7 Things We Know For Sure About Homeschooling

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Please share with the parents in your life! We need each other.

This article and podcast is a beautiful collaboration between Journaling.com and ProjectHappiness.com. A gift from the founders of Homeschool.com and Laurel Springs School (LaurelSprings.com), this positive and encouraging article and 1-hour podcast was created to help parents homeschool their children during Covid-19.

Project Happiness described the podcast as: “Rebecca and Marilyn remind us all that education is about bonding, joy, growth and a positive mindset. In an environment where so many fear that children will “fall behind,” this is the voice of reassurance and comfort that all is well, and that homeschooling can be the best opportunity to grow closer, reactivate our priorities, and move forward with joy. I am so grateful that such a podcast exists and that its timeless wisdom is here to help generations to come. To be able to visit with two humans who not only walk the talk, but actually invented this genre of education is an inspiring and timely gift.”

Journaling.com · This We Know For Sure About Homeschooling


7 Things We Know For Sure About Homeschooling

Advice from the Founders of Homeschool.com & Laurel Springs School

1: Your Priority Now and Forever is… Bonding, Joy, Growth

You may naturally be thinking that the priority is lesson plans and scheduling. BUT, we believe that the priority right now and forever is… family bonding, joy, and growth. Bonding is incredibly important. It is foundational to our children. Research has shown that deepening the bond with your child enhances well-being, self esteem, the ability to learn, and compassion for others (human and animals). Bonding teaches children to trust, empathize and communicate. This time you have together homeschooling is precious because it allows you to do more bonding.

Joy reduces stress and offers the ability to learn in new and wonderful ways. What happens when your child’s brain is stressed? Stress hormones end up swamping their bodies and increasing adrenaline and cortisol, which affects long term focus and fortitude.

When families first start homeschooling, sometimes parents can feel a lot of pressure to do it “perfectly.” But of course there is no perfect. Perfect is an illusion. We suggest that the priority right now is not “perfect”, it‘s “growth.”And in order for a child to grow, they need to feel safe. So it may take time for some children to rebalance and get used to this new learning culture. It’s perfectly fine to give them that time.

Here are 3 questions for you to ask yourself to make this experience even richer.

Q: How are you feeling about your homeschooling?
Q: Is there anything you want to do to make it more joyful?
Q: What are some ways you will know that your children are growing from this experience?

2: “We’re mediocre today, hurray!” The Importance of Positivity & Gratitude

Some days, mediocre is really good. You show up and you do the best you can. And you celebrate that. Mindset is how we feel about a situation. And the powerful thing is, most of the time, we can decide ahead of time how we are going to feel. For example, you may not have had the choice whether or not to homeschool your children, but you DO have the choice about how you are going to feel about it. In the midst of so much uncertainty, we can enjoy this unexpected gift of time with our children. Some days you feel like a rockstar and other days you will feel like a total failure. Some days your children will be on fire and will get so much done. Other days you may need to take a break and just play. You can’t do it wrong. Children are biologically built to learn. So have fun with this, play with this, relax into this. This time with your children may become one of the highlights, one of the best memories, of your life.

Q: Imagine your family five years from now, looking back on this time, what do YOU want to remember most?
Q: What would you like your children to remember?
Q: What are some things you enjoy doing with your children?

3: Teach to THEIR Learning Style

The next big idea we want to share with you is that each of your children has their own unique learning style. This is a revolutionary idea because when the teaching style matches your child’s learning style, learning just takes off and their special talents and interests are revealed. You have probably heard of these – auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Auditory learners learn best when they can hear the information, visual learners learn best when they can see the information, and kinesthetic or hand-on learners learn best when they get to touch or build things. Rebecca has three children and they each have a different learning style. Her son is an auditory learner. He loves audiobooks and learns best when he can hear a lesson and talk about it. Her youngest child is a visual learner. She likes reading things and using workbooks. Her middle child is a kinesthetic learner. She is moving all the time and likes to build and create things with her hands. She is also the athlete of the family.

Here’s the tricky part. Rebecca is an auditory learner so her son and she are in sync. She teaches by talking and he learns by hearing. So that works out really well. But what about her visual learner and her kinesthetic learner? It’s normal for us to teach in the way that WE learn best. But that may not be how THEY learn best. So what can we do? At its core, learning styles are about caring for others. It’s about having compassion for how your child learns.

Let’s also talk about a child’s learning environment. During this unique time you can support them to discover not only HOW they learn best, but WHERE they learn best. Some children enjoy sitting at a table or desk, others like sitting on the floor or working on their bed with their dog by their side. Your child may enjoy a quiet room, or having background noise or music. Some children are morning learners and others need time to wake and orient themselves to the day. Some children do better when they have pens, pencils and a notebook that reflects their favorite color.

This is also a wonderful time to understand and support your child’s innate talents; such as music, math, movement, interpersonal communication, mechanics, humor, and animals. We all have talents that are unique and this is a perfect time to include those talents into their learning experience. Taking apart a computer, having a meaningful conversation, dancing, making jokes, doing art projects, cooking, caring for animals, and journaling are fantastic ways of incorporating talents into your child’s daily life. This is learning, and might end up being some of the most important learning they will do.

Here are four questions to help you make the most of this information.

Q: Are you an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner?
Q: What learning styles are your children?
Q: What learning personality are your children drawn to? How do they like to show their learning: by building something or performing, by thinking deeply and telling you all about it, by talking, inventing, drawing, or completing workbook, textbook or online assignments?
Q: How can you adapt your teaching to match their learning style?

4: Children Support What They Help Create

The idea that “people support what they help create” is based in the understanding that if I am part of a situation or project then I’m going to do my best to make it successful. It’s human nature. You see, there is a part of us that wants to help. Studies show that when presented with another person’s problem, it is natural to try and solve it. No matter what the outcome is, just being part of the process feels powerful.

Start by sharing an observation. “I notice that you two seem to be arguing and fightIng more than normal. Have you noticed that too? Why do you think that is?”

As parents, our natural tendency may be to jump in and tell our children what to do (and sometimes we need to). Unfortunately, that doesn’t always solve the problem and puts us on opposite teams. The fighting may stop for a moment, but it comes back later. By compassionately sharing your observation, you have stepped out of the problem and shined a light on a challenge that THEY seem to be having. By stepping back a bit, you can help facilitate creative solutions.

Listening and working as a team is good for solving problems AND for creating dreams. We used to ask each of our children, “What is your #1 goal?” Then we made ourselves really listen to their answers. We weren’t allowed to downsize their goal or protect them by telling them that their goal might not be realistic. When Rebecca’s son said that his #1 goal was to learn how to drive every kind of boat, that became the #1 priority, as important as reading, math or science. You take your child’s goal seriously and you figure it out. Usually it’s not the goal that is important. Its you listening to them that really matters. And it’s who they become as a person as he or she works on that goal. They are building grit by discovering new ways to accomplish their goals.

Q: What is your child’s #1 goal right now? (Try to ask each of your children.)
Q: How can you help them achieve their goals?
Q: What is your #1 goal and what can you do to make progress on it?

