Discover Legacy Journaling, with Merle Saferstein

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Our guest today, legacy journaler Merle Saferstein, discusses writing techniques to help you extract your journals’ deepest insights and share them with the younger people in your life. We think you’ll find the process she describes inspires an experience as meaningful for the writer as it is for the recipient.

Merle was the director of educational outreach at a Holocaust Center in South Florida for twenty-six years. When she retired in 2011, she developed and currently teaches a class entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy®. She lectures on the subject of legacy nationally and internationally, trains hospice staffs on how to do sacred legacy work, and works with individual patients at the end of their lives. She is the author of Room 732, is a council member of the International Association of Journal Writers, and is a contributor to the Huffington Post and Thrive Global.

Merle provides tools to craft an enduring gift for your loved ones. She also shines new light on how you’ll think about your own legacy. Great stuff here! To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Defining Legacy

Merle is a vibrant, engaging speaker. She’s got the spirit of a storyteller and understands the long lasting impact one’s stories have on future generations.

Legacy journal writing is defined by Merle as “words written specifically for the benefit of others.” This form of writing has benefits not only for the recipient but for the writer as well.

The Benefits of Legacy Journaling

A life-long journaler, when Merle began her own legacy work she was struck by all that she’d processed through the act of writing. “I consider myself a very positive person, but when I sat down to work on this project and reread all of my notes, I realized I’d wrestled with a lot of tough feelings and emotions, and my journal was the place where it all went. It was through writing things down that I was able to maintain the positivity I associate with myself.”

Merle points to the ways legacy journaling enriches our lives by providing:

  • an opportunity to impart wisdom.
  • new insight into a specific moment in time.
  • deeper understanding of important people in our lives.
  • historical documentation that can be passed on to future generations.
  • preservation of important times and places.
  • clarification of values and beliefs.

Legacy journaling enables Merle to maintain meaningful records for her grandchildren to hold onto. Since their births, Merle’s journaled about their shared moments. She also writes about specific subjects she wants her grandchildren to consider, and periodically offers a life lesson for reflection. Merle has not yet decided how or when these journals will be presented to her grandchildren, but she’s confident in the connection she knows they will foster.

In addition to this gift for her grandchildren, Merle has taken on an ambitious and significant legacy project that grabbed our attention. Merle has filled over 360 journals in her decades of journal writing. That’s right, 360! Years ago, she decided to glean highlights from these pages to put into a format she could share with her family.

Marriage was the first topic Merle dove into. The timing proved perfect as she’d just been asked to officiate her great niece’s wedding.  Merle’s own marriage of 52 years, and all she’d written about it, proved to be the perfect primary source. The entire process entailed boiling 100 pages down to just 12. “I needed to excavate those ideas most worthy of sharing,” she explains.

One pearl of wisdom Merle chose to include was her take on the old adage she’d been told years ago. Never go to bed angry. 45 years later, Merle recognizes that emotions run deep and that sometimes we need time to sift through strong feelings in order to make meaningful peace with them.


The wisdom that comes with living is a gift to share.

Merle Saferstein

Project Ideas

In workshops, Merle guides students through the different forms their legacy journaling can take.

  • Legacy love letters. So often our hearts and minds fill with thoughts we forget to express. Merle suggests marking graduations, birthdays, and other special days with a legacy love letter. Here important sentiments, wishes, and values can be poured onto the page in a memorable way.
  • Ethical wills. Those wishing to pass on life’s lessons and dreams for loved ones may compose this spiritual document meant to be shared after the writer has passed. The ethical will does not contain directives and is intended to read as a hopeful, positive piece of writing that recipients can hold onto.
  • Memoir, autobiography, scrapbooks, and oral history are other popular forms Merle encourages.

Legacy Journaling Tips

When it comes to process, there’s not one “right way” to approach legacy journaling, but Merle shares her own methods to help you get started.  

To begin extracting gems from her personal journals, Merle broke the project down into manageable stages she shares below.

  • Identify your intended audience. Deciding who this writing is for helps you hone in on what material is especially relevant.
  • Read. Spend some quality time looking over your journals. Reread pages carefully and immerse yourself thoroughly. Give new awareness a chance to spring up and present itself.
  • Identify the themes you want to share. Use stick-it notes to mark ideas and topics.
  • Organize the text.  In Merle’s case, she identified 70 topics she wanted to cover. She made files for each on her computer and put relevant text into corresponding files.
  • Edit and synthesize the text. Keep on refining until you have the product you want to pass on to family members.

Merle summed up our discussion with words that truly resonate.  “The wisdom that comes with living is a gift to share.”

Your Action Plan

  • Learn more about Merle’s work. Visit her online.
  •  Listen to my conversation with Merle.
  • Get started on your own legacy journaling project today. It’s never too early to start.

If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, you might also appreciate our interview with Brenda Hudson, author of Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy.

Capture Your Family Stories in 15 Minutes or Less, with Brenda Hudson

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Tis the season for family gatherings and small talk around tables. What will these conversations look like in your home? Do you wish the talk ran deeper? Have you ever wished for a way to preserve memories of Uncle Bob’s one-liners or the aroma of your grandmother’s pies? How well do you know your family’s stories? Our conversation about family legacy journaling with author Brenda Hudson can help you maximize your time with loved ones and ensure their stories are told and preserved.


Brenda is a teacher, editor, certified journal facilitator, author, and creative writer. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Writing Studies. She leads writing workshops where participants create unique stories and books of themselves using journaling and book arts techniques. Her how-to book Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy is based on her successful legacy writing workshops.

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

What Is Family Legacy Journaling?

Although oral storytelling is highly satisfying, writing down rich details increases the likelihood they’ll be passed on to new generations. Brenda delights in helping people preserve their family stories through a method she calls family legacy writing. She describes this method as “a written conversation among family members and across generations.”

Family can be defined however you like. The term “legacy” alludes to the notion that you’re capturing special moments to ensure they live on. Brenda teaches that this form is different than memoir writing which is typically told from a single perspective. Instead, family legacy stories resemble conversations where multiple interpretations unfold to craft a story told from a variety of vantage points.

Studies have found that family bonds are strengthened when you know your family history.

