Monday Notes: Journaling

Last month, I presented on the benefits of journaling to a group of Black women creatives. I thought it would be helpful to share here, too.

In preparation for my presentation, I learned the difference between a diary and a journal is that a journal is meant to be reflective, as opposed to simply listing the day’s events. So, this one is specifically a reflective journal. The inside of the journal shown here is separated into sections. I’ve dedicated each one to a different subject that I can reflect on. For example, the forgiveness section is filled with short letters written to people I’ve needed to forgive. Contemplating on past entries shows me if there’s been growth. In the tarot section, I ask a question and then pull my cards and write down the answer. I compare last year’s answers with this year’s to determine if there’s been a change.

The second kind of journal I keep is a gratitude journal. I’ve maintained one of these every year, for the past ten years or so. My process includes the following: lighting incense, sitting in a quiet place, and writing those I AM statements I told you about. Usually, I affirm the same three things: I am love. I am adequate. I am important, unless I have something I’m working on, then I might add a new one, like I am abundant.

After I’ve finished affirming myself, I write five people, experiences, or things for which I’m grateful. I recently modeled this behavior for thirty days on social media as a way to disrupt negative news cycles and also as a way to remind myself there’s always something or someone to appreciate.

When I’m not writing in either of these bounded beauties, I’m journaling on my laptop or digitally. I first realized the power of simply sitting quietly and pouring out thoughts when my father died. That was 2015. We were in what I thought was the middle of repairing our strained relationship when he passed. I still had unresolved, unprocessed feelings that had to be released. So, I sat in my stepmother’s spare bedroom and wrote about the beginning of our dysfunction to the end, his death. I blogged these entries each day leading up to his funeral, creating a seven-day series. The global blogging community grieved with me and it was comforting.

I’ve also used a digital journal to capture and sort through unexpected emotions, like when I was traveling to a conference and TSA frisked my afro. I was compelled to write about the event immediately to capture the events and my feelings. I had no intention of publishing anything, until I posted about the situation on FB. One of my flight attendant friends told me searching hair was illegal. When I arrived at my hotel, I researched the topic and found out one woman had sued TSA for a similar experience. That’s when I turned my journal entry into a For Harriet publication.

Finally, most of you know I keep a cell phone journal. I use my iPhone Notes section because it’s more convenient and less ceremonial than the other ways I’ve mentioned. Thoughts occur if I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone, while I’m scrolling social media, or when I awake and fall asleep. During these times, I write a quick note. Other times, I’ll journal several paragraphs. The length depends on how deep my thinking is at the time. At any given moment, there are about 200 notes on my phone. If I can’t get the thought out of my mind, then the public gets to read it…as Monday Notes.

Here’s how I journal and why. Let me know if you keep any type of journal. What’s the point? Does it help?

75 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Journaling

  1. I have many…6 for daily stuff. I usually write it and paste them to all six. I have a couple for entertainment. 1 for health only. 1 for pen paling. i just started a digital one but do not know how long I will keep it. I think I have enough.

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      1. Well I write about my favorite tv show and the fandom around it. I also write about movies or shows I have seen. I actually haven’t written in that one lately.

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  2. Its been a while since I journaled and I have to say you open my mind. I had no idea you could keep so many journals. Anyway, I journal to keep track of my emotions and thoughts. It can get a little rough and well too much to handle the beautiful moments. Thank you for the lovely insight💞

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  3. I love this post. Reminds me of the days I used to keep diaries and journals. Unfortunately it is something I stopped many years ago due to certain circumstances. Instead, I prefer to work some of my “thoughts” into stories and posts. I will however, get back into writing affirmations. I already have a brand new notebook for that!

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  4. Kathy, I love that you shared that you have multiple types of journals!
    I’ve been keeping journals since 1978. I haven’t been as intentionally organized with my journals as you have – I may try it yet! Most of my journals are a hodgepodge of: diaries; workbooks for creative ideas; storage for notes and quotes from readings and research; outpourings of emotions and questions; jotting down memorable details from mundane days as well as special events; capturing hilarious, poignant, and wise sayings from the mouths of children, family, friends, and mentors; lists of mumblings & grumblings; lists of blessings; lists of hopes and desires; recording sleeping dreams when I can remember them; drafts of poems and stories; as well as doodles, scribbles and collage. I guess if I’d lived in prehistoric times, I would have been one of those people scratching and marking on clay and wood and stone! LOL!

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      1. Gooood grief is right! Strangely, I’ve had two people who are older than me to DISCOURAGE me from destroying my journals. Honestly, at some point I could stand to release and engage one of these burning ceremonies y’all talking about!

