Journey and journal come from the same root, but by slightly different routes.
The Latin word diurnum means “daily portion.” The English word is a combination of the French journee, meaning daily travel for work, and the old English word diurnal, which has come to mean the day divided by daylight and dark. The combination of the two gives us the word journey, which means both an act of travel from one place to another, and a time of personal growth and change.
To journal means to keep a record of daily events or business, and a private journal is called a diary, also a clear descendant of diurnal. A journal is defined as the publication of a daily newspaper, or any periodical like academic or medical publications. We also call the daily practice of keeping a daily record of events, ideas, emotions and insights journaling. Most software does not recognize this word.
My father was a dedicated journalist, keeping a journal of daily events like a machine for decades. I think the only time he missed writing in his journal was when he was hospitalized for a triple bypass. He didn’t use his journal as a way of examining his emotional life. He just wanted a record of when stuff happened. The birth of a grandson was reported with no greater emphasis than the planting of a new tree. That was his way. We didn’t take it personally.
I have been an intermittent journalist, but my journaling has always been more about the journey than the events. I record my feelings, joys, ideas, frustrations, epiphanies and sorrows, and I use my journal as a tool for creating the life I report on.
How do I want to feel? How do I want this situation to resolve? What do I really want?
I have stacks and stacks of old journals, some actually written in a cobbled-together form of Ogham so as to be entirely secret, entirely mine. It took enormous concentration to write them–at first. Then it became like water. I could effortlessly capture my ideas and thoughts in this strange code, even while engaged in doing my horribly mundane, unsatisfying and tedious job. I even began making my own journals, stitching the pages together and making covers from recycled boxes covered in fabric. It was strangely rewarding. They felt really powerful, even if some of them looked like something the dog chewed up. I got better at it over the years, fortunately.
Once in an effort to release myself from something or other, I actually burned a handful of journals in a giant bonfire. I regretted it for a while, but if you’re gonna let go, let go. Looking back on the time, I am confident that whatever those journals held would not contribute to the betterment of womankind.
But a look back through old journals can be healing and revealing.
And isn’t that why we really do it? To learn from our best teacher, our most thoughtful self?
Last night I happened to be looking for a specific thing in my current journal (which I did not actually make by hand but bought from a bookstore because I can either hand-make a book or get on with the business of hand-making my amazing and beautiful hot mess of a life), and after I found it, I started reading from the beginning. It took me a couple hours, but I read the whole thing, starting May 26. Then I went into my office and pulled the previous journal off the shelf and began to read it, from December 14 to May 25.
What a freaking wild ride this year has been! Holy crap! Who the hell was that January girl? That idea? How long did it take for me to see that it was just not gonna fly? Okay, okay, sometimes you have to dance around the Maypole of a bigger idea, and you just have your one piece of the weaving . . .
Oh, it’s so very valuable. But the biggest takeaway for me was seeing the phenomenal growth and development the past year has brought me, how shifting my thinking in small ways has facilitated huge changes in my being. And now I see it so veryvery clearly, and it fills me with such love for this amazing hot mess of a life I am hand-making.
This is why you hear from trusted teachers, coaches and healers that journaling is a deep and essential practice. I’m telling you now, journaling is the shit. Do it. Grab an empty book and fill it with you. Write down what you want and watch the Universe morph into the shape you desire. Write down what lights you up and be sure to open up space in your life for a lot more of it, because it’s gonna happen.
In addition to my journal, I use a Desire Map daily planner from Danielle LaPorte. I love love love my planner. I have noticed a curious thing with that as well; the longer I use it, the less I have to put on my “Stop Doing” list. The more I intentionally plan my days, and reflect upon them in my journal, the more my life becomes exactly what I want it to be. That’s so powerful I’m gonna say it again, in bigger type:
The more I intentionally plan my days, and reflect upon them in my journal, the more my life becomes exactly what I want it to be.
As Danielle says, “It’s your life. It’s your life. It’s your LIFE.”
It’s your story; be the Writer. Be the Righter. Be the Wright.