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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rewind

Stop. Pause. Rewind.

Remember those all-familiar buttons on those Sony Walkmans we used to keep on our hips for music portability? Of course, there was the all important Play button we used most often to keep those cool tunes floating into our headsets as we hung out in our rooms or walked the streets of our towns.

When we stop, we decide what song we will listen to.
When we pause, we want to hold the song in that very spot so we don't miss a beat no matter what may be interrupting us.
When we rewind, we just want to play that song again since it was so good the first time.

It is the same with life.
We stop what we're doing to decide what comes next.
We pause when we want to relish the moment rather than run right past it in our haste.
We rewind in order to go back to a previous time to rediscover our experiences and consider them with gratitude.

I'm ready to rewind the tape of my life that I've experienced in the year 2011 to ponder, pause, and consider with gratitude all that has come my way. I decided I wanted to share my musings with you, my dear readers!

Since my life is multi-dimensional, I thought I would approach my Rewind with these in mind:

First off, on The Herring Home Front, we welcomed our first grandchild, Jacob Lee, into the world, thus making me a first time Grandma! It has been a whirlwind of an occasion that has calmed to a very busy, active day-to-day experience, with lots of loving, burping, cuddling, talking and walking time as I interact with this new boy, this new person in my life. And the best part is he is always glad to see me, with those bright eyes and kicking legs showing his excitement. Oh, and then there's the conversation which seems to grow more interesting every day. He has so many stories to tell Grandma, and I am very eager to hear every one. What a blessing and joy he is. Indeed.

Next, is the Journal Writing leg of things.
For my personal journal writing practice of 27 years, I've recently added some new approaches that have really worked for me. I introduced Morning Pages (which you can read about in Julia Camerons' books), which is essentially a stream of consciousness approach to writing first thing in the morning. I also write my goals for work and home each day, clarifying with my Critical Six, the six things that will truly help me get where I want to go in all dimensions of life. (See James Ray's book, Harmonic Wealth.) I also added writing with alternate hands, first with my right, which is my dominant hand, and then with my left. This enables me to initiate the activation of both right and left brain, both logically and emotionally/creatively, in my journal writing practice.

Now for the more public side of journal writing. In addition to posting journal writing links each week, Monday through Friday, on Twitter, in June I began to host #JournalChat Live, a live chat for all things journaling on Twitter with a new topic to discuss every week. In conjunction with that, I introduced the #JournalChat Pick of the Day, which essentially is the post I choose from each day's links posted on Twitter (through my @JournalChat account and some on my @DawnHerring account), which I consider the one that resonates the most with my journaling experience or one that I feel has the most take-away value. Of course, there are days when I have several that I think are just fabulous, so I pick one or two others that I label "Runner UP" before posting the Pick of the Day.

In conjunction with #JournalChat Pick of the Day, I started the all new #JournalChat Pick of the Week which I select from all the picks I have chosen in the 4 days I post links on Twitter. Out of those four, I  choose one that has the topic I decide we will discuss on #JournalChat Live, which takes place each Thursday at 5 EST/2 PST on Twitter.

In association with #JournalChat and all things journaling, I also launched my e-journal, Refresh Journal, for all things journaling and refreshing. Included are links for Pick of the Days, a special section for Pick of the Week to inform those who plan to attend the live chat what our topic is with a suggested prompt for a journal entry as well as highlights from the previous live chat. I also enjoy sharing refreshing tips for home, work, kids, and yourself.  A column for The Artist and a song to listen to to get your week musically motivated are also included.

On the Social Network front: I have enjoyed connecting with all of my journal writing and writing friends through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as we share encouragement, our points of view, our accomplishments, and our dreams for the future. I have found myself smiling, laughing, and relating as I read Tweets, Statuses, and conversations/discussions in the social network sphere.

On the Blog front: It has been such a blessing to me to have subscribers and readers of this blog, JournalWriter Freelance~Refresh with Dawn Herring, where I have posted my musings, lessons learned, and point of view of daily life and what it all means to me. I have also enjoyed encouraging others to refresh themselves on a daily basis, which often initiates positive change in our lives when we take the time to nurture, validate, and appreciate who we are and what we're here for.

On the Creativity front: This year I decided it was time for me to venture into new artistic territory. I have been an artist since childhood, and there are things I have never tried before. So I immersed myself in reading books and trying out watercolor for the first time; boy, am I glad I did! It is my favorite medium, hands down. I have worked in pen and ink, acrylics, pencil, charcoal, and colored pencil up to this point. But watercolor is so vibrant and fun to use! I incorporated it into my new art journaling venture in mixed media which I started on January 1st and also have painted with just watercolor.

I also use and recommend that practice of collage, through image, text, journaling, and mixed media on the page. It has been eye-opening, resonating, and down right fun!! I look forward to my art journaling and watercolor on the weekends. I do hope to do much more of it in 2012.

This year has been a busy, active and learning time for me; I have so enjoyed connecting with artists, journal writers, and writers and other friends this year. You have been such an inspiration to me. Thank you.

I look forward to all 2012 has in store for me, connecting with my true self, my family, my friends, and my Creator.

Have a Super Fabulous, Most Refreshing Year Ever!!

© 2011 by Dawn Herring


Friday, December 2, 2011

Play

play v. to occupy oneself in a game or other recreational activity

Doesn't that sound like fun?
When was the last time you took time to play?
You know, with the kind of activities you enjoyed as a kid, with, perhaps, a bit more of a grown up version...or not.

There is still the good 'ole standby of coloring books and crayons.
Or pulling out the Barbie dolls for some fashion inspiration and pretend role playing.
Or going for a ride on a scooter or bicycle. Or how about roller blading?

There's playing with some watercolor paints or cutting and pasting to create a collage with images that delight you.

Then there's air hockey, the age old table top game, you can't stop playing until the air runs out...
Or ping pong, which can give you a real workout trying to keep it on the table without it going out of bounds.

What activity comes to mind when you think back to when you were 10 years old?
What is your absolute, most fun playtime memory?

Why not recreate it for 'ole time's sake? Or reinvent it with a bit of an adult twist?

Like scrapbooking or art journaling or throwing pots or creating a dream board.

The point to play is to get your creative, high-vibration juices flowing. That's where the fun is. That's where the great ideas are secretly hiding, just waiting for that creative pulse to show itself.

And do you know what else play does for you? It refreshes. It re-energizes. It can make you laugh. Or sing.
And that song comes from the deepest recesses of your heart.
And that's where the gold resides.
And we all want the gold.

So go and have some time to play.
Your inner child will thank you.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Expansion

You can feel it in your core.
It grows and vibrates from the heart.
Gratitude feeds it.
Love resounds it.
It has wide open possibilities.
It's a vastness that cannot be fully absorbed.
Your passion infuses it.
Your enthusiasm heightens it.