5: It’s Time to Journal

When people try a new thing, like homeschooling, emotions come up. Journaling helps you release those feelings in a healthy way so that you and your family can move forward with less friction, more ease, and more joy. One of the most exciting methods of journaling is called “expressive writing.” Did you know that if you journal before a surgery or medical procedure, you will heal faster than people who don’t journal? This is powerful. Expressive Writing is also scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and it improves relationships and even children’s test scores. The best news is that it’s fast and easy to do.

All you have to do is: pick a topic (like homeschooling or something that is challenging you), and write down what you are feeling about it. Let it all out. By slowing down and shining a light on your feelings, you release them. Otherwise, fears, judgments and doubts burrow in behind-the-scenes and without you knowing it, they can negatively affect how you see and experience the world around you. Expressive Writing is a game changer. If you are having any stresses, fears, or worries about your homeschooling, get it out of your system by writing it down. This helps you to feel better and also gives you clarity and a fresh perspective. As time goes by and new “stuff” comes up, you can do expressive writing on those topics too.

Journaling is worth your time. Especially during busy and stressful times, the pay off is big. It puts you in a flow state and when you are in a flow state you get more done because you are experiencing less “friction.” You’re happier and you feel lighter about life. And because YOU are happier, the people around you become happier too.

Here are three questions to ask yourself.

Q: If you were to create a Bullet Journal, what types of things would you keep track of? Would it help you to have a daily to-do list?
Q: If you made a family Nature Journal, what would you put in it?
Q: If you were to do some Expressive Writing, what would you write about?

6: They Will Not Fall Behind

We recently participated in a webinar for Project Happiness that focused on “homeschooling during Covid-19.” There were about 300 participants in the live webinar and they came from around the world, all schooling their children at home. These parents live in different countries but had one thing in common: they were all afraid that their children were going to fall behind and they worried that it might be their fault and that they “were not doing enough.”

This is a common fear. So let’s talk for a moment about what parents really fear when they think about their children falling ”behind.” Usually this means “behind their peers“ or ”behind grade level”. The first words of comfort we want to give you is that most people in the world are in the same situation as you. Schools are already planning on how they are going to adjust the curriculum to make up for this time. They know that when the students return there are going to be gaps that need to be filled.

And what if your children aren’t “behind” because of this experience? What if they end up “advanced” because of it? For example:

* Since they have been spending more time with adults, their vocabulary has probably improved a great deal.
* They may have uncovered a special talent like art, music, cooking, a foreign language, or nature.
* Perhaps, because of homeschooling, you have discovered that you have a child with a learning challenge in reading or math or in a particular subject area. This will advance your child because now that you know about it, you can find someone to help you with it.

Remember to be good to yourself, focus on the positive, and take time to celebrate all the ways your children and you are learning and growing.

Q: If you were going to put together a learning portfolio for your child, what subjects would you put in it?
Q: Can you think of a couple of goals, that if accomplished, would be a huge comfort to you?
Q: Do you think your child may have a learning challenge? What have you noticed? Who do you think can help you with this?
Q: Can you think of some fun ways you can keep the learning going this summer?

7: “Life is a Marathon…”

In the beginning, the quarantine and the homeschooling that came with it, required a lot of “sprints”. We had to quickly reorganize our schedules and quickly learn new technologies. The level of adapting that we have done is impressive.

But now that the quarantine has gone from a sprint to a marathon, you may be noticing some areas in your life where you need to make some adjustments. Normally, when we think of balance we think of three areas of self-care: physical, mental, and emotional or spiritual. If we get out of balance in any of these areas the enjoyment of life is diminished.

Do you need to get better at asking for help? The best way to do this is to use “I” statements, rather than blaming or complaining. You will get a better response if you start with, “I have something I would like to talk about. I have been noticing that I am doing most of the house work. I really need some help. That would help me a lot.”

This idea of rebalancing and recognizing that life is a marathon applies to homeschooling too. Rebecca’s oldest daughter feels that she is watching too much TV and she has decided to do more exercise, more learning, and more gratitude. She has made a monthly calendar for herself and every day she writes a G if she took time that day to list out what she is grateful for, an E if she exercised, and an L if she did something that counts as learning, like watching a TedTalk or reading a non-fiction book.

Living mindfully and knowing when we are in balance (and out of balance) makes all the difference and is one of the wisest things we can do.

Thank you for letting us share our thoughts with you. Homeschooling was one of the highlights of our life and we want so much for you to enjoy it too.

Be good to yourself and remember these seven things:

#1. Yes, the academics are important, but equally important is family bonding, personal growth, and daily joy.
#2. The mindset you bring to your homeschooling makes a big difference. So try to “catch them being good” whenever possible.
#3. If you can, try to match your teaching style to their learning style – visual, auditory, or hands-on (kinesthetic).
#4. When you need to make a change or set boundaries, remember that kids support what they help create.
#5. This is a good time to do photo journaling, therapeutic journaling, art journaling and bullet journaling.
#6. You may worry that you are not doing enough and that your children are going to fall behind. Try to relax as much as you can. Children are natural learners.
#7. After you have been homeschooling for awhile, check to make sure you are in balance. Take good care of yourself.

Here are two questions to think about.

Q: Are there any areas where you feel you need to rebalance?
Q: What are some things you can do to take good care of yourself?

About the Authors

MARILYN MOSLEY GORDANIER is the Founder of Laurel Springs School, the first online K-12 school in the United States. She has worked with thousands of home-learning families and is considered to be one of the foremost experts in distance learning. Marilyn is an advocate for education worldwide and co-founded Educate Girls Now (educategirlsnow.org) to raise awareness of the dire conditions of Afghanistan girls and to ensure they receive an education and are not forced into early marriage

Marilyn can be reached at Marilyn.Mosley@gmail.com


REBECCA KOCHENDERFER is co-founder of Homeschool.com, the #1 homeschooling site on the Internet. She is the author of several books including: Homeschooling for Success, Joyful Homeschooling, The Summertime Survival Guide for Parents, Homeschooling & Loving It, Joy Journal, and 30 Days of Joy. Rebecca currently serves as Founder and Host of Journaling.com.

Rebecca can be reached at Rebecca@Journaling.com

Nature Journaling: Infuse Your Writing with Words from the Wild

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Any opportunity to examine life through a new lens is a gift. The time we spend outdoors provides a different vantage point. The smells and sounds that flood the senses as we walk in nature shifts thinking and puts us into a more mindful state of being.  

What is Nature Journaling?

Nature journaling is simply the act of recording observations we make in the wild. These can be about the sky, bird songs, and trees we encounter, or about internal revelations that surface as we walk. Sketches, paintings, poems, and narrative text are all methods used to record these moments.

The Benefits of Nature Journaling

  • Nature journaling sharpens our focus. When we stop to record observations, we look more closely at details. We see more. We notice patterns.
  • Time in nature helps declutter and quiet overactive thinking.
  • New ideas and creative inspiration grow roots in the wild.
  • Inspired learning takes hold as we learn to identify new birds, insects, flora and fauna.
  • As we cultivate deeper awareness of nature’s cycles and rhythms, we become better stewards of the environment.
  • Time outdoors is invigorating and infuses all forms of self-expression with vibrant energy.
  • Multiple studies show a correlation between time in nature and mental health.

