Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

The cathartic practice of keeping a daily journal

Self Developmentphoenixarttally

It seems to have been getting increasingly noisy in my head. Every mum probably knows what I mean. I think it is inevitable when you find that, on top of your own, you are keeping every family member's schedule, diet and personal comfort in the back of your mind. Did the kids take their jumpers to school today? Have we eaten way too much red meat this week? Which night did Beloved say he would be late home this week? If you add to all of that the usual mid life crisis stuff like...what is it all for?  what is my life purpose?  did I really think I would exercise three times this week?  shouldn't I have achieved more in my career by now?  is this what I really want to do for the rest of my days? ...then what you have in your head is a veritable cacophony.

Mixed media painting created in the online class  'Lifebook 2014'

I'm happy to say that I have, quite recently, found something simple which seems to be rather helpful. It is advice that I have seen in various guises from the woo-woo to the scientific.  Julia Cameron, in 'The Artist's Way', calls it morning pages, and describes it as "meeting your shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee". Carrie Barron M.D.,  in 'The Creativity Cure', calls it  'insight' and the online journal provider Penzu says it is just plain good for you.

Essentially, it is journaling. It is a daily practice of writing out whatever is in your head, in whatever format it tumbles out. No regard for spelling, grammar, punctuation or even good sense. Nor in fact do you need to re-read it. And no one else need look at it either. It is like that thing people sometimes suggest you do to vent your anger at another person, when it is unwise or impossible to do so in person. Have you ever been told to write a letter to someone you feel has wronged or hurt you? To say everything you want to, in whatever language you choose? Usually, the advice is then to destroy the letter. The point is not for it to be a communication device. Carol Tuttle talks about the the healthy, open throat chakra that needs self-expression. Not to be heard, but simply to express itself, to release that energy.  I know... if you are not of the incense-burning, yoga and lentil, new age persuasion you were probably rolling your eyes at that.

But believe me it is a strangely cathartic experience. I have been using Penzu, which is contrary to Julia Cameron's advice, that long-hand writing works better, but I find that my typing better matches my speed of thought compared to my lazy handwriting. Somehow, writing out 1000 words per day of this stuff really calms the chattering monkeys in my head. I used to say some of this out loud to long-suffering family members, but I don't think this actually reduced the white noise in my head, and can't have been a great experience for the unsuspecting family member either!  However, spewing it out into a journal, probably never to be read again, somehow does help.  Once I have jettisoned that inevitable but unnecessary baggage I can actually function again. The feeling of not being able to see the wood for the trees dissipates and I can figure out my priorities for the day. Along the way, the odd good idea pops up.

This, I think, is a good habit I am very pleased to be acquiring. How about you - do you keep a journal?