Tag Archives: Rachel Naomi Ramen

fresh

The new year can be a time of fresh starts, and one way is journaling. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way recommends writing three pages long-hand before you’re fully awake in the morning.

Why? Because you dump irritation, bad feelings, complaints onto the pages usually, and then you begin your day, and a lot of what would have muddied the hours is on those pages, rather than carried outward with you. It’s as if you’ve been heard. And writing three pages every morning creates discipline. (And more, but you’ll have to find out about that by going to her website.)

A lot of people are doing gratitude journals. A blog I read recently spoke to this topic with words from Nicoletta Baumeister:  “Gratefulness thoughts in the morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take in, what will we seek and what is today’s sense of self? Feeling grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step; whereas, asking what I don’t have sets my day on a frantic course.” She ends her day in an interesting way, too: “A poem, haiku or a small drawing at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction, job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!”

Another way to journal is from wonderful Dr. Rachel Naomi Ramen, who counseled a successful but burned-out doctor in one of my favorite books, Kitchen Table Wisdom, to find again these three things in his days: what inspired him, what surprised him, what touched him. I’ve done this one for a long time, and it has transformed journal entries from junior high whining to memory rushes with sweetness.

And that, my dears, is what I want to take forward into this long day’s journey into night, into this particular new year in the journey, into aging, the only way forward in the journey: sweetness. What do you want?

journal

I found something to console myself these last few days (much stress around continued revisions of next novel) by accident. I’m about to open another blank journal, only these days I collage….that’s too grand a word….I cut out images and words I like and then I paste them randomly on the blank pages. It’s quite exciting to open one’s journal and come across an image. Somehow the pages don’t seem so white and empty, and it’s fun to wonder what I was thinking when I picked that image.

So, in making my soon-to-be journal ready, I found myself on the floor with scissors and glues and lots of images from magazines, and there was something so soothing in the pasting of the images on the blank pages. It was lulling enough to make me forget for a time my current upset around my revisions, novel, career as a writer. I went to some quiet, focused-completely-on-the-matter-at-hand place, and those kinds of places provide rest.

How do you soothe yourself? What takes you to a no-mind quiet? (Addictions can; but there’s guilt afterwards and perhaps chaos.) And how do you make your journal interesting? And what do you write in your journal? I try to focus on Rachel Naomi Ramen’s three questions: what inspired me today, what surprised me today, what touched me today…..and the answer on this particular day in big old Houston, Texas would have been the wind all day long and the blooming star jasmine spilling over the fence.

Thanks to friend and fellow writer Kate for the idea about collaging a journal. We did it a few years ago during our dance meditation summer monastery, and you’ve never seen grown women so absorbed. For days afterwards, we’d be all over the house and dance space during our lulls leafing through magazines for images and pasting them into our journals….lovely…..