How to Get Started

Just like most journaling techniques, there is no right or wrong way to keep a nature journal. Some journals are filled with words, while others burst with bits of art and treasures collected on walks.

You may choose to journal while you are out on your walk. If so, you’ll only need a lightweight journal, pen, and art supplies. Or perhaps you’d prefer to carry home a few souvenirs from your walk—an acorn or a bird’s feather as reminders of moments to write about when you return home.

Nature Writing Prompts

Its liberating to be out in nature without an agenda, task list, or actual plan. And yet it can also be grounding to enter a new environment with one’s eyes turned to a goal or purpose. If the latter point resonates, take some of these ideas on your next walk in the wild.

  • Experiment with leaf rubbings
  • Revisit a special spot each week for a year and note the changes the seasons bring. Make measurements. Note changes of color. Observe plants going to seed or just about to blossoms. Sketch or write about the processes at play.
  • Keep a catalog of birds, flowers, trees and insects you spot. If you see something you can’t identify, snap a photo or make a sketch. Bring home the picture and look it up.
  • Carry an animal tracks identification book and follow wild “footsteps” through snow and mud. See where they take you, and write about the places you wind up.
  • Create nature stamps with goodies collected on your walk. Decorate your journal with them.  
  • Bring a question on your walk or a problem you are wrestling with. Walking in nature provides new clarity. When you are able, write down what you discover.

Nature Journaling with Children

Nature journaling is a way to get outdoors with your child and connect them with the environment in meaningful ways.

This moment together can be relaxing and grounding. It will evolve naturally with little preparation on your part. There’s no need for much structure or planning. Rather it’s a time to move slowly with your child—or to race through a nature-made obstacle course if that’s their thing! It’s a moment to wake up to the amazingness of everything that surrounds us.

Help your child see what’s happening beneath their feet and high above their heads. Guide their eyes toward the complex ecosystems that surround them. Count how many shades of green and brown your child can see. Encourage the use of all five senses as they walk. What do they see, smell, touch, hear, and (if you know how to safely identify wild foods) taste?

When your child is ready to rest, find a warm sunny patch of grass. Drink some water, and then pull out those journals. You may be amazed by the ways your child fills the pages.

An Exercise to Practice While Sheltering in Place, with Merle R. Saferstein

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In 1974, I participated in an Ira Progoff workshop in which we were given a values clarification exercise asking us to list twenty things that bring us happiness. Upon completion of the list, we were given a number of questions related to what we had written.

Based on that exercise, I have created the following exercise which I am currently using in journaling circles and legacy classes which I am facilitating.

List ten things that brought you joy prior to sheltering in place.

List ten things that currently bring you joy while sheltering in place.

  • Now that you are sheltering in place, do you see anything different about how you are bringing joy into your life?
  • What do you miss the most from before?
  • Do you think you might add something new to your life after, and if yes, what would that be?
  • Prior to sheltering in place, how did you reach out to others? Currently, how are you reaching out now? What does that look like for you?
  • Is there any way that you feel a shift in your core values since sheltering in place, and if yes, how does that look to you?
  • What did you learn from doing this exercise?
  • When I reflect on this, I notice….
  • When I reflect on this, I feel…
  • What makes me happiest these days is…

Journal to Connect with Your Guardian Angels

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We say it on the podcast all the time: there isn’t a wrong way to journal. In fact, the beauty of this tool is its flexibility. There is a journaling method out there for everyone. Our goal at Journaling.com is to help you find the methods that resonate best for you.

My conversation with today’s guest, angel journaling expert Dede Lyons, shines light on a writing approach referred to as Angel Journaling.

Dede is an empowerment coach and founder of the Feel Good Express lifestyle program. She is creator of The Feel Good Journal. Dede began journaling in 1990 when she purchased Louise Hayes The Garden of Thoughts journal. A few years later she received an angel reading and attended a “learn how to talk with your angels” class. Since then she has channeled guidance and wisdom from her unseen helpers to guide her through all of her life endeavors.

The experiences Dede recounts in our conversation surprise and inspire. To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


Journal to Connect with Your Guardian Angels


Our conversation opens with Dede sharing a series of events that led to life-changing realizations. After an unexpected professional set back left her shaken and vulnerable, she went to her hair salon for some much needed self-care. On the way to the appointment, just before stepping onto the subway, Dede caught a glimpse of the cover of Time Magazine on a newsstand. Its images of clouds and angels caught Dede’s eye, and she bought a copy to read on the train.

When Dede reached the salon she confided in her hairdresser telling him everything that had gone wrong that day; she also showed him the magazine article about angels.

Dede’s story got the attention of others in the salon, and soon everyone was sharing their beliefs. “You are in the perfect place in your life to benefit from an angel reading,” someone told her. They suggested she visit Trudy Griswold, an expert who could help her connect with angels.

Over time, Dede met with Trudy, studied with her, and began to cultivate an angel journaling practice that was deeply meaningful.  As she connected with her angels, she could hear their wisdom, and Dede learned that there are unseen helpers all around. This realization has been a source of tremendous peace for her.

Angel Journaling

Angel journaling is the act of writing to your angels to share what’s on your mind as well as to seek guidance. This form of writing, Dede explains, cultivates connection with your unseen helpers.

Inspired by all that she was learning from Griswold, Dede began angel journaling almost immediately.

Angel journaling makes people feel safe and connected, Dede explains. “When you write and make a connection you feel like you have this whole support group that you cannot see that is there to help you.”

Angel pages, Dede notes, nicely complement Julia Cameron’s popular technique referred to as “morning pages,” which involves writing free-form every morning to release fears and worries that block creativity and joy.

Dede’s Process

1. Similar to Cameron’s morning pages, Dede pours doubt, frustration, and fear into a notebook. Those pages are immediately shredded and the negative feelings are released.

2. Next she focuses on gratitude. Sometimes the thoughts that surface in this moment are written down, but Dede finds it equally effective to celebrate her thanks in the shower or while looking in the mirror. Dede emphasizes this action does not have to take a lot of time or be written on paper to be effective.

3. Steps 1 and 2 put Dede in a place where she is ready to communicate with her angels.

Dede’s Tips for Angel Journaling

Dede has designed a lovely angel journal—a blank lined book with quotations on each page and images to inspire your process. Whether you use her book or another, Dede suggests keeping your angel journal separate from the book you use to do other forms of journaling.

  1. Find a sacred place to sit with your journal. Turn off all of your devices. Light a candle.  
  2. Set an intention to connect with a beautiful like-minded being.
  3. Open your heart chakra—this is an opportunity to communicate from your heart.
  4. Hold an angel stone or another object that feels comfortable to you.
  5. Close your eyes and visualize stands of angels.
  6. Start writing. Tell the angels hello. Announce that you want to share something and would also appreciate answers. Write as though you are writing to your best friend. Share things that happened that day. Ask questions. Seek guidance.

Your Action Plan

Whether you consider the messages you receive through this practice the voice of your angels or your own inner wisdom, Dede’s methods are powerful and provide comfort.

Walking and Writing Among the Trees, with Jackee Holder

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Over time, social media shapes the ways we think about issues and impacts how we perceive who we are. Today’s guest, author Jackee Holder, shows how journaling, walking, and time spent in nature help counter this imbalance by revealing and reflecting genuine thoughts and beliefs. These practices, Jackee observes, help us evolve into the most authentic version of our selves.

