Journaling Zen

September 24, 2019
journals for journalling

ZEN TIP TUESDAY #27

Journaling Zen is our topic for today and I’m very happy to welcome Patricia Doyle (‘Pat’) to the blog for Zen Tip Tuesday. Pat writes about journaling and how this practice has helped her to transition from a busy corporate job to retirement. I’ve met Pat (virtually) via the blogosphere and more specifically via Sue and Leanne‘s ‘Mid Life Share the Love’ (#MLSTL) linky which is every Wednesday.  As well as being a blogger, Pat is an Author!  She has very cleverly written a book based on the same name and ethos as her blog ‘Retirement Transition’. There’s a link to where you can learn more about that (and purchase if you’re interested) later in this post.  You may also like to read this interview that Sue of Sizzling Towards 60 and Beyond did with her about her book.

If you would like to contribute your very own ‘Gem of Zen’ as part of the Zen Tip Tuesday series please go here to find out how (you might also like to visit all the Gems of Zen we have so far). I would love to hear from you!


A BIT OF BACKGROUND

When I entered retirement, I spent quite a bit of time exploring what retirement was all about, including reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way.  I picked up the original book because it was about releasing your creativity (something I was trying to do in retirement) and it was highly recommended to me.  It was actually one of over 40 books I read in my retirement research mode!  I’ve since read a few of her other books including the one specifically about retirement.  If you have not explored her work, I encourage you read one of her variations on The Artist’s Way – either the original one or one focused on the work place, retirement, parenting, or daily discovery. 

One of the tools Cameron encourages (in all the variations of The Artist’s Way I’ve read) is “morning papers”.  As I try with all new habits, I committed to trying it for a month.  I bought a beautiful journal and got an accountability partner – I told my husband I was going to do this every morning!  Yes, he asked me a few times that first month, “Aren’t you writing in your journal this morning?”  But after a month, I was hooked.  I’m still using this tool 4 years later, almost every day and I am now into my 8th morning journal book.

WHAT MY MORNING JOURNALING HAS BECOME

It’s an active meditation, part of my positivity practice, and a bit of life coaching to myself.

I’ve always liked to write and this journal writing is my time to think through things – time to work through frustrations and resentments, time to de-clutter my mind, time to probe deeper into my own psyche about my limiting beliefs, or time to react to something I saw or read.

It’s free flow writing. I don’t worry about grammar or spelling or even writing a good sentence structure! 

It’s a stream of consciousness, wisps of whimsy, celebration moments, and sharing of worries.  It’s about what I like, dislike, wish, need, hope, plan, complain about, pray about, and sometimes regret.  I allow my disputing, disparaging negative voice to speak and my positive, action-based voice to declare intention.

EXACTLY WHAT DO I JOURNAL ABOUT?

I almost always look back at what I did yesterday, what I said I would do and didn’t, and what I might do today.  Often I then relate my activities to my lifestyle retirement vision, and feel a sense of accomplishment.  (Yeah, me! – celebration moment)  Or I can boost my activation energy to get something started.  After multiple days of writing it down (I will do X today), it does seem to get me moving on something!

I regularly do emotional monitoring, clearly articulating how I’m feeling.  Not just good or bad, but more detailed words like enthusiastic, celebratory, positive expectation, peaceful, contentment, awaiting, disappointed, discontentment, uncertainty, annoyed, resentful, unworthy, hurt, incompetent or many others (I’ve created a list I keep in the front of my journal).  I find it helpful to get clear on my emotions, and if they are staying in the negative, take active steps to boost myself up (practice positivity).

I regularly do a body scan – how am I feeling head to toe.   This has helped me pinpoint the beginning of issues that I can then talk to my doctor about.  Or remind myself to reenergize my stretching/physical therapy, or watch more carefully what I’m eating.

On any random morning I might:

  • Note down a dream or segments of a dream I’m recalling from that past night. And then I ask my inner voice/subconscious what it might mean, and free-flow write the answers. I’ve often been intrigued with uncovering some worries I had not articulated to myself.
  • Review my Jolts of Joy List. If I’m feeling a bit down, frustrated, or emotionally exhausted, I’ll pull out one of these lists that has little things that bring me joy. I pick one thing and plan it for that day.  Some of the things on that list: walk & talk with a friend, use my coloring book, eat a favorite food, organize something, an afternoon nap in the sun, chop up fresh veggies for dinner, or spend time in the garden.
  • Add to my Gratitude List or just write things I’m grateful for. This is another one for when I’m feeling a bit down, frustrated, or emotionally exhausted.  It always makes me feel better!
  • Use a calendar prompt to stimulate writing. Here are some of the recent calendars from Sue – Aging Well in August, or Jennifer – Tune up in September, that I’ve enjoyed using.
  • Review my vision board and how I’m feeling about achieving that vision. I do have my vision board right by my morning journaling chair.  And that chair is by a window, which gets great morning sun in the winter months. 
  • Jot down thought for blogs, using blocking notations or underlines so I can easily find them. This post in fact began in a morning journal entry.

