words are hard this week, which is ironic as i’m going to be talking about journals and journaling in my practice. i’ve been sick this week. unreliable health sucks a whole lot, but it has also made me more flexible in my planning and in my expectations. i was considering skipping this post, but i promised my Sisters that i would write every week this year if i can and i’m going to keep to that promise to the best of my ability. and the best of my ability this time means a longer break and then two posts this week so i can stay on schedule.
so! as i said, this month i’m going to write about journaling the way that i do it. i’m sure the folks who have heard me talk about journaling ad nauseum in my discord places are rolling their eyes right now. lol. but i really feel like it’s an important part of my practice and that the accommodations that i make for how i journal can be useful to other people who also have the limitations that i do.
i have been chronically ill for most of my life and because of that, i’ve had to learn to adapt my expectations and my methods to accommodate the times when i am unable to stick to my schedules, be they self imposed or external from myself. and an important part of those accomodations is to give myself the grace to be ill. there is no morality to being sick. it’s a neutral state. it just is. and when i am sick, i take care of myself until i am able to finish the projects i was working on when things fell apart. sometimes that takes years and sometimes it’s a few days or weeks. fortunately, this time i’ll be catching up instead of just skipping ahead and writing off the time lost.
i am not one of those people who have kept copious diaries since childhood. i envy those people with the fortitude to accomplish such a feat! but i am more of a keeper of non-linear conversations thu time. i do occasionally write in a therapy journal to organize my thoughts and see my situation from an outside perspective, but i rarely if ever keep those. usually those pages are torn out and cathartically torn up and either burned or flushed or buried, depending on the paper content. (pro tip. don’t flush more than one piece of very finely shredded paper down the toilet. ask me how i know. -_-; instead, finely shred that therapeutic missive and compost it with the kitchen scraps to be eaten by the bugs and fungi where it belongs.)
now-a-days, i use google docs to gather my thoughts and then add bits of them to my art journals as sigils and prayers and spells and anecdotes with the intent to trigger my future self to remember the emotional journey it took to make that piece of art. or sometimes it’s just a piece to capture a moment in time that will be added to later as my life changes.
to me, journaling is a non-linear conversation i’m having with myself over time. some days when i am very low on energy and focus, i prep pages with interesting papers and backgrounds and squiggles to color in and add to in future years. i’ll add little notes of encouragement to my future self and when i read those years later, i’ll answer back and continue the conversation. i am always my past, my present and my future selves.
i have a lot of journals! i make them for many occasions and themes and rotate them as i feel moved to. i love undated day planners and sketchbooks and your average run of the mill composition book junk journals the best, tho. undated is better, but i also have fun with dated journals where i can anachronistically create collages and memory sketches and tactile reminders of a moment in time that never was. that has the energy of the time that i bought the planner, but is written years later in conversation with a past me viewed thru my present lens.
the facts and statements don’t ever matter. it’s the emotions and the energy of the memories that i want to enrobe in crystal and metaphor. it’s healing my past and giving a nuanced and complex foundation to my future. i’m sure if any of my journals survive my life this time around, historians will hate me, haha. but this is a hypersigil of my life as it needs to be to do the Work that i do in the context that i do it. and it’s fun!
i love bright vibrant colors and gluing things on pages and then coming back next year to update how my life has changed. i love keeping lists of seeds i want to try growing and creating books of sigils to improve my life and tarot spreads and conversations with my Gods and Allies.
all of these journals have no start or end. i occasionally date things, but as each page is constantly being reworked and added and subtracted from, there is an eternal feeling of change to them that is comforting to me. i am never the same person twice. my life and my being is constant change and my journals reflect that.
there was a time a decade ago when i burned out hardcore, that i spent a lot of time in my journals. i wrote and drew all of my pain and confusion and my plans for the future that i could not envision as more than a vague hope. but as i follow the threads of conversation in that book, i can see where i had a turning point and things started getting better. and where i started going back and giving myself little hugs and encouragement and how i had left spaces open in those places for my future self to add in.
it’s very curious to me how even now in my current, present self, i can feel those tendrils of a future me reaching back to encourage me in how i’m living now. i know that things will be rough for a while yet, but i also know that i’ll make it thru and i have confidence that we will be in a much better situation eventually, i just have to trust. and leave spaces in my journal where i can write encouragements and love to myself in the future.
being creative and non judgemental can be a kind of working meditation, too. as i look back thru my art and devotional journals and reach a page that makes me cringe for whatever reason, i know that is a place where i need to sit with those feelings of embarrassment and discomfort and see where that is coming from. to dig deep into those feelings and find compassion for the past me who wrote or drew those things. who was learning and deep in the shit of life that gradually broke down into the compost that grew the better life and skills that i have now.
it’s easy to judge my past self, but i wouldn’t be the me that i am now without the hours of practice and the billions of mistakes that i made and learned from. i’m grateful for those moments of cringe at my old art and i have no qualms about adding to those pieces and freshening them up with alterations. remixing them into something wonderful by adding the skills and experience that i have now to the energy and emotions i had then. creating a conversation over time that my future self will also continue when she’s flipping thru my journals in a few years time.
no art is bad art. and good conversation is a skill. i’ve learned to roll with the ups and downs and recreate myself over and over as i mix the creative compost and hopefully grow some good things out of the process.
this month i’ll be talking about that process as a skill and a tool in my practice and hopefully spark some inspiration and soothe some fears of a blank page. and in the spirit of my journaling process, this post is a starting point for my future self to build from.
hello future me! i hope that you have the best time with what we have planned! <3