To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


Walking and Writing Among the Trees, with Jackee Holder


Jackee is passionate about walking, trees, writing, and journaling. Author of four non-fiction titles as well as a host of e-books and the curator of over one hundred journals, she has a committed and ongoing practice of pen to paper and feet to the ground. Jackee holds a Master’s degree in creative writing and personal development from Sussex University in the UK and a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychosynthesis Counseling. Through both personal and professional experience, she has benefited from the healing and therapeutic properties of her weekly urban city walks and thirty-year practice of journaling.

An Introduction to Psychosynthesis

When we talk about Jackee’s experience in the field of psychosynthesis, her enthusiasm shines. Boiled down to simplest terms, she describes psychosynthesis as a spiritual approach to psychotherapy developed by Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli. This approach aims to develop the whole Self, with a capital “S,” which Jackee explains is different from our day-to day self. In this context, Self describes the part of us that often emerges during difficult times to rise above challenges and to walk the path we’re meant to travel on. Self is the essence of our authentic selves.

Journal to Connect with Your Self

Jackee describes herself as a prolific journaler and remembers how writing down thoughts and feelings was especially important when she became a new mother. After her baby was born, Jackee noticed the ways her journal writing grew more intentional and focused. The pages of her journal provided precious space to write about all she was grappling with during this significant new season of life. Through journaling, Jackee crafted a narrative that helped her to realize who she was becoming and where she wanted to go next.

Journaling helps us get closer to our Self by cultivating:

  • self-discipline
  • self-management
  • and connection with our own ideas and beliefs.

Jackee’s Journaling Tips and Techniques

Jackee’s journals aren’t limited to text. Lists, doodles, and ideas framed in shapes converge to represent a landscape of her ideas.

To overcome fear of the blank page and to keep your pen moving, Jackee recommends:

  • Jot down a single word or simple sentence that feels meaningful.  Let this be enough when you are beginning.
  • Write down observations. Note your response to what’s happening around and inside of you.
  • Use journal prompts. This practice can help ease anxiety that may surface when faced with the blank page.
  •  Write as fast as you can. Outrun your inner critic, and disregard concerns about grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. The point is to get your thoughts down onto paper.
  • Make a list. Sometimes this will feel more manageable than writing a complete narrative. If you like, you can return to the list later on to further flesh out ideas there.
  •  Draw and doodle. Try anything that allows you to engage with that blank page.

Walk to Connect with Your Self

Walking daily supports Jackee’s writing life. Once she begins her exercise routine, ideas begin to fill her mind. When she’s finished walking, Jackee heads straight to the café, pulls out her journal, and pours those ideas onto the page.

Much research has been done that proves the impact walking has on the reduction of:

  • anxiety and depression
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  •  type 2 diabetes
  •  unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • premature deaths

Spend Time in Nature to Connect with Your Self

Nature is restorative and healing and also supports Jackee’s writing practice. It’s among the trees that many people find it easiest to connect with their authentic Self.

Jackee cites a fascinating study in which hospital patients recovering from surgery were divided into two groups. Half of the patients stayed in rooms with windows that provided a clear view of trees. The other half of the patients had windows as well but did not have a view of trees. Patients with a view of nature required less pain medication and were able to return home earlier. A number of similarly designed studies have reported the same findings. Clearly there is power among the trees!

Jackee’s Action Steps to Help You Connect with Your Self

  • Gather a lightweight notebook that’s comfortable to carry.
  • Take a walk that leads to a green space.
  • Locate a comfortable tree you can be near.
  • Journal for seven minutes about everything you see and feel inside of that green space.
  • Keep your pen moving.
  • If words don’t accurately express what your’re feeling, draw what you see and feel instead.

Final Thoughts

When asked to leave us with final thoughts, Jackee chose to quote author Julia Cameron.  

“I’m a better and more honest woman for having taken to the page today and admitted my locked away feelings of the years. I am larger and better and softer and kinder and more open than  I was resisting knowing what I knew.”

If you enjoyed this conversation with Jackee, we think you’ll find our talk with psychotherapist and founder of the Center for Journal Therapy, Kathleen Adams worth a listen. Journal Therapy: An Innovative Tool for Self-Discovery.

Enlightenment and Adventure on the Camino de Santiago

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Just like journaling, mindful travel stirs the heart and lets subconscious thoughts rise to the surface. Navigating an unfamiliar environment strengthens resolve, inspires creativity, and provides fresh perspective on a range of issues. For these reasons, it didn’t surprise us to learn that many of Journaling.com’s members are also avid travelers!

We were delighted to discover that some of you have walked the much beloved Camino de Santiago. That got us thinking what fun it would be to feature a collection of members’ stories that reflect this pilgrimage through the eyes of fellow journalers.

If travel is not on your horizon today, we still think you’ll find these stories uplifting. The listeners who contributed to this series span a range of ages, physical abilities, and economic backgrounds. Give their stories a listen, let them transport you to a very special place, and be inspired!


Revelations along the Camino de Santiago, with Petra Aslund


Secrets of the Camino with Sara Sayles


Walking the Camino with Nicole Walsh and Teri Tucker


Personal Reflections Walking the Camino with Amina Lynch


Planning to Walk the Camino, with Dan Dudzik

Our travelers’ anecdotes, survival tips, and resource suggestions follow. Perhaps their reflections are seeds with which you’ll sow your own camino one day!

A World-famous Pilgrimage

The Camino de Santiago is a world-famous pilgrimage comprised of several different routes, the most common of which start in France and stretch across northern Spain. All of the paths lead to the shrine of James the Apostle at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain.

During the Medieval period, this walk was an important Christian pilgrimage. Today the Camino receives over 200,000 annual visitors from all walks of life.

As we heard each of our guests’ stories unfold, we were struck by how unique each traveler’s camino turned out to be.

Meet the Pilgrims

Petra Aslund. As she turned 40, Petra faced several significant life transitions, and it seemed a fitting time to embark on a pilgrimage. In the middle of June, for two weeks, Petra walked 14 miles a day. An experienced solo traveler, she decided to set out on this adventure alone. In retrospect, Petra believes this was the right decision, and she describes being on her own as a vital element of her experience. In our conversation, Petra describes the close connections she cultivated with fellow travelers as well as the meaningful lessons she learned in solitude.

Sara Sayles. On her 60th birthday, with an eye on her bucket list, Sara announced her intention to hike the Camino. With long-time friends from college, Sara spent three years plotting and planning to make her birthday wish come true. As she and her friends got deeper into the planning process, it became evident that their visions of the journey were not identical. While Sara dreamed of the ultimate backpacking experience, others envisioned a high-end Camino. Negotiating a variety of needs, wants, and wishes proved a meaningful exercise, and ultimately they crafted a plan that suited everyone. The friends shared a meaningful journey and struck a balance between solitude and introspection and connection and comradery on their long walk together.