You experience it each time you take a step toward the bigger You.
The one who takes risks. With great expectation.
The one who dreams. With a vision.
The one who loves. With abandon.
The one who cares. With sincerity.
The one who decides. With integrity.
The one who gives. With generosity.
The one who creates. With authenticity.

It is the backbone of real living in all it's dimensions.
It touches everything you do with loving intent toward yourself and your world.

How will you expand yourself, your life, your world today?

© 2011 by Dawn Herring


Friday, October 14, 2011

A Butterfly Moment

It was completely unexpected, which is really the best kind.
A flutter of wings as if blown by an inspired wind landing on my knit shirt. I take in the beauty of its wing's design, noting just a small tear at the bottom edge of one, yet it still flies. I am grateful it is not a serious injury. I have seen those kind before.
I am elated to have such a wonderful, wild creature resting, at peace, upon me. I realize it's the first time I've ever had my absolute favorite insect alight on me directly, and I am enchanted.
I begin to speak to it, telling the creature how utterly lovely a moment it is to have such beauty in my vision, even if it's but for a moment.
Then I wonder if it would climb onto my hand. So I place a finger gently in front of its fine front feet. It feels the nudge and obliges me and climbs onto the back of my hand.
My smile grows wider, my eyes immerse in its beauty and grace. I continue to tell it how beautiful it is, how lovely to enjoy the gorgeous sunshine together.

Then it is off, in its winged glory. Again I am elated it can fly, even with that small tear in it's wing.

As I stand there, in the after effects of such a lovely moment, my joy lingers. My heart is full.
Then I move on to the plans of my day which include an artist date. What a wonderful preclude to what awaits as I look to fill my creative well.

A Butterfly Moment.
The perfect picture, to me, of beauty, elegance, wonder, and ultimately, freedom.

And when we keep ourselves open to these unexpected possibilities, we may be surprised as to what might alight upon us in the most ordinary of moments.

That fill us with elation, joy, peace, and hope.
And as we linger in the after effects, we carry them with us in our hearts, our souls, our lives, our world.

May each Butterfly Moment in your life linger long and well.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Smoke

Her ears are pointed down, perked, as she sits on the coffee table watching a stick of incense burning. She remains at a safe distance as she gazes intently at the burning glow at the end of the stick where the smoke slowly swirls up into the air and wafts in various directions from the wind-like force of the ceiling fan directly above.

She moves back a bit as the smoke blows a bit toward her face to prevent her whiskers from being singed or to prevent smoke from getting in her eyes.

But still she sits, fascinated, nose going up occasionally, twitching like a rabbit's, to sniff the scent of frankincense and myrrh.

A picture of Sophie in a full-blown curiosity moment as her senses come alive, her tail twitching as she hears me talking to her about what she thinks of it all. "Don't know what to make of it, do you, Soph?"

She reminds me of myself as I immerse my senses on an Artist Date, taking in the colors, scents, visuals, and textures of what is around me.

Or as I zone into a watercolor piece I'm working on, making decisions about color mixing, placement, intuition, and possibilities for design.

Or as I peruse a magazine to pull images for use with collage, not asking questions, just watching and intuiting what draws me in, what catches my attention, what sparks my curiosity, what activates my emotions.

Sometimes what I experience is unexpected as heightened feelings rise to the surface as much as they run deep to my core. And I don't always know what triggers those feelings until I put them later in context.

Which motives me to follow the thematic thread that emerges in my artistic and creative pursuits to discover more of who I am and what fills my creative well. Even when I don't know where it will lead or what it will mean for me personally.

Often I am intrigued by a new excitement with something I have just discovered. Or I question my reaction to an image or an idea. So I follow it until my curiosity is satiated.

Or until I'm ready to call it a day. Like Sophie does when she finally jumps off the table onto the rug below to curl into her customary, "I'm satisfied," position and readies for a nap.

And in time, I arrive home from my Artist Date, close my magazine pages, or clean my watercolor brushes and empty my watercolor containers until the next time.

And the incense has burned out, the smoke has cleared, ashes collected on the burner in narrow chunks ready to be shaken into the trash once cooled, scent lingering for a bit, with the residual undertones of appreciation for a job well done.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Power

power (pow-er) n 1. the ability to do something. 2. vigor, energy, strength 4. control, influence

We all have it to some extent or another.
And what we do with it is very important.
We can use it to control or manipulate someone to get what we want from them.

Or we may be allowing someone to have that same power over us.

How do you know when someone has power over you?
  • you feel intimidated by their presence or their expectations of you
  • you're afraid of how they'll react to you when they don't get what they want from you
  • they come to mind often and in an oppressive manner
  • you feel anxiety when you think about them
  • you don't want to run into them or talk to them on the phone
  • you're not comfortable being vulnerable with them
  • you don't trust them       

Once you recognize a person in your life who has power over you, you need to take the next vital step. Here's the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and that person: Get your power back. Yes, you need to get your power back. You don't want your mindset to remain in an unhealthy, anxious state. That's not good for anyone.

Of course, we know that some positive change can be a challenge to embrace. Old mindsets die hard, especially when we've been in them for long periods of time, if not a lifetime.

But it's not impossible to change your mindset concerning a person who has power over you. 

One thing you may want to keep in mind: this person may not know they have power over you. It may just come naturally to them the way they act and react toward you. So, I think it's best not to make any assumptions about a person's motive or why they act toward you the way they do. There may be things going on in that person's life, in whatever dimension, that you know nothing about. The object is not to cast blame on a person but to make a change in YOUR mindset that will enable you to get your power back. 

And how do you do that?

First, you need to recognize what kind of power they have. Is it relational? Is it expectations? Is it the demeaning way they speak about you? Do they invalidate you or your emotions, feelings, and point of view?

Once you have determined the kind of power they have, you can discern where your mindset needs to change toward them. You have to set boundaries or perimeters with what you will allow from them into your life. 

In other words, you may need to say, NO, when they ask you to do something. Or you may need to speak up for yourself and not allow that person to insult you or invalidate you. If they are not willing to change in their behavior toward you, you may need to limit your exposure to that person. They are obviously toxic to you. 

Saying no isn't easy, especially when we're used to just allowing powerful people to have their way with us.

But once you start to say no and lay those very appropriate boundaries, you may be surprised by the respectful reaction you may receive from that person. But even if they don't respond positively or respectfully toward you, you are doing so toward yourself.

Yes, showing yourself respect is one way to get your power back. 

Another way is to not allow another person to define you by what they say to you or about you. 

Recognizing and facing your fears in connection with their unmet expectations of you is also empowering. 

When you start to make these mindset and action changes concerning those who have had an active, powerful, negative force in your life, you will begin to experience a shift in your emotions and in the way you see yourself. 

