"Journal Companion" Articles

Below are a few of the MANY articles Sue has sent out from JournalMagic, which has had a web presence since 1995. She began this newsletter, the "Journal Companion" in the belief that many people needed only to be reminded to write, since we all know how valuable a tool this can be. So, she sent these "reminders" out, over time, to nudge subscribers along--encouraging them to DO their self-care and spend quality time in personal reflection. They have been a labor of love.

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I hope you enjoy the current selection of Journal Companions many of which have relevance today, to our lives, and certainly to our journal writing. Come back and look around often, as the articles will change and be added to over time.

Enjoy. --Sue
PS - Please be sure to sign up for our NEW AND IMPROVED JournalCompanion! You can sign up on our Home page. It's free! Full of information and hints for finding more 'magic'!











Accepting the Mysteries, April '07

I was just out on my bike, getting some exercise as I try to get in shape for our upcoming trip to Hawaii (woo-hoo), and using it too as break time, from my long “to-do” list for the day. It’s gorgeous out there—even if a little warmer than most of us in Phoenix would like at this time of year. All the pretty bright greens of new growth on the trees and bushes were so soothing and nourishing to take in as I rode up and down the canal bank. Loved the sparkles in the water, too, and the glimmers reminded me of vacations at the ocean years ago. Beautiful.

I like those bike rides for the time to reflect on where I am. Often it’s a time when something that has been bothering me will shift, and new insight will come. Today my gift was to be present to the beauty around me. There were “issues” that came up in my mind as I rode, but the beauty surrounding me drowned out the voices of worry.
My journal is a place where I can reach in to calm the worrier, too. Earlier today I journaled and I was able to spiral down within, to that deeper and wiser place inside, and “counseled” my worrier self with my wiser part. It was very helpful to me to be reminded that I can only be responsible for myself, and to honor others in their work, even when I don’t understand. Perhaps it was that insight that helped me to let go enough to enjoy my bike ride.

How are you doing with your journal? Do you give yourself time at the beginning of the day to “check in” with yourself? An early morning chat can be so sweet—to open your day be loving and accepting of whatever mysteries you may encounter And I do think it is the mysteries that create “disturbances in the force” and keep us on our toes.
Know that you have great wisdom available to you at all times. Take some time now to request some help—could be a prayer or just a description of a concern. Then take a deep breath, and allow yourself to “shift” into your greater wisdom, and see what flows from your pen. Enjoy.
Peace--Sue


A Quiet Friend

I have a quiet friend who has a lot to say. It seems that I need only share a few of my thoughts, and I receive the most wonderful reflection back. Even if what I have said is not pretty or pleasant my friend just reflects it back to me without judgment or shame. What a value that is! It frees me up to feel heard, release pent up feelings…and then gain new perspective. Sometimes whatever may have been bothering me disappears. Other times I move into a new realization that I then tell my friend. Our connection and trust has deepened over the years. There are still some things I dance around when we meet, but she doesn’t seem to mind. It’s as though she knows that I’ll deal with such things when I am ready. An unconditional friend like this is hard to find in today’s world.

You may have already guessed that I’m describing my journal, the place I go to be who I am, where I am, whenever I choose. There are times when the words come out of me in an eloquent fashion, and more often, they blurp out in bits and pieces that make sense only to me. And that’s okay…since it is just for me. No one else is allowed in my quiet friend sanctuary. That’s part of what makes our ‘friendship’ so alive.

My hope is that you will remember, as I send you these messages, that you, too, have a friend to whom you can say it all, as it fits for you. It is important for me to return from time to time to these very basic ideas about the journal, or as I like to call it, therapeutic writing. In this very sophisticated world we are part of there is this simple method, requiring only paper and pen, that can help you move toward peace within. It can be a companion who is available at any time, day or night, and will listen to your drivel as well as what drives you.

