How to Get Started Travel Journaling, with Lauren Hooper

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We talked with Lauren Hooper, podcast host and seasoned traveler, to discover how journaling and travel make a perfect pairing. We are certain Lauren’s insights will inspire you to take along a journal on your next big adventure.

Lauren is a crafter, adventurer and storyteller who has lived overseas with her husband and pup for 6 years and created a career out of creativity and adventure. Lauren co-founded the Get Messy Art Journal program and now runs Radiant Art Retreats, hosts the podcast How She Creates, teaches online courses for creatives at lauren-likes.com, and is currently redesigning her popular travel art journal which will be available this spring. Lauren’s work explores the intersection of art, travel and good in the world.

To find out how you can incorporate journaling into your next travel adventure, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Lauren took her first creative steps as a child scrapbooking with her mom. This activity sparked in her a love of art and an appreciation of all-things creative. Growing up Lauren knew she would be an artist.

As graduate students facing the challenges of a limited income, Lauren and her husband made an amazing discovery. They did the math and realized that they would save money in the summertime if they got rid of their apartment and traveled instead. They used this time to visit with friends and see the country. A love of travel was ignited, and it became their life plan to see the world.

Throughout these travels, Lauren kept her pen moving. Filling notebooks with insights and reflections on the places she visited felt like a natural thing to do, and before she knew it, Lauren was a self-identified travel journaler.  

Lauren’s lifestyle continues to gift her with travel journaling opportunities. Today she lives on the campus of a university in the United Arab Emirates. With enthusiasm, she describes taking walks and biking in her close-knit community surrounded by desert and just a stone’s throw away from the city of Dubai. With gratitude she acknowledges, “Every day is an adventure.”

When Lauren reflects on what travel has shown her, she acknowledges, “You don’t know how much you don’t know until you know!”  She explains the ways living overseas has opened her mind up wide to people and experiences. “There is no wrong way to do life,” she tells us. Travel reveals the different ways a life can be lived well, and Lauren finds herself excited by the opportunities this mindset makes possible.  

Lauren is an avid journaler who speaks of her practice with contagious enthusiasm. “I love journaling. I love that it has so many levels and facets. This morning I did morning pages. Later I got out my art journal where I sprayed ink and glued pictures. Maybe I’ll add some writing to it.” Lauren uses a variety of journaling methods and embraces opportunities for creative play, experimentation, and variation.

The Benefits of Travel Journaling

The journals Lauren creates yield enormous benefits and enrich her travel life in meaningful ways because travel journaling:

  • facilitates deeper learning and reflection by keeping you present in the moment.
  • cements memories and helps the brain process “newness overload” often triggered by travel.
  • slows you down to help savor each minute.
  • helps replenish energy which in turn enhances the travel experience.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

Photos improve our memory of events and Lauren considers her camera an essential tool. Telling stories with pictures is one of her favorite things to do, and she encourages journalers to take photos. Lots and lots of photos. While traveling, Lauren suggest jotting down a few notes on a phone app that coincide with the pictures you’ve taken. At the end of the day, with very little effort, you’ll have captured the details you want to put into your journal.

Travel Journaling Tools and Tips

When it comes to travel journaling, Lauren’s focus is on simplicity and fun. She cautions journalers not to become overwhelmed by the process.

  • Make a plan. Decide what you will journal about. Keep it simple. You might try something like the top three highlights you enjoyed today.
  • Gather materials. Again, Lauren encourages sticking to the basics. A journal, a pen, and maybe a glue stick or a stapler will get you started. To add a splash of color, Lauren recommends carrying along a small watercolor set or colored pencils.  
  • Establish a set writing time. It might be before bed after a long day of travel. If it’s helpful, set an alarm so you don’t forget.

Once your pen is moving, Lauren suggests a concentrated focus on themes such as gratitude or storytelling that hones in on the highs and lows of the day. Go deep, she encourages. Unearth all of the details. You’ll be so grateful for the memories. Above all else, she reminds us, travel journaling should enhance the trip and not become another checkbox.

Create a Keepsake

Online services make it easier than ever to organize your journals and transform them into keepsakes. Lauren mentions a service called Chatbooks that will compile travel photos on Instagram into one attractive book. Lauren uses this feature often to pull together photos from her own travel adventures.

A Dream Comes True

When spring rolls around, Lauren will see a dream long in the making come to fruition, and we can’t wait to see the results!  Early in her travels, Lauren spent hours preparing for trips by making customized journals full of colorful prompts and paint. Doing this preparation in advance meant all she had to do on the road was get the words down. There was no need to concern herself with layout details she didn’t have time for. Not surprisingly, people noticed these journals and began asking for their own.

Soon, Lauren’s journals will be available in print. Lauren describes her guided journals as “books full of prompts that tickle the artist’s brain and help them express what they see.” Lauren’s goal is to provide a tool that inspires creativity and eliminates overwhelm.

Lauren left us with final thoughts we hope you’ll take to heart. “Take your journal and write about whatever is bubbling up in your heart and mind that day. Write about the most beautiful things, the hardest things, the memories and moments that come together to create this beautiful travel life soup.”  Yum! Doesn’t she make it sound so delicious?