You may be surprised by the confidence that grows, the more decisive you become, and even the better person you evolve into in the process. Yes, getting your power back can make you a better individual. Because when you focus your mindset in a more positive way that brings freedom, that positive energy will spread to those around you. And ultimately, the changes you create in your life will enable you to make a positive mark in your world. 

And then, once you get your power back, you can show others how to get theirs back too. 

And you know what happens? Your relationships grow. Your bonds with others take on a new dimension. And that person who once had power over you may see the change in you and even like what they see. They may recognize why you did what you did and want to do the same thing in their own lives. 

Positive change often begets positive change. 
Let 's use our power in a way that will change the world and make it a healthier, safer, more positive place. 

Where is your power today?

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Monday, August 8, 2011

Heat Wave

With the temperatures rising across the nation, I've been thinking about the weather of our temperaments and relationships and how they affect our well-being.

Have you been "hot under the collar" lately? Have you lost your temper with one too many things on your 'to do' list? Or maybe you simply ate too much spicy food for lunch, and your heartburn is thanking you for it. ;)

Wherever the heat may be rising on your life thermometer, there are ways to keep a cool point-of-view in the day-to-day temperature of our emotions, feelings, and perspectives.

BURNING UP: Wounding words can take us by surprise and really 'burn' us up. But whether it be a cutting remark, a sarcastic attitude, or scathing rebuke, what is said to us by others needn't ruin our day or get our tempers flaring. We can shrink that troublesome torrent down to size by determining why it got our ire up, get a fresh perspective on any good we can glean from it, then let it go. Write it down and then burn it if that's what you need to do. Don't allow what others say demolish your foundation. Rebuild your perspective from the ground up by validating your feelings, make positive change where needed, and keep progressing and moving on to better, higher ground.

BURNING OUT: Are you working too long hours? Are you feeling like you can't catch up no matter how hard you try? Been out in the heat too long? (Seriously determine to take breaks and stay hydrated if you are doing strenuous activity outside in the heat.) It's time to take a break, take a breather (yes, literally center yourself by focusing on your breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth, in with positive energy, out with negative energy.) It is essential to take time to focus on the things that energize you.

BURNING IN: This is the place where you nurture your spirit, soul, and body. Every Day. Don't wait till you're burned up or burned out and exhausted and can't take much more. Make it part of your routine. Whatever it is that makes you feel invigorated, refreshed, energized, renewed. Have a love-fest with yourself: get creative with collage, take a walk on the beach or a hike in the woods. Listen to your favorite music, read a good book, pray/meditate.  For five minutes or an hour, take time for yourself so you'll have some fresh energy to give to those you love.

Yes, once you have nurtured your spirit, soul, and body, you're ready to be a blessing to your family and the world. Love is nurture in action. Love energizes and helps build a fresh perspective. You'll begin to see things from a renewed point of view. Your exhaustion will give way to inner energy that will spread to those around you.

When was the last time you had a Burning IN? In your heart, in your soul, in your perspective?
Get out those candles, turn on the music, and dance your bad burns away.

Who knows, you may start a beneficial bonfire that never goes out.
A heat wave for the heart.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The View

Picture yourself inside a glass-backed elevator on the ground floor.

As you make your way up to the fourth floor, you take in the design and layout of the interior centered in the building which includes a delightful two-tiered bubbling waterfall, the perfect place to toss a coin and make a wish.

A garden of green highlights the perimeter of the center, giving the atmosphere a fresh sensation of color and lively energy, which is refreshing to behold.

You fully enjoy the view from the bottom up, and you appreciate the beauty as it fills your vision and relaxes you.

Later, while on the ground floor, seated near the center, looking up you notice folks who are navigating the building from inside the glass-sided elevator. Then you realize when you're in the elevator, folks can see you too.

In other words, the view goes both ways. Whether you're in or out.

It's one thing to see what you want to see, but to be seen when you may not want to be seen or when you don't know you're in view can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed.

But that's what happens when you rise higher in life. On your way up, more people notice you. They see what you're doing. They may recognize your face. They may greet you with a smile and handshake, or they may hang in a corner and avoid your gaze.

You have the choice of allowing the view and opinions of others to keep you from moving up; or you can take in the view that invigorates you and continue to rise higher to richer, more enlightening places.

Now, of course, there's always the possibility of rising too fast.

Picture yourself in a glass-backed elevator going up to the 9th floor. Only this time each successive floor meets you with stomach churning effect. And you know if you look out, you may lose your lunch as a response to your nauseous state.

And you're still aware of others who may see you hiding your face or closing your eyes to minimize the impact.

No, speed is not always the best indicator of where you want to be. Faster is not always better.
It really is all in the timing.

When you pace yourself just a bit out of your comfort zone in order to stretch and grow in a healthy manner, and you're not going so fast that you feel dizzy, then you know the momentum is just right.

And you'll continue to have a beautiful, inspiring view as well as the growing confidence in your inner person that gives you a flourishing grace as you walk into your circumstance or alongside whoever your meet in your life's journey.

So, how high do you plan to go?
Let's aspire to rise higher together, shall we?

Oh, and don't forget to make a wish.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In the Distance

Recently, as I've been going for my walks in the morning, I have noted an exuberant, ecstatic mocking bird in my neighborhood. As I've walked along on the sidewalk heading toward the park downtown, I've seen this mocking bird sitting on the top of the same telephone pole doing a little bird dance, singing his repetitive song, showing off his vocal skills that no other bird has, of course. But what made me laugh was watching him jump up and down almost in mid song, flutter his white striped wings and then land right back where he started to work his vocals once again.

It was as if he couldn't contain his joy, so he had to hop up and down to express himself.

This happened every day for a couple of weeks. It absolutely delighted me as I got my exercise for the day and enjoyed his little feathered show. I came to look forward to seeing him as I headed out before the business of my day progressed.

Then a heat wave struck--hard.

I noticed he wasn't coming around to sing me his multi-dimensional little song. I looked for him every day, but to no avail. So, I wondered where he flew to.

About a week later, I could here him off in the distance, as if he chose a new section of the neighborhood to serenade. I had to stand quietly to hear him that far away, but I still enjoyed listening to his performance.

Often after we have experienced something delightful in life, things begin to change, and those previous experiences morph into newer ones, leaving those refreshing memories behind. But sometimes we don't want to let them go since we enjoyed them so much.

So we look off in the distance, hoping to catch a glimpse.
But that's when we realize our problem.

Instead of focusing on what was, we need to get a bit more near sighted and take a look at the blessings that are right in front of us. The new stuff that has come along fits us so much better than what fit us before. We grow as people, and if we try to hang on to the old instead of embracing the new, we will miss out on the joys of today, while we pine for yesterday.