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  5. This is cool. I hadn’t actively thought about keeping separate journals (aside from my personal journal and my online blog). I like that you also have some of them divided into sections. That organization, tho.

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  6. Love it! I have multiple kinds as well, and did one of those 5 year journals as well. Turns out it documented 5 years of fertility struggles and to compare entries each year broke my heart. With exception of my blog, I actually burn my journals at the end, as a way of leaving things in the past.

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      1. Yep, with fire. Originally it started when I found out my mom was raiding my room to read journals and had done that with my older sister, so I turned my later paranoia into a bit of a healing thing.

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  7. I don’t actually journal, and I’m not even good at keeping up with the diary I keep to record the main activities and events of each year. But now that I’ve read about your journals and how helpful they are, I think I might have to start. What a great way to encourage self-discovery and growth!

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    1. I think it’s part of my Type A personality that’s able to keep up with these in such a systematic way. I do hope you find one useful, though. They can really help to sort out thoughts, although I suspect your blog kind of does that as well.

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  8. Wow, Katherin – this is so inspiring. I have felt blocked. I haven’t written in awhile and can’t seem to access my feelings. I wonder if I might pick up one of your habits when I’m ready. It certainly sounds magical and I’m very appreciative of what you shared.

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    1. Thanks Judy. The group I was in was an artist’s group, with traditionally defined artists. I was going to add that keeping an artist’s journal (of only images) is also a thing. That may help because you know, you’re an artist ❤

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      1. That’s a logical thought, Katherin – but you might find it interesting to know that I never liked sketching or drawing much. I was good at drawing mazes – so in that way, perhaps. But mostly I render/paint. I wish I were better at sketching – but I’m such a perfectionist and like to work from reference. 🙂

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  9. Awesome stuff. I myself have a one-journal system, consisting mostly of my freewritten thoughts, but they also have monthly spreads and workout/habit trackers. What I enjoy most is reading entries from years past and discovering the things going on in my head that I wasn’t aware of. Thanks for this post!

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  10. my wife has two, one to reflect on her day (as an extension to therapy for her bipolar) the other is creative, drawings. Back in the 90’s prior to blogging I did creative journaling, then for a number of years I was on livejournal. My arts blog can be journalistic, with my poetry and memoir sections sprinkled amongst the art.

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      1. Oh: and with you a local! And who allowed ‘hair frisking’ anyway? That is ridiculous! (and scary, since having my hair touched is almost more intimate, for me, than having my arms touched -used to drive me crazy when students would demand I let them play with my hair to stop acting up in class!). Did you lodge a complaint?

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      2. I did. And I found out it’s actually legal but it happens in disproportionate rates to Black women because, apparently, our hair is thick and curly and can’t be seen on the monitor. Buuut some lady in California successfully sued…somehow 💁🏽‍♀️

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      3. Excellent: even thin blonde hair can be used to hide something, if that’s their logic (actually, maybe especially thin hair! It stays where they put it, mine curls away and does what it wants to do!)! It’s just insulting. I’m glad you reported it.

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  11. Yes Kathy, I keep reflective journals based on Julia Cameron’s Morning pages of three A4 pages of freehand. If life gets abit hectic and stressed I tend to neglect to write in them but I always seem to know when to get going again. I find it useful to reread entries when I feel the time is right.

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  12. I like how you share the different purposes of your journals, Kathy. And oh, benefits of journalling are huge. Like yourself, I keep a gratitude journal to write things that might seem insignificant but I’m grateful for, and mean a lot to me. My cell phone journal overflows, not necessarily in a good way. 🙂 Some of the stuff I turn into poems.

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  13. I have a planner, which is a de facto journal of sorts because I write my gratitude in it every night. I have a page a day journal where I list either my high point or low point of the day. I then have a notebook journal where I just free style every morning and evening. I hand write all these things because written just makes me feel better. Writing things down frees my mind to think of other things. Of course, my blog is also a type of journal because I just write about how my experiences impact me

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  14. I have piles of ordinary A4 folio books, the kind you get at any ordinary stationary shop. There are no sections – I’d never adhere to it – besides many things overlap. Once, in an extreme mood, I burned all my journals. Meticulously, book by book. I regret it to this day. Journalling helps to ‘download’ issues that goes round and round in one’s head. It makes space for new thoughts, new perspectives.

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    1. Oh, I created the titles of the sections…the journal came separated like that.

      I wonder what made you burn them. Buddhists have a name for that, actually…just can’t think of the name.

      I think you’re right about downloading issues that go round in one’s head…

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