Sara Sayles

Teri Tucker and Nicole Walsh. Friends and coworkers from Arizona, Teri and Nicole started their walk in June. With 21 days to spare, the two walked 15 miles per day for a total of 300 miles! The weather on the Camino is unpredictable, and pilgrims prepare for a range of conditions. Teri and Nicole report starting their journey with a heatwave and ending in the mountains where the air was cold. When they look back and consider the ground that they covered and the knowledge they unearthed, they feel understandable awe.

Teri Tucker & Nicole Walsh

Amina Lynch. For 20 years, Amina spoke of her desire to hike the Camino de Santiago. To celebrate her 42nd birthday, Amina’s husband gifted her with a three-day trek through the Pyrenees portion of the pilgrimage, arguably the most grueling part of the walk.

Amina Lynch

Dan Dudzik. Along with his church pastor and members of their congregation, Dan embarked on his pilgrimage in October and walked 165 miles in 12 days. By the end of this experience, the bond between Dan and his fellow walkers was something he still treasures today. The group even talks about reuniting for a local weekend-long hike to reflect back on the time they shared hiking the Camino.

Dan Dudzik

Financing the Adventure

For some of our guests, planning how to prioritize and finance their camino was a highly significant part of their process.

When Sara began to prepare for her walk, she’d just filed for bankruptcy. Her finances were challenging, but she never let this deter her. Sara put a financial plan together and for two years she saved between $50 and $100 a month in a fund established solely for her journey. In the end, she was able to pay for the trip in cash, a fact she points to with deep satisfaction.

Teri and Nicole wanted to be intentional about the money they spent on their walk. When they were ready to buy airline tickets, they kept their eyes on cheap airfare alerts on the internet, and when the price was right, they leaped and made their purchase. To save more money, they stayed in city-run hostels set up for pilgrims and carried their own backpacks. With proper planning, they were able to stick within their intended budget.

Training for the Walk

Methods of training for the Camino are as varied as the pilgrims who use them. Our guests had a variety of approaches and helpful suggestions.

  • Practice walking with a full pack. Petra advises that those who plan to carry their own packs on the trail should take a few long walks with weight on their backs beforehand in order to get a feel for that experience.  
  • Break in new shoes. Almost all of our guests mentioned the importance of becoming accustomed to the footwear before setting out to walk.
  • Sara’s regimen involved walking five miles a minimum of 2-3 times a week. As she got closer to her departure, she and friends would walk 10-12 miles together.
  • Teri and Nicole were both busy wrapping up the school year, and finding time to train was difficult, but they walked as much as they could.
  • Dan began training 12 weeks out. For the first 6 weeks he ran 3-5 miles 3 times a day on a treadmill. Closer to his departure time he ran 7 ½ miles with a 20-pound pack.

Sites Along the Way

Along the trail there are multiple opportunities to linger over breathtaking vistas, explore ancient architecture, and walk through vineyards that sprawl. A good guidebook will provide a listing of significant sites. Dan suggests travelers with extra time might add a few extra days in order to visit these special landmarks.

Finisterre, which translated means “Edge of the World,” marked a highlight for Petra. She describes this final destination as the perfect ending to her camino. “Looking out onto that ocean was emotional. I really felt like I had made a journey. More than just traveling physically, I’d made a journey as a person, and I felt like I was looking into eternity, something endless, and I felt full of potential.”

Teri and Nicole reminisce about the nightly masses where pilgrims are warmly invited to receive blessings in the small towns they visit. They describe the power that comes with being part of a long and significant tradition.

Tricks and Tips to Take on Your Camino

Our guests shared their suggestions to ensure a smoother journey.

  • Don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s tempting to walk more than you should. Stop when you are tired. Sore hips and blisters are no fun.
  • Prepare for cold. Petra warns that the large dorms can be chilly. She suggests bringing an extra pair of socks to wear in bed at night. Ear muffs, windbreakers, rain jackets, and something to keep your pack dry can help keep you warm and dry.  
  • Walking poles might help. Not everyone uses them, but many pilgrims find poles are a helpful aid. Conveniently, there’s no need to purchase these beforehand. We’re told they’re easy to pick up on the trail.
  • Avoid blisters. Dan advises that sock liners alleviate friction between the sock and the skin. Others suggest wearing two pair of socks for a similar outcome. Nicole and Teri applied Vicks salve on their feet each morning having heard this was an effective preventative.
  • Pack light. For those who elect to hike with backpacks on, this detail is especially important. (For those who don’t wish to carry a large backpack, porters are available along the trail for a reasonable fee.) If traveling with others, consider splitting up supplies. Not everyone needs to bring the first aid kit and sunscreen.
  • Invest in a good sunhat. Protection from the sun is easier with a good hat that is made of sun protective fabric.

Wonder and Understanding

Everyone’s camino is unique because each pilgrim is on a different journey. Our guests’ recollections of gems gleaned on the trail are moving and profound.

Petra summed up her experience telling us, “It felt like I came into my own being on the trail. I’m a lot less easily frustrated now than I used to be, and I’m kinder to myself and to other people.”

Several guests observed that their experience revealed how little they needed to feel contentment. As their backpacks grew lighter, faith in their own skills and in the kindness of strangers was magnified.

Everyone agreed the Camino inspired them to slow down and to be more open to conversations with strangers . Our guests found they were more present and therefore able to listen and share in more meaningful ways.

Teri and Nicole achieved spiritual renewal along with a profound realization that whatever path they were walking, literally and figuratively, they were where they were supposed to be.

Amina described a meaningful ritual she practiced on the trail. Each day that she walked she carried a stone. As she made her way forward, whenever the moment moved her, Amina would place that stone on the side of the road to symbolize a burden being left behind. Soon after, she’d pick up another stone and continue on the trail repeating the same ritual when the timing felt right. “It was as though I left the trail 20 pound lighter,” she told us. In the evening she would journal about the burdens she’d removed and note the ways her ideas and feelings shifted as a result.

Journaling on the Trail

The people we interviewed are self-described journalers and each found creative ways to capture meaningful moments experienced on the trail.

Journaling played a significant role in the days Petra spent walking her camino. Almost daily, she reflected on the ideas she encountered and she reports how helpful it was to have a place to consider the gifts of the day.

Sara journals regularly at home, and she brought a journal to jot down daily mileage and reference the places she walked through. Interestingly, she noted that as time wore on she began to “journal less and experience more.”

When Teri and Nicole forgot their journals at home, they used their guidebook to record important details. They underlined the names of places they ate and stayed, and made notes of people they met and adventures they encountered. With a focus on gratitude, journaling helped to diminish any physical discomfort they experienced. To mark their journey, when they returned home, Teri and Nicole compiled photos and notes that they added to memory books commemorating their pilgrimage.

Amina journals “constantly” and this did not change on the Camino where she found writing to be as helpful as ever. As for Dan, on his fourth day of walking, a rain-soaked journal prevented him from writing. He relied on his camera to memorialize his trip, a process he found deeply satisfying.

Recommended Resources

The list below is a collection of resources referenced in our Camino interviews.

Books

  • Amina suggests Paulo Coehlo’s book, The Pilgrimage.
  • Teri and Nicole recommend A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierly

Gear and Supplies

  • Sarah loved her Oboz boots and Darn Tough and Balega socks.
  • Dan relied on Compeed to treat blisters.