Brenda Hudson

Getting Started

Sitting down to a blank page can be daunting, a truth Brenda acknowledges with empathy. “Getting started can be intimidating. I really want to help people get right in there to have some fun.”

Many of Brenda’s new students communicate feelings of anxiety and offer disclaimers like, “I’m not a writer but I want to tell my family’s story.” Brenda points out that by our very nature we are all storytellers. She jokes, “When was the last time someone stopped you in the middle of a conversation to announce you weren’t telling a story correctly?”

Her book, Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy, offers story-based project ideas to help get you started. By breaking the process into manageable bits, you can dive right into story telling with minimal preparation or worry.

Projects to Try

Each of the activities Brenda has designed works as a stand-alone project. She shares a few favorite ideas below:

  • Family sayings. Is there an expression that comes up often when your family gathers? It might be funny or cautionary. Who says it and under what circumstances? How do other family members respond?  Does this expression state a sentiment shared by others? Put these expressions under a lens to learn more about your family. You might enjoy compiling the sayings you collect into a family notebook.
  • Juicy questions. Is there something you’ve always wondered about? A special mealtime when everyone is gathered can be the right time for research. Be sure to ask a question with an answer you’re genuinely interested to hear. Ask everyone assembled the same question and note the range of responses you receive. Write them each down.
  • Family photos. Bring a picture to a family event. It might be formal image or a fun candid from your phone. There are no rules. Set the timer and invite your family to freewrite about the photograph for ten minutes. Offer a prompt like, “This is a story of…” When the time is up, everyone who wishes is encouraged to read the story they’ve recorded. To spice things up, participants might choose to read each other’s pieces aloud instead. Again, the wide range of responses will inspire a lively follow-up conversation. Be sure to record what you hear. 
  • Record special moments. Audio recordings of young and old voices storytelling together make extra special heirlooms.

Above all else, the objective of Brenda’s projects is to get the memories down on paper. Along the way, take note of unexpected discoveries and forgotten moments that the activity retrieves. These are the gems you’ve been digging for.

Compiling the Details

Brenda shows there are a number of ways to assemble your family’s story.

  • Gather family vignettes into a self-published book to gift family members with.
  • Post the stories on a family blog.
  • Create handmade books full of photos and relatives’ handwriting.
  • Make a family trivia board game.

We get so busy living our lives that it’s important to remind ourselves to pause and capture these moments before they are forgotten.  Writing your family story, says Brenda, lets you live each moment twice and also provides a gift to share with future generations.

Family legacy writing helps us grow strong roots to connect us to the places we’ve come from and provides a way to relate more deeply with the people we love.

Your Action Plan

  • Learn more about Brenda’s writing and teaching on her website www.voicedlife.com. While you are there, sign up for her monthly newsletter.

  • Read Brenda’s book, Story by Story: 15 Projects to Write Your Family Legacy. (We love her book so much, you’ll soon see it appears on our 2020 list for best ~ coming out in January.) Try out each of the 15 innovative projects ideas she shares, and be sure to let us know how it goes. We’d love to share your projects with the Journaling.com community.

  • Gather with loved ones and let your curiosity shine. Ask big, bold questions and record all of the answers you are gifted with.

  • Listen to our conversation with Brenda.

If you enjoyed this interview, you might enjoy our conversation with Shelby Abrahamson, art journaling expert and blogger at  https://journaling.com/articles/journal-to-increase-your-productivity-and-creativity-with-shelby-abrahamsen/ Founder of the blog, Little Coffee Fox.




Breathing in Full Sentences: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice, with Christina Baldwin

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For decades, author Christina Baldwin’s work on journaling and spirituality has touched the expressive writing community. We’ve been hearing about her important contributions to the field for a long time, and it brings us deep joy to welcome Christina to Journaling.com. We trust you’ll find her words especially relevant as you navigate the exceptional times in which we live.

Christina is a writer and teacher whose work is embedded in community-making and story-catching. She is co-founder, with Ann Linnea, of PeerSpirit, Inc. and The Circle Way Process. Christina is the author of seven books, including: Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story; Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice; The Seven Whispers, Spiritual Practice for Times Like These, and two books on circle facilitation: Calling the Circle; and (with Ann) The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair. Now in her vibrant 70’s, she is focusing on the legacy of her story work, teaching her autobiographical writing seminar: The Self as the Source of the Story, working on a novel, and supporting the role of story to guide us through troubling times. Her work and blog can be found at www.peerspirit.com.

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

Christina has been journaling since 1960. She was just 14-years-old when she began jotting down thoughts into a notebook. She’s since held on to every volume she has written and describes these notebooks as the “the bricks that built the house of my life.”

At 14, Christina didn’t know a young girl could have a voice. She describes tiptoeing into the journaling realm and slowly developing that voice. Now, decades into her writing life, Christina describes the soft leather chair she sits in to journal. The picture window it faces looks out at the Puget Sound and on toward Olympic National Park. Christina’s window is a portal to the natural world. The pages of her journal detail the “jawline of the mountains” and the ways the clouds arrange themselves across the sky.

Gain Deeper Insight: Try Flow Writing

To access deeper insight, Christina uses an exercise she designed 30 years ago called flow writing. She shares how it works.

  • Close your eyes for a moment. When you open them again, let your gaze fall onto a single image in your environment.  
  • Write down the name of the image at the top of a page in your journal.
  • Reflect on the word you’ve written.
  • Let your pen move and write about what you see.

Christina describes what it might be like to write about a single image such as a hummingbird outside her window. She could begin by contemplating its beauty, and then she’d reflect upon the pace at which it moved. From there she might write about how she’d feel if she were moving that quickly.

In her book, The Seven Whispers, Spiritual Practice for Times Like These, Christina describes phrases that have come to her over the course of spiritual journaling. One of these phrases is move at the pace of guidance. The hummingbird is a reminder of this message and provides Christina with an opportunity to reflect upon her own optimal pace.

Explore Three Aspects of Self

In her book, Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice; Christina explores three aspects of self that can inspire one’s journaling practice.

The Walker represents the active elements within us. For many, this is the starting point from which we write about the activities that fill our days.

The Watcher is the reflective part of the mind that asks how we are doing in the midst of our daily activities. From this vantage point, we might examine the quality of our relationships, our professional goals, and our personal well-being.

