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Do You Journal?

Do You Journal?

I tend to start the year the same way without fail. Each January I am determined that this will be the year I finally organise my thoughts and that the only way I can execute this goal is by spending a small fortune on a beautiful journal that will surely encourage me to use it each day. Crisp white pages present the possibility of a ‘new me’, a more grown-up and sensible me that is just waiting for the opportunity to show herself. Except this plan doesn’t seem to last for more than a few weeks. Not long in to February I will find myself leaving it in the car or on the shelf at home gathering dust while the ‘new me’ retreated back for another year. Maybe next year, eh?

During my January purge I found about a half dozen barely used diaries in my bedside table drawer left abandoned and forgotten. Bare pages became more frequent as Spring arrived acting as a stark reminder of just how crap I am at sticking to my goals. But this year I made a decision. I decided that this year I would boycott Paperchase and invest in a journal that would encourage me to use it each day. Instead of blank pages I wanted my imagination to be coaxed with motivational prompts and to really make me think rather than make me clam up and draw a mental blank. My problem in the past has been that I wasn’t sure where to begin. Should I just jot down a few things that happened that day? Should I write about my worries or my dreams? There were too many options that I ended up not being able to commit to any.

With this in mind I set out to look for a journal that would bring a little light in to each day. I didn’t want too many blank pages that would pressurise me in to filling it with utter shite and I wanted help with committing to the goals I never seem to stick to. I ended up settling on ‘Happy – The Journal‘ curated by Fearne Cotton, a beautifully coloured journal filled with thoughts and ideas, mindful tasks to complete and daily prompts on what to focus on each day. It’s exactly the kind of journal I need and I have been carrying it in my handbag each day, itching to see what my task for the day will be. I know it’s early days and I don’t want to appear naive but I really think this might be the year I actually use a journal for an entire year! It’s turned in to a daily ritual that I am cherishing and definitely brings in the light I was searching for.

There are so many different ways to release our thoughts in to a journal; a few lines can be enough or the words can begin tumbling from our pen so that a few lines can quickly turn in to an essay of dreams. If you struggle like me to commit to your journalling then I’ve got some ideas for how you can best use that beautiful (and expensive) bit of stationery you bought yet again. Feel free to use them and let me know: how will you be using your journal this year? 

————————————————————————————————————————————————–Ideas for a Journal

Gratitude Journal

A simple idea where you can jot down a few things that made you feel grateful for that day. Your choices can be small (having a quiet moment in work with a good cup of tea) or big (that your body was able to carry you on your run) but they will no doubt help you to appreciate the life you have.

Dream Journal

Ever woke up and thought, “I am not well in the head to be dreaming that kind of craziness”? Yeh, me too. Keeping a journal by your bed and writing down your dreams is not just a good way to get a little insight in to your thoughts but is also a mindful way to begin your day. And might help you make sense of those dreams that make you question your sanity!

Kindness Journal

Noting down daily kindnesses is a fantastic way to check in with ourselves and how we choose to live. By keeping track of the kindnesses we have experienced as well as ideas for how to be kind to others we are encouraging a social conscience. Being good to others makes us feel good and by journalling these actions we are reminding ourselves of the good things in life.

Bullet Journal

Bullet journals can be as simple or as detailed as you like, there are no limits but I have seen people use them in the most beautiful ways, like this one. It’s an excellent way to track goals so if you’re in need of a journal to help you see improvements then this could be the way to go.

Travel Journal

Rather than committing yourself to a daily journal, how about just keeping a journal for different trips you take throughout the year? I’ve kept a journal for the last few holidays I’ve been on and I find I enjoy looking back on them far more than any photo album. It’s a great way to keep a record of funny stories, special moments or details that would normally be forgotten after returning home. You will never regret keeping one.


The Lost Art of Writing Letters

The Lost Art of Writing Letters

Since I was little my Granny Una has written me and my sisters letters to congratulate us at different stages of our lives; birthdays, communions, graduations, new houses. I’ve kept most of these cards over the years because not only has she always something incredibly witty to say but because reading these handwritten words of encouragement from someone you love can be so much more enduring than hearing them.