As I prepare for another semester at Phoenix College I gather this information around me. Favorite journaling books like Kathleen Adams Journal to the Self and Nelson’s Writing and Being happily glide off the shelf. The most useful technique to come from my training with Kay Adams is the Five-Minute Sprint. Most of you know it, but it seems like a way to remind you again, that this quiet friend, who has so much to say, is content with visits of even just five minutes at a time. More can be said in that amount of time than you might believe, so I urge you to set a timer and try it out. It can be a good way to get grounded, clear yourself of distractions and begin to focus on one thing at a time. You may begin to value that quiet friend you have as well.

Enjoy yourselves…and remember to savor some of those joys in your journal, too.

--Sue

Turning on the Ignition

Wander through any bookstore or gift shop and you will run across a wide variety of empty books---all intended as repositories for your life stories, successes, annoyances, arguments and delicious rendezvous! Ahh, journals! Online journals and websites, too, pop up with regularity. For those who have experienced the benefits of journal writing there are no longer doubts about the personal benefits that come with the activity. But for the beginner there are many questions, not only about the kind of blank book to buy but also about what to say in it, how to find time to do it, fears about privacy and wonderings about how it can really help.

My own journal writing experience spans the last twenty plus years. As a counselor I view the journal as both a tool and as a friend. There are certain mechanical directions that one must initially follow to make it "go" and then it becomes a friend---much like a car that must be mechanically sound for us to use it, but then can take us on wondrous journeys. My dear journal has been a friend that has seen me through divorce, deaths and dreary jobs as well as daily joys. Amazing journeys, indeed.

The journal is a place where one is free to be oneself. There are no rules about grammar, punctuation, spelling or penmanship ---- or about what you can say or how often you can say it. As such it is the perfect place to let go of the irritations, conflicts, stresses and grief of our current crazy culture. It's a place to uncover hidden gifts, discover goals...and to babble without direction just because it feels good. Talk to three people who keep a journal and there will be great similarities and many individual differences in their journaling styles. The journal becomes a representation of each separate soul. As Tristine Rainer says in The New Diary, "The diary [same as a journal, ed.] is the only form of writing that encourages total freedom of expression. Because of its very private nature, it has remained immune to any formal rules of content, structure or style. As a result the diary can come closest to reproducing how people really think and how consciousness evolves."

We now have more than just anecdotal evidence of the power that can come through journal writing. Research shows that writing about difficult life issues can lower blood pressure and improve immune system functioning. Even newer research shows that for people with arthritis and asthma who participated in a similar research study symptoms were reduced for as long as four months. Who knows what else will be found about this subtle but powerful process?

So, you may be thinking, this sounds great. How do I begin? Do I just sit down and write? The answer is yes...and no. Let's stay with the car metaphor. You can just turn the key and start the engine by writing---or you might be more comfortable beginning with a few driving or journaling, lessons.

Unlike a car, however, once you have turned on the ignition of your journal you can point yourself in any direction---you can even fly if you like. There are no restrictions other than your own inner limits. Try this journal writing exercise and see what I mean:

Imagine that you have been walking along a calm, peaceful and isolated beach. Up ahead you see something laying on the shoreline that looks like a bottle...and you get closer and pick it up.... It is, indeed, a bottle...one that looks like it holds a genie! You playfully rub it and then are astounded when a genie does pop out and offers you one wish. What do you wish for and why? Write for five or ten minutes about your adventure.

Now that your engine is revved, consider turning to your journal more often. Write for just five minutes at a time. I'll explain more about that in our next edition. In the meantime, visit my website ( www.journalmagic.com ) or email me at sue@journalmagic.com!



Just Begin...

Sometimes we have difficulty doing what we most WANT to do. Isn't it funny how other things get in the way? Often we have a tendency to take care of the "shoulds" before we take care of our own wants and needs. When we continue to operate in that fashion we can get more and more out of balance.

One of the ways to help maintain or realign our balance is to set aside time to consider our wants and needs. Journal writing--either by hand or on the computer--can help us to become more aware of our own needs. Now don't flinch. You can accomplish a great deal in five minutes of writing. In only five minutes you can: Slow down Focus Vent Break the momentum of shoulds Discover what you want/need for that moment

How to do it? Just begin.

The next time you find yourself stuck or on a downhill course, take a piece of paper, or open a separate file on your computer and begin to write. It's a quick way to regain a sense of balance and direction.

