Archive for September, 2011

Hello Dear Journalers,

This week we begin with a close up of change. I took this picture of a fallen branch from the little oak tree down the street from my home.

Each week, I keep an eye on the natural flora and fauna that Sam, my Australian Shepherd, and I encounter on our ritual walks around the neighborhood.

This is a great time to breathe in the present moment. I leave my home and computer behind and stretch into the landscape and become one of the fauna that treads the earth.

Sam and I have come upon a feisty rattlesnake, quail clacking through the bush country, and the receding reservoir outside our development. The rains are less frequent and the ducks have moved on from our little pond.

My prompt for this week is to take your cameras out and start recording the things that you love. Look for those mysteries that intrigue you. Perhaps you want to take a picture of a mallow plant or the spikey beauty of a six foot fennel stalk. Or if you are quiet and patient, you could photograph a local lizard or deer.

This weekend the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography is having an event on underwater sea photography. Why not stop there to sharpen up your photography skills and pick up a tip or two on how to shoot great pictures.

Take this week to actually see what is going on around you. The changing of the seasons is such a beautiful time of year. The vivid earth colors greet us in greater depth each day.

Let the journaling this week take you on a journey to observe what you love and how you are going to capture this in both writing and photography. Let you camera be an extension of the lens of your inner eye, to touch the beauty in each season of our lives.

My journal prompts for the week are these, and when you write breathe into a more grounded place as a tree rooted to the earth, much like the Encinitas tree I photographed: 1. What does this season smell like to you and why does this give you your own sense of comfort? 2. List your favorite things to do in this season and build these into your schedule. 3. How does this season resonante with your season of life? 4. In looking at your photos what questions does this pose to you about your natural surroundings? 5. How does the natural landscape restore your spirit?

Enjoy the inner and outer beauty of this week and let me know what you find out there….

Wishing you another week of wondrous journaling!


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Hi Journalers,

I hope that you tried one of the exercises from last week to help you seek more of your heart’s desire. This kind of journaling is a practice. Each morning we  take another day’s first steps to inquire into our inner thoughts and feel okay. We meet our days with more interest, kind support, and learn how to go from here to there.

This week the power went off throughout the Southwest and in our little hamlet of Carlsbad. I found it interesting to see the world by candlelight– all I could find before the lights went out that afternoon. I wondered how writers of the past had the time in the hours between work and bedtime to write their books, poems, or a hearfelt letter to a friend. Last evening all I could deal with was keeping my eyes adjusted to the dim light to feed the dog and cat and find a trail mix bar for me. But after some time in the darkening house, I sat and watched the sky as the sun set and the neighborhoods became barely visible in the moonlight. The streets were lit only by cars streaming home from the long work commute.

In some odd way I felt a deeper calm breathe over the hills behind my backyard. The only noises I heard were the neighbors congregating outdoors on my street to have a little conversation. At one point a couple of coyotes called across the scrub brush hills.

I found myself listening to the news on a battery operated radio that was brief and cryptic. The blackout could last until Friday. I kept asking myself, when would the electricity turn on my computer so I could write this post? Yet as I relaxed into the evening, I focused more closely on where I was with my life since I wasn’t able to watch TV. I took up my journal and began to write. First I recorded the beauty of the natural setting and then my thoughts fell to me and where I am in life. Eventually, I began to wonder about moving forward into the last quarter of the year. I found myself lingering on where I hoped I would navigate myself over these next few weeks as I seemed to be a little stuck on what to do next.

So I thought for my writing prompt of the week I would like to take us on a journey, looking beyond the every day chores crowded with our to do lists. All we need is the bright spot of our concentration and a few minutes to ponder what is glowing beyond the doors to our heart where the light just escapes us. What are our  fears and concerns that hold us back from this dream-filled place? Is it a censor we need to jettison, so that we can take our own counsel and move forward? What issues face us if we go to this new place? Let’s find the courage to open this door for a peak.

I want to quote from Louise Hay’s book, The Power is Within You, for encouragement. “Life is a series of doors closing and opening. We walk from room to room having different experiences….See yourself opening doors to joy, peace, healing, prosperity, and love; doors to understanding, compassion, forgiveness and freedom; doors to self-worth, self-esteem and self-love.”

