
Here’s your prompt, one of my all-time favourites: One little thing about your day today that means a lot.
I’ve been feeling the itch to make something new. Something fun and journal-related. Something with pretty paper.
When I pulled out my paper stash, my mini envelope templates were right on top. It got me to thinking . . . How about a journal made of envelopes?
I chose several sheets of pretty paper and my 2.5”x2” envelope template and started tracing.
I figured out the binding pattern as I went along, which explains the big stitch right at the top. If anyone asks, I totally meant for that to be there. It’s decorative.
Here’s the finished binding:
And the finished journal, from a bunch of different perspectives:
There are ten envelopes in total. I just need to decide how to fill each one. Any ideas?
This cheerful exercise brings together some of journaling’s best features:
Thinking on paper. By composing a thank you note using your journal, you can take a moment to think about someone’s generosity or kindness and what it means to you.
Memory keeping. You’ll create a record of the moment or action for which you’re thankful and that will help you remember it.
Transforming thoughts into action. This is where the power of journaling really shines through. It gives you an easy way not only to recognize your gratitude, but also to act on it.
All it takes are a few simple, specific steps.
Starting in your journal, write your responses to these five prompts:
One person you’d like to thank.
One thing you’d like to thank her or him for.
Two details to describe the thing for which you’re thankful.
One way in which it made a difference to you.
One lovely thing about the person you’re thanking.
Next, select a card or sheet of note paper and turn your prompt responses into a thank you note. Here’s one way you might write it:
Thank you so much for (2.)! I love (3.).
It means so much to (4.). You’re (5.)!
The only thing left to do is sign your name and you’re finished!
In a short sequence of thoughtful steps, you’ve documented a meaningful moment in two ways — in your journal for you to keep and in a note expressing your gratitude to send to someone who will surely be thrilled to receive it.
To make it even easier, I’ve created a new printable journal page that includes all the prompts I listed above. You can download it by clicking here or on the image above. As always, the pdf file includes four page sizes: letter, half letter, A4, and A5.
If you’d like to see more, you’ll find a variety of 10 Minute Journal Pages, free sample pages, and much more in my printables shop.
I have an idea for a new journal page (or set!). It may or may not work out in the end, but I thought it might be fun to think it through with you here on the blog this week.
The page started with the idea of a map. Specifically, I was thinking of those lovely illustrated city or country maps featuring a place and a collection of its streets and landmarks. They’re not drawn to scale, but to give the viewer a sense of the place. I love how sweet they are — full of history or natural beauty, or sometimes the illustrator’s memories of places she visited while she was there.
I wondered if that kind of map might make a good journal page — if the main streets could be a way to represent themes or lists, if intersections could represent relationships between ideas, and if important details could be shown on the map as landmarks. I wondered if a sort of illustrated map/journal page hybrid could be a creative way to explore everyday experiences and seek out new insights.
The result is what you see above. It’s as far I’ve gotten. Now that I see it down on paper, I don’t think it’s quite there yet. It’s not obvious how to approach the page and, when finished, I’m wondering if the map works to clarify ideas in a meaningful way.
I think I’ll step away from it for a while, but I’ll be back here tomorrow with new eyes and a fresh perspective. In the meantime, what do you think?
It’s the kind of sunny Friday afternoon when anything seems possible, so I turned last week’s post on doing the impossible into a new printable journal page. You can download it by clicking right here or on the image above.
Let’s all go out this weekend and take small, but mighty steps toward achieving the impossible.
P.S. As always, the pdf file includes four page sizes: letter, half letter, A4, and A5.
P.P.S. If you’d like to see more, you’ll find a variety of 10 Minute Journal Pages, free sample pages, and much more in my printables shop.
This journal technique is simple and straightforward. It uses a basic question and answer format and requires no tools other than a pen and paper.
There’s just this one thing . . . you’ll be asking the questions AND answering them, which is the key to connecting with your knowledge and experience. It sounds a little unusual, but once you get the hang of it, you may be surprised to discover the depth and breadth of your own wisdom.
Accessing Your Inner Wisdom
Here’s how to begin:
Step one: Ask yourself a question, in writing, in your journal.
Step two: Answer your question, in writing, in your journal.
Repeat steps one and two until you’re satisfied with the work you’ve done.
That’s really all there is to it. Two steps repeated many times. The trick to making it work is not letting yourself off the hook.