Luggage Service

Hotels

Tour Company
Sara highly recommends Camino Tours telling us, “They did a fabulous job.”

Final Thoughts

Everyone we spoke with agreed with the sentiment behind this popular quote: “You don’t walk your camino with your feet, you walk it with your heart.” If you should find yourself walking your own camino one day, take your time on the trail and don’t compare yourself to others. Your walk is your own and it will lead you to the place where you are meant to be.

If you enjoyed these conversations, listen to our interview with travel journaler Lauren Hooper for more ideas.

Experience the Magic of Vision Boards, with Dr. Lori Ann Roth

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Vision boarding is a perfect companion activity to traditional forms of journaling. We had to the pleasure to speak with Dr. Lori Ann Roth who shares how vision boarding can help you grow comfortable with new ideas, enhance awareness of potential opportunities, and crystallize a dynamic new action plan. She also shares ideas to help you start your own vision board today.

Lori Ann is a life-long learner with over 35 years of experience helping individuals be their best. She is the president of “Learning and…Reflective Growth,” a company that specializes in training and coaching, and she is the author of The Journal Book: Your Journaling Journey.

To learn how you might incorporate vision boarding into your own journaling practice, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

What Is a Vision Board and What Do I Do With It?

A vision board is a collage designed to be a source of inspiration. It usually features images, quotations, and stand-alone-words that represent the maker’s goals and desires.

An office wall can be the perfect place to hang your vision board. Let it motivate and influence your actions as you go about your day. At her former workplace, Lori Ann managed a team of employees, and they crafted boards together and hung them in a common space where they would see them each day. Alternatively, if your vision board is for your eyes only, hang it inside of a bedroom closet door to ensure that it inspires you every day!

Resource Ideas

Just like traditional forms of journaling, vision boarding does not require fancy materials. In fact, you probably already have all the materials you’ll need.  

  • Hang on to old magazines. Get out your scissors and enjoy some old-fashioned fun! Clip images that represent your juiciest goals and intentions. Look for quotations and words that inspire, and glue them onto your board.
  • Google it! Search online for specific images you desire, and print them in color on quality photo paper.
  • Grab a dictionary and thesaurus. Choosing just the right words to paste onto your board takes time and patience, but the results are worth it.

Make Your Own Vision Board

Lori Ann shares tips and techniques to help you begin visualizing your wildest dreams!

  • Set a goal. Lori Ann believes that the secret to creating a successful vision board lies in the preparation done beforehand. She encourages people to identify goals and desires in clear, comprehensible terms before moving forward. This first step, she explains, is an opportunity for deep self-reflection. This is the time to explore values and wishes and to envision the future you’re working toward.
  • Make time to visualize the life that you want. Many people create a new vision board once each year. For some, the start of the new year seems most fitting, while others mark birthdays, anniversaries, or the beginning of a new school year by making a vision board. Choose what works best for you. There’s no wrong way to do this.
  • Write it all down first. It can be a challenge to identify or pinpoint specific goals, but journaling first can help.
  • Gather and glue. Collect the images you’ll use for your board and start pasting!

What the Research Teaches  

Citing the work of Australian psychologist Alan Richardson, Lori Ann points to a study involving three groups of basketball players. The first group of players repeatedly practiced shooting hoops together. The second group did not practice; instead they visualized shooting hoops successfully. The third group did not practice or visualize throwing basketballs. Predictably, the players in the third group did not improve their skills. The players who improved most were those that practiced shooting hoops. Interestingly, those in group two who only visualized their improvement did nearly as well as the players who had practiced playing ball.

The research findings grow more interesting with a second study Lori Ann mentions involving players who combined visualization with practice. Overall, these individuals experienced the best outcomes.

From this study and others like it, Lori Ann concludes that it’s the combination of visualization and action that bring our goals to fruition.

As we continued to talk, Lori Ann shared the deep impact vision boarding has had on her personal life. After being single for 15 years, she recognized it was time for a new relationship. Lori Ann began to visualize the relationship she desired. Combing through a magazine, she even found a picture of a man who radiated qualities she was drawn to. She vision boarded this image along with other photos and quotations that evoked fun and romance. To accompany her vision board, Lori Ann wrote two typewritten pages to express her feelings and desires in words. Along with visualizing a relationship, she took action steps by going on dating sites and putting herself out there among good people she could connect with. It was through this process that Lori Ann met her husband to whom she’s been married for 2 ½ years!

Lori Ann left us with a few words of advice. A wonderful aspect of journaling is that there are so many approaches and all of them are right. Lori Ann assures us that vision boarding works similarly. Some of the people she works with take a linear approach to vision boarding. They might make boards with goals for the next six months, year, or even five years ahead. Others find this format too restrictive and choose a looser, less linear method that does not involve timelines.

Choose the method that resonate for you. The important thing is to be open to the messages your board reveals and to take the steps that turn vision into action.

Your Action Plan

  • Connect with Lori Ann on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Also visit her website.
  • Read Lori Ann’s new book, The Journal Book: Your Journaling Journey.
  • Listen our conversation on The Power of Journaling podcast.
  • Start work on your own vision board today!

If you enjoyed our conversation with Lori Ann, you might enjoy our article “Walk the Five Paths of Journaling.”

Six Ways to Use Journaling to Access Heart Intelligence, with Sheva Carr

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For over twenty-five years, researchers at the HeartMath Institute have studied stress and emotions’ impact on interactions between the heart and brain. To learn more about their findings, we spoke with Sheva Carr, the architect and director of HeartMath’s HeartMastery Program. Sheva helps others access heart intelligence and peace of mind in order to receive the benefits of the heart’s impact on relationships, health, performance, creativity, and the building of a global culture of peace.  

Sheva is the founding CEO of Heart Ambassadors, a capacity building organization for world servers and an official training company for the Federation of International Civil Servants (FICSA). She is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Board Certified Polarity Therapist and Registered Polarity Educator, and expert HeartMath trainer and coach. She’s authored Being the Source of Love and Where the Sky Meets the Earth, and her writing appears in various journals including Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and UN Special. Sheva trains and mentors medical staff at distinguished medical centers across the US, including Mayo Clinic, Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Cedars Sinai, Kaiser Permanente and founded the first HeartMath hospital patient education program with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart-Brain Institute at North Hawaii Community Hospital.

To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Finding HeartMath

While still a teenager, Sheva worked overseas as an aid worker helping street children orphaned by Nicaragua’s civil war. Returning to the United States, she lived with subsequent post traumatic stress disorder for eight years.

In medical school, Sheva met the man who would later become her husband. As fate would have it, he invited her to spend the summer at HeartMath where she took a job transcribing their scientists’ research. She explains, “At HeartMath I discovered that all of the symptoms I was experiencing were actually related to stress.” Motivated by the discoveries she was making, Sheva applied the tools she learned at HeartMath to her own life and reports that in two weeks of practicing these techniques, her symptoms were resolved.

For 24 years, along with her colleagues, Sheva has been leading HeartMath healthcare initiatives around the country, collaborating with medical institutions to help integrate skills for emotional self-regulation that provide capacity for the health and wellness and self-regulation of all of the physiological systems.

Heart Intelligence: What is it and why does is matter?