Let me know how this works for you!


Day-Starters!

Over the years I have learned that if I begin my day with some healthy and meaningful thoughts, my whole day is enhanced. Certainly journaling is helpful, too, when there is time. I have participated in "Morning Pages" from time to time--- (for those unfamiliar with that phrase it refers to Julia Cameron's suggestion to write for three pages every morning) --- and found them to be like a meandering morning meditation...on paper. I also, however, like to exercise in the morning, and there are only so many things one can do.

I was surfing around the Internet not long ago and found the web site for Carolyn Myss (www.myss.com). She suggests a Daily Practice for morning AND for evening. They could easily be turned into journal writing exercises. She suggests that you go through each chakra and ask the questions appropriate for each one, starting with your 1st chakra to 7th in the morning and ending the day with your 7th and back to 1. I recommend you check them out. I will include her morning prayer:

"I am committed to feeling a bond with each person I meet, to respecting my own integrity and honor, to living within the energy of love and compassion and returning to that energy when I don't feel it, to making wise and blessed choices with my will, to maintaining perceptions of wisdom and non-judgment, to release the need to know why things happen as they do, and not to project expectations over how I want this day to be and how I want others to be. And finally, my last prayer, 'to trust the Divine'. And with that I bless my day with gratitude and love."

Consider how you start your day. What do you like about your own Daily Practice and what is missing? What small step may you make to get more nourishment for yourself on a daily basis? Use the technique called 'Perspectives' and pretend that you have time for a morning ritual regularly. Project yourself ahead by a year. How do you imagine that kind of awakened consciousness can help you perform, be less stressed and add to your experience of joyfulness? Who will you have become by then?

Sometimes I find that it is less about the amount of time I spend and more about the quality of time that helps me to move forward with most energy. I wish you well as you examine your day-starting practice. If you would like to share yours I'd love to hear from you.




Honoring Ira Progoff

For real diehard journal writers, Ira Progoff, Ph.D. is the father of it all. Oh certainly people have written journals for centuries, but Progoff created a journal writing system that stands about all others. His work was developed in mid-twentieth century and he died only a few years ago.

Progoff created a Journal Feedback Method of journaling that involves several different sections of the journal, all interacting with one another. The idea was that through the interplay with all of those parts, one could continue to grow and develop---and indeed, flourish, by using one's journal. While it's more complex than what I am interested in working with on a daily basis, I must honor and respect the work he has done.

This past weekend I spent much of my time reviewing At a Journal Workshop, which is the revised version of his original book. I loved being reminded that he decided to create such a journal system after worrying, back in World War II days, about what would have happened if ALL the important books of the world had been destroyed. After contemplating this issue for some time he realized that we ALL have access to the great wisdom of the world within ourselves, and could all, if need be, contribute to the wisdom reserves.

The imagery that shapes this process is quite a wonderful creation, and one that addresses the spiritual life we lead without any religious or spiritual language. He suggests that our journaling is about reaching down the WELL of our existence. We are guided to drop lower and lower into our well which is the only one we can pursue since we can't reach down any one else's well. As we drop down further and further we enter an underground stream. There the boundaries that have kept all the wells separate blend together. There are no more walls or boundaries and we all share the same underground stream. We don't stay in this place, however, but dip in to be refreshed and replenished and then carry those feelings back to our daily lives. The wisdom of all of us is available, simply by taking some time to sit in the stillness.

I shared this imagery with two of my journal groups this week. In both cases, people were deeply moved, found amazing and surprising insights. One woman found an answer for which she had been searching a very long time. So you see once again why I call this Journal Magic.

As you do your own journaling today see if you can take some time to be in the stillness. Breathe gently and close your eyes and picture yourself moving into your own depth, down the well of your existence. As you reach those waters of universal connection, let your questions of today be washed and cleansed, and be enriched by the deep power of our connected spirits. Let yourselves be nourished by this time, after which you can write about YOUR discoveries and insights.

My own desire is to ask for understanding of our world's problems as I enter that underground stream. May we all find peace and understanding as we realize our very deep and wonderful connectedness.

