Coping with the Madness of 2020: Journal!

Last week my friend Chella posed a question on Facebook: What are you doing to bear this anxiety? I can’t remember if I answered her question, but I’ve certainly thought about it.

Let’s face it–life can be hard, but 2020 has taken hard to a seemingly unbearable level. The year has presented a perfect storm of anxiety-inducing madness. There are things I’ve always done to deal with anxiety, stress, and the general disappointments and heartache that life brings: Pray. Meditate. Journal. Walk. Create. Though this hasn’t changed since we entered this tumultuous year, my activity in these areas has ramped up quite a bit since March.

I thought I would kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone” and get a few short blog posts out of my answer to Chella’s question. I’m not answering in any particular order. It’s all important and part of my spiritual practices and soul journey.

If I don’t write, I feel like I’m not breathing, so I journal.

I journal every day—in the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening if I don’t crash first. I have literally seven [or is it eight?] journals going at once; they serve different immediate purposes, but they all work to save my sanity.

Weekends, though, provide freedom to journal without worrying about schedules and tasks.  I can spend hours journaling without disruption. Today, I’m adding something new to my practice–a guided journal.

I rarely have a shortage of words, so I’ve never needed journaling prompts or guidance. I don’t think I’ve ever done a full guided journal before, but since my friend Dee [Delores James of Keep It Tight Sisters] wrote one, I am doing one now.

It’s nice to sit down this Saturday evening  with her latest publication, It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. In addition to plenty of writing space, the book includes affirmations, quotes, motivation, lists, writing and thinking prompts, and contemplative exercises to guide the self-care journey. Bonus: It’s purple! 🙂

If you’d like to learn about the therapeutic [and other] benefits of journaling and some simple approaches to journaling, see my July 2016 post: Journaling: Unleash the Magic. If the idea of a completely blank page is a bit daunting, a guided journal like Dee’s is a great place to start!

Note: All the images in this post are from It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. Even though this sounds like a sponsored post, it is not. 😀

25 Silver Nuggets: Pursue the Ever After

My hubby and I have been married for 25 years today! I’m asking “where did the time go?” like I did a week ago when my son turned 13.

People have many ideas about marriage and a whole lot to say about how we should do this or that to make a marriage “successful.” I’m certainly no marriage specialist, but I’m back with another random list of nuggets picked up in the 25 years my hubby and I have been married. Each item could easily be its own blog post, but I’d rather spare you a 25-part, month-long series on marriage. 😀

  1. The wedding is not the culmination of love. It’s barely the beginning.
  2. If you can live with his snakes, you must really love him. Or her. [We’ll just allow “snakes” to serve as a metaphor for that one thing your spouse loves that you do not love so much].
  3. Men really are from Mars, and women really are from Venus. And that’s perfectly okay.
  4. The phrase “two become one” does not mean surrendering your individuality, so hold on to your voice and your identity.
  5. You’re not half a person. No other human can complete you.
  6. Be your spouse’s greatest supporter.
  7. Words matter, so it is better to be silent through anger than speak words that linger long after the argument is over.
  8. Hard times eventually pass, so push through them together. Such grit in marriage strengthens the bonds of love and trust.
  9. You never have to “go it alone.” There is someone walking with you through the scariest, darkest moments.
  10. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  11. Flexibility is strength.
  12. Humility is strength.
  13. God in everything. Absolutely.
  14. No one’s “in charge.” Be the boss of you.
  15. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  16. We’re all weird.
  17. Sing and dance together…often.
  18. At the end of the day…love.
  19. Apologize.
  20. Forgive quickly.
  21. It’s okay to be weak and let your spouse carry the “whole load” at times.
  22. Say “I love you” often.
  23. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  24. There’s profound security in knowing there is at least one person in the whole world [besides your parents]–who has seen you at your best and at your worst, who’s seen you after the masks have been removed and the performance has ended–who loves you anyway.
  25. The part of the fairytale everyone loves is “happily ever after.” Fairytale plots are unrealistic, but pursue the “ever after.” That part is real.

Marriage is work, but it’s good work–the kind that expands and firms up your soul.