If we change our perspective and express gratitude for the multitude of wonderment in our relationship with family and friends, in our tangible blessings, in our connection with the Creator, and in who we are and who we are made to be, we will find contentment and peace resonating in our hearts and minds.

And we may be surprised when we catch a glimpse of that old blessing we loved so much (especially when we're not looking for it) as we connect with the newness of the good that has come our way.

So, next time you feel that sense of pining for what is past, look right in front of you for that glorious sunshine of blessing that's coming over the horizon. That's a perspective worth celebrating.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Monday, May 30, 2011

Enough

I love the sound of the word: Enough.
It has a finality and a reassurance to it that makes any situation feel full. Whether it be having enough at a meal where you feel satisfied but not over bloated, or filling a shopping cart with just the essentials, because that is all you need.

But there are situations that may not seem so clear, where you might think that what you have is not enough.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, since we can think something is insufficient when it meets the need but not necessarily to our liking. Are we just being picky, or is there really an adequacy issue to be addressed?

It's important for us to know when things are right and when they're not.

I had plans to work in my art journal this past weekend, but I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do. I had a picture from a magazine that I had pulled while doing image work a couple of months ago which was of an infant in a hospital bassinet, with a hole on the side for a person to reach out and touch the child even if they couldn't hold the them due to frail health. It is what I considered a precious visual of a child clinging to life and to the love of a caring hand. I was determined to use it in one way or another, whether through collage or an art rendering through a specific medium.

I had been studying watercolor art primarily through books and some local art work, so I considered the possibility of applying what I'd learned to the page with this image.

I had this photo in mind all week and decided this would be the weekend I would proceed with an art rendering. But I wasn't sure if it would be too large for my art journal or what medium I would use. I had the stiple method with pen and ink in mind, but I also considered watercolor or, perhaps, both.

When I finally approached my art easel yesterday (Sunday), I determined it would be only watercolor in my art journal. This would be my first attempt at human skin in the medium. I continued to hope my studies would be applied well to the paper.

I did a sketch of the subject, which took an hour in itself due to the detail of value study that was required. Once I had that down, I had to mix a variety of color from my watercolor trays (not tubes), which I tested and tried based on the color study I did of the human skin.

Once I had that ready, I laid out the first wash, then all subsequent glaze layers with each drying time (which I hastened with a blow dryer, which really works!).

I did take one break to eat a snack. Other than that, I was at the easel for 3 1/2 hours. I had no idea how much time had passed, being completely immersed in my art. I was exhausted by the time I was finished with the human skin. I still had the T-shirt to paint with shadow, which would require very light watercolor washes.

But in the process of my attempt, the color was too dark, and I was unable to work it lighter. No matter how many techniques or different mixes I tried, it just wasn't working. I had lost my patience. So I just filled the area with the colors I used for the skin while the page was wet (wet in wet technique) and said, I'm done with this.

I was distressed that I had put all the time I did into it, and I felt that I had finished with a wrong energy. I wasn't pleased.

I signed the page and moved on.
I almost didn't want to tell my family I finished, because I wasn't happy with the result. I felt as if it wasn't enough. That it wasn't finished. I had disappointed myself with this end, that didn't feel like a proper one.

But, alas, I was being too hard on myself, as my daughter, Hannah, told me.

I wrote about this experience in my journal entry this morning; I wondered how I would feel each time I saw what I deemed an incomplete work of art whenever I passed it during my day's activities. (I always leave the most recent work exposed during the week until I do another page; it inspires me most of the time.)

Then I realized and determined in my mind, it is more than enough. It is complete as is.
Sometimes things in life don't feel complete even though they really are.
They may not meet our expectations, but they are still complete.
We just have to see them that way. It truly is a matter of perspective.

So, now when I look at this watercolor rendering, I see a lesson learned.
It is enough. What I did is enough. And ultimately, I am enough.
Just as I am. Just as my art is. Right now.

And so are you. You are enough. Even if you feel like you aren't. Even if you feel like you're inadequate. Do all you can do and know it is enough.

We must be satisfied with what we can do. With our best.
And then look at our lives as a work of art.
Because that is what they are.
That is what we are.
A Work of Art.
Signed by the Hand of the Creator.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keep It Light

Baggage.

It's the one of the first things we grab for when we plan a trip or when we arrive at our destination, whether at an airport (where we're glad we didn't lose it!), or at a hotel or overnight stay, where we'll have all the essentials we need to make ourselves most comfortable and ready for whatever we have planned.

This baggage is useful, necessary, to help us feel prepared and make our experience pleasant.

But, of course, this baggage is only for temporary use.

If we used it for every day, we would begin to find it cumbersome, burdensome, a nuisance. We would get tired of carrying it around. We would begin to get agitated, annoyed, and cranky. And we would wonder why it feels so heavy.

We would be tempted to open the baggage to be sure there were only essentials contained. And, of course, we'd be surprised with what we found:

Old arguments
Dirty Laundry
Cancelled appointments we never rescheduled
A broken dryer needing repair
Defeating memories from years gone by
A nagging sense of something undone
A lack of closure from an old relationship
Second guessing from decisions we made

No wonder it's heavy. And we wonder why our head hurts, our back aches, and our joints are tired. We desperately need relief from this burdensome baggage we're carrying around.

But what do you do with it? Well, it certainly shouldn't be ignored. But you can't keep carrying it around with you either. It's not necessary or healthy.

There are some steps you can take to lighten your load.

1) Write it down. Yep. If you record the issue that you are dealing with, airing all emotions, details, and grievances, you will find the load getting lighter just from venting. And often, in the process, you will gain clarity and even resolution to the issue that you hadn't thought of before. That is truly a welcome and needed benefit we could all use a little more of.

2) Center yourself. Use verbal or mental prayer/meditation to unload. This is also an essential step toward clarity and resolution. You'd be amazed as to what guidance you will receive and what your intuition can give you if you listen for it.

3) Take the next step. Yes, after writing it down and centering yourself and listening for what you can do to solve your problem, make a decision to do something about it! Don't put it off or procrastinate. That's how it became baggage in the first place. The step doesn't have to be big, but it needs to be a step nonetheless. You'd be surprised as to how good you'll feel once you've taken it.

4) Let it go. There are some issues that seem to cling to us no matter what steps we take. Or especially when we don't see a resolution to the problem. Sometimes that will happen. If there's nothing you can do, release it. Let it go. The Creator of the Universe has ways of doing things on our behalf we cannot do for ourselves. And sometimes when we do let go, a resolution finds its way into our path, especially in places where we least expect them. Life is often full of happy surprises!

When you've taken the time to do what is necessary to lighten your load, you will find the mercy that is new every morning and have a sense of purpose and peace for each new day. And that is certainly something to celebrate!