Just by journaling in the morning, I also get a feeling of accomplishment on doing something.  I wrote in my journal!

My morning journaling has become a well-loved habit – it grounds me and inspires me.  It’s my daily zen.


PATRICIA DOYLE

In July 2014, Pat retired from a 30+ year corporate career with the one company.  This timing was a few years earlier than planned, as a highly attractive, early retirement package was offered.  Given the timing and her work-focused lifestyle, she did not have a plan in place for what came next.  She’s a planner by nature, so the days after the retirement moment became a journey of learning about transition, a journey she is still on.

Part of the transition was discovering what she wanted to do. She uncovered a desire to write, a love of research & synthesis, and a realization that she liked to advise/teach others.  This all merged into the creation of her Retirement Transition blog and then her book (available from Amazon), also called Retirement Transition

After blogging for 4+ years, she continues to love the connections with other bloggers on similar transition journeys from full-time career to what comes next here in “mid-life”.  She continually learns from others – through their blogs and comments.

Pat currently lives in the Mid-west (Cincinnati) with her also-retired husband and their Lab-mix dog, Taylor.

Here’s where you can find Pat’s ‘Retirement Transition Blog‘ and here again is where you can find her ‘Retirement Transition Book’


 

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31 Comments

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au September 24, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Pat I love how you do everything with such a proactive and positive attitude – and FORTY books on making the most of retirement just boggles my mind! I’m not a daily journaller – weekly is about my limit – but with more time on my hands these days I might get more productive in that area down the track.
    PS I always smile when I see “glamorous you” vs “hat and sunnies you” two sides of the same coin xx

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 25, 2019 at 8:07 am

      Leanne, That shot is really a glamour shot… professionally done with hair & make-up. There was a whole-lot of concealer going on! Normally it is hat and sunglasses! The 40 books… well, it was over about 1.5 years. Once I started sharing my favs with people, I got “you must try this one”. I actually share my top favorites in my own book. And I am an avid reader; it’s not unusual for me to read an entire book in 1-2 days. Anyway, I love my journaling… it really helps keep me proactive and positive! Pat

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:28 am

      40 books is a lot of reading! I’m impressed too! I’m not a journaller in the traditional sense but I kinda think my blog is my way of journaling. I’m not good with pad and pen anymore. My fingers are more accustomed to flying over a keyboard. I love the whole concept of journalling though and totally ‘get’ all the benefits of it!

  • Reply suzanne vosbikian September 25, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Hi Pat, I read the original Artist’s Way many years ago and kept a journal for more than twenty years. I suspended the daily practice just a few years ago, but still treasure the lessons learned. Free-flow writing, stream of consciousness or ‘dumping the trash’, as I often referred to it, was meditative and had a positive effect on my daily life. It is very true that if you think about something or write about something often enough, you will eventually DO it. Journal writing is a perfectly Zenful way to begin the day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 25, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Suzanne, I love the term “dumping the trash”! Right now I’m trying to use my journal to help me make a decision that has me confused… at least it is giving me some de-stressing on that decision space. Curious, what made you stop a 20 year daily habit?

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:31 am

      I am so going to read The Artist’s Way now. My interest has very much been piqued! 🙂

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee September 25, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I think that’s what my blog is to me…my 6-7am routine….

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 25, 2019 at 8:12 am

      Lydia, I chuckled at the 6-7 am…. being retired, I’m still asleep at that time of day. Not being much of a morning person myself, its wonderful to allow myself to wake at a natural 7:15…for years I pushed myself awake and at work for 7 AM conference calls!

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:31 am

      My blog is my form of journalling too Lydia!

  • Reply Patricia Doyle September 25, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Leanne, That shot is really a glamour shot… professionally done with hair & make-up. There was a whole-lot of concealer going on! Normally it is hat and sunglasses! The 40 books… well, it was over about 1.5 years. Once I started sharing my favs with people, I got “you must try this one”. I actually share my top favorites in my own book. And I am an avid reader; it’s not unusual for me to read an entire book in 1-2 days. Anyway, I love my journaling… it really helps keep me proactive and positive! Pat

  • Reply Jo September 25, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Min and Pat, thanks for another great post in the Zen series 🙂 I’ve never tried morning journalling because I’ve been slightly afraid it would take up too much time. I can see the benefits from your writing though and think I shall give it a try. Your prompts about where to start and what to begin with are really useful 🙂 #MLSTL and Shared on SM

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:33 am

      I’m not a journaller in the traditional sense either Jo but I see my blog as my form of journalling. I believe it has the same or similar benefits. I have a cousin who has written in a journal every day that I’ve known her. She does it at night just before she goes to sleep. She can tell you what she did on any given day – just a matter of looking back through her journals. I admire her dedication! 🙂

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 26, 2019 at 10:45 am

      Jo, I do it over my morning coffee. Some mornings it’s about 15-20 minutes. Other days I’ll take longer to ponder some things, or I get distracted in the middle to start a blog post idea!