Doesn’t she make this seem safe and freeing? Now, sit and list five projects that you’d like to do but haven’t. This could be a project for your family, you, or the community. The choices are endless and yours. When you feel happy with your list sit down and think about one. But first, quiet your breathing. Ground yourself where you are, like a tree with deep roots and let your body bend to the winds of change. Keep a sure hold to the ground as you imagine yourself in this new space. You can conjure a room, a landscape, or something of your own design, a place you want to explore. When you feel that you have defined its dimensions and its sensory manifestations–so you can touch and taste it so to speak– regain a sense of the room that you are now in and ready yourself to yournal.

Take up a pen, colored pencils, or paintbrush, whatever suits you, and start to put color and shape to this dream-sized room. You can use words, jot thoughts, show it in pure color, define shapes, whatever pleases you. Then close your journal or walk away. Let this sit for a time to let words and thoughts settle in. Jot these down on a pad of paper, if you are out and about, or add them to your picture in your journal. Later this week, come back to your journal and write about this experience. See what interests you in this process. What surprised you as you took the time to let the experience percolate through you? You don’t have to have things mapped out, or tied up with a bow in your quest to manifest more of this dream. The purpose of this exercise is to move your energy, to help you gain some clarity. There are no rights, or wrongs in how this comes out.  Just the right to think, the right to move forward, and the right to take power over your own life.

Let me know what you think of this exercise and of your experiences. You will note that this drawing of my dream to have a journaling retreat didn’t quite turn in the correct direction. What can I say except I am learning and perhaps the dream has yet to turn quite into view!

Happy writing whether it’s by candlelight, moonlight, or your bedside lamp!


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Dear readers and prospective journalers,

All you need to start journaling is a pencil and paper. The dollar outlay is minimal but the reward is priceless!

Journaling has become more popular in the recent past because many people have found it helpful. In a snap we can find a safe spot to be honest and tell own stories. Over the last few decades journal mentors like Kathleen Adams and Susan Borkin have come up with wonderful methods to help. Their thoughtful prompts have assisted scores of us to move through our muddled minds and find a greater sense of self.  On this journey of self-discovery, our journals became our friends and companions.

So let’s get started. Take a leap into uncharted territory and gain insights into how you work and why. Let’s go on this journey: writing  by heart.

Here’s my guidebook–NOT a rule book–on journaling!

1. Find a safe space for you and your journal.

2. Use whatever you want for this writing experience; pens, pencils, colored markers and the like, and choose a journal that reflects your style whether plain, fancy, or in between.

3. Remove the censor inside you that says, “don’t do this.”

4. Write rapidly and don’t stop to correct yourself. This is about process, not product!

5. Center before you write. At least take a few breaths and relax your body from head to toe.

6. Be truthful with yourself as this will aid your process of self-discovery.

7. Write for a few minutes, sometimes five is enough, or perhaps forty-five if the juices are flowing. Keeping yourself within a timed boundary can center you.

8. If you have time, reread and give yourself some feedback about the experience. Did you learn something about yourself? Were you surprised? Perhaps you have spurred on other prompts to write about later.

9. Give yourself a pat on the back because you took this time for yourself. Any time we spend in quality communion with our own souls is valuable time.

Those are the guidelines, but what about the work?

My first journal prompt for the week is derived from a famous line of a poem by Dawna Markova, “I will not die an unlived life.” So what, dear reader, is the part of you that wants to live more out in the open, to do something new, to share of yourself more fully in this lifetime?

Breathe, release your tension, and take some gentle steps to begin. Envision yourself in a room with lots of possibilites. Review your unique gifts. Take time to become more in tune with them. Detail each one of these qualities in your journal, or draw, or collage them if you feel comfortable using these mediums.  Using stick figures or pictures from old magazines works!

You might go through an old album this week to look at photos of yourself enjoying something at an early age. See if that speaks to you now. What is the important part that has gone dormant. Write about how it makes you feel and how you’d like to capture that part of yourself again.

If you have trouble visualizing this, you might simply make time to look at a sunrise or sunset. Take in the fullness of nature. See if this helps you open up to your higher self.

Do any or all of this and see how the sparks fly.

I extend good wishes for fruitful writing.

I want to add a cautionary note. Whatever we share here is in a safe space. It is important as compassionate listeners that we reside here only to support each other. We limit our comments to highlighting those words that personally resonate for us. Alternatively, we can just listen. These responses are spare and powerful.

Best wishes for writing from the heart this week and see you later!


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