The Witness explores the spiritual possibility beneath everything happening on the surface. Here we can step back and ask the questions that lead us to evolve with mindfulness and intention.  

Collage as Meditation

Christina firmly believes that there is no wrong way to journal. “As long as you date your journal entries, everything else is okay,” she promises. But of the many techniques she employs, collage is one she finds especially satisfying.

“I might do a collage that spreads for several pagers through the book,” she explains. Christina’s collages often include images from stories in the headlines, and their creation is an integral part of her mediation practice.

Typically, each notebook she keeps is decorated with these images. Since it usually takes Christina six to eight months to complete a notebook, she incorporates images that she wants to live with visually for that stretch of time. Travel brochures and other keepsake pieces are collaged to help her remember meaningful moments.

Christina also uses this medium to make sense of current world issues. “Sometimes I collage articles about current political events and put them in the back of my journal as an altar of acknowledgment that whatever I’m living through in my personal life, this is also happening.”

An Opportunity to Practice Your Best Life

Journals are a place to address big questions. They are also a space to practice our answers. One question that keeps rising for Christina is “How do I make moral choices in my life in the face of information that we have.” In the wake of climate change she asks, “How do I talk to my grandchildren?” Christina journals her thoughts first so that she can address her community and family with ideas that she’s tried out and polished.

Writing, she explains, is practice for situations that require our most careful choice of words. Blank pages are a place to practice a difficult conversation with a partner or a family member. We might use this space to run through a dialogue with an exasperating co-worker. Practice on the page is rehearsal that enables us to put our best self forward.

Dialogue About It

Christina shows that journaling with dialogue can help navigate resolution with another person. This practice enables us to look at a conflict from two sides. It’s through this act that we grow our empathy.

If you are having difficulty with a family member, put yourself in their shoes for a moment, she suggests. Practice the conversation you need to have with them. Write down dialogue as it would flow between you.

As insights from the dialogue emerge, Christina explains, they are transferred to the real life situation which enables you to get unstuck and move past the hurdle.

The deeper self is always talking to us; it’s just that we aren’t always listening.

Christina Baldwin

The Benefits of Journaling as a Spiritual Practice

Christina describes a spiritual practice as anything that attaches one to their core self and attaches the core self to source. For some, this enlightenment may be pursued through a faith-based or spiritual tradition, but an agnostic can access these same truths through a focus on the elements of self previously identified as the Walker, Watcher, and Witness.

 “The deeper self is always talking to us, it’s just that we aren’t always listening,” Christina notes. The act of writing slows us down to the pace of listening so that we can receive insight and guidance.”

Spontaneous healing becomes possible when journaling moves us into the now. That evolution, Christina points out, is an arc of spiritual growth. Being in the now provides clarity and a sense of mutual regard. Healing requires stepping into the now and letting old baggage go. This process, she has learned, often centers on apology, listening, and response.

Your Action Plan

  • Turn everything off; sit down, take three deep breaths and for ten minutes just write. Your mind wants to talk to you, and it’s important to sit down and listen.
  • Learn more about Christina’s work. Sign up to read her blogs and newsletter at www.peerspirit.com.
  • Read Christina’s powerful body of work: Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story; Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice; The Seven Whispers, Spiritual Practice for Times Like These, Calling the Circle; and The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair.
  •  Listen to my conversation with Christina.
  • Practice Flow Writing.
  • Incorporate dialogue into your journal writing.

Christina eloquently reminds us to take time and listen to our deepest selves. This is action that seems more important than ever. When we listen carefully, we tune into those things that help us be our best selves.

If you enjoyed this interview, I’m certain you’ll find our conversation with author Beth Jacobs deeply satisfying as well.

Embrace ALL Your Feelings to Create a Life You Love, with Randy Taran

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We sat down with Randy Taran, founder and CEO of Project Happiness, to discuss her newest book Emotional Advantage: Embracing All Your Feelings to Create a Life You Love.

For years, Randy has been one of the leading experts on happiness and positive psychology. Her current research is an expansion of her groundbreaking work. Randy’s new book explores the ways acknowledgement of and engagement with all of our emotions helps us create a life we love. It’s a privilege to share her uplifting message with you.

Randy is also co-author of the Project Happiness Handbook, which uses journaling to bring the best of positive psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness to youth. Randy produced the award-winning documentary “Project Happiness” exploring the nature of lasting happiness through interviews with George Lucas, Richard Gere, Richard Davidson and the Dalai Lama.

Randy’s work will transform the way you engage with your emotional life. To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


A Message of Hope

With a community of 2.5 million people on Facebook and Instagram, Randy’s messages of hope, along with science-based strategies for greater well-being, are reaching people when they need it most.

For years Randy’s focused on happiness and positive psychology, and she remains enthusiastic about the benefits of  a perspective shift toward positivity. But recently, she was hearing from more people who wanted to learn how to live with other emotions like anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger. Randy found herself drawn to this question both as a topical issue and on a more personal level as well.

She explains, “Writing this book gave me an opportunity to delve into the history, science, and strategic applications and insights that come from embracing all of our feelings.”

Randy’s research suggests our emotions are gifts. “Our emotions are messengers that provide information. They are like data points,” she observes. “Our emotions are messengers from the deepest part of ourselves. If we welcome and appreciate these messages, they have the power to enrich and inform our lives.

Our emotions are messengers that provide information. They are like data points.

Randy Taran

Randy acknowledges the emotions she writes about are powerful, and there is a tendency to want to sweep them under the rug. Guilt is an example of a powerful emotion. “No one wants to feel guilty, and so sometimes we run from this feeling,” Randy points out. “But guilt brings us back to our core values. It’s a wakeup call that announces when something doesn’t feel right.” In other words, she explains, “guilt provides an opportunity to course correct.”

Anger is another significant emotion with potential benefits. “Anger can feel like a forest fire burning up everything in its path. Anger is a potent emotion with power. But, where would Martin Luther King, Gandhi, or the suffragette movement be if these individuals didn’t listen to and channel their anger productively. Anger inspires action.”

The key is to channel emotions skillfully. Randy believes we all have the potential to do so.