My hubby is brilliant, funny, gifted, compassionate, committed, and so many other wonderful things. We determined before marriage that heaven is one common goal we will not compromise. I can’t imagine navigating the madness of life without him and I’m grateful for our continuing march into the “ever after” together. 

Vote: New Blog?

My hubby recently uncovered a treasure trove of writings, photographs, and journals from my early life. As I was looking through everything, it seemed a waste to just have things sit in folders and notebooks, unread.

I enjoyed revisiting younger me and reconnecting with her, so I’ve been thinking about starting another blog to allow her to speak–without the intrusions of “present” me.

It is absolutely insane for me to even consider another blog. I have to steal time for this one.  But summer always makes me feel like I can conquer all–including time.

So what do you think? Should my early musings get their own blog? Or should I make it a regular feature–twice monthly, maybe–of my current blog? Or leave it alone altogether?

Vote below.

Seven Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Postcard from Love Noter Angela C.

I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of summer as a season. You won’t find me outdoors much between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. It’s just too hot for me!

Do you–like me–avoid the higher temperatures?  This doesn’t mean you have to stay “cooped up” in your house or bored until the heat lessens. If you’re looking for some ways to enjoy summer and stay really cool, here are a some “tried and true” ways to get out of the house and beat the heat:

Head Out to the Air Conditioning

  • Read at the mall. Grab a book, toss it in your bag, and head out the house to a bench in the air-conditioned mall. When your eyes need a brief rest from reading, you can people-watch or window-shop. If the mall is too far away or not the kind of place you like to hang out, a coffee shop is a great alternative.
  • Hang out at the Public Library. My baby sister and I were just talking about all the wonderful opportunities for growth and entertainment libraries offer. Her local library offers free painting and crafting classes, piano lessons, and so much more. There is always something at the public library here in Huntsville–readings, lectures, crafting, film viewings, book clubs, author signings, discovery centers, special exhibits, and so much more. There is literally something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do it’s a wonder we don’t leech off the library’s AC every day.
  • Journal at the Pool. Kids love pools, so what better way to give your kid what he or she wants and get what you want without compromising. Public indoor pools offer the perfect opportunity for you to do a little art journaling or writing. The lifeguards make sure your kid is safe, so you can take “me-time” with your kid in view. Be sure to bring along your favorite pens, pencils, stickers, and washi tape. 😉

Just Outside Your Home, but Close Enough to Air Conditioning

  • Plan an Iced Tea Party. Host an iced tea party for two or three of your friends. You can do this outdoors under a large tree or on your patio. Serve a variety of cold teas and your favorite cold salads, chilled fruit, and raw veggies. I love tea, but I’m not likely to sip hot tea during the scorching days of summer.
  • Step Outdoors. Open your eyes to the “cool” things just outside your door. Spend some time watching from your patio or from your porch. You’ll observe birds, squirrels, bunnies, even foxes, deer and coyotes, depending on where you live. Even the cloud formations can keep you engaged for a really long time. There’s so much to see just outside our front (and back) doors.

Rainy Day (or Indoor Fun)

  • Create a Vision Journal. You’re familiar with vision boards. A vision journal is the same thing, but created in a notebook instead of on a board. Go through old magazines and cut out pictures that represent what you really want in life for your home, career, vacation, health, spiritual development, self-care, etc. Create collages on the journal pages. Refer to the book from time to time and imagine yourself with your dreams fulfilled. Now, of course, you want to do more than create colorful collages of a beautiful life; you also want to make plans for achieving the dream.
  • Private Concert. Your phone, tablet, and/or computer are filled with music, some you haven’t listened to in a long time, if at all. Create a list of your favorites from the past (or present). Turn down the lights, turn up the music, and host your own concert. If your family members want to join in, let them! The more the merrier. (Tip: If you don’t feel like searching through your extensive music archive, you can find a lot of your favorites on YouTube. Create a playlist there and it’s always available for you).

Summer will be over before we know it, so stay indoors and have some summer fun!

 

Journaling: Unleash the Magic

Faith Journal: This is one of four journals I use regularly. It holds scripture, snippets from devotional readings, prayers, intercessory prayer lists, inspirational quotes, meditations, sermon notes. The notebook is a Staples Arc. The flexibility of the disc-bound system is perfect for journaling.