My best to you all, and I hope you, too, feel the sense of honor and respect as have I, for Ira Progoff, Ph.D.



A Review....

For some of you this little email article is a new experience. For that reason I want to take a few minutes to explain what this weekly missive is all about. I call these articles "A Journal Companion" because they are intended to stimulate ideas, feelings, and memories--to get your writing going. As you express yourself you:

1. Dump unhealthy thoughts and feelings

2. Tap into your own creativity

3. Get clear about who you are, what you believe and where you are going, and

4. You create your own version of history--your very own story. Of course there are many more valuable aspects to journaling as well.

Lots of people WANT to do journal writing---personal writing---but either don't know what to write about or simply can't find the time. My hope is that as you receive these short articles they will offer you suggestions that will make journaling more DOABLE. I believe we all can benefit from balancing our busy outer lives with time to be quiet and reflect upon our inner lives.

So here is a journaling suggestion. If it fits for you, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to write. It may lead you in a different direction--follow your own path. My interest, ultimately, is that you be encouraged to spend a little quality time with yourself.

So how about the simple but fun idea that you have just been walking on the beach and found a bottle that was washed up. You pick it up, pull out the cork, and out jumps ... a genie! The genie gives you one wish. What is it?

Write about your one wish----then spend some time living it. How does it feel to have just what you want? Is it as good as you thought it would be? Or do you now wish for something else? Follow this idea for just a few minutes---about 10. Then give yourself some recognition for taking some time for yourself...and pay attention to how you feel. Next time you can be more serious...this time is just for fun!

As always, feel free to share your explorations! Sue



Start With a Quote

A Favorite Quote:

"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose." Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I love reading quotes of people that I admire, like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She reminds me of simple truths--- which seem truer to me because she has said them. Her words also direct me to do more of what I already am doing-listening to the quiet within. That's what journaling helps me to do. It gives me a record of my journey. Sometimes that can be really helpful, like on those days when it seems like my life is complete chaos. That's when I can look back over my journal and find both horrible and wonderful times, but I can also see the gentle and steady growth that is occurring. Hope is visible right before my eyes and I move on reassured.

Of course, any time we connect with a particular quotation it is because there is a resonance to it within ourselves. I suppose we are all looking for validation and reassurance that we are not alone in our feelings---or else leaning on someone else's optimism and faith that there is more to life than may appear on the surface. At the very least, there is some recognition of it being some needed help.

I admire Kubler-Ross because she was a forerunner in the field of death and dying. She jumped out and spoke about things that no one else was willing to talk about. She tells us of simple truths about living and dying and how to participate in both with more meaning and less fear.

We all have truth and wisdom inside. And journaling is one way to pull it out. So turn off the TV and get out your paper and pen.


Consider some of your favorite quotations. Look some up-in Shakespeare, the Bible, Bob Dylan, Louise Hay or whoever is your truth-teller. Copy the quote and then spend a few minutes writing about how you know that it is true and why it is important to you.

Share your wisdom with us. Maybe your quotations will be published next!




No Time to Write? No Problem!

What's the refrain we hear most often when a new activity is suggested? "I don't have enough time as it is!! And you want me to do ... what?" Okay, that's a reality in today's world. For many of us there are too many activities and too little time-leaving many of us stressed out.
Research supports the use of journal writing to combat stress and improve immune system functioning. ANY amount of time that you use on your own behalf is better than none. So consider taking 5 minutes each day to focus on yourself and your feelings. Get out a piece of paper and a nice pen (important to the quality of the experience) and set a timer for 5 minutes. Then write a statement or a question, like, "What is it I MOST need to do right now?" or "What do I really need to say that would be inappropriate for me to say out loud?" Give yourself some time to LISTEN to yourself and your needs. No time? Sure you do. You deserve to be good to yourself. Take just five good minutes for your own benefit.

Just do.


Pen or Computer?

We all have our personal preferences about how we journal---the kind of book we choose, the pen, where we sit, music or not---or whether we do our journaling on the computer. It's a question that comes up often as I present to groups and lead classes. How do YOU feel about it? That's really the issue. Since there are no RULES in this journaling dimension, how you get your thoughts and feelings OUT is up to you.

