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Journal-BlkLime2More and more lately I’m looking around and wanting to let things go. Personal things. (Well, aren’t they all personal things?) OK, some very personal things. Journals, things related to past loves, books, and of course, clothing. There’s always clothing we could lose. I really am not someone with a lot of clothing, yet I want it gone.

The journals. As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I journal almost daily. I write in the vein recommended by Julia Cameron of An Artist’s Way, and use it as kind of a morning dump. Get all the crap out of my head that’s swimming around unpleasantly so I can move on with my day. I find it quite healing, comforting, and if nothing else, it keeps me writing something. When I’m done one journal, I move on to the next that I have recently purchased. (TJ Maxx, BTW, always has a great selection of journals, if interested.)

The completed journal sits on a shelf with numerous others. But why save them? So today I was in the mood to skim through one of them to see if, indeed, I had left any pearls of wisdom behind before sending it to the great beyond, aka a dump of its own. Skimming reveals certain patterns – things that I have been struggling with over the time period it covers, my search for answers, where I find clues, what I’ve accomplished, what’s made me happy, where I’m going, and what’s keeping me from getting there. It yielded one important piece of information about a medical issue, so I ripped that page out.

And now I can give this journal the old heave-ho. There’s several more that I think will get the boot in the next day or so. It will open up a small bit of physical space, but more importantly, it will open up space in me. Letting go is always helpful. Not to say we shouldn’t preserve some memories, but at a certain point, they’re not even us anymore. Do they matter? Do they all matter? or can we just let some go?

Because when we let go, we make room for what we want to come in. We are always in transition, at some times more intensely than at others. But when we’re looking to grow and change, making room in our hearts, our minds, and even the actual space in our homes can be welcoming. It can be a little scary. It can be very good. We have to be willing to … just … let … go.

 

 

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I journal almost daily, in the morning, with my coffee, and find it a very effective way to start the day, clearing out cobwebs, jotting down ideas, organizing what-have-you, etc. I am RandomActs-Notes2generally somewhat particular about what size my journal is – as there are limits as to what is most comfortable in one’s lap – but not how plain or fancy the journal may be. After all, this isn’t some formal document, and in the long run, is not going to be kept. I often can pick up a perfectly serviceable journal in the supermarket.

As I was down to the last 2 pages in my current journal, I planned to pick up a new one when I went grocery shopping, but … there was not one to be found of a workable size. All seemed to be notebooks that kids would bring to school, at least 8″ x 10″. OK, then, as mentioned, hardly the Declaration of Independence going in here.

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” ~Maya Angelou

When I opened it, however, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a perforated, light cardboard page behind the cover promoting Random Acts of Kindness! Eight cards you could tear apart, write a note for someone and leave for them or give to them. Now that’s RandomActs-OneCard2pretty cool! And while it has its own hashtags from the manufacturer for learning more, it doesn’t take away from how wonderful an idea this is to put right into the hands of children, (or anyone, really.).

I have always been enamored by Random Acts of Kindness. Most of us actually perform them daily and don’t even think twice about it – holding open a door, picking something up for another, giving a compliment – kindness isn’t hard. We’ve all, I’m also sure, gone a little above and beyond from time to time. One of my personal favorites was a number of years ago when in New Hope, PA, a very popular, artsy town known for its unique shops and restaurants AND for its 25 cents for 15 minutes parking meters. One time, returning to my car, I spotted the meter maid about 6 cars down and coming my way. The meter had expired next to the car directly behind me, so I fed 4 quarters into their meter and bought them an hour. I’m sure you’ve done the same. I was amazed that something so small put such a big smile on my face, even to this day.

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.” ~James M. Barrie

RandomActs-Ideas2

Now if the purchasers of this notebook are at a loss as to what to do with the cards, the reverse side gives lots of examples. As for me, I think I’ll be tearing off at the perf and carrying one with me. You never know when the chance to do a Random Act may arise!