Name the Emotion

There is value in naming an emotion. Sometimes we don’t know what we are feeling. If we can name what we are experiencing, oftentimes we get to the heart of the matter.

Randy references the catchphrase of our friend, Dr. Dan Siegel. Name it to tame it. When we can label our emotions we can manage and channel them more effectively.

Randy’s Tips for Engaging with Emotions

  • Don’t wait for the fire. Check in when your emotions are just a spark. Tune in and ask,  “What am I feeling in this moment? Journal about the feelings you identify.
  • Before an emotion gains momentum. Take an inventory. How do you feel? Are you tired? Hungry? How is your physical state impacting your emotions?
  • Examine triggers. Understanding why a feeling comes to the surface is key in understanding how best to engage with it.
  • Identify your options. What can you choose to do with this emotion once you’ve named it?

Journaling Prompts

  • When_____ happens it triggers feelings of ______.
  • When I think about_____ I usually feel______.
  • When I am anxious my body feels like______.

The Choice to React

As Randy’s work shows, we have a choice to respond to our emotions in a constructive way and let these feelings help us advance. The other option is to make no decisions, to simply suppress emotions or unload them externally without a sense of resolution.

Assess Your Response

Try these journaling prompts to assess your response to complicated emotions when they arise.

  • What kind of patterns did I repeat?
  • Where did I gain awareness and successfully course correct?

Our emotions can appear to come out of nowhere but when we learn about our triggers we can identify what to do to keep ourselves in a balanced state of mind.

Speak to Yourself with Compassion

Randy cited the inspiring work of Dr. Kristin Neff, whose work identifies the three elements she refers to as composing self-compassion. These are self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

1. Self-kindness. Speak and journal to yourself as if you were your dearest closest most beloved friend.

2. When we acknowledge common humanity, we recognize that people experience difficult emotions that can make them feel isolated. This knowledge reminds us we are not alone in our struggles. Challenges are normal and universally felt.

3. Mindfulness is about being aware of and engaging with the feelings you are experiencing

Self-compassion Promotes Emotional Resiliency

People who practice self-compassion are shown to bounce back from disappointment and challenges faster than people who just power through emotional struggles. Self-kindness, Randy teaches, sustains us on a deeper level and opens the door to positive change. These acts of compassion also strengthen neural pathways so that eventually this gentle response becomes our go-to modality.

What the Research Shows

Fear and anxiety are dominant emotions in the landscape today. Randy references one study that shows 1 in 5 Americans suffers from anxiety. Among teens this statistic is said to be even higher.

The World Health Organization has declared depression to be the greatest cause of suffering around the world for all ages, regardless of socioeconomic factors or gender.

These startling findings reinforce Randy’s notion that we must work with the big emotions that rise in our life. We need to use these emotions to empower ourselves and to foster a connection with ourselves.

The crux of Randy’s work shows that expressing the whole range of human emotions is how we experience life in a deep and meaningful way. It is how we maintain our humanity and develop empathy for others.

Your Action Plan

  • Learn more about Randy’s work. Visit her online at  Project Happiness.
  • Read her new book, Emotional Advantage: Embracing All Your Feelings to Create a Life You Love.
  • Listen to my conversation with Randy.
  • Try the prompts Randy provides in this article.
  • Practice self-compassion, and use your journal to help implement this principal.

Self-care, Randy reminds us, is never frivolous or selfish. Quite the opposite. When we are gentle with ourselves, when we meet our emotions with curiosity instead of judgement, that action impacts others as well. When we help ourselves we make the world better.

If your enjoyed this interview, you might also find our conversation with Dr. Dan Siegel helpful.

Heal Yourself Using Journaling Power, with Mari L. McCarthy

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Scientists confirm that journaling impacts our physical health in tangible, even quantifiable ways. Our conversation with author Mari L. McCarthy demonstrates the powerful benefits of expressive writing.

Mari is the Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live and Heal Your Self With Journaling Power. She is also the creator of 20+ life-changing Journaling Power eWorkbooks such as Start Changing Your Life, Love Your Body and Take Control of Your Health.

Mari’s work is an inspiration. It was a privilege to talk with her about the ways journaling helps us make peace with our bodies. To learn more, read below to see highlights from our conversation, or listen to our interview on The Power of Journaling.

Before we begin, please note, Journaling.com does not provide medical advice. This conversation is for informational purposes only, and as always, we advise talking with your healthcare provider before making changes to any wellness routine.

Mari’s Story
Mari’s story is personal. Her sensitive approach to the work she does mentoring and empowering people with chronic conditions comes from her experience living with multiple sclerosis.

By the winter of ‘98, Mari had been living with an MS diagnosis for eight years. She knew her body and her symptoms well at that point, so when she woke up with lost feeling on her right side, she paid attention. This symptom, Mari realized, marked a change in her physical health.

Mari intuited that this symptom would not subside in a few weeks, and she was right. The only palatable choice was to adapt.  

“I realized I needed to teach myself to write with my left hand in order to keep working,” she explains. Undaunted, Mari spoke with a woman who referred her to Julia Cameron’s revolutionary book, The Artists Way. It was there she discovered Morning Pages.

Cameron describes Morning Pages, a widely popular journaling technique, as “writing three pages of longhand stream of consciousness first thing in the morning.”  Morning Pages bring ideas and concerns to the surface of our minds. The act of writing this way helps us to prioritize thoughts we want to invest energy into and puts unproductive fears and worries into perspective.

Each morning, Mari endeavored to write Morning Pages using her left hand. With a sense of irony, she acknowledges, “I started journaling for physical therapy purposes only.” But quickly she started to note the cadence and rhythm of her words, and she began writing poetry for the first time.

Forgotten memories started turning up on the pages of Mari’s journal. One startling discovery was the recollection that she’d been left-handed as a child. When she entered school, she’d been instructed to use only her right hand. Her mother confirmed this memory was true.  

As Mari made more discoveries, she saw journaling as a tool to unlock emotions. She felt it helping her achieve wellness and clarity as well. Mari has been an avid journaler since.

Journaling Opens Communication Lines
In her work supporting clients with a wide range of illnesses, Mari observes that many people do not enjoy a positive relationship with their bodies. She notes that many of us carry thoughts and experiences from childhood that have been internalized and are stuck inside.