So, the next time you grab for some essential baggage along the way, whether just for an overnighter or a longer life sojourn, remember to keep it light.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Monday, April 25, 2011

Storms

Storms come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities.

There are the kind where it's just light rain, and you may or may not choose to bring an umbrella. It's not really a big deal, just a bit bothersome since it's wet, and you don't want to get stuck in a possible downpour.

Kind of like those niggling issues that creep in the back of your mind but they're not exactly seriously consequential. Just annoying since they're there, but not really. They don't stop you fully, but they do give you pause since they disrupt your mental peace just a little. It's something you need to come back to, but it's just easier to put it off.

There's the thunderstorm with heavier rain, but nothing news making. You definitely bring an umbrella but don't use it anyway since you're able to dodge the wet when there's a short reprieve just in time for you to run that quick errand without getting soaked.

The issue grows larger, since it affects an important relationship, but the problem isn't so huge that you're not talking to each other. But you know it needs to be addressed, and you're putting it off. You don't want it to turn into a major meltdown, but you haven't come up with a suitable strategy toward resolution, one that you feel would satisfy you.

The Severe Thunderstorm makes the news; it's in yellow, and it's not meant to be pretty. It's a warning. Something could turn potentially dangerous, but if you're careful and stay inside or take precaution when necessary, you'll be reasonably safe.

Things are getting more uncomfortable and even volatile. You can feel the underlying simmer, and it's getting so noticeable, you can't avoid it anymore. It's time to face the music, and you're hoping you end up dancing and working things out rather than being abandoned mid-song.

It's in the red. The Tornado box. It's getting scary, and you want to be safe from the get go. You're told to run for cover if you're out, go to the nearest ditch or low lying area. If you're inside, you're not sure if you'll have time to make it to the underground shelter outside or if you should just cover yourself with a mattress or coat and hang out in the bathtub and hope for the best. The sirens are blowing, and you know the storm is right on top of you. And you're terrified.

You want to run for cover. You're afraid of what will happen when your loved one turns around. Will they turn on you or welcome you with open arms? You're angry with yourself for letting it go for so long. You don't know if it's too late, if the relationship you had has been destroyed, or if there's a chance for a remedy, for a reconciliation. You wish it never came to this.

We all go through storms in life of one level or another. We wish the storms didn't have to come. It seems easier to ignore the inevitable. But eventually the storm will grow more volatile and necessary to confront and face before we come undone.

If we start with the smaller stuff, taking a good look at it and dissecting what's wrong, at least we can become more aware of the struggle we face. And if we're honest, there's more of a chance of working it out.

It takes courage to face our fears. It's not an easy road to take. But once we get started, we're heading in the right direction. And perhaps, the conflict, once we really get a handle on its cause, won't seem impossible to remedy.
And if we deal with the small stuff now, they won't have a chance to become bigger stuff later.

But then there are the situations that we didn't see coming. Yes, life has a knack for throwing us a curve ball once in a while.

But if we're already aware of the smaller issues in our lives and we've done the emotional/mental/spiritual work necessary in dealing with our conflicts, the bigger ones won't seem so catastrophic. Or maybe we will just come through it slowly but surely, one day at a time, looking our fears full in the face, not allowing that big black cloud to threaten our well being. It's then that we realize there's really sunshine behind all that darkness. We just need to face that fear and shrink it down to size, until it disappears all together.

Like the mad man who becomes sane after the Blackness is dissolved in Voyage of the Dawn Treader due to the mental victories each person attains as they face their fears and make wiser choices to do the right thing. He turns around to see the Blackness is now light, and he says, "You destroyed it!"

Yes, that's right. The Darkness of those clouds is overcome with the Light. And we are victorious as a result. Not destroyed, but strengthened. Not in despair, but full of hope and joy that we will survive. And not just survive, but thrive.

No matter what size storm you're facing today, remember that when you are willing to honestly look your fears in the face and bring them down to size, you'll be that much closer to a resolution. And eventually, the Glorious Freedom that comes with the experience of having overcome and been made stronger and more resilient as a result.

And what happens after the storm? Fresh Clean Air. The kind you want to inhale again and again as it revives and restores you and brings you peace.

Then you'll be ready to finish that dance you started. And they're playing your favorite song.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Validation

A friend remarked the other day that she noticed how easily we can get upset over the littlest things. These conflicts are often small discrepancies, tiny annoyances that grab our attention.
When we look back hours, days, or even weeks later, we wonder why we even got upset in the first place.

But we have a hard time letting go of them. Whether they be with other people or even with ourselves.

Why is that?
What is it that we are hanging onto? What are we looking for when we get into these little scrapes?

Validation.

We want to be heard. We want to know that someone else believes that our point of view is worthy, that what we think is just as important as what they think.

We want to know someone cares about our value as people.

Often, instead we hear:
“Why are you making such an issue out of this?”
“You’re just being too sensitive.”
“You’re blowing this out of proportion.”
“You’re acting like a child; why are you being so immature?”

There’s a clue right there of what we’re looking for. It’s the same feeling we had when we were children: we want to know that we matter. Instead of being shamed for what we think.

Relying on others to validate us can be a disappointing prospect. We don’t often get what we want. And even if we do, it can be fleeting.

Why is that? Because it’s not coming from within.

Yes, there are people in our lives who may verbally validate us when we least expect it, and these experiences can even change the course of our lives. But these occasions are few and far between, as much as they become gems to our memory and our emotions.

So, what can we do to increase the frequency of validation in our lives, especially when we come across these conflicts in our life experience?

We can validate ourselves. Yes, we can!

How do we go about doing that? There are several ways.

But before we can begin to validate ourselves, we have to dissect the conflict that has brought our need for validation to the surface.
We have to determine what caused it to get our attention so emphatically.

We have to honestly access the emotions we felt in the conflict to determine the root cause of the issue.
Several examples can include:
» fear,
» anxiety over the unknown,
» vulnerability which essentially feels like we’re out of control about something that could happen or how someone sees us,
» anger over feeling embarrassed because we thought we said something stupid, or
» jealousy over something we feel someone has over us.

Once we determine the root issue of the conflict, we can now turn toward validation.

There are three approaches we can take: verbal, mental, and written.

We can verbally speak validation, which essentially means saying that our opinion of that situation was valid, worth speaking, and worth listening to regardless of how another person may have responded. We can speak validation over each emotion we felt, and why we felt it. We can speak the good we know we have just being a person who is created with a divine spark!

We can speak this validation as often as a conflict rises in our minds since those thoughts can make us feel down about ourselves or angry at that other person we were in conflict with. It also helps for us to realize that the issue isn’t necessarily with the other person since the conflict comes from within. If we recognize this truth, we regain our power back instead of giving it to the other person. That’s part of the validation process: regaining our power!