30 years ago, Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the term “heart brain.” He discovered a brain in the heart containing its own intrinsic nervous system, proteins, neurotransmitters, and support cells. As he investigated further, Dr. Armour determined that this brain had a different quality of intelligence than the brain in the cerebrum.

To illustrate this unique form of intelligence, Sheva refers to a phenomena described in Joseph Chilton Pearce’s book, The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit. If we took your brain cells and those of your cat, mother, and the president and put them all together in a petri dish, they would send out dendrites in an attempt to connect. Ultimately, their efforts would fail and those dendrites would implode and die. In contrast, if heart cells from a variety of individuals are brought together this same way, they begin to beat together as one heart in what is called syncytium. 

From this, Sheva concludes that metaphorically speaking, we could say there’s one universal heartbeat. When we learn to eavesdrop on the wisdom of the heart brain, she explains, it brings us to a bigger sense of self in the context of a larger whole.  In other words, the heart brain moves us from considering  “me” toward contemplation of the “we.”

 Pointing excitedly to younger generations, Sheva notes that their engagement with issues related to the environment and social justice is evidence of heart intelligence and adds that when we access this resource, we become more effective world servers and more fulfilled human beings.

The Impact of Heart Intelligence on the Body’s Systems

In 1995, HeartMath researchers proved the heart’s unique power and influence over the rest of the body’s systems. Scientists discovered that when we are upset, the heart rhythm becomes chaotic and incoherent. These findings were published in The American Journal of Cardiology.

Sheva explains that when we experience strong emotions, it’s as though we are looking through a shaky camera lens. In contrast, when we feel gratitude and  peace, a unique order and rhythm is established in the heart which helps to focus the lens of our perception of life so that we see through a clear filter.

Physiologically we are sending a signal to the vagus nerve which alters which part of our brain is perceiving and responding to our circumstances. When we experience stress and that rhythm grows chaotic, we enter survival mode. We begin to view life through the part of brain that is intent on basic survival. From that uni-dimensional vantage point, the brain looks at each situation as one which leads to eating, being eaten, or procreation.  

Heart intelligence provides access to more regions of the brain and lifts us out of  the black and white of survival mode and, as Sheva describes it, into the technicolor of multidimensionality. Heart brain access gives us more contact with our cerebral brain and helps it eavesdrop on intuition and instinct. Essentially, the heart synthesizes and amplifies all forms of intelligence.

6 Ways Journaling Helps Anchor Heart Intelligence

Sheva believes that journaling is an essential component in working to help the brain tune into heart intuition and intelligence. Based on HeartMath principals, she shares six ways to grow your heart intelligence with help from your journal.

  1. Tune in. When a difficult issue arises, note your body’s physical response. Sheva is aware that when her body tenses she is looking through the peephole of survival mode and acting from a place with limited information. Observe thought patterns as well as the behaviors of the people around you. In response, write your stream of consciousness down. Journaling about these thoughts and feelings establishes objective space between you and the triggering situation so that you become aware of inner incoherence.
  2. Establish a flow of gratitude. Begin by focusing attention on your heart region. Put your hand there and imagine the breath is flowing in and out of the chest area. If it’s helpful, count to five as you breathe in, and count to five as you breathe out. This practice will help take the nervous system out of survival mode. As you continue heart-focused breathing, activate a heart-feeling. Breathe gratitude for what you can be thankful for and compassion for those things you can’t.  Write down the stream of consciousness that comes forward. Writing about gratitude creates the smooth heart rhythm that opens up our higher intelligence. Gratitude and compassion open up the perceptual centers of the brain and heart.
  3. Ground the guidance. From this more objective place you’ve established, you are prepared to use intuitive intelligence to respond to the situation in play.  Write down your heart’s guidance to anchor it and return to later.
  4. Write a transformational love letter. We won’t always be able to inspire others to make the changes we’d hope to see. Writing a transformational love letter to that individual’s higher self is a safe and often satisfying way to convey the impact they are having on your life. This act can help release stress and tension.
  5. Heart-based planning. Mind mapping is a non-linear way of journaling that can be used to prepare for fun events or creative projects. For example, imagine you are planning a party. Draw a circle. Perhaps music appears in the center of your circle. Gifts and activities are added to the map. Next, focus on the heart.  Breathe the feelings you want yourself and guests to experience at the party. Make a second planning map with a heart in the middle and ask your heart for guidance. What elements do you want to bring to the party? Write these ideas down.
  6. Heart start to the day.  Sheva starts each day with a practice she describes as “energy accounting” in which she looks at the assets and deficits from the day before. Writing down which experiences provide energy and which ones drain it, can help you align your day with enriching ideas and actions.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our interview with Dr. Dan Seigel in which we discuss journaling’s positive effects on the brain.



Journaling.com’s Top 10 Favorite Tools for Creativity (2020)

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Connect with Your Creative Self

Journaling clears the mind for bold, colorful thinking. Your journal can help you actualize your most creative self.

Gather your paintbrushes, easel, writing paper, and boldest intentions as you explore Journaling.com’s Top Ten Tools for Creativity. Infuse your days with inspiration, and don’t be afraid to color outside of the lines!

A special thanks to Final Draft for sponsoring this list. Final Draft is the industry standard in screenwriting software. Used by such industry giants as J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and Aaron Sorkin, Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards, allowing writers to focus on what they do best – writing scripts.

Journaling.com’s Top 10 Resources for Creativity

1. The How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Workbook by Michael J. Gelb

For over a decade, this guided workbook has been much loved by members of the journaling community. We know authors and artists who work with this book first thing each morning to expand their thinking and to get their creative juices flowing. Designed as a companion to the best-selling book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, this workbook can stand on its own. Guided questions and a variety of innovative exercises help cultivate creativity and curiosity. As a bonus, flip the book over, start from the back, and it becomes a blank journal where you can reflect on the the ideas this book inspires.

2. The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal by Julia Cameron

Many peoples’ first experience journaling involves a daily practice described as “Morning Pages.” We believe this method is among the most powerful ways to discover, recover, and retain creativity. The creator of this beloved practice, Julia Cameron, explains that the technique entails writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness every morning. She describes this writing as “spiritual windshield wipers.” Morning pages declutter the mind, heart, and soul. Although any notebook or journal can be used, we think this companion journal is the perfect place to write morning pages because it includes inspiring quotations from Cameron’s groundbreaking work, The Artist’s Way and also provides 12 weeks of lined pages to encourage follow-through.



3. Start Where You Are: A Journal For Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel

This uplifting resource is among the most aesthetically pleasing of all the journals we’ve seen. Its watercolor artwork is vibrant and full of cheer and warmly invites readers to explore page after page. The author writes honestly in her introduction, “It took me a long time to become comfortable with where I am.” Feelings of heart, empathy, and kindness shine through each of Patel’s pages. This journal may be the very tool you need to help tap into your creative self with confidence and joy.


4. The WordSmith Deck: 150 Writing Prompt Cards

Use these writing prompt cards to conquer the blank page! Whether you are journaling to unleash creativity or to improve your writing skills, WordSmith prompt cards can move you closer toward your goal. We like these smart cards because they nurture new ideas and keep journaling fresh and engaging.