If you are interested in knowing more – for your kids, students, or just for yourself – of course there’s a website for Random Acts of Kindness with all kinds of resources and ideas. I suspect you’re already a kind person, and I’m sure you agree, that in addition to making a however-small difference in the life of someone else,  there’s a lot of giggly-inside, feel good to be had in a Random Act of Kindness.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

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Being still is one of the most wonderful and simple ways we can manage our lives, our feelings, our stress, our actions … you name it.

Journaling2I try, and generally succeed, to journal every day in the morning. Julia Cameron, author of  The Artist’s Way, refers to this as a “morning dump,” getting rid of all the garbage we’re holding in our heads so we can begin the day fresh and with minimal interference from negativity. While she is recommending this for artists, it is, of course, of the same benefit to everyone. I do love to write so this is a wonderful and freeing piece of time, a gift to myself which I do not allow to be disturbed. It’s a great way to sort out some of the stresses and problems we’re dealing with and look at them afresh, as well as plan a new day.

It’s more than that, however. It’s also a time for stillness. Along with my writing, I often take a few minutes to do any of the following — center my breathing, meditate a little, read something metaphysical, and/or do a few affirmations. The stillness is a tremendous benefit to beginning the day, but it also teaches us that we can Meditating2practice stillness any time things starts to get stressful. When we are still, we connect spiritually with ourselves and with our God, higher power, however one perceives that. We open and can listen for guidance.

There are times during certain work projects that I am ready to up and buy myself a ticket on the Crazy Train, it gets so stressful. But if I can remember to pull back, change my scenery just a wee bit, and breathe rhythmically and easily, restore my balance and be still, it can do wonders. Ideally it’s best to do this way before I’m at the ticket booth, but better late than never!

So consider, as your stress and anxiety begin to mount, that you can do something about it before it gets out of hand. Be still and breathe for a minute or two, opening your mind and releasing negativity. It may take a little practice at first, and the beginning of your day is a great time to try it out along with a little journaling. Both are gifts to and for yourself.

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TheArtistsWay-JuliaCameronWhile I try to blog as often as I can, I truly try to do this every single day … journal. I’d been journaling in the past, but what cinched my greater commitment to it was when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She gives her creative readers two assignments, the first of which is to journal daily. I start early and journal first thing before life about me is afoot. Well, right after making coffee and feeding very insistent animals. I curl up and prepare for my day … journal, some spiritual work, enlightening reading … whatever gets me on track.

Journaling and blogging have two entirely different functions. When I blog, I try to bring something enjoyable, enlightening and/or perhaps educational to my visitors. I’d like to make your stopping by worth your while, always knowing not everything I write will appeal to everyone. I enjoy writing and love photography, and hope that what I share appeals in some way.

Journal-BlkLime2When I journal? I am doing what Julia Cameron refers to as a “morning dump,” that is, getting rid of all the crap that is running around in my head – whatever needs to be pulled out and gotten rid of. She suggest writing – always by hand, of course – 3 full pages. I have no strict limits, but write until I’m done, when I’ve committed to paper what I don’t want in my head. It’s surprising what a difference it can make to leave our trials and tribulations on the page. It’s quiet when I journal … most are not yet up … this time is mine. And so my day begins.

What do I journal in? That has varied as well, but what I’ve found I prefer most is something with a spiral binding so I can fold it back and write easily while balancing a coffee mug and maybe an earlier-mentioned animal who has their own additions to make to the journaling process. These journals can be had inexpensively at the local supermarket, (see above), or at times I’ve treated myself to a more exotic journal in gold and what looks like silk that I’d gotten from Two Buttons awhile back.

Journal-TwoButtons2I wholeheartedly recommend journaling for anyone. You don’t have to like writing nor be good at it; you only have to want to clear out your head for the day ahead. It can make a difference. Do I go back and read what I’ve written? Rarely. My journal also isn’t a memoir. Merely a way to make my day a happier and/or more sane one, and who wouldn’t like that?

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