Your Action Plan

If you enjoyed this conversation with Lauren, you’ll find my interview with journal art expert Caylee Grey full of inspiration.

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.



How Journaling Can Help You Get in Shape, with Michale Hartte

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We are beyond excited to tell you about our interview with wellness coach Michale Hartte, because we know her ideas can help. Whether you struggle with achieving wellness goals or you’re just looking for extra inspiration to maximize your health regimen, you won’t want to miss this conversation. Discover the ways journaling can help you achieve optimal health and fitness.  

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

Michale has 20 years of experience helping people get fit and healthy through her courses and 1 on 1 consulting. She is also the author of The Fit ‘n Healthy Plan and writes for numerous magazines. Michale’s passion to help others stems from experience reversing her own cases of amenorrhea and osteoporosis through diet, detox, and daily routine. 

Michale credits journaling with saving her life. As a child, she struggled hard to fit in. Low self-esteem and a desire to feel accepted led Michale toward unhealthy behaviors like smoking and anorexia.

Years later, Michale began to seek answers. “I sat down and asked, ‘Who am I, and why am I here?’  I journaled about it, got it out of my body, and I started to see my story in my journal. It made sense, and  I realized exactly why I’m here.”

Since this life-changing discovery, Michale has established healthy habits, a strong mind and body, and now she helps others do the same. She attributes much of her success to journaling.

Michale’s Top Three Tips to Help Slim Down and Get Stronger

1. Have confidence in the right plan. There are so many diets to choose from. The goal is to select a plan that will work for the long-term and that emphasizes health not merely weight loss.

2. Be consistent. Establishing a morning time journaling routine helps maintain a schedule that ensures you reach your goals. Michale suggests starting each day by recording important key indicators in your journal which include tracking:

  • sleep patterns
  • energy levels
  • bowel movements
  • menstrual cycles if you are a woman

This kind of record keeping shines a light on important details you can use to track your body’s response to diet, exercise, and particular sleep routines. You’ll see where and when you’re  falling off track. In these ways, journaling helps us stay accountable.  

3. Find your courage and glean support. You don’t have to do this alone. Seek out or cultivate a community void of judgement in which you are loved and your health goals are supported.

The Value of a Good Night’s Rest

Each of us has different health goals. In Michale’s case, she’s focused on optimizing her brain and body health in order to ensure a long and productive life. To achieve this goal, she commits to getting enough sleep. As an explanation, she recommends everyone read Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley and Bent Formby.

Wiley and Formby show that getting the required amount of sleep supports healthy weight loss because it curves our cravings for unhealthy carbs. Among other benefits of a good night’s rest cited in this book are:

  • reversal of type 2 diabetes
  •  relief from depression
  • normalized blood pressure
  • reduced risk of heart disease and cancer

All of this sounds great, but sometimes a good night’s sleep feels elusive. Michaele has an answer for that. She explains that preparation for a good night’s sleep starts in the morning.

Michale credits a consistent morning routine with her healthy sleep hygiene. In the morning, she puts a kettle on for beloved black organic coffee—chock full  of antioxidants to support healthy aging. For this part of her day, Michale remains in a fasted state, giving her body time to “clean up old worn out cells.” She does an oil pull with coconut oil while waiting for coffee. From there, along with her coffee, Michale drinks one liter of water within 2 hours of waking. This helps turn the brain on and gets her feeling energized. From there she enters her office where she takes out her journal and records key markers (sleep bowel movements, menstruation, and energy) from the day before. Michale reviews the information and makes connections between how her body is performing vs the food, exercise, and level of activity she engaged with the day before.

This journaling routine, Michale notes, helps people be in alignment with their goals.

Healthy Meal Plans That Squash Inflammation and Lower Blood Sugar

Michale doesn’t track the specific foods she eats and never records calorie counts. She discourages her clients from doing so as well. Insead, she offers tips to ensure your body gets exactly the nutrients it needs to perform well.

  1. Choose your protein source. Protein is a part of every cell in the body and it’s a fundamental part of a healthy diet.
  2. Eat healthy carbs. We need fiber found in colorful veggies to produce regular bowel movements that remove toxins from the body.
  3. Consume healthy fats for their anti-inflammatory effects.
  4. Prebiotic foods like beets and dandelion greens and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt encourage healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Digest minerals to help take pain away. Sea vegetables full of trace minerals such as nori, dulse, and kelp are good sources. Drink a cup of bone broth each day.
  6. Season your food with herbs and spices—parsley is a diuretic for the kidneys, oregano bolsters the immune system, and cilantro is a heavy metal detoxer.

 If all this talk of food is making your mouth water, you can download Michale’s cookbook, Fit ‘N Healthy Plan, on her website.

Your Action Plan

Michale’s final words of wisdom came to her via Bob Proctors and his staff. She teaches, “See what you want. Be it how you want it and become it now.”

We would also add, love who you are right now today even before you lose the weight.