Another way to validate ourselves is mentally. We can think the same validating thoughts that we verbalize. Awareness of our thoughts is necessary for the mental approach to be effective. So, pay attention to what you’re thinking!

The third way to validate ourselves is my favorite way which is in written form. This is where journal writing comes in handy. When we keep a daily journal or, at least, a conflict journal, we can use it to discern our emotions and then use it to validate them and ourselves. You may even want to try writing with your non-dominant hand when focusing on your emotions during the writing process. Once you’ve written your validation for the day, it should stay in your memory and focus, especially if you do it consistently. And the more you write it, say it, and think it, the more that validation becomes a part of you, a new you!

And it will eventually become apparent to others that you are self-validating since you will find yourself less combative and more confident, which is a powerful place to be in all of life’s dimensions.

Then, if you do receive a validation from another accurately discerning person, well, then that’s just icing on your life cake!

So next time you need some validation, speak, think, and write as you look within.
Then, you might even look up.
The Creator will validate you too. After all, you are made in the Creator’s image.
That’s a wonderfully beautiful, divine spark you have there.
Don’t be afraid to show it.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Valley

Valley: a long, low area between hills

Most of our sojourn in this life is in The Valley. We often associate these 'valleys' with challenging terrains, places of great difficulty, adversity, and trouble.

The valley can be a lonely place. Even when others we know are very close by.

The valley can be wrought with discouragement, heaviness, and even despair.
The valley is filled with shadows that can seem to cause our troubles to appear larger than life and more frightening than we care to face.

The last place we really want to be is in The Valley. Too many dark places creeping along the horizon with no light in sight. And we wonder sometimes where we went wrong, how we even got there, and when we'll get out.

I'm reminded of Hannah Hurnard's book, Hinds Feet on High Places, when Much Afraid, the main character in this classic spiritual allegory, is following the Shepherd on the mountain and sees just how close she is to the top and is looking forward to reaching the summit, only to be led down in to The Valley of Humiliation once more. Despair fills her heart and her hopes are dashed. But the Shepherd encourages her and reminds her of the beauty she has yet to behold that can only be seen in The Valley.

Yes, The Valley can be a very painful place, but the growth we can experience in the process can produce in us the most authentic beauty we could never imagine until we see it for ourselves. When we look back on our travels through those dense, heavy places, we then see the changes that have taken place in our hearts and minds that we may not have been aware of until now.

We find we have more faith, more trust, more peace, and more joy as a result of our traverse.

But before that breathtaking sight comes into view, we must face the very things we fear the most- dead on.

That may seem like a frightful proposition, and it certainly could be if we were to attempt facing it alone. But that need not be.

"Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear NO evil; for Thou art with me." (Ps.23:4 KJV)

When we know we have One who guides us, protects us, and keeps us safe with every slippery unseen step, we can be filled with courage, endurance, persistence, perseverance, and hope that we will find the Light we so desperately seek. One step at a time. One heartbeat at at time. One breath at a time.

Until the most ultimate sunrise you could ever imagine breaks over the horizon, and suddenly our fears dissipate, our longings are fulfilled, our despair is turned to joy, and what we sought doesn't compare to what we have found.

Oh, the joy that floods our soul!

It is then that we realize how goodness and mercy have followed us through every shadow and slippery crevice, and now we stand in the Light and Life of the Creator in all its glory.

Ultimately, The Valley is our Friend. Where we face our fears and meet with our grandest victories.

So, don't be afraid. There is One who stands by you. And will lead you where you need to go.
All you have to do is follow.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Safe

The Lights Are Out. All is quiet. Someone is pussyfooting around on the bed. I feel a paw tentatively putting light pressure on my leg, feeling around for a safe place to land. A warm furry body settles in, relaxed, purring. She has found her safe spot. And it's not too shabby.

She knows if she gets too close to the Other Side of the bed, she may get pushed off unceremoniously. Especially if she's not on her mat on the bottom right corner of the bed on my side. When she gets closer to the middle, she keeps an eye and ear open for any possibility of removal.

Thus, the safe spot. No worries here. And it's warm and comfy. So much so, she thinks she can eventually take over more space as she spreads out instead of remaining curled up in a ball. She gets used to this space until she gets bumped from taking up too much room. Then she gets smart and curls up again or finds a safer spot we can both feel happy with.

And all in the dark.

The dark seems to be the place when things don't feel so safe unless we have the previously reliable experience of knowing where we are and know it's OK. And sometimes when we think it's really safe, it isn't. Then we get scared, or thrown off, or wounded in one way or the other, and we're left hurting and bleeding.

How do we know when it's truly safe? Do we look back at past experience to see what worked? Do we ask our friends what their safe spots are? What if we can't be sure? What if something goes wrong? Then what do we do?

Find The Source of One who has Been There. One who has been wounded, has bled, Who has faced rejection. Who understands our pain and empathizes and hurts with us. The One Who will be our Safe Place if we seek it.

Then we will feel the dizzying heights of our High Tower where we can see things coming from afar. We will feel the soft feathers of the Wings that cover us and keep us warm. We will feel the textured edge of a Garment that initiates healing as we believe it will get better Now. We will feel a sensation of the Spirit's Wind Blowing as we inhale the sweet Breath of Life. We will feel a warm,comforting touch as the Creator slips His Right Hand into ours, transforming our darkness into Glorious, Radiant Light.

And we will no longer be afraid. The bleeding will stop, and our wounds will begin to heal. We will stand stronger and more resilient than before as a result of our challenging experience, and our faith will rise up, knowing we're going to make it.

Because we're not alone.

Then we'll tell our friends about the Safe Place we found that made all the difference. We'll feel it all in that deeper place of the soul, in the marrow of our bones, as our strength continues to rise up and fills us with confidence to face whatever comes our way.

Even if it's in the dark. Because even the darkness is Light to Him.

We may have to feel around for that Safe Place once again. But we'll know where it is, because it is familiar. And reliable. And Faithful. And we know we'll be OK. Actually, not just OK, but comfy cozy. So much so, that we'll spread ourselves out and relax.

Because there's no other place we'd rather be.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Other Side

If my cat Sophie could be everywhere at once, I think that's the super power she would choose if she could.

One thing Sophie can do without is a closed door. No matter what door it is in the house. If it's closed, and she can't get to the other side, she meows and loudly nudges it to attempt admittance. She cannot stand being 'left out', especially when she knows there is someone ELSE on the other side, and she can't be there with them.

Sophie is what we have dibbed our 'socia-puss', a combination of social and pussycat. She has to be where you are, and if she can't be, well, then, she's not a happy cat, or as hubby likes to say, she's a pissed puss! (I think she gets crankier as she gets older!)

My hubby and I like to joke around about how she always has to get to 'the other side' of the door. Even if it's just to be in there for a second or two to show her persistence with the subject!