Personally, I use both. This little piece is coming right from me and on to the computer. I rarely write these "Companions" on paper---don't know why. However, as I put together my class material I KNOW that I MUST do it by hand. There seems to be something about pen and paper that helps me to reach in more deeply.

Today I feel the need to get to my journal as soon as I finish this little missive. There is some connection that needs to happen, I feel, and it just isn't the same for me on my computer. Don't get me wrong, I love this technological instrument I have before me. Life has changed in so many ways since it became part of me. And yet, it doesn't satisfy the quiet, personal and up-close experience of pulling out that book with my shiny new pen. Perhaps it's just like having different friends that offer us altered perspectives as we relate to or with them. This friend is slick and easily read. My journal is dark and quiet and has no requirements of me.

How do you feel as you turn to your journal? Is it on paper or computer? What's the difference for you? If you email me back about your preferences and why I'll send them back out for all to see. Try to get them to me by the weekend, ok?

Perhaps an Unsent Letter to your journal, whether on paper or computer, is appropriate today. Much as we offer gratitude to our friends and family, our journals, too, deserve our thanks and appreciation. Allow yourself to consider ALL the benefits your journal brings to you---the list may surprise you. Of course behind all this is the knowing that it is we ourselves who carry this wisdom, knowing...magic! Enjoy! ---Sue



Life is a Pop Quiz

Do you remember those days at school when the teacher would announce a pop quiz? Oh, how I hated those! Even if I was on top of my assignments I worried that I missed the very thing that the teacher was going to ask. The setting is different now, but I realize that every day is like a pop quiz. Some days I seem to answer the test better than others.

We have days when we shine and other days when the answers just don't seem to come. I've had a whole week in which I felt as though I got one pop quiz after another---and barely pulled a "C", if that. My usually prompt "Journal Companion" is late, I can't seem to get enough rest, my focus is scattered and my kind demeanor cap is askew. Need to get back into balance.

I thought about describing my state in a Journal Companion, since I thought there would be others who would identify with the feelings. What happened however, was that my critic moved right in---telling me to come up with a different idea, to be brighter, more clever, more intellectual---and certainly not to run on and on about MY problems!

So, I've come back to my original idea---because that's the power that journal writing offers to us. Journal writing helps us to bypass our well intentioned, but annoying inner critic. In our journals, we can be just as ordinary or silly or worried or ... as wonderful as we truly are. I'd like to suggest to you that YOU write about who you really are today and how you honestly feel. What is ordinary or silly or wonderful that you have done today? Is there something you need to dump? Use your journal! It's a place of unconditional love. Be real. Be honest. Be yourself. When you do you'll pass EVERY pop quiz you get thrown at you!

Whew, I feel better. ----Sue



Women’s Rights

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Jean, who calls herself “Wildjean”, suggesting that I write a Journal Companion about women’s rights and how feminists have gotten a bad name in recent years.  I thought it was a good idea, having been incensed at times by some young women, in particular, who don’t seem to know how lucky they are to have the opportunities laid out before them that they do. 

Righteous indignation rises easily when I think of how things have changed since I was a young woman.  Being a “feminist” was part of changing the world for the better when I was young.  We blazed new trails with no models, or few, to tell us how to be or what to do.  It was hard and scary to step into some of the roles we have learned to play---at least it was for me. Peeping out beyond the roles of Mommy and homemaker was definitely new territory.

And, as I stop to think about it now, perhaps we are the lucky ones, who stepped out, broke ranks, made our parents roll their eyes in disbelief.  We were lucky to break away from the stereotypes and to find our way, not always successfully, from being caught in tradition that was too deep for us. What we found was ourselves.

I know my life now is NOTHING close to what I imagined it would be when I was a young person.  It is also MUCH more fulfilling, exciting, satisfying---and at times more frustrating, too.  I think that “being a feminist” meant to me, taking responsibility for my life.  It could have been so much easier to cave in to the structure of the day---and I did that role, too.  I tried to live out the traditional dream---but it never felt like MY dream.  Only when I had the courage to enter graduate school did I begin to feel like myself.