The ARC: This is one of five journals I use regularly. The notebook is a Staples Arc. The flexibility of the disc-bound system is perfect for multi-focused journaling.

I’m elated! Today I spent time with some really super women who meet periodically for journaling and vision board workshops. One of my friends, who spearheads the journaling program, asked that I come and talk about journaling with the group. Although I journal a lot and in multiple ways, I felt I had nothing to say that she probably hadn’t already said. My hubby, who knows how I excited I get talking about writing in notebooks and pretty papers, pens, and stickers, said–“Do what you always do. Show them what you do. Be you.” [Forgive the overuse of forms of the word “journal” in this post].

So that’s what I decided to do. I gathered as many crafting tools as could fit in my rolling scrapbook case–a zillion pens in various colors and weight, washi tape, stickers, Project Life cards and elements, Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, paper trimmer, Martha Stewart punches, old magazines, three of my journals, camera, and iPad (of course). It would have been fine with me if we’d just sat down and played with stickers and washi tape! But I’m sure the women wanted to do more than play with pretty things. And I appreciate their tolerating me.

Journaling isn’t easy for everyone. Besides the “intimidation” of writing on a regular basis or confronting one’s feelings fully, one has to take time to journal. And that is often the most difficult part. But it doesn’t have to be so involved or time-consuming, and it should be something to look forward to.  In a life that is often too busy for words, journaling is typically the only “me time” I can manage!

I shared with the group some no-stress ways to journal. I use every method I suggested, so I know they’re quick, easy, painless, and even fun. Some of you may be looking for easy ways to journal, so I thought I’d share. 🙂

  • Morning Pages: Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests “Morning Pages”–three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.”   You can read more about morning pages by visiting Cameron’s site: Julia Cameron Live.
  • List Journaling. I wrote about list journaling in a post last fall.  I really enjoy Cori Spieker’s (The Reset Girl’s) monthly list prompts for adults and little ones.  You can access the lists and find out more at her website:  Listers Gotta List from the Reset Girl.
  • Scripture Journaling.  Scripture journaling requires nothing more than actually handwriting and meditating on biblical texts daily.  I thoroughly enjoy the quiet time of contemplation. I’m sure there are a number of scripture writing plans available, but here are two themed plans I recently started using (If you prefer to purchase a journal for scripture writing, check out the Write the Word journal offered by The Lara Casey Shop):
  • Photo Journaling. Photo journaling requires little writing, but it requires making a concerted effort to “see” the world in which one moves. Phone cameras make photo journaling a whole lot easier. The two sites below offer inspiration and motivation for documenting life through photographs.
  • Digital Journaling.  Though some people journal exclusively using their phones, tablets, and/or computers, apps make journaling appealing even to the non-journaler.  Each of the apps listed below allow a combination of text, pictures, handwritten notes, drawings, information from websites, and digital content from other sources.  Each also accommodates folders and/or tags so we can categorize our thoughts and musings by subject or theme.
    • Day One
    • Evernote
    • Notes
Scripture Journaling. I scripture journal inside my planner because I want to have access to the day's scripture throughout the day. I use washi tape and stickers in my faith journaling.

Scripture Journaling. I scripture journal inside my planner because I want to have access to the day’s scripture throughout the day. I use washi tape and stickers in my faith journaling.

In a conversation about the importance of writing, one of my good friends, Dee, a professor in the area of health and human performance at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) pointed out that “our brains were designed to generate ideas not store things.” That makes it all the more important for us to flesh out our ideas in writing and record not only what we want to remember but also use writing to sort out and untangle all the “stuff” that gets crammed into our brains every.single.day. Writing unleashes our creativity, yes, but it also frees our minds from the heaviness of our day to day interactions and stretches our critical thinking “muscles.” I like the way Dee put it–“When we write, magic happens.”

Write on!

List Journaling: What Makes 4th Graders Happy?