Through journaling, new communication lines are established between our brains and our bodies. We become able to converse with our bodies in new ways as we cultivate language that shines a light on how we feel at a physical level.

As this communication grows in depth and precision, we feel our relationship with our bodies strengthen in positive ways.

Cultivate a Peaceful Relationship With Your Body
Mari invites us to use journaling to help connect and communicate with our bodies in a voice that is kind, forgiving, and compassionate. She explains that journaling everyday helps us to see when we aren’t treating ourselves with care.

The following tips from Mari will help foster connectedness and relationship with your physical self.

  • Dialogue with your body. Ask how it’s feeling today and listen carefully to its response.

  • Approach your body in the spirit of teamwork. Many of us have an adversarial relationship with our bodies. Be mindful of meeting your body with curiosity instead of judgment.

  • Write your heart out. It’s okay to rant and rave. Get the garbage out. Give yourself permission to purge. This brave act will decrease stress and facilitate meaningful processing of thoughts and emotions.

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Action steps

Mari acknowledges it’s initially difficult to sit down and dialogue with one’s body. It might feel silly at first, and you might feel anger and lack the compassion you aim to achieve. But she assures us that with time we will get there. Developing relationships, even with ourselves, is a slow, deep process. Be gentle with yourself!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also want to read about our conversation with Leia Francisco in which she talks about writing  through challenging life transitions. https://journaling.com/articles/write-your-way-through-challenging-life-transitions-with-leia-francisco/

Journaling: Relief for Anxiety and Depression, with Maud Purcell

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When it comes to journaling, the research is conclusive and inspiring; expressive writing is a practical tool that improves emotional well-being. It was a pleasure to sit down with psychotherapist Maud Purcell to discuss the ways she uses journaling techniques to help clients navigate depression and anxiety.

Maud Purcell is a Founder and Executive Director of The Life Solution Center of Darien.  She has been quoted in the NY Times and The Wall Street Journal and interviewed nationally and internationally on television and radio.

To listen to our conversation, visit our podcast, The Power of Journaling, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Identify Root Causes of Strong Emotions

Journaling, Maud explains, is a powerful lens that helps us to see the root cause of strong emotions. This fresh clarity helps us to address old problems in new ways.

Journaling is a Multi-Purpose Tool

Maud is a long-time proponent of journaling, and her enthusiasm is contagious. In her work with clients, she recommends they journal about a range of issues that include:

  • healing from traumatic events
  • problem solving
  • increasing gratitude
  • engendering hope and optimism for the present and future
  • triggering  creativity
  • finding meaning in life when circumstances make it difficult to do so

Journaling, brings issues hovering below the surface of consciousness into our range of vision. From there we better understand the exact emotions that need to be disentangled.

Before I ask someone to start writing, I’ll ask them to observe how they feel based on a scale between one and ten. Then they journal. Afterwards, I’ll ask them to rate their mood again. Almost every time, their mood is improved.

Maud Purcell

Achieve Left-Brain Right-Brain Assimilation

The act of writing accesses the left brain, which is analytical and rational. While our left brain is occupied with writing, our right brain is free to create and intuit. In this way, Maud explains, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use both parts of our brain for deeper self-exploration.

Tapping into lesser used parts of our brain helps us to discover creative ways to:

  • prepare for challenging conversations
  • determine a new life path or direction
  • come to terms with mistakes we’ve made and foster self-forgiveness
  • cultivate a spiritual practice

Journaling Facilitates Physical Healing

Citing the seminal work of Dr. James Pennebaker, a recent podcast guest on The Power of Journaling, Maud spoke to journaling’s impact on physical health. Dr. Pennebaker and other researchers have observed that journaling benefits our health by:

  • decreasing blood pressure and heart rate
  • improving immune system function
  • relieving pain
  • aiding digestion
  • improving sleep
  • decreasing asthma and rheumatoid arthritis

Bring Unconscious Feelings to the Surface

Maud explained that if we are out of touch with our own thoughts and feelings, there is an increased risk of experiencing anxiety and depression. When we write, unconscious feelings rise to the surface. Once we get these feelings onto paper, we can achieve a level of distance and objectivity which in turn gives us space to problem solve creatively.

Journaling Addresses a Variety of Issues

Our talk with Maud highlighted the ways journaling can address a wide range of issues.

  • In situational anxiety and depression, journaling helps us connect the dots so we better understand what triggers and maintains negative emotional patterns.
  • With the help of a regular journaling routine, significant milestones like accepting a new job or purchasing a home can be navigated with greater ease.
  • Journaling helps us to spot negative thinking and to focus instead on feelings of optimism, gratitude, and contentment.

Your Action Plan

Learn more about Maud’s work. Visit her at The Life Solution Center of Darien.

  • For more ideas and information, listen to my interview with Maud.
  • Invest in your journaling practice and gift yourself gorgeous pens, paper, candles, and teas to affirm your writing journey.

There’s No Wrong Way to Do This

When asked to share her best journaling tips, Maud responded, “There are no rules. Just put the pen to paper and write.”  We think these are some wise words to live by!

Journal to Increase Your Productivity and Creativity, with Shelby Abrahamsen

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We recently enjoyed a conversation with Shelby Abrahamsen, founder of the life style blog, Little Coffee Fox. Shelby is a young entrepreneur with a talent for art and for inspiring others. We talked recently about the ways journaling has helped her find her way in the world, create a meaningful career, and increase productivity. It’s a joy to welcome Shelby to Journaling.com 

Shelby is a 20-something who has always struggled with productivity. After years of struggling with goal setting, time management, and productivity, she finally sought out a solution. She figured out a way to use her own creativity and hobbies to whip her life into shape with the help of a bullet journal, and it completely changed her life. Now, she’s a full-time lifestyle blogger who focuses on helping others manage their time, explore their passions, and build the lives they want to lead.

To listen to the audio podcast, click on the play button below. And continue reading to discover the highlights from that interview.

Shelby began blogging after college. When she started, she never dreamed she’d turn this pastime into a career, but today she works full time, along with her husband, creating content for her dynamic website, Little Coffee Fox.

Writing about a wide range of subjects, Shelby especially enjoys sharing new approaches to organization and regularly offers readers ideas to help them set and achieve their goals.