Often she'll want to be let out almost as soon as she gets let in. She just can't seem to make up her mind where she wants to be. She simply refuses to be content with where she is.

Contentment is something that can elude us when we think that the other side HAS to be better than where we are now.

When Sophie finally finds a spot to curl up in and take a nap, we all get a rest from opening and closing the door.

When we choose to look at the blessings of where we are with all that is right in front of us and really want what we already have, we will have peace and joy that remains.

It's truly all about perspective. If we focus on the best of our current location instead of gesticulating and pining for what is on the other side, other good things will also come our way as we show our gratitude and appreciation for what we already treasure.

The next time you get a little restless, a little anxious, a little annoyed that you can't be There instead of Here, think instead of that cozy spot on the couch where you like to read your favorite book or that favorite chair in the dining room where you have your tea and write in your journal, or that wonderful cafe where you enjoy visiting with a friend you just laughed with, or...well, you get the picture.

Eliminate the frustration and increase the peace by seeing where you are as a gift, a treasure, a part of your destiny.

Sophie is always more content curled up on her favorite mat versus knocking on the door, trying to scratch her way in.

That's a peace we can all appreciate.
Even with the doors closed.

© 2011 by Dawn Herring

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Wednesday's Pick (11/7) Travel Tuesdays: Writing and Reflecting by Michelle Cusolito

Tuesday's Pick (11/6) From Journal to Memoir: The Floorplan of Your Mind by Rita Jacobs, PhD

Monday's Pick (11/5) From Journal to Memoir: Capturing the Past through Sense Memory by Rita Jacobs, PhD

Friday's Pick (11/2) Just the Way You Are by Melanie Kindrachuk

Wednesday's Pick (10/31) A Journal Writing Prompt Blooms in My Garden by Ruth Folit

Tuesday's Pick (10/30) Want to Know Yourself Better? Ask Yourself These Questions by Gretchen Rubin

Monday's Pick (10/29) Moments Journal Writing Prompt by Karna Converse @LiteraryMama

Friday's Pick (10/26) Writing in My Journal by Carol Berg

Wednesday's Pick (10/24) Dealing with Fear This Halloween by Debra DiPietro

Tuesday's Pick (10/23) Journal Writing Ideas: Daily Gratitudes by Melissa Donovan

Monday's Pick (10/22) Art Journaling: No Rules by Leah Michon

Friday's Pick (10/19) How Writing Saved My Life by Amanda Duran

Wednesday's Pick (10/17) Make Journal Writing Therapy Your New Wake Up Call by Mari McCarthy

Tuesday's Pick (10/16) The Importance of Journaling by Ehen Akpan

Friday's Pick (10/12) Use Your Journal for Storytelling Practice by Amber Lea Starfire


Wednesday's Pick (10/10) 15 Things Every Woman Should Write Down Right Now by Amy Shearn


Tuesday's Pick (10/9) Feeling Like a Fraud? Fearlessly Embrace and Own All the Good! By Terri Cole

Monday's Pick (10/8) Journal Writing Therapy Playing Word Association by Mari McCarthy

Friday's Pick (10/5) A Weekend Wondering Exercise: What Will You Change? by Stacy Vajta

Tuesday's Pick (10/2) How to Get Past Fears That Stop You From Living Your Dreams by Dolly Garland


Tuesday's Pick (9/25) Writing in Your Dream Journal by Debra DiPietro

Monday's Pick (9/24) Letting Go by Sarah Richardson

Friday's Pick (9/21) A Weekend Wondering Exercise: Your Inner Critic by Stacy Vajta

Wednesday's Pick (9/19) What to do with the "E" word by Yvonne Root

Tuesday's Pick (9/18) What You See is What You Remember by Quinn McDonald

Monday's Pick (9/17) 16 Life Lessons Learned from Journaling by Dolly Garland

Friday's Pick (9/14) The Confusing Lines We Draw by Quinn McDonald

Wednesday's Pick (9/12) Do You Feel Guilty When You Don't Journal? by Dolly Garland

Tuesday's Pick (9/11) From Journal to Memoir: 8 Reasons to Keep a Journal by Rita D. Jacobs, PhD

Monday's Pick (9/10) Key Words: The Madeleines of Journal Writing by Joycelyn Campbell

Friday's Pick of the Day (9/7) How to Journal with Your Teen by Candy Gibbs


Tuesday's Pick (9/4) Wise Choices by Bruce Black

Friday's Pick (8/31) Journal Writing and Memoir: Using Your Journals for Research by Kat Collins

Wednesday's Pick (8/29) Journal Writing Shifts by Shannon

Tuesday's Pick (8/28) De-Clutter Your Cranium to Make Room for the Good Stuff by Terri Cole

Monday's Pick (8/27) One Journal for Everything or Separate Journals for Different Things? by Dolly Garland


Friday's Pick (8/24) Spark Your Self Acceptance with Three Small Questions by Rosie Molinary

Wednesday's Pick (8/22) Ahhh...Am I Really Ready for the Next Level?!?! by Molly Rider


Monday's Pick (8/20) Celebrating a Reached Goal by Quinn McDonald

Friday's Pick (8/17) Writing the Chapters of Your Life by Patti Testerman

Wednesday's Pick (8/15) Daily Creative Practice by Effy Wild

Tuesday's Pick (8/14) Warp Your Journal by Joel Basgall

Monday's Pick (8/13) When One Door Closes, Another Opens by Debra DiPietro

Friday's Pick (8/10) Re-Frame Your Fear of Failure by Terri Cole

Wednesday's Pick (8/8) 5 Ways to Develop Your Writing Style by Lisa Cherry

Tuesday's Pick (8/7) Journaling as a Coping Device by Kelley Harrell

Monday's Pick (8/6) Seeking Serenity: Journaling for Mindfulness by Bruce Black

Friday's Pick (8/3) Why I Gave Journaling Another Try by Leary Gates

Wednesday's Pick (8/1) How to Make Your Writing Pop and Shine by Jessica Morrow

Tuesday's Pick (7/31) Self-Confidence: What Is It, and Where Does It Come From by Dolly Garland

Monday's Pick (7/30) So I Will Write It All Down by Vivienne Borne

Friday's Pick (7/27) The Naked Writer by Laura M. Talley

Wednesday's Pick (7/25) The 5 Blessings of Keeping a Journal by Bruce Black

Tuesday's Pick (7/24) The Elevator Pitch the Write Way by Joanna Tebbs Young

Monday's Pick (7/23) Something Yours by Patty Froese

Friday's Pick (7/20) Journals and A Writing Exercise by Lauren B. Davis

Wednesday's Pick (7/18) Do You Have the Disease to Please? by Terri Cole

Tuesday's Pick (7/17) The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal by Michael Hyatt