  • Reply Jennifer September 25, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    I love Morning Pages. So much crap gets worked out in them. I’ve never looked back at the previous day to move forward before. That might be something to try. Thanks for the calendar “shout-out!”

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:36 am

      I love the whole idea of journalling in the mornings. Who know’s – maybe one day I’ll take up the idea!

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 26, 2019 at 10:47 am

      Jennifer, the calendars have been recent but I am enjoying incorporating them. OK, no interest at all in the Sensory Flotation Tank… but they have added a new dimension to my morning thinking.

  • Reply Nancy Andres September 26, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Hi Pat and Min. Great to learn about Pat and her journey to discover herself in a new role, retiree. Like many retirees I know, we’re active, engaged, and discovering how to follow our bliss. Wishing you both a wonderful day and thanks to Sue and Leanne for hosting #MLSTL so we bloggers can share the love.

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Nancy. It’s been a pleasure having Pat guest post as part of the ZTT series. I love hearing about all the ways people find peace and zen in their lives. xo

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 26, 2019 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Nancy. I too love the #MLSTL link-up !

  • Reply Nancy Dobbins September 26, 2019 at 5:24 am

    Hi Min,
    So nice to see Pat’s work here. I am not a journal person…my writing shows up on my blog …but I do try to take time each am and pm for guided breathing. That seems to clear my head (my version of “dumping the trash” ?) and reduce my stress/anxiety…and hopefully, my bp. I’ve finally gotten into a routine around it and found an app that guides me through it.
    Thanks for highlighting Pat…the connections we make in this blogging world are so valuable, aren’t they?!

    • Reply Min September 26, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Hi Nancy! It’s wonderful having Pat here on the blog! I’m the same as you – my journalling is via my blog but I admire those that journal in the traditional sense and I do love all the beautiful journal stationary options etc. Guided breathing and meditation is a great idea. Reminds me that I need to get meditation more entrenched into my daily routine! Finally, yes – the connections we make through blogging are wonderful! 🙂 xo

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 26, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Nancy, Isn’t it so fun to see all the connections…from guest blogs to #MLSTL. I know you’ve talked about breathing and I focused on it quite a lot in yoga today! Here in FL, I do 3-4 yoga sessions a week…. on the beach! I love it. I don’t think it will replace journaling, but I will continue to think more about my breath in class.

  • Reply Patricia Doyle September 26, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Jo, I do it over my morning coffee. Some mornings it’s about 15-20 minutes. Other days I’ll take longer to ponder some things, or I get distracted in the middle to start a blog post idea!

  • Reply Joanne Tracey September 26, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks Pat for visiting Min – it’s lovely to see her words here. I journal daily, but it’s more of a bullet point thing – although I have dabbled with morning pages from time to time. I love how it can be a complete mind dump before the business of the day starts.

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 28, 2019 at 12:56 am

      I like the phrase “mind dump” because that really describes often what my morning journaling words seem to be. I don’t even try for sentences sometimes, but it’s more than bullet points. Although, as a lover of lists, I might try some bullet pointing to see how that helps me! Thanks for the idea.

  • Reply Debbie Harris September 26, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    I really enjoyed Pat’s book Retirement Transition and could relate to much of it! It was lovely to see Pat here with you today Min. #mlstl

    • Reply Patricia Doyle September 28, 2019 at 12:56 am

      Thanks Debbie…. I am glad you enjoyed the book!

  • Reply Kathy @ SMART Living 365. com October 1, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Hi Min and Pat! I’m into Zen AND Journalling so this is a topic near and dear to my heart. And I have also been doing Julia Cameron’s morning pages (journaling) for over 25 years! Yep! When I first read her book years ago I knew it was something I needed to do for both my own mental health AND to become a better writer. I think it has definitely led to both and will likely be doing it for the rest of my life. Like you, I encourage everyone to give it a try. And doing it, like Julia recommends, long hand also carries a subtle benefit. It much more tactile than using a computer and slows down your thoughts (more meditative for sure!) While I do all my regular writing on the computer, I have notebooks full of journal pages…just 3 long hand 5 days a week. And yes, all your advice Pat about what to include is good. ~Kathy

    • Reply Min October 5, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Wow Kathy – such commitment! Good for you! You are right in saying that writing with pen and paper would be very different than typing on a computer. My hands don’t seem to like writing now though as they’re so used to flying over a keyboard and not at all used to clasping a pen and writing in the old fashioned way. It’s kinda say in a way isn’t it? I remember all the years of childhood where I wrote all the time – assignments, in my diary, to my penpals! I might have to give it another try and retrain my hand to write the old fashioned way … and besides … I do love gorgeous stationery!

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