At the moment, Shelby describes herself as being in a highly creative space. She is passionate about water coloring and brush lettering, which she writes about on her blog. She adds, “I have time to do these fun things because of the organization I did back in January.”

Growth, not perfection, is the goal.

Shelby Abrahamsen

To help get organized and to keep herself on track, Shelby’s preferred method of choice is bullet journaling.

After graduation from college, bullet journaling helped Shelby navigate challenging new waters. “Bullet journaling was like a life boat for me. When I got out of college I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was floating with no direction or ambition.” Shelby found herself in professional limbo as she waited for her husband to finish law school. “I was struggling and couldn’t ignite the passion to do the things I loved.”

Always drawn to paper, pens, paints, and highlighters, Shelby began to experiment with these tools. Along the way, she discovered bullet journaling. This popular method helped Shelby organize her time and her thoughts while it also provided her with an outlet for creativity.

Through this process Shelby learned that planning and establishing goals didn’t have to be an arduous chore. In fact, she found these acts were engaging and exciting. A single positive journaling experience led to another and another which helped Shelby build better habits and ultimately, she tells us, become a better version of herself.

Shelby often hears from readers who struggle to organize their lives doing the “digital thing.”  This makes sense to her. While Shelby acknowledges that digital tracking systems are fine task management tools for many, she says it’s not a method that works for everyone. Shelby cites the research that shows people retain more information when they engage with the physical act of writing words down. For this reason, journaling is a regularly scheduled part of her self-care routine and a practice she encourages her readers to cultivate.

Shelby is passionate about the use of  Morning Pages, a method developed and described in Julia Cameron’s ground breaking book, “The Artist’s Way.’ Cameron’s method has the journaler wake up in the morning and  immediately write, by hand, three pages of  unedited stream of consciousness. Shelby appreciates Cameron’s emphasis on removing anxiety and self-censorship from the process and finds the fact that these pages are completely private and quite liberating. “Morning Pages have played a huge role in my growth,” Shelby told us. “I discovered Morning Pages at the same time as bullet journaling. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but these were the methods that stuck.”

Shelby enjoys experimenting with materials and this shows in the colorful, creative results of her work. For journaling, her favorite notebook is the Leuchtturm1917

“This one is handy when it comes to bullet journaling because it has page numbers which help you keep perspective on where you are at.  I’ve tried others, but this is the one I use again and again.”

Along with helping Shelby organize ideas and grow her productivity, bullet journaling reconnected her with her love of art and proclivity toward creativity. “I had a revelation around the time I discovered journaling. I realized it’s not about whether you make money, it’s about how the work you do makes you feel.”

Partly through journaling, Shelby recognized that although the artist’s life is filled with challenges, it’s what fulfills her, and she became determined to organize her days in order to prioritize her craft.

Shelby ended our discussion with wise words of advice. “Don’t aim for perfection. Create something and then move on.”

When people strive for perfection, she notices they get overwhelmed and eventually stuck.  Shelby describes how this tendency has even shown up in the ways people bullet journal. “Many people have written to me to tell me they are terrified of ruining their journals, and so they never start.” Shelby inspires people to shift their perspective on perfection. “Growth, not perfection, is the goal,” she reminds us. 

Your Action Plan

Ideas and Insights from the Creator of the Bullet Journal, with Ryder Carroll

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Ryder Carroll’s bestselling book The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future has transformed the journaling landscape. Ryder’s innovative approach to productivity and mindfulness, through a method he calls Bullet Journaling, has contributed significantly to the rising number of people journaling today. He’s been featured by the New York Times, LA Times, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Vogue, Bloomberg, and others. If you aren’t already familiar with Ryder’s groundbreaking work, you are in for a treat. It is a huge pleasure to welcome this visionary thinker to Journaling.com.

You can listen to his interview by pressing the play button below, or continue on to read the highlights of our conversation.

The Early Beginning

Ryder describes Bullet Journaling as “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” Interestingly, when Ryder set out to develop this system, mindfulness was not foremost on his mind. Growing up with a diagnosis of ADD, Ryder often struggled to keep up with peers. This challenge eventually inspired him to design a productivity system to assist with becoming more efficient and better organized.

The methods Ryder developed helped him attain his professional goals. But despite numerous work-place achievements, Ryder recognized his accomplishments weren’t yielding personal fulfillment. “I realized a lot of my goals were appropriated from the world around me—namely peers and media. I never asked myself what I wanted or what was important in my life.”

A New Direction

Ryder returned to the productivity tools he’d developed and began to use them for inward self-reflection. Bullet Journaling, he discovered, not only helped increase productivity, it also provided a foundation for rigorous self-examination. And that, he tells me, is when things got interesting!

The words we write down are experiences waiting to be born.

Ryder Carroll

A New Approach to Task Lists

Ryder observes, “We live in a time when productivity is worshipped.” Indeed, we oftentimes equate a mile-long to-do list with our level of significance in the universe.

As our to-do lists grow, so too does our anxiety. This insight led Ryder to ask, what if the task- list were to become part of an “existential” exploration that assesses the quality of experiences that fill our days?

Today Ryder helps others contemplate their task lists in order to maximize their time spent tending to activities that provide fulfillment and meaning. He explains to his readers, “I can’t tell you what will make your life better, but from my own experiences, I can share ways of thinking that may help you find those answers for yourself.”

Shift Your Perspective

Ryder’s message to journalers is an uplifting one. “The words we write down are experiences waiting to be born not just a list of stuff we have to do. Our task lists are a preview to the life we are building.”

When we think of to-do lists in this new light, it helps us to:

  • ask why we do the tasks we do each day. In turn, we become more selective in choosing which tasks we can commit to.
  • clarify what’s important in our lives on an ongoing, regular basis so that we focus on tasks that have the greatest meaning and value in our lives.
  • reengage with the content we write down in meaningful, deeper ways.

Ryder’s Tips for Reengaging with Content

Your journal is a treasure chest filled with nuggets of wisdom and insight. Reengaging with your journal’s content on a regular basis helps you assimilate deeper understanding.