Jean, I’m glad you asked me to write about this topic! I’m feeling more grounded, self-assured and happy as I connect with the POWER of breaking the stereotypes for women that have been handed down over CENTURIES.

Perhaps those who talk disparagingly about feminists now are talking about someone else.  I don’t think they would be the women I identify as those who had the courage to express themselves in their own unique ways.  But how has the term become so twisted?  Is it reactionary?  Just wanting things to “be back the way they were”?

As I get older I realize that people who weren’t THERE, whatever THERE you may be talking about, just can’t fully understand.  That’s true for me with the Depression and World War II.  I know I should honor Veteran’s Day more, but it usually slips by me.  So that’s how I feel when Women’s Rights is downplayed or laughed at!  It’s all a matter of our own perceptions, huh?

So, what do you feel strongly about?  Do you consider yourself a feminist—or is that a term that doesn’t even exist any more?  Maybe we’ve become humanists?  Whatever you feel, write about it!  Set your timer for 10 minutes and see what comes out.  I was certainly surprised as I wrote today.

You could ask yourself to look at your life now and how it might be if Women’s Rights had never become a topic.  What rights do women have now?  And what have they/we learned about balance and respect since making some of those changes? What are the harsh sides to feminism?  Did some of them give up their personal power to be more like men? 

Oh there are lots of questions.  I hope you will find some that intrigue you.  If nothing else, take some time to honor who you are and where you are right now in your life.  Somehow you stood up for what you believed in, and that has made all the difference.

Warmly--Sue



'Laying Track'

My friend Gail just attended a workshop with Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way" and many, many other books, screen plays and now music, too. Julia is a profound teacher to many of us, and combines her zany spirit with the humbleness of her 12 Step approach to life, to inform, support, and encourage writers of all kinds.

I've heard Julia now in person, on tape and through some of her books, and find her words both delightful and inspiring. She talks about writing even when one doesn't feel like writing-which is where I am today. It's not that I don't want to write, it's that I'm not sure WHAT I want to write ABOUT. She talks about getting something down on paper as "laying track". It doesn't have to be good, or well done and is far from a final draft, but it does get one started.

"Laying track" is where I am, knowing I don't have to see just where this is taking me. It's one of the reasons I like doing short pieces on the computer where you can cut, paste, or delete whatever you choose.

Of course most journal writing has this "laying track" feel to it, since there are no rules, no shoulds, no direction that you or your journal have to follow. Can you afford to take a few minutes now to be quiet and listen to your inner musings? Can you sit, without direction, without special focus and just let your pen take you where it wants to go?

Freewriting, which is what we are talking about now, according to another Journaling guru, Kathleen Adams, is one of the harder ways to journal---and yet is what most people think of when they think of journaling. Most people who have not done much journal writing think that they have to "think up" things to say, rather than learning to stop, listen, and just let whatever you want float out of your pen, or if using the computer, your fingers.

Freewriting is very much "in the moment" writing and calls upon you to simply transcribe your experience, your awareness or your thoughts. It reflects back to us where we are. I've noticed that when I am feeling empty I don't like having that reflected back to myself, preferring to be full of ideas, creativity and flow. And yet, I'm now understanding that some times we just ARE empty-and it's okay.

Being empty simply means that we need to fill up. And writing and being allows that to happen. It's hard, though, if our expectations are high and our willingness to see the yin opposed to our yang, is weak.

I urge you to be gentle with yourselves and to try some freewriting about where you are today, what is going on in your life, mind, body and spirit. When you are through read it over, responding then as though you were your own best friend, offering love, support, encouragement and inspiration. You can be your own mentor, just as Julia Cameron has been for so many of us. --Sue 8/5/03


Resources, Inside and Out

I've just spent the weekend as a volunteer for The American Cancer Society's "Upbeat Retreat", held near Payson, AZ. It was a wonderful opportunity to gather with cancer survivors and other volunteers to celebrate life, hope and joy.

