Going to the Hardware Store for Bread

baked bread breakfast buns

I’m not the handiest of folks, but I know enough about Home Depot to realize they don’t stock groceries on the shelves. So if I need bread or milk, I go to the grocery store.

The emotionally needy people I know aren’t the best choices for processing my own feelings. They have enough going on already.  They’re still in my life because they have other fine qualities. Maybe I don’t see them as often as my other friends, but I value them just as they are.

Learning to accept people for what they are, and not forcing our needs upon those who cannot meet them, is a big ask.

I still slip in this area occasionally, and it helps to remind myself of this little analogy.

Exercise: Choose a person in your life who has disappointed or misunderstood you. Have you been going to their hardware store for bread? Write a page about this.

What’s Today’s Color?

close up of tree against sky

I’m feeling green today.

Not with envy, but with a sense of growth and healing. It’s Spring, and I’m seeing new growth everywhere. An art teacher I had long ago told me that there are more shades of green in nature than any other color. To me, that means growth occurs in stages and the colors change as the stages progress.

Today’s color is a fun topic for journaling. Like music, color bypasses the logical mind and speaks to the emotions. We make choices based on color instinct. Yellow, for instance, means sunniness and optimism, but also is the color of the mind and intellect. Blue indicates peace, while red is passion. Another of my favorite colors, orange, symbolizes enthusiasm.

So what’s your color today?

Exercise: What color comes to mind when you think of the day ahead? (Or, if you’re writing at night, choose the color that corresponds with the day you’ve had). Did the day feel calm and blue, a bit frantic with dramatic red, full of imagination with lively purple?

Hummingbird Syndrome

animal avian beak bird

Ever feel like a hummingbird, flitting from one thing to the next and never really being “there?”

There’s so much to experience in this world – literally or via a screen – that it can be tempting to want to sample it all. Media, of course, helps us with this by offering yet another way to escape the present moment.

Like everyone else, I find it hard to stay where my feet are. Journaling helps with this because I find when I write, I am focused in the now. The present moment is usually pretty simple.

Exercise:   Head a sheet of paper ‘Multitasking,’ and write about how you multi tasked today; the what, when, where and why of it. No need to change or judge, just be aware.


nature summer yellow animal

‘What you are screams so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A lion’s roar can be heard for up to five miles; a tiger’s for up to ten.

In the animal kingdom, a statement of identity is pretty clear. With humans, not so much.

I think we all keep some pretty good traits buried under layers of self justification, fear and a sense of inadequacy. Most of us don’t want to be seen as too big for our britches, but hiding our better selves doesn’t serve anyone. Marianne Williamson once said that it’s not our darkness we fear, but the very great light that is within us.

Journaling is a good way to get in touch with our own unique qualities – some ways that we could roar – that could be expressed just a little bit more.

Exercise: Take a blank page, and title it ‘Strengths I Know I Have,’ and freewrite for 15 minutes. Consider your list; how could these traits be put into use in daily life?


The Other F Word

photography of woman listening to music

Are we having fun yet?

So often journaling is portrayed as something like flossing your teeth – you know you should do it, but who really wants to?

If writing in a journal is seen as a chore or a necessary way to plumb the psyche, it’s not going to work. At least for me. Even when exploring sad or painful issues, writing to myself seems to bring a glimmer of peace, a lightness of spirit.

Instead, I think of journaling as one of my happy places. On the page, I am free to be skittish, silly, scattered, goofy – whatever the mood calls for. At its core, the soul is light hearted.

Exercise: What would make journaling fun? Answer this question in a one page brainstorming freewrite.


Reading People

time lapse photography of people walking on pedestrian lane

Does understanding lead to empathy?

In the book ‘Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything,’ blogger and book addict Anne Bogel examines the various methods we use to define and understand personality.

Like most folks, I’ve taken personality quizzes online and have categorized myself with the Meyers-Briggs method (not that I can remember the results at the moment). Bogel uses a different approach.

Instead of a focus on labeling and the judgement that implies, this book offers a gentle approach to the quirks we all have and the similiarities we share. Seems to me the focus was on acceptance, tolerance and open mindedness – qualities I can always use a little more of!

This is an excellent topic for journaling, as the things that are most exasperating about others may be qualities we ourselves own.

Exercise: Choose one person whose personality seems to clash with yours, and write out the specifics. Are they “too” noisy, too quiet, too messy, too neat, too lazy, too much of a perfectionist? Then write about a person whom you admire: what specifically do you like about them?

Writing to the Higher Self

white angel illustration

When we have a troubling relationship with another, the waters often calm when we take pen to paper and write to that person’s higher self.

This practice bypasses the human side and gets right to the soul. Spiritual author Catherine Ponder writes about this concept in the book ‘The Prospering Power of Love.’ She notes that when disputes, ill feelings or malaise arise between her and another person, she writes to that person’s higher self, asking for guidance and affirming right results. Inevitably the relationship either improves or harmoniously dissolves.

I have used this form of journaling over the years, mostly, I admit, when other tactics fail. It has always worked to bring me peace of mind and I believe has caused a miracle or two.

Exercise: Select a frazzled relationship and during your journaling time, write a letter to that person’s higher self. Write as specifically as possible of your struggles and ask for guidance and clear direction. Close with gratitude. Watch what happens.