  1. Keep your journal nearby:  Throughout the day, jot down tasks, ideas, and questions to pursue later on. These notes can be brief. The goal is simply to capture these thoughts on paper in order to preserve them and to free up your mind for other thoughts.
  2. Daily Reflection:  Before bed, review the content you’ve written down that day. Use this moment to observe and clarify how the day’s tasks moved (or didn’t move) your life in a meaningful and desirable direction.
  3. Monthly Migration: Once a month, review the previous week’s journal entries. After some contemplation, rewrite only those words that still have value and purpose in your life. Vital tasks and thoughts will migrate with you into the next month. Leave unnecessary obligations and distractions behind by omitting them from this migration process.

Evaluate Your Task List

We are a culture on auto pilot trying to accomplish an infinite list of tasks. Streamlining task lists so they are an approximation of the life we want to cultivate is vital. To help with this process, Ryder recommends considering these questions:

  • How do the tasks on your list make you feel?
  • Which of these responsibilities do you want more or less of in your life?
  • Of the tasks you completed today, which ones were essential? Which provided you with fulfillment, pleasure, and meaning?
  • What would have happened if one of the tasks on your list was not completed?
  • Which of the items on your list could be eliminated without any negative consequences?

Put your To-Do List into Context

Whether or not an act is vital is sometimes unclear. To help untangle this ambiguity, Ryder uses the example of washing dishes. Theoretically, this task is not vital. Nothing catastrophic will happen if you never wash a dish again. You could simply use paper plates or eat all of your meals in restaurants. But context, Ryder explains, is what matters here. If you live with someone you care about who cooks dinner every evening, in this context, washing dishes is vital because it’s a way for you to reciprocate that person’s act of kindness.  

Seeing a task in its own unique context, Ryder points out, infuses even our most base chores with new meaning.

Why It Matters

In the midst of crisis, people are often compelled to face life’s “big questions.” They ask themselves what in my life matters most to me? What are my regrets? Who do I love, and have I adequately cared for these people? Have my actions made a difference in the world?

Instead of waiting for a moment of crisis to contemplate these issues, checking in regularly, asking these questions frequently, alleviates pressure and makes these inquiries less daunting.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Fancy

We see them on Instagram and YouTube all the time—those gorgeous Bullet Journals that make us swoon. Elaborate interpretations of the bullet journaling method are great fun to look at and can be a tremendous source of inspiration. But Ryder wants to be sure users remember that Bullet Journaling is based on particular methods that do not rely on looking a specific way. “Bullet Journaling is a paper mirror there to reflect your choices, responsibilities, and the things that matter back at you.” How this paper mirror looks is not an important part of its functionality, Ryder reminds us. Instead, he insists, your Bullet Journal should look however you need it to. Every life has unique requirements and so a journal should be customized for the individual it serves.

Your Action Plan

Start your own bullet journal with help from the official Bullet Journal notebook which was designed by Ryder to support your individualized needs.

  • Listen to our entire conversation on our podcast, The Power of Journaling.
  • Make space in your writing life to integrate Daily Reflections and Monthly Migrations.

In talking with Ryder, it became clear that a productivity system is only as effective as the level of mindfulness it inspires. How does mindfulness inform your own productivity? We’d love to hear all about it. Reach out to us on Facebook.

Five Ways Journaling Boosts Happiness & Well-Being, with Nancy Scherlong

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Happiness and a sense of well-being; it’s what we all want. In our podcast interview with therapist Nancy Scherlong, we discuss the variety of ways journaling helps to cultivate these feelings. Nancy affirms the transformative power of journal writing and provides uplifting new ideas to contemplate.

Nancy is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of CT and NY, a positive psychology coach, journal and poetry therapist, and expressive writing workshop facilitator.  She is also trained in the action methods of psychodrama and interweaves different creative art forms in her teaching, training, and workshops. She is an adjunct instructor for several Master’s in Social Work programs on the East Coast as well as a core faculty member of the online training school, The Therapeutic Writing Institute and the online platform Journalversity. She provides training and supervision to trainees in the field of journal and poetry therapy as well as consults with groups and organizations offering wellness programming and retreats.

To learn more, listen to our conversation on our podcast, The Power of Journaling, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Nancy’s work as a positive psychology coach dovetails beautifully with the goals of expressive writing. For a long time, Nancy explains, psychology emphasized pathology and everything that was wrong in peoples’ lives. Positive psychology strives to put the focus on everything that’s right.

Good gardeners know if you aren’t pruning and cutting away the things that aren’t thriving or useful, your plants or flowers won’t be as vibrant. We need to prune our thoughts in the same kinds of ways so we are growing our most vibrant parts. What we focus on is what will grow.

Nancy Scherlong

Resist Negativity Bias

In order to identify potential threats, our brains are hardwired to focus on negativity. Vigilance is a biological defense, and so it takes concerted effort and intention to notice what’s “right” in our lives.

Journal writing can help us tune into what’s right and to reframe what feels wrong. Nancy shares five writing tips to help us resist negativity biases and boost feelings of happiness and well-being.

  1. Practice Gratitude:  Harvest and Cultivate the Good From Each Day

    Nancy encourages us to take an inventory of whatever it is that’s working well in our lives.  To cultivate this practice in her own life, she uses The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change.  Here’s how it works:
    – In the morning, read a quotation or affirmation that inspires. Envision what will fill today with joy and meaning. These actions are like a reset button for the day ahead.
    – At night, reflect on what went well that day, and determine what your role was in making it go well.
    – Craft a plan to make tomorrow better.

  2. Journal to Be in the Here and Now

    – We know that when we live each moment deeply, we are happier.
    – Write what you smell, taste, and hear. Notice the birds that are singing or the aroma of the soup on the stove. Writing down details engages our senses and helps us to be in the moment.
    – Write with pen and paper to integrate body, mind, and emotions.

  3. Change Your Narrative

    – Cultivate self-forgiveness. The more we forgive ourselves the more we can be in the present. A focus on the negative is a pull from the present leading back toward regret and the past.
    – Write down how you talk to yourself and be deliberate in interrupting negative messaging. Rewriting the script helps us to change the stories we tell about ourselves. 