I really, really don’t have time to write a blog post, but I must interrupt my unplanned blogging hiatus to share with you how I thoroughly enjoyed the brief time I had with a group of fourth graders earlier today (my little one’s class). We talked about and played with some of the things that bring me joy–writing, list journaling, stickers, and washi tape!

The kids must have been as excited as I was: One of the parents sent me a text message thanking me for taking time out to do something special with and for the kids.  I joked that the kids are really my captive audience–since very few of my adult friends want to play with stickers and make lists just for the fun of it.

I spoke with the kids about list journaling, showed them a “100 Things That Give Me Joy” list I wrote a little over a year ago, and challenged them as a class to write 100 things that make them happy.  I figured, if everyone worked toward writing 10 each, maybe, we’d get to 100 collectively.IMG_5593

They had a blast selecting stickers and washi tape and decorating their new journals. In fact, some of them spent a lot more time on decorating than they did on writing!

If you’ve ever wondered what makes kids happy, here’s a list–in their own words:

  1. God/Jesus
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Animals
  5. Robots
  6. Writing
  7. Playing
  8. Singing
  9. Dancing
  10. L.A.R.P.ing (If you guessed that my child wrote this one, you are absolutely right! Just in case you don’t know, LARP is an acronym for “Live Action Role Play”)
  11. Owls
  12. Reading
  13. School
  14. Bunnies
  15. Lions
  16. Tigers (and bears, oh my!–I added that part for dramatic effect.  Did it work?)
  17. The Philippine eagle (very specific!)
  18. Owls
  19. Panthers
  20. Falcons
  21. Basketball
  22. Soccer
  23. A great view
  24. Drawing smiling faces
  25. Singing happy songs
  26. Rollerskating
  27. Watching television
  28. Physical Education (PE)
  29. Resting
  30. Swimming
  31. Dressing up
  32. Doing hair
  33. Sleep (Yes!)
  34. Going to restaurants
  35. Movies
  36. Reading the Bible
  37. Eating
  38. Love (Hugs for this one)
  39. Brother
  40. Mom (Of course!)
  41. Flowers
  42. Ice cream (Surprisingly, I saw this only on one list)
  43. My pet
  44. This journal (Aww…)
  45. My toys
  46. When people play with me
  47. When my parents buy things for me
  48. Acting
  49. Taking care of animals
  50. Drawing
  51. Watching the flags outside the school
  52. Swimming during the hot summer
  53. Working out at the gym near home (This child is inspiring! How many nine-year-olds work out?)
  54. Watching stars in the sky
  55. Superman movies
  56. Football
  57. Iceskating
  58. Sleepovers
  59. Zoos
  60. Candy
  61. Flowers
  62. Stars
  63. Cake
  64. America
  65. Sewing
  66. Quilting
  67. The color pink
  68. Emojis
  69. Space

IMG_5595We fell a bit short of the 100-mark, but most of the kids wrote at least 10 things. It just so happens that many of the same things make them happy.  As a whole, they seem to value and find joy in things that really matter–God, family, and friends were on almost every list. I like that they take pleasure in participating instead of passively watching.

Their lists did not reflect the materialism that is so much a part of our cultures.They proved the point that no matter how much they whine, beg, and “barter,” electronics, clothes, and the latest “things” don’t really make kids happy.

We ended our short time together with their making a commitment to continue working on the lists and writing in their journals.  That was the goal–to get them writing for pleasure on a regular basis.

Thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for sharing your class time with me!

Just in case you have no idea what I mean by “list journaling,” it is simply journaling via list, usually based on a prompt. Although it is an easier way to approach journaling, it is amazing how much we can learn about ourselves through listing.

If you’re interested, there are many wonderful list journal “communities.”  My favorites are:IMG_5597

  • The Reset Girl’s #ListersGottaList–provides monthly list journaling prompts for adults and children
  • Kam and Amy’s 30 Days of List–provides journal prompts for three months out the year.  A small fee is required.

You can go all the way out and embellish your journal with stickers, stamps, washi tape, art, etc. or you can keep it simple and just make lists. It’s all up to you!

That’s it for now.  Be sure to “tune in” again soon. I plan to share with you artwork by the same group of fourth graders! Children’s art–one of the things that give me joy!