Follow Every Answer With a New Question
Let’s say you’ve got a big decision to make, but you’re not sure what to do. You could begin by asking yourself, What should I do?
Your first and most honest answer might be, I don’t know, which is entirely okay. That’s why you’re doing this. Keep going. Ask the next question: Why don’t I know?
Then answer it.
You might not find the answers you seek right away, but don’t let that stop you from following every answer, especially the ones that seem the least helpful and the most unproductive, with a new question.
If you don’t know because you don’t have enough information, ask yourself how to find more information. If you don’t know because it’s a hard question, ask yourself why it’s hard. If you don’t know because you’re afraid to know, ask yourself why you’re afraid.
Then answer your questions and the follow-up questions they inspire, in writing, in your journal. You may find that the answers you’re searching for are already within you, just waiting to be written.
Why Your Journal Is an Excellent Place to Access Your Inner Wisdom
I love this format. It usually doesn’t take long for me to get past the I don’t knows and the I’m not sures to the core of difficult challenges and decisions. It has a lot to do with how I view my journal.
My journal is a safe place to think. It’s a judgment free zone. It’s always there for me when I need it. In return, my journal requires words. It requires me to articulate and describe, and in order to do so, I have to pay attention. I have to stop for a moment and think things through.
The results are often incredibly heartening — a new path forward, a renewed sense of confidence, a new understanding of myself that yields more intentional decisions. I don’t always find perfect answers to my questions, but I always find somewhere to start, something to do to move forward.
If you’d like to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Leave a comment below or drop me a line via email. I’d love to chat!
P.S. I’ve also used aspects of this technique in two of my printable journal pages: When You Just Need a Moment to Think and Reason 10 in my free e-book 10 Good Reasons to Journal, if you’re looking for a place to start.
This little journal isn’t exactly practical. It probably isn’t very sensible either. It’s also lopsided from some angles and each time I make a new one, it’s never quite the same as the last.
But everything about it makes me smile — the cloud-shaped pages, the blue on blue on blue, and the lovely little bow right in the middle. It’s good for sky’s-the-limit brainstorming and head-in-the-clouds musings. It’s also suitable for noting gratitude, good things, and madcap adventures. (I’ve even done a little something with it that you might not expect. I’ll show you in just a moment.)
If you’d like to make your own cloud journal, I’ve whipped up a quick printable and tutorial for you — for moments when you’re feeling a little impractical or un-sensible and a regular rectangular journal just won’t do.
To begin, you’ll find my mini cloud journal template right here or by clicking on the image above or below. (The file includes two page sizes. The first page is letter sized. The second page is A4.)
You’ll also need extra paper to make your cloud pages, a pencil, scissors, something pointy for poking holes (I forgot to include my little sewing awl in the image below, but you’ll see it further down), a sewing needle, and about a 6-8 inch length of thread (I used embroidery floss).
Start by cutting out the cloud templates (image below, left) and tracing them onto your selected cloud paper. I cut out one of the largest clouds and two of each of the remaining clouds (image below, right).
Here’s the unexpected part. After folding each cloud in half individually — I just eyeballed the halfway point and went for it — I arranged the clouds from largest to smallest on the inside of the journal (image below, left), then did the same on the outside (image below, right), so that the largest cloud is the fourth cloud in a stack of seven. This way, there are tiny clouds on the inside and outside of the journal.
Now it’s time to poke the holes and sew the journal together. The red handled item pictured below is the awl I used to make the holes. Again, I estimated a nice middle spot and poked the first hole, then one more above and below (image below, top left).
To sew the binding:
Holding the journal open in front of you, pass your needle and thread through the front middle hole, leaving a tail that you’ll later use to tie a small knot and bow. (image below, top right).
From the back of the journal, pass the needle through the top hole to the front of the journal and then down, through the bottom hole, to the back of the journal. Make sure your tail is to one side of the long stitch you’ve just made (image below, bottom left).
From the back, pass your needle back through the middle hole, this time coming through the front on the side of your long stitch opposite to the tail (image below, bottom right).
Separate your needle from the thread and tie a knot in your thread on top of the long stitch in your journal’s binding. Then tie a lovely little bow and snip the ends of the thread.
That’s it! You’re finished!
I hope your time spent in the clouds while making this little journal inspires all sorts of new sky’s-the-limit adventures.
As always, best wishes and happy journaling!