It's quite miraculous to see strangers bond together and become new best friends in just two days. We all stayed in a Boy Scout camp and slept in bunks, as though we were kids! And that is just the Spirit that emerged from these women...a sense that their childlike natures were ready to come out and play! How wonderful for all that, not only was the camp provided, but that inner joy was discovered and released. Lots of play, special crafts, nutritious food and meaningful presentations filled these days and shifted sad outlooks into joy and gratitude.

We are all so lucky to live in this country where we have resources like The American Cancer Society. They do INCREDIBLE work offering information, support and hope to those with cancer. And I will mention again another of my favorite community resources, which is The Wellness Community. Look for one in your community if you or someone you know is dealing with cancer. And now there is even Online Support available! Visit www.thewellnesscommunity.org to learn more about how to join an online support group. I'm one of the facilitators-and love meeting each group member---and learning more about their INNER resources.

Of course there are lots of different community resources available to us, throughout the country. Perhaps, as we wonder about the possibility of war, we need to remember these community services---as well as our own inner resources. We can support our communities and ourselves by staying in touch with those centers that impact each of us in our own ways. We can volunteer if able, or turn for help if we need it. I'm thinking that some phone calls offering thanks for just being there might be a lovely thing to do as well.

So what does all this have to do with journaling? Well, as I am writing today I'm reflecting on my experience and feeling the heartfelt warmth of those I encountered. That's what journaling is about---taking the time to reflect about who we are, what's important to us, and how we feel as we move through our lives. Certainly it is about finding our Inner Resources---and today an acknowledgement of external resources as well.

What are your favorite community resources? Do you have time to volunteer, or at least to thank them for being there? What are the inner resources that you gain through journaling? Do you allow for this kind of quiet time in your day? Do you just want to take a moment now to write down some things about which you feel grateful? If you are not in a space to help others, perhaps recognition of needing some help is the gift you can give yourself today.

We are lucky people. Despite the pain and confusion around the world, and however we may feel about impending war, let us not forget the resources that we have-inner and outer-to help us on our journey forward.

Peace---Sue, 3/17/03

Open Heartedness---

Recently, I have been doing some searching for clues as to how to get along with a couple of tough people I have in my life—tough for me, that is. I believe that if someone is in my life that they are there to teach me something, so just cutting them off or walking away is probably not the solution. 

I suppose I react so to these people because I have felt some hurt in relation to something that has been said or done by them.  One part of me reaches toward my Higher Self response, to be open, loving and kind.  Another part of me wants to be vindictive, revengeful and to SHOW THEM.

My dilemma cannot be solved by anyone else.  I must make peace with my own warring parts.  I found an article by the Dalai Lama in Sunday’s paper that I found helpful.  I’ll share a piece of it in the hopes that it will be meaningful to you as well.  He is comparing verses from the Bible to principles of Buddhism.

“These two verses (James 1:19-20) encapsulate principles that are of utmost importance to a spiritual practitioner, and for that matter, any individual who aspires to express his or her basic human goodness.  This emphasis on hearing as opposed to speaking teaches us the need for openheartedness.  For without it, we have no room to receive the blessings and positive transformation that we might otherwise experience in our interaction with our fellow human beings.”

“Open and receptive, swift to listen to others, we should be slow to speak, because speech is a powerful instrument that can be highly constructive or profoundly destructive.  We are all aware how seemingly harmless speech can actually inflict deep hurt upon others.”

“Therefore, the wise course is to follow the advice of one well-known Buddhist lojong text: ’When amongst many, guard your speech and alone, guard your thoughts.’”

For me, this reminds me to take the higher ground.  I will also turn to my journal to say the ugly things that need to be released---maybe even on a separate piece of paper that can be destroyed.  I also see work on giving and receiving forgiveness as part of my daily focus.

What about you?  In what ways would it be helpful to you to listen more and speak less?  How might that help you to be more openhearted?  I invite you to Dialogue between your gentle and angry parts--- and that’s where I am headed right now.

As your holiday approaches, listen with care to those around you.  As I continue to learn, it may be the greatest gift you can offer those you love.  My best wishes to you all.  --Sue



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