Monday's Pick (7/16) Jealousy: How to Work Through It by Quinn McDonald

Friday's Pick (7/13) What Are You Making Time for in Your Life? by Debra DiPietro

Wednesday's Pick (7/11) Journaling After Brain Injury by Barbara Stahura

Tuesday's Pick (7/10) 8 Ways Journaling Can Help Simplify Your Thoughts by Dolly Garland

Monday's Pick (7/9) I Create; Therefore I Am by Julie Flygare

Friday's Pick (7/6) Journal Writing with Children by Michelle

Monday's Pick (7/2) The Art of Journal Writing by Elizabeth Beck

Friday's Pick (6/29) Write for the Health of It: Five Reasons Why Writing is Good for Us by Debra DiPietro

Wednesday's Pick (6/27) Where is the Happy Happening? by Terri Cole






































































































Monday's Pick (12/26) Day 12: The Ritual to Get You Writing by Quinn McDonald


Tuesday's Pick (12/20) Journaling for Self-Discovery by Rosie Molinary

Friday's Pick (12/16) Journal Writing Prompt 31-Priorities by Dolly Garland

Monday's Pick (12/19) Keep a Dream Journal-Why Bother? by Patti Testerman

Today's #JournalChat Pick of the Day






















































Thursday's Pick (9/15) Journaling video by Will Steger









Thursday's Pick (9/1) A Challenge and Some Journalng Prompts by Amy Sorensen









Friday's Pick (8/19) Altars to Remember by Amanda



























(6/14): Journaling Your Travel with Book Journals

(6/13) Last Seen....Journaling

(6/10) Joy of Journal Writing

(6/9) Using Your Journal to Clear Your Clutter


(6/7) Personal Journaling Sure Beats a Bad Day

(6/6) 4 Journal Writing Prompts to Spark New Insights

(6/3) "What Oprah Knows For Sure"-#1

(6/2) Sharing Your Thank You and Love through Personal Journaling

(6/1) Kid Quotes are the Best

(5/31) Journaling-The Art of Deep Communication with the Self

(5/30) Spiral-Bound and Spellbound

(5/27) Dare to Dream

(5/26) What Lies Beneath

(5/25) Biggest Mistake Forgiven

(5/23) Journal Writing Your Wrong Ways

(5/20) Journaling Techniques for Writers with Tina M. Games

(5/18) Travel Journal For Kids

(5/17) Planning Ahead, Looking Back

(5/16) Journal Writing Prompt 21: Right Now

(5/13)Mind Your P's and Q's: Part V

(5/10) Art Journaling Prompt: Happiness

(5/09) Journaling with Photos

(5/6) MIA by Rachel with Pen to Paper

(5/5) How to Combine Reflective Writing with Meditation and Yoga

(5/4) Journaling

(5/3) A Week's Worth of Journaling Prompts: The Nature of Resistance

(5/2) Collages, Your Mom, and more

(4/29) Dear Diary: The 4 Payoffs from Writing a Work Journal

(4/28) Secrets Journaling Prompt

(4/27) The Miracle of Mindfulness

(4/26) Your Philosophy

(4/25) Journal Writing Basics: Ask How

(4/22) What Inspires You? What Excites You?

(4/21) Journal Writing Prompt 18: Busy Life/Stress/Responsibilities

(4/19) A Week's Worth of Journaling Prompts: Expanding Creativity


(4/15) Journal-Keeping: Tips and Ideas for Writers

(4/14) Mind Your P's and Q's: Part I

(4/13) Journal Writing Through Life's Passages: Moving

(4/12) Appreciate Journaling: Children Need to Write

(4/11) Journaling for Healing, Health, and Happiness
(4/7) Yellow Legal Pad

(4/6) Meet Brooke Snow! An Amazing Mom!

(3/30) Let the Left Brain Know What the Right Brain is Doing: An Interview with Dr. Lucia Capacchione

(3/28) Movies Journal Prompt

(3/25) The Power of Forgetting

(3/24) Ten Ways to Keep a Great Diary

(3/23) Journal to the Soul

(3/22) A Reflective Writing Honoring of Women's History Month

(3/21) A Week's Worth of Journaling Prompts: Vulnerability

(3/18) How Journaling Changed My Life: Receiving Journal Insight


(3/14) Let Them Play in the Backyard


(3/11) How to Keep a Journal When You Don't Ever Have Any Time

(3/10) Memories

(3/9) Journal Writing through Emotions: Disappointment

(3/8) Revolutionary Act 3: Reclaim Your Mornings

(3/7) 7 Reasons to Start a Journal

(3/4) "I Wish.."










































































































































































































































































































































Three Steps Toward Accountability...to Yourself (as published in SFC Newsletter, Dec 08 edition)

Accountability: to give a reckoning or explanation for one’s actions, responsible.

When most people think of accountability, they often negatively associate it with answering to others, such as a spouse, a friend, a mentor, or, in most cases, a boss. As a writer, you are your own boss, which is one of the reasons that you need to be accountable to yourself. And it can be a positive experience rather than a negative one.

The first step in being accountable to yourself as a writer is setting goals for your writing and keeping track of projects you want to finish. Incurring a deadline for yourself can help
motivate you in this area. This step can also include daily writing goals. Some authors plan how many words or pages per day they will write.
I’ve set goals for myself as a writer by making them reachable and attainable. This year I have set a goal to write at least one scene for my novel per week and at least one other piece,
whether it be memoir or essay, per week. That can mean just making notes, writing a first draft, or revising a draft.
As long as your goals keep you moving forward and you’re making progress, then you know you’re headed in the right direction.

Once you have your goals set, the next step in accountability to yourself is writing down what you accomplish each day. You can use a daily calendar just for writing or keep track of your
daily accomplishments on your computer. I designed a custom monthly writing calendar. It helps me track what I write daily, whether or not I’ve met my goal for the week, and it has
space for ideas for future writing pieces. I also have a spot to keep track of books I’m reading for that month. I use abbreviations to keep the daily writing easier and to save space. As I review each completed month, I can go back to see what I’ve accomplished and keep track of when I wrote each piece.
Whether you use something pre-made or customize something for yourself, use whatever works for you and helps you stay accountable to yourself.

A third, and perhaps most important, aspect in accountability in your writing is taking care of yourself as a writer. Than can mean giving yourself space and not being hard on yourself if
you don’t reach your goals each day or each week.
Flexibility and refreshment are paramount to your health as a writer. It also frees up your creativity and can actually help you produce more quality writing in the long run.
I enjoy writing in my journal, reading fiction or memoir, and watching a good movie with my family. Taking a walk, listening to music, talking with your family members, and just taking time to sit and enjoy life are all ways you can be good to
yourself—and ultimately accountable—as a writer.

Learn to celebrate your accomplishments and your uniqueness as a writer. That’s one of the best ways to be accountable—to yourself!