  4. Identify a Vision and a Goal

    – Nancy acknowledges this instruction can seem like a contradiction to mindfulness. Aren’t we supposed to be living in the here and now? But she explains that when we work toward visions and goals, we live our way into the future by the way we conduct ourselves in the present. In other words, if we are in touch with and practice the things that light us up–our passions–we find our vision naturally. Having goals and vision is a key point of happiness.
    – Make a vision board with words that project your goals. There are no rules; there’s no need for complete sentences. Use words, phrases.

  5. Practice Affirmative Writing that Inspires Resilience

    – Affirmative writing is the bridge between our current reality and our desired outcomes. It helps us identify a goal along with the actions that move us toward the goal. 
    – As you write, reflect on tough times from the past that you’ve worked through successfully. Difficult days survived are resilience markers reminding us of our capacity to overcome challenges.
    – Write in the present tense as though the future you desire is happening now. Nancy provides an example.
    – Let’s imagine it’s your hope that in six months’ time you’ll be an amazing chef.  Write as though you’ve already achieved this goal. Flesh out the vision in the present tense and claim success as if it’s already happened. Write about the classes you took, the people you talked with, and the resources you’ve consulted to get to this place. In doing so, you’ll come up with a game plan that leads you to actualize your vision.
    – Writing like you have what you want rather than transcribing a sense of longing is a radical shift in mindset that leads to happiness and well-being.

Nancy points out that our brains are highly capable of growth and change and that affirmative writing stretches our minds and establishes increased neural plasticity.

Your Action Plan

  • Learn more about Nancy’s work. Visit her online at www.changeyournarrativetherapy.com, on Facebook, and at the Therapeutic Writing Institute .
  • For more practical suggestions and inspiring ideas, listen to my interview with Nancy.
  • Establish a writing practice that works for you.  Devote ten minutes each day if you can. Pick materials and a schedule  that works with your personality not against it
  • Practice affirmative writing.

How will you implement these suggestions? Share your ideas with us on Facebook.

Three Ways Journal Planners Cultivate Happiness, with Mo Seetubtim

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Mo Seetubtim, founder & CEO of The Happiness Planner, conceived a novel idea. What if planners and journals were blended into one fabulous tool? Today, Mo designs beautiful products that can help you explore your inner world, master your mind, and find happiness from within. At Journaling.com, we were so impressed by Mo’s creations that we selected her Happiness Planner as one of the top 10 planners in 2019. It’s an enormous pleasure to introduce you to Mo and to the inspiring resources she’s created.  

To learn more, listen to our interview or read below to see highlights from my conversation with Mo.

A global nomad who’s called numerous places home, Mo resides in Europe for now. In her travels, Mo has observed the ways journaling practices go hand in hand with a society’s reading culture. She speaks of how the French’s love of the written word correlates with their affection for journaling. The Japanese, who have a rich history of paper making and design, seek out aesthetically pleasing journaling products that reflect this cultural element.  

The seeds for Mo’s own journaling practice were sown by her father, a marathon runner, entrepreneur, and avid journal writer who recognized the ways writing helped expand his self-awareness. Today journaling is a regular and important part of Mo’s own self-care routine.

As Mo worked on her design for a product that combined the traditional daily planner with the act of journaling, she observed two key things. A planner requires one to look to the future. A journal inspires observation and reflection on thoughts and behaviors in order to develop deeper self-awareness.

Realizing that these tools were perfect complements and could be integrated into one straightforward resource, the Happiness Planner was born. Mo explains that a journaling planner inspires users to make time to prioritize the contemplation and evaluation of specific thoughts and behavioral patterns.

Three Ways Journal Planners Guide you Toward  Happiness

Mo discussed three ways journal planners help us to find more happiness in life.

  1. Journal planners help us to explore our inner world and observe thoughts and behaviors that might be otherwise overlooked.

    It’s hard to see negative patterns unless we learn to observe them. Journaling, Mo explains, lets us identify helpful and unhelpful patterns of behaviors so that we can cultivate ways of being that enrich our lives and eliminate all the rest. 

  2. Journal planners help rewire the brain.

    Mo reminds us that we can rewire our brain to change thoughts and behaviors and establish positive new habits. Journal Planners help us commit time to activities we aren’t used to doing. Whether this is exercise, cooking healthy meals, or making time for a hobby, once these activities are prioritized in your journal planner and are repeated over and over, you’ve rewired your brain and integrated these activities into your life.

  3. A journal planner helps cultivate a relationship with one’s self.

    Mo describes herself as someone who finds deep joy in solitude, and she notes that true happiness comes from within. A journal planner can deepen the relationship we have  with ourselves which in turn provides the clarity we need to navigate challenging moments in life.

Journal planners help us to explore our inner world and observe thoughts and behaviors that might be otherwise overlooked.

Mo Seetubtim

Writing Prompts to Identify What Brings You Happiness

Light a candle, pour some tea, and gift yourself with a moment to explore the journaling prompts Mo shares below.

  • Write about activities that bring you joy.
  • Identify your values and the actions that will help you live in a manner that promotes your system of beliefs.
  • Reflect on a moment in your life that brought deep joy. Consider ways to ensure these moments are repeated.

These questions require us to dig deeply. A journal planner facilitates this process so that it becomes an ongoing practice in our lives.  

Ideas on the Horizon

Mo looks forward to creating new tools to further support the journaling community. Her mention of theme journals especially stood out to us. She describes these as guided journals containing prompts and worksheets loaded with questions designed to address issues such as self-love, consciousness, attachment, and fear.

In the year ahead, Mo also looks forward to hosting engaging, fun-filled events focused on self-awareness raising and confidence building.  

Your Action Plan

  • The Happiness Planner isn’t the only tool in Mo’s journaling toolbox. Visit her website  to see all of the resources she offers, and choose the one that’s right for you.
  •  Listen to our interview with Mo on The Power of Journaling.
  • Spend time with your journal exploring Mo’s writing prompts up above.

Mo’s work is a joy-filled reminder that journaling helps construct a strong foundation made of self-awareness and understanding that can help us to weather life’s ups and downs.

If You Enjoyed This Interview…

If you found my conversation with Mo helpful, you may also enjoy my interview with positive psychology coach, Nancy Scherlong, in which we discuss the ways journaling cultivates a sense of well-being. Visit The Power of Journaling podcast to hear our discussion or read the highlights of our chat here on Journaling.com.