Unfortunately Una has a knack for not realising the impact or severity of her words at times and some of us can become victims of the infamous ‘Una/Granny burn’. Her hints to change can be as subtle as a brick. Like the time she gently suggested that my cousin Pete might like to start going to the gym. Or telling my mother that she’s ‘quite a bundle’. Oh Una we love you.

Recently I was in hospital and she sent me a letter and although her writing is becoming more scrawled and less legible, those obscure pieces of advice are still there and she still has the ability to make me laugh. Reading her card made me think of how rare it is to receive anything in the mail other than what deals are on in Eurospar. Everything is communicated on Facebook – no one would dream of sending a birthday card when you can just type a quick message in 5 seconds. No letters to say well done on getting the new job, new house or new baby. How about we spend that extra few minutes actually writing down how happy we are for someone instead of our message becoming lost in a sea of others?

I have been trying to write more letters recently when I think it might brighten someone’s day and I thought I’d share a few ideas on how you can do this too. Nobody has time for anything these days which is why it feels even more special to receive a handwritten note, especially one with a stamp on it. I’m not saying we have to get an inkwell and write by candlelight but just letting someone you love know that you do – simples.

Here are a few times when you could write a little note…

When you know someone is looking for a job

We’ve all been there. Completing a million applications, hearing nothing back and thinking you will be forever searching for that job that will make you happy. This is an exhausting and wearisome time especially when we’re at the beginning of our careers and have no idea what direction we should be going in. If you know someone is trying to put themselves out there but getting little back, write a short note to them with a few words of encouragement and a few reasons why they should keep going. Maybe a quote is all they need or recalling a time they personally impressed you. Not only will it surely pick them up but it will also remind them of what they are capable of too.

When you know someone is grieving

Unfortunately, all of us will encounter moments of grief in our lives where we feel lost and alone. The days following the loss will be full of people and sandwiches but it’s the months after when you’re still learning to cope that can be the loneliest. In my last year of university in Edinburgh, I lost my sister Amy and it was the letters I received from family and friends that enabled me to dig deep and find the determination to finish my degree. Grief is complicated in that there are times when we are absolutely fine and then all of a sudden we are dragged under. Knowing that there is someone willing to bring you back up to surface, no matter how long it’s been since your loss, is a wonderful feeling.

When you want to share something beautiful

Sometimes the best time to write a note is when there is no real reason to except to share a little beauty. Maybe you’ve seen a pretty handmade card, read a moving article in a magazine or taken a photograph you’re dying to share with them via something other than Instagram. Posting a little memento in an envelope that you think might make someone smile is one of the best reasons to share something beautiful.

When you’re on holiday

Remember postcards? Usually sent by family friends and mostly talking about how many days it rained and who got the worst burns. Sometimes though they give a real insight in to an unknown country and allow us to imagine where the person was when they were writing it. My Granny, of course, loves them so I always try to send them to her. Even when I’m only away a week and I’ll probably see her before she gets it. When I write them now I describe where I’m sitting, the views I have in front of me and how I feel so the receiver can really picture the scene. I find these notes are a lot better at capturing moments than uploading a picture on Facebook intended for no one in particular. Maybe even write one to yourself so you can remember that time when you look back years later!

When you thought of a friend who lives overseas

I made some incredible friends while living in Australia but the likelihood of getting to see them again is quite small and so I made a decision to keep in touch through letters as much as I can. Pen pals were boring in school, it’s hard to develop a relationship with a French student when you can’t go beyond ‘My name is Alex’ and ‘I like to play tennis’ but nowadays we live in a global community where friendships can be made in the far corners of the world. It’s great to keep in touch online but letters are a great way to take a trip down memory lane and keep these memories forever.

When you are grateful for help you’ve been given

A thank you note is such a simple touch but it’s a great way to show appreciation to someone who has helped you in a time of need. Maybe your friend helped you prep for an interview, your dad gave you a hand moving house or your partner gave the house a clean when you were feeling low; these are all times we should be thankful. Communicate that to them personally to remind them how lucky you are to have them.

I’m going to practice what I preach now and write a few letters to those that might need a few thoughtful words and maybe I might get some back!

Happy Sunday folks!!