5. Art Before Breakfast, A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are by Danny Gregory   

If you’ve ever tried to devote time to creative pursuits, you know how important it is to establish a routine you can stick with. Danny Gregory recognizes this too, and he’s written a book help. He opens with these reminders: “Making art will make you saner and happier. You don’t need to think you have “talent” to make beautiful art. Making art can fit into the craziest, busiest, most hectic and out of control live—even yours. And it will take just a few minutes each day.” The same can be said about journaling! This book made it onto our list because it’s chock-full of project ideas that can enhance any art journaling practice. And we are certain you’ll appreciate Gregory’s humorous, empowering tone.

6. Art Journaling 101 at the Mindful Art Studio

We adore Amy’s Maricle’s creative spirit, and we admire the many ways she inspires her students at Mindful Art Studio. So much so, we invited Amy to join Journaling.com’s advisory board! Amy’s online course, Art Journaling 101, takes you through a series of creative exercises to help you create a stress-free, intuitive art journaling practice. To hear more about Amy’s work and the ways she supports the journaling community, listen to our interview.


7. Get Messy Art: An Online Art Journaling Community

When we chatted with Fairy Art Mother, Caylee Grey, on our podcast, we were in awe of the dynamic online art community she’s created.  Caylee works tirelessly to empower artists in her “Get Messy” community to let go of perfectionism. Along with her creative team, Caylee provides weekly art and journaling prompts, actionable inspiration, nurturing support, and art techniques. To learn more, visit her website.

8. Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy by Brenda Hudson

What we love about this book is how easy Brenda makes it to organize and write a family memoir. This book is the definitive guide to compiling memorable family sayings, self-portraits, character sketches, visual diaries, mementos, and wisdom gleaned in the midst of your loved ones’ company. Learn creative ways to put your keepsakes into meaningful order. Highly recommended.

9. Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

We had amazing amounts of fun digging into the pages of Keri Smith’s best-selling guided journal. This author’s voice radiates humor and insight as she gives permission to throw perfectionist tendencies out the window. You’ll feel the stress melt away as Smith encourages you to crack your journal’s spine, use colors normally avoided and get the pages dirty! We promise this isn’t like any other journaling book you’ve seen.

10. Azure Dreams Journal (Diary, Notebook) by Peter Pauper Press

The place that holds your most inspired ideas, wildest dreams, and deepest reflections should enhance your writing experience. Peter Pauper Press’s visually stunning blank journals feel good to write in. Artful covers, high quality bindings, and thick-lined paper means these journals do your words justice.

Journaling.com’s Top 10 Favorite Tools for Mindfulness (2020)

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Journaling helps us slow down and reflect on our lives with intention. If you aspire to glean the most meaning from your days, look over our Top 10 Tools for Mindfulness. We trust there’s something for everyone in this resource list. Dig deep and see what you discover!

Our Top 10 Favorite Tools for Mindfulness

1. Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice by Michelle Obama

If you’ve read Michelle Obama’s inspiring memoir Becoming, you were probably as excited as us to learn she’s come out with this companion resource. Obama’s guided journal features over 150 questions and quotes to help get your pen moving. The primary message this journal delivers is that everyone’s story matters. The prompts in this book will help you unfold and understand your special story.

2. The Designing Your Life Workbook: A Framework for Building a Life You Can Thrive In by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

We wholeheartedly recommend this resource for people at all stages of life. The authors of this workbook show you how to live life on the deepest level and to spend your time engaged with activities that give your life the most meaning. Its exercises are designed to help engage with life’s big questions, to establish and pursue goals, and to track and measure progress. A must read!

3. Dream journal: Notebook for your dreams and their interpretations – by Keep Track Book

If we hold on to them long enough, our dreams inform us in meaningful ways. But often, we wake up, have that first sip of coffee, get ready for the day, and before we know it our dreams have faded. If you’d like a way to track your dreams, this journal is a gem to keep on your nightstand. The journal’s creator recommends giving each entry a title and recording the date. A lined page follows where details of the dream are recorded. Finally, a series of questions are provided to get you thinking about the significance of each detail of your dream.

4. The Journal Writer’s Handbook by Juliet Platt

Author Juliet Platt believes that “picking up a pen and making meaningful words appear on a page is the first step in taking a more reflective and considered approach to our existence.”  Platt writes eloquently about the relationship a writer can have with their journal. She provides straightforward exercises to help maximize the benefits of journaling and shares the names of additional resources to help you move  further along on your writing adventure. This book is unique and powerful reading.

5. A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators by Beth Jacobs

We had the chance to chat with Beth on our podcast, The Power of Journaling, and discovered she speaks with the same eloquence that infuses her writing. We can’t recommend Beth’s work highly enough. This guided journal invites its readers to combine personal writing with meditation. We think this pairing makes perfect sense. Beth, an expert in psychology and Buddhist meditation, is the perfect teacher to model how to weave these important practices together. Beth invites playful experimentation and introduces novel techniques.

6. Self-Awareness Journal by Meredith Lynch 

Time spent in self-reflection observing thoughts, actions, and emotions leads to self-wisdom. Without self-wisdom we are likely to repeat mistakes, get stuck in ruts, and miss opportunities. This book provides a space to nourish a consistent journaling practice where you can track and reflect on important moments in your day in order to better nourish your own self-understanding.

7. Meditation Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest

Every guided journal from Habit Nest is superior quality and we were glad to see that they have turned their attention to meditation. Habit Nest’s Meditation Sidekick Journal is a meditation book, a 90-day mindfulness journal, a happiness planner and a guided self-discovery gratitude journal for beginners. This guided journal will help you integrate meditation with your journaling practice and help you find the motivation you need to make this habit stick.  Highly recommended. 


8. Joy Journal: Make Joy a Daily Experience by Rebecca Kochenderfer 

Joy Journal, written by Journaling.com’s founder, is a 12-week guided journal that helps you practice a new positive mindset each week. Rebecca encourages you to treat the book as a series of weekly joy experiments. Find out what happens when you  “say yes more often,” “catch them being good,” “focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want,” and create days that are “fun, productive, and filled with delightful surprises.” 

9.The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing world by the Dalai Llama, Desmond Tutu, et al.

In our experience, the more we journal the more curious and alive to the wonders of the world we become. The Book of Joy will grow your feelings of wonder as you read about a week-long visit between Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. During this time together, the friends explored a single question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? The Book of Joy is a reflection on the time they shared together exploring the Nature of True Joy and confronting the Obstacles of Joy. The stories shared in this important book will move you and might provide new ideas to explore in your journaling practice.

10. The Seeing My Time® Adult Planner and the The Set Up Success™ Student Planner by Marydee Sklar

We know we’re cheating a bit by listing two products instead of one, but we couldn’t resist! Both of these unique calendar systems were created by an executive function expert and are designed to build key skills like time-management, planning, and organization.

Designed to support a brain that is “time-blind,” we love the easy-tear pads with forms to support your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Clear vinyl pockets keep goals visual and achievable. Both planners come with access to helpful support videos. Those with working memory issues, ADHD, executive function deficits, concussive brain injuries and aging brains will find these systems particularly effective.

Online classes designed to support executive functions at school, work, and at home are also available at their website, www.executivefunctioningsuccess.com.