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/

Fun Ways to Combine Art and Journaling, with Caylee Grey

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My conversation with artist and journaler Caylee Grey is a reminder that the best way to journal is to use whichever tools work best for you. Some of us are most at ease with words. Others feel best with a paintbrush in hand. Some of us enjoy using both. There are no rules. Your journal won’t mind!

Caylee is the host of a kind and enthusiastic art journaling community on the internet called Get Messy. She believes in the habit of art, dancing naked in perfectionism’s face, and the magic of connection. She squeezes her own creative time in during her tiny human’s naps, and helps other artists find the time in their own busy lives to create.  

Listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk, and discover why the art journaling community refers to Caylee as the “Fairy Art Mother.”



Pair Your Art with Your Writing

Caylee is an inspired journaler. The 100 completed journals she’s created so far are proof of this! Art and writing have become so intertwined for her, she no longer bothers to separate the two. 

“I’ve kept journals forever. I tried to do a word-only journal once thinking that was how to make a “real” journal. Very quickly though, I started doodling in the margin and pasting things inside, and I finally gave up on keeping a words-only journal.”

Why Art Journaling Works

Caylee is a dynamic, energized speaker, and her enthusiasm is contagious when she talks about the benefits of art journaling.

  • Pushing paint around on a page helps express emotions that words cannot always access. Caylee recalls a challenging time in her own life when the simple act of applying black paint on her journal’s pages got to the heart of an issue words couldn’t touch.
  • It’s not complicated. Caylee reminds us art is in everything and we can use it to tell our story. Just pasting a receipt or putting a business card on the pages of a journal she explains, provide abstract ideas with meaning and form.
  • Everything is art. Even a shopping list in your own handwriting is a form of self-expression.
  • Art journaling is calming. “It’s like meditation,” Caylee notes, “but requires less discipline!”

Get Messy!

The name of Caylee’s dynamic online art community, Get Messy, is personal. “I’m a perfectionist. Getting messy makes me uncomfortable. Coming up with this name was like a challenge to myself to ignore perfectionism, and to let go and just make a mess!”

Caylee works tirelessly to empower the artists in her Get Messy community to let go of perfectionism.

It’s the Process Not the Product

Caylee gives a shout out to one of Journaling.com’s favorite artists, Amy Maricle, who speaks to the value of “the process over the product.”  In her own creative work, Caylee’s noticed that if the focus is on “messing up” in a positive sense, the inner critic is silenced which leads to extraordinary creative outcomes.

This idea has ramifications for other parts of our lives. Caylee connects the dots and explains that when we let go of perfectionism in our art, we eliminate this tendency in other facets of our lives as well.

Establish a Routine to Maximize Creative Moments

Caylee describes herself as routine driven. She believes and commits to doing something creative every day. Whether that’s drawing a line in her journal or spending four hours on a page, she prioritizes these moments. “Showing up every day is where the magic happens. It’s about waiting for the magic and being prepared for it when it comes.”

The notion that good art comes from bursts of electric inspiration is one Caylee has moved past. Instead, she’s discovered, it’s through small repetitive practices every day that substantive creative goals are achieved.

“I have a rule that I can go two days without creating something. Otherwise, I make something, even if I don’t feel like it. I know that even if I’m tired, even if I create rubbish, at least I’ve shown up, and I can come back again and try something different. Showing up and a little risk leads to magic.”

Tips for Travel Journaling

“When you take time to journal what you’re feeling and seeing around you, there is something magical about it.” Caylee regularly talks travel journaling with her followers, and she considers this medium the perfect tool for capturing the essence of a trip.

There is something different about journaling when compared with photography, Caylee notes, and she’s found herself lately taking trips with the sole purpose of journaling. “My travel journals are my favorites. Photos are how everyone sees the world. My journal reflects the ways that I see it.”

Journaling Tips to Take On Your Travels

  • Mix words and images any way you choose.

  • Collect papers, ticket stubs, and other finds you spot, and arrange them in an appealing way.

  • Take the picture no one else would think of and tuck it inside of your journal. If you visit the Eifel Tower, for instance, take a close-up shot. Capture a small detail others might overlook.

  • Look for and use materials that evoke memories of textures, sights, and sounds from the place you’ve visited.

  • Write about the small details. The menu at the café you adored. The conversations that buzzed around you. These memories are rich and will transport you back to special places for many years to come.

Your Action Plan

  • Listen to my conversation with Caylee.

  • Connect with Caylee. Visit her online at the Get Messy Art Website and at Get Messy on Instagram.

  • Connect with a like-minded arts community. Join https://getmessyart.com/

  • Start collecting and creating elements that reflect your life. These might be your own words, the words of others, drawings, or miscellaneous items you affix to the page.
  • Caylee’s favorite supplies are the moleskin journals she keeps on hand. But she recommends you grab whatever is most convenient in your house at this moment. Choose the resource that will get you started journaling today!
  • Establish a regular creative routine that is free of judgement.
  • Let go of perfectionism. Get messy!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, check out our conversation with Amy Maricle where we discuss five fabulous tips for art journaling.

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!